Browse Articles by J. Don Birnam

TIFF Review: The Eyes of Tammy Faye Casts Probing Gaze on Famed Televangelist 

September 2021
TIFF Review: <em>The Eyes of Tammy Faye</em> Casts Probing Gaze on Famed Televangelist 

Early on in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, the film’s protagonist, famed American televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, explains to a makeup artist preparing her for an on-screen appearance that almost everything about her gaze has been sealed-on shut. Her eyebrows are tattooed, her eyelashes are glued on, her eyes are permanently delineated, and her... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |

The Forever Purge Costume Designer Leah Butler on the  Outfits for the Gruesome Tale

September 2021
<em>The Forever Purge</em> Costume Designer Leah Butler on the  Outfits for the Gruesome Tale

For The Purge film franchise, most of the pizzazz is in the makeup and special effects necessary to construct the gory, bloody scenes that characterize the movies. The latest installment, The Forever Purge, was no exception. As we wrote before the movie was released in July, the killing spree that is at the core... »

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Posted in Costume Design, Featured, Film, Interviews |

TIFF Film Review: Dear Evan Hansen Faithfully Adapts Hit Broadway Musical

September 2021
TIFF Film Review: <em>Dear Evan Hansen</em> Faithfully Adapts Hit Broadway Musical

Before they gained movie fame and won an Oscar for writing the songs in La La Land, composing duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul made Broadway names for themselves with the Tony-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen. Released in 2015, the show won six Tonys, including Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |

Telluride Review: King Richard Lionizes Williams Family Patriarch

September 2021
Telluride Review: <em>King Richard</em> Lionizes Williams Family Patriarch

Legendary tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams finally get the cinematic treatment in the Warner Bros. movie King Richard, but much like in their real lives, they must share a significant portion of the movie spotlight with their domineering if loving father, Richard Williams, played by Will Smith. This may not be a bad... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |

Telluride Review: Cyrano Revisits Old Tale With Lofty New Tricks

September 2021
Telluride Review: <em>Cyrano</em> Revisits Old Tale With Lofty New Tricks

Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac —  about the over-confident, swashbuckling poet whose self-esteem ends where his nose begins —  has been directly or loosely adapted into film over a dozen times in the 130+ years since it was written. Two versions standout: the originally panned but now respected 1950 version film that... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |

Telluride Review: Kristen Stewart Embodies Lady Di in Pablo Larrain’s Haunting Spencer

September 2021
Telluride Review: Kristen Stewart Embodies Lady Di in Pablo Larrain’s Haunting <em>Spencer</em>

Chilean Director Pablo Larrain’s ability to portray the sorrow of tragic and well-known women was first revealed to audiences with 2016’s Jackie, about the unfortunate First Lady whose blood-stained pink dress seared her into our collective consciousness about tragedy. This year, Larrain has upped the ante by returning to the topic with a more... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |

Telluride Review: Jane Campion’s Exquisite The Power of the Dog Returns Her to the Big Screen

September 2021
Telluride Review: Jane Campion’s Exquisite <em>The Power of the Dog</em> Returns Her to the Big Screen

Twenty years before Chloé Zhao became only the second woman ever to win the Academy Award for Best Director, another woman became only the second to be nominated for that award. Her name is Jane Campion, and in 1993 she won a screenwriting Oscar for The Piano, which landed her that historic Best Director... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |

Telluride Review: Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch Sends You in Wildly Different Directions

September 2021
Telluride Review: Wes Anderson’s <em>The French Dispatch</em> Sends You in Wildly Different Directions

Of the currently active directors whose work is thematically and aesthetically recognizable, Wes Anderson stands out as the most vivid, perhaps even the most colorfully imaginative. Like many other auteurs who have achieved a cult following or risen too quickly in popularity, Anderson has also become a victim of his own undeniable talent. Obviously... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |

Review: Hugh Jackman’s Reminiscence Reminds You of Neo-Noir Films of Yore

August 2021
Review: Hugh Jackman’s <em>Reminiscence</em> Reminds You of Neo-Noir Films of Yore

Lisa Joy makes her screenwriting and directorial big screen debut with the upcoming Reminiscence, starring Hugh Jackman as memory retrieval expert Nick Bannister. The film, about a man who becomes obsessed with learning more about the woman he loves by searching through her and other people’s recorded memories, is both an impressive if not... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |

Review: Jennifer Hudson Shines as Aretha Franklin in Straightforward Biopic Respect

August 2021
Review: Jennifer Hudson Shines as Aretha Franklin in Straightforward Biopic <em>Respect</em>

Playing royalty of any kind on screen is tough, but for Jennifer Hudson’s latest performance as Aretha Franklin, known as “The Queen of Soul,” in Respect, the biopic about Franklin’s life, the challenge is arguably tougher. Franklin’s distinctive, bone-chilling voice has been called unequaled, and the task of nailing those tunes is not one... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |