By Ray Pride


EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE.  Was Zach Efron born to play Ted Bundy? Was Joe Berlinger born to dissect Ted Bundy? Seems like it: First, the four hour Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, premiered on Netflix in January 2019, and now comes the companion piece, the fictionalized Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (screenplay by Michael Werwie from the book “The Phantom Prince; My Life with Ted Bundy” by Elizabeth Kendall ), told largely from the perspective of Bundy’s girlfriend, Liz Kloepfer (Lily Collins [Read more.]

KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSEKnock Down The House is a superb survey of how to affect hearts and minds in latter-day retail politics. “We have to have the courage to say, ‘We can do better,’” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says early in director-writer Rachel Lears and editor-writer Robin Blotnick’s brisk, bountiful, bracing two-years-in-the-following vérité documentary “Knock Down the House,” a chronicle of four progressive women, from the Bronx (Oscasio-Cortez), West Virginia (Paula Jean Swearengin), Nevada (Amy Vilela) and Missouri (Cori Bush), running against entrenched, often self-serving incumbents in the House of Representatives in 2018. [Read more.]

THE LAST. Jeff Lipsky, a career film distributor with a parallel path as an independent filmmaker, has a bold, brash approach to stark, plain filmmaking: rawness, bluntness, breathlessness in the face of incest, abortion, cancer, suicide and now, the Holocaust and Jewish identity. [Read more.]

HAIL SATAN? The rollicking comedic politi-doc, “Hail Satan?” from Penny Lane (“Nuts!”; “Our Nixon”) shadows the Temple of Satan (which was recognized in April by the IRS as a religion) during public actions that militate for religious freedom for all and essential First Amendment rights, and mocks reactionary churls such as the Westboro Baptist Church and former Florida Governor Rick Scott. [Read more.]

ASK DR. RUTH. Ryan White’s sweetly adroit slice of a life, “Ask Dr. Ruth” glides genially on the charm of diminutive nonagenarian sex therapist Ruth Westheimer, lilting German accent intact, public service still first and foremost for her, memories of surviving the Holocaust readily tapped. [Read more.]


Mad Dog And Glory.  John McNaughton’s 1992 Mad Dog and Glory captures a Chicago and a Chicago filmmaking scene of a deep, done past. Written by New Yorker Richard Price, executive produced by Martin Scorsese and shot by Dutch master Robby Müller, McNaughton’s third fiction feature is a playful, sneakily funny neo-noir with colorful characters and slightly queasy turns that refracts its own historical moment, primarily as an artifact of an era when Chicago was a short-lived production center that sustained production and careers, and when the screwball comedy gift-of-a-girl premise wouldn’t prompt a batted eyelash. [Read more.]

Never Look Away. I hadn’t seen a whale in a while. Producer-writer-director Florian Maria Georg Christian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck’s second German-language feature, the century-spanning Never Look Away (Werk ohne Autor) is a perverse psychological thriller, an art-history leviathan and a pastel lullaby of touchable things and thieved portfolios, a languorous three hours and eight minutes that peruses high art for the sake of hot ham. I looked forward to von Donnersmarck’s latest, despite hushed reviews from festival outings and a lackluster German release. The movie was thrashed in German-language reviews, but I don’t know how much is taking the film to task for its wholesale appropriation of the life of the living Gerhard Richter and the late Joseph Beuys. (Richter is eighty-seven.) Never Look Away is an uncommonly greedy magpie epic fictionalization of a living artist’s life: the screenplay’s inspiration, Richter, has objected in a now-notorious New Yorker profile-cum-hit piece on the eccentric filmmaker. [Read more.]

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“I remember very much the iconography and the images and the statues in church were very emotional for me. Just the power of that, and even still — just seeing prayer card, what that image can evoke. I have a lot of friends that are involved in the esoteric, and I know some girls in New York that are also into the supernatural. I don’t feel that I have that gift. But I am leaning towards mysticism… Maybe men are more practical, maybe they don’t give into that as much… And then also, they don’t convene in the same way that women do. But I don’t know, I am not a man, I don’t want to speak for men. For me, I tend to gravitate towards people who are open to those kinds of things. And the idea for my film, White Echo, I guess stemmed from that — I find that the girls in New York are more credible. What is it about the way that they communicate their ideas with the supernatural that I find more credible? And that is where it began. All the characters are also based on friends of mine. I worked with Refinery29 on that film, and found that they really invest in you which is so rare in this industry.”
Chloë Sevigny

“The word I have fallen in love with lately is ‘Hellenic.’ Greek in its mythology. So while everyone is skewing towards the YouTube generation, here we are making two-and-a-half-hour movies and trying to buck the system. It’s become clear to me that we are never going to be a perfect fit with Hollywood; we will always be the renegade Texans running around trying to stir the pot. Really it’s not provocation for the sake of being provocative, but trying to make something that people fall in love with and has staying power. I think people are going to remember Dragged Across Concrete and these other movies decades from now. I do not believe that they will remember some of the stuff that big Hollywood has put out in the last couple of years. You’ve got to look at the independent space to find the movies that have been really special recently. Even though I don’t share the same world-view as some of my colleagues, I certainly respect the hell out of their movies which are way more fascinating than the stuff coming out of the studio system.”
~ Dallas Sonnier