Movie Reviews

Episode 118: The Catcher Was A Spy / Won't You Be My Neighbor?

 THE CATCHER WAS A SPY (2018)

THE CATCHER WAS A SPY (2018)

Description

On today's episode, host Tom Breen and New Haven Independent reporter Allan Appel review two movies: THE CATCHER WAS A SPY, Ben Lewin's new biopic of professional baseball player-turned-WWII spy Moe Berg, and WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?, about the Fred Rogers and the legendary PBS children's program, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

Episode 113: Chappaquiddick

Description

On today's episode of Deep Focus, host Tom Breen and New Haven Independent reporter Allan Appel review CHAPPAQUIDDICK, a new dramatization of the night of and week after U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (played here by Jason Clarke) drove his car off of a narrow bridge on Martha's Island, resulting in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, a former RFK campaign aide who was riding along with him.

Episode 111: The Death of Stalin

Description

On today's episode, host Tom Breen and New Haven Independent staff writer Allan Appel review THE DEATH OF STALIN, the new political satire from writer-director Armando Ianucci that is set in Moscow in 1953 and follows the days before and after the death of Joseph Stalin, the three-decade dictator of the Soviet Union, as his closest cohort of advisers plan the unplannable: how to replace a cult of personality.

Episode 108: Black Panther

 Preston Wilson, Lucy Gellman and Shawn Murray

Preston Wilson, Lucy Gellman and Shawn Murray

Description

On today's episode, host Tom Breen talks with Joe Ugly in the Morning Producer Preston Wilson, New Haven Arts Paper Editor Lucy Gellman, and Fantasy Filmball Host Shawn Murray about BLACK PANTHER, Ryan Coogler's much-anticipated Marvel movie set in the African techno-utopia of Wakanda. Breen, Wilson, Gellman, and Murray talk through BLACK PANTHER as a Marvel movie, a Black movie, and a movie about isolationist vs. interventionist politics. 

On the second segment of the show, the four play a BLACK PANTHER-themed version of Fantasy Filmball, where they recast classic and contemporary movies with the filmmaking team behind BLACK PANTHER.

Links

Fantasy Filmball: http://filmballpod.com/

Joe Ugly in the Morning: http://www.uglyradio.net/Home/joe-ugly-in-the-morning/

New Haven Arts Paper: https://www.artspaper.org/

Episode 106: M by Fritz Lang

 M poster by Brian Meacham.

M poster by Brian Meacham.

Description

On Wednesday, Jan. 31, host Tom Breen introduced a screening of Fritz Lang's 1931 crime thriller M at the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale as part of the Treasures from the Yale Film Archives series. Today's episode features a recording of that introduction, as well as a few thoughts on the enduring appeal of this masterpiece of world cinema.

Links

M Notes for the Treasure from the Yale Film Archive screening: http://web.library.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/M%20Notes%281%29.pdf

M Poster for the Treasures from the Yale Film Archive screening: http://web.library.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/M%20Poster.pdf

Episode 105: The Island Next Door / Phantom Thread

 WNPR reporter Ryan Caron King (Thomas Breen photo)

WNPR reporter Ryan Caron King (Thomas Breen photo)

Description

On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, a Category 4 hurricane made landfall on the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria completely destroyed the island’s power grid, leveled homes and schools, and was and continues to be a source of great humanitarian concern both for the 3.4 million people who live on Puerto Rico as well as for the upwards of 300,000 Puerto Ricans who live in the state of Connecticut.

On the first segment of today’s show, host Tom Breen talks with WNPR journalist and photographer Ryan Caron King about the Island Next Door, a reporting project undertaken by King and WNPR news director Jeff Cohen that documents the months-long fallout of Hurricane Maria, both on the island and in the Nutmeg State. They focus in on the videos and photographs that Ryan made over the course of several reporting trips to Puerto Rico in late 2017.

On the second segment of the show, Breen is joined by New Haven Independent staff writer Allan Appel for a review of PHANTOM THREAD, a new movie from director Paul Thomas Anderson that offers a biting critique of the myth of the domineering male artistic genius and his docile female muse, all set in the world of high fashion in post-World War II London, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, and Lesley Manville.  
 

Links

The Island Next Door: https://theislandnextdoor.wnpr.org/

Episode 104: African American Cinema / The Post

 Paul Robeson in  The Emperor Jones  (1933)

Paul Robeson in The Emperor Jones (1933)

Description

On the first segment of today’s show, host Tom Breen is joined by New Haven film critic and lecturer Steve Fortes to talk about the history of African American cinema.

