12 items from 2015
All has been fairly quiet on the pestering front for Michael Moore since “Capitalism: A Love Story,” his glum 2009 assessment of the greed-is-good culture that spawned the global financial crisis. But now this impassioned and unruly provocateur returns to further dismantle the myth of American supremacy with renewed optimism and sharpened comic instincts in “Where to Invade Next,” an impishly entertaining, career-summarizing polemic bent on demonstrating how other countries around the world — with their happy workers, superior schools, humane prisons, healthy sexual attitudes and fully empowered women — are putting U.S. progress to shame. This may be drive-by tourism on a highly selective, flattering and downright gluttonous scale, but there’s something undeniably sharp and buoyant about Moore’s globe-trotting, grass-is-greener approach that compels indulgence and attention. It may not win over his detractors, who are and remain legion, but with careful election-season targeting by a shrewd distributor, he might »
- Justin Chang
Sometimes you have to take the bull by the tail — which applies just as much to director Gabriel Mascaro’s seemingly backward approach to “Neon Bull” as it does to the bizarre Brazilian rodeo scene the film depicts, in which experienced riders do exactly that, flanking cattle from both sides and tugging them to the ground from behind. A time-honored tradition in the Brazilian northeast, “vaquejada” is arguably the region’s most macho sport (women aren’t allowed to participate), which makes Mascaro’s strategy of slyly challenging gender roles within this realm all the more intriguing. Premiering in Venice a mere year after his sultry, Locarno-launched “August Winds” marked him a talent to watch, “Neon Bull” similarly exudes hormones from every pore, sure to seduce many a festival with the helmer’s gift for frank sexuality and unforgettable imagery.
- Peter Debruge
Splendid form doesn’t necessarily mean equally noteworthy function: When film school professors screen the works of Leni Riefenstahl and D.W. Griffith, it’s for the craftsmanship and not for the messaging. It’s up to history whether or not future students categorize “No Escape” alongside the work of those earlier auteurs, but it’s fair to say that this new movie combines genuine filmmaking skill and effective action editing with a queasily racist subtext, one in which a bloody revolution in Asia only matters insofar as some white people might get killed. You may recall “The Impossible,” the recent tsunami movie in which the. »
- Alonso Duralde
Continued from this article
Part I. Denazifying Leni
After World War II, Leni Riefenstahl couldn’t escape the Fuhrer’s shadow. Arrested first by American, then French troops, her property and money seized, she endured interrogations about her ties to the regime. Riefenstahl argued she’d been coerced into making propaganda and wasn’t aware of Nazi atrocities. The image stuck: three denazification tribunals acquitted her (one cautiously branding her a “fellow traveler”), and Riefenstahl began the road to rehabilitation.
More diligent investigators challenged her self-portrait. In 1946, American journalist Budd Schulberg interviewed Riefenstahl for the Saturday Evening Post. Riefenstahl claimed she didn’t know about Nazi concentration camps. Later, asked why she made Triumph of the Will, Riefenstahl claimed Joseph Goebbels threatened her with a concentration camp. Disgusted with Riefenstahl’s self-serving contradictions, Schulberg labeled her a “Nazi Pin-Up Girl.”
Then the German tabloid Revue published a damning article in »
- Christopher Saunders
Part I. A Filmmaker’s Apotheosis
April 20th, 1938 marked Adolf Hitler’s 49th birthday. In the past five years, he’d rebuilt Germany from destitute anarchy into a burgeoning war machine, repudiated the Versailles Treaty and, that March, incorporated Austria into his Thousand-Year Reich. In Nazi Germany, fantasy co-mingled with ideology, expressing an obsession with Germany’s mythical past through propaganda and art. Fittingly, Hitler celebrated at the Ufa-Palast am Zoo in Berlin, Germany’s most prestigious cinema.
There, Nazi officials and foreign diplomats joined dignitaries of German kultur. Present were Wilhelm Furtwangler, conductor of Berlin’s Philharmonic Orchestra; Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect and confidante; actor Gustaf Grundgens, transformed from Brechtian Bolshevik to director of Prussia’s State Theater; and movie star Emil Jannings, Oscar-winner of The Lost Command and The Blue Angel, now an Artist of the State. Also Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, who nationalized German cinema in »
- Christopher Saunders
A conversation with Marah Strauch on Carl Boenish turned to John Frankenheimer's The Gypsy Moths, starring Deborah Kerr, Burt Lancaster and Gene Hackman, German mountain films by Arnold Fanck with Luis Trenker and Leni Riefenstahl, Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo and Les Blank's Burden Of Dreams with a touch of Caspar David Friedrich and a beam of Donovan's Sunshine Superman.
