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Review: ‘Jane’ is a Breathtaking Documentary that Serves as a Cautionary Tale

4 hours ago

Even though now it’s almost impossible to think of a world in which Jane Goodall isn’t the preeminent primatologist, her notorious career could’ve been thwarted due to sexism. As a 27-year-old secretary with no college education, she “struck gold” when paleontologist Louis Leakey chose her to conduct research on chimpanzees in Tanzania. Leakey was looking for a fresh mind, unbiased by scientific knowledge, and Jane happened to be at the right place at the right time. More than five decades have passed since Goodall left for Africa and revolutionized the study of primates, and while her astonishing career and scientific breakthroughs are rightfully celebrated in Brett Morgen’s documentary Jane, more than being a standard biographical doc, the film serves as a cautionary tale against the perils of male chauvinism.

Early in the film we learn from Jane that growing up she used to dream as a man, »

- Jose Solís

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Busan Review: ‘The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful’ is a Sumptuous, Entertaining Taiwanese Thriller

4 hours ago

Being the biggest of its kind in Asia, the Busan International Film Festival offers an excellent showcase for emerging talents from the vast and vastly varied continent. Premiering in the regionally focused section “A Window on Asian Cinema”, the alluring, densely-packed dramatic thriller The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful makes a case for genre filmmaking in Taiwan, a country audiences worldwide probably associate with the lyrical, contemplative imagery of Hou Hsiao-hsien or Tsai Ming-liang . Thanks in no small part to a sizzling female ensemble (actressexuals: take note), director Ya-che Yang’s third feature shows a snappier side of the island and thoroughly entertains.

Set in the indeterminate past in the tropical metropolis Kaohsiung, the story centers around Madame Tang (Kara Hui) – who ostensibly runs an antiques dealership but mainly acts as a go-between for dirty businessmen and crooked politicians – and her two daughters Ning (Ke-Xi Wu) and Chen »

- Zhuo-Ning Su

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Review: ‘American Satan’ is a Nightmare of Sex, Drugs, and Heavy Metal

4 hours ago

American Satan is the kind of film that might very well pop up as an Alamo Drafthouse Weird Wednesday screening in the coming years. It’s a shame its distributor will probably not strike a 35mm print for the occasion. The film is a maddening hyper-nightmare of smoke, hypodermic needles, and hard rock that somehow is far more endearing than it ought to be, with a cast led by musician Andy Biersack as Johnny Faust, a recent high school graduate from Columbus, Ohio who lands in La seeking fame and fortune. Johnny and Vic (Booboo Stewart) fortunately have a plan: they hook up with UK-based group The Relentless — who’ve also come out to La seeking fame with manager Ricky (John Bradley) — and add a sexy rebel Cassandra (Tori Black) to the group. Pure talent isn’t enough as Johnny learns the hard way and soon the group finds themselves »

- John Fink

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Busan Review: ‘Love Education’ is an Earnest, Warm Multi-Generational Drama

21 October 2017 11:41 AM, PDT

Death is literally the beginning in the cross-generational relationship drama Love Education, which closes the 2017 Busan International Film Festival today. In depicting a quintessentially Chinese family dispute about burial sites that sets free unspoken sorrows building across half a century, it reveals how the idea and expression of love have evolved in a vastly changed Middle Kingdom.

The movie opens with an aged lady on her dying bed. As per the long-standing tradition of cinematic romanticism, the last flashes of consciousness play out in a dreamy, amorous sequence of remembered bliss with her white-haired beau. Somewhat more surprisingly, no profound parting words seem to come out of her trembling mouth when daughter Huiying (Sylvia Chang), son-in-law Xiaoping (Zhuangzhuang Tian) and granddaughter Weiwei (Yueting Lang) gather around to send grandma off in a moment of heightened sentimentality.

This initially insignificant detail proves to be a source of intrigue later on. Because, »

- Zhuo-Ning Su

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‘Bpm (Beats Per Minute)’ Director and Stars on Sex, Realism, and the Fluidity of Cinema

21 October 2017 11:17 AM, PDT

Act up! Fight back! Fight AIDS!

You don’t hear the United States branch of Act Up’s (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) famous slogan in Robin Campillo’s Bpm (Beats Per Minute), but its ethos courses through the film’s powerful love story.

Campillo spent his late twenties debating, organizing, and protesting as a member of Act Up Paris. A quarter of a century later he’s telling a fictionalized account of their story. Bpm won the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival in May and swept through the New York Film Festival earlier this month, receiving standing ovations at both screenings.

