Michael Shannon

The Sundance Film Festival ran from January 18th to 28th this year; over 120 films were shown in ten days. For the fourth year in a row, I was on the (often snowy) ground, knocking out almost 20 films in five days in order to bring you the Best of the Fest. I present here the ten best films I saw – five features, four documentaries, and one special screening. Keep your eyes out for these during the coming year, as they are well worth your time and money. And if you’d like to know all the films that took home awards this year, you can see the winners here.


1.) Search
(USA 2017, 101 min. Directed by Aneesh Chaganty. Category: Next)

Worried father David Kim (John Cho) uses the Internet to search for his missing daughter.

The word innovative doesn’t even come close to doing filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty’s first feature film justice. Using a narrative that unfolds completely on a computer screen (via video chats, texts, emails, Internet searches, and news videos), Chaganty immerses us in the story of recently widowed dad David (John Cho, excellent as always) and his desperate search for his missing teenage daughter Margot (Michelle La). Debra Messing, cast against type, is terrific as the San Jose police detective heading the investigation. Filled with red herrings and twists and turns you’ll never see coming, Chaganty and co-writer Sev Ohanian’s South Bay-set mystery is as imaginative as their method of telling it. Both a celebration and a critique of our increasing reliance on technology, the brilliantly executed Search is my hands-down favorite film of the Festival. Sony Pictures acquired the picture for five million dollars in one of the Festival’s biggest buys, so a wide release will be forthcoming. The film also deservedly won both an audience award and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize. Don’t miss this one. [read the whole post]


Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2016

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2016. Here is Carrie’s list, presented, unlike last year’s alphabetized list, in descending rank order. And you can check out Chad’s list here to see which one of us you agree with more!

10.) Nocturnal Animals

Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal, middle) arrives at a possible crime scene with lawman Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon, r.).

Sometimes the story-within-the-story convention can be confusing or feel gimmicky, but in this visually stunning picture from fashion designer turned filmmaker Tom Ford, the technique works to terrific effect. Amy Adams, as a woman haunted by a decision she made years ago, reads a manuscript sent to her by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), and that story comes alive on screen in the form of family man Tony (Gyllenhaal again) and his confrontation with some dangerous, deranged miscreants. Ford’s keen aesthetic vision and sharp performances by Adams, Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon as a tenacious lawman combine to make this brutally poetic but utterly captivating film one of the year’s most definitively unusual. (You can also read my full-length review here.)

[read the whole post]


Ford’s newest picture well worth the wait     

West Texas ne’er-do-well Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, middle) warily answers questions from lawman Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon, l.) and crime victim Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal, r.).

Tom Ford, the American fashion designer turned filmmaker who first garnered accolades for his cinematic talents back in 2009 with his Colin Firth-helmed picture A Single Man, finally returns seven years later with his follow up, another film inspired by a novel. With Nocturnal Animals, based on Austin Wright’s 1993 novel Tony and Susan, Ford again both directs and writes the screenplay, and proves that his first success was no fluke. Ford’s patient fans have been rewarded for their long wait with another visually stunning, captivating picture.
[read the whole post]



Spinning Platters continues its preview coverage of the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, which opens tomorrow, Thursday, April 21st. Information and tickets are available here.

To whet your Fest appetite, here we spotlight two of the Festival’s features and two documentaries.

Five Nights in Maine
(USA, 2015, 82 min, Marquee Presentations)

Sherwin (David Oyelowo) and his mother-in-law Lucinda (Dianne Wiest) share a moment at her Maine house.

When an adult dies unexpectedly, whose grief is greater – the surviving spouse, or the surviving parent? Are such comparisons even fair? Such are the heady questions that writer/director Maris Curran explores here, in a picture thematically similar to the recently released Demolition. After his wife Fiona (Hani Furstenberg) dies suddenly in a car crash, city-dweller Sherwin (David Oyelowo) visits Fiona’s terminally ill mother Lucinda (Dianne Wiest) at her isolated house in rural Maine. Though both try to maintain a polite façade with each other as they process their loss, issues of blame, recrimination, and bitterness slowly rise to the surface, forcing the two to confront past and present emotional wounds. A pas de deux between two of today’s best actors set against a stunning backdrop of fall light and foliage, Curran’s film is a flawlessly executed meditation on how we deal with life, loss, and love.


  • Saturday, April 23rd – 5:00pm, Alamo Drafthouse
  • Monday, April 25th – 1:00pm, Alamo Drafthouse
  • Tuesday, April 26th – 8:45pm, Alamo Drafthouse

Tickets for Five Nights in Maine available here.

[read the whole post]


The boy is Special, and so is the film

Roy (Michael Shannon, l.) will do anything to protect his very special son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher).

Writer/director Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter, Shotgun Stories) continues his collaboration with the terrific actor Michael Shannon to great effect in his utterly engaging new science fiction film Midnight Special. Unlike another film by a well known writer/director that opened today, Nichols’s film grips you from its opening minute and keeps you enraptured for its nearly two hour run time. A film that pays homage to others of its genre while still managing to be totally unique, Midnight Special is well worth your box office dollars. [read the whole post]


Sundance Photo 3

With this third and final post, Spinning Platters completes its coverage of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, which ended on Jan. 30th.  All the winners can be found here (and our other two posts about this year’s Festival can be found here and here).

Our coverage concludes with a look at four more feature films and two more documentaries. As a reminder, we are using our patented Viewing Priority Level (VPL) Guide to advise you accordingly: [read the whole post]


Film Review: Man of Steel

June 14, 2013

Superman turns 75 this year, and appears no worse for the wear in Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder’s serviceable, if somewhat dispassionate, reboot. Writers Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, who both penned recent Batman films, bring a similar dark, edgy, sensibility to the Kryptonian hero’s story, with mixed results.

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