The Weinstein brothers love France, and it’s a très mutual appreciation society—the French love Bob and Harvey right back. Last year, the brothers were honored at the French embassy after a screening of The Intouchables—which everyone assumed would be the brothers’ next big foreign blockbuster after The Artist, which had swept the 2012 Academy Awards with five wins (including Best Picture—the first-ever foreign film from a non-English-speaking country to do so). But The Intouchables dealt with dicier subject material (race, disability) with a sugarcoating that one reviewer unfavorably compared to Driving Miss Daisy. The Intouchables didn’t even make it into the foreign film category of the Academy Awards last year, though it was short-listed. In the end, it was nominated for nothing. Read More
In some respects, Hell Baby, the co-directing debut from duo Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon (Reno 911, The State) had the desired effect of a scary film. I left the theater dazed, upset and not a little sick to my stomach. It felt as though a curtain had been drawn back and I had finally stared into the void, only to find that the void was in the middle of a three-minute barf scene. This was disturbing not because there was vomiting in a movie about demonic possession—Linda Blair had that covered years ago—but because this round-robin of upchuck was supposed to be the funny part. Read More
What is the opposite of a “meet-cute,” the well-worn rom-com device that employs every possible version of those slapstick coffee-spilling/dog-leashes tangling/book-dropping clichés in order to get the film’s lovers properly introduced? So prevalent has this trope become in romantic comedies that its inversion, a goofy and endearing separation of the film’s protagonists, has, until recently, been almost unthinkable.
But the rules for rom-coms are changing, and we may have recently entered the era of the beat-it-cute. As last summer’s indie darling Celeste & Jesse Forever tried to prove, sometimes there is such a thing as a gay divorce (as in Cole Porter, if that clarifies anything). Only one year later, and we have our second attempt at the “friends with Balkanization” theme, with the British import I Give It a Year, a movie that makes one wonder whether millennials are so scarred by divorce statistics that “happily ever after” now refers exclusively to non-litigious trial separations. Read More
Austenland begins with a concept so clever you wonder why it hadn’t been done before: what would a live action role-playing game geared toward women look like? It probably wouldn’t involve overweight accountants embodying orcs, hitting cardboard swords while bacne-ridden knights trade fake gold for fake amulets. What’s more girly than Jane Austen, whose heroines were plucky, witty and unostentatiously pretty, and who veritably set the standard for the “hate on first date” model of relationships? (To be fair, a horse named Sparkles Pancake may be more girly. But don’t worry, she makes an appearance; though sparkly vampires may might have been more appropriate, given that Twilight author Stephanie Meyer is one of Austenland’s producers.) Read More
Chris and Keanu’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure: Side by Side Zooms in on Role of Digital Techonolgy in Film
Have you ever wondered what your favorite director thought about shooting on digital film? How about actress Greta Gerwig? Have you even considered what the indie actress thought the first time she heard the whirring sound of an actual celluloid camera? What of cinematographers and colorists—how interested are you in exploring their relationships? (Are they adversaries? Do they work as a team? Did they start out adversaries, but thanks to advances in technology, now work as a team?) Have you ever wondered how Keanu Reeves would sound saying such profound phrases as “film has helped us share our experiences and dreams,” or “by the 1980s, Avid had developed digital editing into a cost-effective, computer-based system”?
If the answer to any of the above is “yes—but only if fed to me through a 90-minute documentary”—then you are exactly the niche audience longtime production manager and part-time documentarian Chris Kenneally had in mind for his second feature-length film, Side by Side. Read More
Bachelorette’s mere existence is a success story, regardless of the film’s quality. Leslye Headland adapted her Off Broadway play—about a trio of women and their ambivalence about and debauchery during the wedding of a loathed frenemy—for the screen and got a few high-wattage stars on board; the movie, first released online rather than gradually in limited release, has already hit number one on the iTunes rental platform. Read More
Warning: It may be a while before you figure out why, exactly, people are calling The Ambassador a “comedy.” Then again what’s not hilarious about a documentary that explores diplomatic corruption, the brutal blood-diamond trade, Pygmy exploitation and casual violence in the Central African Republic?
Danish journalist Mads Brügger—who looks like the ill-conceived but not entirely unattractive offspring of Jonathan Ames and Hunter S. Thompson—went undercover in the region, posing as a rich European interested in procuring a lucrative Liberian diplomatic post. Such a title affords you many things in C.A.R., not the least of which is the ability to discreetly purchase a diamond mine, which you can then begin capitalizing on, smuggling its product out of the country (once the right palms have been greased). Just make sure you can trust the people with whom you do business, as they might die, flee the country with your money, find out that you aren’t actually a diplomat and hand you over to the government—or simply have you killed. The comedy is rife. Read More
Somewhere Between is documentarian Linda Goldstein Knowlton’s love letter to her adopted daughter Ruby; the film ends with home videos of Ruby at the beach. Though the film is not specifically about Ruby, she lights up the screen in her brief appearance. “Ruby’s journey will be her own,” intones Ms. Goldstein Knowlton. That’s because Ruby’s Read More
Lawless begins with the shooting death of a pig, a scene that perfectly encapsulates the film’s tone: cruel and strange. The shooting is free of context aside from one child spurring another on to pull the trigger while the pig writhes in its pen, sensing danger in the air. The film never returns to the Read More
Fans of The Artist’s Oscar-winning star Jean Dujardin will be delighted to see that he can do caddish modern-day egotist as well as he does caddish silent-film-era egotist. In the opening scene of Little White Lies, the camera tracks Mr. Dujardin, as Ludo, through a club as he looks for cocaine, brusquely propositions girls, dances Read More