RSS feed for Michael
  • Timbuktu 2014

    ★★★★★ Added

    Mauritanian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako follows up Bamako, his great 2006 indictment of the World Bank and western capitalism, with an equally damning indictment of third-world religious extremism. This lightning-in-a-bottle masterpiece, based on real events that occurred in 2012 but which seem even more prescient following the rise of ISIS, concerns the occupation of the Malian city of Timbuktu by militant Islamist rebels. Sissako’s eye-opening film intertwines several narratives, all of which dramatize the clash between foreign “jihadists” and the moderate…

  • The Babadook 2014

    ★★★★½ Added

    Amelia (Essie Davis), a young nursing-home employee, is tragically widowed in a car accident when her husband drives her to the hospital so she can give birth to their first child. Six years later, she can’t help but associate her troubled son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) with her beloved husband’s death. Amelia is frustrated by Samuel’s seemingly delusional belief that their household is being menaced by a shadowy monster named “Mr. Babadook,” a belief that is given credence by the mysterious…

  • The Way He Looks 2014

    ★★★½ Added 1

    This winning debut feature from writer/director Daniel Ribeiro puts an original spin on the tried-and-true coming-of-age genre: in the opening scene, the 15-year-old protagonist, Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo), and his best friend, Giovana (Tess Amorim), commiserate poolside over the fact that they’ve never been kissed. Think you know where this is going? Think again. Leonardo is a blind and closeted gay kid, who is only gradually brought out of his shell after the arrival at his school of another gay kid,…

  • The Iron Ministry 2014

    ★★★★ Added

    Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab alum J.P. Sniadecki spent three years filming passengers on commuter trains in China before whittling his nonfiction footage down to this extremely impressive 82-minute feature. Although Sniadecki never takes his camera or microphone outside the train — and serves up sights and sounds that impart a remarkable “you are there effect” (particularly during a stunning sequence of trash being swept up in close-up) — this is hardly a minimalist exercise like the SEL’s riveting Manakamana. Instead,…

  • Miss Julie 2014

    ★★★★ Added

    Writer/director Liv Ullmann, also arguably the greatest Scandinavian actress of all time, is well suited to bringing August Strindberg’s famous play about the combustible mixture of class differences and sexual desire to full cinematic life. She transposes the narrative to late-19th century Ireland, presumably to justify the all-star cast of Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton (all terrific), but this move is also likely to lull unsuspecting viewers into thinking they are watching something akin to the innocuous “good…

  • Force Majeure 2014

    ★★★★ Added

    While holidaying in the French Alps and facing an impending natural disaster, Tobias (Johannes Kuhnke), a yuppie family-man from Sweden, behaves in a cowardly fashion in front of his wife, Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli), and their two young children. The marital discord that results spreads like a virus to another vacationing couple, Tobias’ friend Kristofer (Kristofer Hivju) and his much younger girlfriend Fanny (Fanni Metelius). This masterful drama piles complex emotions — shame, fear, embarrassment, anguish — on top of…

  • David Holzman's Diary 1967

    ★★★★½ Added

    A true American “kissing cousin” of the French New Wave, Jim McBride’s no-budget feature — made for just $2,500 in 1967 money — is one of the great debut films, one of the great mock-documentaries (before the concept even existed) and one of the great movies about filmmaking. The premise is that the lead character, David Holzman (L.M. Kit Carson), an amateur filmmaker, decides upon losing his job to document his life with a 16mm camera — believing that the…

  • A Woman Under the Influence 1974

    ★★★★★ Added

    John Cassavetes was the godfather of independent American cinema. His 1959 debut, the self-financed Shadows, tackled taboo subjects involving race and sexuality with a “DIY” spirit before the concept in American cinema even existed. While his entire filmography is a limitless treasure chest, this 1974 domestic drama probably deserves to be called his supreme masterpiece. Gena Rowlands (Cassavetes’ wife, muse and perennial leading lady) gives one of the greatest acting performances ever captured on celluloid as Mabel Longhetti, a woman…

  • Boyhood 2014

    ★★★★★ Added

    Boyhood is the single film that best defines American life in the 21st century: whitecitycinema.com/2014/07/28/now-playing-boyhood/

  • Snowpiercer 2013

    ★★★★ Added

    2014's best "summer popcorn movie": whitecitycinema.com/2014/07/21/now-playing-snowpiercer/

  • The Messiah 1976

    ★★★★★ Added

    The best Jesus movie ever (better even than Pasolini's).

    Rossellini goes buckwild with the zoom lens.

    Watch the whole thing on YouTube (with English subtitles) here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnBTw34lasU

  • Renaldo and Clara 1978

    ★★★★★ Added

    Bob Dylan's rarely seen four-hour movie RENALDO AND CLARA is a misunderstood masterpiece and one of the best films of the 1970s:

    whitecitycinema.com/2014/05/19/celluloid-flashback-renaldo-and-clara/