Archive | Reviews

Of Homographic Utopias and Dowager Chic (The Sound Inside, Terminator: Dark Fate)

Critic drag with co-panelist Jack Rico.

Yesterday was kind of brilliant. The boys and I taped an episode of Talking Pictures, and for the first time since the show migrated from Spectrum to PBS achieved the right balance of jocularity and specificity. Which is to say: I got my points across with some style and minimal manterruption, and we all laughed a lot.

Link to come shortly.

Afterward I had enough cash in my pocket to eat out properly, so I joined up with my friend Little Lisa. In generosity of spirit and strength of mind she is no way little, but as we share a first name and I grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood where people of the same name are distinguished by the prefix “Big” or “Little,” Little Lisa she is. To be fair, LL is 7 inches shorter than me and a good 16 years younger.

Big of heart, though, believe me.

Once upon a time we worked together at NY1–she was often the only other broad in the studio when I was on set–but these days she’s a fancy lady producer at a major network and I’m, well–that’s a good question. What am I right now? Continue Reading →

Taxi Driven at 3 Am

I went to bed so early last night that I was up at 3am watching Taxi Driver, quel meta. One of my first memories is of passing through that ratchet Times Square with my parents; the littlest me fell for its underbelly the way you get hung up on a bad smell. Scorcese captures its neon reds and blues, blurred and bolting–its cheap calories and cheaper sex–with Cadillac cars and a Cadillac score. And then there’s De Niro’s ex-marine outsider wandering and wondering, blood-shot with an ignoramus’s bravado. Which is to say: terror, especially when it comes to his unamused muse Cybill Shepherd and her very fine, DVF-clad ass. So loosely adapted from Dostovesky’s Notes from the Underground, this Scorcese-Schrader collab doesn’t endorse the basest attitudes about race, women, sexuality so much as inventory them as evidence of Our General Decline. It’s a portrait of a dangerously white male that could be stripped from today’s headlines except the macro-aggression isn’t just garish. It’s gorgeous.

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 →

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