2016 IndieWire Critics Poll: Christopher Schobert

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My first of — count ’em! — THREE end-of-year lists is now posted at Indiewire. I was honored to again be one of the 200 critics asked to contribute. It’s an impressive group, to be sure. My list has changed a bit since this was filed, but you can’t go wrong with anything I mentioned … Here’s the full Indiewire list, as well.

Best Film

  1. La La Land
  2. Jackie
  3. Moonlight
  4. Paterson
  5. The Handmaiden
  6. 20th Century Women
  7. American Honey
  8. Sing Street
  9. Manchester by the Sea
  10. The Nice Guys

Best Director

  1. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
  2. Pablo Larrain, Jackie
  3. Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  4. Andrea Arnold, American Honey
  5. Park Chan-wook, The Handmaiden

Best Actress

  1. Natalie Portman, Jackie
  2. Emma Stone, La La Land
  3. Isabelle Huppert, Elle
  4. Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
  5. Rebecca Hall, Christine

Best Actor

  1. Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
  2. Ryan Gosling, La La Land
  3. Adam Driver, Paterson
  4. Colin Farell, The Lobster
  5. Peter Simonischek, Toni Erdmann

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Tilda Swinton, A Bigger Splash
  2. Kate McKinnon, Ghostbusters
  3. Kristen Stewart, Cafe Society
  4. Lily Gladstone, Certain Women
  5. Viola Davis, Fences

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
  2. Alden Ehrenreich, Hail, Caesar!
  3. Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash
  4. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  5. Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Best Documentary

  1. OJ: Made in America
  2. Weiner
  3. 13th
  4. I Am Not Your Negro
  5. Holy Hell
  6. Off the Rails
  7. Gimme Danger
  8. Kate Plays Christine
  9. Audrie & Daisy
  10. Tickled

Best Undistributed Film

  1. Una
  2. Werewolf
  3. Nocturama
  4. Sieranevada
  5. The Rehearsal
  6. Still Life
  7. The Death of Louis XIV
  8. Le concours (The Graduation)
  9. My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea
  10. The Woman Who Left

Best First Feature

  1. The Witch
  2. Swiss Army Man
  3. April and the Extraordinary World
  4. Indignation
  5. Kicks

Best Screenplay

  1. Jackie
  2. Moonlight
  3. The Lobster
  4. Paterson
  5. Indignation

Best Original Score/Soundtrack

  1. The Handmaiden
  2. La La Land
  3. American Honey
  4. The Handmaiden
  5. Sing Street

Best Cinematography

  1. The Handmaiden
  2. Moonlight
  3. La La Land
  4. Arrival
  5. A Bigger Splash

Best Editing

  1. La La Land
  2. Moonlight
  3. Midnight Special
  4. The Lobster
  5. 20th Century Women

Best Overlooked Film

  1. Sleeping Giant
  2. Una
  3. Werewolf
  4. The Student and Mister Henri
  5. Darling

Most Anticipated of 2017

  1. Happy End
  2. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
  3. Star Wars: Episode VIII
  4. The Snowman
  5. Blade Runner 2049

 

Review: Hip-Hop Documentary “Sample This” Drops the Needle and Finds a Fascinating Beat

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New York Magazine recently devoted an issue to the music of New York City, and that reminded me of solid documentary I reviewed a few months ago for The Playlist: “Sample This.”

“Sample This” would make a hell of an article. In fact, it did. In 2006, Will Hermes told the story of the story of the oft-forgotten, oft-sampled Incredible Bongo Band in the New York Times. His article, wonderfully titled “All Rise for the National Anthem of Hip-Hop,” began like so: “This is a story about a nearly forgotten album and the birth of hip-hop music. Like many good hip-hop tales, and pop yarns in general, it involves unlikely characters rising from obscurity and is colored with creative passion, violence, drugs, thievery, paydays and paybacks.”

That so-called pop yarn forms the basis for director Dan Forrer’s “Sample This,” a fascinating, fun, messy, and overlong documentary that never quite captures the simple beauty of Hermes’ article, but succeeds in bringing to light details about some of the most influential sounds in music history. Were it not for the Incredible Bongo Band, and, specifically, the song “Apache,” hip-hop as we know it might not exist. Elements of the track have been used in countless songs over the years, and, as “Sample This” details, the role of “Apache” in the early days of rap and hip-hop especially make it one of the most essential recordings of the last five decades.

