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.


Movie Reviews
4:41 pm
Sun May 25, 2014

From The Traditions Of Melodrama, A Woman Of Resolve

Marion Cotillard stars in The Immigrant.
Anne Joyce The Weinstein Company

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 4:04 pm

I teach in a film school, and if there's one genre I find it hard to get students on board for, it's classic melodrama. Perhaps because they've been reared on distancing irony and the suspension of belief, they misread the symphonies of pent-up emotion, the passionate address to questions of good and evil, of class, gender and race as phony.

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Movie Reviews
4:55 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

'Walking With The Enemy': An Occupation Poorly Rendered

Charles De'ath, Charles Hubbell and Burn Gorman in Walking With The Enemy.
Liberty Studios

Originally published on Sun April 27, 2014 2:00 pm

By the time the Nazis got around to taking Hungary in 1944, the country was already fatally compromised by its economic alliance with Fascist Germany and Italy on the one hand, and a shaky pact with Stalin on the other. Imagining that its loyalty to a protective leader, Regent Horthy, would save them from the fate suffered by other European Jews, Hungary's highly assimilated Jewish community fell prey (along with the Regent himself) to the extreme right-wing Arrow Cross party.

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Movie Reviews
5:52 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

'Vivian Maier' Brings Nanny-Photographer's Life Into Focus

In their new documentary Finding Vivian Maier, John Maloof and Charlie Siskel profile a reclusive photographer and her undiscovered photo archive.
Vivian Maier Courtesy of IFC Films

Originally published on Fri March 28, 2014 10:53 am

Is an artist's life relevant to her reputation as an artist? Not so much, perhaps, but many of us want the bio anyway, especially when the artist in question is as tantalizingly elusive as Vivian Maier (or Mayer, or Meyer, as she variously spelled it to confound the curious), a reclusive Chicago nanny whose posthumously discovered trove of street photographs swelled into a cause celebre after her death in 2009.

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Movie Reviews
5:53 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

A Teen On The Hunt, And Maybe In Over Her Head

Fourteen-year-old Lila (Gina Persanti) spends her summer looking for love — and finds a rough-edged older boy in It Felt Like Love.
Variance Films

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 4:03 pm

Feared and feared for in equal measure, today's teenagers are prisoners of pop and punditry. Branded as bad seeds or delicate flowers, they take shape in the public mind as either neglected or overprotected by their parents, abused by or abusive of the Internet, oversexed or terrified of sex. Is coming of age the pits, or what?

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Movie Reviews
5:46 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

It's Either Art Or A Fire Hose, And We're Calling It The Latter

James (James Franco) is a retired actor who may or may not be suffering from a degenerative mental illness in Maladies, an art film from New York painter, sculptor and filmmaker Carter.
Tribeca Films

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 5:10 pm

Many years ago, the great and grumpy British TV writer Dennis Potter (The Singing Detective, Pennies From Heaven) rounded a corner in a prominent New York art museum and stood wondering whether the coiled thingy on the wall in front of him was a work of art or an emergency fire hose.

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Movie Reviews
9:41 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Sex, Smokes, And Deneuve On The Move

In a twist of sorts on the typical male- or youth-driven road movie, Catherine Deneuve plays an older woman playing young.
Cohen Media Group

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 4:13 am

Unhinged by crises both monetary and amorous, a provincial Frenchwoman tells the employees at her restaurant, "I'll be back." Then she takes off in her ancient rattletrap with no escape plan beyond an illicit smoke and a drive to clear her addled head. Turns out she'll be gone a while.

Yes, there's a road movie in Bettie's cards. Yes, there will be formative ordeals. And yes, the payoff will be uplift, along with one of those toothsome al fresco country lunches where Mediterranean types wave their arms around and argue in friendly fashion.

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Movie Reviews
3:58 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

A Legacy Of War, Hitting Home Decades Later In Norway

Katrine (Juliane Kohler) has a golden life in Norway — and a dark secret rooted in Eastern Germany, in the dark days of war and division.
Tom Trambow IFC Films

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 4:03 pm

Decades after the end of World War II, the partly burned body of a young woman was found in a wooded area near the Norwegian town of Bergen. Her possible connection to a long-simmering Norwegian scandal, one dating back to the war, became the subject of a novel by Hannelore Hippe — and, in turn, of Two Lives, a new thriller loosely based on that novel.

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The 86th Annual Academy Awards
1:03 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

Another Monster Mother, But Hey, She Means Well

Luminiţa Gheorghiu plays an overbearing (and overdressed) Bucharest matron in Child's Pose, Romania's foreign-film entry at this year's Oscars.
Zeitgeist Films

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 4:27 pm

If I had a dollar for every guy-made drama lamenting the damage done by monster moms to their helpless sons, I'd be richer than Croesus. Even Shakespeare bears his share of blame for this deathless theme, but at least the Bard's marauding maters — all props to Hamlet's mum, but Coriolanus's mother Volumnia leads the pack — are fun viragos to go rogue with.

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Movie Reviews
4:13 pm
Sun March 9, 2014

Into An 'Adult World,' With A Quirky Coterie To Assist

Emma Roberts is an aspiring poet, and John Cusack a played-out one, in the quirky comedy Adult World.
IFC Films

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 4:33 pm

In the opening scene of Adult World, a modestly scaled comedy of the sort that littered the prime-time landscape before TV and film traded places, we meet Amy (Emma Roberts), a poet-yet-to-be with her head in a plastic bag. A poster of Sylvia Plath trembles with significance on her bedroom wall.

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Movie Reviews
1:05 am
Sun February 23, 2014

The Holocaust Recalled, Again, Through The Eyes Of 'The Unjust'

In 1975, Shoah director Claude Lanzmann interviewed Benjmain Murmelstein, the last surviving Elder of the Jews of the Czech Theresienstadt ghetto, at his home in Rome. The resulting film is The Last of the Unjust.
Cohen Media Group

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 4:02 pm

With a running time of more than nine hours, Claude Lanzmann's monumental 1985 documentary, Shoah, was never destined to become a mass audience draw. But this sober, taxing, utterly absorbing attempt to document the Holocaust grows ever more essential precisely as our collective memory is increasingly eroded by the reductive shorthand of emaciated bodies or piles of shoes discarded by concentration-camp inmates as they went to their terrible fate. For Lanzmann, understanding trumps empathy.

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