In the early 1990s, Steve taught two seminars at Yale University about the history of African American film and television. On today’s show we’ll talk with Steve about the films that he covered in those two seminars, what he saw as some of the prevailing themes and trends of in the first century of African American cinema, and about which movies and filmmakers he would include today if he were teaching the same course in 2018.

On the second segment of the show, Breen is joined by New Haven Independent staff writer Allan Appel for a review of THE POST, Steven Spielberg’s new movie about the 1971 debate within the editorial ranks of The Washington Post about whether or not to publish Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers, classified documents that revealed decades of executive branch deceit and cynicism that prolonged America’s disastrous involvement in the Vietnam War. We’ll talk about how this movie resonates in 2018 as a celebration of the free press, and as an indictment of the hypermasculine industries of newspapers and politics in the early 1970s.

Episode 103: Best Movies of 2017

 LADY BIRD (2017)

LADY BIRD (2017)

Description

On today's episode, host Tom Breen is joined by New Haven movie blogger Dan Heaton and Madison Art Cinemas owner Arnold Gorlick to talk through their top 10 movies of 2017. The episode also features over a dozen voicemails from friends, listeners, and former guests on the show with their picks for the best of the year.

Episode 102: Francescsa Andre / The Shape of Water

 CHARCOAL (2017)

CHARCOAL (2017)

Description

On the first segment of today’s episode, host Tom Breen is joined by Bridgeport-based filmmaker Francesca Andre to talk about her new movie “Charcoal,” a short film about colorism and prejudices within and without the black community against dark skin. They talk about the origins of this movie, Andre’s background as a fashion and news photographer, and her own experiences with colorism in her native Haiti and here in the States.

On the second segment of the show, Breen joined by New Haven Independent reporter Allan Appel for a review of The Shape of Water, director Guillermo del Toro’s new sci-fi-horror-romance about a mute cleaning woman in early 60s Baltimore who falls in love with an amphibious man held captive at the secret US army research facility where she works.

Links

http://www.francescaandrephotography.com/

 

Episode 101: Kate Rushin / Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

 DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST (1991)

DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST (1991)

Description

On the first segment of today’s show, host Tom Breen is joined by Connecticut poet Kate Rushin to talk about two movies that have had a profound influence on her understanding and love of cinema: DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST, a landmark 1991 drama from director Julie Dash about three generations of African American Gullah women from the Sea Islands of South Carolina, a movie often celebrated as the first feature film directed by an African American woman to get a wide theatrical release in the United States; and we’ll also talk about BLACK ORPHEUS, a 1959 musical from French director Marcel Camus that adapts the classical Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to the vibrant, samba-suffused streets of Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro during Carnival.

On the second segment of the show, Breen and the New Haven Independent’s Allan Appel review THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, a new ensemble dramedy from director Martin McDonagh that follows a grieving, defiant mother seeking justice for her murdered child in a small town in the Ozark mountains of southern Missouri.

Links

Kate Rushin's website: http://katerushinpoet.com/

Episode 100: Steven Spielberg's Amistad (1997)

 One panel of the Amistad Memorial, designed by Ed Hamilton, that stands outside of New Haven's City Hall. (Photo by Thomas Breen)

One panel of the Amistad Memorial, designed by Ed Hamilton, that stands outside of New Haven's City Hall. (Photo by Thomas Breen)

Description

This marks the 20th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s AMISTAD, a 1997 historical drama about a successful revolt among enslaved Africans aboard a Cuban slave ship in 1839, those Africans’ subsequent recapture and detention in, among other places, New Haven, Connecticut, and the subsequent landmark United States court cases that resulted in the Africans’ freedom. 

On today’s episode, host Tom Breen talks with Yale Film Studies Center director Michael Kerbel, Gilder Lehrman Center postdoctoral associate Joseph Yannielli and local film critic and lecturer Steve Fortes about Spielberg’s take on the Amistad uprising and trials, how themovie holds up two decades after its initial release, and how it resonates for audiences in New Haven where this story is so widely celebrated as one of this city’s primary connections to an international history of anti-slavery and civil rights.

Links

Treasures from the Yale Film Archive screening of AMISTAD: http://calendar.yale.edu/cal/event/eventView.do?b=de&calPath=%2Fpublic%2Fcals%2FMainCal&guid=CAL-ff808081-5e1b392f-015e-3451c399-000079e4bedework@yale.edu&recurrenceId=

New Haven Independent article about Marcus Rediker's documentary GHOSTS OF AMISTAD: http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/a_peoples_history_of_the_amistad/ 

Joseph Yannielli's talk on "“The Mendi Mission and the African Rehearsal for Reconstruction”": http://calendar.yale.edu/cal/event/eventView.do?b=de&calPath=%2Fpublic%2Fcals%2FMainCal&guid=CAL-ff808081-5e1b392f-015e-3946e364-00000183bedework@yale.edu&recurrenceId=

Episode 99: Mark Oppenheimer / Lady Bird

 Mark Oppenheimer at the WNHH Studio.

