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Provocative Documentary
3 February 2015
The concept behind Michael Madsen's documentary is its greatest asset. Rather than interviewing scholars on events that occurred in the past, Madsen gathers a slew of interviewees to discuss a scenario that has never happened. How would mankind react with our first encounter with an alien life form? While it may sound absurd, Madsen introduces audiences to college professors, scientists, government officials and military personnel who have all had these types of conversations before an event like this has manifested. The majority of the project consist of questions being delivered such as, "Why are you here?" "Do you know good vs. evil?" and "Are we mentally prepared?" As a fan of science-fiction cinema, the thought of alien life on Earth has crossed my mind countless times, but to actually witness plans being formulated for such an event is like nothing I have ever witnessed. Would we reveal our own violent nature to our visitors or keep it a secret for as long as possible? Madsen takes a simple idea and makes us all want to believe something could be out there and, if it ever decides to pay a visit, makes us question our preparation skills. -Jimmy Martin
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I Am Michael (2015)
Effective Performances
3 February 2015
Audiences are first introduced to Michael Glatze (James Franco) as he chastises a young gay teenager and declares moral individuals choose heterosexuality and God. However, this was not always the case with Mr. Glatze. Rewind the story a decade and we find Michael living happily in San Francisco with his partner Bennett (Zachary Quinto) as he works as the Managing Editor of XY Magazine, a popular gay lifestyle publication. Glatze encouraged gay communities to identify with their sexuality, but after a medical scare revolving around his potential heart condition, Glatze begins his journey exploring Christianity and abandoning his former beliefs and lifestyle. Franco beautifully portrays an obviously confused individual questioning his own mortality and willing to risk everything he's built his life around. Quinto offers the supporting shoulder as he is forced to move forward into an uncertain future with the love of his life. Director Justin Kelly effectively leads audiences though the life of a confused individual who abandons one life for another while outsiders both ridicule and praise his challenging choice. -Jimmy Martin
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The Witch (2015)
Gut-Wrenching Tension
3 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Period pieces don't often serve as the backdrops for horror, which is actually a real shame. Consider The Witch, a story about a banished Puritan family trying to sustain itself on the edge of an ominous forest inhabited by a gruesome witch. The faithful representation of one of the most creepy time periods in American history makes all the difference here. The family's dealings with the supernatural terror in the woods push their spiritual and physical endurance to the breaking point. Robert Eggers pulls no punches and makes no apologies in this film. The Witch's scenes are steeped in primal dread, and each actor makes the audience feel the seams come apart as paranoia and mistrust begin to take their toll. While Game of Thrones alumni Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie offer brilliantly raw performances as the family's mother and father, it's the film's younger actors—Harvey Scrimshaw and Anya Taylor-Joy—who really shine. Scrimshaw captures the nuanced turmoil of being an adolescent male in a strictly religious family. As the oldest daughter who is blamed for the witch's malevolent deeds against the family, Anya Taylor-Joy shows a surprising amount of risk and range in her performance. The film swings for the fences on all fronts. The performances are explosive, the tension is gut-wrenching, and the settings are nightmarish. To the horror films of 2015, the gauntlet has officially been thrown down. –Alex Springer
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Don Verdean (2015)
Unique and Great Performances
3 February 2015
Don Verdean Sundance Film Festival Director: Jared Hess Since the sleeper success of 2004's Napoleon Dynamite, Jared and Jerusha Hess have had an interesting track record. Regardless of how their work is received by audiences and critics, they have maintained a cinematic style that is, to say the least, unique. Don Verdean (Sam Rockwell) is a biblical scholar and archaeologist who has built his career on excavating and preserving artifacts from the good book —the film's opening scene features an antiquated documentary in which Verdean tracks down the shears that Delilah used to cut Samson's hair. After his career slows down, he, his Israeli fixer Boaz (Jemaine Clement), and his research assistant Carol (Amy Ryan) agree to a contract with Tony Lazarus (Danny McBride) to track down more artifacts in order to keep his congregation from joining that of Pastor Fontaine (Will Forte), a former Satanist turned Christian. As pressures mount, Verdean begins to compromise his standards in pursuit of "filthy lucre," as Boaz puts it. From an acting perspective, the performances are great. Rockwell and Clement have great comedic chemistry, and Amy Ryan grounds the film with her genuine sincerity. That being said, there is still something indulgent in this film— almost like team Hess has packed it full of inside jokes that only resonate with themselves. It might be time for them to come out and play with the rest of us. –Alex Springer
