Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man

I'm a fan of superhero films. But the genre has gotten mired in a disturbing trend that needs to be discussed. Ten years ago, I had the opportunity to tour the Vatican Museums. The collections were displayed in chronological order, and they told a fascinating story as I walked from room to room. The art [...]
Laurence Olivier as Henry V

Laurence Olivier's 1944 Technicolor adaptation of Henry V is widely regarded as the play's defining performance for popular audiences. Henry is a chivalrous king who inspires his men to victory. It is a terrific film, with bold technicolor, inventive storytelling and a fascinating design based on images from the Très Riches Heures. But Olivier's wartime [...]

12 Years a Slave (2013) - dir. Steve McQueen Hollywood has released more movies about slavery in ancient Rome than slavery in America. And the rare popular films that do directly discuss the issue, such as Amistad and Lincoln, are more concerned with the political battles fought by the white leading characters than they are [...]

Melancholia (2011) - dir. Lars von Trier "..depressives and melancholics act more calmly in violent situations, while “ordinary, happy" people are more apt to panic. Melancholics are ready for it. They already know everything is going to hell." Or so Lars von Trier's therapist told him, according to the Danish Film Institute, inspiring his end-of-the-world [...]

Take Shelter (2011) - dir. Jeff Nichols Arkansas native Jeff Nichols delivers an understated film on a topic that is traditionally overdone.  The psychological journey of Michael Shannon is similar to Natalie Portman's in Black Swan, but Take Shelter uses more subtle methods to achieve - at times - a similar frenzy. Shannon is a family man, who [...]
Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone

Winter’s Bone avoids the rural-themed art house cliches. The plot moves along briskly – there aren’t the monotonous landscape-indulgent pauses that plagued Frozen River and its ilk. The accents seem unaffected, and the film relies on story and character, so that concerns over “genuineness” are forgotten. It eschews both Hollywood mawkishness and indie over-understatedness.