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Cinema and Television, May/June 2010 »

[27 May 2010 | 6 Comments | 50,505 Views]
Playtime’s Favorite War (and Anti-War) Films

The United States celebrates its Memorial Day in honor of fallen servicemen and women on Monday.  In remembrance for all fallen soldiers in countries around the world, we at Playtime have devised their favorites from war and anti-war cinema, all capturing the spirit of human struggle.

Matthew Kessen

Apocalypse Now (d. Francis Ford Coppola, 1979) – Apocalypse Now is, to many, a definitive war movie. The book on which it is based, however – Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness – actually has nothing to do with war. The novella’s Kurtz instead goes …

Cinema and Television, May/June 2010 »

[10 May 2010 | One Comment | 2,000 Views]
Sharunas Bartas’ <em>Three Days</em>

They appear to us as if emerged from the void. They have no context, no back-story, and no prior life. We discover them at the same time as they discover themselves: they are newborn men and women, plucked from an infernal factory where human beings are built and placed in a makeshift territory of uninhabitable houses. Lacking a past, lacking anything to remember, they shuffle about their dystopic wasteland with no goal in mind, having never had a past in which to choose a goal. They have no anecdotes to …

Cinema and Television, Cultural Comment, Jan/Feb 2010 »

[3 Feb 2010 | One Comment | 1,292 Views]
2000s Cinema: My Favorites

In terms of world news and events, the 2000s have been an intensely involved period, and a depressing one. From attacks on America, two large-scale wars, genocide still, horrific natural disasters and a global recession the “Aughts” haven’t been too kind on us as a whole. Cinema has really moved up its game during this time, however, producing a better quality of comedies, dramas and musicals compared to the previous couple decades. Animation, in fact, has never been better, and documentaries seem to …

Cinema and Television, May 2009 »

[21 May 2009 | One Comment | 916 Views]
Anvil! A review of <i>Anvil! The Story of Anvil</i>

The audience is made up of equal parts leather-clad true believers, college-age hipsters, and, like me, cinematic onlookers hoping for a once-in-a-lifetime multimedia experience.  I’d never heard of the Canadian hard rockers Anvil, but since the unveiling of the sweetly-titled documentary, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, at Sundance in 2008, buzz had been mounting.  I frequently check this particular theater’s online listings, never knowing when a special event may appear, and tonight I’ve hit the jackpot:  Anvil itself is going to be at this midnight showing, thrashing through what could …

April 2009, Cinema and Television »

Yesterday’s Here: A trip to Adventureland
[15 Apr 2009 | 4 Comments | 1,498 Views]
Yesterday’s Here: A trip to Adventureland

Though something of a nostalgia trip, Adventureland never falls into the traps of over romanticizing or sentimentalizing a bygone era. Inspired by the events of his own post-adolescence in the 1980s, Greg Mottola writes and directs this surprisingly tender film about confused and loveless young adults. Though beginning on a similar note as many films of its type — a party where the protagonist, James, is introduced as a virgin — the film takes an unusual path from there. He returns home to find out his summer plans are dashed …

April 2009, Cinema and Television »

Brighton Beach Blues: Two Lovers
[8 Apr 2009 | One Comment | 1,566 Views]
Brighton Beach Blues: <i>Two Lovers</i>

"ONE lover, ah ah ah…"
From its somnambulistic opening, a slow-mo Joaquin Phoenix shedding his dry cleaning delivery along a pier and calmly plunging into Sheepshead Bay, his mind’s eye imagining a woman forlornly leaving a home, Two Lovers establishes its pervasive tone as that of fatalistic, romantic depression.  Phoenix is Leonard Kraditor, a young Brighton Beach man with emotional problems whose previous suicide attempt forced him to live in his parents’ apartment and to work for their dry cleaning business.  In quick succession, two love interests enter his life: Sandra …

Cinema and Television, March 2009 »

Catherine: Portrait of a Modern Woman in Jules et Jim
[18 Mar 2009 | No Comment | 3,922 Views]
Catherine: Portrait of a Modern Woman in Jules et Jim

Some critics of Francois Truffaut’s 1962 film, Jules et Jim have argued that the film’s central character, Catherine (brought to life by the incomparable Jeanne Moreau), is an impulsive and unpredictable force of nature. You cannot anticipate what she will do, and perhaps that’s why she is so enchanting to her male friends. Though there is something to this idea, I think there are too many patterns in her behaviour to it off as completely random. To the audience, she is not enchanting because she is impulsive, but rather because …

Cinema and Television, March 2009 »

[12 Mar 2009 | 30 Comments | 4,985 Views]
Watchmen vs The Dark Knight

Seriously, my world just turned upside down.
Early in the year I forced myself to sit through Christopher Nolan’s painful but much hyped follow-up to the dreadfully mediocre Batman Begins.  You know Christopher Nolan, the guy who made the brilliant and ambitious movie, Memento, following it with one of the decade’s smartest American movies, The Prestige.  As a Batman fan, sitting through The Dark Knight was a physically painful affair: dire, clichéd rubbish, an overly traditional man vs terrorist setup soaked to the brim in an unquestioning philosophy a mile or …

Cinema and Television, February 2009 »

[5 Feb 2009 | 12 Comments | 4,322 Views]
Gold in the Desert: 2008 in Film

It seems as though 2007 and 2008 are mirror images of each other.  2007 was a year in which blockbuster summer entertainment hit an all-time low, with unimaginative sequels and threequels failing creatively left and right.  However, there were a lot of great films that came out outside of the bloated summer mold that were fantastic, so many that putting together a list of my favorites that year was almost impossible and actually ranking them was out of the question.  This year was the opposite, the summer movie season was …

Cinema and Television, December 2008 »

Timecrimes: El hombre que doblarse a sí mismo
[10 Dec 2008 | 3 Comments | 957 Views]
<I>Timecrimes</i>: El hombre que doblarse a sí mismo

Fans of genre films – at least, the lucky ones in “select markets” – are getting an imported holiday treat this weekend with the release of Los Cronocrímenes (Timecrimes,) a nifty science-fiction film about an accidental time tourist. I say science fiction deliberately; this isn’t a whiz-bang sci-fi adventure with as many explosions as plot holes, just a modest and satisfying thriller based on a simple what-if premise: what if you went back an hour in time?