Neely Swanson

“Pianomania” film well tuned [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Pianomania” film well tuned [MOVIE REVIEW]

Stefan Knupfe, the protagonist in “Pianomania,” the German documentary written and directed by Lilian Franck and Robert Cibis, is, simply-put, a piano tuner. Simply-put doesn’t, however, come anywhere close to describing his tasks as the chief technician and master tuner of Steinway & Sons in Vienna. Stefan is concierge, master magician, cohort, consort, inventor, improviser […]

 Neely Swanson

Incendiary: powerful film shows how an innocent man was put to death in Texas, under Governor Rick Perry’s watch [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Incendiary” in every sense of the word. Like an onion, as layer upon layer is pulled away in Steve Mims’ and Joe Bailey, Jr.’s film “Incendiary: The Willingham Case,” more and more is revealed and exposure to the deeper layers pulls at the tear ducts both in frustration and sadness. On December 23, 1991 a […]

 Neely Swanson

Film on Charles and Ray Eames a winner [MOVIE REVIEW]

Film on Charles and Ray Eames a winner [MOVIE REVIEW]

He understood function, they understood form, and she understood color. He was the concept, she was the artist, and together Charles and Ray Eames formed the very definition of conceptual artist. In “EAMES the architect and the painter,” Jason Cohn and Bill Jersey unspool the career of Ray and Charles Eames, because, as what becomes […]

 Neely Swanson

The Other F Word: punk rock dads rule

If you’ve never rebelled against authority, against your parents, against the status quo or simply never rebelled, then read no further because in all likelihood you won’t understand the conflicts that follow. Andrea Blaugrund Nevins’ insightful, profane and poignant documentary The Other F Word adds a new dimension to the collision course of the “rage […]

 Neely Swanson

A bad trip to Bombay Beach [Movie Review]

A bad trip to Bombay Beach [Movie Review]

The Salton Sea, 385 square miles of water created when the Colorado River overflowed in 1905, was marketed in the 1950s as “Bombay Beach,” the recreation capital of the world, complete with marinas, yachts and movie stars. Now that would have made an interesting film. Instead, what we got was Bombay Beach,  yet another cinema verité-style […]

 Neely Swanson

Clooney’s “Ides of March ” a triumph

Clooney’s “Ides of March ” a triumph

Be aware “The Ides of March,” written by George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, based on Willimon’s play “Farragut North,” and masterfully directed by Clooney. Be aware that it is a challenging, intelligent, extraordinary movie, one that should and, I’m sure, will enter the rarified collection of “classic” movies concerning the American election process […]

 Neely Swanson

‘Footloose’and fancy free

The script is creaky, the characters are stereotypic, the acting is often flat (or worse), the plot lacks depth and yet… “Footloose” is fun and engaging and a hoot. A classic example of how much an audience can forgive if there’s a great opening and terrific ending. I can still hold my head up and […]

 Neely Swanson

Like lemon meringue pie, “Toast” is sweet and tart [MOVIE REVIEW]

“No matter how bad things get, it’s impossible not to love someone who made you toast,” says Nigel Slater the internationally renowned food writer, whose memoir is the basis of the recently released British film “Toast.” “Once you’ve bitten through that crusty surface to the soft dough underneath and tasted the warm salty butter, you’re […]

 Neely Swanson

Real Steel is a reel steal [MOVIE REVIEW]

Real Steel is a reel steal [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Real Steel,” Disney’s sanitized answer to Rocky starring Hugh Jackman and Atom the animatronic robot is a 13-year-old’s fantasy. In a world of the not too distant future, extreme boxing has been taken over by robots and their human trainers. Charlie, the almost-ran former boxer and now loser on the margins, played by Hugh Jackman […]

 Neely Swanson

Benda Bilili! [MOVIE REVIEW]

Benda Bilili! [MOVIE REVIEW]

There cannot be many more squalid places to live than Kinshasa on the wrong side of the Congo River in the ironically named Democratic Republic of the Congo. The thug dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko, civil war, and poverty have done much to ravage an already reeling population. Factor in the results of a polio […]

 Neely Swanson

Thunder Soul film a true tale well told

  One person can make a difference and everyone should try. – John F. Kennedy Conrad Johnson made a difference every day of his life and the students he taught during his long career in Texas, and most particularly at Kashmere High School in the 5th Ward of Houston, were inspired to try. In 2006, […]

 Neely Swanson

Jane’s Journey, a documentary about the life of Jane Goodall [MOVIE REVIEW]

Jane’s Journey, a documentary about the life of Jane Goodall [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Jane’s Journey,” a documentary written and directed by Lorenz Knauer about the life of Jane Goodall that premiers in theaters on Friday, Sept. 23, is actually two films; and that is both the good news and the bad news, as both are interesting but neither fits organically into the structure of the other. What I […]

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