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13 articles


The Kindergarten Teacher | Review

31 July 2015 1:35 PM, PDT

Dangerous Minds: Lapid’s Sophomore Film a Bizarre, Engrossing Character Study

Repressed desires find an unexpected outlet in Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s sophomore film, The Kindergarten Teacher, a sometimes mystifying character study. The director’s 2011 debut, Policeman, was a topical glance at social unrest in Israel and took three years before it saw a theatrical release in the Us, nearly a month after his second title saw a premiere outside of competition in the 2014 Cannes Critics’ Week. Lapid once again conveys a knack for presenting us with unsettling behavior, this time around with such gradual displacement we feel uncomfortably complicit in our close observation of what plays out like a tranquil psychotic break. Intimate and at times quite pointedly critical as concerns the lavish worship and inaccurate interpretation of artistic intention, Lapid continues to assert an idiosyncratic perspective as offbeat as it is potentially off-putting.

Nira (Sarit Larry »

- Nicholas Bell

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Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation | Review

30 July 2015 10:00 AM, PDT

This Time, It’s Rogue: Cruise Continues Singing It Forever Just Because

Arriving nearly four years after the highly celebrated and significantly lauded fourth Mission Impossible installment, 2011’s Brad Bird directed Ghost Protocol, Tom Cruise and company are back, perhaps nervously expecting to pale in comparison to what remains a difficult act to follow. Though an element of surprise is lacking, it’s safe to say Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is an energetic action comedy manufactured with the utmost attention to detail in its remarkable action sequences. Helmed by favored Tom Cruise scribe Christopher McQuarrie (who wrote Valkyrie, Edge of Tomorrow, directed Jack Reacher, and did uncredited revisions on the last Mi film), the whole endeavor feels like a snug outfit for its headlining celebrity.

Considering he first donned the Ethan Hunt persona almost twenty years ago in Brian De Palma’s 1996 outing, he remains an impressive bundle of action star energy, »

- Nicholas Bell

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Counting | Review

30 July 2015 9:30 AM, PDT

Overheard Yet Alive: Cohen Continues Poetic Pursuit of Travel

Jem Cohen invites us once again on a lackadaisical travelogue through cityscapes and unkempt streets, through museums and graveyards the world over. Rather than settling into a single city and involving us with charactorial allure as he did to striking effect in 2012’s Museum Hours, with Counting, the New York City-based filmmaker is content to document his travels over the course of the last few years from his home base to the Moscow, London, Istanbul and beyond, taking stock of the world’s increasing technological homogenization. Noting the quirky singularities of each of his chosen locales, cataloging each with episodic numerical reference points like a deck of cards shuffled together with the grace of a studied magician, casually precise, this is worth the full coach fare.

Unlike the late Chris Marker (whom the last chapters of the film are dedicated »

- Jordan M. Smith

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Jenny’s Wedding | Review

30 July 2015 9:00 AM, PDT

Portrait of Jenny: Heigl’s Performance Buoys Social Issue Context

There are several aspects to admire in Mary Agnes Donoghue’s sophomore directorial effort, Jenny’s Wedding, her first foray into directing since the 1991 Melanie Griffith film, Paradise. It’s most improbable facets are actually its assets, namely a warm central performance from Katherine Heigl as a lesbian who comes out to her wanly conservative nuclear family by announcing her marriage. A film such as this one could’ve had the opportunity to make an indelible mark on the American indie landscape had it been released seven to ten years prior, when the United States was coming out from underneath the shadows of the Bush Regime and the Lgbt community was in dire need of positive cinematic depictions meant to inspire hope in the eventuality of equality from the likes of trending, A-list actors at their peak.

Though this filmed »

- Nicholas Bell

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2015 Venice Film Festival: Guadagnino, Sokurov, Kaufman, Bellocchio & Fukunaga Compete for Golden Lion

29 July 2015 4:35 PM, PDT

With the exception of Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation and Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl, the nineteen other films in Venice Film Festival’s contention for the Golden Lion won’t be mentioned during awards season, but who cares when you have the likes of Aleksander Sokurov, Luca Guadagnino and Marco Bellocchio in the line-up. Not unlike previous years, the 2015 edition has a good numbers of films from Italy and the U.S., with several France co-productions littered throughout and the addition of fresh faces with first time works from composer Piero Messina and artist/musician Laurie Anderson.

