James Sanford

Film Critic

James Sanford has been reviewing films since he was hired by the Grand Rapids Press at the age of 16. Since then, he's written for many publications and websites, including WMUK. He's current a staff reporter at the Battle Creek Enquirer. Sanford has also appeared om stage at the API, New Vic, and Whole Art theaters in Kalamazoo. He was a member of the Crawlspace Eviction comedy troupe for six years and starred and co-wrote the feature film "Comic Evangelists," which was showcased at the American Film Instutute's 2006 festival in Hollywood. He's also the author of two memoirs: The Sum of My Parts and Au Naturel: A Summer on Martha’s Vineyard".

Ways to Connect

2013 was a fairly phenomenal year for music documentaries, with such stand-outs as Twenty Feet From Stardom and A Band Called Death. Another worthy title to add to that list is Muscle Shoals, filmmaker Greg "Freddy" Camalier's portrait of the little Alabama that produced some of the biggest hits and most enduring anthems of all time. See at at The Riviera Theatre in Three Rivers through February 1st.

One of the great perks of being a film critic is being able to call attention to terrific movies that most people will never hear about. These are the pictures that aren't advertised every ten minutes on TV or hyped to the heavens a full year before they're going to be in theaters. An excellent example would be The Spectacular Now, director James Ponsoldt's outstanding adaptation of the popular novel by Tim Tharp.

There are many strange and puzzling films you may encounter over the course of your lifetime. But I feel reasonably safe in saying that you will never find anything quite so flamboyantly bizarre as the 1977 Japanese horror-comedy-musical-psychodrama Hausu, or House, a movie that exists in its own stratosphere of wackiness. 

Four words that can strike terror into your heart when your partner says them: "We need to talk." It's almost always the start of something unpleasant. But when it's Jesse and Celine doing the chatting, the result is usually irresistible.

For almost as long as there have been teenagers, there have been teen idols. In the 1940s, you had Frank Sinatra making the bobbysoxers swoon. In the 1950s, it was Elvis and Ricky Nelson and Pat Boone and Fabian. When I was a kid, my classmates were crazy about John Travolta and Shaun Cassidy -- and some of them even believed the hype about the Bay City Rollers being the new Beatles.

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