Review – Blue Jasmine
By: Tim Cogshell
Years ago, the venerable and prolific writer-director and comedian Woody Allen was quick to remind people that he was not one of the Upper East Side elite he had often mocked in his stand-up work and light comedic novels. Eventually, these characters also came to populate his movies following his slapstick-and-shtick period (What’s Up Tiger Lily?, Take the Money and Run, Bananas).
Even as Allen played one of these “types,” as in Annie Hall, he made sure to note that his surrogate, Alvy, was not really one of them either, but instead rose from his apocryphal tenement beneath the Coney Island boardwalk and past their condo boards, on the strength of his wit and moxie — not an imaginary birth right or slick manipulation of derivatives. In Blue Jasmine, with the help of several perfectly pitched performances, Woody Allen once again reminds us that if there is an Us and a Them, he’s one of Us.
Continue reading: http://www.altfg.com/blog/movie/blue-jasmine-review-cate-blanchett/
Review: Only God Forgives
By: Tim Cogshell
Julian (Ryan Gosling, of Refn’s Drive) and his brother Billy (Tom Burke) run a Muy Thai boxing academy in Indonesia. The place is a front for a drug-smuggling operation. Both brothers are criminally sadistic, but Billy is truly unhinged…
Needless to say, Only God Forgives is a controversial film, and not director Nicolas Winding Refn’s first. It’s also a remarkably good thriller. But I don’t believe in god, so that’s easy for me to say…
Continue reading: http://www.altfg.com/blog/movie/only-god-forgives-review/
Larry and KPCC critics Tim Cogshell and Andy Klein review this week’s releases, including Pacific Rim, Grown Ups 2, The Hunt and more….
Gideon’s Army… Marches On but only on HBO
By: Tim Cogshell
Gideon’s Army was an official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. It premiered Monday July 1, 2013 as the lead film in the HBO Summer Documentary Series. The film follows three young public defenders in the deep south doing what might rightly be called God’s work – if such a thing actually exists. The titular Gideon is not a reference to the Good Book, rather it refers to the landmark Supreme Court ruling Gideon v. Wainwright that established an individual right to counsel, and thus the need for these underpaid, over-worked young lawyers who do battle on behalf of their indigent clients with system that seems designed to put poor people in prison – often for profit. There is a document among our venerated documents that reads, “…and justice for all.” Gideon’s Army challenges the validity of that notion, sharply.
The film and filmmaking are unadorned and straightforward. This is exactly what it looks like, crime and punishment, sorted out in one of the most unwieldy and unjust systems imaginable right here in the United States of America, home of exceptionalism. There is a sense of urgency in every frame of Gideon’s Army, whatever the particulars of the moment. This is a film in which everything is at risk, not just for the accused but for these lawyers (Travis Williams, Brandy Alexander and June Hardwick), their stalwart mentor (Jonathan Rapping of the Southern Public Defender Training Center) and the unraveling system in which they all literally toil. Director Dawn Porter makes sure we feel the weight of what’s at stake, not with flashy filmmaking, but through the unadulterated presentation of her protagonists, these three public defenders – Defenders of the Public – whose dedication to their cause shines through. They are exceptional, indeed.
HBO, perhaps it isn’t just TV.
Tim is Critic At Large for The Alt-Film Guide (www.alfg.com) and 20 years of his reviews are archived at: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/tim-cogshell/