Ella Taylor

Ella Taylor is a free-lance 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
4:03 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Fighting For Their Family, One Day At A Time

When a boy with Down syndrome (Isaac Leyva) is abandoned by his mother, a neighbor couple (Garret Dillahunt and Alan Cumming) takes him in.
Music Box Films

It would take a heart of stone — or zero tolerance for soap — to resist Any Day Now, a full-throttle weepie about a West Hollywood gay couple trying to adopt a neglected boy with Down syndrome.

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Movie Reviews
3:04 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

'Hitchcock': Mr. And Mrs. 'Master Of Suspense'

Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) and his wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), work together to produce Psycho.
Fox Searchlight

Originally published on Thu November 22, 2012 11:03 am

When my nieces were small, I took them on a day trip to the Museum of the Moving Image on London's South Bank. We had fun touring a puckishly curated journey through the history of cinema, until my younger niece flushed the toilet in the noir-inflected bathroom — and set off the famous shrieking strings that amp up the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, creating the most terrifying moment in American cinema.

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Movie Reviews
2:11 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

'Anna Karenina,' Rushing Headlong Toward Her Train

Karenin (Jude Law) tries to rein in his wife, Anna (Keira Knightley), as she pursues a flirtation and then an affair with a handsome young military officer in a new adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's iconic love story.
Laurie Sparham Focus Features

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 3:24 pm

After he'd finished reading Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, did director Joe Wright scribble on the last page, "Needs more pep?"

Wright is, after all, the man who put the cute little ampersand in Pride & Prejudice and gave us a giggly Lizzie Bennet rendered by Keira Knightley. Knightley is back again in the title role as the Russian chick who loves and loses and throws herself under a train.

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Movie Reviews
4:00 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Amid Discord, A 'Quartet' Strives For Harmony

Members of a famous string quartet (Mark Ivanir, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken and Catherine Keener) fight to stay together despite internal conflict.
RKO Pictures

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 11:56 am

It's rare these days to see an old-fashioned, elegant chamber-piece movie about life and art — let alone one with Christopher Walken as, of all things, a steadying influence.

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Movie Reviews
6:16 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

A Stubborn Old Soul, Stumbling Into Modernity

Pascale (Daniel Auteuil) with his sister Nathalie (Marie-Anne Chazel, right) and daughter Patricia (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), who, to his dismay, becomes pregnant in The Well-Digger's Daughter. The film is a remake of Marcel Pagnol's 1940 movie.
Kino Lorber

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 4:03 pm

At 62, the actor Daniel Auteuil is French film royalty, a Renaissance man equally at home in comedy, drama, thrillers — or, given his perennial air of faintly amused irony, some combination of all three. An off-kilter looker, Auteuil fairly oozes Gallic urbanity, so it's easy to forget that he launched his prolific career playing a conniving rustic in 1986's Jean de Florette and its sequel, Manon of the Spring, both directed by Claude Berri and adapted from novels by the writer-director Marcel Pagnol.

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Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

'To Rome': Allen, Fiddling Again With Familiar Ideas

In Woody Allen's latest, John (Alec Baldwin, left) begins to live vicariously through complications in Jack's (Jesse Eisenberg) love life.
Philippe Antonello Sony Pictures Classics

Woody Allen's slack new movie, To Rome with Love, comes fortified with a fine bit of nonsense involving a shower, a loofah and a nervous Italian tenor who's terrified of performing in public.

Allen repeats the joke at well-spaced intervals, and he's right to: It represents what's best in his comedy, a goofball grace note in which he invites us to join in his delight in the sublime absurdity of artistic endeavor. Around my local screening room, it seemed that just about everyone obliged.

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Movie Reviews
4:13 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

A Moody Artist Broods On The Grimy Streets Of Paris

In The Woman in the Fifth, novelist Tom Ricks (Ethan Hawke), already suffering from writer's block, falls into increasing states of paranoia as he wanders the streets of Paris.
ATO Pictures

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 4:28 pm

The Anglo-Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski may be an unfamiliar name, but you may have seen his wonderfully atmospheric first two features. If you haven't, add them to the Netflix queue without delay: Pawlikowski's 2000 feature debut, Last Resort, made utterly plausible and romantic an unlikely love story between a Russian immigrant and an amusement-arcade manager in a decaying detention center on the English coast.

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Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

'Elena': A Femme Fatale, In The Rubble Of Perestroika

Elena (Nadezhda Markina), a dutiful wife to her wealthy husband and a burdened mother to her layabout son, manages to balance the needs of the two, until she learns her husband plans to leave her family nothing in his will.
Zeitgeist Films

On its surface alone, Andrey Zvyagintsev's Elena is an intensely compelling slice of noir about moral rot and class warfare in post-Soviet Russia. Deeper down, the movie seethes quietly with the moody influence of other East European masters of the timeless ineffable. If Zvyagintsev were a less inscrutable filmmaker, he might have titled his new film Crime Without Punishment — but we'll get to that.

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Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

'America': A Gleefully Violent Pop-Culture Pushback

Turning depression and anger at his spiraling personal life outward, Frank (Joel Murray) — with sidekick Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) — takes literal aim at the crasser forms of American pop culture.
Magnet Releasing

Ever thought about murdering popular culture and its hangers-on? If your current homicidal fantasies include whacking the gelled hipster who loudly water-coolers yesterday's idiot reality show for anyone who will listen — and many who'd rather not — you may find yourself rooting for Frank, the unlikely dragonslayer of Bobcat Goldthwait's bracing new black comedy God Bless America.

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Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

'Best Exotic Marigold Hotel': Retirement, Outsourced

Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy play British retirees in residence at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. While advertisements promised a life of leisure in a newly refurbished facility, the Brits arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self.
Fox Searchlight

Originally published on Fri May 4, 2012 2:24 pm

Outsourcing gets a new twist in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a likable if market-driven ensemble comedy about a pack of cash-poor British elders who ship out for India, hoping for one last stab at self-renewal in a supposedly glam hotel.

The lonely seniors have two things in common: the usual big-screen bucket-list array of wishes for love, sex, closure and adventure — or at a minimum, retirement without total penury — and the fact that they're all played by the cream of today's British acting talent, albeit mostly operating below full steam.

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