Forrer’s film, then, means to shine a light on the historically significant but not-necessarily-famous folks who made up the band and helped create it. There is no figure more central to the story than Michael Viner, a former Robert F. Kennedy staffer who, through a series of unlikely events, moved into the music industry. Viner was a marketing genius—one who certainly had no talent for the bongos—whose inimitable post-politics career even led to the role of music supervisor of one of the strangest films ever made, one in which Ray Milland’s head is transplanted onto Rosey Grier’s body. This leads to one of the more memorable lines in recent film: “Although Viner never could have guessed it, ‘The Thing With Two Heads’ started him on the path to creating the Incredible Bongo Band.”

Indeed it did. For the soundtrack, Viner put together a stunning group of performers, many of them well-known studio musicians. Forrer talks to some of the unknowns who toiled behind the scenes while others became famous, and they offer unique insight into how many, many hits were created. (“I played and arranged all the Partridge Family Records”; “We were The Monkees, and Glen Campbell.”) As drummer Bobbye Hall puts it, “I am a studio musician. I make hits…That’s what I do.” The Incredible Bongo Band was comprised of many of these greats, including “greatest percussionist of all time” King Errison, Derek and the Dominoes drummer Jim Gordon, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Steve Douglas, organist Robbie King, and other biggies.

Together, in a Vancouver studio (chosen for humorous reasons spelled out in the film), they made history. Perhaps that sounds overly dramatic, but it’s true. One could make a handy chart demonstrating the long-term impact following the release of Bongo Rock in 1973: DJ Kool Herc discovered the album while crate-digging (he removed label from vinyl so no competing DJs would know what it was or where it came from), Grandmaster Flash (and others) sample the breakbeat, and on, and on, and on… It is the inimitable Questlove who points to the song’s continued relevance, which he expects to continue:  “In 2020, they’ll figure out a new way [to use the song] — probably, they’ll play Apache backwards.”

If it seems like information overload, well, it is. Forrer is attempting to cover a lot of ground here, and succeeds more than he fails. But there are also some strange decisions, chief among them the choice of narrator. If you are making a documentary about the band that  changed the face of hip-hop, Gene Simmons doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice. But, believe it or not, Simmons does an admirable job. However, the KISS kingpin is just one example of the film’s inherent WTF?-ness. Consider that over the course of the 83-minute film, the following people, films, bands, etc. are involved: The Young and the Restless, Nadia Comăneci, Bing Crosby, Spike Jones (the drummer—note the spelling), Ricky Nelson, “Thunderball,” Frank Sinatra, Terry Melcher, the Manson Family, Billy Graham, Son of Sam, Sidney Sheldon and Neil Diamond. It’s a pop culture bouillabaisse that is often too “Behind the Music”-ish, especially when Simmons reads lines like, “As was so often the case with the incredible Bongo Band, destiny played a major hand.”

Was the story of the Incredible Bongo Band told more succinctly in Will Hermes’ 2006 New York Times piece? I think so. Would “Sample This” have been more effective as a 30-minute short? Without question. But it is hard to walk away too disappointed when the stories are this fascinating—and when the music is this triumphant. [B]

Review: “Copperhead” is a Slow-Moving But Worthy Civil War Drama

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I reviewed Ron Maxwell’s “Copperhead” for Indiewire’s The Playlist, and gave the film a B-.

A Civil War movie without a battle scene is like…wait, what? A Civil War movie without a battle scene?! That is “Copperhead,” a sincere, slow-moving, occasionally successful film devoted to one specific homefront story. That, in itself, is noteworthy. After all, as many of the characters in Ron Maxwell’s film point out, in addition to the costs on the battlefield, there were many, many costs at home. Life carried on, uneasily, and as the war raged the number of fathers and sons who would return home upon its conclusion grew smaller and smaller. With such a stunning body count, it is not surprising to hear that there was a vocal minority against the conflict — including some Northerners.

“Copperhead,” based on a novella by Harold Frederic—whose “Damnation of Theron Ware” F. Scott Fitzgerald called “the best American novel” written before 1920—is the third straight Civil War film for Maxwell, director of the much-loved, quite lengthy “Gettysburg” and the much-derided, even lengthier “Gods and Generals.” It is a smaller-scale story, and that feels like a conscious effort on the part of the director. The film is centered on an upstate New York farmer and dissenter, Abner Beech (Billy Campbell—the Rocketeer!), and his family. Like so many young men on the cusp of adulthood, Abner’s son Jeff (Casey Thomas Brown) is ready to enlist, much to his father’s dismay.

