Saturday, September 29, 2012

Alpeis AKA Alps (2011)

Alpeis AKA Alps (2011)
Director: Giorgos Lanthimos
Country: Greece
Runtime:93 min

A nurse, a paramedic, a gymnast and her coach have formed a service for hire.
They stand in for dead people by appointment, hired by the relatives, friends or colleagues of the deceased. The company is called Alps.
Their leader, the paramedic, calls himself Mont Blanc. Although Alps members operate under a discipline regime demanded by their leader, the nurse does not.

Friday, September 28, 2012

For the Love of Movies: Story of American Film Criticism (2009)

For the Love of Movies: Story of American Film Criticism (2009)
Director: Gerald Peary
Runtime: 80 minutes

  Directed and written by Gerald Peary, Boston Phoenix critic and one-time Acting Curator of the Harvard Film Archive, For the Love of Movies offers a 100-year history of film criticism through clips from Hollywood movies and illuminating, entertaining interviews with many of America’s key rev
iewers, including Roger Ebert (The Chicago Sun-Times), A.O. Scott (The New York Times), Lisa Schwarzbaum (Entertainment Weekly), Wesley Morris (The Boston Globe), and Harry Knowles (aintitcoolnews.com).

Narrated by Patricia Clarkson, the documentary explores the beginnings of criticism before The Birth of a Nation through the incendiary Pauline Kael-Andrew Sarris debates of the 60s and 70s, and follows the battle today between youthful one-liners and the print establishment.

 Gerald Peary says, "For the Love of Movies is the first feature documentary to tell the rich, colorful, and undeniably controversial story of the American film critic... I had to sort of invent what I think is the history of film criticism, because there wasn’t any formally written book on it."

Partly due to difficulties in getting financial backing, the documentary took nearly a decade to make. Peary says, "I guess one of the things that happened during that period was the so-called decline of print journalism... eight years ago, film criticism still seemed a viable profession... by now, there are over fifty critics who are made redundant”.

Filmmaker Magazine asks: What is the crisis of criticism? Gerald Peary replies: Simply that if you are a print critic you are in danger of losing your job at any moment. As newspapers are worried about dropping dead, it seems like film critics are a particular target. The film begins by saying, "There are 24 critics who have lost their jobs in the last several years," but since we finished the film, many more have lost their jobs. A lot of people are tagged with a title of ex-critic, but they were not ex when we filmed them just a few years ago. Sure, you can work on the web, but if you do that you're not getting paid much, or at all. And critics should be paid — this isn't an amateur thing to do, it's not like Sunday painting.
"It's a stop-the-bleeding movie," Peary tells Variety "I hope that those who watch the movie value criticism and will read it and demand it in their newspapers."

Peary laments, "Today, people select which movies to see based on advertising. Lots of excellent little pictures — foreign, independent, and documentaries — are passing through without being seen. The only way to get people to go to those films, because they have no advertising budgets, is reviews by good critics... We want people to read criticism. One way to motivate people to do that is by showing the critics’ faces and letting their voices be heard.” SOURCE: Wikipedia

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Free Men (2011)

Free Men (2011)
Director: Ismaël Ferroukhi
Country: France
Runtime:99 min 

 In Paris, in 1942. Arrested by the French police, Younes is accused of complicity and threatened with being shot. But the police detective offers him a deal: his freedom in exchange for keeping surveillance over the Paris Mosque, which is suspected of helping Resistance fighters and Jews. In the Mosque, Younes meets Algerian-born singer Salim Halali. Touched by his voice and personality, he becomes friends with him, discovering soon afterwards that he is Jewish. Despite the risks, Younes puts an end to his collaboration with the police. A friendship is born between Younes and Salim, which develops as events unfold. Anti-Jewish laws and German repression don’t prevent Salim from continuing his activities as a singer. But the net gradually tightens around him. One evening, Salim is arrested by the Gestapo who suspect him of hiding his Jewish identity. Faced with this barbarity, immigrant worker Younes, who has no political education, gradually turns into a freedom activist.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cosmopolis (2012)

