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Philip Martin

Stories by Philip

On Film: Openly adoring our film festival

posted: 05/22/2015 1:49 a.m. Discuss

Next year, I might take a couple of days off during the Little Rock Film Festival.

Critical Mass: Music manifesto

posted: 05/17/2015 2:18 a.m. Discuss

It might be impossible to overstate the importance of Mystery Train, but that doesn't mean people haven't tried.

Bentonville Film Festival: lost in the Twilight Zone

posted: 05/17/2015 1:57 a.m. Comments 2

When I was a kid, I once walked into a quiet establishment near the front gate of Barksdale Air Force Base that I thought was a doughnut shop. I thought this because of the neon sign out front that said "Doughnuts."

Review: 5 Flights Up

posted: 05/15/2015 1:47 a.m. Discuss

Amiable and mild, the chief pleasures of Richard Loncraine's 5 Flights Up (which played festivals last year as Alex & Ruth) are the comfortable, unstressed performances of Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman as a longtime married couple (Ruth and Alex) beginning to come to grips with new realities.

Review: The Salt of the Earth

updated: 05/15/2015 1:43 a.m. Discuss

In her 2003 book Regarding the Pain of Others, the late critic Susan Sontag rails against the way the world's most comfortable citizens consume violence as spectacle, enjoying the thrill of "proximity without risk" while insulated from any real repercussions.

Review: Dior and I

posted: 05/15/2015 1:43 a.m. Discuss

When fashion designer Christian Dior published his memoir in 1956, the title he chose for the book was Christian Dior & I, a reference to his bifurcated self, his "Siamese twin ... the man in the public eye, and Christian Dior, private individual."

On Books: Biographers can't tell a lie; or can they, George?

posted: 05/10/2015 2:44 a.m. Discuss

Americans have been avid consumers of biography at least since Mason L. Weems' The Life of Washington was a best-seller in 1806.

Learning the truth about music at 33

posted: 05/10/2015 2:06 a.m. Discuss

There was a headline that popped up in my Facebook feed the other day, something about how the average American stops listening to “new music” when they reach the Christlike age of 33.

Review: Train jumps the track

posted: 05/08/2015 1:57 a.m. Comment 1

There's a bitter ruefulness that runs through the screenwriting team of Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel's first directorial feature The D Train, a subversive black comedy that riffs on the cinematic commonplace of high school reunion movies. Before it inevitably runs out of nerve, for a while it presents as a well-observed rumination on the pathetic dynamics of male egoism and the caste-setting function of high school. If it ultimately turns out to be more ordinary than anyone had hoped, it at least includes one potentially shocking scene that won't be mentioned here. (The curious are, as always, free to Google.)

Review: Clouds of Sils Maria

posted: 05/08/2015 1:57 a.m. Discuss

Talky and layered, French auteur Olivier Assayas' Clouds of Sils Maria is the sort of intellectual exercise that people who view the movies as a vehicle of painless escape might dismiss as pretentious, given that it is set in a recognizable if rarefied reality. If most movies are like pop songs in that we anticipate their familiar beats and predictable rhymes, Clouds of Sils Maria is more like a piece of chamber music, precise and balanced as a Swiss watch. It's not loud, but if you listen you can become lost in its echoing motifs.

Review: Merchants of Doubt

posted: 05/08/2015 1:56 a.m. Discuss

Because most people are eager to believe what they want to believe, all you really need to do to deceive them is embed the lie in a little flattery. For example, you can tell them they are too smart to fall for the alarmist claims of elitist scientists, who would proscribe cigarette smoking or encourage draconian measures to deal with climate change. Every defense attorney knows there's no need to prove a client innocent, all one needs to do is to provide a possible alternate narrative that the jury might prefer to believe. All you really need to do is introduce a little doubt, and the wishfulness of common folk will do the rest.

Critical Mass: Happy 100th, Lady Day

posted: 05/03/2015 2:39 a.m. Discuss

Billie Holiday didn't think much of her voice.

The game being played in Baltimore

posted: 05/03/2015 1:54 a.m. Comments 3

Allergies dragged me into that resigned space where you know the price of every swivel of your head. My throat was raw, my eyes wept, and I was too dull to finish the Wednesday crossword puzzle. So through a vague delirium I watched the Baltimore Orioles play the Chicago White Sox in a nearly empty ballpark through a browser window in the corner of my screen.

Review: Any Day

posted: 05/01/2015 1:52 a.m. Discuss

An earnest, utterly predictable indie that wastes a couple of decent performances in service of a hackneyed and weak script, Any Day is less a bad film than a negligible one.

On Film: Tribeca fest surges with review choices

posted: 05/01/2015 1:52 a.m. Discuss

One of the things I have to remind myself of whenever I'm at a film festival is that I'm there to work.

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