5 items from 2015
Axes of Fulfillment: Williams Explores the Lives of Malcontented Young Adults
There’s a certain way to make multiple, intersecting storylines breathe life into a narrative structure, though it’s a rather abused formula of narrative free form often masking the lack of substance at hand. To be certain, director Ryan Piers Williams makes better use of this structure than a variety of recent examples, giving us a quiet, simplistic approach of four interrelated early thirtysomethings in Manhattan instead of bludgeoning with caustic twists a la Paul Haggis. If the material isn’t innately virginal, Williams takes some unexpected turns (not to mention the added attraction of having his wife, actress America Ferrera starring as one of the main characters). At the end of the day, some of their stories in X/Y are stronger than others, but even throughout the more familiar tics, it’s a well-acted quartet, divided »
- Nicholas Bell
A Place on Earth: Silver’s Period Commune Channels Cinema-Verite
While his 2014 title Uncertain Terms still awaits theatrical release as it makes the rounds of the festival circuit after premiering last year at the Los Angeles Film Festival, the increasingly prolific Nathan Silver unveils his fifth feature. Stinking Heaven represents a change of pace stylistically and dramatically within Silver’s preferred parameters examining human beings tossed vicariously into strained living situations, where they often wear each other down to an inevitable breaking point. A period piece set within the confines of a well-meaning commune in early 90s suburban New Jersey, the grainy look and feel of Silver’s film lends it a vintage realism that aligns it with the cinema-verite styling of documentary filmmaker Allan King, whose films like Warrendale and A Married Couple focused, unobtrusively, on isolated groups or units of people in similar fashion.
Lucy (Deragh Campbell) and »
- Nicholas Bell
Filmmakers and cinephiles celebrated news Friday that producer Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures would join a group of benefactors to save beloved Santa Monica video emporium Vidiots, which had announced days earlier that it was going out of business.
Ellison’s rep said she and others would contribute an undisclosed amount of money to help sustain the Pico Boulevard shop, where writers and directors have found obscure titles and shared their love of cinema for 30 years. It had been slated to close in April because of badly sagging business.
Be kind rewind pic.twitter.com/ej6GZnXOBP
— Megan Ellison (@meganeellison) January 29, 2015
In the face of competition from streaming services and rental kiosks, revenue had plunged by nearly 25% over the last six months.
Regular customers had been aware of Vidiots’ struggles for some time, but reports in the Wall Street Journal and L.A. Times recently made the store’s imminent demise a cause celebre. »
- James Rainey
Park City, Utah – HollywoodChicago.com’s coverage of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival is far from over. This is the latest batch of reviews of movies that I’ve seen there. One film was a triumph while the other two are titles that I wouldn’t want to be stuck talking to at a party.
Image credit: Sundance Institute
Running equal portions of dry goofiness and finite inspired storytelling, Jared Hess’ “Don Verdean” is a rewarding comedy about Biblical archaeology that’s necessary for times in which religious institutions crave sensationalism to get their good word across. For those who read “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven” before its child author said he made it all up, or those who saw “Heaven Is For Real” as a type of precursor to their own death’s aftermath, this movie is for them. It’s a brilliant take »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
If Chance the Gardner, the TV-educated savant played by Peter Sellers in “Being There,” had lived together with his six siblings, it might have looked something like “The Wolfpack,” a truly stranger-than-fiction portrait of a New York family who’ve taken great pains to shelter their children from the outside world, but not from the world of Hollywood movies. Indeed, so weirdly fascinating is the tale of the Angulo clan that one wishes “The Wolfpack” were that much sharper, more searching and coherently organized. Still, there is much to enjoy in director Crystal Moselle’s debut documentary feature, which if nothing else begs a where-are-they-now sequel a few years down the road.
There’s a certain fated coincidence to the fact that “The Wolfpack” premiered in Sundance on the same day as Alex Gibney’s “Going Clear,” another documentary about a hermetic community started by a self-styled guru with entertainment-industry aspirations. »
- Scott Foundas
5 items from 2015
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