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Ushered forth as the Netherlands’ submission for Best Foreign Language Film this year, Alex van Warmerdam’s hilarious Borgman may prove to be a bit too offbeat for the mainstream tastes of the Academy, at least if judging by its business at the Us box office bears any indication. Arriving on blu-ray from Drafthouse Films, word of mouth may continue to bolster its growing reputation, selected by a number of critics as a standout title for the first half of 2014. Whatever the case, it’s granted considerable attention to the underrated Dutch director whose next little bit of weirdness should arrive next year.
Alex van Warmerdam’s Borgman has to be the steadily working director’s most accomplished work to date. Known mostly for his droll, sometimes perverse films dealing with families or communities tested by strange situations that range anywhere from a maintained weirdness to potential violence, his latest »
- Nicholas Bell
Mom Without a Face: Franz’s Debut a Mesmerizing Slice of Psychological Horror
Once you’re made aware that Goodnight Mommy is the directorial debut of Veronika Franz, partner to and writer of the works of Ulrich Seidl, that delightfully perverse purveyor of Austrian social dysfunction, you’ll know to expect something kind of twisted and bizarre. Franz certainly delivers with an eerie portrait of identical twin horror that will eventually rank as one of the more notable titles in the slim subgenre. Effectively grotesque and downright chilling by the time it spits out its final frames, Franz unleashes her own brand of sinister familial interactions that proves to surpass even Seidl’s cynical worldview.
In the isolated Austrian countryside, nine-year-old twins Lukas and Elias (Lukas and Elias Schwarz) live alone with their mother (Susanne Wuest). Recently, she’s undergone cosmetic surgery, her face completely bandaged as she attempts to »
- Nicholas Bell
Aye!—you make my festival experience sound like a superhuman toil! If anything, I'm seeing less than you, as you get the pleasures of catching up with the crème de la crème of Cannes. It seems like I see a lot because I'm often reporting on a slew of shorts, but remember, the Wavelengths shorts programs so central to my (any many others') Tiff experience are only four strong, over nearly as soon as they start, the Monday after the festival's opening night. Don't you see what I'm actually doing here? I'm luxuriating in your taking the pressure off me, handling all the much anticipated films by the big auteurs while I get to relax, scribbling notes in the margin about the smaller movies: you make my life easier! That being said, there are still some major films I need to tell you about, to begin wrapping the festival experience up. »
- Daniel Kasman
"Veronika Franz, the journalist and wife of Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl, makes her debut, co-directing with Severin Fiala, for this chilly, angular, ultra-violent arthouse horror," wrote the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw when he saw Ich seh, Ich seh (Goodnight Mommy) in Venice. It’s all topped off with a huge psychological twist, and this ending would appear to be influenced by a very specific director and very specific film. Naming these would be unsporting, but it is generally comparable to Michael Haneke’s Funny Games and Jessica Hausner’s Hotel." Now that it's screening in Toronto, we're collecting reviews and posting clips. » - David Hudson »
A fairy tale for “Dogtooth” enthusiasts, But that’s only the beginning of this family’s dysfunction, as tension escalates to torture in the duo’s elegantly stylized, thoroughly unnerving attempt to creep the heck out of arthouse horror fans. The project, which recalls such child-centric chillers as “I’m Not Scared” and “The Orphanage,” was backed by fest vet Ulrich Seidl (for whom Franz co-wrote several pics), allowing it to court both genre and auteur fests.
Mommy looks monstrous when she comes home from the hospital, her body sexy but her face wrapped entirely in bandages. The clues are scarce at first, slyly delivered through a game of “Who am I?” where yes/no questions help us (but not her) identify the answer stuck to her head: Mama. Why doesn’t she recognize herself in this game? What happened to her face? And is that really her under all that gauze? »
- Peter Debruge
PS3, PS4, Ps Vita, PC, Mac Osx, Linux
“Man is just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than his four-legged counterparts.”
Even in the daring realm of indie titles, few games would have the gall to be as jarring and deliberately unpleasant as Hotline Miami. An ugly game, through and through, Hotline Miami is also insanely addictive and offers loads of hardcore fun. But the glaring question is why?
It’s a question that the developer seems intent on exploring: Why do you want to play a game like this? A game that is only centered on killing enemies quickly and efficiently, floor by floor, for no reason at all really. It can’t be the grainy 8 bit graphics, and it certainly isn’t for the humorously ugly character models, who spew profanities out of toothless or yellowed puke holes; so what is it? »
- Mike Worby
Venice – Not since Michael Haneke unleashed a pair of psychotic young sadists on an unsuspecting family in his original 1997 Funny Games has a summer getaway in the peaceful Austrian countryside seemed less like a vacation. A wicked little chiller full of foreboding and malevolent twists, Goodnight Mommy is the first narrative feature from writer-directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, respectively the partner and nephew of producer Ulrich Seidl. As that connection might imply, this insidious tale of a mother-son bond gone haywire is squirm-inducing stuff. It has cult potential stamped all over it. "Come play
- David Rooney
In an odd turn of events, this list has a number of films that don’t have English-language titles. They just go by whatever the original title was. Good for us. What we do see in this portion of the list is a few movies that weren’t really created specifically to be horror films, but their themes and visuals made it so. In addition, we have some heavyweights of non-horror cinema creating horror films that push the genre all the more upward. “Thinking man horror,” if you will.
