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  • July 21, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Whenever I think I might be taking movies too seriously, there are always nutbags like Glenn Beck to remind me that, at least compared to some people, I have not as yet gone over the deep end. According to the CNN news personality, the upcoming film version of the Hasbro toy “G.I. Joe,” along with such previous fifth column screen assaults on Homeland Security as “Superman Returns” and “Happy Feet,” is just another sign that the U.

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  • July 18, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Based on a F. Scott Fitzgerald story about a guy who is born an old man (ouch!) and ages in reverse into infantilism, David Fincher’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” starring Brad Pitt, has aroused much interest pending its opening on December 19. But judging from photos from the film released recently, the screen version looks like it might differ significantly from the original.

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  • July 17, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    (all photos except the second one by YH)

    Disney World by way of The Village

    The Thermal Hotel graces the Karlovy Vary Skyline

    The Fifth Floor

    Partaking of the healing spa waters

    Barbie (in the Toy Museum, Prague)

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  • July 17, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    As expected, “The Investigator” proved to be a tough sell. I was pleased that it was the favorite of one other juror, but it wasn't enough. So be it; on to the other contenders.

    One film did not enter the discussion: “The Guitar” by Amy Redford, Robert’s daughter. Though “well received” at Sundance (no doubt by Redford himself, that Festival’s founder) according to its publicity, it did not impress anyone in the jury, except maybe negatively.

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  • July 11, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Some other random patterns I've been noticing in the films screened here:

    1. Split screen/splitting couples. Invariably a relationship in trouble is made concrete on the screen by separating the two with a door jamb, a stair railing, etc. Maybe arty about 40 years go, but now a cliche.

    2. Vomiting. At moments of intense emotion a character vomits dramatically.

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  • July 09, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    I just came from the fitness center at the Thermal Hotel, the monolithic 70s era Soviet hotel where I am staying, and let's just say that the term Kafkaesque came to mind. Had he been alive today the great Czech writer might have been inspired to write "The Castle" all over again. A simple workout involved taking a special sideways elevator only operated by a key card, paying 90 crowns, changing in a stark locker room, taking off one's shoes, showing a receipt to gain admittance, putting your shoes on again to use the cardio machine and asking an attendant to turn it on.

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  • July 08, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Nick Nolte is a no-show. He cancelled at the last minute to appear with his documentary, "Nick Nolte: No Exit," leaving the director, Thomas Thurman, holding the bag. So much for his opportunity to join the ranks of such celebrated Karlovy Vary visitors as Karl Marx, Kamal Ataturk, Anton Dvorak and, this year, Robert De Niro, Christopher Lee and Rita Tushingham.

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  • July 06, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    I am now in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic attending the film festival where I am serving on the International Film Critics [FIPRESCI] jury [it is a "nonstatutory" jury, and I'm not sure what that means]. Also known as Carlsbad, the town has since the 14th century been renowned for its salubrious waters, reputed to cure many ills, and has expanded over the centuries into a valley full of baroque and Art Deco hotels, spas and knick knack shops that looks like a cross between Rockport, Mass.

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  • July 03, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    One of my earliest transcendent experiences in movies was watching Werner Herzog’s “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” for the first time. He has never quite equaled that achievement, in my opinion. But neither has anyone else. He’s one of the greatest living filmmakers, even though Abel Ferrara wants him to burn in hell.

    He seemed in a good mood when I talked to him on the phone about his new film, “Encounters at the End of the World.

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  • June 29, 2008
    By Peter Keough


    Turkish-German director Fatih Akin’s most recent films, the frenetic, punkish "Head-On" (no, you don't rub it directly on your forehead) and the more meditative and consoling "The Edge of Heaven," have at least two things in common: characters go to Turkey, and they don’t come back — usually for unfortunate reasons.

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  • June 26, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    As you might recall, in his discussion a few days back of "War, Inc." John Cusack mentioned as an example of a straight-talking journalist CBS newsperson Lara Logan. Indeed, she might have served as somewhat of a model of that film’s heroine, the crusading reporter played by Marisa Tomei who gets involved romantically with the corporate hitman played by Cusack.

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  • June 23, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Most discussions of “War, Inc.” have concentrated on John Cusack’s outspoken politics and have ignored or dismissed the contribution of the director, Josh Seftel. Which is a shame because the Tufts grad and longtime Somerville resident not only gave the film a big budget look on a shoestring but also brought in some genuine war zone experience, and I’m not just talking about his documentary “Taking on the Kennedys.

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  • June 16, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Once you get John started on this Iraq thing he sure has a lot to say. Here's the rest of our conversation, which is kind of an education on recent US foreign policy that you probably haven't heard much about if you stick to the mainstream media and are bugged by the poltical referecnces in "Iron Man" and "You Don't Mess With the Zohan."

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  • June 14, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    In between political ads and appearances on MSNBC firing back at Bill O’Reilly, John Cusack has been working hard lately to promote his new film, “War,Inc.” And for good reason. Not only is it another film about the Iraq (or "Turaquistan") War, which so far have all gotten beaten up both critically at the box office, but it’s also a satire, the genre that, as George S.

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  • June 11, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    And so the debate about the future of film criticism, which, admittedly, only film critics seem to be interested in, goes on.

    Here’s my own recent illustrative anecdote. A couple of weeks ago the local publicists for Disney invited me to an early screening of their big summer animation movie, “WALL-e.” Then they, well, disinvited me.


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