Saturday, December 01, 2007


Oswald's Ghost

The selling point of Oswald’s Ghost, Robert Stone’s documentary about the enigmatic blue collar Texan generally regarded as the assassin of President John F. Kennedy, is its refusal to dispute the safest assumption. Stone doesn’t argue in favor of Lee Harvey Oswald’s innocence, nor does he make an attempt at the tired route of disproving the lone gunman theory. Those and other radical notions are put to the test with a collage of talking heads (mostly journalists) threaded throughout the movie, but Stone isn’t championing a revisionist history—he’s merely fascinated by it. Rather than endorsing conspiracy theories, Oswald’s Ghost studies them as anger-driven symptoms of cultural obsession.

Read the rest of the review in the New York Press...

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The Savages

Whether presented as entertainment, drama or entertaining drama, death has maintained a longstanding relationship with cinema. But when it dictates the story, rather than complementing it, a severe case of tonal imbalance tends to overlap the rest of the picture. In The Savages, Tamara Jenkins’ sophomore feature after 1998’s Slums of Beverly Hills, the morbidity conveyed by a pair of grown siblings coping with their father’s dying days practically qualifies as grief porn—but, since the movie only teeters on the brink of a pity party without relishing the mood, the grief doesn’t venture beyond the point of softcore sadness.

Read the rest of the review in the New York Press...



Confused minds think alike in Jessica Yu’s Protagonist—or, at least, that’s what we’re supposed to believe. Yu’s analytical documentary has an intentionally narrow view of human narratives, lumping together the misguided journeys of four men to highlight the conceptual parallels between them. Rather than letting the contrast stand alone, Yu ties things together with a slyly academic approach, integrating scenes with wooden puppets to re-enact the plot and cite thematically relevant passages from fifth century playwright Euripides. The technique actually suits these oddball tales, which come readymade for grim dissection.

Read the rest of the review in the New York Press...

No one can accuse the Independent Feature Project of rigidity. Faced with a chorus of conflicting cheers and boos over last year's Gotham Awards nominees and winners, IFP's board sat down and scrutinized the reviews of their most visible, annual affair. Defining independent film may be a tired subject, but defining what deserves honoring at the Gothams -- which will be held at Brooklyn's Steiner Studios tonight -- is a subject up for yearly debate, and yearly change. Above all, board members wanted to avoid the free-for-all process that led to the nomination of 2005's "The Departed" as best feature.

Read the rest of the feature in The Hollywood Reporter...