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film features

The seventh annual Montclair Film Festival kicks off this Thursday with a world-class program, featuring more than 160 films, special events, parties and discussions with Jeff Daniels, Ethan Hawke, Rachel Weisz, Claire Danes and Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons. The festival will also feature a performance from MacArthur Genius Award-winner Taylor Mac – “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (Abridged)” – which The New York Times writer Wesley Morris called “one of the great experiences of my life.” We spoke with Evelyn Colbert, President of the Board of the Montclair Film Festival – and wife of Stephen Colbert – about this year’s crop of new films, and how sharing stories can strengthen a community – and maybe a country.... READ ON

Film criticism and the priesthood have much in common. The primary function of both critics and priests is to deliver an interpretation of someone else’s text to an audience seeking guidance or enlightenment. Before he became the key screenwriter of the 1970s New American Cinema/Movie Brats movement, Paul Schrader plied his trade as a film critic, a protégé of Pauline Kael. Before that he was a student of theology. With his latest and perhaps greatest film, First Reformed, Schrader combines both his passions to deliver a movie that will provide food for thought for cinephiles and seminarians alike.... READ ON

Rampage is the first screen adaptation of a video game that this writer can claim to have played. Back in the day I pumped a lot of coins into its arcade version while on day trips to the seaside, before later purchasing the home version for my Commodore 64 (remember those?). It was a deliciously simple game in which the player got to play as one of three giant monsters - George, a King Kong type giant ape; Ralph, a ginormous werewolf; and Lizzie, a Godzilla stand-in - and destroy representations of American cities (for some reason Peoria, Indiana stands out in my memory). I think the appeal of Rampage for kids was its theme of destruction; kids love to break stuff, so knocking down skyscrapers appealed to our lizard brain instincts.... READ ON

“Your phone is your worst enemy!” So advises a cameoing Matt Damon’s cop to Claire Foy’s stalking victim in Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane. The line plays like an in-joke on Soderbergh’s part, as the film itself was shot using iPhones, not for budgetary reasons, but because the director/cinematographer, who has experimented with developing technology throughout his career, shot his thriller in relative secrecy on a tight schedule, the ease of the device allowing him to quickly transition between camera set-ups and save hours of production downtime.... READ ON








Along with its vast acres of formidable and inhospitable terrain, Australia shares a similar colonial past with the United States, with its native aboriginal population historically treated almost as badly by its white invaders as Native Americans and African slaves were by the Europeans who arrogantly claimed the land to their west for themselves. As such, Australia has proven itself the only country outside North America that can convincingly pull off westerns set in its own past.... READ ON

Dr D and Rocky discuss the worst movies they have ever seen, all while enjoying some hot dogs from Rutt's Hut.... READ ON

Moorhead and Benson isn’t an accountancy firm, as the moniker might suggest. Together, the writing/directing/acting duo of Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson have formed one of the most fascinating filmmaking forces to emerge over the last decade. The pair gained much acclaim for their second film, 2014’s Spring. A Lovecraft meets Linklater hybrid in which a young American falls for a mysterious Italian girl who is secretly a tentacled creature feeding off tourists, it’s one of the most romantic movies to ever come out of the horror genre.... READ ON

A door to door salesman is likely among the worst jobs one can imagine.   Images come to mind of middle-aged men in cheap suits attempting to clean rugs soiled by a handful of dirt with a shiny, new vacuum or a bookish fellow hawking encyclopedias.  But imagine an even stranger product sold door to door like an umbrella.  That’s what Stanley Grimp faces in Death of An Umbrella Salesman by Jersey Shore filmmaker Steve Herold.... READ ON

With its middle class New York milieu and a jazz inflected score by Keegan DeWitt, Alex Ross Perry’s Golden Exits may draw simplistic comparisons with Woody Allen, but the filmmaker whose work it evokes most is Alan Rudolph. In Rudolph’s best films - Welcome to L.A.; Remember My Name; Trouble in Mind; Choose Me - the intersecting lives of a group of people are thrown into turmoil by the arrival of an outsider.... READ ON

It’s hard to explain just how powerful the movement of free form progressive FM radio truly was.  When it emerged in the 1960s, it was unlike anything anybody had ever heard.  Instead of listening to the same five hit songs over and over again, you might hear five straight songs about rain or five songs that featured the same guitarists in different bands.  There were no playlists, no corporations in charge, only DJs.... READ ON


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