The film, which is France’s Oscar entry, excels at rooting history in a relatable love story between Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart), a firebrand Act Up activist living with the virus and Nathan (Arnaud Valois), a latecomer to the movement who ignored the plague throughout the 1980s. »

- The Film Stage

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Full Synopsis Unveiled for Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Phantom Thread’

20 October 2017 6:39 PM, PDT

We’re only about two months away from the release of a new Paul Thomas Anderson film, one which carries the added significance of featuring the final performance from Daniel Day-Lewis. After having recently confirmed its long-rumored title of Phantom Thread, the first trailer — which clocks in at two minutes and sixteen seconds — is just around the corner, and now we have the full synopsis.

While it affirms the previously reported setting of 1950s London, the new details reveal Day-Lewis’ character name of Reynolds Woodcock, who designs fashion for upper-class British citizens under his label of The House of Woodcock. (Amazing.) Also revealed is Lesley Manville’s character of Cyril, his sister, and Vicky Krieps’ Alma, his muse and lover (which seems to give credence to the rumors that PTA’s latest is akin to the idea of Mike Leigh directing Fifty Shades of Grey). Hopefully more — but not much »

- Jordan Raup

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NYC Weekend Watch: Giallo, ‘The Sacrifice,’ ‘The Last of the Mohicans,’ Monty Python & More

20 October 2017 5:55 AM, PDT

Since any New York City cinephile has a nearly suffocating wealth of theatrical options, we figured it’d be best to compile some of the more worthwhile repertory showings into one handy list. Displayed below are a few of the city’s most reliable theaters and links to screenings of their weekend offerings — films you’re not likely to see in a theater again anytime soon, and many of which are, also, on 35mm. If you have a chance to attend any of these, we’re of the mind that it’s time extremely well-spent.


Philippe Garrel, Giallo, Stephen King, and Nanni Moretti — it’s almost too much cinema.

Film Society of Lincoln Center

A new restoration of The Sacrifice begins its run.

Museum of the Moving Image

“Inspiring Wonderstruck” continues while a series devoted to The Last of the Mohicans gets underway.

Quad Cinema

Monty Python films (and »

- Nick Newman

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New to Streaming: ‘The Untamed,’ Jean-Luc Godard, ‘Whose Streets?,’ and More

20 October 2017 5:14 AM, PDT

With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit platforms. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below.

Cinema Through the Eye of Magnum (Sophie Bassaler)

When one conjures iconic memories from cinema history, they might be of your favorite shot or sequence, but my mind often travels to behind-the-scenes photos featuring director, cast, crew, and beyond. These photographs often have a unifying connection: they come from Magnum Photos. Since 1947, the photographic cooperative — founded by such iconic names as Robert Capa amd Henri Cartier-Bresson — has been responsible »

- Jordan Raup

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Review: ‘The Snowman’ is a Fractured Mess Absent of Suspense and Substance

19 October 2017 3:28 PM, PDT

The biggest mystery within Tomas Alfredson’s The Snowman concerns its own creation. How exactly did a movie like this get made by the people involved? It’s not a rhetorical question. If anyone reading knows something more than has been reported, please reply in the comments.

Starring Michael Fassbender as Detective Harry Hole, this yarn (from the novel of the same name by Jo Nesbø) concerns a serial killer with a penchant for making… well you know… and butchering women of a certain sort. Rebecca Ferguson serves as Hole’s colleague in a performance that feels so brutally fractured by whatever happened in the editing process that it demands an explanation.

The action is set in Norway, with flashbacks (starring a badly re-recorded Val Kilmer) meant to connect certain motivations to the present day. Like most of the film, it doesn’t really work. The central mystery never feels »

- Dan Mecca

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Margot Robbie Hits the Ice in First Teaser for ‘I, Tonya’

19 October 2017 8:07 AM, PDT

While a good amount of films come to the fall festival season with distribution and a release date already in tow, there’s the chance some could ignite such acclaim that they pick up both in a matter of days or weeks and we see them sooner than imagined. This was the case for Craig Gillespie’s Tonya Harding biopic I, Tonya, starring Margot Robbie and Allison Janney. Picked up by Neon following Tiff, it’s already been set for a December 8 release, and following some Gotham Award nominations this morning, the first teaser trailer has landed.

“Having proven time and time again that she is more than worthy and capable of supporting a feature on her own. I, Tonya (finally) grants Margot Robbie the opportunity to delve headfirst into a role that not only offers top billing, but showcases the emotional complexity and riotous charisma we all know she »

- Jordan Raup

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‘Get Out,’ ‘Call Me by Your Name,’ ‘Lady Bird,’ ‘The Florida Project’ & More Lead 2017 Gotham Award Nominations

19 October 2017 7:34 AM, PDT

Despite the insanity of announcing year-end award nominations with still well over two months to go in 2017, we have to give it to the annual Ifp Gotham Awards for being more on-point than most trophy ceremonies this season.

