Neely Swanson

“Mob Town” – Bom(b) Town [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Mob Town” – Bom(b) Town [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson So much can be said about “Mob Town” and none of it is good. Directed badly by Danny A. Abeckaser, an actor of little renown, written poorly by Jon Carlo, Abeckaser’s collaborator (there can be no better use of that word) on their ill-received feature “First We Take Brooklyn,” and Joe Gilford, […]

 Neely Swanson

“Citizen K” – Special [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Citizen K” – Special [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Citizen K,” the multi-layered documentary by the masterful Alex Gibney (“Going Clear”), focuses its lens on the enigmatic and peripatetic life of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly the richest man and one of the first oligarchs of the “new” Russia under Boris Yeltsin. Unapologetic in his pursuit of wealth, K (as we will refer […]

 Neely Swanson

“Scandalous” – It really is [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Scandalous” – It really is [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Scandalous: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer,” a wonderfully conceived documentary by Mark Landsman, will really surprise you. From the history of its creation to its sordid present, it doesn’t disappoint. It all goes back to Papa, or Generoso Pope, an Italian immigrant, who with the help of “connected” friends set up the Italian […]

 Neely Swanson

“Mr. Klein” – Nothing small about it [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Mr. Klein” – Nothing small about it [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Mr. Klein,” Joseph Losey’s brilliant, multi-layered film of 1976 has been given a well-deserved rerelease by Rialto Pictures, a company that Kenneth Turan justifiably called “the gold-standard of re-issue distributors.” In a sterile examination room a naked woman, terrified, stands. The physician’s nasal voice drones as he pokes and prods at her. […]

 Neely Swanson

“Sound of Silence” – Too bad it’s not [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Sound of Silence” – Too bad it’s not [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson Sound of Silence,” directed by Michael Tyburski and co-written by Tyburski and Ben Nabors, was based on their short film of the same name. Never have I seen a more vivid example of why most short films should stay short films. Briefly, and I wish they had been, Peter Lucien (Peter Sarsgaard) […]

 Neely Swanson

“Spider in the Web” – Quite tangled [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Spider in the Web” – Quite tangled [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Spider in the Web,” a film from Israeli director Eran Riklis with an international cast, is a somewhat convoluted thriller with John Le Carré pretensions that succeeds more than it fails. A tale of the Mossad, international espionage, Syria, biological weapons, and industrial corruption at the highest levels, Riklis and writers Gidon […]

 Neely Swanson

“Vita & Virginia” – Not for the virginal [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Vita & Virginia” – Not for the virginal [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Vita & Virginia,” a snapshot into the upper-class bohemia of London in the 1920s, delineates the lives of two major female literary figures in ways both intellectual and erotic. Directed by Chanya Button and written by Button based on a play by the incomparable actress Eileen Atkins (who should be credited as […]

 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 […]

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