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8 articles


Life of Crime | Review

7 hours ago

Criminal Intent: Leonard Done Light

What remains most enticing about Daniel Schechter’s Life of Crime is its connection to Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 masterwork, Jackie Brown. While Tarantino adapted Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch, Schechter takes on the earlier work of The Switch, which features the younger version of three key characters from the later novel, here existing in 1978 Detroit. A bit too light to register the same malevolence (though apparently Schechter is more in tune with Leonard’s style than Tarantino), and inanely marketed as a ‘caper comedy,’ Schechter takes a rather familiar premise and turns it into a completely enjoyable, utterly innocuous film. Inbal Weinberg’s production design turns the late 70’s into a glossy postcard of kitsch, not unlike her similar rendering of the 80s in the primped The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which only furthers the film’s highly sanitized feel.

Frank Dawson (Tim Robbins »

- Nicholas Bell

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The Damned | Review

9 hours ago

Damned If You Do: Garcia’s Creepy House Horror a Non-Entity

For some strange reason, IFC Midnight decided to release direct-to-dvd pro Victor Garcia’s latest film, The Damned (originally, and more colorfully titled Gallows Hill) in theaters, even though its questionable quality clearly doesn’t support such conviction. Tiredly cliché and doggedly dull, its existence begs one to inquire, who the hell is the audience for these lifeless films, filled with cheap flourishes and routines so commonplace that you can sleepwalk through its checklist of events?

David (Peter Facinelli), an estranged father attempts to retrieve his daughter Jill (Nathalia Ramos) in Bogota, where she is vacationing with her aunt (Carolina Guerra) and a cameraman (Sebastian Martinez) turned boyfriend. About to be remarried, this time to his fiancée, Lauren (Sophia Myles), there’s vague tension between father and daughter relating to the mysterious death of Jill’s mother. A »

- Nicholas Bell

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Manakamana | Blu-ray Review

26 August 2014 5:00 PM, PDT

Birthed by the brilliant minds at Harvard’s increasingly influential Sensory Ethnography Lab, Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s Manakamana takes in the sights and sounds of the mountainous Nepalese wildness from the bird’s eye view of a sky-bound Austrian engineered cable car that transports Hindu pilgrims and worldly tourists alike to a temple atop the rugged ridge, yet the film does not explain this simple fact. Rather, taking visual cues from the structuralist filmmakers of the 60s and 70s, their 16mm camera sits statically across from various lift passengers on their way to and from the mountain top temple, documenting their 10 minute trip in whole 400 foot reels of film as the lush landscape passes them by like some kind of nostalgic scrolling rear projection effect. In theory, the film sounds like a heady slog of documentary slow cinema, but the resulting two hour feature is a charming bit »

- Jordan M. Smith

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Criterion Collection: Love Streams | Blu-ray Review

26 August 2014 10:10 AM, PDT

John Cassavetes’ magnificent swan song, Love Streams receives the Criterion treatment this month, an addendum to the previously released five-title collection from the auteur. The film was surrounded and conceived amidst its own set of peculiar circumstances, and thus exhibits its own frenetic energy that sets it apart even within Cassavetes’ own oeuvre. After filming commenced, the director famously receiving a diagnosis that he would only live another six months due to cirrhosis of the liver. Unquestionably, this imbued his strange, wonderful, and reverential exploration of love’s complicated facets with a sharp melancholy. An adaptation of Ted Allan’s stage play, the film won the Golden Bear at the 1984 Berlin Film Festival, but wasn’t marketed properly and received a drowned out theatrical release. The film concerns the reunion of an estranged brother and sister, a pop writer Robert Harmon (John Cassavetes) and recent divorcee, Sarah Lawson (Gena Rowlands »

- Nicholas Bell

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On the Beach | Blu-Ray Review

26 August 2014 9:35 AM, PDT

Within the well intentioned lexicon of Stanley Kramer’s filmography, his 1959 title, On the Beach remains the most prescient, a post-apocalyptic science fiction filmed steeped in light melodrama. Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Score (Ernest Gold) and a pair of Oscar nominations, nuclear fallout after the deployment of mankind’s deadliest war time weapons has rendered mankind obsolete with the exception of the inhabitants of Australia and the crew of the U.S. submarine Sawfish, guided by Captain Dwight Towers (Gregory Peck). An Sos signal in San Francisco leads Towers out with a crew to determine if the radioactivity has abated, but there’s no such luck. Worse, the radiation cloud will soon reach Australia’s shores, leaving the last remnants of humanity little time to grapple with the encroaching end.

As the last remaining humans navigate their remaining days of existence in Australia, paralyzed by »

- Nicholas Bell

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Go For Sisters | DVD Review

26 August 2014 8:00 AM, PDT

John Sayles’ latest film, Go For Sisters, receives an unceremonious DVD release from Freestyle Digital Media. While it snagged Yolonda Ross a supporting Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards after a muted theatrical release, it seems there will be less ado championing the home viewing release. Denied a Blu-ray option, Edward James Olmos still takes top billing even though the film belongs to actresses Ross and LisaGay Hamilton. Despite the continuation of this maligned marketing, with a little luck, Sayles’ best film in years will hopefully reach the broader audience it deserves.

An independent filmmaker who has been directing films without studio backing since 1979, infamously securing financing through penning genre screenplays (Piranha; Alligator). As such, one can often look forward to the offbeat flavor of his work, a true master of developing the unexpected in relationships between people, often crafted against delirious narratives that are sometimes labyrinthine in scope and »

- Nicholas Bell

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Interview: Carter Smith – Jamie Marks is Dead

25 August 2014 11:00 AM, PDT

At the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, we sat down with director Carter Smith to discuss his new film, Jamie Marks is Dead, which played in competition. Known for his well received 2006 short film Bugcrush and his 2008 feature debut, The Ruins, the director touches upon how he wanted to make a film that transcends simple definition by not adhering specifically to any particular rules of genre or theme. A coming of age story about loneliness and identity, it’s a story about friendships that shape convictions and values. Part ghost story, part coming out drama, part teenage angst, Smith also discusses how Jamie Marks isn’t a simple film to classify or justify as intended for one audience in particular. We also touch on casting (worth noting is the impressive group of young players in Cameron Monaghan, Noah Silver, Morgan Saylor, Madisen Beaty), inspirations, and the difficulties of getting projects made, and »

- Nicholas Bell

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The Last of Robin Hood | Review

25 August 2014 8:00 AM, PDT

Beverly Center: Flynn’s Final Scandal Makes for Interesting Cinematic Footnote

It’s been eight years since Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s 2006 sophomore film, Quinceanera swept up the Audience and Grand Jury Prize awards at the Sundance Film Festival. The directing duo is back with a re-ignition of an old Hollywood scandal in The Last of Robin Hood, a glance at the final years of Errol Flynn and his romantic entanglement with a female minor. While the material is unerringly fascinating and features a trio of notable names, it’s a rendition that feels a bit too polished and hardly as seedy as it should be. It seems attempts have been made to assuage unnecessary heartache to the relatives of the ingénue at the center of this strange ménage-a-trois, and the resulting film seems a heavily polished reenactment too apprehensive to really get its hands dirty. Yet, the »

- Nicholas Bell

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