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Glassland (2014)
Love Without Sex, Crime Without Violence
31 January 2015
Glassland is both a love story without sex, and a crime story without violence—a decided anomaly among just about every other film about life in an Irish slum. The love is between an overworked cabdriver named John (Jack Reynor) and Jean (Toni Collette), his alcoholic mother. As Jean drinks herself closer and closer to the grave, John's desperation to get his mother into a rehabilitation clinic despite their poverty leads him to question his own moral boundaries. Glassland is a melancholy, understated look at the combination of poverty and self-destruction that is so common in our society. Collette delivers a performance that jumps back and forth between snarling addict and penitent matriarch, and Reynor captures the pain and frustration of seeing a loved one spiral out of control. Despite the powerful performances by the film's actors, the film suffers from pacing issues that occasionally derail the film's momentum and muddle the narrative. Regardless, Glassland is a refreshingly modest take on issues that are typically addressed with more gratuitous filmmaking. –Alex Springer
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Great Film
31 January 2015
From 1965 to 1989, the country of Romania was under the ruthless dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu and his Communist regime. While the Romanian people struggled under their political restraints, a few upstarts started passing around dubbed VHS copies of Western films. Through the gatherings that resulted from these clandestine cinema clubs, the Romanian people learned about the world outside of their country's oppressive borders. The films that were so widely released and distributed in the United States and Western Europe became small relics of freedom and hope to the Romanian people who brought them illegally into their homes. Through interviews with those who were on the front lines of this quiet rebellion—along with a loving tribute to Irina Nistor, the woman who translated and dubbed literally thousands of these movies despite the political danger—Chuck Norris vs. Communism reaffirms the power that stories have in people's lives. And this reaffirmation also comes the implication that all of this illegal movie watching was a direct influence on the regime's downfall in 1989—a little bit hard to swallow considering all of the other factors at play within the Romanian Revolution. Also, considering the film is named after Chuck Norris, it was surprising to see so little coverage of his cinematic oeuvre (such as it is). Regardless, it's a charming little doc for those of us who believe that movies can be a sanctuary in our darkest moments. –Alex Springer
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Slow West (2015)
Aptly Named and Surreal
30 January 2015
In what may be one of the most aptly-named films at this year's festival, Slow West is in no hurry to tell the story of Scotsman Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and his continent-spanning quest to find Rose (Caren Pistorius), the long-lost love from his hometown. Things get complicated when a desperado named Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender) decides to accompany Cavendish on his journey—possibly to cash in on a bounty that hangs over Rose's head. Taking a cue from neo-westerns like Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, Slow West uses the chaotic landscape of the American frontier as an allegorical exploration of love and death. There is something surreal about seeing the old west interpreted through the lens of New Zealand where the film was shot, and it added to the story's dreamlike tone. The immensely watchable Fassbender exudes some serious Han Solo vibes as he guides Cavendish through the unforgiving wilderness while trying to act like he doesn't give a crap. McPhee's boyish, innocent appearance is ideal for a character whose belief in true love has guided him so far into the lions' den. While the film's ending is sure to polarize audiences, it was a ballsy way to emphasize the point that the frontier was an ecosystem all its own, indiscriminately filling some hearts with purpose and others with bullets.
