It wouldn’t surprise me if, at the close of 2014, L’Image Manquante/The Missing Picture (Rithy Prahn, 2013) remained the best film I’ve seen all year. Premiering at Cannes, where it received the Prix Un Certain Regard, and having screened at most of the major film festivals, the Cambodian documentary is on the shortlist of potential nominees for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. (More…)

It’s hard not to discuss films that have already appeared on critics’ lists. However, most of what we read about in year end favourites like this still elude the majority of moviegoers. Most are unable to attend festivals, and don’t live in major cities, where end-of-year theatrical releases ensures eligibility for major film awards. For such persons, annual picks, however many of them we can read, are essential.  Here are mine. (More…)

“Exposure can kill as easily as a knife,” cautions the woman who introduces Katniss Everdeen and her fellow tributes to their training sessions for the Hunger Games. She is advising them to practice survival skills as well as combat techniques. But the formulation resonates throughout the first film based on Suzanne Collins’ trilogy and into the second, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (More…)

As I settled into one of the few remaining seats in the packed theater, I looked up to see Peter Travers, film critic for Rolling Stone, touting the virtues of this simultaneous screening. Only a few dozen audiences around the United States would have the privilege of watching this preview of Alexander Payne’s Nebraska along with Travers and its New York-area audience. (More…)

Alfonso Cuarón is one of Hollywood’s most important filmmakers. With the release of Gravity, it’s not hard to understand why. Cuarón’s direction, and Emmanuel Lubezki‘s cinematography, are stunning. Indeed, Gravity is as much its own cultural moment as Cuarón’s past features, including Y Tu Mamá También, and Children of Men. (More…)

As in 2012, the biggest winners of this year’s Jerusalem Film Festival were debuts by two young and promising directors. Tom Shoval’s Youth received The Haggiag Awards for Israeli Cinema for Full Length Film, and Maya Dreifuss’ She Is Coming Home received the Pirchi Family Award for Best Debut.  (More…)

A clip from a 2012 interview with Dustin Hoffman has gone viral. As a potential antidote to the casual and furious misogyny unleashed during Wimbledon, where women were invisible or too ugly, one can see why.  In the video, Dustin Hoffman describes his experience preparing for the title role of Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 1982) and the revelation it yielded. (More…)

Danny Boyle’s Trance tells the story of a heist in order to perform one, taking advantage of moviegoers’ suggestible state of mind. When the story comes to an end, we find ourselves wondering what happened and to what degree we are responsible. The message we thought we were getting has vanished and a more troubling one has taken its place. (More…)

As a composer in the post-dub era, Jerusalem-born and New York-raised Raz Mesinai has spent the past 25 years burrowing under the surface realms of genre and song format to find a reverberant sonic space of his own. With Tunnel Vision (Tzadik), his filmmaking debut, Mesinai takes that burrowing to another level by tying together the praxes of tunneling, sound composition and non-linear narrative. (More…)

The Gatekeepers is like a history lesson. It’s subject is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 1967 war. The instructors are the five former heads of the Shin Bet: Israel’s General Security Service (GSS): Avraham Shalom (who headed the Shabak between 1980-1986;) Yaakov Peri (1988-1994;) Carmi Gilon (1995-1996; Ami Ayalon (1996-2000;) Avi Dichter (2000-2005;) and Yuval Diskin (2005-2011.) (More…)

The Academy Awards had its share of surprises, but none more significant than the end of broadcast cutaway to the White House, where the First Lady helped presenter Jack Nicholson announce the winner of the Oscar for Best Picture. Like many of the media events sculpted for the Obama Presidency, this high-tech exchange stopped many viewers short. (More…)

Since its Christmas opening in the US, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained has generated an extraordinary amount of commentary. Some love it. Some hate it. Almost everyone who sees the film has strong opinions about it. But American fixations — use of the “N-word”, depictions of torture — have overshadowed its most prominent feature: the relationship between a German bounty hunter and his black protegé. (More…)