Archive | Reviews

The Quiet Revolution of ‘Diane’

What follows is a film talk I gave a few months ago on Diane, about a 60something New England widow struggling to reconcile with her past and the ravages of time. I always loved talking to the now-defunct Westchester Film Club, but it was especially meaningful to discuss this small, mostly overlooked indie with them. N.B. To read this, it’s not necessary to have seen the film, but I encourage you to do so. It’s one of the best of the year.

I consider Diane a quiet revolution of a film.

Its median age is above 60, everyone is lower middle class, and it is is mostly populated by women–the kind of bossy, pointedly unpretentious women who are the backbone of every New England town I knew growing up. For that matter, this film stars Mary Kay Place, whose plainspoken, peevish manner I’ve loved ever since Mary Hartman Mary Hartman, and who has deserved a hefty starring role ever since. That Diane also costars the great Andrea Martin in a rare serious turn, Joyce Van Patten, and Estelle Parsons speaks to how unobtrusively grownup-feminist this film is. Even the crew is mostly female. Continue Reading →

The Church of ‘The Biggest Little Farm’

I know I’ve been quiet here. My rule for April has been to say yes to everything–to “Shonda Rhimes it,” as one friend phrased my approach. This has kept me busy and helped out my bank account. It’s also made my life fuller and more joyous.

But such a jam-packed scheduled hasn’t left time for blog updates.

Still, I wanted to post the lecture I gave this morning to the Westchester Cinema Club, which was having its last meeting at the Greenburgh Cinemas and possibly its last meeting altogether. I have given thirty lectures to this club over the years, mostly about films I have loved dearly. But even when I haven’t been enthused about the film, I’ve been enthusiastic about the club members. Mostly seventy- and eighty-something, they offer a perspective that I pray to someday achieve.

For this final lecture, I discussed The Biggest Little Farm, a documentary about a married couple who start a farm an hour north of Los Angeles. Continue Reading →

‘Cold War’ Beauty

What follows is a review adapted from a lecture I gave to the delightful Westchester and Huntington cinema clubs. It’s been a joy to share films with these groups all year.

I think this is the most beautiful film of the year. As soon as I saw it, I called [curator] David [Schwartz] and begged him to let me to show it you. And what’s most special is this beauty feels like a hard-earned decision to not just see the darkness but the lightness in a world full of oppression and corruption and hard, hard times–both then and now.

About a 15-year relationship between two musicians in Cold War-era Poland, it is directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, who in addition to directing My Summer of Love and The Woman in the Fifth, directed 2013’s Ida–so good!–which is also set in his native country of Poland. This one is based on his parents, who both died in 1989 after chasing each other for 40 years on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Like this film’s central characters, they were named Victor and Zula, and were blond and dark respectively. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy