Neely Swanson

War Horse: Speilberg’s beautiful but flawed anti-war epic [MOVIE REVIEW]

War Horse: Speilberg’s beautiful but flawed anti-war epic [MOVIE REVIEW]

“War Horse,” Steven Spielberg’s newest release, is a technical beauty. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminsky, production designer Rick Carter, costume designer Joanna Johnston and composer John Williams are the true stars of this film. Based on the children’s book by Michael Morpurgo and the award winning stage play written by Nick Stafford, screenwriters Lee Hall (“Billy Elliott”) […]

 Neely Swanson

London River: a powerful film about the unlikely intersections of human lives [MOVIE REVIEW]

London River: a powerful film about the unlikely intersections of human lives [MOVIE REVIEW]

Rachid Bouchareb is probably not a name you’ve heard before although he’s a director/writer/producer who has been nominated for an Academy Award three times and has racked up innumerable awards around the world for his intensely felt, deeply reasoned stories that challenge the boundaries of human expectation. His new, or actually newly released, film “London […]

 Neely Swanson

Rollicking “Tintin” leaps off screen [MOVIE REVIEW]

Rollicking “Tintin” leaps off screen [MOVIE REVIEW]

“The Adventures of Tintin,” directed by Steven Spielberg, is a rollicking, roaring adventure sure to captivate children and their parents the world over. Adapted from the Belgian comic book series created by Hergé, writers Stephen Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish have captured the innocence, adventure and intelligence of the irrepressibly and impossibly young investigative […]

 Neely Swanson

Carnage is carnage [MOVIE REVIEW]

Carnage is carnage [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Carnage” is carnage. Roman Polanski, with considerable help from Yasmina Reza herself, has taken a new translation of the play, “God of Carnage” and eliminated every vestige of comedy from within. Granted, it’s still Reza’s play but now it is without Christopher Hampton’s masterful translation or Matthew Warchus’s deft directorial timing and understanding that for […]

 Neely Swanson

We Need to Talk About Kevin: Merry Christmas no ho ho [MOVIE REVIEW]

We Need to Talk About Kevin: Merry Christmas no ho ho [MOVIE REVIEW]

We Need to Talk About Kevin is the stocking of coal hanging at the chimney on Christmas morning. It’s high class, multi-faceted coal, but coal nonetheless and is sure to darken the holiday mood, a darkness that is enhanced by cinematographer Seamus McGarvey’s dark palette. Briefly, for the story is brief, Eva, happily married to […]

 Neely Swanson

Young Adult: Charlize Theron shines as an aging prom queen hellbent on homewrecking [MOVIE REVIEW]

Young Adult: Charlize Theron shines as an aging prom queen hellbent on homewrecking [MOVIE REVIEW]

What if high school really was the best time of your life? In the case of “Yong Adult,” directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, the beautiful Mavis Gary, ghost writer of a successful young adult book series, plays out those halcyon years in print, book after book after book. Except now the […]

 Neely Swanson

Tinker Tailor Soldier Snooze [MOVIE REVIEW]

Tinker Tailor Soldier Snooze [MOVIE REVIEW]

Director Tomas Alfredson, in his remake of John LeCarré’s Cold War masterpiece spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, has delivered a film that proves that sometimes less is just, well, less. In both the novel and the previous mini-series from 1979, the plot and characters suck you into a vortex of quicksand, gasping for breath. […]

 Neely Swanson

Hugo: an early holiday gift from Martin Scorsese [MOVIE REVIEW]

Hugo: an early holiday gift from Martin Scorsese [MOVIE REVIEW]

Untie the brightly colored silk ribbon from the softly textured wrapping paper concealing the delicately carved box containing the lustrous golden ornament that is “Hugo” and you will be rewarded with a wonderful film about film cloaked in an emotional and deeply rewarding, multi-layered children’s tale that has arrived just in time for the holiday […]

 Neely Swanson

The never ending “Weekend” from Hell [MOVIE REVIEW]

The never ending “Weekend” from Hell [MOVIE REVIEW]

A newly restored and pristine print of the Jean-Luc Godard classic from 1968, “Weekend,” opens at the Nuart Theatre for one week beginning Friday, November 25. Godard, originally a writer for the iconic film criticism journal Cahiers du Cinema and a co-founder of the “New Wave” (along with fellow writers Claude Chabrol, François Truffaut, and […]

 Neely Swanson

Garbo the Spy tells the true tale of the Allies’ secret weapon [MOVIE REVIEW]

Garbo the Spy tells the true tale of the Allies’ secret weapon [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Garbo the Spy,” a new documentary from novice director Edmon Roch, tells the tale of one of the Allies’ secret weapons in World War II, Juan Pujol Garcia. Pujol, a Spaniard from Barcelona, had a checkered history during the Spanish Civil War. Drafted by the Republicans, he went into hiding. Joining the army some time […]

 Neely Swanson

Freud vs. Jung a beautiful period piece [MOVIE REVIEW]

Freud vs. Jung a beautiful period piece [MOVIE REVIEW]

In “A Dangerous Method,” David Cronenberg gives us a beautiful choreographed period piece, lushly filmed and intelligently told. Written by Christopher Hampton, using his own play “The Talking Cure,” John Kerr’s book A Dangerous Method and Jung’s own notebooks, the film unspools the ever widening rift between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and the man he […]

 Neely Swanson

Refreshing “Marilyn” film engages [MOVIE REVIEW]

Refreshing “Marilyn” film engages [MOVIE REVIEW]

“My Week with Marilyn” is the beautifully told story of a short but significant period in the lives of Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, Lawrence Olivier and, most particularly, Colin Clark. The film, by director Simon Curtis, is based on Clark’s Diaries, as adapted for the screen by Adrian Hodges. Clark, judged affectionately as the wastrel […]

 Neely Swanson

The Artist: a new silent masterpiece [MOVIE REVIEW]

The Artist: a new silent masterpiece [MOVIE REVIEW]

“The Artist” made me remember why I love movies and why I always hold hope that movies can exceed even the greatest expectations. This silent black and white film by director Michel Hazanavicius is an homage to the past with a glance at the future. The story of this film is driven and enhanced by […]

 Neely Swanson

The Descendants: Alexander Payne’s early holiday present to moviegoers [MOVIE REVIEW]

The Descendants: Alexander Payne’s early holiday present to moviegoers [MOVIE REVIEW]

As teenagers wait for the dog days of summer to find their release in air conditioned movie theaters with 3D special effects-laden tentpoles, so do I await the unpredictable winter months in Southern California because that signals the arrival of those mostly Indie features that reveal that American directors actually do understand the importance of […]

 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 […]