Scott Tobias

"Can't you just take me to juvie?"

The book Inventing Abstraction 1910-1925 was published by the Museum of Modern Art in 2012, accompanying an exhibit that displayed the early, formative works of acknowledged masters like Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Robert Delaunay. But missing from the dozens of names included is Hilma af Klint, a Swedish artist whose abstract work predates Kandinsky's fully abstract compositions yet never got a fraction of their recognition. There are vanishingly few women included in the book at all, much less anyone who could be understood as a pioneer.

If you're going to put yourself at the head of a modern-day religious cult, you have to look the part, and Michiel Huisman, as the fanatical "Shepherd" in the horror-adjacent drama The Other Lamb, is right out of Central Casting. As the self-appointed leader of "The Flock," a rogue sect in search of "Eden" in the Pacific Northwest, Huisman looks like the cover model for Messianic Weekly, Christ-like in his beard and flowing locks, but with an unmistakably sinful smolder.

Note: Vivarium will be released on various video-on-demand and streaming services on Friday, March 27.

Of the Universal classic monsters — Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, et al. — The Invisible Man is by far the most destructive, the most psychotic, and, not coincidentally, the most recognizably human of them all. (As played by Claude Rains, he's also the wittiest.) When a man doesn't have to look at himself in the mirror, he divorces himself from the moral accountability that curbs his worst instincts.

Throughout a career chronicling the poor and disenfranchised, the Belgian filmmaking duo Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have trained their handheld cameras on patterns of behavior, as if their characters are penned in by an invisible fence. In their 1999 breakthrough Rosetta, a 17-year-old girl has an almost feral determination to scrap for whatever odd jobs or low-wage gigs she can get to move her and her alcoholic mother out of a trailer park.

Dolittle is not a film. Dolittle is a crime scene in need of forensic analysis. Something happened here. Something terrible. Something inexplicable. Watching the film doesn't tell the whole story, because it doesn't behave like the usual errant vision, which might be chalked up to a poor conceit or some hiccups in execution. This one has been stabbed multiple times, and only a thorough behind-the-scenes examination could sort out whose fingerprints are on what hilt.

'Cats': Spay It

Dec 19, 2019

From the moment Andrew Lloyd Webber decided to set the T.S. Eliot poetry collection Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats to music, Cats has felt like an escalating series of dares, or a Bialystock & Bloom scheme that accidentally became one of the biggest sensations in Broadway history. It did not seem likely that a plotless revue in which cats either introduce themselves or introduce other cats would ignite public interest. Or that Grizabella's ascendence to the Heaviside Layer would last longer than the acid trip that summoned it to life.

After two seasons of its original network run, a prequel film, and a recent 18-episode revival on Showtime, many have forgotten the crushing sadness that suffused the two-hour pilot of David Lynch's Twin Peaks, to be eclipsed gradually by a more pervasive eccentricity. Here was a small town that had never experienced anything like the death of Laura Palmer, that precious girl wrapped in plastic, and its reaction was a combination of collective grief and individual peculiarity.

Farrah Fawcett (or Cheryl Ladd), Kate Jackson, Jacklyn Smith and a speaker box. Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and a speaker box. Whatever its merits as a television show or an early aughts movie franchise, Charlie's Angels has been more or less a democracy, with an emphasis on crime-fighting teamwork and an equal distribution of "Jiggle TV" lasciviousness. Fawcett and Barrymore may have been the tip of the spear, but the formula calls for a balanced trio, spurred into adventure by a disembodied male boss and their put-upon handler.

The screen history of Stephen King adaptations has for decades couched a peculiar irony: Namely, that of the dozens and dozens of films that have been produced from his work — many of them not-so-great — the author famously detested the most revered, Stanley Kubrick's 1980 version of The Shining.

For the 20 years since he read an advance copy of Jonathan Lethem's 1999 novel Motherless Brooklyn, Edward Norton has labored to direct an adaptation and cast himself in the lead role of Lionel Essrog, a private detective with Tourette syndrome. His tenacity in seeing the project through to the end is extraordinary, but the years haven't diminished the fundamental challenges to bringing Lethem's book to the screen.

Based on his 2013 documentary of the same name, Dan Krauss' The Kill Team follows the case of a 21-year-old Army private in Afghanistan who witnessed war crimes committed by his platoon, but failed to get the Criminal Investigation Division Command (or CID) to look into it, despite his father's help in alerting the right people. The film is a rumination on the moral and systemic failures of the military, which didn't step in promptly to investigate, but it's also about the culture of coercion and intimidation within the individual platoon itself.

As Disney continues to plunder its animated IP for live-action remakes, where these films fall on the spectrum of pointlessness has to do with how closely they adhere to the source. The remakes that simply copy the material from one format to the other, like Beauty and The Beast or Aladdin, have been consistently enervating whereas the ones that attempt a full gut rehab, like Dumbo or the excellent Pete's Dragon, at least have the benefit of an independent artistic vision. In this particular creative desert, every droplet of water counts.

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