7 items from 2014
Visually fussy to a fault, “Monsoon” applies a near-“Baraka”-level degree of New Age-y pictorialism to its titular subject. We learn superficially about the vast importance of this annual weather phenomenon to India’s people, agriculture and economy, but helmer Sturla Gunnarsson seems far more interested in overstudied imagery that would make for a great coffee-table book, yet feels like a triumph of hollow aestheticism over content onscreen. Nonetheless, that armchair-tourist surface spectacle might push the pic (shot in the extra-high-def 4K format) into the commercial theatrical sphere, attracting the same audiences who’ve glimpsed profundity in the photo-of-the-year compilations crafted by Godfrey Reggio and Ron Fricke.
Considered “the soul of India,” monsoon season provides the majority of that vast nation’s drinking and farming water. (A minority comes from mountain snow melt.) But while the rain may fall anywhere throughout the subcontinent, it can’t be counted on »
- Dennis Harvey
Telluride — With all the reindeer games going on in the fall festival world, a lot of the drama and mystery surrounding Telluride's perennially on-the-lowdown program began to seep out like a steadily deflating balloon this year. Toronto, Venice and New York notations of "World Premiere," "Canada Premiere," "New York Premiere" or "International Premiere" and the like made it all rather obvious which films were heading to the San Juans for the 41st edition of the tiny mining village's cinephile gathering, and which were not. But the fact is, if you're in it just for the surprises — or certainly, for the awards-baiting heavies — you're never going to be fully satisfied by the Telluride experience. That having been said, this year's program might just be the most exciting one in my six years of attending. Starting with all of the stuff we were expecting, indeed, Cannes players "Foxcatcher," "Mr. Turner" and "Leviathan »
- Kristopher Tapley
If you're hung up on the fact Lucy perpetuates the myth humans only use 10% of their brain then I don't know why you're reading this review. However, if you thought Transcendence was a talky bore and wish there had been more action and less jibber-jabber then you might want to stick around since the two films essentially approach the idea of the singularity, but get there using dramatically different means. Directed by Luc Besson (The Professional, The Fifth Element), Lucy tells the story of the title character, played by Scarlett Johansson with all the wooden acuity of Keanu Reeves, as she is forced into serving as a drug mule, carrying a package of a new drug next to her intestines. Unfortunately for her, when she's kicked in the stomach a small amount of the drug leaks into her system, giving her abilities beyond that of a "normal" human being and »
- Brad Brevet
"The oil is treacherous, because it reflects the sky." Herzog says in voice over as we look upon what could very easily be small ponds and streams of water in an otherwise barren wasteland. Herzog speaks to this very thought adding, "The oil is trying to disguise itself as water." It's a statement only Herzog could make and it's one of the few heard throughout the brisk 50 minutes that make up his 1992 documentary Lessons of Darkness, which I think is best described as a cousin to Ron Fricke's wonderful wordless documentaries Baraka and Samsara, though with this film Herzog has a much more specific topic he's exploring. Broken into thirteen separate sections, all with their own "chapter" heading, Herzog tells the story of the 1991 Kuwait oil fires through sparse voice over (much of which are words read from the Bible), aerial and on the ground images captured on 16mm »
- Brad Brevet
Earlier this year, Av Festival in Newcastle was the destination of many durational documentary enthusiasts (admittedly a niche market): a meaty Wang Bing retrospective was screened over several days. For all who are unfamiliar with the Chinese documentarian’s work, he has a tight catalogue of epic films such as West of the Tracks and Crude Oil that are in excess of ten hours apiece, which seek to tell objective stories of diminishing local labour or of nomadic existence in the great wilds of China and Mongolia. More palatable docs, while containing a similar gaze, have been delivered to us in recent years by Ron Fricke (namely Baraka and Samsara).
Director Thomas Balmès’ interest in cross-cultural filmmaking has allowed him to scaffold a bridge between these two styles of documentary: employing a lingering, dewy-eyed camera to portray stunning landscapes and untouched panoramas while telegraphing easy-to-watch glimpses of silent societies. »
- Andrew Latimer
It may not be on everyone’s DVD shelf, but filmmaker Godfrey Reggio’s first film Koyaanisqatsi – released in 1982 – was a landmark piece of cinema. Comprised mainly of slow motion and time-lapse shots, the film had no narrative in the strict sense of the word, it simply observed our world, both human and natural, and left it up to the viewer to form their own ideas. Stunningly shot (cinematographer Ron Fricke went on to make similar films Baraka and Samsara), Koyaanisqatsi revolutionised techniques that we now take for granted and would be referenced in places as far afield as Grand Theft Auto, Madonna videos, and even an episode of Scrubs. Reggio followed this up with two more films to complete the Qatsi trilogy and now returns three decades later with Visitors, a film similar in concept, but completely different in its execution.
Filmed in a low-key, velvety black-and-white, Visitors runs »
- Matt Seton
Freestyle Digital Media (Fdm) and Freestyle Releasing announce today that they have acquired the film, and set February 28th as the release date for Bottled Up, the moving family indie that stars Academy Award-winning actress Melissa Leo (The Fighter, Winter's Bone), Josh Hamilton (J. Edgar, American Horror Story) and Marin Ireland (Side Effects, I Am Legend).
Written and directed by Enid Zentelis (Evergreen), the film was produced by Zentelis, Amanda Beckner, Anthony Brandonisio, , Erik Weigel, and Executive Produced by Leslie Urdang and Dean Vanech of Olympus Pictures - the production company behind Rabbit Hole and Beginners. The film is slated for both a national theatrical and VOD release.
Leo plays hopelessly hopeful Fay, mother to Sylvie (Ireland), who, many months after a car accident, continues to complain of back pain. After refusing physical therapy, it becomes clear to everyone but Fay that her daughter is addicted to pain killers. When »
7 items from 2014
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