movie reviews

Film still

“Whiplash” film review — How far would you go for your art?

[Donald reviews “Whiplash,” a film that opened the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, and finds personal connections to his own conservatory experience. — the artblog editors] What will a young man do for what he loves: his art? How far is too far? When does one draw the line in this everlasting mission? The answer is unclear, as any serious artist knows that you spend your entire life searching for the best result. The “best result” can be another term for perfection, which is impossible, of course. Perfection is like a continuous mathematics problem. You can only go to infinity and ... More » »

Photo courtesy of Jack English

A touch of Hollywood romance in Woody Allen’s new Magic in the Moonlight

[Donald appreciates the new Woody Allen movie, a May-December romantic comedy firmly in the Hollywood tradition. — the artblog editors] Woody Allen’s “Magic In the Moonlight” is an old-fashioned romantic comedy set on the French Riviera in 1928 with two sleight-of-hand artists – Stanley, the magician, and Sophie, the psychic – two “commoners” circling each other warily amidst their sponsors and friends, the idle rich. Engaging screen presence of Colin Firth and Emma Stone Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth), a veteran magician who is determined to reveal psychic medium Sophie Baker (Emma Stone) as a phony, is as irascible and snobbish ... More » »


About a Boyhood

Roberta goes to the movies and sees a great piece of ensemble acting in a warm, human story. In the almost three hours Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood takes to tell the story of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from age five to eighteen, the haircuts change, and the pop music of the background does too. But the kid and his just folks family, living their pretty darned normal Texas lives, stay normal and true. Their lives are chronicled with such quiet and intimate storytelling that by the end they feel like friends. Boyhood (IMDB, Wikipedia) is outside the recent Hollywood tradition of family portrayals.  This is not a movie that is hijacked by 1) an ... More » »

One of the lancet windows designed by LeCompte and built by LeCompte and Higgins for the National Cathedral.

Crafting Light – Movie review of Let There Be Light, now on DVD

—>Dashiell sees the documentary film about stained glass artist Rowan LeCompte and the artisans who worked with him on a commission for the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and says we will all come away with a new appreciation of the medium after watching the movie. –the artblog editors————> Peter Swanson, the director of the new documentary “Let There Be Light”, spent six years behind the camera to tell the story of Rowan LeCompte, a master stained-glass artist who has been honing his craft for the past 70 years, and his work on the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. The film ... More » »

An illustration from Ungerer's "The Three Robbers" (1962)

Film Review – Far Out Isn’t Far Enough – The Tomi Ungerer Story

—>Dashiell’s movie review of the new documentary about Tomi Ungerer makes us want to see the film soon!—the artblog editors—————-> Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story” is a new documentary paying tribute to the eponymous illustrator – a visionary and highly controversial artist most renowned for his children’s books, but also famous for his anti-war posters, and his pornographic illustrations. Ungerer, now in his 80s, is the central figure of the film, narrating his own life story. The artist is wild, insightful, and often very funny, a thrilling persona to watch as he spouts aphorisms in a ... More » »

At the Venice Biennial

DVD Review — Fold Crumple Crush – The Art of El Anatsui

“Fold, Crumple, Crush” is a quiet, charming documentary directed by Susan Vogel examining the life and work of Ghanaian-Nigerian artist El Anatsui. The film begins at the 2007 Venice Biennial where Anatsui is overseeing the construction of an exhibit of his work. Vogel then follows Anatsui to his home in Nigeria, gaining insights into the artist and his art from his colleagues at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, his assistants in his workshop, and from the man himself. Over the course of the film, we learn of Anatsui’s evolution as an artist, from paintings, to sculptures made from clay and ... More » »

Within Mirrors

Within Mirrors – Successful collaboration of short films by Paul Clipson with Sound by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

It is not uncommon for the current generation of experimental and noise musicians to incorporate film into their performances. Oftentimes, the moving images feel arbitrarily chosen, as if selected merely to give the audience something to look at during performances in which the artists remain static. In rare instances, however, the relationship of abstract music to the film images with which it is paired is a symbiotic one, each informing and complementing the other. Such is the case on “Within Mirrors,” a DVD collection of seven short films, originally released between 2005 and 2008, by Paul Clipson featuring music by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. ... More » »

Sylvia Kristel

Manon de Boer’s film Trilogy at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with live programs this weekend

What do a Dutch actress best known for her performance in a soft-core porn film that was distributed in mainstream venues, a French-educated, Brazilian psychoanalyst interested in trauma, and an American interpreter of avant garde percussion music have in common? Is that even a worthwhile question to ask about the women who are the subjects of Manon de Boer’s Resonating Surfaces – A Trilogy, on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art  (PMA), extended through May 5, with additional live programming this weekend. The Dutch actress, Sylvia Kristel, who gained a world-wide reputation for her role as Emmanuelle in the ... More » »

Lithographer Ann Chernow, working on her anti-war print in the movie

Movie review – Art is…The Permanent Revolution

I have never known a movie title with an ellipsis in it…and I don’t imagine that will become a trend. But that’s a small nit to pick in Art is…The Permanent Revolution, a documentary by Manfred Kirchheimer that focuses on three contemporary printmakers who make anti-war art. Along the way, the movie tells the stories (and shows the images) of some of the greatest protest art through the ages. It’s hard to say what’s better in the 82 minute documentary, the behind-the-scenes look at the studio practice of Sigmund Abeles, etcher, Ann Chernow, lithographer and Paul Marcus, woodcutter, or the parade of ... More » »

Photo of Ross McElwee at the lecture.

Photographic Memory, the latest film by Ross McElwee

“It is highly ironic that I complain about my son’s use of technology when I stick a camera in his face.” –Ross McElwee Lecture room 401 was packed Thursday, Nov. 8, for Ross McElwee’s screening and discussion of his latest film, Photographic Memory. Professors and film students filled most of the seats in Fisher-Bennet Hall at the University of Pennsylvania.  They were clearly admirers and scholars of his work. Respected for his voice in the cinéma vérité movement, McElwee is known for opening his personal world in his films, incorporating home videos and reflective voice-overs and reflecting these familial narratives ... More » »