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Not Just Marketable, But Good Too
30 January 2015
It would be easy to criticize the fact that Me & Earl & the Dying Girl appears to have been genetically engineered to be a summer box office moneymaker (Fox Searchlight and Indian Paintbrush have already snatched up the rights for a record- breaking $12 million). It's an adaptation of a young adult novel about adolescent friendship in the midst of terminal illness, which is hot in Hollywood right now thanks to The Fault in Our Stars. Basically, I went in to this film wanting to despise it for its utter marketability. Upon seeing it, however, I was reminded that movies can be commercially successful and good at the same time—and that's okay. The film chronicles the senior year of Greg (Thomas Mann), his friend Earl (R.J. Cyler), and Rachel (Olivia Cooke), who has been diagnosed with leukemia. Though all of the teen dramedy tropes are present—awkward parents, the teacher who gets it, the exploration of high school cliques—the excellent supporting cast keeps the narrative fresh. Greg's parents (Connie Britton and Nick Offerman) add an eccentric jolt of parental weirdness to their scenes, and The Walking Dead's Jon Bernthal takes archetypal cool teacher role into some original territory with his tattoos and battle- scholar vibe. While I found myself wanting more in regards to Rachel's character, the film's treatment of her friendship with Greg is both darkly funny and realistically somber. This is one movie that it's safe to see regardless of its soon-to-be huge commercial appeal. –Alex Springer
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True Story (I) (2015)
Terse Chemistry
29 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
In 2002, two seemingly unrelated events brought Christian Longo (Jonah Hill) and Michael Finkel (James Franco) into each other's lives. While Finkel was getting fired from a writing gig at the New York Times for fabricating details about a cover story, Longo had murdered his family and fled the country. When Longo was finally apprehended, he gave the authorities Finkel's name as his own. Based on Finkel's memoir, True Story unpacks the bizarre details surrounding Finkel's and Longo's relationship and offers a contemporary version of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. The terse chemistry between Finkel and Longo is gripping to watch—it's never quite clear who is using whom until the film's final moments. These two actors deftly play out their characters' battle for psychological dominance—Hill makes us feel Finkel's inner turmoil, and Franco's cool detachment is both alienating and alluring. Some praises also need to be sung about Felicity Jones, who plays Finkel's quietly badass fiancée Jill. The scene in which she slices through the character insulation that Longo has built up around himself is a beautiful show of pure indignation. –Alex Springer
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Well Done
29 January 2015
There's no need to travel more than 6,000 miles to Datong, Shanxi to know that the life of a politician is mostly filled with accusations, confrontations, and pure misery. However, the life of Mayor Geng Yanbo is much more stressful than your average American politician since his plan to relocate 500,000 citizens in the name of cleaning out his town (the most polluted city in China due to coal-mining) is met with much hostility. Director Hao Zhou paints a portrait of an individual who appears to want to serve his community with the best of intentions. But moving 30% of the city's population is bound to spark a resistance, especially when there are already issues with the newly constructed housing projects. Along with tracking multiple stray dogs trotting through heaps of garbage, Zhou provides the opposition an opportunity to share their stories and one can only wince at the heartbreaking loss many of these victims are facing. Yanbo may believe you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, but how many eggs have to be broken before the omelet is doing more damage than good. In regards to this case, T.S. Eliot's quote is quite fitting with, "Most of the evil in this world is done by people with good intentions." -Jimmy Martin
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Leaves You Wanting More
29 January 2015
In an attempt to have foreign-born teenagers become reacquainted with their native culture, the South Korean government developed a summer camp program complete with lessons in language, calligraphy and martial arts (to name a few). Based on a true story, director Benson Lee introduces us to the 1986 class of misfits comprised of the punk (Justin Chon), the princess (Jessika Van), the ladies man (Esteban Ahn), the conservative (Teo Yoo), and the racist military brat (Albert Kong), all of whom are under the guidance and supervision of Mr. Kim (In-Pyo Cha). As the students drink, sneak off campus, fight with opposing schools, and fall in love, they all face their inner demons and discover what it means to be Korean. Lee gives a revitalized version of "Meatballs" with heart and soul, and the 80s soundtrack is one of the best compilations I have heard from a movie in years. The standout comedic performance comes from Ahn's Sergio from Mexico, but it's Chon's bad boy with a heart of gold that leaves you wanting more. While the government eventually shut the program down due to the rowdiness, here's hoping we'll get a chance to see the class of 1987 next year! -Jimmy Martin
