Father. Realtor®. Movie nut. After pestering my parents for their commentary on “Star Wars” when I was four years old, my mind went into a creative frenzy. I’d imagined something entirely different than the actual film, which I didn’t end up seeing until its 1979 re-release at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC. This was my formal introduction to the cinema.
During that long wait, which felt like an eternity to a child, my mind was being molded by more corrosive stuff like “Trilogy of Terror” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, most of which I’d conned various babysitters into letting me watch on television ( I convinced one poor lady that “Jaws” was actually “Moby Dick”).
The folks were pretty strict in that regard, so the less appropriate it was for a kid to watch, the more I was fascinated by it. Horror staples like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th”, as well as lesser-known low-budget fare like “Madman”, “Sleepaway Camp” and “Pieces” all ended up sneaking their way into the VHS on a regular basis.
Since then, I’ve developed an obsession with the entire film industry. Even though I watch and review a wide breadth of films these days, my appreciation for the campy, poorly lit micro-budgeters still lends itself to my evolving perspective on movies just as much as the summer blockbusters and Oscar contenders. As I recall my trips to the movie theater, I realize that this stuff is about much more than just a fleeting piece of entertainment.
A couple years ago, I was finally given the opportunity to lend my opinion on films to a publication, The Rogers Revue, with a subsequent run at Reel Film News. It's been both a privilege and a gateway to what we’re doing now. Most of my experience has come from interviewing independent filmmakers, who consistently promote innovation. The filmmaking process is grueling and relatively unforgiving.
Fellow film enthusiast Eddie Pasa and I have created DC Filmdom as a medium for film reviews, discussion, and (inevitably) some debate. And so, the creative frenzy continues.
(Michael is a member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association).
Let’s talk about “Arrival”. Brought to you by one of my favorite working directors, Denis Villeneuve (“Prisoners”, “Sicario”), this sociopolitically fueled sci-fi flick might best be described at the “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” for millennials. Writer Eric Heisserer has cooked one of the most intelligent screenplays of the year, developed from Nebula Awarding-winning […]Read More
Jon Favreau has his passion projects, and then he has his passion projects. Take his last film, “Chef”, a fairly light under-the-radar dramedy with the writer/director in the starring role as a sought after culinary wizard who departs from a trendy high-end restaurant to open a food truck. Now look at “The Jungle Book”, an […]Read More
If 2016 gave us an unforgettable drama, it was “Manchester By The Sea”. Since “Gone Baby, Gone” (directed by his older brother Ben), Casey Affleck has seemed to fly just under the radar, comfortably nestled in his niche of challenging dramatic/indie roles, nary a rom-com nor comic book flick on his résumé. This film is […]Read More
It’s the dawn of the space race; the U.S. and the Soviet Union are competing vigorously to send the first man into the great unknown. To get a pilot into orbit and bring him back down at just the right time — i.e., the “go, no-go point”—well, that takes a lot of math. Math is […]Read More
It seems the space movie has become a requisite for this season: “Gravity”, “Interstellar”, “The Martian”, and now “Passengers”, a celestial romance starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as star-crossed couple Aurora and Jim. Along with 5,000 other passengers aboard the spacecraft Avalon, they are en route to Homestead II, a planet owned by a […]Read More
You can simply read the synopsis of “Lion” and get teary-eyed, so it’s no wonder that the movie, based on Saroo Brierley’s chronicle “A Long Way Home”, will want to make you hold your just kids a little tighter after watching it. Dev Patel headlines this story of the five-year-old Indian boy who gets separated […]Read More
I’ll dive right into the newest film from writer director Pedro Almodóvar, “Julieta”. This is a film that I digested at 3:00 AM, in complete silence, before I’d had my first cup of coffee. It dawned on me, with this film, how much even the slightest distraction can detract from an experience, how much less […]Read More
We were all agape at “The Miracle on the Hudson”, when an Airbus A320 landed in the water with not a single casualty among its 155 passengers and crew. A bird strike at 2,000 feet caused dual engine failure and subsequent ditch, at the lowest altitude in history no less. It was a frigid day […]Read More
What do you get when you cross an animator with a director who specializes in raunchy adult humor? Not “Sausage Party”, believe it or not, but Warner Animation’s “Storks”, a kid-friendly yarn that is also funny enough to engage the grown-ups. If we’re talking about a way to fill 90 minutes and you just can’t […]Read More
A beautiful expansion and somehow first ever feature adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book, “The Little Prince” is my favorite animated pic of 2016 (second would be “Kubo and the Two Strings”). The story of a little girl (Mackenzie Foy) whose “life plan” is broken down to each minute of the day by stiff, over-achieving […]Read More