Alice Winocour’s latest film, Disorder, arouses all the feelings one expects from thrillers—anxiety, suspense, surprise, dread—without pommeling the viewer with constant, sensory-overloading action. In fact, it’s a rather quiet and slow-paced movie as a whole (somewhat resembling Christian Petzold’s 2014 film Phoenix in that way). But like a good Hitchcock, it’s those moments of silence and stillness that can be most deafening.
There’s a famous line about Ginger Rogers and her struggle for recognition in a male-dominated Hollywood: “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in heels.” It’s a great little phrase and you can (as Barack Obama did recently) easily sub out Rogers for any number of famous women. One such woman is Elaine May, an extraordinary screenwriter and director who, like Rogers, risked disappearing in the shadow of her male creative partner. To my mind, May was the Rogers to Mike Nichols’s Astaire.
In the title role of director Stephen Frears’s new film, Florence Foster Jenkins, Meryl Streep is more a wonder than ever. Playing a high-society music patron who longs for the operatic limelight but who cannot sing a true note, Streep will split your sides and eardrums even as she rends you in two. Tragedy is wriggling just inside the comic cocoon of this story of a real-life New York City doyenne who, in 1944, at age 76, achieved her lifelong dream of singing at Carnegie Hall—and who brought down the house, though not quite the way she wanted to.
One of the most anticipated movies this summer is Universal Pictures’ The Secret Life of Pets, a 3-D animated feature that’s about, well, exactly what it sounds like. A product of Illumination Entertainment (the ones who brought us Despicable Me and Groo’s adorable Minions), the film provides a solid helping of animation goodness that, while not the tastiest dish on this year’s menu, provides some comfort food for the cinematic soul. Moviegoers are lapping it up.
Drake Doremus is really good at making me cry; his 2011 Sundance standout, Like Crazy, breaks me every time I watch it. So when I heard that his new film depicts a dystopian society where emotions are outlawed, I was equally intrigued as I was confused. The director with the gift for plucking at my heartstrings seemed for some reason to be giving up his instrument.
On October 26, 2013, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos argued before a group of film industry insiders—producers, buyers, directors—who had gathered to hear him give the keynote at that year’s Film Independent Forum in Los Angeles, that the movie business will soon die unless cinema owners embrace the distribution model Netflix has championed. Ideally, Sarandos would like to see all films—from big-budget summer blockbuster hopefuls to small, independent documentaries—released simultaneously in traditional movie theaters and via Netflix streaming. In the nearly three years since Sarandos’s chiding speech, theater owners have still not adopted the Netflix model; but neither has the movie business died as a result.
On March 16, 1991, two weeks after the tape of Rodney King’s brutal beating by Los Angeles police went public, a 15-year-old African American girl named Latasha Harlins walked into an L.A. market to buy orange juice. As she approached the counter, she put the juice in her backpack with one hand while holding money in the other.
Fuzzy security footage shows how their failed transaction ends: Harlins picks up the orange juice, which has fallen on the floor, and places it on the counter. She turns to walk away. But before she can get three feet she suddenly crumples to the ground, because the shopkeeper has pulled out a shotgun and fired it into her back.