20. Le locataire (1976)
English Language Title: The Tenant
Directed by: Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski has made one of the greatest horror “trilogies” of all time with 1965′s British production Repulsion, 1968′s American production Rosemary’s Baby, and 1976′s French production The Tenant, completing his “Apartment Trilogy.” Unlike the other two, Polanski actually stars in The Tenant as Trelkovsky, a reserved man renting an apartment in Paris. »
- Joshua Gaul
2011 saw the release of one of the quirkiest of the many independent film releases (and there were many oddball little flicks), Another Earth. This weird drama/science fiction/fantasy hybrid (it does indeed concern a twin to our big, blue marble) was the first collaboration between director Mike Cahill and actress Brit Marling (the two co-wrote the script). It was an uneven blend of mysticism and intimate character study. Since then Marling became one of the “indie” film scene’s “it” girls with leads in The Sound Of My Voice and The East, while scoring some supporting roles in mainstream studio flicks like The Company You Keep and Arbitrage. Now the two are back, working together (but not writing) on a science speculative/drama/love story I Origins. And while Marling is not the lead player this time out, it still has that offbeat, off-center vibe while being much more »
- Jim Batts
Chicago – The debate between science and intelligent design (God) will go on as long as man evolves and searches for answers. A new and provocative film, “I Origins,” takes on the challenge of the debate through storytelling, and features hot actor Michael Pitt (“Boardwalk Empire”), directed by Mike Cahill (“Another Earth”).
Mike Cahill also teams again up with actress Brit Marling, who plays a research co-worker to Pitt’s main scientist character. Her last collaboration with Cahill, “Another Earth” – Marling also co-wrote the script – also investigated the concept of scientific certainly when faced with the mystery of an expansive and perplexing universe. In “I Origins,” the examination of the unique nature of the eye is explored, especially within its definition as a “window to the soul.”
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
As the most expensive art form, it’s difficult to experiment with filmmaking in the way that the new Starz show The Chair does. Produced by Zachary Quinto, Neal Dodson and Corey Moosa, the program obsessively watches as two aspiring filmmakers turn the same script into different films. The closest cousin to this kind of semi-scientific meddling might be Michael Haneke remaking his own Funny Games. Or maybe Lars von Trier forcing Jorgen Leth to remake one of his short films in The Five Obstructions. Or maybe we can consider this as another in a long list of remakes that just so happens to take place simultaneously so that we can’t say which film is the “original.” Maybe I’m overthinking this (I am), but it’s exciting. Tinkering and deconstructing cinema is almost always fun, or at the very least interesting, for the audience — especially when the filmmakers themselves look to be losing their minds »
- Scott Beggs
News flash for all you horror lovers out there, Relativity has officially finalized a deal to finance yet another haunted house movie: The Disappointments Room, starring Kate Beckinsale and directed by Disturbia helmer D.J. Caruso.
Inspired by a ‘true’ event – and you should take that with a pinch (no, the whole shaker) of salt – the film centers on a family’s encounter with the paranormal, inexplicable bumps in the night that inevitably go hand-in-hand with this genre, while they unravel the horrifying mysteries that come attached to their idyllic – and characteristically ancient – new home.
If there’s one thing Hollywood has taught us in recent years, it’s that you can never feel particularly safe in your own home. Yes, films like The Purge, The Strangers and Funny Games have turned the security of the family house into a prison of incomprehensible terror… well, the latter two certainly did – Funny Games »
- Dale Barham
Picking the best movies that come out in any given year is no easy feat. For film fans, a quality feature can come out at any time, from any one, and discovering an enjoyable and well-crafted feature is truly a pleasure. As we reach the halfway point of the year, many excellent films have already made their way to theatres, films that are well worth a watch. Below, you shall find the list of the top 30 films of 2014 to date, a list that ranges from science fiction thrillers to period dramas.
A few notes to keep in mind when reading our entry: Certain films from our 2013 list make a second appearance on this list. This is because the movies, while technically released this year, were seen by a select few in time for last year’s list, due to the benefit of film festivals and press screenings. The list itself is in no particular order, »
Director: Daniel Stamm
Running time: 88 minutes
Special features: Behind The Scenes
Written and directed by Daniel Stamm, the man behind The Last Exorcism, it’s no surprise 13 Sins has been described as ‘deeply twisted’ and ‘a crazy, unpredictable horror’, especially when you consider Blumhouse Productions’ founder Jason Blum is named as executive producer, his presence upping the ante a little more.