Mark Oppenheimer at the WNHH Studio.

Description

Today’s West Coast, High School, Romantic Comedy edition of the show all about a few movies that explore the highs, lows and confused in-betweens of teenage life, mostly told from the perspective of young female protagonists.

On the first segment of the show, host Tom Breen is joined by New Haven-based author, journalist and podcaster Mark Oppenheimer to talk about two movies that have had a profound influence on his understanding and love of cinema: Amy Heckerling’s 1982 directorial debut FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, an ensemble high school sex comedy set in southern california and written by Cameron Crowe, and Crowe’s own 1989 directorial debut SAY ANYTHING, which brings the teenage romantic yearning up the coast to Seattle and follows one unlikely couple in the tumultuous summer after their high school graduation.

On the second segment of the show, Breen is joined by New Haven Arts Paper editor Lucy Gellman and New Haven Independent staff writer Allan Appel to talk about LADY BIRD, Greta Gerwig’s new movie (also a directorial debut) about a 17-year-old in Sacramento, California trying to figure out who she is in relation to her mom, school, friends and city, all of which she desperately longs to escape from in order to start a new life as an independent adult on the East Coast.

Links

Mark Oppenheimer's website: http://www.markoppenheimer.com/

Unorthodox the podcast: http://www.tabletmag.com/tag/unorthodox

Facebook Live video of the interview: https://www.facebook.com/NewHavenIndependent/videos/10155885885571228/

Episode 96: Trans Awareness Week / A Prophet

 IV Staklo and Patrick Dunn

IV Staklo and Patrick Dunn

Description

Next week is Transgender Awareness Week, an annual grassroots celebration of trans culture and concerns that takes place in different communities throughout the country, including in New Haven.

The first segment of this episode is all about a trans film series that the New Haven Pride Center has organized to help celebrate Trans Awareness Week in the Elm City. Host Tom Breen is joined in the studio by two of the series’ programmers, Patrick Dunn and IV Staklo, to talk about the movies that will be playing, the different ways that trans people and issues are represented on screen, and the current state of the New Haven’s trans rights community.

On the second segment of the show, Breen joined by the Yale Film Study Center’s Archer Neilson to talk about Un prophete, a 2009 French film by Jacques Audiard that stars Tahar Rahim as a French Arab man learning to navigate the different languages, economies, cultures, and politics of a central French prison in the early 2000s. Un prophete is playing this Sunday at the Whitney Humanities Center on Wall Street as part of the Treasures from the Yale Film Archives series.

Other Links

New Haven Pride Center Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NewHavenPrideCenter/

New Haven Trans Awareness Week schedule: http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/713637/e3ad37a1d9/ARCHIVE

Episode 95: Loving Vincent / Nasty Women

Description

On the first segment of today’s show, host Tom Breen talks with Allan Appel and Lucy Gellman about LOVING VINCENT, a new animated film from directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman that gives the Citizen Kane treatment to the life of Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh: through a series of flashbacks and second-hand stories, we see the rise and fall of the troubled and inspired life of this eccentric painter, focusing in on the final days of his life in the rural French town of Auvers.

Unlike most animated movies, this story is composed of tens of thousands of hand-drawn oil paintings by over one hundred contributing artists, all simulating the heavy brushstrokes and ebullient style of the movie’s namesake.

On the second segment of the show, Breen is joined by Lucy McClure, Debbie Hesse, and Trish Clark to talk about the Nasty Women Film Event, a screening night of locally made feminist films that will be taking place at the Ely Center of Contemporary Art on Election day, next Tuesday, in honor of, or in defiance of, the anniversary of Donald Trump’s election as president.

Other Links

Nasty Women Film Event Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1962381047383269/

Episode 94: Joe Fay / George A. Romero and Tobe Hooper

 George A. Romero's KNIGHTRIDERS (1981)

George A. Romero's KNIGHTRIDERS (1981)

Description

Halloween is just around the corner, and so, on today’s episode, host Tom Breen bis joined by horror-flick aficionado Joe Fay to talk about the movies, styles, and legacies of two seminal horror filmmakers who both died in 2017: George A. Romero and Tobe Hooper.

But instead of retreading the familiar territory of these two directors’ best known and most influential works, Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead and Hooper’s 1974 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Joe and Tom focus on two slightly deeper cuts, Romero’s 1981 Arthurian biker drama Knightriders and Hooper’s 1985 alien vampire flick Lifeforce.