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Shocking
29 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
In a typical female hostage thriller scenario, the heroine eventually frees herself from her predicament and slaughters her captor. Roll credits. However, director José Manuel Cravioto turns that clichéd setup on its head with the shocking story of Eve (Tina Ivlev) who finds herself imprisoned by Phil (Richard Tyson). But rather than spending the running time chained to the wall, Eve immediately smashes a brick across Phil's face and frees herself. While freedom is just around the corner, Eve decides to reverse the roles and forces Phil to disclose the location of other victims. It's rare in today's films —especially in the horror genre — where a female character takes command and controls the destiny and it's an absolute delight to witness. Cravioto takes the audience on a grotesque venture of sex trafficking and Stockholm syndrome as Eve discovers the harsh realities of her community's underbelly. While the film visually showcases the unsympathetic demise of the disgusting male antagonists, the underwhelming conclusion of the chief villain leaves one craving a tad more vigilante justice. -Jimmy Martin
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Overshoots the Mark
26 January 2015
While there is value in creating cinema that captures the everyday human experience, Christmas, Again overshoots that mark by being so real that it's boring. I'm not saying that every film needs to fill their spare moments with car chases, drug use, and automatic weapons, but at the very least, films should tell stories about interesting characters. It's too bad, considering the idea of a disaffected Christmas tree salesman named Noel (Kentucker Audley) who slowly recovers his holiday spirit could make a great story. I suppose what makes this film aggravating to watch is the fact that there were so many opportunities to expand the narrative beyond the many extensive close-ups of Noel looking angsty or wistful. For example, the unconscious mystery woman (Hannah Gross) whom Noel rescues from freezing to death on a park bench would have been a good avenue to explore. Instead, the film shows us a series of fractured scenes that hint at the vague possibility of a love story between them. It's possible that the film is ambiguous in order to encourage the audience to form their own conclusions, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but that sort of thing requires effort from an audience—and we don't like spending effort figuring out characters that we don't really care about. –Alex Springer
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Viewers Are Immersed in Whiteley's Film
26 January 2015
After witnessing his daughter's frustrations with 4th grade and overhearing her teacher's rant about building character for the future, director Greg Whiteley decided to explore the current status of America's educational system and what he uncovered is quite unnerving. Essentially, this whole thing called "school" is bullshit and is based on a concept developed more than a century ago with minimal updates. Whiteley proposes the question of humans' responsibility in the future now that machines have conquered our physical and mental capabilities. It's a scary thought to say the least. The useless practice of test preparation for the SATs is brought under scrutiny since most students do not retain the information shortly after completing the examination. A light of hope arrives in the form of an alternate curriculum set in place at High Tech High. Viewers are immersed in the unconventional study lessons and atypical teacher interactions with students. Whiteley certainly acknowledges the results from this new form of education are too preliminary to make any rash decisions, but his comprehensive investigation, exciting classroom immersion, and appealing teacher interviews certainly beg for the discussion to continue far into the future. -Jimmy Martin
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Despite the Irresponsibility of These Colleges, Things Are Slowly Changing For the Better
26 January 2015
A documentary that digs deep into the toxic rape culture that exists on our country's college campuses, The Hunting Ground should be required viewing for any stakeholder involved in college life. In true documentary fashion, the film cuts right to the bones of the issue with such laser-beam precision that it reveals an entire web of corruption that is especially salient considering the rash of victim-shaming that emerges when this issue is brought before many political leaders. Perhaps the most shocking part of this story is the implication that (perhaps because of financial or personal pressures) the presidents of these colleges seem to value the health and safety of their athletic programs above those of their other students. This implication is exemplified with the film's brutally honest treatment of the accusations against Jameis Winston, the Florida State football quarterback who is entering the NFL draft this year. Though the bulk of the film focuses on articulating how colleges—we're talking the heavy hitters like Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley—spend more of their resources on covering up these allegations than actually punishing the perpetrators, the stories of the survivors and their efforts to gain national traction and support leaves the audience with the feeling that things are slowly changing for the better. --Alex Springer
