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Elizabeth Weitzman

Elizabeth Weitzman

contributor

Elizabeth Weitzman is a journalist, film critic, and the author of more than two dozen books for children and young adults. She currently covers movies for the Wrap, and was a critic for the New York Daily News for 15 years. She has interviewed hundreds of celebrities, and written about entertainment for the New York Times, the Village Voice, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Interview, and many others. In 2015, she was named one of the top critics in New York by the Hollywood Reporter. She holds a Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from NYU, and is a longstanding member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

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Listings and reviews (5)

Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding

3 out of 5 stars

The batshit fever dream that Kristen Stewart’s fans have been waiting for, Love Lies Bleeding also happens to be the best B-movie of the year. Too early for such lofty claims? Consider the evidence: a single montage includes Ed Harris’s mulleted mobster petting horned beetles, bodybuilder Katy O’Brian pumping iron in Richard Simmons shorts and a tank top adorned with the words ‘Burning Love’, and Stewart’s lost moll reading a paperback called ‘Macho Sluts’.  By now you’ll probably know whether this retro-noir fantasia is for you – and Love Lies Bleeding is definitely a matter of taste. Director Rose Glass doesn’t quite match the standards she set with her 2019 debut, the exceptional spiritual horror Saint Maud. But she once again infuses a hothouse atmosphere with wickedly unsparing insight – and just a touch more humour – to turn genre tropes inside out. Glass and co-writer Weronika Tofilska perfectly tailor their operatically pulpy romance to Stewart’s talents. We’re introduced to her lonely Lou while she’s cleaning a clogged toilet inside the grimy gym owned by her dad, Lou Sr (Harris, terrifically sleazy). Their particular corner of 1989 New Mexico isn’t much prettier on the outside, either. But her austere existence turns Technicolor when enigmatic drifter Jackie (The Mandalorian’s O’Brian, perfectly cast) walks through the door. Jackie is training for a competition in Vegas, and when she punches a meathead who won’t stop hitting on her, Lou is instantly smitten.  It’s t

Madame Web

Madame Web

Dakota Johnson proved herself an expert in outshining tarnished surroundings early, thanks to 50 Shades of Grey. But with Madame Web, her patience for sub-par material seems to be running thin. Co-written by director SJ Clarkson, Claire Parker, and Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (of 2022’s ignominious Morbius), this misguided origin story – located awkwardly on the outskirts of the Spider-man universe – feels created by committee, without a central voice or confident core. Johnson’s Cassandra is an emotionally-troubled paramedic horrified to realise she can see the future, until her friend Ben Parker (Adam Scott) reminds her that with great power comes great—well, you know. Soon she’s risking her own life to protect three equally gifted teens (Celeste O’Connor, Isabela Merced, and miscast Sydney Sweeney) targeted by a sinister spider-hunter (a stilted Tahar Rahim). Dakota Johnson’s patience for sub-par material seems to be wearing thin Johnson tries to evoke Cassandra’s inner turmoil, and the scenes between her and Scott offer glimpses of a more promising project. But any potential gets buried early, beneath clumsy exposition, clunky special effects, and disconnected editing. Few of the other actors, including Emma Roberts, Zosia Mamet, and Mike Epps, even make an impact.    Ultimately, everyone involved is likely to appreciate Johnson’s boldly blunt attempts to head off bad reviews by declaring her industry’s lack of imagination ‘majorly disheartening’. She’s right. Creativ

Origin

Origin

4 out of 5 stars

So much of what we need to know about Ava DuVernay’s approach to filmmaking is in the deceptively simple title of her production company: ARRAY. She has, of course, centered a wide span of voices, stories, and experiences in her work. But she’s made a point of experimenting with different approaches, too, from indie dramas (Middle of Nowhere) to essential documentaries (13th) to cinematic television (Queen Sugar). Now she’s given us something newly unexpected in Origin, which is – meta twist – a fictional recreation of the true-life writing of a nonfiction book. Yes, the end result is as complex as that sounds, and there are times when the threads get tangled. But there is also the sense of wonder that DuVernay’s work so often inspires, as she pushes herself beyond the norm. What’s more, Origin brings us one of the year’s most stunning performances, from lead Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor (an Oscar nominee for King Richard). Ellis-Taylor plays Isabel Wilkerson, author of the 2020 bestseller Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. There are fewer things more boring to watch than the process of a writer writing. So it’s a testament to the storytelling here that even when Origin temporarily loses its focus, it never loses your attention. When we meet her, Isabel is already an acclaimed author and a Pulitzer-winning journalist. She’s also quietly adrift, uninspired and exhausted from caregiving for her ailing mother (Emily Yancy). When an editor (Blair Underwood) suggests she writes about

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

3 out of 5 stars

Is the best way to survive the arena to work together or go it alone? We get both methods in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a propulsive, if somewhat formulaic, Hunger Games prequel. Directed by franchise veteran Francis Lawrence, it’s the first film in the series to go without Jennifer Lawrence, and the absence of its powerhouse star is keenly felt. Instead, Ballad appears designed as a showcase for Lawrence’s replacement, Rachel Zegler (West Side Story). To their credit, her co-stars make room for her outsized performance without ever feeling small themselves. The film is set decades before the birth of Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen, after a war has left the capitol of Panem nearly as ravaged as the districts it controls. Among those scrambling to survive is Everdeen’s future nemesis: 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow (English actor Tom Blyth), who will grow up to look like a patrician Donald Sutherland and act like a more sartorial Darth Vader. But he’s still in Anakin mode here, as a naive, secretly impoverished student at the elite Capitol Academy. President Gaul (Viola Davis) and Snow’s academy dean Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage) want to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Hunger Games – in which teen tributes are thrown into a stadium to battle for their lives – with a special twist. As host ‘Lucky’ Flickerman (Jason Schwartzman) announces to the audience, each tribute will get a mentor from Snow’s class. Snow is assigned to District 12’s feisty Lucy Gray (Zegler).

