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

IFC Films

David Freyne’s The Cured takes place in zombie-ravaged Ireland. Researchers have discovered that the culprit in zombie-ism is what’s called the Maze virus, and they’ve found a cure, which works in 75 percent of the cases. That sounds terrific at first, but oops, what about the 25 percent who are not cured. And, double-oops, what about the people who are cured.

Sony Pictures

Moscow looks good in Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Loveless. The film shows elegant black and white shots of a woodland in winter, with snow on the tree limbs, contrasting with the wintry black of a pond. Indoors, Boris and Zhenya’s apartment sports big rooms, king-size beds, a proper upper middle-class kitchen. Big windows overlook a park. It looks like both the couple and the country are prospering.

EPK.TV

After the disappointment of the Oscar-nominated animated shorts, I took myself to Early Man, with the hope that the often-wonderful clay figure animator Nick Park would lift my animation spirits. It turned out to be a vain hope.

LincolnBlues/Flickr

One might think of the short films nominated for Oscars as work by aspiring filmmakers who manage to cobble together enough money to make their films. That’s no longer the case. Dear Basketball is directed and animated by Glen Keane, an animation supervisor on many Disney projects, among other films. The music is by John Williams, one of the most honored Hollywood composers, and the short piece is created and narrated by Kobe Bryant, the very great and very rich now-retired basketball star for the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s his farewell note to the sport he so loves.

Denver Jewish Film Festival

Actress Hedy Lamarr was drop dead beautiful. Her best films are probably Algiers and Boom Town. She’s sultry in campy pictures like White Cargo and Samson and Delilah, and she could put on a come hitcher look like nobody – the kind of look that makes heterosexual men drool and stumble. She was a tremendous star in some ways -- famous or infamous for decades, but she only made 35 pictures in her career, which is not many for a star of the studio era, although she did have many husbands and a raucous life.

Cohen Media Group

The complications grow so thick and intertwined in Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult that the prospect of untangling them feels hopeless. Two guys get in what looks like a minor spat on the street in Beirut. But the fight eventually involves construction problems, Chinese and German cranes, politics, religion, ethnicity, the law, pregnancy and at least two separate families. The film reaches to depths of personal intimacy and in its next breath takes in an entire nation.

EPK.TV

It takes about 20 seconds to realize that Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread is a masterful film. The lead character, Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) designs elaborate dresses for rich women in London, and right off the film embraces the textures of this world – Woodcock’s clothing, his shoes, the bannister of a stairway, the wall paper; even Woodcock’s voice and the sounds of the other actors become part of the blend – you feel the quality of the sound as strongly as you see the visual composition. It’s an orgy of the physical, as this movie weaves and dances through its story.

Sonny Classics

German filmmaker Michael Haneke can sit on a shot like nobody else in the movies. He can make you feel like a spy, watching, waiting, taking in whatever might happen – or not happen. Early in Happy End you find yourself looking over a construction site. It’s a big commercial project, maybe a couple of acres or more, and because the foundation is only partway finished, it’s mostly just an enormous hole in the ground. A few workers are on the site, a full-sized excavator gathers dirt in its scoop, pivots and drops the dirt in another place. The shot comes from behind a window in another building; there’s no sound, so you feel far away and disconnected.

"The Post" is Steven Spielberg’s new film about a momentous decision to publish a secret government report and a necessary celebration of America’s free press.

Powster

I, Tonya is basically a rehabilitation project for the disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding. Harding was a tremendously talented athlete, a U.S. Champion who skated in two Olympics, and as the movie repeats too often, was the first woman to do a successful triple axel jump in competition. Her downfall came when her by-then ex-husband orchestrated an attack on Harding’s rival, Nancy Kerrigan – a thug smacked her leg with a pipe. Harding, unjustly, became a joke on the spot, and is still ridiculed in the press and late-night talk shows as a low rent tramp.

Pages