“In The Year of Our Lord 1974”
(Director: Julian Jarrold)

“In The Year of Our Lord 1980”
(Director: James Marsh)

“In The Year of Our Lord 1983”
(Director: Anand Tucker)

[Artical originally appeared:]

What I love about British film making is its commitment to story and character. Naturally, they will churn out the occasional blockbuster but the legacy of classically trained acting has endured from those post-war Ealing Studios comedies (“The Ladykillers”) to the Kitchen Sink dramas with their angry young men (“Look Back in Anger”), and in more recent years, from Merchant Ivory adaptations to the more gritty films of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach. No matter, the legacy of English story-telling gives moviegoers something to sink their teeth into. Not to Hollywood-bash – that’s too easy – but it’s hardly a secret that budget and bottom line box office are what drives that machine. And the surest way to bring in the big numbers is to bring out the big name actors. It’s part of our legacy and we do it quite splendidly at times. After a summer or Christmas season one can, however, feel a bit malnourished. That’s why sitting through five hours of the “Red Riding Trilogy”, while difficult at times, was such a breath of fresh air.

Andrew Garfield as Eddie Dunford in RED RIDING 1974 directed by Julian Jarrold; Photo Credit: Phil Fisk An IFC Films release

The trilogy, which recently enjoyed a run at the IFC Center, looks so authentically like it was filmed in the 1970s or 80s – the time when the three stories take place – you might swear these were thirty-year-old British TV crime dramas. The verisimilitude is also helped along by the absence of name actors. Not to say there aren’t a great many faces any anglophile would recognize but just don’t expect Hugh Grant or Harry Potter to appear. The three films, which work out the intricate truths behind a series of serial killings in the Yorkshire section of England, are brutal and dare you to sit through them in one seating. And you needn’t; you can see them one at a time, (recommended) then go do something more uplifting, like catch “Shutter Island” or “The Wolfman”. Read more

Free to Write

This Saturday, March 6th, 2010 I was finally liberated from my job as manager of a large wine shop in Manhattan. No more selling booze to alcoholics, folks.  I’d been working 6 days a week for the past 54 weeks (less one week vacation and a few sick days). Starting on Monday, the 8th, I will be attending a marathon of screenings for the New Directors/New Films series shuttling between MoMA and The Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center.  New Directors/New Films is a joint enterprise between MoMA’s film department and The Film Society of Lincoln Center.  The series is in its 39th season.

About 4 months ago I joined the staff of a small neighborhood monthly newspaper called WestView. It covers all sorts of West Village community issues in a thoughtful and sometimes in a provocative way. Nat Hentoff is an on again-off again contributor. I was brought on as Media Editor. I was, at first, not too sure what that meant. I thought I would be called the Film Critic but I have realized that the Media Editor title is more apt. Rather than just write film reviews, I thought perhaps I would come from the angle of local film advocate. My first article was a review of Sarah & Emily Kunstler’s “William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe“, a documentary about their father civil rights attorney William Kunstler. The Kunstler daughters were both campers at Thoreau in the 80s.  So a few months ago, when I received an invitation from The Center for Constitutional Rights for a screening at the Cinema Village on E. 12th Street, I decided I would go.  Sarah, the older of the two girls, whom I remember quite clearly, was present for a post-screening talk-back. I introduced myself to her afterward, and somewhat embarrassed, she vaguely remembered me. Anyway, the documentary was very good  and I was quite happy to write about it. The Kunstlers were a West Village family after all, so the article was appropriate for WestView. Read more