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

Courtesy of Strand Releasing

A man in a bakery café in Berlin sits in front of a gorgeous slice of Black Forest chocolate cake. Oren is an Israeli who works for a German/Israeli company. In close-up, Oren’s fork moves slowly down through the cake to dislodge a bite-sized piece. It’s a luscious slide through the layers of cream and chocolate, followed by another, and soon the face of the satisfied Oren. This must be the most wonderful piece of cake in the history of the movies.

Oscilliscope

It took about 20 seconds to realize that Eugene Jarecki’s The King is a necessary documentary for this moment in our history. You may wonder why it didn’t come along sooner, until you realize how right it is for this exact time, and it’s a great film about the agony America faces now. Jarecki has done good work before this picture, but when I saw both Steven Soderbergh and Errol Morris listed as executive producers, I thought something unusual was coming – and it did.

Courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment

If Vivienne Westwood weren’t so inexplicably interesting, Lorna Tucker’s movie about her – Westwood: Punk. Icon. Activist. – might be unwatchable. The documentary is kind of a mess, maybe by intention. It shifts directions, jumps around in time, picks up characters, loses them, doesn’t always tell you who is talking, and never clues in the audience about when what happened.

Samuel Goldwyn Films

First-time feature director Grace Choe’s Nancy feels like it’s on downers. Most of the picture crawls through dark interiors; outside, the light is flat and lifeless, and there’s either an argument or a hunting accident. A harshly lit diner scene and a brief encounter in a supermarket don’t make the movie any cheerier.

Focus Features

Toward the end of Won’t You Be My Neighbor? director Morgan Neville includes a few TV broadcasts by people who think Mr. Rogers was destroying America. And, they’re the picture of everything Fred Rogers resisted – they’re noisy, accusing; their faces are contorted with anger. Fred Rogers, on the other hand, was soft-spoken, gentle, respectful and truthful. He did not threaten the existence of the republic – unless the republic needs even more anger than it’s got, and unless kindness is what will ruin us.

EPK.TV

Some people have been talking about Ari Aster’s Hereditary as a horror film, which it is, sort of, in its second half. Once the movie turns to effects and weird coincidence and séances and kitchen objects shuffling around the table on their own though, Hereditary locks itself into a box of horror picture clichés it can’t escape. But the first part of the movie is about grief, and that’s the good part.

Warner Brothers

The original Ocean’s 11, from 1960 is one of the laziest movies ever. Frank Sinatra and his “rat pack” pals goof and snooze their way through a nothing movie. But Steven Soderbergh has a serious talent for smart glitzy pop filmmaking, and his sparkly 2001 remake of Ocean’s 11 is playful and witty. Soderbergh then made two more films about Danny Ocean pulling off a great heist, both good enough, and now he’s one of two producers of Ocean’s 8, which is sort of sprightly and alive, but in the way of leftovers revived in the oven more than something with original snap.

KINO LORBER

Maybe the smartest thing in Tony Zierra’s documentary Filmworker is that the movie never tries to explain. It shows plenty, but leaves the why to the audience, and the reason for that may be that for some things there is no explanation possible during a film, if ever.

EPK.TV

It’s no surprise that Paul Schrader’s film about a crisis of faith should include a suicide vest, barbed wire and a bottle of Drano. Schrader is the writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. He both wrote and directed The Comfort of Strangers, Light Sleeper and Affliction. None of these are for the faint of heart, and neither is First Reformed.

Bleecker Street

You wouldn’t wish a wedding night like this one on the person you most despise in all the world. Florence (Saoirse Ronin) and Edward (Billy Howle) are beyond naive and inexperienced. They walk around each other stiffly; each eyes the other like a stranger. It’s 1962. They’re honeymooning in a small hotel with a view of the sea – and Chesil Beach, of course, in Dorset on the south coast of England.

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