They’ve now unveiled the nominations for their 27th edition and leading the pack is Jordan Peele’s social thriller Get Out. Also among the stellar group of Best Feature nominations are Call Me by Your Name, The Florida Project, I, Tonya, and Good Time.

Check out the full list of nominations below, including Columbus, Ex Libris, Rat Film, Lady Bird, Marjorie Prime, and more of the best films of the year. If The Academy takes just a few notes from this group come next year, we’ll be mightily pleased.

Best Feature

Call Me by Your Name

The Florida Project

Get Out

Good Time

I, Tonya

Best Documentary

Ex Libris – The »

- Jordan Raup

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Review: ‘Only the Brave’ Depicts Tragedy with Realistic Bravado

19 October 2017 6:21 AM, PDT

The word hero seems to be mentioned a great deal in this age of the 24-hour news cycle, but the members of the Granite Mountain “Hotshots” genuinely deserve to be known as such. They were the best at what they did. This bunch of regular, but courageous firefighters were more than just co-workers: they were a brotherhood that continuously risked their lives trying to contain fast-spreading wildfires. As part of the Prescott Fire Fepartment, which consisted of 92 career personnel, split among five fire stations, this municipal team of “hotshots” — which, in firefighting terms, means the cream of the crop — were the elites of their profession.

Containment is what these brave men and women have as a goal whenever a fire spreads. As a character in the film would say, they are “fighting fire with fire.” This happens with the creation of a fireline, which is accomplished by doing a controlled »

- The Film Stage

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‘Princess Cyd’ Trailer: Meet One of 2017’s Most Beautiful Films

18 October 2017 3:14 PM, PDT

There are few directors working today that love their characters more than Stephen Cone. After reaching a wider audience with one of 2015’s best films, Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party, he’s returning this year with Princess Cyd. Following a 16-year-old’s summer in Chicago, where she clashes and connects with her aunt and learns more about her own sexuality and faith, the first trailer has landed. Also, if you’re in NYC and have yet to see Cone’s film, a retrospective will be held at the Museum of Moving Image from November 3-12.

In a rare A-grade review for Princess Cyd, we said, “Watching his films, one gets a sense that he doesn’t use the medium simply to tell stories but to exercise his curiosity and discover the things that make us human. In the hands of another filmmaker, Princess Cyd‘s two leads would’ve been »

- Jordan Raup

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Peer Through Cinema History with New Documentary on Magnum Photos

18 October 2017 11:57 AM, PDT

When one conjures iconic memories from cinema history, they might be of your favorite shot or sequence, but my mind often travels to behind-the-scenes photos featuring director, cast, crew, and beyond.

These photographs often have a unifying connection: they come from Magnum Photos. Since 1947, the photographic cooperative — founded by such iconic names as Robert Capa amd Henri Cartier-Bresson — has been responsible for legendary images and now they deservedly are the subject of a documentary.

Directed by Sophie Bassaler, Cinema Through the Eye of Magnum, premiered at Telluride last month and will be debut on FilmStruck this Friday. Along the documentary, they will also be streaming a selection of short films each featuring a different photographer, as well as The Misfits and Voyage to Italy, both featured in the film.

We’re pleased to exclusively debut a clip from the documentary, along with a gallery of Magnum images, which can be seen below. »

- Jordan Raup

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Louis C.K. Invites Controversy in First Trailer for ‘I Love You, Daddy’

18 October 2017 8:25 AM, PDT

Marking Louis C.K.’s first feature film in 16 years — since his rather infamous Pootie Tang — I Love You, Daddy was filmed under the radar and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last month. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Pamela Adlon, John Malkovich, Rose Byrne, Charlie Day, and Helen Hunt, the story finds C.K. — no stranger to courting controversy — depicting a relationship with a 17-year-old and a 68-year-old filmmaker. Ahead of a release next month, the first trailer has now arrived.

“C.K. has proven to be one of TV’s best directors with Louie and Horace and Pete, but his adept camera work is absent here. Worse is the total absence of one of his greatest strengths: his willingness to use silence at length for both dramatic and comedic heft,” we said in our review. “Nothing here feels motivated; the movie uses a big orchestral score because the old movies did, »

- Jordan Raup

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Recommended New Books on Filmmaking: ‘Dunkirk,’ Stan Brakhage, ‘Valerian,’ and More

18 October 2017 5:43 AM, PDT

It’s time to catch up with some of the most interesting cinema-centric books of the last few months, and it’s a diverse list. There’s some Lego, some Nolan, some Star Wars (of course), and even some vintage Stan Brakhage. That’s range.