Also causing family strife is Jeff’s relationship with Esther (Lucy Boynton), a sweet-natured school teacher who happens to be the daughter of Abner’s greatest enemy (what are the odds?), the crazy-eyed, ultra-shout-y Jee Hagadorn, played by a wonderfully over-the-top Angus Macfadyen. Eventually, Jeff, who is now going by the name Tom (Jeff being too close to Jefferson Davis for comfort), joins the Union army, leaving a devastated Esther to await his return. Meanwhile, the town grows increasingly hostile toward Abner and his family, dubbing them “Copperheads,” a term for Northerners opposed to the war. With Jee leading the charge, the situation becomes increasingly contentious, and Abner must decide how strong his convictions are.

It all culminates in a rather predictable series of events, and ends a bit too neatly for an on-the-homefront drama. We’re not used to semi-happy endings when it comes to the Civil War—victory having come at a such a great cost—and it is almost jarring here. But Maxwell earns that happy ending by virtue of a smart, thoughtful screenplay by Bill Kauffman. The dialogue is simple and believable, and the sheer number of well-rounded characters is noteworthy. It is not strong on action, however, and Maxwell, the filmmaker behind one of the finest Civil War battles sequences ever brought to the screen—the Little Round Top fight in “Gettysburg”—should have found a way to amp it up a tad. Both Kaufman (this was his first screenplay) and Maxwell will both do better work, but the sincerity they brought to this one is admirable.

What “Copperhead” most lacks—and this is likely by design—is any sense of urgency. Maxwell’s languid pacing does bring forth a feeling of living in the 1860s, of news traveling slowly and the style of everyday life being slowwwwwwwer. But it does not always make for a thrilling movie, especially for those unaccustomed to this style of storytelling. The film’s middle stretch, between Jeff’s leaving with the Union army and the sudden visit of Esther to Abner’s farm, is particularly lethargic, with scene after scene of characters missing Jeff, wondering about Jeff, contemplating Jeff.  For all of their Jeff ponderings, it seems Jeff (this review has now set a record for use of the name “Jeff”) should have been a bit more exciting … and he is not. In fact, Jeff’s central dilemma seems less involving than almost every other character. That is not the fault of young actor Casey Thomas Brown; it is simply a one-note role.

The other performances are mostly fine, with Lucy Boynton an adequate girl-next-door, and Billy Campbell quiet-voiced but strong-willed. It is nice to see the hard-working actor, most memorably seen on “The Killing,” with a lead. (Interestingly, he replaced Jason Patric during filming due to “creative differences.”) But it is Angus Macfadyen who dominates every scene in which he appears as the slavery-and Confederate-damning Jee Hagadorn. It is a performance of much huffing and puffing, but it is also very believable, even amidst the histrionics. Ironically, however, Macfadyen’s finest moment is a quiet one in which he utters a single devastating sentence to the son that has let him down by steering clear of military service. Meanwhile, Peter Fonda makes a couple of rather clunky appearances; the scenes are fine, but feel a bit engineered. (A newspaper is folded, and reveals…PETER FONDA!)

It is a statement of fact that those who consider themselves Civil War or history buffs will be much more forgiving of “Copperhead” than those who are not, and I see nothing wrong with that. For this audience, Ron Maxwell’s film will prove entertaining and though-provoking, at the very least. For the rest, it is unlikely to provide much dramatic sustenance. But that’s too bad, because even though “Copperhead” is nowhere near a great film, it is often a good one, a drama with real ideas about patriotism and dissent in times of conflict. It is a worthy entry in our growing list of Civil War cinema, and despite its flaws, it does not deserve to be ignored.

Photo from the Playlist review

Wednesday Round-Up: The Dissolve Kicks Off by Demonstrating Why “Innocence” is “Unmistakably Scorsese”

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I’m not sure why it took Pitchfork so longer to enter the film criticism realm, but taking its time may have been wise. Last week, The Dissolve finally launched, and it features a murderer’s row of cinema heavyweights: Keith Phipps, Scott Tobias, Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson, Matt Singer. These are some of my favorites, and the site that has brought them together, Avengers-style, is—so far, at least—a treat.

