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8 articles


Dirty Weekend | Review

3 hours ago

Afternoon Delight: Enjoyable, Downplayed Provocation from Labute

Walking into a film called Dirty Weekend knowing it’s directed by Neil Labute, an author known for his pointedly misanthropic views of humanity often criticized for misogynistic tendencies floating around in his glorified explorations of the pathetic trappings of masculinity, one may have certain assumptions. Collaborating once again with actress Alice Eve following the enjoyable 2013 two-hander Some Velvet Morning, Labute concocts another dialogue heavy vehicle once again vaguely informed by titillating possibilities. Surprisingly, it’s potentially his least barbed appraisal of humans behaving badly to date, but ultimately never comes to the sort of money shot we’re expecting. Because of this, it leaves one with an abrupt jolt of being just another exploration of middle-aged malaise seen many times before, even though Labute manages to filter it through a pair of otherwise entertaining characters.

Stepping off the plane from Los Angeles to Albuquerque, »

- Nicholas Bell

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Coming Home | Review

4 hours ago

Things Not Forgotten: Zhimou Returns to Period Tragedy with Middling Results

Chinese auteur Zhang Yimou, known recently for elaborate adventure films like House of Flying Daggers (2004) or Hero (2002) returns to the graceful vein of his earlier character driven classics, like 1991’s Raise the Red Lantern with Coming Home. Based on a novel by Yan Geling, who penned the source material for his last film, the 2011 WWII drama The Flowers of War, starring Christian Bale, theFifth Generation filmmaker isn’t able to attain the same sense of masterful melodrama here, with a scenario that’s sometimes emotionally potent but never quite convincing. Using this particular bout of misery to cast criticism on the aggressively untoward policies of the country’s troubled past, even these political underpinnings seem underutilized with this conservatively administered tale of familial woe.

In early 1970s China, the Cultural Revolution has begun to fade, but perhaps not quickly enough. »

- Nicholas Bell

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Before We Go | Review

5 hours ago

Here We Go Again: Evans’ Nondescript Venture a Familiar Recipe of Whirlwind Romance

Love is not a many splendored thing in actor Chris Evans’ directorial debut, Before We Go, a mediocre two-hander requiring a certain finesse not in evidence either before or in front of the camera, at least enough to believably carry us off into the sunset of illogical romantic inclinations. That’s not to say the film is terrible or even evidence that Evans should quit his day job, but mostly how it unfortunately elicits an overall and achingly constant ‘meh.’ Saddled with one of those vaguely poetic titles reminiscent of a slew of emotionally malleable indie films like Before I Disappear or Away We Go, even though it probably wants to be comparable to Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy, perhaps we shouldn’t be disappointed since the comfortably predictable narrative can’t be accused »

- Nicholas Bell

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Ioncinephile of the Month: Eskil Vogt’s Top Ten Films of All Time List

2 September 2015 12:00 PM, PDT

Have you ever wondered what are the films that inspire the next generation of visionary filmmakers? As part of our monthly Ioncinephile profile, we ask the filmmaker (in this case, Norwegian filmmaker Eskil Vogt) to identify their all time top ten favorite films. Worth noting: this was a last minute request on my part, meaning the Scandi helmer did not have much time to reflect on film history in it’s totality — but Eskil was a great sport and kindly obliged. Vogt’s Blind receives its NYC release on September 4th via the Kim Stim folks and receives its VOD release via Fandor. Here is his top ten as of September 2nd, 2015.

Annie Hall – Woody Allen (1977)

“I almost put Desplechin’s “Ma vie sexuelle” here, but I guess even Desplechin would forgive me for replacing him with this. We are so many filmmakers to admire how Allen seemingly effortlessly gave »

- Eric Lavallee

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Ioncinephile of the Month: Eskil Vogt (Blind)

2 September 2015 11:55 AM, PDT

Ioncinema.com’s Ioncinephile of the Month feature focuses on an emerging filmmaker from the world of cinema. This September, we feature a filmmaker who doesn’t need much of an introduction to the readers of this site. Co-scribe on all of Joachim’s Trier’s films (Reprise,  Oslo, August 31st and Cannes Main Comp selected Louder Than Bombs), Norwegian filmmaker Eskil Vogt sees his debut film, Blind open on Friday September 4th in NYC at the IFC Center and September 11th in L.A. at Cinefamily with Fandor releasing the film on VOD.

Considered among the best undistributed films of 2014, this import received instant acclaim at the back to back fests it premiered at early last year (it won Sundance Ff’s World Cinema Best Screenplay and Berlin Ff’s Label Europa Cinema). Below we discussed how he landed on the project, his writing process and visual strategies he employed. »

- Eric Lavallee

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House of Bamboo | Blu-ray Review

1 September 2015 4:30 PM, PDT

Twilight Time brings Sam Fuller’s exotic 1955 color noir House of Bamboo to Blu-ray, a resplendently colorful film and the first major Us production to film in post-war Japan. While Fuller re-tooled Harry Kleiner’s script for the 1948 film The Street with No Name to meet his own offbeat needs, the film experienced a rather cool reception, garnering praise for Joseph MacDonald’s cinematography (and has since been hailed by sources as some of the best uses of widescreen photography in the history of cinema) but little else. Following on the heels of successful black and white titles like Hell and High Water (1954) and the acclaimed film noir Pickup on South Street (1953), it’s a harder title to classify, featuring Fuller’s usual signature of off-balance touches in a production that now seems ahead of its time (especially compared to something like 1964’s black and white provocation The Naked Kiss »

- Nicholas Bell

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Mad Max: Fury Road | Blu-ray Review

1 September 2015 9:00 AM, PDT

Every so often, and in increasingly rare numbers, a big budget Hollywood extravaganza comes along and negates the crushing conditioned cynicism built into our cinematic receptors. Walking into a franchise reboot of a series that hasn’t received fresh blood in nearly three decades, following a trilogy of films having starred an infamously fallen matinee idol, forecasts were dubious at best for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Premiering out of competition at Cannes just prior to receiving its worldwide premiere, the seventy year old originator of the iconic series defied all expectations to create a beautiful and intense action film, standing as one of the best sequels to arrive in well over a decade. Stuffed with innovative visuals, bloody violence, insanely choreographed car chases and serving a rudimentary feminist allegory coursing through the usual arid bromide of commonly testosterone laced genre, the film is unforgettable testament to the »

- Nicholas Bell

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Navajo Joe | Blu-ray Review

1 September 2015 8:00 AM, PDT

Kino Lorber brings the infamous 1967 Spaghetti western Navajo Joe to Blu-ray, an overlooked gem of the genre that’s long been shadowed by its troubled reputation and the continual disparagement of its lead star, Burt Reynolds. In retrospect, this Italian/Spanish co-production promises to be a bit too politically incorrect to be taken seriously considering the casting of American star Reynolds as a Navajo Indian (he is, in fact, partly of Cherokee descent, though not enough to avoid the necessity of bronzer and a black wig).

It’s hardly the first or last time we’ve seen whitewashed casting of Native Americans (Audrey Hepburn in John Huston’s 1960 western The Unforgiven comes to mind), and to many the casting seems to compromise the integrity of the title. Instantly reviled and dismissed by Reynolds in his second starring role during his transition from television to film, it is, nevertheless, a very »

- Nicholas Bell

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