Howie Movshovitz

Education:
Bachelor's degree in English literature, University of Pennsylvania; Master's degree and Ph.D. in English literature, University of Colorado-Boulder.

Professional background:
Howie's formal training came through his study of literature. He began watching, then making films in graduate school, which led to teaching and writing critique pieces. Howie is now the director of film education in the College of Arts & Media at the University of Colorado Denver. He helped start the Starz FilmCenter and has programmed a number of individual programs and series there – including weekends of “banned films,” and retrospectives (sometimes with filmmakers appearing in person) of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, editor Dede Allen, Charles Burnett, screenwriter Larry Gross, producer Frank Marshall, Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu and others. Howie also curates and presents the monthly Tattered Cover/Colorado Public Radio Film Series at the Starz FilmCenter and is one of the two teachers in The Telluride Film Festival’s Student Symposium. He also makes features on film subjects for NPR.

Awards:
1997 Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and several awards for films made with co-writer, director and editor Linda Williams.

Q & AHow I became a film critic:
In graduate school, while working hard in medieval literature, my closest friend was working in film, and, by chance I met a young guy who was a film critic in Chicago. He grew up to be Roger Ebert, and between these two friends, I veered toward film. Friends in my “Beowulf“ seminar knew that something was changing when I wrote about “Beowulf” using Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein’s theory of montage. About 10 years after I began at KCFR, I asked CPR President Max Wycisk why he took me on as film critic. He said that lots of people wanted to “be” the film critic, but I was the only one who wanted to do the work.

My greatest success as a film critic:
Here are two: First, an unknown film called “Strangers in Good Company,” made by Canadian filmmaker Cynthia Scott in 1990, was scheduled to play for four days at Denver’s Mayan Theater. My review kept it in town for a month. Second, an overlooked film, “Maborosi,” by the great Japanese director Kore-Eda, came to the area for one night. My review (there were no others) filled the house with people who seemed much satisfied afterward.

Favorite films and filmmakers:
There are many. Anything and everything by Jean Renoir, Agnes Varda, Ernst Lubitsch and Robert M. Young. “The Godfather;” Chaplin’s “City Lights.” “The Gold Rush,” “The Immigrant,” “Easy Street” and “Modern Times.” “Tokyo Story” and “The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice” by Yasujiro Ozu; Stan Brakhage’s handpainted films; Charles Burnett’s “Killer of Sheep,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, ‘30s screwball comedy, Preston Sturges, Ingmar Bergman, Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, F.W. Murnau’s “Sunrise,” “Chunhyang” by Im Kwon Taek, Hou Hsiao Hsien’s “The Puppetmaster,” Buster Keaton, Buster Keaton and Buster Keaton. And lots more.

  • The new movie Stories We Tell is directed by Sarah Polley and produced by the National Film Board of Canada, which describes the film as genre-twisting. Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz wonders if the genres have been bent too far.
  •  A new movie called Deceptive Practices: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay is about the famed magician. For Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz, the film is a catalogue of missed chances.
  •  Few films generate as much publicity as the new release of The Great Gatsby. Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz says it’s certainly a phenomenon, but asks if that’s all we want from a movie.
  •  The new movie At Any Price takes place among corn farmers in America’s heartland. But Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz says for this film there’s something rotten in the state of Iowa.
  • The title of the new movie “42” comes from the number worn by Jackie Robinson, the black player who integrated baseball. Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz says it’s a great story of America.
  • “Renoir” is a new movie about the famed impressionist painter. But for Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz, the movie is about a lot more than painting.
  •  Another new silent film has been released. This one is from Spain, and it’s based on the story of “Snow White.” Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz says the film’s strangeness is its genius.
  • Documentary filmmaker Les Blank, who died earlier this week, celebrated American ethnicities – Cajun fiddlers, African-American bluesmen, Polish polka dancers and anyone who loved garlic. Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz says that Blank’s cinematic voice was amiable, but also sharp.
  • French comic Pierre Etaix was a star director and actor in the mid-1960s. Now 85, he still appears in movies, but films he directed are playing at the Sie Film Center in Denver this coming week. Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz says it’s a program not to miss.
  •  The title of the new movie “Spring Breakers” may make you think of old standbys like “Where the Boys Are.” If you think it would be nice to take your teenagers to “Spring Breakers” for a nice spring break treat, Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz says do not do that.
  • The new Romanian film “Beyond the Hills” won awards for its two actresses at the Cannes Film Festival last May, and also the screenwriting prize for writer/director Cristian Mungiu (Kris-TEE-ahn Mun-GEE-oo). Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz says the movie continues the brilliance of the Romanian new wave.
  • The latest movie from Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami is about the relationship between a young call girl and an old professor. Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz says the film is not heading where you think it is.
  • The new movie “Lore” is about the children of a Nazi officer in Germany just as World War II is ending. It was made in German, but by Cate Shortland, a young Australian. Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz says the movie grabs viewers from the start.
  • Fifty-year-old filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, the director of “sex,lies and videotape,” “The Limey,” “Solaris” and 33 other films has said he’s going to retire. For Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz, Soderbergh is leaving on a high note.
  • For his new film “Happy People: A Year in the Taiga,” the renowned German filmmaker Werner Herzog worked from footage shot by another filmmaker in Siberia. But Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz says Herzog has still created another masterpiece. Click here for more film reviews.
  • Forty-nine years ago, a British filmmaker gathered together something of a cross-section of English seven-year-olds. The idea was to film them every seven years to see how people change and if the British class system really determined people’s lives.