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The Overnight (2015)
Not Perfect But Offers a Unique and Funny Story
26 January 2015
While The Overnight has a few flaws in its execution, the chemistry among the principal actors comes close to making up for them. Having just moved to Los Angeles, Alex (Adam Scott), Emily (Taylor Schilling), and their son R.J. (R.J. Hermes) are eager to extend their social circle. When they meet Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), he invites them all over for an overnight playdate with his wife Charlotte (Judith Godréche) and Max (Max Moritt). After their children go to sleep for the night, the evening becomes increasingly weird and suburban debauchery ensues. It's the awkward bromance that begins to develop between Alex and Kurt that ends up driving the narrative. Scott is great at playing the slightly neurotic everyman, and he explores his character's insecurities about his masculinity (or in Alex's words, his abnormally small dick) with his usual brand of self-deprecating charm. The character of Kurt is the quintessential Los Angeles hipster, and Schwartzman completely owns it. His effortless cool perfectly complements Scott's nervous tension, and the scenes in which these two bond over art and their penises (both Scott and Schwartzman don prosthetic dongs in a memorable skinny dipping scene) are hilarious. Schilling and Godréche offered solid performances, but their characters didn't seem as fleshed out as their male counterparts. It's not a perfect film, but it offers a unique and funny story about what people are willing to do in order to strengthen a marriage. –Alex Springer
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The Bronze (2015)
You'll Never Look at Gymnastics in the Same Light Again
26 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
If you've ever wondered what would the world be like if Olympic champion gymnast Mary Lou Retton returned to her hometown of Fairmont, West Virginia and acted like an egotistical maniac for years after her career was finished, then director Bryan Buckley and married writing team Melissa and Winston Rauch have the filthy dark comedy you've been craving. Gymnast Hope Annabelle Greggory (Rauch) believes her hometown of Amherst, Ohio still owes her everything after winning the bronze medal in Rome. She's broke, rude, crude and treats everyone like a used toilet seat. But things change when Hope's former coach unexpectedly commits suicide and leaves a will stipulating Hope could receive $500 million so as long as she sets her ego aside and trains the town's up-and-coming gymnastics star, Maggie Townsend (Haley Lu Richardson). Team Rauch offers an explicitly lewd comedy that lets the "Big Bang Theory" star off the FCC regulation chain and shine as a fearless female comedian lead, which, sadly, does not happen as often as it should in modern-day cinema. Actor Gary Cole lends his skills as Hope's adoring father who's growing ever so tired of his daughter's disgusting behavior. With dialogue that would make a sailor blush and a sex scene that will burn hysterically disturbing imagery in your mind for life, you will never look at the sport of gymnastics in the same light ever again! -Jimmy Martin
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Timely Recollection of the Fight for Civil Rights
26 January 2015
With the heightened sense of racism that has been projected in the media in the last 12 months (not that it didn't exist without all the publicity), director Stanley Nelson's recollection of the fight for civil rights with The Black Panthers on the front lines seems highly appropriate at this juncture. While some deemed the party's actions as bold and arrogant, the passion for equal rights was front and center. Nelson divulges frank interviews with former Black Panther members as they discuss their methods that exploited the media to further their cause as well as the rallies that ignited the streets with support and outrage. The true enthrallment comes from the dastardly deeds of J. Edgar Hoover and his Counterintelligence Program that tracked, tapped, and falsified personal letters to members of the Black Panther party. The first Director of the FBI even convinced detained party members to turn on their organization and become government informants. It's an accounting with so many outrageous points it has to be true. -Jimmy Martin
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Dark Horse (2015)
Feel-Good True Account That'll Have You Jumping
26 January 2015