While non comp offerings in the shape of Scott Cooper’s Black Mass and Thomas McCarthy’s Spotlight are sure to receive a fair amount of trade news attention it’s the docus that are especially rich this year: Frederick Wiseman is joined by Sergei Loznitsa makes back to »

- Eric Lavallee

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2015 Venice Film Festival: Orizzonti Comp & Biennale College via Sala Web

29 July 2015 12:30 PM, PDT

Coinciding with the announcement of the Orizzonti Comp selections, we’re pleased to announce that Ioncinema.com will once again be partnering in bringing the Lido to your doorstep. The 4th edition of Biennale’s Sala Web basically streams selected titles from both the Biennale College and Orizzonti sections. We’ll have an overview of the selected films next month. Here’s the press release:

Following three successful years incorporating an online screening experience to the regular programming of the Venice Film Festival, the Biennale has announced that its innovative Sala Web initiative will return this year for the 72nd edition of the Mostra, in collaboration with Festival Scope, the online platform for film professionals.

Sala Web will serve as a parallel online showcase for films officially selected at the Orizzonti Competition and Biennale College. These films will be available for streaming during a full 5 days, on the same day »

- Eric Lavallee

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2015 Venice Film Fest: Corbet, Mahaffy, Saada & Lindholm Preeming in Horizons Section

29 July 2015 11:35 AM, PDT

Back to back mid-summer Xmas mornings with the rollout of major premiere titles at Tiff and now the full line-up for Venice means we’re now carefully dissecting the numerous films announced with our first focus going down the list at the treasure trove of items in the Horizons Section, otherwise known as Orizzonti. Names that pop out of the group of eighteen include Danish helmer Tobias Lindholm‘s heavily anticipated third feature film, A War. Re-teaming with actor Pilou Asbæk in just as many outings, R (2010) and A Hijacking (2012) are part of his already stacked early filmography, this is about a solider stationed in Afghanistan and finds himself caught in a catch-22 type of situation.

Another highly anticipated film (our Nicholas Bell slotted it at #33) which posits a person in a life or death type of situation is Nicolas Saada‘s sophomore film. Based on true horrific events, set »

- Eric Lavallee

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Prime Cut | Blu-ray Review

28 July 2015 6:00 PM, PDT

Lovers of odd and neglected vintage cinema can rejoice in the repackaging of Michael Ritchie’s weird sophomore title, Prime Cut. With all the menace of a Dick Francis novel and a perverse comedic streak akin to the tastes of John Waters, this misbegotten feature hasn’t received the notable following it deserves for one glaring reason—it’s increasingly warped treatment of women, which may have seemed enlightened for the period, but eventually only adds to the problematic misogyny that never abates. As far as its handling of more sensational, exploitational elements, Ritchie and screenwriter Robert Dillon manage to smooth its edges with breakneck pacing, sarcastic repartee, and a handful of impressively orchestrated face-offs.

The head of the Irish mob in Chicago hires Nick Devlin (Lee Marvin), an enforcer, to travel to Kansas City and collect money he’s owed by Mary Ann (Gene Hackman), the man who runs »

- Nicholas Bell

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Phoenix | Review

28 July 2015 9:30 AM, PDT

Return From the Ashes: Petzold’s Compelling Resurrection of WWII Aftermath

At the head of the cinematic movement referred to as the Berlin School of filmmaking is auteur Christian Petzold, an internationally renowned artist whose works have met with increasing critical success and notable visibility. Usually utilizing the talents of his frequent collaborator, German beauty Nina Hoss, the duo has returned with Phoenix, their follow-up to the celebrated 2012 title, Barbara, where it snagged a Best Actress award at the Berlin Film Festival.

