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Interview: Joel Potrykus (Buzzard)

March 7, 2015

buzzard_credit_photo_courtesy_of_sob_noisse

Movie Mezzanine: Buzzard is the third film in your “animal trilogy,” as you’ve called it. Were these always the three stories you wanted to tell in succession?

Joel Potrykus: Well, not exactly. Coyote [his short from 2010] just kind of happened on its own, and then once I started writing Ape (2012) and decided, yeah, it needs to be called Ape, we all kind of sat around and [decided] we need to do make this an official trilogy. So the trilogy idea didn’t start to happen until we were writing Ape, and I didn’t want to make something where if someone didn’t see Ape, they wouldn’t understand Buzzard. I feel like I told less of a story in the trilogy but more of an emotion, an idea, a feeling. It’s more just kind of a study on…I wouldn’t want to say politics, but a study on human nature from my perspective.

Read full interview at Movie Mezzanine

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Blu-ray Review: Don’t Look Now

February 12, 2015

directed by Nicolas Roeg, 1973

Don't Look Now

Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now presents its world of grief as something both recognizable and sympathetic, but it’s also one that becomes more frighteningly askew and enigmatic with each passing minute. Endlessly resisting the urge to move forward and backward in any coherent straight line, the genius of Roeg’s 1973 supernatural horror landmark rests in its unsettling depiction of the compression of time. Despair, neglect, and irresponsibility all weigh down on the film’s primary characters, a British couple who have left their stateside home for Venice after the death of their daughter. Dread and tragedy seem to follow them everywhere, leaving the couple and the audience to intuit the unpredictable nature of the images and sounds Roeg presents us with. The film’s famous imagery has no doubt left a lasting impression over the years, but in revisiting the film via Criterion’s new edition, Don’t Look Now feels as chilling and timeless as ever.

Read full review at Movie Mezzanine

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Blu-ray Review: La Cienaga

January 29, 2015

directed by Lucrecia Martel, 2001

cien3

The constant menace of ennui lingers over every frame in La Cienaga, director Lucretia Martel’s stunning début that unfolds with an unsettling nightmarish sprawl that seems to stretch on long after the credits roll. There are no instances of traditional horror present in this sweaty and sticky setting, only cyclical occurrences and the inevitability of repeated social rituals that fail to signify any sense of hope or escape for the film’s many characters. Observing the banal activities of a rich extended family in the summertime, Martel’s film is filled with a certain type of societal rot that only she could precisely construct with the sort of detail that is boldly applied here.

Read full review at Movie Mezzanine

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Cake

January 26, 2015

directed by Daniel Barnz, 2014

Cake

In Cake, it takes about fifteen minutes for director Daniel Barnz to establish the ground rules for this familiar portrait of grief and addiction, followed up by another 90 minutes or so of dramatic clumsiness and eye-rolling clichés. Whether it is drugs, sex, or booze, each brings a routine numbing quality to the table for Claire Bennett (Aniston), a seemingly darkly comedic and scathing woman who we first meet in a support group for chronic physical pain. The group is discussing the recent suicide of one of their members, while Claire draws appalling gasps due to her candid sarcasm on the matter. Sporting facial and body scars as well as weedy hair, Aniston’s return to drama screams “I’m ready for recognition!” but Cake does a horrible job of providing Aniston with much to work with.

Read full review at Sound on Sight

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2014 in Film

January 23, 2015

Another year in the books. A lot of good, a lot of bad, and a lot of whatever. Found myself watching less from other years due to my TV critic gig (100 titles or so viewed in theaters), something I’ll look to strongly rectify in 2015. Once again, TIFF was marvelous, not only did the festival produce a number of films seen in my top ten, and some truly great memories (everyone once in their life must witness an Abel Ferrara Q & A), but the cinephile camaraderie present at the festival was at an all-time high for me. Not many cinematic regrets in 2014 save for the fact that I skipped Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2 and It Follows during TIFF in favor of more sleep. All in all, I got away pretty clean. But before I unveil my list for 2014, let’s take a look back at my favorites from 2013.

1. Under the Skin
2. Bastards
3. Upstream Color
4. Inside Llewyn Davis
5. The Immigrant
6. The Wolf of Wall Street
7. Drug War
8. Before Midnight
9. Jealousy
10. Stranger by the Lake
11. Manakamana
12. Our Sunhi
13. 12 Years a Slave
14. Closed Curtain
15. A Touch of Sin
16. At Berkeley
17. Side Effects
18. The White Reindeer
19. I Used to Be Darker
20. Her
21. The Strange Little Cat
22. This Is Martin Bonner
23. The Conjuring
24. Bullet to the Head
25. The Counselor

Now, for my 2014 favorites (list based on international premiere dates). Click on highlighted titles for fun stuff when applicable.

Honorable mention:
Force Majeure
Welcome to New York
Citizenfour
Edge of Tomorrow
Still Alice
John Wick
Lucy
Black Coal, Thin Ice
Eden
Step Up: All In
Snowpiercer
Beyond the Lights
Love Is Strange
Foxcatcher
The Babadook
Whiplash
Life Itself
Journey to the West

listen up philip
10. Listen Up Philip

Actress
9. Actress

goodbye to language
8. Goodbye to Language 3D

The_Homesman
7. The Homesman

Inherent_Vice
6. Inherent Vice

gbh
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

heaven-knows-what
4. Heaven Knows What

boyhood
3. Boyhood

two days
2. Two Days, One Night

Horse_Money
1. Horse Money

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Unbroken

December 29, 2014

directed by Angelina Jolie, 2014

Unbroken

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 (2011) is a broad, dull, one-note treatment of potentially inspiring material that is entirely devoid of a valid directorial perspective and an overarching sense of wisdom.

Read full review at In Review Online

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Blu-ray Review: Tootsie

December 26, 2014

directed by Sydney Pollack, 1982

Tootsie

The iconic glow of Sydney Pollack’s Tootsie undoubtedly resides in its impressive cinematic shelf life, but it’s nearly impossible to envision anything close to the same film existing in today’s mainstream landscape where tricky and thoughtful gambits are almost impossible to come by. While the film’s take on shifting social and sexual identities does carry with it an undeniable expiration date, there exists a wealth of justifiable cause for the film’s well-earned Criterion facelift more than 30 years after its initial release. Spiritually astute, confidently performed, and blessed with the late Sydney Pollack’s knack for nourished character craftsmanship, Tootsie finds resonance not in the humor of the everyman struggling actor dressing up as middle-aged woman to earn a paying gig, but in locating personal betterment amidst its situational comedy exterior; it’s a movie about how acting and role-playing serves as a tool for enlightenment.

Read full review at Movie Mezzanine

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