For example, check out the “Departures” column, explained thusly: “Departures looks at films by talents who defied expectations and tried something different. Are these films true anomalies, or not quite the left turns they appear to be?”

That’s a great idea, and Tobias’s first pick, Martin Scorsese’s “The Age of Innocence,” is an ideal selection:

“It’s hard to compare the New York of ‘The Age of Innocence’ to the savage criminal underworlds of Scorseseland a century later, but only because the kills here don’t stain the hardwood. But Newland is rubbed out just as surely as the pileup of gangsters in ‘Goodfellas’—to a point, he’s responsible for pulling the trigger—and for the same reason: With the world outside threatening change, the mobs in both films have to close rank to survive.”

“Innocence” is, I think one of Scorsese’s least best films, and is deserving of such a close analysis. If this is where The Dissolve is going, I applaud it.

Or consider the column “Performance Review,” in which “each entry focuses on a specific category in a given year, in several different awards ceremonies, in an effort to determine the year’s most criminally overlooked performances. First stop: Bes Supporting Actor, 1991.

I love Mike D’Angelo’s appreciation of Samuel L. Jackson’s un-nominated—by Oscar—role as Gator in Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever”; he was honored by the New York Film Critics Circle:

“[I]n his final confrontation with his father, his act of defiance takes the form of a silent, murderous hate-shimmy that conveys far more contempt than words ever could. It’s chilling to behold. One year earlier, Jackson was still playing roles like ‘Taxi Dispatcher’ in films like ‘Betsy’s Wedding’; Gator changed that, and it’s no surprise it was the New York critics who acknowledged it.”

The Dissolve seems a worthy entry in the crowded field of online movie criticism, and it will be interesting to watch it develop.

And the rest:

  • “Eyes Wide Shut” opened on July 16, 1999. To commemorate, The Film Stage offers a doc on symbolism in Kubrick’s swan song.
  • “Only God Forgives finally opens this Friday, and I am having an internal debate: theater, or home? Chances are I’ll opt for VOD. I’m very much looking forward to it, although it’s difficult not to go in expecting a major letdown. Here is one of the more interesting reviews I’ve come across so far.
  • A Tweet about the ending of Jeff Nichols’ “Take Shelter” led me to this nice analysis of that film’s mysterious and controversial ending.
  • Two must-see trailers: The latest American preview for Wong Kar-wai’s “The Grandmaster,” and the first look at Spike Lee’s “Oldboy.” I did not spot a squid.
  • The great Indiewire is 15. Take a look at its “first issue.” Author Irvine Welsh made an appearance: “According to a story in this week’s issue of _New Yorker Magazine_ (July 15, 1996) the novelist who wrote TRAINSPOTTING spent a night in jail following ‘a recent four-day binge’ which featured ‘everything—everything you can imagine.’”
  • David Cronenberg’s latest has begun filming. “Map to the Stars” John Cusack, Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, Olivia Williams, and Sarah Gadon.
  • The unrealized projects of Alan Resnais.
  • Guess what? Only 50 days until TIFF.

“The Age of Innocence” still is from a TIFF retrospective of the film

Stream This: “Bert and Arnie’s Guide to Friendship” is a Solid Romantic Comedy

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A quick note this Saturday, on a film you may want to catch on iTunes, etc. It’s an enjoyable, funny little film called “Bert and Arnie’s Guide to Friendship,” and it has more laughs than many films I’ve seen this summer. I reviewed it for Indiewire’s The Playlist site — take a look:

Remember these names: Matt Oberg, Stephen Schneider, Anna Chlumksy (if you grew up in the nineties, you already know her), and Cristin Milioti. They are the stars of the horribly titled “Bert and Arnie’s Guide To Friendship,” a new indie that is a bit slight, often funny, mostly likable, and importantly, a romantic comedy that is not obnoxious. Its premise is nothing new, to be sure, but director Jeff Kaplan’s film has more humor and verve than almost every new sitcom that debuted on network television in the past year, and in Oberg, Schneider, Chlumsky, and especially Milioti, it has four fine comic performers who elevate director Jeff Kaplan’s script (co-written with Ian Springer) into a modest success.

