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.

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Movie Reviews
1:12 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

For Two Mismatched Newlyweds, A Very Odd 'Year'

The typical romantic comedy might end with the wedding, but for Josh (Rafe Spall) and Nat (Rose Byrne), that's just the beginning of the story of I Give It a Year.
Jules Heath Magnolia

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 5:55 pm

I Give It a Year is about what you'd expect from the warped mind of Dan Mazer β€” Sacha Baron Cohen's close collaborator on Da Ali G ShowΒ­, Borat and Bruno. Which is to say: a raucously funny comic romance that's deaf and blind to the blithe spirit of romantic comedy.

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Movie Reviews
9:41 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Poseidon's Little Squirt Is Back, And He's Still At Sea

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman of Perks of Being a Wallflower) and his pal Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) are two of the unusually talented teens resident at Camp Half-Blood, a summer retreat for β€” well, demigods, not to put too fine a point on it.
Fox

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 5:26 pm

Returning from sleep-away camp, my teenage daughter, who'd hitherto declared reading a foreign pursuit, announced that she was now a "bookie." Ruthlessly suppressing my inner jig, I nodded casually and asked how this literary epiphany had come about. A cabin full of reader-girls, it seemed, had turned her on to Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series. And so it came to pass that, over the next few weeks, my child holed up at the library and indulged a burgeoning obsession with Greek mythology.

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Movies
9:03 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Emotional Terrorism, From The Shelter Of Home

Andre (Niels Arestrup) shares a home with his Moroccan-born adopted son Mounir (Tahar Rahim), who has struggled to find work outside his father's home-based medical practice.
Distrib Films

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 12:28 pm

Our Children, a quietly devastating Belgian domestic drama, opens with a shattered young woman on an IV drip. Then the action moves swiftly back to that same woman, radiantly in love and eager to tell Andre, the man her beloved calls father, that she's planning to marry his boy.

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Movie Reviews
11:57 am
Sat August 3, 2013

For Old-School Kvetch Comics, A Catskills Cradle

Jackie Mason is one of a host of comedians interviewed in When Comedy Went to School, a documentary about a generation of Jewish comics and the Catskills resorts that nurtured them.
International Film Circuit

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 4:03 pm

For the charming but skin-deep documentary When Comedy Went to School, filmmakers Mevlut Akkaya and Ron Frank gained enviable access to pioneer stars of Borscht Belt standup.

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Movie Reviews
10:56 am
Tue July 30, 2013

On A Tiny Sicilian Islet, A World Of Big Questions To Answer

Aging fisherman Ernesto (Mimmo Cuticchio, left) and his and his family navigate tough times and perilous politics in Terraferma, whose misspelled title is no accident in a world of increasingly closed borders.
Cohen Media Group

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 7:53 pm

One night in the mid-1960s, I happened to catch Vittorio De Sica's 1948 film The Bicycle Thief on the BBC β€” and fell in love with Italian neo-realism on the spot.

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Movie Reviews
10:53 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Cate Blanchett, Trifling With The Kindness Of Strangers

Sony Classics

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 4:32 pm

Jasmine, once a wealthy Manhattan socialite, comes to us a jabbering wreck in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine. We meet her staggering off a plane in San Francisco to stay with her down-market sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins).

The bottom has fallen out of Jasmine's glamorous world, in which she oozed style and made the trains run on time for her husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin), a financier who gave lavishly to charity with others' money. The name Madoff never comes up, but Hal went to jail, Jasmine is left with mountains of debt, and it's not hard to do the math.

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Movie Reviews
3:05 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

A 'Girl Most Likely,' Unlikely To Succeed

Kristen Wiig and Annette Bening are daughter and mother in a dysfunctional-family comedy about a playwright whose life needs a reboot β€” and the people who help her push the button.
Roadside Attractions

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 6:04 pm

In Girl Most Likely, a likable but warmed-over comedy about rediscovering the nutso family you thought was holding you back, the gifted Kristen Wiig plays Imogene, a playwright on the skids after a brief sojourn into minor Manhattan celebrity.

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Movie Reviews
11:04 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Strange Doings Among Chess-Mad '80s Coders

Patrick Riester plays one of the alpha geeks competing in a game-writing tournament in Computer Chess, a willfully odd comedy from mumblecore pioneer Andrew Bujalski.
Kino Lorber

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 4:33 pm

"I don't mind putting something pleasant out into the world," said filmmaker Andrew Bujalski in a recent New York Magazine interview.

You don't hear that too often outside the sphere of general-audience entertainment, let alone from a writer-director widely credited with pioneering mumblecore, the slackerish mini-movement that never really was.

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Movie Reviews
4:25 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

An Adult Education, But Who's Doing The Teaching Here?

Liam James plays Duncan, a boy of few words but many a feeling, in The Way, Way Back, in which a fractured family discovers a little something about itself on a seaside vacation.
Claire Folger Fox Searchlight

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 1:39 pm

So here's the latest cinematic scoop on the New American Family: The kids are all right β€” or would be if the grownups stopped acting like stoked toddlers and got with the program.

That may or may not be true in real life. From where I sit, helicopter parents pose a more potent threat to child development than footloose adults. But the proposition will strike joy into the hearts of teenagers, who are the primary target audience for the brisk new movie The Way, Way Back. Adults are welcome too, but they should know they're in for a drubbing.

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Movie Reviews
7:45 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Almodovar, Extending An Invite To The Mile High Club

When their aircraft develops mechanical trouble, three flight attendants β€” Fajas (Carlos Areces), Ulloa (Raul Arevalo) and Joserra (Javier Camara) β€” set out to put passengers at ease ... using some unorthodox methods.
Sony Classics

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 5:54 pm

I'm So Excited! a less-than-exciting new romp from the great Pedro Almodovar, dusts off one of the hoariest plot tricks in the farceur's playbook: Trap a bunch of upstanding citizens in a confined space with no exit, and watch their ids β€” along with their secrets and lies β€” come out to play.

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