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
9:51 am
Fri March 27, 2015

A Photographer's Eye For Tragedy And Hope In 'Salt Of The Earth'

Elephant in Kafue National Park, Zambia, 2010.
Sebastiao Salgado Amazonas Images/Sony Pictures Classics

The Salt of the Earth, a documentary about famed photographer Sebastiao Salgado, ends with tranquil images of his family farm in Brazil, a leafy earthly paradise restored from the ravages of severe drought. That's where Salgado went to recover from his experiences in war-torn Rwanda, and, perhaps, a life spent bringing back pictures of the self-inflicted horrors of mankind: genocide, drought, famine and the unspeakable suffering they bring to those caught in their wake.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Don't Give Up Too Easily On The Scruffy 'Danny Collins'

Singer Danny Collins (Al Pacino) with his manager Frank Grubman (Christopher Plummer).
Bleecker Street

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 11:03 am

Al Pacino as a jaded, aging rocker re-juiced by a road trip to settle accounts with himself and his long-lost family? By all means roll your eyes — the star has one brow goofily raised himself — but don't give up on Danny Collins. In a (slightly) lower key than he's wont to play, Pacino puts a sweet spin on Danny that makes him more worth attending to than you might expect from the drifting geezer we meet, decked out in regulation gold chains and a bleary cocaine haze.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Lesser-Known Players Get Their Bows In 'The Wrecking Crew'

George Harrison and Joe Osborn in The Wrecking Crew.
Magnolia Pictures

In the mid-1960s, pop music moved its center of gravity from New York to Los Angeles. It was a seismic shift, but growing up in the cold drizzle of post-World War II London, what did I know from the West Coast Sound? I was just a rapt kid with my ear glued to Top-40 radio, dreaming of sun, surf and sex via the Beach Boys, the Mamas and Papas, Sam Cooke, The Supremes. In my fevered imagination, Spector's towering "wall of sound" had to have been recorded in a cathedral.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Weeping, Shooting And A Belly Full Of Gum In 'October Gale'

Scott Speedman and Patricia Clarkson in October Gale.
Jeremy Benning IFC Films

At 55 years old, Patricia Clarkson retains the golden glow and throaty delivery of a siren out of 1940s women's melodrama. But her home turf lies along the edgier margins of indie cinema (High Art, Far From Heaven, The Station Agent) and television (Six Feet Under, Parks and Recreation). There, Clarkson has thrived as a character actress who can do arch, sinister, smart, sexy, goofy and wistful on demand.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

'The Rewrite': Hugh Grant Operating At Maximum Hugh Grant

Marisa Tomei and Hugh Grant star in The Rewrite.
Anne Joyce Watch Image

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 11:57 am

Even when he's walking through the shambling shtick he can do in his sleep, Hugh Grant always gives good value.

In Marc Lawrence's sweetly undemanding new comedy The Rewrite, the British actor is in familiar mode, rumpled and stammering as Keith Michaels, a once-successful screenwriter now left behind in Hollywood's mad scramble for "edgy comedies with a kick-ass young woman." Down to his last option, Keith reluctantly accepts a gig as a writer-in-residence at a public university in upstate New York.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

'Ballet 422' Is A Dance Documentary Long On Art, Not Drama

New York City Ballet principal dancers Sterling Hytlin, Tiler Peck, Amar Rama and choreographer Justin Peck.
Jody Lee Lipe Ballet 422/New York City Ballet

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 8:38 pm

Tucked into the dance documentary Ballet 422, there's a nice cutaway you might miss if you blinked: An ordinary-looking young man wearing a backpack waits quietly for his late-night train on a New York platform. Another weary student or barista on his way home in the city, perhaps.

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Movie Reviews
3:04 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

A Parisian Finds Her Place In A Rarely Seen Part Of 'Girlhood'

Karidja Toure in Girlhood.
Strand Releasing

Early on in Celine Sciamma's striking Girlhood, a deft twist confounds what you might expect from a teen movie set in a mostly black, poverty-stricken suburb of Paris. Shut out of conventional paths to realize her ambition to be "like others, normal" and fed up with the tyranny of a bullying older brother at home, 16-year-old Marieme (Karidja Toure) takes up with a gang of tough-talking girls whose charismatic leader, Lady (Assa Sylla), fights other girls and wields a knife.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

'Mommy' Tells The Story Of A Troubled, Transfixing Bond

Anne Dorval and Antoine Olivier Pilon in Mommy.
Shayne Laverdière Roadside Attractions

At first blush, Diane (Anne Dorval), the working-class, French-Canadian woman in her forties who dominates Xavier Dolan's Mommy, seems no more than a tired movie cliché, the single-mom slattern who drives other parents in her orbit to come on like the Harper Valley PTA.

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Movie Reviews
8:33 am
Fri January 2, 2015

'Leviathan' Shows A Film And Filmmaker Unafraid Of Big Questions

Alexey Serebryakov as Kolya in Leviathan.
Anna Matveeva Sony Pictures Classics

In Leviathan, Andrey Zvyagintsev's melodrama about a motor mechanic's desperate struggle to hang on to home and family in the New Russia, a photograph of Vladimir Putin gazes impassively down from a wall in the office of a corrupt mayor.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

A Beautiful, Desolate 'Winter Sleep'

Aydin (Haluk Bilginer) consults his sister Necla (Demet Akbag) about the subject of his next newspaper column.
Adopt Films

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 7:01 pm

My favorite movie of 2014 is three hours long, and it's about Turkish people who live in caves. Winter Sleep is all talk and vistas of steppes so beautiful and so desolate, they'll make you weep. Don't go away: Like all of Nuri Bilge Ceylan's work, the film, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year, is about life itself, in general but with thrilling particularity. You want to know why we can't get along, don't you?

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