Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone’s “La La Land”: Perfect Antidote to Gloom of 2016

Photo courtesy of IMDB.

Photo courtesy of IMDB.

Film Review: La La Land,” directed by Damien Chazelle, 2016; winner of seven Golden Globe awards.

“La La Land,” released at the end of 2016, was the right movie at the right time for many Americans like me in want of hope and inspiration, no matter how fleeting. Only the truly cynical and jaded heart would remain untouched by Damien Chazelle’s beautiful film. (more…)

Brie Larson’s “Room” Captures the Novel’s Extraordinary Voice

Room Movie PosterFilm Review: “Room,” directed by Lenny Abrahamson, 2015

When I read Emma Donoghue’s brilliant novel a few years ago, I thought its claustrophobic setting and 5-year-old narrator made the book impossible to turn into a movie. Thank goodness, I was wrong. Lenny Abrahamson’s film succeeds in capturing the book’s positive spirit and the young protagonist’s sense of wonder. (more…)

Natalie Portman’s Feminist Western Deserves More Attention

JGAG PosterFilm Review: Jane Got a Gun,” directed by Gavin O’Connor, 2015

The Hollywood western is the ultimate American film genre, full of maverick heroes and brutish villains amid a sprawling frontier landscape. “Jane Got a Gun” delivers all of that—from the perspective of a young woman protecting her family and home. (more…)

“The Martian” Makes Science Fiction Fun with its Huge Dose of Humor

MartianBookCover-CindyFazziPicFilm Review: “The Martian,” directed by Ridley Scott, 2015

Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” opens with a real downer. Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is left behind on Mars by his crew, believing he’d died in a storm. I almost expected a gross scenario to follow in the style of “Alien” and “Prometheus,” the other science-fiction films by Scott. But, no, happily this movie is a lot more fun than those two films combined. (more…)

Christian Bale’s “Out of the Furnace” is a Cinematic Slow Burn that Shines Brightly

OutoftheFurnace-CindyFazziphotoFilm Review: “Out of the Furnace,” directed by Scott Cooper, 2013

“Out of the Furnace” is not the kind of movie that jumps on you. It’s a cinematic slow burn that grows on you. The film, set in the steel town of Braddock, Pa., is about the Baze brothers—Russell (Christian Bale) and Rodney (Casey Affleck). (more…)

“Dead Poets Society”: Robin Williams Will Stay “O Captain, My Captain” in Our Hearts

Film Review: “Dead Poets Society,” directed by Peter Weir, 1989

Dead Poets SocietyAlthough “Dead Poets Society” is set in a boys’ prep school in Vermont in 1959, moviegoers relate to it because it puts them squarely on a familiar ground. Most people remember a teacher like John Keating (Robin Williams) who changes his students’ lives. In every school, there’s a passionate soul like Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard), a painfully shy kid like Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke), and a rebel like Nuwanda (Gale Hansen). (more…)

Tom Hardy’s “Locke” Shows Extraordinary Power in Simplicity

Film Review: “Locke,” written and directed by Steven Knight, 2014

Locke Pic by Cindy Fazzi
It takes an actor such as Tom Hardy to pull off a film shot almost entirely inside a car, showing him alone, from beginning to end. Ivan Locke (Hardy) is a construction manager in Birmingham, with a reputation for “running a tight ship,” as a local official describes him. One evening, after work, he doesn’t go home. Instead he drives to London, a decision that changes his life within 85 minutes, which is how long the drive and the movie last. (more…)

Lake Bell’s “In a World…” is an Exuberant Exposé of Cutthroat Voice-Over Industry

InaWorldPic-CindyFazziFilm Review: “In a World…,” directed by Lake Bell, 2013


“In a World” puts a spotlight on the cutthroat voice-over industry the way “Black Swan” exposed the brutally competitive world of ballet. But the former is exuberant while the latter is grim. (more…)

“The Savages”: A Small Film Showcasing the Giant Talent of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Savages
Film Review: “The Savages,” directed by Tamara Jenkins, 2007

Like most film buffs, I was devastated when the news broke that Philip Seymour Hoffman died of accidental drug overdose on Feb. 2. He was 46. Described by the New York Times as “the most ambitious and the most widely admired American actor of his generation,” Hoffman was best known for “Capote” (2005), which earned him the Oscar for best actor. (more…)

“Inside Llewyn Davis” Elevates “Starving Artist” Stereotype to a Darkly Funny Hero


InsideLlewynDavis-CindyFazziFilm Review:Inside Llewyn Davis,” directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, 2013

The film starts with Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a folk singer, performing in a club. It’s the 1960s in Greenwich Village in New York City. He sings hauntingly about being hanged, a foreboding of what’s to come. Indeed, after his performance, he gets beaten up by a stranger at the back of the club. (more…)