May 2, 2003 |
Unlike other directors of movies based on comic books, Bryan Singer has never been a big fan of the genre. As a kid, he preferred Captain Kirk to Captain America. Yet the boyish director from Princeton Township, N.J., helped turn superheroes into a serious business for Hollywood three years ago, when his "X-Men" surprised everyone and earned huge box-office bucks, grossing $54 million on its opening weekend. Singer likes to think it's because he focused on the human side of the "X-Men" stories.
September 22, 2000 |
These are tough times for Hollywood - revenue is down, movies are bad, and D.C. politicians are hammering studios for pitching sleaze to kids. To politicians, the industry has responded with outraged denunciations of creeping censorship and indignant expressions of their First Amendment freedoms. It would be far easier to sympathize with their position if we didn't routinely have to sit through crap gobs like "Urban Legends: Final Cut. " Here's a movie that represents precisely what Washington says is wrong with Hollywood - a trashy production whose only purpose is to offer up grotesque R-rated violence to a teen audience.
August 6, 2000 |
For whatever reason, Dizzy Gillespie looks almost comfortable on the same wall as the Sex Pistols. The Beatles mingle with Judas Priest. And Blair Elliot fingers his goatee, smiling. Elliot, 32, owns Doylestown's Siren Records, Bucks County's primary portal to vinyl records, underground music and independent-music culture. "We find a nice balance with the people who come here," he said, standing midstore in an off-white Sun Records T-shirt and shorts. "Some are kids, amateur DJs looking for indie hip-hop.
April 7, 2000 |
The cheerfully subversive spirit of Yana's Friends is defined by a bizarre twist on that hopeful '60s exhortation "Make love, not war. " As Scud missiles rain down on Tel Aviv during the Persian Gulf War, a couple engages in energetic sex while wearing gas masks. This explains the unusually heavy breathing and brightens Arik Kaplun's engaging serio-comedy. His characters are Russian immigrants who have flooded into Israel in the years before Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. And these newcomers find things so tough that they face life more in desperation than aspiration.
February 25, 2000 |
Laugh at Long Island if you like. Eric Mendelsohn, the writer and director of the poignant new film "Judy Berlin," has found unexpected poetry in the suburban cul-de-sacs that most movies only mock. Gawk at Gwyneth, eyeball Julia, or stand in awe of Meryl's acting chops. Mendelsohn thinks that Barbara Barrie is a true national treasure, "one of America's finest living actresses," who just doesn't get enough to do these days. Born, raised and happy to keep visiting his parents in Old Bethpage, Mendelsohn won the best-director prize at last year's Sundance Festival for "Judy Berlin.
February 8, 2000 |
As the son of a doctor, M. Night Shyamalan briefly considered a medical career. But by age 11, he was making movies with the family camera in the back yard of their home in Penn Valley. And in his graduation yearbook at Episcopal Academy in 1988, he listed film as his life goal. Yesterday, Shyamalan, now widely known as the writer and director of The Sixth Sense, returned to his alma mater to talk about his success, taking questions from 600 sixth through 12th graders. "As a kid, I loved Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I wanted to make those kinds of movies," Shyamalan said.
December 12, 1999 |
A month before a pair of former Penn State film-school students wrapped up filming a feature called The Hall Monitor, two teenagers at a high school in Littleton, Colo., shot and killed 13 people at the school. After the initial horror of the incident sank in, the filmmakers - Kevin Hartman of Audubon and Shawn Gioiosa of Altoona - felt another kind of dread: Who would distribute their movie now? Their fear turned out to be justified. Despite extensive efforts to market their satire on cinematic violence, Hartman, the film's director, and Gioiosa, the screenwriter, still don't have a deal - though they haven't given up on getting one. They know it's a tough sell: The Hall Monitor features a gun-toting pseudo-hero who keeps the high school corridors clear with a .44 Magnum.
July 16, 1999 |
In 1987 lingo, "The Wood" could be described as "stupid. " Jump ahead a dozen years and you would call it "phat. " The film takes a refreshing look at hip-hop culture in the '80s, undying friendships, and man's eternal fear of wedded bliss. Think "Wonder Years" with a lot more soul and a lot less white boys. The film, directed by Rick Famuyiwa, centers around three childhood friends who reminisce about growing up in Inglewood, Calif. Roland (Taye Diggs) gets last-minute jitters on his wedding day and disappears several hours before the ceremony.
December 23, 1998 |
Do not be wedded forever To fear, yoked eternally To brutishness. The horizon leans forward, Offering you space to place new steps of change. - Maya Angelou - From "On the Pulse of Morning," delivered by the poet at President Clinton's 1993 inauguration ceremony. In her wrenching feature Down in the Delta, Maya Angelou offers a scene in a grimy Chicago pawn shop that evokes the stubborn hope of the lines she read moments after President Clinton began his first term of office on a windy January morning in 1993.
June 26, 1998 |
And he fell in love, and he got turned out and he dropped everything he was doing in the summer of 1995 to write a movie about it - a welcome cleanser for his soul. OK. "Turned out" is, as Chris Cherot puts it, a bit "harsh. " The turning out, he insists was "mutual. " But he was, nonetheless, deeply affected - so much so that this NYU film school dropout/self-described homeless guy put finger to laptop and created "Hav Plenty," his personal paean to buppie love gone awry.