KWIT

Ella Taylor

Ella Taylor is a freelance film critic, book reviewer and feature writer living in Los Angeles.

Born in Israel and raised in London, Taylor taught media studies at the University of Washington in Seattle; her book Prime Time Families: Television Culture in Post-War America was published by the University of California Press.

Taylor has written for Village Voice Media, the LA Weekly, The New York Times, Elle magazine and other publications, and was a regular contributor to KPCC-Los Angeles' weekly film-review show FilmWeek.

The friction between art and life is director Damien Chazelle's ongoing obsession. It's a fine thing to ponder, though I didn't much care for his 2014 melodrama Whiplash , which worked up an overblown froth from the daffy proposition that you can bully a fledgling musician into becoming a genius drummer. La La Land , a frankly commercial but rapturous ode to art, love, and my much-maligned home town of Los Angeles, grows more organically out of Chazelle's charming 2009 debut...

Late in mid-life Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert), a Paris high school philosophy teacher, suffers a string of punishing losses that threaten not just her well-being and sense of fulfillment, but her entire identity as a wife, daughter, mother and professional woman. Her husband (Andre Marcon) announces he's moving in with the mistress he's kept a secret for many years. Nathalie is forced to move the fragile mother (Edith Scob) she has propped up since childhood into assisted living; it doesn't go...

Late in The Edge of Seventeen , a deftly blackish teen comedy written and directed by newcomer Kelly Fremon Craig, high-schooler Nadine sits on the toilet with her head in her hands. She's taken a beating on the usual fronts of adolescent suffering, as well as another ordeal no youngster should have to bear. "Please God, help me," the girl mutters. Then, "Why do I even bother?" Because to cap it all off there's no toilet paper. If you've seen any other movies or TV shows that...

At the fancy Christmas dinner she hosts in her posh Paris home, a stylish entrepreneur named Michele, played to impassive perfection by Isabelle Huppert, verbally abuses her heavily Botoxed elderly mother and her mother's very-much-younger consort. She inflicts injury on the very-much-younger girlfriend of her former husband. She pokes fun at her ineffectual son, his partner, and their baby. She takes a covert swipe at her pretty Christian neighbor while initiating a game of footsie with that...

The title Loving may seem a rough fit for a movie made by Jeff Nichols, whose previous work includes Take Shelter and Mud . But Richard and Mildred Loving were the names of the real-life couple who inspired his new film; in the late 1950s they were forbidden to love and marry by the state of Virginia. And Nichols, who has elastic gifts, has made a gracefully classical film about the Lovings, who were arrested because they were an interracial couple living in a...

The landscape is all too familiar: Junkies, dealers, prostitution, poverty, and, here and there, spasms of violence. But Moonlight , an incandescent second feature from Barry Jenkins ( Medicine for Melancholy ), is a "black" movie more by way of Charles Burnett than John Singleton ( Boyz n the Hood ) or the Hughes brothers ( Menace II Society ). Adapted by Jenkins from a story by playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney and set in the down-at-heel Miami...

Amid the current clamor for strong women characters, the films of Kelly Reichardt can seem regressive if you're not paying close attention. From her terrific debut feature River of Grass through Meek's Cutoff and Wendy and Lucy , Reichardt has given us incomplete, quietly suffering women who feel their way into change. Her M.O. is to allow their unexpressed longings to hang quietly in the air so we can feel them too, and watch what happens when they try to act on...

The actress Sarah Paulson, who's having a very good year, can do pretty much anything. She turned herself into a racist plantation matron in 12 Years a Slave ; Cate Blanchett's lesbian bestie in Carol ; and there's her brilliant Emmy-winning turn as prosecutor Marcia Clark in this year's The People v. O.J. Simpson . To say nothing of her show-stopping turns as a witch, conjoined twins and other weirdnesses on American Horror Story . Paulson wears a knit cap...

The angry old gent at the heart of the Swedish film A Man Called Ove is the kind of man who puts on a suit and tie every time he tries to kill himself, which believe me is more than twice. He's also the kind of man you're likely to find in films submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. So even though Ove, who's played with firmly compressed lips by Rolf Lassgard, is a royal pain in the butt, the suicides are played for gentle laughs and it's pretty clear from...

Earlier this year the New York-based filmmaker Oren Rudavsky released (with Joseph Dorman) Colliding Dreams , a fair-minded history of the Zionist ideal. The film documented the tension between Zionism as both a response to the mass persecution of Jews, and a catalyst for endless bloody conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes in the 1948 Israeli-Arab War, when Israel declared independence. Now comes a new documentary from Rudavsky and...

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