Off the Cliff: Making of Thelma & Louise by Becky Aikman (Penguin Press)

The career of Ridley Scott is full of peaks and valleys. One of the peaks was the release of Thelma & Louise in 1991. The cultural impact of this story of two female outlaws cannot be overstated, and Becky Aikman’s account of the making of the film helps explain why. Thelma & Louise involved a unique cast of characters, including stars Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, as well as a young hunk named Brad Pitt. But the most memorable figures here are Scott, who knew his career needed a change but could not originally see »

- Christopher Schobert

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Jean-Luc Godard’s Bewitchingly Self-Reflexive Midlife Crisis

18 October 2017 5:42 AM, PDT

Emerging from his politically radical period of low-budget, didactic political commentaries with revolutionary overtones, produced primarily on 16mm or tape for television broadcast, prolific French avant-garde iconoclast Jean-Luc Godard unexpectedly returned to commercial filmmaking with Every Man for Himself, finding reinvention in the age of video — a new formal frontier for the now-middle-aged provocateur. Godard’s star-studded return to more conventional cinemas, featuring Isabelle Huppert, Nathalie Baye, and Jacques Dutronc as Paul Godard (of course), a loathsome filmmaker humiliated by having been reduced to working for a TV studio, though shy of being considered a phenomenon in France or elsewhere, was well-publicized worldwide. Uncharacteristically, the aging filmmaker promoted the film extensively, pensively referring to it as his “second first film,” a somewhat deadpan admission that, to begin again, he had to shed the baggage of his underground period. Through this mainstream amelioration began a self-reflective period of filmmaking, reverse-engineering his formal fascinations — disruptive non-linear editing, »

- The Film Stage

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François Ozon on the Playfulness of ‘L’amant double,’ Criticism, and Jury Fights

18 October 2017 5:42 AM, PDT

Ever since making his feature debut with the darkly comical Sitcom, French writer/director François Ozon has been making the world feeling horny and shocked with his films, often at the same time. With a body of work that also includes Water Drops on Burning Rocks, Under the Sand, In the House and the glorious one-two punch of 8 Women and Swimming Pool, you’d think the prolific provocateur might soon be running out of tricks.

Think again. His latest erotic thriller, L’amant double, which premiered in competition at Cannes this year, proved to be the film scandaleux of the festival. Starring Marine Vacth as Chloé, a young woman who one day discovers her psychiatrist partner Paul (Jérémie Renier) might have an evil twin brother and gradually loses herself in a web of deceit and kinks, it’s the kind of dangerously sexy farce at which Ozon excels.

We had »

- Zhuo-Ning Su

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Review: ’78/52′ is a Meticulous Examination of One of Alfred Hitchcock’s Most Iconic Scenes

18 October 2017 4:49 AM, PDT

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho premiered in 1960, quickly becoming a massive box office success, as well as a critical darling with the press. In the passing decades, it’s become known as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made, the rare violent slasher movie to accompany titles like Casablanca and Gone with the Wind on best-of-all-time film lists. The most talked-about element of the film, aside from the twisting nature of the plot, was undoubtedly the murder of Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, in her shower at the Bates Motel. In Hitchcock’s filmography, Psycho came immediately after the star-studded, glossy Hollywood sheen of North by Northwest, a positively safe studio choice by comparison with the black-and-white slasher picture. The film was almost uncharacteristically vicious for Hitchcock in its portrayal of violence, a fact which only added to Psycho’s impact with audiences.

78/52 is an engagingly nerdy »

- Tony Hinds

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Trailer for ‘It Happened in L.A.’ Introduces a Whit Stillman-Esque Portrait of Los Angeles

17 October 2017 8:12 PM, PDT

One of my favorite discoveries at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Michelle Morgan’s It Happened in L.A. (then going by the Seo-unfriendly title L.A. Times). As writer, director, and star, her voice was among the most unique I saw at the festival, mixing Whit Stillman’s sensibilities with a Wes Anderson-esque visual approach to deliver a sweet, distinct romantic comedy. Also starring Jorma Taccone, Dree Hemingway, and Kentucker Audley, the first trailer has now arrived ahead of a release next month.

“In an age where the modus operandi of love-seeking is ever-changing, a film can feel immediately dated on its journey from script to screen, yet Morgan’s voice feels like one of the freshest on this particular topic in some time,” I said in my review. “Eschewing the insufferable nature of the bulk of today’s romantic comedies, It Happened in L.A. stands apart with »

- Jordan Raup

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