Oberg’s B. W. “Bert” Scheering is a full-of-himself college professor and the noted author of a hit novel (title: “The Virgin Monster”) who discovers that his wife is sleeping with Arnie, a womanizing executive with a caddish persona. Bert’s marriage screeches to a halt and thrusts him into the perils of single life, a world Arnie knows well. Playing the author card only gets him so far; even an attempted tryst with Faye (Cristin Milioti – more on her shortly), a deadpan student with a perennially congested-sounding voice who asks Bert to write her a letter of recommendation, proves disastrous, very, very disastrous.)

Meanwhile, Arnie meets his match in the sweet, confident Sabrina, played nicely by Chlumksy, the “My Girl” star who roared into adult roles with Armando Iannucci’s artfully profane political masterpiece, “In the Loop.” (She currently appears on Iannucci’s HBO series, “Veep.”) When Arnie learns Sabrina is a fan of one Bert Scheering, he forces himself back into the author-professor’s life, and the two begin a rocky friendship. As is perhaps evident, there is not a great deal of plot here, really, but thanks to the performances, and some witty dialogue, “Bert and Arnie’s Guide to Friendship” actually gains strength as it progresses, and culminates in an especially winning final half hour.

While Bert is the film’s ostensible lead – Oberg, whose strait-laced demeanor has led to roles on The Onion’s “News Network” and “Sportsdome” TV series – Arnie is the more difficult role. As played by Schneider he is the pompous womanizer, but an individual also struck by feelings of inadequacy; his bitchy upset at Sabrina for not inviting him to her karaoke party is note-perfect. (“Do you have any Tylenol PM?” he asks an amorous Sabrina with maximum bitchiness.) Both characters are semi-caricatures — Bert the uptight, sexually frustrated author and professor; Arnie the cad who secretly wants a commitment. But the actors make them believable and funny. Even the sorta-kinda friendship that develops between the two over the course of the film makes sense because their elements of each other’s lives that on the surface at least, appear alluring.

Chlumsky’s Sabrina is perhaps a more well-rounded, truly believable character, a smart woman who inadvertently gets caught between B and A, and Cristin Milioti steals every scene she’s in as Faye. The Tony-nominated (for Broadway’s “Once”) actress recently made news as the “mother” in “How I Met Your Mother,” and the wide-eyed “30 Rock” alum takes the film’s most clichéd role and makes her handful of scenes the most memorable in the film. There are a number of other very funny sequences, including Bert’s run-ins with a book critic (played by the smoldering Bree Sharp) and a killer karaoke scene in which Arnie tearfully belts out Marc Cohn’s guilty pleasure soft-rock staple, “Walkin’ in Memphis.” The direction from New York University alumnus Kaplan is mostly unfussy with one big exception, the use of a completely unnecessary interview device that pops up every so often for no apparent purpose. It feels forced, like an unsubtle acknowledgment that there really isn’t much story here.

But the interviews are used sparingly and do not prove overly distracting. Considering the inanity of so many “adult” romantic comedies in the past decade – see the Katherine Heigl oeuvre – the fact that “Bert and Arnie” has a few laughs, some nice performances and does not beat the viewer over the head with a slapstick-lead-pipe means it is a film worthy of respect. It is certainly no masterpiece, and not as memorable as some of this year’s larger scale character-driven romantic comedies (I’m looking at you, “Frances Ha”), but “Bert and Arnie’s Guide to Friendship” offers its share of pleasures. If only there was still time to change that title. [B]

Available June 18 on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Playstation, XBOX, YouTube, Nook, CinemaNow and Vudu; New York City theatrical release from June 21-27.

Wednesday Round-Up: Zod, Pixar, Critic-Bashing, and Brigitte Nielsen (of course)

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If you’re searching for film-related articles this week there’s a very good chance you’re reading about “Man of Steel,” which opens in theaters this Friday. And that’s where we kick off this week’s round-up:

