Author: Andrea O

January 22, 2013 / / Main Slate


By Leo Racicot

Rosemary’s Baby – 1968 – dir. Roman Polanski

In the summer of 1968, our mother, recently widowed, treated my sister and me to a week at the beach. After a few days, needing some time to herself, she asked a woman she had struck up a friendship with at the hotel if she would watch Diane and me so she could see the new hit horror movie playing at the little cinema on the casino boardwalk. When she got back, she could hardly contain her excitement and delight; it was “one of the best movies”, she said. She went to bed and tossed and turned all night long. “What kind of a movie”, I thought, “does THAT to you?!!” 

January 8, 2013 / / Main Slate

By Jared M. Gordon The-Master-la-8-6-12-sm-168x250

The Master – 2012 – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is a tale about masters and pets, leaders and followers, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) and Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Dodd, the brilliant but short-tempered founder and prophet of The Cause, takes Freddie on as his template, his patient zero. As Freddie hungers for sex, food, and survival, Dodd meticulously draws inspiration from Freddie, himself. His own religion changes shape, the more time he spends with this sex-crazed, alcoholic lunatic. Freddie learns from Dodd, Dodd learns from Freddie. Dodd leads with his directives, and Freddie follows. Freddie follows with his whims, and Dodd changes things to suit Freddie’s desires… but to a point. There is still very much a master at work.

January 2, 2013 / / Main Slate

By: Victoria Large invitation-to-the-dance-poster-sm-164x250

Invitation to the Dance – 1956 – dir. Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly was, of course, a major creative force behind some of the most commercially successful, critically acclaimed, and enduringly loved movie musicals of all time. His most popular films – particularly On the Town, An American in Paris, and Singin’ in the Rain, all released within a few years of one another – still regularly play repertory cinemas and remain must-sees for classic film buffs and musical fans. But Kelly’s lesser-known projects tend to be fascinating too. Whether it’s the cult movie The Pirate, which was far too underappreciated upon initial release, or the deliciously satiric and often underrated It’s Always Fair Weather, Kelly’s filmography has quite a few hidden gems.

December 21, 2012 / / Main Slate

By Reuben Baron shaun_of_the_dead_ver2-sm-167x250

Shaun of the Dead – 2004 – dir. Edgar Wright

Now for a more natural apocalypse film. Perhaps the most natural apocalypse film for an apocalypse that most likely isn’t happening but feels like it could. Not a parody of the zombie apocalypse genre but rather an entry that just so happens to be a comedy, Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead presents pre- and post-zombie apocalypse life as uncannily similar. Its comically bleak set-up turns into a twisted sort of positivity. “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by REM would fit if not for the fact it’s a complete cliche and Wright has much better taste in soundtrack selections than that (the movie owns “Don’t Stop Me Now”, and also makes good use of Prince’s Batman soundtrack… as a weapon).

December 21, 2012 / / Main Slate

By Reuben Baron milk-poster-sm-168x250

Milk – 2008 – dir. Gus Van Sant

If you are reading this, congratulations! You have survived the apocalypse/are surviving the apocalypse/laughing at everyone who made a big deal over some BS about an apocalypse happening today! You deserve some great movies, courtesy of Focus Features’ 10th birthday celebration! First up today, we have Gus Van Sant’s Milk. This may seem like an odd film to celebrate the apocalypse/post-apocalypse/lack thereof, but you know, I think it kind of fits emotionally. If this is the end for humanity, I think Milk’s a story that demonstrates a lot of the progress we as humans should be proud of, underlined by the tragic pang of regret that we could have done more.

December 20, 2012 / / Main Slate

By Jared M. Gordon

Lost in Translation – 2003 – dir. Sophia Coppola

Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola’s tale of two lost souls in Japan, is a touching parable of loneliness and companionship among a sea of strangers.

Neglected newlywed Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) has a husband, John (Giovanni Ribisi), a workaholic photographer who largely leaves Charlotte to her own devices. She spends her days at first lounging around a hotel, initiating a warm friendship with actor Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and ultimately expanding her radius of exploration to Tokyo and its surrounding areas.

November 28, 2012 / / Main Slate

By Leo Racicot

Destry Rides Again – 1939 – dir. George Marshall

Marlene Dietrich acted with her eyes. Yes, she possessed one of the most beautifully and deliberately sculpted faces in film history. Yes, she could be a crackerjack actress, easily overcoming her good looks when she wanted to, giving strong, memorable performances in classics such as “Stage Fright”, “Witness for the Prosecution”, “Morocco”. And yes!  She had a body-and-a-half that oozed a glamorous and alarming sexuality that still has yet to be defined or matched. Woe to whatever actor had to share the stage or screen with her because when she was “on”, you couldn’t really see anybody else, such a beam of light was La Dietrich.  But it was her eyes that made her. Entities unto themselves, lidded by light, lace curtains of flesh, fluttering butterflies running up and down like little elevators, they darted, they flew, they geisha-ed their way into your personal space, invading you, capturing you, making of you a happy prisoner of their multiple seductions. When she first appears in “Destry Rides Again”, her eyes give out so many varied and conflicting emotions at once, if you pay good attention, you cannot help but be slayed out of your seat by the sheer range of shyness, deceit, cuteness, shrewdness and sassy-assed lust they aim at you. They are true guns of seduction and better duck fast before they fire and you die in the happy blast of their embrace. Ah, those eyes. Those eyes are able to bring together the most disparate elements into one, single, glorious being; to wit — Marlene Dietrich!!

November 26, 2012 / / Main Slate

By Jared M. Gordon

Babe – 1995 – dir. Chris Noonan

Babe was a surprise nomination at the 1996 Academy Awards, although it shouldn’t have been a surprise at all. James Cromwell, who played Farmer Arthur Hoggett, barely has a dozen lines in the entire film (171 words of spoken dialogue, and 61 words that were sung, according to IMDb), and yet was nominated for best supporting actor. What’s so great about a film with singing barnyard animals?

October 23, 2012 / / Main Slate

By William C. Benker

Punch-Drunk Love – 2002 – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

A great director has the ability to re-envision an age-old genre with his own artistic spin. In the case of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love, the romantic-comedy gets an edge it never really had before. Gritty realism is not often found in your everyday date movie, but when the lonely protagonist, Barry Egan (Adam Sandler), calls a sex-hotline the day before he meets the girl of his dreams (Emily Watson), problems ensue. The film doesn’t harbor on its protagonist’s pathetic attempts at over-the-phone love, but instead explains the character through a variety of personal triumphs. His dream-woman is already present, but learning to come to grips with himself is the real problem. Did I mention the protagonist is Adam Sandler?

October 22, 2012 / / Main Slate

By William C. Benker 

Hard Eight – 1996 – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight is his most straightforward narrative, perhaps due to the normal constraints of a director’s first big picture. Aging gangster and gambler Sydney (Phillip Baker Hall) retreats to Vegas to settle down with his spoils and finds that his knowledge of high stakes is useful to others. Budgeting limitations could have weighed the film down, but the young director uses it to his advantage. While fans of his later work will find Hard Eight to be his most conventional movie, it contains moments that foreshadow PTA’s greater canvas of cinematic storytelling.