Alec Baldwin

A variety show on acid: Imperfect but fun documentary considers Saturday Night Live

The official movie poster for Bao Nguyen’s new documentary.

In 1975, a new variety show premiered on NBC that was unlike anything that had come before it; it was, according to Laraine Newman, one of the show’s original cast members, a cross between 60 Minutes and Monty Python. Despite its ups and downs, after 40 years on the air, Saturday Night Live (or SNL, as it’s more commonly known in the pop culture lexicon), shows no sign of slowing down, and continues to both reflect and influence American culture. Director Bao Nguyen’s new film, Live from New York!, which takes its title from the show’s opening introduction, explores the history and impact of the storied comedy program in a documentary that is both highly entertaining and slightly frustrating.

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Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann present their Top 10 Films of 2013.  Here’s Carrie’s list, presented in alphabetical order.

1.) All is Lost
Robert Refdord struggles against the elements in All is Lost.

Robert Redford struggles against the elements in All is Lost.

That a film with just a single actor and virtually no dialog can be absolutely riveting is a testament both to Robert Redford’s brilliant acting and to writer/director J.C. Chandor’s exceptional skill at his craft. Redford says more with his rugged face and worried eyes than most actors do with a wordy, five-star script. Not since Jaws and The Perfect Storm has a film so totally absorbed us in a man-against-sea survival story. And Chandor’s ambiguous ending lends itself to hours of debate and discussion; everyone who has seen this film has a strong opinion, and that a near-silent film can generate such passion makes it special and noteworthy. [read the whole post]

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Film Review: Blue Jasmine

by Carrie Kahn on August 2, 2013

A Muni bus named 14-Mission: Blanche DuBois on South Van Ness

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) ponders her life in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) ponders her future with the help of a little whiskey

I am willing to forgive Woody Allen the misstep that was last year’s disappointing and forgettable To Rome With Love, since perhaps he needed to get that rote entry out of his system in order to make one of his finest films in years, Blue Jasmine. Sure to become one of his best known pictures, on par with such perceptive and tightly constructed works as Interiors, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Match Point, this terrific film will no doubt be a strong contender for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress at Oscar time.   [read the whole post]

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starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Malin Akerman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary J. Blige, Paul Giamatti, Bryan Cranston

written by: Justin Theroux, Chris D’Arienzo, Allan Loeb

directed by: Adam Shankman

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sexual content, suggestive dancing, some heavy drinking, and language

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