Who doesn't love a rags-to-riches story, especially when that unbelievable tale didn't come out of the mind of some writer in Hollywood but was, in fact, true? Such is the case with barmaid Jan Voxes and her wild idea to convince a group of locals, later known as The Alliance Partnership, to invest in breeding a championship racing horse. With the coalition in agreement, they set in motion the procurement of their potential equestrian moneymaker, Dream Alliance. While the initial bouts were not promising, the stallion proved to have as much heart as he did might. As the company makes astonishing accomplishments, they are soon challenged with a horrific tragedy and only the strongest of fighters comes out on top. You can't help but smile as these "village idiots" invade the sophisticated "sport of kings" and bring all us yahoo audience members along for the ride. The sheer joy and passion Voxes has for her horse forces onlookers to shed a tear of sadness and joy in one blink. There are few films that jolt you to the core forcing you to stand up and cheer, but Louise Osmond's feel-good account is pure perfection that'll have you not only on your feet but jumping up and down as well. -Jimmy Martin
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Candid Interviews and Tales Provide the Most Entertainment
26 January 2015
Almost 12 years ago, I had the privilege of taking Trent Harris' film class at the University of Utah, and we were assigned to observe the original "Beaver Trilogy" for an assignment. For those who don't know, this collection of three short films begins with the actual 1979 encounter with Dick Griffiths (aka Goovin' Gary) outside the KUTV studios. Griffiths eventually invites Mr. Harris to film a talent show in Beaver, Utah where he performs as "Olivia Newton Dawn." The following two elements are fictionalized recreations Mr. Harris developed starring Sean Penn and Crispin Glover respectively. Director Brad Besser sets two paths into motion in this "Where Are They Now?" endeavor as he seeks to find the whereabouts of Mr. Griffiths nearly 36 years later and showcases Mr. Harris' wild film career. While the latter takes viewers from the L.A. riots to Southeast Asia with Mr. Harris' undertakings, it's the candid interviews and uproarious tales from friends and family in central Utah that provide the most entertainment. Rather than having the story lines veer away from each other, it would have been more appealing to keep the direct line to the source material intact with additional stories from the Griffiths and their friends. -Jimmy Martin
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A Wonderful Mix of The Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter
26 January 2015
The addition of the "Sundance Kids" section at the Sundance Film Festival is a perfect opportunity to engage the next generation of film enthusiasts, and Juan Pablo Buscarini's family-friendly fantasy is the ideal accompaniment. The life of Ivan Drago (David Mazouz) is peculiar to say the least. While his father (Tom Cavanagh) sets his sights on hot air balloon adventures, Ivan dreams of creating board games like his aloof grandfather. After an accident leaves Ivan orphaned, the young inventor finds himself whisked away to a harsh boarding school only to escape and uncover the mystery behind the creator of a board game contest. Buscarini's adaptation is a wonderful mix of The Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter. The well-crafted set designs will reignite anyone's fascination for 1940s art deco. Mazouz shows his maturity as a child actor as he pits himself against veterans like Cavanagh and Joseph Fiennes. The creativity behind the characters' origins as well as their environment will appease viewers of any age. It's always a pleasure to have a film for children that refuses to underestimate the intelligence of its target audience. -Jimmy Martin
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A Beautifully-Rendered Travelogue
24 January 2015
On paper, this film comes across as pretty damn intellectually daunting—the type of film that goes over your head, but you tell people you liked it out of fear that you'll be branded as an idiot otherwise. However, as the disarmingly warm brogue of writer, director and photographer Mark Cousins sails along images of the Mediterranean Sea, the audience can't help but feel like passengers themselves. What happens over the course of the film feels like it should be called a documentary, but it comes across as more of an audio-visual love letter to the English author D.H. Lawrence—author of the scandalous Lady Chatterly's Lover— and his trip to the island of Sardinia. The filmmaker's purpose is to recapture Lawrence's visit step by step, reading the author's words as his journey unfolds. These moments were the film's most beautiful—something about the director's rhythmic narration set to images of dew-flecked spider webs and morning-frosted grass succeeded in transporting the audience into this strange world that appears to have remained unchanged since the 1920s. The film does slip a bit toward the end with its disjointed inclusion of Mussolini's rise to power, which ended up detracting from the film's initial understated beauty. Regardless, 6 Desires is both a beautifully-rendered travelogue and a celebration of Sardinian culture.
