Blog posts

Brian Wilson, troubled genius

6.22. 2015 Posted By: Gordon Houser

Love and Mercy, the new bio pic about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, is a searing portrait of a musical genius who suffered from an abusive father, mental illness and an abusive psychotherapist. The film, directed by Bill Pohlad, takes an interesting and effective approach, using two actors to portray Wilson. Paul Dano plays […]

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The anxiety of aging

4.17. 2015 Posted By: Gordon Houser

Noah Baumbach’s new film, While We’re Young, is his most mature (no pun intended) and funny film to date. Each of his films (The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding, Greenberg and Frances Ha) combine funny dialogue with the painful drama of relationships. While We’re Young opens with a middle-age couple, Josh (Ben […]

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Not ‘based on a true story’

2.6. 2015 Posted By: Gordon Houser

You’re at the cinema, and a movie comes on. After the title appears, you see the words “Based on a true story.” Anymore you have to wonder what this means. Every year, it seems, we encounter in the media a debate about the veracity of certain dramatic film portrayal of historical events. This year is […]

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Gordon Houser’s top 10 films of 2014

1.19. 2015 Posted By: Gordon Houser

Noticeably absent from my list are documentaries. Many good ones are still being made, but they seem to be less available. And not being near a major city limits what’s available in time for this list. Nevertheless, here are 10 good films (among many more): 1. Boyhood. Beyond its uniqueness for having been filmed over […]

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Serial: a new kind of journalism

12.26. 2014 Posted By: Gordon Houser

Shortly before Thanksgiving, my daughter told me about Serial, a podcast exploring a nonfiction story over multiple episodes (thus the name). It’s a spinoff of the radio program This American Life. First released last October, the episodes ran weekly for 12 weeks. The final episode was released on Dec. 18. In early December, I went […]

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Life and art in two recent films

11.21. 2014 Posted By: Gordon Houser

Among the many well-made, one-word films out this year (Boyhood, Interstellar, Fury, Nightcrawler), two recent ones stand out: Birdman (though it has that curious parenthetical addition: or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and Whiplash. Let’s begin with Birdman (and we’ll leave off the playful, if not pretentious, part of the title). It’s about a washed-up […]

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Belle: A story about classism and racism

10.29. 2014 Posted By: Gordon Houser

As I’ve written before here, many of these “true” stories stretch the truth quite a bit. Such is the case here. The film is actually inspired by a 1779 painting of Belle beside her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray. It was commissioned by William Murray, who was at the time Lord Chief Justice of England and […]

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