Blog Archives

Tribeca 2016 – “Taxi Driver”40th Anniversary Screening

April 21, 20016.  On April 21, the Tribeca Film Festival presented a once in a lifetime event – a 40th anniversary screening of Martin Scorsese’s 1976 movie “Taxi Driver.” The screening was followed by a panel discussion featuring an incredible line up of “Taxi Driver” alumni, which included Scorsese, screenwriter Paul Schrader, actors Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Jody Foster, Cybill Shepherd and producer Michael Phillips. The event took place at the Beacon Theatre and was moderated by writer and performer Kent Jones.

De Niro introduced the screening by claiming that every day for the past 40 years someone has come up to him and said, “You talkin’ to me?” – arguably the most famous line from “Taxi Driver,” spoken by De Niro, as Travis Bickle, the film’s main character. De Niro’s anecdote got a huge laugh from the sold out audience. De Niro then invited the audience to “get it all out.” Then, in unison, we all repeated the iconic line, along with De Niro.


Seth Shire outside of the Beacon Theatre prior to the “Taxi Driver” 40th Anniversary Screening.  (Photo by Luce Mercado)

Read the rest of this entry


DOC NYC Presents “The Anthropologist”

Lloyd Kaufman, Daniel Miller, Jeremy Newberger and Seth Kramer

Daniel Miller, Jeremy Newberger and Seth Kramer of Ironbound Films pose with Troma Entertainment president Lloyd Kaufman (left, wearing bow tie).

November 8, 2015. DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary film festival, runs from November 12 – 19 at IFC Center (323 6th Avenue), Chelsea’s SVA Theatre (333 West 23rd Street) and Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas (260 West 23rd Street). The 2015 edition of DOC NYC will include 104 feature length documentaries. More than 200 documentary filmmakers are expected, in person, to present their films. Special guests will include Hillary Rodham Clinton and Martin Scorsese.

On Friday, November 13 the documentary “The Anthropologist” will have its premiere screening at DOC NYC. The screening will take place at the SVA Theatre at 9:30 pm.

The Anthropologist” is the latest documentary made by Ironbound Films, a unique company which has produced some fascinating documentaries. Ironbound Films boasts no less than three directors – Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy Newberger – all of whom work on the company’s movies. Previous Ironbound documentaries include the 2012 documentary “Evocateur: the Morton Downey, Jr. Movie” (available on Netflix) and “The Linguists” (2008). Read the rest of this entry

Tribeca Film Festival 2015 – “Goodfellas,” 25th Anniversary Screening

The Unpaid Film Critic with brother Howard (who snagged the tickets) at the 25th Anniversary screening of "Goodfellas," on 4/15/15, outside the Beacon Theatre.

The Unpaid Film Critic (left) with brother Howard at the 25th Anniversary screening of “Goodfellas,” on 4/25/15, outside the Beacon Theatre.

On April 25 the Tribeca Film Festival nearly blew the roof off of the Beacon Theater with its closing night event, a 25th anniversary screening of director Martin Scorsese’s 1990 film “Goodfellas,” presented in a stunning, digital restoration. Following the screening, moderator Jon Stewart conducted an interview with “Goodfellas” cast members Robert De Niro, Paul Sorvino, Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco and “Goodfellas” screenwriter Nick Pileggi, who also wrote the book “Wiseguy,” upon which “Goodfellas” is based. Conspicuously absent from the event was Scorsese, who is on location in Taiwan, shooting a movie. Scorsese shot an video introduction to the evening, which was shown before the film. Irwin Winkler, the film’s producer, also shot a video introduction. Read the rest of this entry

Life Itself

Film critic Roger Ebert, the subject of "Life Itself"

Film critic Roger Ebert, the subject of “Life Itself”

“Life Itself” is an absolutely fascinating, absorbing, entertaining and honest documentary about the life and work of film critic Roger Ebert.  Being a big fan of Ebert’s work (granted I have not always agreed with him) on TV and in writing, and having once seen him and his TV partner, Gene Siskel, at an appearance at the Museum of TV & Radio (now the Paley Center), I just could not get enough of “Life Itself.”  In fact, the only criticism I can think of is that I wanted it to be longer than its current two hour running length.  As a result, I cannot wait for the DVD extras.       Read the rest of this entry

“Scarecrow” (’73) at Film Forum, May 17-23

Gene Hackman and Al Pacino in "Scarecrow."

Gene Hackman and Al Pacino in “Scarecrow.”

“Scarecrow,” the 1973 road movie directed by Jerry Schatzberg, will be having a run at Film Forum from May 17 – 23.  The film stars Al Pacino (fresh off “The Godfather”) and Gene Hackman, both in their primes.

