Move over, Slumdog Millionaire. This is the real deal.

Ramin Bahrani's sprawling tale of a poor young Indian man who rises to become an entrepreneur is an epic saga of inequality, poverty, and corruption. Adapted from the Man Booker Prize-winning novel by Aravind Adiga, it is not your typical feel-good story about plucky self-realization. A first-person narrator, Balram (the extraordinary Adarsh Gourav), tells us his story from rags to riches. The movie begins in the middle when Balram’s eventful life takes a turn for the worse. But at that moment we don’t know who he is. We see him joyously…


Last year sucked for movies just as it did for everything else

A scene from Mank

I will always prefer a big screen in the dark with strangers instead of my living room but we had no choice. 2020 was a sad, bizarre year in which we had to watch movies at home. I missed so many movies that were scheduled to open on theaters and were postponed. The film festivals that could have taken the opportunity to include a global audience didn’t and it’s hard to keep pace with what gets released where, so I feel very bereft of movies this year. Scrolling…


They do make them like they used to

The timing of the release of Mank on Netflix could not be more poignant. A movie about the writing of Citizen Kane, which some consider the greatest American movie ever made, if not the greatest movie of all time, Mank comes at a time when the communal experience of watching movies on a big screen, in a dark theater, surrounded by strangers, seems mortally imperiled.

Movies are over 100 years old but their demise has been predicted since the advent of the talkies. Something is always threatening the end of movies as…


Jagshemash Plus 1

Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Borat is now so well known that Americans recognize him on the street so it is increasingly difficult for him to pull stunts. His kind of semi-documentary humor is not an easy premise to sustain but as Baron Cohen demonstrates, there will always be people who deserve to be mocked. This time, Cohen has to create other characters with elaborate costumes (which look too cumbersome, and therefore aren’t as funny) and introduces Borat’s 15 year-old daughter Tutar (the extraordinary Maria Bakalova) in order to continue lampooning American idiots. Tutar allows Baron Cohen to…


Those were the days

Aaron Sorkin writes highly entertaining “message” movies. The Trial Of The Chicago Seven is a timely and spirited cri de coeur about civil disobedience. It represents in a courtroom the two sides of America that are, as in those days, at loggerheads today. That is, the democratically-minded citizenry who takes seriously their first amendment rights and the idea of the US as a righteous democracy (what some aspiring fascists today consider “the far left”), versus the authoritarians in power and the racists who love them. The parallels between the tensions in Chicago in the late sixties…


Not so cute.

Netflix

American conservatives are up in arms about this French Netflix movie about a group of tween girls from the projects in Paris who like to dance like strippers. Politicians like Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton, those paragons of moral probity, have chimed in, and people are calling the FBI, rallying the country to cancel Netflix, and alerting Congress about the perils of child pornography. It seems to me that their outrage serves as a convenient distraction from the devastation committed daily by Trump and the Republican party, but let’s take a look at the film.

Directed by…


And Mucho, Mucho Makeup: the Story of Walter Mercado

I had no idea of who Walter Mercado was until I arrived in the US in the early 90s and discovered his campy astrological readings on Spanish language TV. At the time, I thought he was a total fake. Too much hairspray, too much plastic surgery, too much everything. More than predictions, his prognostications were like a cheering squad. I wanted my zodiac readings to micromanage my future, and he never said anything concrete. I didn’t get him.

Well, as I watched the documentary about him on Netflix, I was pleasantly…


Here we go again…

Happy New Year!

Best of the Best

Parasite

Les Miserables

Jojo Rabbit

Uncut Gems

The Irishman

The Nightingale

Ash Is Purest White

Peterloo

Very Good

Booksmart

Ford v Ferrari

Pain and Glory

Marriage Story

The Report

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Transit

I Am The Beautiful Girl Who Lives In The House

Amazing Grace

Good

Synonyms

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Ad Astra

Her Smell

The Lighthouse

The Souvenir

Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review

Knock Down The House

1917

Vice

Knives Out

OK

Bombshell

Official Secrets

Shadow

Judy

Disappointing

Little Women

Us

A Hidden Life

Overrated

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood

Midsommar

The Farewell


Why?

The long-running musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics from “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”, an anthology of delightful poems by T.S. Eliot, worked on the stage because the cast was wearing theatrical makeup, spandex bodysuits and, having been conceived in the early eighties, legwarmers. No one expected the actors to look like real cats but they moved like cats. The musical has a threadbare plot but somehow it doesn’t matter because humans pretending to be singing and dancing cats is an illusion that can be sustained in the physical make-believe of the wooden stage.

Whose idea was…


You can’t have it both ways.

Greta Gerwig wrote and directed Lady Bird with a modest budget and a small cast and it was a wonderful opera prima; fresh, funny, and poignant. Her script for Frances Ha was also breezy and delightful. She follows these works with an ambitious, far more unwieldy adaptation of Little Women, the classic by Louisa May Alcott. Sadly, the enormity of the undertaking seems to sag under the weight, like a cumbersome Victorian crinoline. With a cast of thousands that includes Meryl Streep, Tracy Letts, Saoirse Ronan, Chris Cooper, Louis Garel, Timothee Chalamet, Florence Pugh…

Yehudit Mam

A Jewish Aztec Princess with strong opinions about film, food, and human foibles. Cofounder of dada.nyc

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