Neely Swanson

“Non-Fiction” – Not without friction

“Non-Fiction” – Not without friction

by Neely Swanson “Non-Fiction,” a film written and directed by Olivier Assayas, is a movie only the French would make. From the positive side, this is a clever, deep, thoughtful and intelligent film. On the negative side, this is a verbal exercise that American audiences may not have the patience for; and more’s the pity. […]

 Neely Swanson

“Tolkien” – Finding Middle Earth [MOVIE]

“Tolkien” – Finding Middle Earth [MOVIE]

by Neely Swanson Director Dome Karukoski and writers David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford take us on a marvelous journey in “Tolkien,” the rarest of biopics that truly enlightens and entertains. There is a proviso, however, as the Tolkien estate disavowed the film without having ever seen it. More’s the pity for, authorized or not, it […]

 Neely Swanson

“Out of Blue” – Not just blue [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Out of Blue” – Not just blue [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Out of Blue,” the misguided film written and directed by Carol Morely, tells a story of murder, philosophy, and physics, and none of it well. Based, one can only hope loosely, on the novel Night Train by Martin Amis, “Out of Blue” begins with a lecture on the stars and the nature […]

 Neely Swanson

“Yardie” – Imprisoned [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Yardie” – Imprisoned [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson Idris Elba’s directorial debut in the British film, written for the screen by Brock Norman Brock and Martin Stellman, based on the book of the same name by Victor Headley, can be a tough film to watch. “Yardie” is hard-edged and violent, described by Elba as a UK gangster film but with […]

 Neely Swanson

“Transit” – Moving [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Transit” – Moving [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson Writer/director Christian Petzold is a master of allegory, irony, and complexity. He is also a gifted interpreter of novels, adapting them so that new meaning and depth rises out of the pages. Such was the case of “Phoenix,” his allegorical story set in post-war Germany and based on Le Retour des Cendres […]

 Neely Swanson

“Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People” – Won’t win the prize [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People” – Won’t win the prize [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People,” directed by Oren Rudavsky and written by Rudavsky and Robert Seidman, was produced in association with PBS American Masters. One had reason to have high hopes. Pulitzer made a major impact on publishing and is the quintessential immigrant story. My formative years were spent reading the […]

 Neely Swanson

“Patrick” – A dog [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Patrick” – A dog [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Patrick,” a little Hallmark-style film that luckily stays just this side of treacly, would have been far more suited as a minor television movie than a feature. Writer/director Mandi Fletcher, known primarily as the director of the Absolutely Fabulous movie of 2016, has never met a trope she didn’t like. We meet […]

 Neely Swanson

“La Religieuse” – Nun but the lonely heart [MOVIE REVIEW]

“La Religieuse” – Nun but the lonely heart [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson In a new 4K restoration, Jacques Rivette’s highly controversial film, La Religieuse (The Nun), is given a long-awaited revival. Finished in 1966, this film generated controversy even before completion, and its release in France was delayed further when the Ministry of Information refused to license it for distribution, despite a board of […]

 Neely Swanson

“Mary Poppins Returns” – A Spoon full of sugar isn’t going to help [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Mary Poppins Returns” – A Spoon full of sugar isn’t going to help [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Mary Poppins Returns” hits all the notes, notes that were all hit before. Mary Poppins may be practically perfect in every way (especially as played by Emily Blunt) but the film is practically dreadful in every way. With a story written by a committee of David Magee, Rob Marshall, and John DeLuca, […]

 Neely Swanson

“The Guilty” – As we all are [MOVIE REVIEW]

“The Guilty” – As we all are [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson Detective Asger Holm’s annoyance can be read in his smirk. Assigned to desk duty in the emergency services division for some unknown transgression, he is reduced to fielding calls and redirecting them to dispatch. Clearly this is beneath his dignity and he lets the first couple of callers know it, hanging up […]

 Neely Swanson

“Stavisky” – Madoff with a lot [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Stavisky” – Madoff with a lot [MOVIE REVIEW]

  by Neely Swanson “Stavisky,” a film based on a true story as seen through the lens of Alain Resnais and screenwriter Jorge Samprún, originally released in 1974, has been given a beautiful 4K restoration by Rialto Pictures. Although all the recent 4K restorations of “classic” movies have been marvelous, this one is particularly significant […]

 Neely Swanson

“The Old Man and the Gun” – Shoot the moon [MOVIE REVIEW]

“The Old Man and the Gun” – Shoot the moon [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “The Old Man and the Gun” is Robert Redford’s valedictory film for us all, demographics be damned. Based on a New Yorker article written by David Grann, writer-director David Lowery has given us a meaningful send-off for Robert Redford. Based on the true story of Forrest Tucker, a professional bank robber, Lowery […]

 Neely Swanson

“Tea with the Dames” – And there’s nothing like it. [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Tea with the Dames” – And there’s nothing like it. [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Tea with the Dames” is one of the most delightful documentaries to come along in a period that has been full of wonderful documentaries. Although the term “Dame” refers to the royal honorific bestowed on women who have made outstanding contributions to their craft, it can, surprisingly also take on the American […]

 Neely Swanson

“The House with a Clock in its Walls” – Tick, tick, boom! [MOVIE REVIEW]

“The House with a Clock in its Walls” – Tick, tick, boom! [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson Never has such a delightful, family-friendly film come along that boasts what seems to be a counterintuitive creative team. Maybe that’s just another of the terrific surprises associated with this flat-out wonderful movie. From this point on, if you expect anything remotely negative about “The House with a Clock in its Walls,” […]

 Neely Swanson

“Colette” – Nicely Knightley played [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Colette” – Nicely Knightley played [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Colette,” a portrayal of the soon-to-be-famous Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, is an almost-ran on too many levels. Directed by Wash Westmoreland (“Still Alice” and Quinceañera”) and written by a team including Westmoreland, Richard Glatzer, and Rebecca Lenkiewicz, all from a story by Glatzer. And this may be the problem, for with that many writers, […]

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