Elliot (Webber), a down-on-his-luck salesman, has had a tough time. Recently made redundant, he’s struggling to juggle his brother’s (Graye) medical bills, his racist father’s (Bower) outbursts, and plans for the wedding to his fiancee Shelby (Wesley). However, it seems someone is looking out for him, with Elliot receiving a creepy anonymous phone call from an overly enthusiastic game show host inviting him to take part to win mountains of cash. First challenge: »
- Jazmine Sky Bradley
White Child Above the Clouds: Warmerdam’s Dark Classist Comedy a Winner
Alex van Warmerdam’s Borgman has to be the steadily working director’s most accomplished work to date. Known mostly for his droll, sometimes perverse films dealing with families or communities tested by strange situations that range anywhere from a maintained weirdness to potential violence, his latest treat is poised to broaden his appeal to a larger audience. His 1992 film, The Northerners, perhaps his most celebrated film, deals with a group of people living in a 1960’s housing development, while 2003’s Grimm is an off kilter retelling of Hansel and Gretel. Warmerdam’s latest, which also seems to have roots in the fairy tale parable, plays like the strange, neglected cousin to a host of other considerable cinematic references, and yet, it’s a delectable concoction all its own. Incredibly, often wickedly funny, it’s filled with memorable moments, »
- Nicholas Bell
London — The Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival will open with the international premiere of Mike Cahill’s “I Origins,” which will be attended by the film’s lead actor Michael Pitt, Cahill and actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey.
Pic enters on a young scientist whose work investigates the human eye. His research leads him to the discovery of surprising links between the human physiognomy and psyche, with implications bordering on the mystical.
The film garnered a great deal of attention at this year’s Sundance film festival, where it won the Alfred P. Sloan prize for films focusing on science, and was picked up by Fox Searchlight for worldwide distribution.
The film marked out Cahill, who won the same prize at Sundance three years ago for “Another Earth,” as a promising filmmaker to watch.
Pitt broke through »
- Leo Barraclough
If Michael Haneke hadn’t taken it already, a similarly ironic name that director Alex van Warmerdam could have used for his cleverly haunting new film Borgman could very well have been “Funny Games.” Appropriately enough, van Warmerdam’s film plays out its twisted, fable-like narrative—about a peculiar vagrant who gradually manipulates his way into the otherwise orderly lives of an upper class Dutch family—as if it were a less overt or sadistic Haneke film, one whose trickery stays squarely within the realm of the film itself and doesn’t chide the audience for bearing witness to the dark and strange tale unraveling before them. If name-dropping European auteurs isn’t your thing, then how about this: Borgman’s weirdo realist fairy tale is likely to leave a lot of people scratching their heads, but those who get caught up in the film’s devious schemes are in »
- Sean Hutchinson
The Dirties is the film-within-a- film made by two best friends as a revenge fantasy against the jocks who bully them at their high school. Eventually events escalate from harmless fantasy into terrifying reality. Unfortunately, despite an admirable desire to approach a hot button issue with some degree of insight, first time director Matt Johnson handles the whole enterprise with the heavy handedness of an after school special and does not quite connect the dots between his themes and what he presents on screen with very much clarity.
Matt (Matt Johnson) and Owen (Owen Williams) are high school BFFs and unapologetic film nerds. So much so that they have decided to enlist the aid of a third, unidentified friend (cinematographer Jarad Raab) to film them every minute of the day as they make a movie called The Dirties, which is the collective noun they give the bullies at their school. »
- Liam Dunn
Alex van Warmerdam's "Borgman," the 2014 Dutch Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film, is a nasty, insane, mind-melting and unpredictable piece of work. Starting with Cannes, it dazzled, and perplexed, the festival circuit heavily last year, and it's now coming to select cities on June 6, i.e. this Friday, courtesy of who-else-but Drafthouse Films. (Trailer below.) A dark suburban fairytale that takes cues from Yorgos Lanthimos ("Dogtooth") and Michael Haneke ("Funny Games"), while firmly remaining its own strange beast, "Borgman" hovers perilously over a stiff upper-class family whose bearings are unmoored by the appearance of a mysterious vagrant fellow (Jan Bijvoet). As housewife (and would-be expressionist painter) Marina (played with hinged intensity Hadewych Minis) -- who the stranger claims to know from a past life, or something -- slowly starts losing her shit, plagued by nightmares of murder and domestic mayhem, the dastardly Borgman has his own malevolent tricks. »
- Ryan Lattanzio
Straight off the back of playing Prince Rainer III in the Cannes-selected period piece Grace of Monaco, Quentin Tarantino favorite Tim Roth is set to appear in another historical drama in the form of Selma.
In the film, which is about the civil rights movement in the sixties and Martin Luther King Jr.’s stand against racism, Roth will play Alabama governor George Wallace, whose opposition to King led to the famous 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery. The picture is being produced by Paramount and helmed by the filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who has worked on projects such as The Middle of Nowhere and The Help. David Oyelowo, who also appeared in Steven Spielberg’s civil rights epic Lincoln, will star as Martin Luther King Jr., and long-time acting heavyweight Tom Wilkinson will play President Lyndon Johnson.
Roth’s involvement in the project is sure to bring a smile to anybody »
- Dale Barham
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