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NYFF Does Better By Women

NYFF Does Better By Women

BY STEVE ERICKSON | Did someone at the New York Film Festival take a look at my article on last year’s festival, which complained about its lack of diversity? While female directors are still far from parity in the festival’s Main Slate, their numbers have increased. Most notably, the festival’s opening night film is Ava DuVernay’s […]

Creating Images, and Dispelling Them

Creating Images, and Dispelling Them

BY GARY M. KRAMER | Closet Monster” is a fantastic and fantastical Canadian film about Oscar (Connor Jessup), a confused teenager who confides his troubles to his pet hamster, Buffy (voiced by Isabella Rossellini). Oscar has many troubles. He is growing detached from his father, Peter (Aaron Abrams), and is almost completely estranged from his […]

A Real Phony

A Real Phony

BY STEVE ERICKSON | It’s not necessarily exploitative for a writer to be a recluse or use a pseudonym. Elena Ferrante is one of Italy’s most celebrated contemporary writers, and no one knows who she is, although consensus holds that she’s really a woman. Thomas Pynchon and J.D. Salinger used their real names, but they […]

Songs of Freedom

Songs of Freedom

BY GARY M. KRAMER | The excellent drama “As I Open My Eyes” chronicles the coming of age of Farah (Baya Madhaffar), a baby-faced 18-year-old who lives in Tunis with her mother Hayet (Ghalia Benali). Farah, who is as unruly as her kinky hair, sings political songs in a band called Joujma. She is also […]

Star Treatment for Movies’ Greatest Costumer

Star Treatment for Movies’ Greatest Costumer

BY DAVID NOH | When asked who was the greatest movie costume designer, some aficionados might pump for the multi-Oscared Edith Head, who used ambition and political maneuvering to drive an astonishingly long career — despite a talent that was mostly just okay. Or it could be Cecil Beaton who, if he had only done […]

The Fog of Desire

The Fog of Desire

BY GARY M. KRAMER | “Spa Night” is a complex, quietly powerful drama about ethnicity and gay identity, written and directed by Andrew Ahn. David (Joe Seo) is a shy, closeted young man who lives in LA’s Koreatown with his father Jin (Youn Ho Cho), and his mother Soyoung (Haerry Kim). When Jin loses the family […]

A Mother’s Voice Eclipsed

A Mother’s Voice Eclipsed

BY STEVE ERICKSON | For her first feature, actor/ writer/ director Natalie Portman took on a very ambitious project. Working in Israel, she adapted the childhood memoir of Amos Oz, an author often seen as the conscience of liberal Zionism. While Portman takes a large acting role in “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” playing Amos’ […]

A Stale Immigrant Narrative

A Stale Immigrant Narrative

BY STEVE ERICKSON | In the “Musings” blog, critic Ryan Wu recently pondered why there have been so many films about the white immigrant experience and so few about Latino or Asian immigrants. He came to the conclusion that a film like “The Namesake” is expected to speak for all Asian immigrants, while “The Immigrant,” despite […]

The Last Picture Show

The Last Picture Show

BY STEVE ERICKSON | The appeal of Kurt Vincent’s documentary “The  Lost Arcade,” a eulogy for Manhattan’s video arcade Chinatown Fair, might seem limited to gamers and people who grew up in the ‘80s. However, Vincent manages to speak to the ways New York has changed thanks to gentrification — and not for the better. […]

Finding Ourselves in Another

Finding Ourselves in Another

BY GARY M. KRAMER | In writer/ director Ray Yeung’s fabulous “Front Cover,” Ryan (the charming Jake Choi) is an American-born Chinese fashion stylist who is proud of being gay, but feels ashamed about being Asian. He is assigned to work with Ning (the sexy James Chen), a proud Chinese actor promoting his new film in […]

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