Howie Movshovitz

Utopia

My skin curdles when politicians cite movies as their guides to governing the nation. Movies are dreams not position papers. Ronald Reagan looked to fanciful war films; Newt Gingrich wanted to imitate Boys Town and other romanticized versions of America in the 1930s. In Errol Morris’s American Dharma, Steve Bannon, the political operative and key advisor for a time to Donald Trump, waxes devotional over the 1949 Twelve O’clock High, a dreamy, idealized story about problems of command in an Air Force squadron stationed in England during World War II.

EPKTV

Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite is about as funny as anything that’s come down the pike in five or ten years, until it’s not funny anymore. The violent last half-hour is somewhat cartoonish, but it also whips your mind around as it changes gears with astonishing power.

Denver Film Festival

The 42nd Denver Film Festival runs October 30 through November 10th. The lineup includes 134 feature films and 130 shorts. Here are some especially good movies to catch in this year’s festival.

Well Go USA Entertainment

The characters in Takashi Miike's First Love spend a lot of time explaining what they're doing. That’s usually terrible filmmaking technique, but if they didn't tell the audience what’s going on, the movie might be impossible to follow.

Magnolia Pictures

In our skewed political calculus, the notorious and beloved columnist Molly Ivins gets classified as a wild liberal. She was a life-long supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union; she also wrote for The Texas Observer and The New York Times – with three years as the sole Times reporter in the Denver bureau. Her last writing job was with the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Ivins was outspoken – to say the least – but she didn’t take stands on many specific political issues; over and over again she fought for fundamental fairness and decency – and against people who would lie and cheat, who valued ignorance over knowledge, and as a friend says in the film, who would kick someone who was down.

Pamela Gentile / Courtesy of the Telluride Film Festival

Three different times at this year’s Telluride Film Festival, I saw the kinds of films that are so potent you forget everything you’ve seen before. One was Kelly Reichardt’s sweetly named First Cow; another was The Human Factor, a documentary about the endlessly frustrating attempts at Palestinian/Israeli peace negotiations, and the third was A Hidden Life by the enigmatic Terrence Malick. Any one of these movies would make my eight-hour one-way drive to Telluride worth the trouble, but to get all three is close to miraculous.

Cohen Media Group

Tel Aviv on Fire is and isn’t a comedy. As viewers around the world have mentioned, it’s hard to make a comedy about something serious. The bravest attempt ever is the 1942 To Be or Not To Be, by the great Ernst Lubitsch, about the Nazi invasion of Poland, and made during the war. It comes off a lot funnier now than it did at the time. Tel Aviv on Fire, about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict goes down easier than To Be or Not To Be must have back in 1942, but I doubt that it will ever look so funny.

EPKTV

You can blame this review on Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock is the one long-dead filmmaker whom just about nobody thinks is either from the olden days or out of date. One reason that many people continue to watch such Hitchcock films as The Birds, Psycho, Vertigo, or Rear Window is that Hitchcock always knew that story must be visual. Characters must not tell the story or describe who they are. They should be the story. Hitchcock characters do what they do – and what they don’t do is tell the audience what’s going on. It’s up to the filmmaker to shape what characters say and do into a story for the audience to understand.

Magnolia Pictures

Dag Hammarskjöld was a Swedish diplomat who became Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1953. Some called him a compromise candidate who was considered harmless, but over his time at the UN he was active and effective, until he died in a plane crash on September 18, 1961 in Ndola, Zambia, then known as Rhodesia. Ever since then, there’s been wonder about that crash, and now Swedish filmmaker Mads Brügger with investigator Göran Björkdahl have made a film about the event and many things connected to it.

Vimeo

Luz comes billed as a horror film, but what gets under your skin has nothing to do with monsters roaring out of the basement, or down from outer space, -- or sudden loud sounds. And it’s not even any events in its story. What digs into the psyche comes more from the overall picture of a world that’s unreliable, but far too orderly, and sounds that are both repetitious and unnerving.

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