While that film examined a predicament in early 80’s East Berlin, Petzold reaches farther back into the troubled tumultuousness of Germany history with his latest feature, set shortly after the end of WWII. The surviving members of Germany’s populace are forced to contend with restructuring via the help of outside military sources, as well as dealing with the returning survivors of the concentration camps. Like most of Petzold’s films, »

- Nicholas Bell

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3 Hearts | Blu-ray Review

28 July 2015 9:00 AM, PDT

Premiering at the 2014 Venice Film Festival with little fanfare, and received a limited theatrical release in March, 2015 in the Us, Benoit Jacquot’s latest somehow feels as if its been neglected. Despite its high pedigree cast, including names familiar to the American public, like Charlotte Gainsbourg and Catherine Deneuve, it didn’t receive much attention, though will assuredly be the type of sought after gem for fans of either the director or the cast member in decades overcoming its initial frostiness.

The follow-up to his most internationally renowned title to date, Farewell, My Queen, Jacquot’s underwhelming love story uses a contrivance often seen in romantic comedies, only he replaces the comedy with a somber indifference that seems to work against the believability of the film.

3 Hearts seems as if it belongs to an earlier era of filmmaking, a time where repressed feelings would roil just beneath the surface until »

- Nicholas Bell

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Cemetery Without Crosses | Blu-ray Review

28 July 2015 8:00 AM, PDT

Filmed during the height of the Euro Western craze of the late 60’s, Robert Hossein’s Cemetery Without Crosses is an obscure gem rejuvenated by Arrow Video. A French production, the title was actor/director Hossein’s first Western, obviously influenced by Sergio Leone, whom the film is dedicated to (Leone was in the midst of production on Once Upon a Time in the West when Hossein was underway with his feature). A simplistic and familiar narrative is enhanced by its inspired set designs and notable production value, featuring a winning score. Existing on the bleak end of the Spaghetti Western spectrum (or perhaps more aptly the ‘Baguette Western,” an Alex Cox coined term Ginette Vincendeau discusses in an included insert essay), it’s an entertaining bit of style over substance, and is an uncommon French entry in otherwise familiar climate. However, as much as Hossein pays homage to Leone, »

- Nicholas Bell

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King of the Gypsies | Blu-ray Review

28 July 2015 7:00 AM, PDT

A forgotten gem of the late 1970s comes to Blu-ray for the first time, Frank Pierson’s adaptation of the novel King of the Gypsies. Notable for several reasons, namely as the credited debut for actor Eric Roberts and a star studded cast packed to distraction, this is the kind of pulp oddity often whisked off the shelves of the bestseller list for glossy cinematic reinterpretation. This gypsy saga was based on a novel by Peter Maas, better known as the biographer of Serpico, which resulted in the novel inspiring Sidney Lumet’s classic 1973 film starring Al Pacino. Eventually, Maas’ works, often revolving around sensational true crime treatments, would be adapted mainly for television (including the 1991 Valerie Bertinelli Lifetime film, In a Child’s Name), and this sometimes outlandish antique feels like an exaggerated heirloom in the Harold Robbins’ vein (The Carpetbaggers; The Betsy; The Adventurers), a frumpy comparison »

- Nicholas Bell

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112 Weddings | DVD Review

28 July 2015 6:30 AM, PDT

Premiering at the Full Frame Film Festival in 2014 with stops at notable docu-geared fests such as HotDocs, Sheffield, Traverse and Cph:dox, 112 Weddings would see Doug Block make the rare choice to skip over a U.S. theatrical release and favor a stateside release during the wedding season friendly month of June via HBO.

Over the years, Block has proven himself to be an astute chronicler of the interpersonal, a filmmaker interested in the emotional impact of human relationships and the distinct difference between their public and private implications. Both his personal account of his own parents’ complex relationship in 51 Birch Street and the multilayered look at how child/parent relationships transform over time in The Kids Grow Up perfectly exemplify Block’s fascination with the topic, and his supplemental work as a wedding videographer proves to be yet another avenue for investigation within. Two decades ago, Block decided to start »

- Jordan M. Smith

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