Ferrari

Ferrari

3 out of 5 stars

The first ten minutes of Michael Mann's ’50s-set Ferrari offer a wordlessly kinetic ode to industry: glossy racecars speed across open Italian tracks, stately trains glide into stations packed with anticipation, bedside phones jangle off hooks and onto nerves. But then the dialogue begins, and this carefully engineered movie starts its downshift into neutral. Though the movie is based on Brock Yates’ biography and Ferrari's own memoirs, Mann (Heat) narrows his focus to three months in 1957, when car magnate Enzo Ferrari (Adam Driver) is facing bankruptcy. He’s already weighed down by a trifecta of personal burdens: the recent death of his beloved eldest son; a complicated double life with his mistress Lina (Shailene Woodley); and the all-encompassing grief and fury of his wife, Laura (Penélope Cruz). And now, he's got competition from Maserati – also based in his hometown of Modena – stalking him both on and off the track. Over the course of 130 measured minutes, Enzo slogs back and forth between his troubles. At home, Laura – with whom he started the business – gives him hell. Though she seems far sharper than Enzo, she has to spend most of her time reacting to every public dismissal and private rejection. Lina is more compliant, but not much happier. She’d particularly like Enzo to acknowledge their young son as his heir, even if he’s not ready to tell the world about her. Work is no easier. He needs outside money but can’t stomach outside influence. He wants more high-prof

News (3)

The best films to catch during this year’s DOC NYC documentary film festival

The best films to catch during this year’s DOC NYC documentary film festival

Over the last decade, the vast majority of nonfiction Oscar nominees—and nine out of 10 feature winners—have stopped off at DOC NYC before continuing their red carpet tours. This isn’t exactly a surprise, considering that the 14-year-old event is now the biggest documentary film festival in the country. But it does make things awfully easy for anyone who wants to get a jump on awards season. Even more convenient? Lots of this year’s entries can be seen on the big screen or from the comfort of your couch. While the in-person festival runs from November 8-16, many of the films will also be available online through November 26.  Nonfiction films often tend to tackle big issues, but right now they may feel even more impactful than ever. “The films in this year’s program,” says artistic director Jaie Laplante, “reassure us that problems can be addressed, that human creativity and kindness can find a way forward through the darkness, that connection remains possible and that hope for better times is palpable.” You’ll find this admirable mission throughout nearly two dozen thematic sections, which focus on subjects ranging from international to local, universal to intimate. And yes, choosing among 243 films can be, as Laplante notes, “a lot to wrap your head around.” So you may want to start with the prestigious, buzz-heavy Short List and Winner’s Circle sections, which hold many of the likeliest nominees. Here you’ll find the North Korean escapees of Beyond Utopia, Estonian secret-

This year’s New York Film Festival offers a sneak peek at upcoming Oscar contenders

This year’s New York Film Festival offers a sneak peek at upcoming Oscar contenders

You may have noticed that the film industry is, shall we say, experiencing a touch of turmoil these days. While the inescapable successes of Barbie and Oppenheimer balance one side of the scale, an upended system battling multiple strikes and stoppages sits pretty heavily on the other. Which makes the latest edition of the New York Film Festival more essential than ever. Then again, while the details may change from one year to the next, the festival's objectives have remained remarkably steady throughout its six decades. NYFF has always been thoughtfully curated, with a sensibility that is simultaneously current and timeless. “I hope that [this year’s] festival does what it has done every year since 1963,” affirms artistic director Dennis Lim. “Which is simply to make a case for cinema as a vital art form, and prove that the art of film is in robust health despite the disruptive changes that have always been part of its history.”  RECOMMENDED: A guide to the New York Film Festival 2023 Photograph: Francois Duhamel | Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman in ‘May December’ He and his team at Lincoln Center have more than achieved their goal, with an impressively strong slate that’s likely to serve as a substantial sneak preview for the upcoming awards season. Many of the movies at NYFF will be making their North American premieres, after having screened to ovations at international festivals. Among the high-profile films already drawing rave reviews is Todd Haynes’ May December

Here’s what to see at the 2023 Tribeca Festival

Here’s what to see at the 2023 Tribeca Festival

Here’s the secret truth about film festivals: unless you’re starring in a premiere yourself, most of them inspire a lot of work at best, and soul-sucking FOMO at worst. Either you have to pay a fortune to get there and spend half your time trying to land on the right list (hi Sundance!), or you’re stuck at home scrolling through TikTok just to catch a five-second glimpse of Leo on a red carpet (looking at you, Cannes). In 2002, the Tribeca Film Festival broke into this entrenched world as a deliberately brash newcomer. Intent on crafting a festival by and for New Yorkers, creators Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff upended every annoying element that keeps most fans on the outside peeping in. The festival has grown like ivy in the decades since, and now offers options for everyone. RECOMMENDED: The Tribeca Festival 2023 guide “We pride ourselves on being a storytelling festival, so the breadth of the kinds of events you can find at Tribeca is quite unique,” festival director Cara Cusumano says of this year’s line-up. She’s not kidding. You want to be the first to see a big-buzz movie? Sit in on conversations between A-listers? Attend live performances, bring the kids, try out new immersive experiences? At Tribeca, you don’t need to know anyone, pull any strings, or get on any lists to spot stars and sneak peeks.  How to attend Tribeca Festival Honestly, the biggest issue you’re going to face is figuring out how to pare down your options. Cusumano has a couple o