Monday, December 9, 2013

'Emperor' falls short

“Emperor” is a movie with great potential. The thought of seeing Tommy Lee Jones portray Gen. Douglas MacArthur as he oversees the rebuilding of Japan after World War II was enough to make me check out this film directed by Peter Webber. The story of the challenges facing the United States and Japan during the post-war reconstruction also promises a unique “war movie.” Unfortunately, “Emperor” never quite lives up to its potential.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

'The Lords of Salem': A witchy nod to the past

As I watched “The Lords of Salem” on Blu-ray disc, I couldn’t help but imagine Rob Zombie’s latest horror film in a clunky, cardboard VHS box sitting on a video store shelf.

Though this movie was released in 2012, this tale about witches feels like a horror movie made more than 30 years ago. This is not an accident. Zombie is definitely offering up “Lords of Salem” as a tribute to films such as Dario Argento’s “Suspiria.” This tribute has resulted in possibly his most atmospheric – and surreal – work to date. Most important, the movie is fun to watch.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Julia Garner lights up 'Electrick Children'

The plot of “Electrick Children” sounds like the premise of a bad comedy that comes at the expense of the Mormon community: A Mormon teenager believes her pregnancy is an immaculate conception that’s the result of hearing rock music for the first time.

Thankfully, this drama offers a unique and intriguing coming-of-age story featuring a standout performance by Julia Garner.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's wishing a happy and safe Thanksgiving to the readers of Celluloid and Sound.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Winery Dogs fetch a winning debut

Far too often, “supergroups” prove that the whole is, sometimes, not greater than the sum of its parts. That is not the case with The Winery Dogs. Their eponymous debut is the sound of three top-caliber musicians using their talents -- and chemistry -- to craft melodic hard rock songs that give a nod to the past while offering a fresh, modern twist.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

'Europa Report': Smart sci-fi on a budget

The special effects of “Gravity” may have drawn in moviegoers, but “Europa Report” shows you don’t need a big special effects budget to tell a story about space travel that will hold an audience spellbound.

Laughing through the ‘Thinky Pain’

Netflix has received plenty of accolades for its original programming, but they deserve a few more kudos for its exclusive stand-up special “Marc Maron: Thinky Pain.” Maron has been doing stand-up for many years. He’s probably best known for his podcast,“WTF with Marc Maron.” He also has an IFC series. 

Despite this success, I was unaware of him. This 90-minute stand-up performance not only made me a fan, but will likely win him many more. If you enjoy smart comedy, you need to know Marc Maron.

'Short Term 12' accolades well deserved

When I attended a film festival earlier this year, I almost passed on seeing “Short Term 12.” The summary for this movie sounded as if it would traffick in the worst indie movie cliches: The story of a supervisor at a foster care facility for at-risk youth.

I could already envision scenes of a supervisor doing her best to make a difference in the lives of troubled teens. The characters would be walking cliches seen in countless movies where a social worker or a teacher is trying to help adolescents trapped in a system that gave up on them long ago.

I am glad I was wrong. “Short Term 12” may be the best movie I have seen this year. It’s clear why this movie won both the jury prize and the audience award at the South by Southwest Film Festival.

Sunday, August 4, 2013