Author: Julian Towers

NYFF Review: Paterson Gets Almost Everything Right

Overview:  Jim Jarmusch’s latest film gives us a week in the life of a poet. Amazon Studios; 2016; Rated R; 113 minutes. Disaster Strikes: I nearly missed my first New York Film Festival press screening this morning. I hadn’t yet picked up my badge, so the goal had been to budget an hour of time (the screening started at 8:30 ) to stop by the press and industry office to retrieve it (as I would soon find out, this would not be necessary. The press and industry office is literally ten feet from the screen). But, thanks to a distressingly...

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30 Years Later, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Hasn’t Lost a Bit of Buzz

The house anecdote about Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror masterstroke, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is that it was so terrifying, viewers left the theater thinking they’d just seen the goriest film ever made; a full-body submersion into blood, guts, and other assorted human viscera. The punchline, of course, is that Hooper had actually shown next to nothing, instead using quick cuts and frantic camerawork to engage the audience’s collective imagination, whipping them up into a hysterical frenzy. It’s not a stretch to guess that the film these impressionable viewers thought they saw might look a little bit like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. One of...

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Jesus Suffered, But Ben-Hur is Painless

Overview: Another cinematic retelling of the classic Christian allegory. Paramount Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; 2016; Rated PG-13; 123 minutes. A Pointless Pedigree: William Wyler’s Ben-Hur is not a masterpiece. I’m not entirely sure how or when that designation came about, but it’s a false one. Rather, the film is a big, silly epic that stages two all-time action set-pieces, contains a hint of homosexual subtext, and features an amusingly committed Charlton Heston performance, but whose greatest achievement is simply going three-and-a-half-hours without becoming boring. Still, it won eleven Oscars—a useless metric of quality, but one that only two other films share. Naturally, any...

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Hell or High Water Is Mysterious & Nerve-Wracking In Equal Measure

Overview: Two small town brothers become bank robbers to save the family farm in West Texas only to find the law hot on their tail. CBS Films; 2016; Rated R; 102 minutes.    New Country for Old Genre: You’re a waitress… Okay, so technically you’re that actress from Eastbound and Down, but today you’re playing a waitress. It’s a slow day. A crummy diner— not as bad as that one down south; only thing they serve is T-bone with a side of green beans. Still, it’s a slow day, a crummy diner, and every day in this crummy dinner is slow anyway....

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Indignation is a Perfect Adaptation of Imperfect Material

Overview: A Jewish student leaves New Jersey to attend school in Ohio, where he meets a young lady and confronts the dean of the school. Summit Entertainment/Roadside Attractions; 2016; Rated R; 110 Minutes. Julian and Philip, in a Tree, K-i-s-s-i-n-g: Pop quiz, hotshot: Who’s the greatest living american writer? Cormac McCarthy? Great, sure, and intense, but can you bring him home to your mother? Michael Chabon? Only if you hate any sentence shorter than 100 words. Thomas Pynchon? He could die, and it would be at least seven months before any of us knew about it. Toni Morison? I’m...

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