Review: Bombshell—The Hedy Lamarr Story

This is a repost of a review that also appears at Third Coast Review.

Even if you’re not a fan of classic Hollywood cinema (and why the heck aren’t you?), you know the name Hedy Lamarr. According to IMDb, Lamarr has only 35 film credits, but among them are the likes of Boom Town (alongside Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable) and Cecil B. DeMille’s Sampson and Delilah. Though she was never nominated for an Oscar, so iconic was the Austrian-born actress that other starlets working at the time followed her trend-setting ways, copying her hair, her fashion choices, even her ability to generate a headline.

Image courtesy of Music Box Films

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, opening Friday in Chicago, digs into the complicated life, loves and career of the legendary actress, turning up a few surprises along the way. The first feature documentary from Emmy-winning filmmaker Alexandra Dean, the film started as a passion project when Dean was in search of female inventors to profile and coming up short.

Continue reading “Review: Bombshell—The Hedy Lamarr Story”

Review: Faces Places

Full disclosure: this is a cross-post with Third Coast Review, where my review also appears.

If you’re a film nerd like me, you follow the various film festivals during the first half of the year (Sundance, Berlin, Tribeca, Cannes) with one ear to the cinematic ground, just waiting to hear what everyone’s going to be talking about come awards season.

If you’re a film nerd like me, you heard all kinds of buzz out of Cannes about something called Faces Places (Visages Villages), by someone named Agnès (said: Ahn-yes) Varda, an octogenarian filmmaker well known by everyone who knows anything about international cinema.

If you’re a (lacking) film nerd like me and you’d never heard of this Agnès Varda (!) but were immediately intrigued, you set off for your local library and spent the summer with this grande dame of French New Wave cinema, taking in Daguerréotypes from 1976, Mur Murs from 1981 and anything else you could get your hands on.

No? Just me?

No matter. Whether you’ve seen none of her 50+ directing efforts or all of them, get thee to the cinema to see Faces Places. Thank me later.

Agnès Varda and JR. Image courtesy of Cohen Media Group

Continue reading “Review: Faces Places”

Review: STEP

Founded in 2008, the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women is a charter school with a goal of seeing all its graduates succeed in college. Its educators and administrators set high standards and expect greatness from the girls in their charge. Academics are paramount, and failure is not an option.

For the students at BLSYW, though, it’s more than just a school. It’s a haven in a rough neighborhood; a support network often far more dependable than family; and a launch pad for talent, passion and futures so bright these girls’ll need shades.

It’s a glimpse into those trials, tribulations and triumphs that Step delivers in one of the year’s best documentaries, as it follows three young women in the school’s first graduating class. They’ve been together since middle school, the year they started at BLSYW and also founded the school’s step dance team. The film chronicles their lives both on and off the stage as their senior year winds down, through college applications, dicey friendships and one major dance competition. Continue reading “Review: STEP”