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Melissa Levine

Film, Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby

Amorous teenage rebellion is one thing. A sociopathic murder spree is another. In Jimmy and Judy, a brash and lurid bender into an Appalachian heart of darkness, first-time filmmakers Randall Rubin and Jon Schroder are less interested in the former…
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Summer Guide, Summer Get Inside!

Get Inside!

Summer is the season of high expectations and profound disappointments. That suntan looks more like sunburn, your beer stays ice-cold till the moment it's opened, and fat guys are the only ones hanging by the pool in bikini briefs. So…
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Film, Letter-Box Edition

Letter-Box Edition

It may not be an "iconic manifestation of civilization," as documentarian Ken Burns proclaims, but the New York Times crossword puzzle is undoubtedly an institution. Printed every day for the past 64 years, in weekly cycles of increasing difficulty, the…
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Smite Me

About 10 minutes into Michael Cuesta's 12 and Holding, the following thought came to mind: Not afraid to put children in harm's way. Twenty minutes later, not afraid was replaced with compelled. As he did in L.I.E. , which introduced…
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Film, Easy Rider

Easy Rider

A first-time feature film about a failed indie rocker, his beautiful girlfriend, and his sanctimonious nature-boy brother on a road trip: There are so many ways that The Puffy Chair could have gone wrong. But it doesn't — not once.…
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Film, Smite Me

Smite Me

About 10 minutes into Michael Cuesta's 12 and Holding, the following thought came to mind: not afraid to put children in harm's way. Twenty minutes later, not afraid was replaced with compelled. As he did in L.I.E. , which introduced…
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Film, Twisted <i>Sisters</i>

Twisted Sisters

Not long into The Sisters, a disastrously misconstrued melodrama "suggested" by the similarly named Chekhov play, three words come to mind: How. Much. Longer? Unfortunately, this graceless foray into faux psychology lacks even the decency to be short. (It does…
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Film, Head Over Heels

Head Over Heels

There are lots of ways to grow up. The method offered by Somersault is to do something awful and then flee from it. This dreamy, sexy, and rather chilly coming-of-age story from Australia captures a teenager's attempt to escape her…
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Home Entertainment, DVDish Naomi Then and Now

Naomi Then and Now

Ellie Parker (Strand) This extremely raw portrait of an actress trying -- and failing -- to make it in Hollywood showcases Naomi Watts in a wrenching and sympathetic performance. Writer-director Scott Coffey shot the movie over nearly six years, beginning…
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Film, Lovely, Not Amazing

Lovely, Not Amazing

In Nicole Holofcener's first feature, 1996's Walking and Talking, the writer-director warmly portrayed an adult female friendship, nudging at emotional issues without resorting to shtick or melodrama. Five years later, Holofcener's Lovely and Amazing attempted to do the same for…
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Film, Biblical Contortions

Biblical Contortions

If you're craving an antidote to the sanctity of repressed gay cowboys, you could do worse than Adam & Steve. This good-natured comedy from writer-director Craig Chester uses gently sly wit to poke fun at neurotic gay singles, coming of…
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Film, Way Down in the Hole

Way Down in the Hole

Countless are the creative souls who struggled with mental illness, as are the novels and films dedicated to them. Again and again, we've encountered artists both inspired and undermined by their madness, whose torment and tumult produce works of beauty…
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Film, Misery Train

Misery Train

At the opening of Lonesome Jim, a terrific new film directed by Steve Buscemi, a country song plays behind scenes of small-town desolation. "Good times'r comin'," it promises, in the movie's first joke. Nothing about these initial scenes — not…
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Home Entertainment, DVDish Now You See Them

Now You See Them

Breasts: A Documentary (First Run) Honest, compassionate, and funny, this documentary is remarkable for the bravery of its participants, who bare their breasts as they speak about them. The film delivers 22 women of all shapes, sizes, ages, races, and…
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Film, Das Boot

Das Boot

The coming-out tale Summer Storm is set at a rowing camp, where teams of boys and girls from around Germany train for a regatta. One of the crews, made up of gay boys from Berlin, is called the "Queerstrokes," and…
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Film, Nowhere Man

Nowhere Man

The brain is a beguiling thing. One evening, you're talking to a friend on the phone. Sometime later, you find yourself in a subway car, passing through an urban landscape. You don't recognize the buildings, the neighborhood, or the city.…
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Film, Jingle Hell

Jingle Hell

It can't be easy making films about war. It's so inherently dramatic that, as a setting for art, it's overdetermined; it drips with meaning even before the first scenes are set. And so much has been said already: War is…
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Film, Free for All

Free for All

If you plan to see The Libertine, an artful and brooding period piece about a scandalously debauched earl of the English Restoration, a few words of advice before you leave: Take a peek at the sun. Drink in some fresh…
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Home Entertainment, DVDish The Great Cash-In

The Great Cash-In

Walk the Line (Fox) No matter what a junkie does with his spare time -- say, redefine country music, or forge one of history's most enduring personas -- movies about junkies are a drag to watch. So it's too bad…
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Film, Whoa, Nelly

Whoa, Nelly

The thing that's so difficult about Cowboy del Amor -- a richly layered documentary by Israeli filmmaker Michèle Ohayon -- is the same thing that makes it an accomplished work: It refuses to take sides. Ohayon presents Ivan Thompson, aka…
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