Author:Clinton Olsasky

Clinton Olsasky: Remembering Sidney Poitier in Five Legendary Performances

Trailblazer. Icon. Legend.   Those are just some of the words that have been used to describe Sidney Poitier since his passing at the age of 94 last month.   But truth be told, words alone could never fully convey the sheer impact that Poitier had on the American film industry and, more importantly, on American culture at large.   Often starring in movies that either directly or indirectly addressed race relations in America, Poitier was the only regularly cast Black...

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Clinton Olsasky: My Top 10 Films of 2021

2021 was a mixed bag for the film industry, which is still rewriting its own rules in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.   On the one hand, moviegovers across the country were able to safely return to theaters following the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.   On the other hand, the pandemic has refused to let up in many parts of the country, forcing the industry to offer more at-home viewing options than ever before.    Streaming giants like Netflix...

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Clinton Olsasky: ‘The French Dispatch’ & ‘Spencer’

The Des Moines Double Feature is back! In this semi-weekly series, we at Des Moines Film will spotlight two movies that prompt critical discussion. In some cases, these may be two new releases currently playing in Des Moines-area theaters. Other times, we may choose to compare a new release with a classic film or even spotlight two classics.    This week, we take a look at two new award season contenders from two celebrated filmmakers: “The French...

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‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ Reviewed

When it comes to race, Hollywood has a long and uncomfortable history of romanticizing and oversimplifying American history, often transplanting Black experience into the reductive points of view of white characters. From "Gone with the Wind" to "Green Book," ostensibly Black-informed stories have too often been whitewashed, wringing out the authenticity, beauty and pain of Black realities.   Fortunately, "Judas and the Black Messiah" breaks away from this trend. The historical drama, which focuses on the betrayal...

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Des Moines Film Society: The Top 10 Films of 2020

Let’s face it: 2020 was a crazy year. The coronavirus pandemic upended normal life as we knew it, while racial unrest shed an even brighter spotlight on the deepening political divisions that have defined the last few years.   Meanwhile, movies have rightfully taken a backseat, with the pandemic leading to the closure of thousands of theaters and numerous delays of studio blockbusters.   And yet, against all odds, 2020 has yielded a number of great films, many of...

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100 Years Later: ‘The Phantom Carriage’ Is Still the Greatest New Year’s Movie

On New Year’s Day 1921, the world of cinema changed forever.   That was the day that “The Phantom Carriage,” one of the great masterworks of the silent era, was released. Now, exactly 100 years later, the film continues to transfix viewers through its sheer artistry and thought-provoking, life-affirming story.   The movie, directed by pioneering Swedish filmmaker Victor Sjöström, broke new ground on several cinematic fronts. In terms of visual effects, Sjöström made innovative use of double exposure,...

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Clinton Olsasky: Remembering Kirk Douglas: Five Legendary Performances

Last month, the red-hot glow of one of the film industry’s brightest (and longest) burning stars was extinguished.   That star was the incomparable Kirk Douglas, who, at the age of 103, became one of the oldest living and last surviving icons of the Golden Age of Hollywood.   The fact that Douglas’ life burned so bright and so long is appropriate, as many of the screen legend’s best performances were marked with a fiery intensity that was rarely...

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DMFS Predicts the Oscars – 2020 Edition

The 92nd Academy Awards are less than a week away, which means now’s the time to fill out our Oscar ballots and make our final predictions for Hollywood’s biggest night of the year.   However, as is often the case, this year’s slate of Oscar nominees features some glaring omissions. The Academy’s latest snubs range from baffling (the complete shutout of the Safdie brothers’ “Uncut Gems”) to downright sexist (Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell,” Greta Gerwig’s direction for...

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Des Moines Film Society: The Top 10 Films of 2019

From Disney’s unprecedented dominance at the box office (aggravated by the worrisome Disney/Fox merger and launch of the Disney Plus streaming service) to the emergence of Netflix as a legitimate awards contender, 2019 was a tumultuous year for cinema — one marked by shifts in viewing habits and viewing tastes.    But beyond the deadening debate surrounding Marvel movies as “true cinema” and the increasing corporatization of films from art to asset, there was actually plenty to...

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Des Moines Double Feature: ‘Mean Streets’ & ‘The Irishman’

Want to know which movies are worth your time? The Des Moines Film Society has you covered, with the Des Moines Double Feature! In this series, we highlight two movies that pair well together, revealing aesthetic and thematic insights about each other.   This week, we’re shining a spotlight on two masterful films from opposite ends of Martin Scorsese’s incomparable career: “Mean Streets,” from 1973, and “The Irishman,” from 2019. Although separated by nearly a half-century of...

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