The number of food films being made should not come as a surprise. PBS started the trend of cooking shows long ago and is still a leader in them, but now we have the Food Network, Cooking Channel, Food Matters TV and more offering 24 hours a day of programing about things to eat. Movies with food themes have spanned the history of cinema, but it wasn’t until Babette’s Feast , Like Water For Chocolate , Tampopo , Big Night and others became box office successes that we started to see a genre develop. And the number of documentaries about food has exploded. Continue reading →
Like almost any large-scale film fest, the Mill Valley Film Festival is really comprised of several different festivals serving several different masters placed under one giant umbrella. Although the event is spread out over many cities and about a dozen venues, you could view the ultra-low-budget drama Uncertain Terms , the Robert Downey, Jr. vehicle The Judge (slated for a wide release on October 10), and the Israeli Oscar hopeful Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem on a single Monday afternoon without even switching movie theaters. Continue reading →
In my work for the Telluride Film Festival I’ve seen 24 of the new features showing at this year’s Mill Valley Film Festival. It’s a strong lineup, and I’ll be seeing many more over the next ten days. Here are some recommendations, in alphabetical order, as they appear in the program book.
Sometimes a movie is just a movie, to appropriate the one-liner apocryphally attributed to Sigmund Freud. (“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” actually sounds to my ears more like something another Jewish intellectual, Groucho Marx, would have said. But I digress.) As far as the typical filmgoer is concerned, movies are stories, diversions, entertainment and, on rare and special occasions, art. But for a great swath of movies, even some produced by Hollywood studios (credo: “Profits first, last and always”), palpable moral consciousness is as central as the plot. To those of us who esteem cinema as a social good, those films are often the most exciting and profound. Continue reading →
“Hopelessness is being gay in Russia,” so says the protagonist of Stand , one of the films programmed as part of the Spotlight on LGBT Films in Today’s Russia at this year’s Frameline film festival (now playing through Sunday, June 29). Here’s a quick guide to the Spotlight line-up, including 2 films coming up this weekend.