Rand Richards Cooper
The documentary format of The Gatekeepers is tame, the content explosive, splicing interviews with archival footage outlining the history of Shin Bet since the 1967 Six-Day War and the contours of Israeli policy vis-à-vis its Arab nemeses. The House I Live In takes us on a dismal road trip through our nation’s inaptly named corrections industry, issuing a verdict both unanimous and harsh.
A joint effort of famed documentarian Ken Burns and his daughter, Sarah, The Central Park Five shows how five young American males of color were railroaded into confessing to a crime they didn’t commit. In 56 Up, Michael Apted checks back in with the group of fourteen Britons originally captured on film as seven-year-old schoolchildren in 1964's first installment of the 7 Up series.
Scenes of astonishing beauty make Life of Pi a visual feast from start to finish, while The Flat illuminates the particular tragedy of German Jews, who clung to their Germanness even through the Holocaust.
The dystopic future of Looper could well be the present-day Detroit of the documentary Detropia. And while the picture in Looper is grim, the signature quality of Detropia is its persistent discovery of grandeur within the grimness.
Given its overwhelmingly young audience demographic, it’s interesting to see what Hollywood does when it gets its hands on the unsettling themes of old age.
A short story from the author of the novels 'The Last to Go' and 'Big as Life.'
My daughter’s grade school sponsors anti-bullying workshops and plays and plasters its halls with hortatory slogans, indicating a concerted attempt to lower the threshold of tolerance for peer intimidation. Bully should be seen as part of that effort—and it should be seen.
The theme of father-son conflict has figured richly in movies, often bearing a conspicuously manly aspect. Consider the generational face-offs in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Godfather, Road to Perdition—replete with guns, booze, fast cars, fights over money, fights over women. The Israeli film Footnote abjures such lurid and obvious topics to focus instead on the fraught acrimonies of...Talmudic scholarship?
At a recent panel discussion on the financial meltdown, I was startled to hear breathless stories along the lines of “Where I was when Lehman Bros. fell.” Didn’t they understand that for the rest of us, the fall of Lehman was not the moon landing? And that to speak of it in a jocular way might rankle those of us not in “financial services”? Margin Call, exploits the gap between these two perspectives, showing us the investment-banking bubble through the eyes of the lavishly paid insiders who were its engineers and beneficiaries.
Reviews of new French films Point Blank & Sarah’s Key
Another Earth subordinates its futuristic elements to the familiar realities of loss, grief, and regret. This is the director's first film, and it's far from perfect. Neither is the reboot of Planet of the Apes. But neither film fails completely.
Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams & the Italian mystery The Double Hour
Mike Leigh’s 'Another Year'
Waiting for "Superman" & Inside Job
A short story by the author of the novels 'The Last to Go' and 'Big as Life.'
Michael Haneke's new film is set in Eichwald, a fictional German village, in 1913. The village’s children will be in their thirties when Hitler comes to power. This timeline makes the violent events in Eichwald much more ominous, and raises the inevitable question: What kind of childhood created Nazis?
What is it that so captivates us in portrayals of down-and-out artists, writers, and performers? Playing a creative type careening out of control tends to bring out the best in an actor—consider Michael Douglas in Wonder Boys, Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas, Paul Giamatti in Sideways. Add to this stellar list of losers Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart.
Up in the Air exudes the same jaunty, up-tempo cynicism that powered Jason Reitman's Thank You for Smoking. It’s fun to watch. Indeed, it’s so much fun that you have to wonder about Reitman as a satirist. Is he angry enough?
A review of the films ’The Baader Meinhof Complex’ and ’The English Surgeon’
On worshiping John Updike.
A review of Jonathan Demme’s latest film, ’Rachel Getting Married’
Director Alfonso Cuaron’s harsh vision of a future without babies, a world without hope.
Exploring the strange creatures of the films ’The Descent’ and ’Little Miss Sunshine.’
With his new film, Woody Allen scores an unexpected triumph by unveiling a new stroke no one knew he had. Rand Richards Cooper reviews.
’The Constant Gardener’ takes idealism and makes it sexy. Reviewed by Rand Richards Cooper.
Rand Richards Cooper on Nicole Kassell’s gritty and disturbing debut film.
Hotel Rwanda offers a tantalizing portrayal of heroism. Million Dollar Baby represents violence as tragic rather than cathartic.
Sideways has created some surprising Best Picture buzz—surprising, because Oscar rarely smiles on small movies with loser protagonists. Rand Richards Cooper reviews.
Mike Leigh’s new film isn’t as politically correct as the critics would have you believe. Rand Richards Cooper reviews.
Fahrenheit 9/11 is a brilliant piece of propaganda; Control Room presents a "substantial clash of opinions."
"In an era in which the idea of winning has transfixed America’s imagination and imperiled its soul, the Red Sox remind us that life is a trial."
Robert McNamara & The Fog of War
Just how anti can an antihero be? Rand Richards Cooper reviews the devilish comic-book adaptations of The Punisher and Hellboy.
How does the latest mindbender from screenwriter Charlie Kaufmann stand up to his previous works? Among his best, reports movie critic Rand Richards Cooper. Also: When does reenactment work on film? In the gripping rescue story of Touching the Void.
How do you like your movie violence?