Archive for August, 2013

h1

Short Term 12

August 27, 2013

directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, 2013

Short Term 12

After winning the Audience Award at this year’s SXSW Film Festival in the narrative feature category, as well as earning both a Best Actress award for its star, Brie Larson, and a rare 10-minute standing ovation at the Locarno Film Festival, writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton’s Short Term 12 finally comes to theaters riding on a wave of sky-high expectations. Alas, not only does Short Term 12 fail to live up to said hype, but the overwhelming acclaim this clichéd and clumsy film is receiving as a revealing and insightful drama is more than a little puzzling.

Read full review at In Review Online

h1

Drinking Buddies

August 23, 2013

directed by Joe Swanberg, 2013

snapshot00146

With Drinking Buddies registering as writer-director Joe Swanberg’s bid for mainstream accessibility, one might go into it understandably worried that this divisive filmmaker would be compromising his vision in order to attract a wider audience. But there has always been a bracingly painful truthfulness to his films that makes each of them at least partially insightful about such subjects as stunted male maturity, as in Uncle Kent (2011), and the universal search for meaning in life, as in last year’s All the Light in Sky. Thankfully, this latest directorial effort, his 15th, is no different, even with a more high-profile cast than he’s worked with previously.

Read full review at In Review Online

h1

San Francisco Jewish Film Festival: Life According to Sam

August 6, 2013

directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix, 2013

Life According to Sam

Life According to Sam opens with a 13-year-old boy informing us of the way he views his condition. “I didn’t put myself in front of you to have you feel bad for me.” Sam is one of the few unlucky victims of a rare and fatal disease called progeria, a mysterious illness which causes premature aging. The average age of death for people who have the disease is 13. There’s no cure and no treatment. Rather than making a documentary solely about Sam and his family’s struggle, directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix craft a wholly relatable and empathetic portrait of communal kinship and steadfast action in the hope of finding a cure.

Read full review at Movie Mezzanine

h1

Europa Report

August 5, 2013

directed by Sebastián Cordero, 2013

snapshot00145

In a film generally more concerned with images than standard sci-fi shocks and thrills, Europa Report, the debut feature of writer-director Sebastián Cordero, features one image that especially stands out: a bird’s-eye-view shot inside a ship’s cockpit featuring all six members of Europa One’s crew, two members on the sides of the frame, the rest seen seated further in the distance. The wide-angle shot’s long depth of field slyly suggests a mission of sacrifice all in the name of the greater good—especially as that shot recurs throughout, but with fewer crew members seen with each new repetition. In essence, this shot acts as a neutral marker of progress, mildly raising the stakes each time it appears until there’s nothing further to report. Europa Report as a whole seems to be defined by this basic functionality: data and the “recorded image” as qualitative proof of achievement. Procedure and information propel this world forward—to the detriment of characterization and emotion.

Read full review at In Review Online

h1

The Canyons

August 3, 2013

directed by Paul Schrader, 2013

The Canyons

In all facets, The Canyons plays out like an MTV sitcom except it features dicks and boobs. Affairs, deception, and the idea of a private and interesting life are all but gone as this particular portrait of LA is etched in a catatonic state of hazy aimlessness. In this world, the men are either struggling young actors or trust-fund douchebags with ties to Hollywood who say “babe” way too often. The women lounge around in the sun with cigarettes and a drink, waiting around for their particular love interest to come home and screw them. The film adheres to boring conversations between couples that never really excel past who each has slept with, who each has just texted, and various other inconsequential exchanges.

Read full review at Sound on Sight

h1

My Month in Films: July ’13

August 1, 2013

snapshot00106

Best first time viewings
1. Drug War (To, ’13)
2. House of Tolerance (Bonello, ’11)
3. Viola (Piñeiro, ’12)
4. Sexy Beast (Glazer, ’00)
5. Twixt (Coppola, ’12)
6. The Conjuring (Wan, ’13)
7. Repo Man (Cox, ’84)
8. Bestiaire (Côté, ’12)
9. Mud (Nichols, ’12)
10. Cassandra’s Dream (Allen, ’07)

Worth mentioning
The Wolverine (Mangold, ’13)
Red Flag (Karpovsky, ’12)
13 Going on 30 (Winick, ’04)
Within the Eye of the Storm (Hermon, ’12)

Worst
Only God Forgives (Refn, ’13)
The Attack (Doueiri, ’12)
The Heat (Feig, ’13)
Simon Killer (Campos, ’12)
Pacific Rim (Del Toro, ’13)
Vessel (Ciancio, ’13)
Killing Season (Johnson, ’13)
Trance (Boyle, ’13)

h1

San Francisco Jewish Film Festival: Within the Eye of the Storm

August 1, 2013

directed by Shelley Hermon, 2012

Within the Eye of the Storm

Instead of injecting the usual talking head motif, Within the Eye of the Storm plays out more like a docudrama and a history lesson. The conversations and interactions that take place are revealing in a very general sense and fail to add an extra dimension to who these men really are amid such tremendous turmoil.  The ties to their homelands, their search for justice, and their forever lost children are matters of serious weight, but it’s exclusively told instead of felt. We witness Bassam and Rami come to terms with tragedy as we follow their daily lives and personal struggle, with the former’s involvement in a case against the State over the specifics of his daughter’s death acting as the film’s only source of momentum.

Read full review at Movie Mezzanine