Browsing Tag


by Paul Attard Retrospective

Hill of Freedom | Hong Sang-soo

October 25, 2018
Hill of Freedom

For Hong Sang-soo, a filmmaker who usually favors fairly taut narrative structures, Hill of Freedom is something of a departure. The film operates in a mode of consistent fluctuation, with changing languages, temporal discontinuity, and an overall uncertainty as to the relationships’ trajectories. This is, in large part, due to a deceptively clever framing device: South Korean Kwon (Seo Young-hwa) is first seen reading letters left by her Japanese lover, Mori…

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by Simon Abrams by Steve Carlson Podcasts

Bad Idea Podcast | Episode 32

December 18, 2017

#32: Beyond the Masked Tortilla: Musicians Making Movies Download episode here. Episode Description: “This is where we came in…” Like guilty men returning to the scene of a crime, Simon and Steve decide to revisit an idea they’ve had before — in fact, the idea behind the very first Bad Idea, the cinematic career of Frank Zappa.…

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by Chris Mello Retrospective

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? | Sion Sono

August 26, 2016
Why Don't

There’s a moment late in Why Don’t You Play in Hell? that neatly sums up Sion Sono’s distinctive vision. A boy crawls through a blood-soaked room to be next to the girl he loves, a girl he’s only just met — and there’s a sword running through his head as he does this, transforming him into a sort of grotesque unicorn. As in many of Sono’s best films, the extravagant violence here is motivated by grandiose emotions. And while it makes loud…

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Drew Hunt Retrospective

Himizu | Sion Sono

August 25, 2016

Sion Sono’s near-masterpiece Himizu takes place in the shadow of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and ensuing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown, the largest such event since Chernobyl in 1986. The disaster left the surrounding area and national psyche ravaged, but if we’re to believe the film’s pessimistic view of Japanese society, Fukushima Daiichi wasn’t the only toxic thing about contemporary Japan. An unabashedly gloomy coming-of-age tale, Himizu turns a scornful eye toward a culture that promotes individualism while simultaneously hindering…

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by Jake Mulligan Retrospective

Guilty of Romance | Sion Sono

August 25, 2016
Guilty of Romance

An unfulfilled housewife drifts away from her mannered husband by selling her body whenever he’s away in Sion Sono’s Guilty of Romance—a film that seems in conversation with Luis Buñuel’s classic Belle de Jour. As with his forebear, the central transgression Sono is after is the wandering sex life of an ostensibly monogamous woman, a subject the director makes personal in both writing and casting. The kept woman is Izumi Kikuchi (Megumi Kagurazaka, Sono’s wife), who’s left to rigorous housekeeping each day. Her perpetually domineering husband makes…

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by Carson Lund Film

Sabbatical | Brandon Colvin

February 27, 2015
Sabbatical (2014)

As middle-aged philosophy professor Ben Hardin (Robert Longstreet) endures an existential nosedive, Sabbatical responds by redirecting that void on the audience through stylistic deprivation. Director Brandon Colvinshoots in a restrictive 4:3 aspect ratio and never moves his camera. Generally, his shots run parallel to a wall or some other flat surface, and his characters, rarely moving drastically, exist in geometric relationship to that surface. (It’s hard to recall a single ¾ view of a subject in the film…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

A Most Violent Year | J.C. Chandor

December 30, 2014
A Most Violent Year (2014)

Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) is an ambitious immigrant who has secured a modest toe-hold distributing heating oil. Though he’s just taken a major risk in obtaining a piece of property that will allow him to expand and thrive, his competitors are robbing his trucks and threatening the safety of his employees. To make matters worse, his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain), the daughter of a powerful organized-crime figure, is pressing him to take more illicit measures to protect his investments…

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by Ty Landis Film

Unbroken | Angelina Jolie

December 29, 2014

Comparable to reading a biography with informative chunks ripped out, leaving gaping holes aplenty in the narrative, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken is little more than an incomplete and wholly misguided rendering of the fight of the human spirit. Chronicling the life of Louis “Louie” Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II, Jolie’s second directorial effort following the forgettable In the Land of Blood Honey is a broad, dull, one-note treatment of potentially…

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by Carson Lund Film

Two Days, One Night | Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne

December 24, 2014

Many of the interactions in Two Days, One Night occur on opposite sides of doorways, liminal spaces echoing protagonist Sandra’s (Marion Cotillard) temporary suspension between employment and unemployment. In their new film, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are fond of such uncomplicated visual correlatives for their lead character’s plight. Bringing Sandra closer to the camera during her moments of emotional self-awareness (be it anguish or ecstasy) or letting her drift further away in bouts of…

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by Matt Lynch Film

Big Eyes | Tim Burton

December 24, 2014

During the 1960s, painter Margaret Keane’s artwork, largely depicting children with outlandishly large eyes, was sold under the name of her husband, Walter, who apparently exhibited all manner of unpleasant behavior in his attempts to coerce his wife into complying with his ruse. She eventually left him and successfully sued for the rights to her work. It’s a pretty straightforward story, seemingly tailor-made for a tidy Hollywood triumph-over-adversity biopic. The disappointment of…

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by Luke Gorham Film

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies | Peter Jackson

December 24, 2014

With the release of The Battle of the Five Armies, the third and final installment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, it should be obvious to all who have followed him down this path that this second Middle Earth triptych is not “based on” its titular source material in the same way his Lord of the Rings films were. He takes inspiration and major plot points from J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal (and relatively brief) fantasy novel, but this three-part Hobbit is as…

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by Veronika Ferdman Film

The Gambler | Rupert Wyatt

December 23, 2014
EXCLUSIVE FOR FIRST USE WITH USA TODAY SNEAK PEEK ON 10/08/14 0R 10/09/14. MUST APPEAR IN PRINT FOR ONLINE USE Mark Wahlberg as Jim Bennett and Jessica Lange as Roberta in a scene from the motion picture "The gambler." CREDIT: Claire Folger, Paramount Pictures.  [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

If you haven’t seen Karel Reisz’s 1974 The Gambler before seeing Rupert Wyatt’s new Mark Wahlberg-starring remake, don’t watch it in close proximity to the new version. Here is yet another classic case of an original that makes the flaws of the remake seem that much harsher. There’s some wonderful mise-en-abyme surrounding Reisz’s original. James Toback wrote the heavily autobiographical script about a Jewish college English professor with a deeply self-destructive gambling problem…

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