Howie Movshovitz

Film Critic

Howie Movshovitz came to Colorado in 1966 as a VISTA Volunteer and never wanted to leave. After three years in VISTA, he went to graduate school at CU-Boulder and got a PhD in English, focusing on the literature of the Middle Ages. 

In the middle of that process, though (and he still loves that literature) he got sidetracked into movies, made three shorts, started writing film criticism and wound up teaching film at the University of Colorado-Denver. He continues to teach in UCD’s College of Arts & Media.

He has been reviewing films on public radio since 1976 (first review: Robert Altman’s Buffalo Bill and the Indians). Along the way he spent nine years as the film critic of The Denver Post, and has been contributing features on film subjects to NPR since 1987.

Ways to Connect

Neal Preston

It doesn’t take long for the star to get herself born in this latest— now the fourth -- version of a story that first hit the movies in 1937. There also isn’t much struggle to get to that stardom. Ally (Lady Gaga) has a couple of slightly annoying moments with the boss at her restaurant job, and, bingo, she’s onstage with country rocker Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) in front of thousands of cheering fans. It would be nice if Ally had to work for her celebrity for at least a few minutes. You might call the film A Star Is Born lite.

Eleina Elachkar (CMPR)

I can’t think of another movie that has put me into such anxiety as Free Solo. Shots straight down to the valley floor from the top of El Capitan are terrifying, and the images of rock climber Alex Honnold holding onto a vertical rock face with just the tips of his fingers and toes erases the very idea of rational thought.

Courtesy of Unitec Creative Industries

Indigenous filmmaking began to take shape in the early 1980s, when portable video became available. Before that, relatively few people had access to the tools of filmmaking. It could be a question of money, location, or the complications of handling cumbersome equipment.  Working with actual film at the time meant carrying many reels, which had to be sent off for processing after they’d been exposed, and separate tape recorders, and so on. None of this paraphernalia was available to people in remote places with no money, no training, no cultural apparatus or context for making films.

Magnolia Pictures

Gilda Radner was one of the stars of the original cast of Saturday Night Live. She was lively, to say the least – frenetic or hyperactive probably hits the mark better. Her personal cast of characters still sticks in the minds of people who watched that show. Roseanne Rosannadanna who exulted in the kinds of lurid details about human bodies that are still not often mentioned on TV; Emily Litella who misheard crucial details in the news, so she’d bluster about what’s wrong with violins on television; Lisa Loopner who grappled with her boyfriend Todd (Bill Murray) on the living room couch.

Pamela Gentile / Courtesy of the Telluride Film Festival

When I told a friend about the films at the Telluride Film Festival which I thought were important, he said that in what he’d read, none of those films had been mentioned. So, he asked why.

Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

As usual, the richness of film on display at this 45th Telluride Film Festival is almost too much to hold in mind all at once. For days afterward, the movies fight for space in the mind. A Columbian picture called Birds of Passage looks at an extended family of indigenous people in north-east Columbia who get involved in the marijuana trade and wind up destroying themselves.

Greenwhich Entertainment

The Bookshop could be one of the most understated films ever made about thoroughly malicious people. The movie just seems to sit patiently with people talking quietly or saying nothing at all, at times barely moving. The camera itself remains placid, as it observes with little comment. You wonder what’s going on, but slowly the picture reveals itself, and at that deliberate pace unfolds a story of genuine malevolence. Except for a youngish woman, an oldish man and a frizzy haired little girl, these are some of the worst people ever to inhabit a movie – and there’s not a single gunshot or knifing; no one buys, sells or uses drugs. There’s not even a car chase, and there can’t be more than three or four cars in the whole movie. And one boat.

Focus Features

Director Spike Lee doesn’t do subtle, so it’s no surprise that his latest film BlacKkKlansman is rowdy at times, obvious and blunt. The movie doesn’t give you the chance to miss the point, but when the issues are race in America and the Ku Klux Klan, there’s sometimes nothing to be subtle about.

Magnolia Pictures

On the face of it, Skate Kitchen is typical stuff. An 18-year-old girl takes a short walk on the wild side, which finally isn’t all that wild. It’s like the old Chuck Berry song – after her quick fling, “Sweet little16” has to “change her trend and be sweet 16 and back in class again.” But along its way, its sense of place and character, and its richness of feeling make Skate Kitchen an elegant, touching movie. 

EPK.TV

I have never heard anyone say that they had a good time in eighth grade. Maybe a few people cover up how they loved it, but for most people it’s an awful jumble of hormonal awkwardness that manifests itself in nastiness, pouting, jealousy and enormous self-doubt about every single aspect of body, mind and the social world.

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