  • The great Playlist ranks the Superman films from worst to best, and it’s hard to disagree with their list. I’ve pondered watching “Superman Returns” again one of these days, since I recall not hating it, in fact, rather liking. But I feel as if I cannot remember a single scene, and that means … something. (It could just mean I’m losing brain cells as I age.) It will be interesting to see where we’ll all rank “Man of Steel” on this list, and whether or not it will breathe new life into Krypton’s favorite son.
  • Incidentally, I am most intrigued by “Man of Steel”’s villain, Zod, played by the great Michael Shannon. I am dying to see his take on the iconic character; when I interviewed him for The Playlist back in 2011, he discussed his take on the Zod, and his respect for actor Terrence Stamp: “I found his performance so powerful that I would be overwhelmed by it if I tried to incorporate it into what I’m doing. There’s no reason to try and replicate it, because it’s perfect the way it is. I’m just trying to go down a different road with it; the script’s a little bit different than the original script. It’s going to have a different look and feel to it, visually. I’m looking forward to really settling into it, and playing with it.”
  • I could probably make these Wednesday round-ups include only Indiewire articles; every week, I’m impressed by the sheer number of interesting articles posted on the network of sites. Here is one from a favorite of mine, Eric Kohn, on Pixar’s upcoming “Monsters University.” I’ve spent a lot of time on Pixar lately, since my son’s favorite movie (today, at least) is “Toy Story 2.” I have not seen “Brave,” yet, but it certainly does seem as if Pixar is in a bit of a rut.
  • And one more from Indiewire, a pretty fascinating look at “critic bashing.”
  • If you follow movie news sites closely, you know Nikki Finke, and this is the latest news on … Well, I’m not sure what’s going on.
  • Life magazine features vintage photos of American drive-ins.
  • Will a film featuring an, um, wildly diverse cast that includes the late David Carradine, Brigitte Nielsen, Kerry Washington, Jeff Fahey, Steve Guttenberg, and Michael Madsen, and narrated by Peter O’Toole ever get released? And should we care?
  • I’ve been meaning to put together an “Upstream Color” feature for weeks, and I will, soon. Here is one of many insightful looks at the film, from the L.A. Review of Books.
  • Lastly, one of my favorite writers on film, and one who lives and works in Buffalo, Girish Shambu, takes on the concept of “vulgar auteurism.” Great comments here, too.

As always, these links are more can be found on my Twitter page, Twitter.com/FilmSwoon.
Michael Shannon photo from Warner Bros.’ “Man of Steel,” found on tgdaily.com.

Welcome to FilmSwoon!

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Thanks for visiting FilmSwoon.com, a website that has been percolating in my mind for some time, and which I’m quite excited about.

If you are here, there is a good chance you’re familiar with my work as a critic – I’m a regular contributor to the Buffalo News, a frequent writer for Buffalo Spree magazine and its website (buffalospree.com), and I’ve also contributed to Indiewire’s The Playlist and The Film Stage.

Or, perhaps you just stumbled on my name somewhere. However you made it, I’m glad you’re here. A few notes on what I’m up to here:

… While this is a site based around my writing, I hope it will also be a source for news. Each week, I’ll include a round-up of some of my favorite film etc. pieces from the week. I’ll also keep up with the world’s film festivals, especially the Toronto International Film Festival, which I’ve attended every year since 2007.

… This is not a review site, exactly. I think of it more as an opinion site. Sure, there will be short reviews here, and links to my reviews, but it’s more a place for me to offer quick opinions on everything from movie trailers to new releases and oldies.

… While I am based in Buffalo, NY, and will certainly make sure Buffalo is part of what I do – I’ll look at movies opening or screening locally, etc. – this is not merely a “Buffalo” movie site.

… That brings me to the name. I did not want my name to be in the name of the site. I found that “swoon” was a word I was using frequently in reviews (including my Buffalo News review of “To the Wonder”), and everyday conversation. It seemed a little … Weak. But folks I talked to seemed to like it, and it also has a strange significance for me. Back in 1995, as a film-crazed 15-year-old, PBS ran a documentary called “American Cinema.” I can’t say it was great, but at the time, it was an important resource for me. A great deal of time was spent on a film I was unfamiliar with, Tom Kalin’s “Swoon,” and this tale of Leopold and Loeb seemed strange, unsettling, and utterly fresh. It was also, at the time, unavailable. (Downloading was not an option, yet, and I wasn’t clued in enough to figure anything else out.) Anyway, it took me another 15 years to get to watch “Swoon,” and I didn’t love it, but I liked it a lot. And it reminded me that there was a time when I couldn’t easily see everything I wanted, and wondered what films and stories were looking outside of suburbia.

I hope that many of you will like the Facebook page, read the updates on Facebook and Twitter (twitter.com/FilmSwoon), and occasionally stop by. I promise that of you have even a shred of interest in cinema, it will be worth it. Let’s get started, shall we?