Cosmopolis (2012)
Director: David Cronenberg
Country: France | Canada
Runtime: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Much of your reaction to Cosmopolis may depend on how you feel about Robert Pattinson, the 26-year-old British actor whose role as the abstinent vampire dreamboat of the Twilight series has made him an international object of fan desire (and, since he was publicly cuckolded by his co-star Kristen Stewart, of tabloid sympathy as well.). Yes, Pattinson’s combination of porcelain-doll good looks and narrow expressive range can make him seem vapid, his line deliveries wooden—but what better affect for a character like Packer, a master of the universe so callously remote from the world around him that he barely qualifies as human? Giamatti’s character, the sweaty, hovel-dwelling Benno Levin, summarizes his principled objections to Packer’s existence concisely: “You are foully, berserkly rich.” Casting Pattinson—an actor who’s also a globally recognized commodity—as a character who represents, in essence, the terrifying future of capitalism was a bold conceptual gamble on Cronenberg’s part. In some scenes, the bet pays off, especially when Pattinson is paired with a similarly sleek, remote actor (like Sarah Gadon, who plays Packer’s WASPy new wife with an Arctic chill). But when he plays opposite someone who brings the crackle of real human life to the screen—like Giamatti, who’s astounding in his one extended scene, or Juliette Binoche, who flits through too briefly as Packer’s melancholy middle-aged mistress—Pattinson’s limitations are on plain display. This mismatch in performance styles may all be part of Cronenberg’s grand plan, but it nonetheless creates an alienation effect that makes this 108-minute movie feel considerably longer.

In a live interview he and Pattinson did with the New York Times’ David Carr, Cronenberg suggests that viewers not seek to understand everything that’s happening in Cosmopolis, but instead just let the movie wash over them as an experience, the way flows of global capital—the falling dollar, the rising yuan—stream by on the screens that surround the film’s empty, anxious anti-hero. Because I’ve long been captivated by Cronenberg’s keen intelligence and highly personal cinematic vision, I took a strange pleasure in submitting to this movie’s stilted but weirdly poetic rhythms. But I freely acknowledge that for others, enduring Cosmopolis may be less fun than a backseat prostate exam.
Dana Stevens

Friday, September 21, 2012

La mala verdad (2011)

La mala verdad (2011)
Director: Miguel Angel Rocca
Country: Argentina
Runtime:94 min

Bárbara (Ailén Guerrero) is ten years old and lives with her mother, Laura (Analía Couceyro), and her grandpa, Ernesto (Alberto de Mendoza). She spends her days going to school choir practice for the end of the year recital and planning her escape with her friend Matías, eight years old, an irresistible liar and petty thief. Bárbaras behavior at school; her sad looks; the recurrent incident of her peeing on herself when witnessing a violent scene; and her drawings, where she pencils a girl who loses her face gradually; all that makes Sara (Malena Solda), the educational psychologist, and her teacher suspicious. The tension and distance among her family members are evident. Laura has a submissive attitude towards her father and Rodolfo (Carlos Belloso), her boyfriend, who is unemployed and full of debts that he tries to pay off with money from Ernestos bookshop. Bárbara and Matías spend their days planning a crazy escape. The idea is to make a raft on which they will sail out to see towards a nearby island. She also keeps in her old toys trunk the back cover of books, looking for her father who she never met. She only knows he was a writer. Her conversations with Sara begin to reveal her fears and the darkness behind this girls look.

De bon matin (2011)

De bon matin (2011)
Director: Jean-Marc Moutout
Country: France | Belgium
Runtime:90 min

Monday morning. Paul Wertret, 50, heads off to his job as a manager at the International Credit and Trade Bank. He arrives at 8 o'clock on the dot, as usual. He enters a meeting room, takes out a gun and kills two of his bosses. Then he locks himself in his office. As he waits for the inevitable police assault, this ordinary man looks back over his life and the events that led him to commit such an act.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wilaya (2012)

Wilaya (2012)
Director: Pedro Pérez Rosado
Country: Spain
Runtime: 97 minutes

 Centered around a family of Spanish-speaking Sahrawi – a stateless, mixed ethnic population inhabiting the deserts of Southwest Algeria – this minimalist, well-shot effort from Pedro Perez Rosado (Salt Water) should continue its fest run after landing the Best Actress award at Abu Dhabi (where it was known as Tears of Sand). Theatrical pickups outside Spain are less certain.
As the opening title cards explain, Wilaya of Smara is a refugee settlement of displaced persons who, following the Spanish decolonization of Mauritania and Morocco, settled in large numbers (estimated at up to 400,000) in the Western Saharan desert. Caught in political limbo (an independence movement is still seeking statehood) and largely self-sufficient, they survive under harsh tribal conditions and remain more or less cut off from the outside world.
Wilaya follows the story of Fatimetu (Nadhira Mohamed), the daughter of Sahrawi parents sent to live with a foster family in Valencia while her handicapped sister, Hayat (Memona Mohamed), and traditionalist brother, Jatri (Mohamed Moulud), remained behind in the refugee camp. Following her mother’s death and a break-up with her Spanish boyfriend, she returns home for the first time in years, expecting to remain only temporarily until she’s slowly – very slowly – swept in by local ties.
Featuring terrific widescreen cinematography by Miguel Morales (Solitary Fragments) and a captivating score by Sahwari singer Aziza Brahim (who plays a neighboring widowed mother), the film boasts enough technical prowess to capture the muted, semi-nomadic lifestyle of its characters.