Quentin Tarantino, in his brilliantly conceived and “executed” Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, has turned the tides on one of the most horrific events in Hollywood history. The Manson family murders of Sharon Tate, her unborn baby, and her friends, on a night that robbed them of their futures. Yet, what interests me most is the way the story of Rick Dalton and his stunt double/mirror image, Cliff Booth, functions to undo a different kind of fear: the terror of being a has-been. That fear is almost as deadly as actual murder. It can implant a demeaning voice in...

Hunger can lead to desperate acts. And, it does -  in Bong Joon-Ho’s startling new film, Parasite. Plus, we find. if you’re hungry and helpless (emotionally, that is), you can even become a parasite. The kind of hunger we witness in many of Parasite’s characters leads to various forms of exploitation - of the class above or below. But, it’s not simply exploitation that makes for a parasite. There are many complicated things that cause the need to feed off someone else. Mostly, we discover, it’s what lives in the basement. Locked up there (potentially in all of us if...

It’s a very sad Marriage Story. Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and Charlie (Adam Driver) haven’t stopped loving each other. But, Nicole doesn’t know how to do their marriage anymore. The only answer seems to be divorce. Yet, is it? Noah Baumbach’s film, in all its unearthing of the many deeper questions not yet answered, shows us the complexities of what a couple brings to a marriage. Along with the tangles their individual emotional worlds and early family histories create (and weave around them) when not fully understood. Or, worked out. What would it take to save this marriage? Especially since, as...

Has it really been 4 years since John Crowley and Nick Hornby’s film, Brooklyn, hit the big screen? And, why is it still a movie that speaks to us and that we keep going back to? Is it because it’s the versatile and talented Saorise Ronan’s first major film? Or because we all know, somewhere deep inside us, our own journey away from our original homes? What is the appeal? I think it’s because Brooklyn tells us so much about what can go wrong between a mother and a daughter, about a young girl’s early pain, pain that persists. And,...

Salvador Mallo, Almodovar’s tortured filmmaker in his new film Pain and Glory, was once a happy boy. And, his beautiful mother, Jacinta, carefree and loving; until they moved to a cave. Slowly, young Salvador (although not consciously aware) begins to carry a heavy burden: his mother’s bitter unhappiness. Jacinta’s growing discontent with her life, with the underground dwelling she’s forced to live in, and with the man, Salvador is becoming - seeps into his body, into his very being; taking its residence in a multitude of unlivable physical symptoms. Now, he can no longer create. This is the state we find...

Silence isn’t always golden. Not in Ingmar Bergman’s book. His various film treatises on silence speak to us loudly on many planes of emotional existence, and those planes are never smooth. Of course, silence can provide a necessary space for personal truths to appear. For imaginings to ripen and take hold. Or, a respite from parents’ demands or fighting. We’ve grown used to the railings against a silent God that refuses to answer in The Seventh Seal (1958), Through A Glass Darkly (1961), and Winter’s Light (1962). But not, ironically, in The Silence (1963). Instead, Bergman gives us silence filled...

Even beautiful love stories have their complications when grieving for an old love isn’t over. Claude Lelouch’s captivating film A Man And A Woman 1966 has a lot to say about what it takes not to turn away from a new chance to fall in love. It’s in the story Jean-Louis tells Anne early in their meeting when they see an old man walking with his dog. “Do you know Giometti, the sculptor?” he asks her. “If there was a fire and Giometti had to choose between saving his art or his cat, he would choose life, not art.” Choosing...

Forgiveness is overrated. Understanding is not. And, there’s much to understand in Jennifer Kent’s riveting, violently troubling, and powerful new film, The Nightingale; about trauma, PTSD, unbearable grief, and the sometimes unimaginable sources of empathy. No, no one should ever be expected to forgive their abusers. “Forgiveness” for sadistic cruelty isn’t healing. What helps is for the most horrific kind of terror, pain, and loss to be truly understood in the eyes of another. This is exactly what The Nightingale shows us through Kent’s vision and in the parallel stories of Clare and Billy, a young Irish White woman and...

What are the basic ingredients in Joe Talbot and Jimmie Fails’s The Last Black Man In San Francisco? An old Victorian house. A young man who has no home. A mother who abandoned him and can’t keep him in her heart. A necessary fantasy. A Greek Chorus (that speaks the anger, hate, and under it, the grief).A gentrifying city that is taking everything away. “We don’t own shit,” is the mantra for what’s happening as the Blacks are pushed out of their neighborhoods. But, it’s a mantra that goes even deeper. When your mom left you long ago and you...

Reverend Tomas Ericsson is a man who cannot grieve. And, because he can’t, he struggles with both God and love. Tomas over and over coldly rejects his desperately loving former lover, Marta. Winter Light Ingmar Bergman 1963, slowly reveals the source of his loss of faith. Tomas loved his dead wife: “When she died, so did I.” This is a bitter man. Turned dead inside. Dead to his parishioners, his previous faith, the possibility of new love. Dead to a young congregant in despair who turns to him in terror for words of hope. All of this spells hopelessness and...