Blog Archives

The 2017 Human Rights Watch Film Festival


June 6, 2017.  The 2017 Human Rights Watch Film Festival Film Festival, co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center, will run from June 9-18. This will be the festival’s 28th edition.

John Biaggi, the festival’s creative director said, “In these trying times for human rights, this year’s festival lineup champions activism – from people demanding accountability and major reform in the US police and justice institutions, to Chinese workers battling an electronics giant’s unsafe working conditions, to Mayan women at the forefront of political accountability and change in Guatemala, to the remarkable work of digital activists in Brazil and Tibet. The festival highlights the outstanding work of activists at home and around the world, presenting a broad array of urgent human rights issues beyond those that command today’s headlines.” Read the rest of this entry


Abacus: Small Enough to Jail


Thomas Sung, the subject of “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.” Photo by Sean Lyness

October 01, 2016. “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” is a gripping account of the, under reported, trial of the Abacus Federal Savings Bank, the only bank to have faced criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crises. Even though much bigger banks participated in deliberate and massive mortgage fraud, no criminal indictments were every brought against them. They were bailed out by the tax payers because they were “too big to fail.” In other words, had they failed they would have wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy. So, they got a pass. Abacus, as the film’s title suggests, was small enough to pick on as the proxy for the much bigger banking corruption that was not, and apparently could not be, punished. Read the rest of this entry

The Dog

Bank robber John Wojtowicz

Bank robber John Wojtowicz

Al Pacino in "Dog Day Afternoon" (1975)

Al Pacino in “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975)

“The Dog” is one of the best documentaries I have seen in quite some time. The film covers everything you could possibly want to know about the famous (or should I say “infamous?”) “Dog Day Afternoon” bank robber, and hostage taker, John Wojtowicz, immortalized by Al Pacino in director Sidney Lumet’s brilliant, scorching, 1975 film “Dog Day Afternoon.” It is also a fascinating and highly entertaining documentary, to be enjoyed even if you have not seen “Dog Day Afternoon.”

However, if you love “Dog Day Afternoon” the way I do (and I’ve been a fan ever since seeing it at the age of 13 – my God, what were my parents thinking?) “The Dog” is a fascinating and compelling compendium of things we know, and many things we do not know, about the actual events that transpired before, during and long after that blistering hot afternoon of August 22, 1972, in Brooklyn, when two men held up a branch of the Chase Manhattan Bank.

Watching “The Dog,” it is very interesting to see how much of the story “Dog Day Afternoon” got right. I had the privilege of seeing Lumet speak on many occasions. He always said that the story telling emphasis in “Dog Day Afternoon” was on the fact that this event really happened. Read the rest of this entry

“The Rugby Player” at LGBT Film Festival – New Fest

Alice Hoagland and Mark Bingham are subjects of the documentary "The Rugby Player," at New Fest

Alice Hoagland and Mark Bingham are subjects of the documentary, “The Rugby Player,” at New Fest

New Fest, New York’s premiere LGBT Film Festival, now in its 25th year, will run from September 6 – 11.  The festival will include 15 narrative films, four documentaries and 31 shorts in addition to various special events.  For the second time in its history, New Fest will be run in partnership with the Film Society of Lincoln Center.  Many of the screenings and panel discussions will take place at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theatre, one of the city’s best movie theatres, in my opinion.  Screenings will also take place at the JCC at 334 Amsterdam Avenue.

As of press time I was able to screen “The Rugby Player,” a moving and life affirming documentary about Mark Bingham, a passenger on United 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11.  Director Scott Gracheff has taken what, in lesser hands, might have been mundane material and has turned it into a compelling story.  What I mean is that Mark Bingham was just a regular person and yet Gracheff makes his story  quite compelling.     Read the rest of this entry

The Canyons

Another day in paradise.  James Deen and Lindsay Lohan in "The Canyons."

Another day in paradise. James Deen and Lindsay Lohan in “The Canyons.”

