Catasauqua Press

Sunday, June 25, 2017

'Stoker' an art-house shocker

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"Stoker" is an art-house shocker.

While the film's title has nothing to do with Bram Stoker's "Dracula," it has its ghoulish elements.

With little advance word about the film, I didn't know what to expect.

The story in "Stoker" begins at a funeral, that of Richard Stoker (Dermot Mulroney), who died in a mysterious car crash. We see his widow, Evelyn Stoker (Nicole Kidman), and his daughter, India Stoker (Mia Wasikowski).

India, who shared a special bond with her father through their hunting trips, is especially distraught.

'Gatekeepers' is a must-see

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"The Gatekeepers" is a documentary film that goes a long way toward helping to explain politics in the Middle East, especially since the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six-Day War.

In six days, the Israel military took control of the Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights.

While Israel won the war, it put the nation in the midst of war on terror battles over Palestinian statehood and to prevent, as defenders and allies of Israel would say, the achievement of the oft-stated goal of Israel's enemies, namely, "to wipe Israel from the face of the planet."

'Oz' not so 'Great,' 'Powerful'

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

At one point in "Oz The Great and Powerful," Oz (James Franco) says to China Doll, a Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) character voiced by Joey King, "One rule in show biz: Never work with kids or animals," adding, "I already have this ... ," as he gestures to another CGI character, Finley, a monkey in a bellhop suit voiced by Zach Braff.

To that show-business adage, it could be added, "Never work with CGI characters."

At least in "Oz the Great and Powerful," for James Franco and other live-action actors, it's a losing battle.

Hoffman's 'Quartet' plays well

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"Quartet" is a thoughtful, entertaining and fun film that hits all the grace notes.

The film is directed by Dustin Hoffman, who will be 76 on Aug. 8, in his feature film directorial debut.

One question: Why did he wait so long?

Well, Hoffman started directing "Straight Time" in 1978, but Ulu Grobard took it over.

The setting for "Quartet" is Beecham House, a home for retired musicians in England, for which the success of the annual gala concert to celebrate composer Giuseppi Verdi's birthday may determine whether the castle-like manse will stay open or close.

Quinn Lemley: To sequins and beyond

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

It's called "Burlesque to Broadway," but the song and dance revue, 7:30 p.m. March 2, State Theatre for the Arts, 453 Northampton St., Easton, is much more, according to its star.

"It's a celebration of women, from Burlesque to Broadway and beyond," says Quinn Lemley, star of the show with co-stars, Sara Brophy, portraying Raz, a Rosalind Russell character, and Amanda Brantley, portraying Gracie, based on Gracie Allen. They're backed by a 10-piece orchestra.

"The show is like a young Bette Midler meets 'Chicago,' " Lemley says.

'Amour' at the end of life

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

Just when one thought that France's "Rust and Bone" set the mark for depressing cinema, there's "Amour."

"Amour" was nominated for five Oscars, picture, actress (Emmanuelle Riva), director (Michael Haneke), original screenplay (Haneke) and foreign-language film (Austria's entry). The film won the Palme d'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival.

In "Amour," Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Riva) are retired music teachers who are in their 80s. After Anne has successive strokes, Georges promised her that he will not place here in a long-term care facility.

Movie Review: Soderbergh's final 'Effects'?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"Side Effects" is a good crime thriller with a twist that you probably won't see coming.

Jude Law plays Dr. Jonathan Banks, a psychiatrist who is paid as a consultant for a pharmaceutical company that is doing trials with a new drug.

One of his clients, Emily (Rooney Mara), is institutionalized after she negotiates an NGRI plea (Not Guilty For Reasons of Insanity) plea over the death of her husband Martin (Channing Tatum).

Law consults with Dr. Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Emily's previous psychiatrist, who may or may not be withholding information from him.

Tarantino 'Django' unreined

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"Django Unchained," with five Oscar nominations, has been on my must-see list of movies in theatrical release.

Still, there was trepidation about seeing "Django Unchained." I delayed seeing Quentin Tarantino's latest opus and an opus it is because of advance word about its depiction of graphic violence and the extensive use of the "N" word.

That said, "Django Unchained" deserves the Oscar Picture, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz), Cinematography and Sound Editing nominations.

Does 'Zero' add up to reality?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

"Zero Dark Thirty," an Oscar picrtue nominee and an American Film Institute movie of the year, is an intense cinema-going experience.

"Zero Dark Thirty" is nothing less than an account of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon and bin Laden's killing by United States Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May 2011.