“Scarecrow” will be shown in a clean, beautiful, anamorphic (really wide screen) print which, for me, was a revelation.  I first saw “Scarecrow” many years ago when I taped it off of channel 5 at 2:00 am using the EP (lowest picture quality, but more time on a VHS tape) setting on my VCR.   The film’s original wide screen dimensions were blown up to fill the space of square shaped TVs.  In other words I was losing 50% of the picture.  Now that home video users are used to the concept of letterboxing this problem has become less and less frequent. Commercial breaks were thrown in for good measure but, despite all of this, I liked the film.  Now, seeing “Scarecrow” in its correct, widescreen aspect ratio, I can properly appreciate Schatzberg’s use of long takes as the characters amble about aimlessly toward objectives that they are probably not going to achieve, dwarfed by the wide open spaces through which they travel. Read the rest of this entry

Side By Side

Keanu Reeves and Martin Scorsese in “Side By Side”

From swirling photo chemical film grain to the “ones and zeros” of the digital age, “Side By Side,” the new documentary by filmmaker Chris Kenneally, is a fascinating and important new work.  The  subject is the transition from movies being shot, edited and exhibited on film, to being shot edited and exhibited digitally.

Normally I use the term “film” to refer to any movie about which I am writing.  I do this knowing full well that many of these “films” have been shot digitally (meaning in a high definition video format) and have not used the photochemical process of film at all.  I use the term “film” as a convenient way to refer to these projects (the present one included) although, as any viewer of “Side by Side” will learn, “film” is a term that, more and more, is becoming less and less accurate. Read the rest of this entry

David Cronenberg at Museum of the Moving Image

Museum of the Moving Image curator David Schwartz interviewed movie director David Cronenberg at the museum on Jan. 21, 2012. Photo by Steve Herrig

“No humans were hurt during the filming of that last scene,” movie director David Cronenberg joked following the showing of the famous clip of the exploding head from his movie “Scanners” (1981).  Cronenberg flew in from Canada last Saturday to kick off the 19 film retrospective of his work that the Museum of the Moving Image, in Astoria, is having now through February 12.  Museum curator David Schwartz told the sold out house that it was the only time the museum has done a second retrospective of a living filmmaker.  The museum’s previous Cronenberg retrospective was in 1992. 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


Chloe Grace Moretz and Asa Butterfield in "Hugo"

I never thought I would be taking a 10-year-old to a Martin Scorsese movie.  Do not get me wrong.  I am a devoted Scorsese fan who usually attends his movies on opening days.  However his films usually deal with adult themes not appropriate for a child: “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “The Departed,” “Casino,” “Goodfellas.”  Plus, Scorsese’s films can be really violent.  So what was I doing taking my 10 year old nephew, Jack, to the Ziegfeld Theatre last Friday to see Scorsese’s latest movie “Hugo?”  Well, for one thing, Jack was already a step ahead of me having actually read the book on which the movie is based, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” by Brian Selznick.

In this day and age of dumb movies for kids, such as “Happy Feet 2” (in IMAX 3-D no less) and “Jack and Jill,” featuring Adam Sandler in a dress, how great that Scorsese has made a film for children (and adults) that is exciting, smart, does not talk down to them and respects their intelligence.  As if this is not enough, “Hugo” is a visually stunning and magical film that deals with complex themes about the role of the artist.   The story involves a mystery, the investigation of which provides the audience with a brief education on the early days of cinema.  All this and it is in 3-D too.  Read the rest of this entry

“On Cinema: Alexander Payne” at New York Film Festival

Director Alexander Payne

On October 15 the New York Film Festival presented “On Cinema: Alexander Payne,” in which the director (“Election,” “About Schmidt,” “Sideways” and the soon to be released “The Descendants”) talked about influential films in his life.  The event was sponsored by HBO, moderated by NYFF Selection Committee Chairman Richard Pena and took place in the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater.

Payne proved to be an affable, frank and intelligent subject who frequently turned Pena’s questions around, playfully shooting them back at his interviewer.  Interspersed throughout the talk, Payne showed clips from four influential films: Anthony Mann’s “The Naked Spur,” Michelangelo Antonioni’s “La Notte,” Martin Scorsese’s “Casino” and Akira Kurosawa’s “Red Beard.”  Payne also brought a 16m print of an early film by director Carroll Ballard, “The Perils of Priscilla,” a lively, imaginative short which showed the world from the point of view of an abandoned house cat.  Payne said it was one of the best movies ever made. Read the rest of this entry