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It Follows (2014)
An Advanced Teenage Horror Film: Expertly-Crafted, Psycho-Sexual Drama
24 January 2015
David Robert Mitchell's It Follows cannily takes the torrential world of the contemporary American teenager and uses it to bring the horror film back to its visceral roots—those dirty little tendrils that obscure the collective fears of our modern society. Today's teenagers live in a bigger, more accessible world — a world in which the idea of the masked bogeyman lurking in the backseat has become clichéd to the point of being used as a Geico commercial. This is a truth that Mitchell understands completely, and his dissection of the paranoia and emotional detachment that plagues our suburbs is the genesis of this fresh interpretation of the horror genre. Following a sexual encounter with an older man, Jay (Maika Monroe) finds that she is being followed by a malevolent entity that will only leave her alone if she sleeps with someone else. This terrifying scenario throws Jay and her friends into a nightmarish game of trying to keep one step ahead of the relentless creature. Cinematographer Michael Gioulakis captures the unyielding dread that permeates the narrative with wide shots that evoke the eerie perspective of a hunter stalking its prey. It Follows feels like a natural progression of the teenage horror film—one that uses the complexity of today's young people as a canvas for some expertly-crafted, psycho-sexual drama.
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4/10
Great Acting But Bad Editing
29 January 2014
Trying to get away for a weekend and focus on their relationship, Carl (Sam Huntington) takes his wife Sue (Meaghan Rath) to a mountain lodge for some skiing and wine tasting. Unfortunately for Carl, upon arrival, he discovers that his ex-girlfriend Robyn (Emmanuelle Chriqui)—who he used to bring quite often to the same lodge back in the day—is now the owner of the lodge. Wackiness ensues as Carl tries to keep as much of his previous relationship hidden from his wife as possible. Though the acting is of high quality—both Huntington and Rath are regulars on Being Human, though Huntington will always be Jam from Detroit Rock City to me—the editing for Three Night Stand is so unsightly and choppy that it became a constant distraction throughout the film. The worst scene involves Carl and Robyn walking through the woods with their skis, then suddenly they pull up on a snowmobile, which they dismount and find themselves back with the skis as another character approaches them on the same snowmobile they had just been on—the editing is unpleasant to say the least. A tip of the hat to Huntington, Chriqui and Rath—and to Jonathan Cherry, who steals many a scene as the husband of Carl's best friend/co-worker Stacey—but between the egregious editing and the overall weak plot line, Three Night Stand is sadly insufficient.
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7/10
Blown Away
29 January 2014
Walking into this documentary about a group of immature, teenage girls, I can honestly say I had very low expectations, and, if I'm being completely honest, I only reviewed this film because I lost a coin toss. Now, that being said, I was completely blown away by Forever Not Alone. Art and Bobek focus far more on the friendships and relationships of the six main girls in the documentary than on anything stereotypical or cliché that one might usually associate with the age range, creating a brilliant sense of emotion and connection throughout the film. Fairly early on in Forever Not Alone, the group learns that one of the girls will be moving away soon with her mother, and they're slowly forced to come to terms with this fact as the film progresses. Art and Bobek do a fine job of peeling past the typical and exposing the harshness and the utter bliss that friendship can simultaneously provide.
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