Archive for February, 2014

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Almost Human

February 24, 2014

directed by Joe Begos, 2013

almost human

Few filmmakers seem capable of rising above the sad state of affairs that is modern indie horror, the rest seem caught up in a boundless mode of non-creativity and excessive aping that’s neither welcome nor admirable. Joe Begos’ Almost Human is the latest in the long lineage of forgettable low-budget indie fare, a hilariously slight blend of sci-fi and horror that appears drained of ideas a third of the way through (never mind the already stretched 80 minute runtime).

Read full review at Movie Mezzanine

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Omar

February 21, 2014

directed by Hany Abu-Assad, 2013

Omar

Tragedy and betrayal swirl around Palestinian writer/director Hany Abu-Assad’s Omar, a contemporary thriller/melodrama that sheds further light on the simmering tensions existing in the Middle East. While Assad has tackled this milieu before, most notably in Paradise Now (2005), Omar is yet another eye-opening look into the violence that desperation often spawns via the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If Paradise Now grimly tackled the morality of two would-be suicide bombers, Omar explores a similar stripping away of humanity in a much more relatable way, especially through a sprinkling of dark humor and the inclusion of a romantic angle.

Read full review at In Review Online

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Jimmy P.

February 16, 2014

directed by Arnaud Desplechin, 2013

Jimmy P.

It’s been six years since Arnaud Desplechin’s widely hailed 2008 holiday melodrama A Christmas Tale, a film that was as rich, inviting and maddening as it was overstuffed and energetic. His latest, Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian), which premiered at Cannes to much lesser praise, finds the director ditching the sprawling scope of his previous film, this time focusing on the true story of a pair of men and the bond they reach through psychotherapy. While at first glance this seems appropriate material for Desplechin to delve into, Jimmy P. comes across as a willfully uneven psychiatric period drama, in which a great deal is articulated only to yield less than desirable results.

Still, Jimmy P. is far from a failure and remains intermittently interesting due to its cast. The reliable Benicio del Toro plays Native American Blackfoot Jimmy Picard, a gentle WWII vet plagued by spells of dizziness, headaches, odd dreams, and recurring hearing loss. Brought in to make sense of Picard’s affliction and schizophrenic diagnosis is French anthropologist and Native American researcher Georges Devereux (Mathieu Amalric). The casting of the two actors might suggest a far more enlivened look at the subject matter at hand, but Deplechin surprisingly scales back the theatrics, paving the way for a much more sobering and traditional narrative.

Read full review at Movie Mezzanine

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Drift

February 11, 2014

directed by Benny Vandendriessche, 2013

drift

Details are left intentionally scarce in Benny Vandendriessche’s Drift, a wintry existential drama that follows an unnamed Belgian man’s own personal erosion and decay following personal tragedy.  As an offering of “slow cinema,” Vandendriessche is no Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and though this film’s strength ironically resides in its digital photography, Vandendriessche lacks the natural intuitiveness for his images to leave any lasting impact beyond their aesthetic assuredness.

What’s perhaps most disappointing about Drift is not its frail narrative or its thin characterizations, but its insistence on a mythical journey that is more about its main character flailing and moping around in the mud and muck of nature than it is about anything tangible. There are elements of human struggle within: the depiction of insanity especially, but Drift is too often defined by its banal structure to truly linger.

Read full review at Movie Mezzanine

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Vampire Academy

February 10, 2014

directed by Mark Waters, 2014

VAMPIRE ACADEMY

Playing like a low-grade teen sitcom stretched out to feature length, Mark Waters’s Vampire Academy is a poor excuse of a film looking to cash in on the recent success of the seemingly undying vampire craze. It’s composed entirely of shopworn clichés, executed without the slightest hint of wit or humor. Fancying itself as an action/comedy/fantasy, Vampire Academy is none of those things; it’s simply a creative tomb that one hopes would signal the death knell of this tired genre.

Based on the young-adult series by Richelle Mead, the film concerns itself with the gossiping, clique-y and bloodthirsty students of St. Vladimir’s Academy in rural Montana. Zoey Deutch stars at Rose Hathaway, a half human/vampire assigned with the task of protecting vampire Lissa (Lucy Fry) from a group of immortal Vampires called the Strigoi. Along the way we meet other occupants of the school: Headmistress Kirova (Olga Kurylenko), Queen Tatiana (Joely Richardson) and an elder named Victor (Gabriel Byrne). Throw in a pack of hunky and joyless male vampires and you get the gist.

Read full review at In Review Online