Movie review: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (2019)

“When you come to the end of the line, with a buddy who is more than a brother and a little less than a wife, getting blind drunk together is really the only way to say farewell.”

Earlier this August, I spent a fairly enchanting late morning exploring the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. An unassuming space compared to New York City’s many higher profile museums, MoMI packs so much tangible, three-dimensional history into its limited imprint that the effect can be a little overwhelming to first time pilgrims like me, wide-eyed true believers in the religion of film. There’s no other plausible way to explain my reaction as, standing in a room flanked by opposing processions, almost military columns, of all size and manner of antique movie and television cameras as they had been deployed through the years, I found myself getting a little choked up. Movies and all their attendant magic have been the indispensable fact and safe harbor of my life Continue reading “Movie review: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (2019)”

Movie review: “Focus” (2015)


“I can convince anyone of anything. I once convinced a man that an empty warehouse was the Federal Reserve. So I’m good.”

Con men and women are such inherently fascinating people, with their outward adherence to a professional code but otherwise subjective morality, with their investment in and facility with appearances belying what one imagines might be a fairly empty soul beneath. I welcome any chance I can get to learn more about this mindset, this appealing, alien lifestyle, which for an ordinary workaday drone like me is really wish fulfillment on a level just below that of “super hero”. Somewhere along the way, though – I’m thinking around the time of David Mamet’s ingenious, insinuating House of Games – movies about con artists stopped so much being character studies, and became little more than overly elaborate twist engines designed to fool the audience first and the protagonist second, if at all. I realize that with such a statement I may be eulogizing a form that actually never existed, but I have, at any rate, noticed that the balance seems to have irretrievably tipped in a direction that just doesn’t particularly appeal to me. Continue reading “Movie review: “Focus” (2015)”