The Sunshine Superman here is Carl Boenish, the founder of Base jumping. Breathtaking aerial footage shot by Boenish and his colleagues accompanies a glimpse into the development of the extreme sport, always close to the edge, head in the clouds. It is a film filled with light and air with a refreshing lack of cynicism. Director Strauch in interviews with Boenish's wife Jean explores how the private man, the scholar of Christian Science and the »
- Anne-Katrin Titze
German Concentration Camps Factual Survey
Directed by Sidney Bernstein
An official documentary about German atrocities and the concentration camps compiled with footage shot by combat and newsreel cameramen accompanying troops as they liberated occupied Europe
Last year, Night Will Fall was released. Directed by André Singer, it documented the making of the film German Concentration Camps Factual Survey. While Night Will Fall looks back at the collection, editing and history of the footage, this is the film itself, as it was intended to be seen. Produced by Sidney Bernstein, Gccfs was intended to be screened in Germany after World War II to ensure the atrocities committed, in their name, was never forgotten. Though the vast majority of the film was completed (five out of six reels edited, narration scripted, etc) it was decided that, »
- Simon Columb
In the new La Furia Umana: a symposium on the future of cinema plus articles on Harun Farocki, Jerry Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice. The new Brooklyn Rail features pieces on Tsai Ming-liang's Rebels of the Neon God and J.P. Sniadecki's The Iron Ministry, exhibitions of work by Michael Snow and cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa and an interview with John Giorno. Also today: With Mad Max: Fury Road opening next month, a Ballardian primer to the Mad Max Universe; Jonathan Rosenbaum on Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Aleksandr Dovzhenko and Leni Riefenstahl; Robert Greene on Steve James's Hoop Dreams and Michael Powell's Peeping Tom; and lots more. » - David Hudson »
February 28, 2015
Millennium Film Workshop
119 Ingraham St., Suite 126
Brooklyn, NY 11237
(Entrance on Porter St. at Johnson St.)
Jerry Tartaglia will be in person at the Millennium Film Workshop to screen selected work from his lengthy film career, including a special live performance of his expanded cinema project The Projectionist.
Tartaglia is a pioneer of Queer Identity cinema and this program will include some of his pioneering earlier work, such as Ecce Homo (1989), a meditation on watching queer sex; and 1969 (1991), a personal — and perhaps unreliable — remembrance.
Other films screening include a 16mm projection of The Mystery School, which is crafted from educational films; and A Short History of the Future, which reconstructs Das Blaue Licht (1933) by Leni Riefenstahl.
- Mike Everleth
35 Cows and a Kalishnokov
What is the bond between a tribe of Ethiopian cattle farmers, dandy gentlemen parading themselves on Brazzaville streets, and the Kinshasan fetish wrestlers who appear in 35 Cows and a Kalishnokov in the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam’s (Idfa) competition this year? To propose a documentary about such a bond, an act of synthesis would be necessary, one which first deconstructs the rites and peoples exhibited, creating a web of meaning that would link the rituals.
Or, as in 35 Cows and a Kalishnokov, one could make a purely aesthetic film whose theoretical basis is but a shared continent, exotic landscapes and black skin. What director Oswold von Richthofen’s documentary offers up to its (inevitably) Western viewers is an image of Africa that is all color and form—rippling musculature, exotic hues, pierced faces, wild cries—regurgitating as always the same Western myth of Africa, a »
- Yaron Dahan
Though the lid was blown off the Church of Scientology long ago, Alex Gibney’s powder-keg documentary, “Going Clear,” should certainly rattle the walls, if not shake them to their very foundations. Gibney had an excellent blueprint to work from in Lawrence Wright’s exhaustively researched 2013 nonfiction bestseller (from which the film takes its title), but he’s also added much fascinating material here, including new interviews and proprietary Scientology video footage that has to be seen to be disbelieved. A hot ticket at Sundance, “Going Clear” should have no trouble maintaining its must-see buzz through its HBO premiere in March and beyond.
The prolific Gibney (“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God”) excels at untangling complex systems and institutions, and at showing us the human faces behind scandal-making headlines. Unsurprisingly, “Going Clear” is weighted toward candid, impassioned interviews with ex-Scientologists »
- Scott Foundas
By Alex Simon
1. Terrific film, period.
2. Eastwood, like all great filmmakers, takes no specific side in the telling of his story. He simply presents it, and then lets the audience draw their own conclusion.
3. It’s a litmus test movie. This means, if you’re basically an anti-war, peace-loving dove type (my camp), you’ll see it as anti-war. If you’re a bumper sticker thinking simpleton on either extreme of the sociopolitical fence, you’ll view it as “a jingoistic, pro-war, anti-Iraqi, neo-Fascist propaganda film that Leni Riefenstahl would have been proud to call her own,” or…”Yee-ha! Just like playin’ fuckin’ Call Of Duty: Mission Iraq, bubba! Let’s get our .306s together and go kill some ragheads for reals! Oh yeah, and that Lanny Reefenbacher chick woulda had a kitten over this shit. It’s awesome!”
4. Bradley Cooper gives the performance of his career, truly inhabiting the »
- The Hollywood Interview.com
12 items from 2015
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