Writer / director Paul Schrader owes me a movie.  The piece of dreck called “The Canyons” that he unveiled on June 29 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center does not count.

As I made my way to my seat inside the Film Society’s beautiful Walter Reade Theatre, a waiter approached me with a tray containing cups of beer.  I turned him down.  Had I known what I was soon to be in for, I most likely would have taken the entire tray.  I do not know if alcohol would have helped, but, in the case of “The Canyons,” it could not have hurt.  Read the rest of this entry

Gary Joseph (1950-2012)

(left to right) Seth Shire, TCM Host Robert Osborne and Gary Joseph at the TCM Classic Movies Classic Film Festival Hollywood 2010

Gary Joseph died this past Sunday (October 14, 2012).  He was my very great friend with whom I saw probably 1,000 movies over the course of our friendship, which lasted 26 years.  His death leaves a giant hole.

Many people have friends in their lives that they have known for 26 years, but I will bet few can remember the exact moment that they met these friends.  I can.  I met Gary, appropriately enough, in a movie theatre where we were both taking a film class.  He sat two seats away from me, stuck out his hand and said, “I’m Gary Joseph.”  I did not know it at the time, but a unique and important person had entered my life.  When we met, Gary was 35-years-old with red hair and a red beard.  When he died on Sunday he was 61 and what hair he had left had turned gray. Read the rest of this entry

“Barry Lyndon” at Film Society of Lincoln Center – Digital Presentation – DCP

Ryan O’Neal and Marisa Berenson in Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 masterpiece “Barry Lyndon”

On June 22, 25 and 27 at 12:15, the Film Society of Lincoln Center will present a digitally restored showing of Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 film “Barry Lyndon.”  The presentation will be in DCP (Digital Cinema Package) which is becoming the industry standard for projection of new and classic films.  DCP uses cutting-edge technology to scan 35mm film negatives into digital files and then plays them back, from a computer hard drive, at stunning 2K or 4K resolution. The result is sound and image that rivals or surpasses even the best quality 35mm prints.

I am often asked to name my favorite movie, a formidable question considering how many movies I have seen.  I always come up with the same answer, “Barry Lyndon.”  I first saw “Barry Lyndon” at the age of 13 when my parents took me to see it during its opening week at the Ziegfeld Theatre in Manhattan.  The Ziegfeld, along with the Paris, and thankfully the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theatre, is one of the last of the city’s great single screen movie theatres.  I had never seen a movie like “Barry Lyndon” before and I certainly had never seen a movie theatre like the Ziegfeld.  If you have not seen a movie there, go. Read the rest of this entry

Albert Brooks at Film Society of Lincoln Center

Albert Brooks, who appeared at the Film Society of Lincoln Center on January 8.

Albert Brooks, comedian, actor, writer and movie director appeared at the Film Society of Lincoln Center on Sunday, January 8 to discuss his career.  It was an evening of film clips, stories, anecdotes; an event that presented a varied and comprehensive look at Brooks’ work acting in the films of other directors, including Martin Scorsese, Sidney Lumet, Steven Soderbergh, James L. Brooks (no relation) and others. Brooks was interviewed by Scott Foundas, Associate Program Director for the Film Society.   The event took place at the Walter Reade Theatre. Read the rest of this entry

The Complete Clint Eastwood

From July 9 – 27 The Film Society of Lincoln Center will present “The Complete Clint Eastwood,” a comprehensive retrospective of all films directed by triple threat actor, director, producer, Clint Eastwood. The series will also showcase signature Eastwood performances in films directed by Sergio Leone and Don Siegel. On July 10 Eastwood himself will make a live appearance, via Skype, for a Q&A session following a screening of “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964). On July 9 critic, author and director Richard Schickel will present his documentary “The Eastwood Factor.” After the screening Schickel will sign copies of his book “Clint: A Retrospective.” Read the rest of this entry