Howie Movshovitz | KUNC

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

KINO LORBER

The movie theaters are closed, but some film distributors, working with theaters, have come up with a temporary fix. There are now new movies available online, and viewers can access them through theater websites, which means that a share of the streaming price goes to the theaters. I hope it doesn’t become a habit, because seeing a movie in a dark theater with a bunch of strangers is still the best. But this new system will have to do for a while.

Olle Jonsson/CC BY-SA 2.0

We are all being smart -- laying low, avoiding crowds, especially indoors, washing our hands. All of that. So, over the next few weeks, I’ll make some suggestions for good films to watch from the safety and comfort of home. I’m not going to suggest stuff that most everyone knows. You don’t need me or the radio to tell you about the Jurassic Park films, Batman, The Incredibles or anything like that. These are films you may not know, but that I think may surprise and delight.

Music Box Films

And Then We Danced is something of a mess, but at times it’s a gorgeous mess. It opens with archival shots of traditional dancing in the country of Georgia, and for the rest of the film you can’t get the sight of the muscular, intricate dancing and the music out of your head.

EPK TV

Early in Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a 30-ish woman arrives in an open boat on the beach of a lonely island somewhere along the coast of France. The year is 1770. It’s a rough trip; a wooden box falls overboard, and since none of the men rowing care about it, Marianne (Noemie Merlant) jumps into the heaving swells – in her dress – to rescue it. Then, in her wet dress, she hauls herself up a steep hillside and hikes to a castle, which feels isolated and difficult.

MENEMSHA Films

There are reasons for events like the Jewish film festival – and other festivals that celebrate and explore identities and cultures. One side of the equation is that mainstream films ignore things that make human beings distinct and interesting. But people want – and need – to see themselves and their ways of life taken seriously on screen. Another side of the equation is that it’s fascinating to see how other people live and think – and also to realize that human beings are the same in a lot of ways.

Molly Albright / Amazone Studios

Every review of the new Les Misérables will probably start the same way – this movie is not the megahit Les Mis or anything like it. It’s not even an adaptation of the original 1862 novel by Victor Hugo. The movie is directed and co-written by Ladj Ly, born in Mali, and this Les Misérables is unique.

Little Women
Columbia TriStar Marketing Group

Director and writer Greta Gerwig’s new adaptation of Little Women comes from a line that begins in 1932, and it seems that the movies are getting better with youth. Louisa May Alcott’s novel tells a story of four sisters growing up that is so specific and clear in character, emotion and event that it can thrive in any time period. It doesn’t date because aspiration, the conflicts between love and social obligation, and women’s need for independence still matter.

EPK TV

A Hidden Life is much too beautiful. It takes place in a remote Austrian village high up in the Alps. Terrence Malick films it with dramatic, sweeping shots of the landscape – the high peaks often in the background, lush fields close-up. Yet the subject is not beautiful in any conventional way. The story centers on a farmer in Nazi Austria who acts in conscience, and it doesn’t go well.

Ezra Ezzard (BBC)

British filmmaker Michael Apted’s movies range from big Hollywood biopics to small political documentaries. He was an assistant on that film, called Seven Up and he ran with it. Every seven years Apted has filmed those same people in movies called 14 Up, 21 Up, and so on until now those former 7-year-olds are 63 years old – and Michael Apted is 78.

Netflix

Movies about marriages – which are usually about divorces – are hardly new. In the 1930s and ‘40s Hollywood produced a slew of comedies about couples divorcing and then getting back together, and they were not trivial. They took on questions of truth, honesty and changing circumstances. Adam’s Rib from 1949 has Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as two married lawyers fighting over marriage equality. Later came the vicious Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Kramer vs. Kramer, and a bunch of the now-disgraced Woody Allen’s movies about marriage.

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