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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Entries in foreign films (215)

Sunday
Apr272014

Tribeca: Three Bizarro Twin Gay Films

Tribeca wraps tonight but we're still writing. Here's your host Nathaniel on three LGBT offerings. Portions of this piece were originally published in his column at Towleroad

The Tribeca Film Festival, founded in 2002 at least in part to help revitalize the Tribeca neighborhood after 9/11, has migrated and grown over the years; in 2014 I saw almost everything in Chelsea. An apt location because there seemed to be a lot of gay movies. Here are three, the first two of which seem like warring fraternal twins and the other which may or may not have psychotic doppleganger issues.

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Sunday
Apr272014

Tribeca: Women Behaving Badly

Coverage of the Tribeca Film Festival continues with abstew's thoughts on 'Lucky Them' and 'Bright Days Ahead'

Film is packed with male anti-heroes, men with arrested development, or the classic older man / younger woman love affair that at this point you'd have to do something completely out of the box for it to feel different or unique. While those storylines more often than not seem to carry a male sensibility about them, that hasn't stopped a couple of new films attempting to take those tried and true scenarios and mix them up with a feminine point of view. The latest films to do so (Lucky Them and Bright Days Ahead) have a couple of female directors (Megan Griffiths and Marion Vernoux) giving their leading ladies (Toni Collette and Fanny Ardant) a chance to indulge in their inner (wo)man-child. Unfortunately, in both cases, the gender swap doesn't bring any new insight. 

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Friday
Apr252014

Tribeca: "Zero Motivation," Winner of Best Narrative Feature

Here's Diana on one of the big winners of the Tribeca Film Festival...

A young woman saves a seat on a bus for her friend. The friend runs on and all is well, or at least until the driver tells everyone that they have to exit the bus and get on again. The two women shout dibs on their seats, but the jump cut reveals it was to no avail, with both standing in the midst of the jam-packed aisle for the very long and arduous bus ride ahead of them. No, this isn’t a Megabus or a school bus, but it is on its way to a camp of sorts: an army base in middle-of-nowhere Israel. These two women are army secretaries, serving their mandatory two years out handling mail, shredding paper and having their rearends ogled as they serve coffee and biscuits to predominantly male officers. Loosely based on her own experiences in the Israeli army (and a Sundance Directors and Screenwriters Lab participant), Talya Levie’s Zero Motivation follows Zohar (Dana Ivgy) and Daffi (Nelly Tagar) through boredom, romance and record-breaking Minesweeper scores...

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Thursday
Apr242014

Tribeca: "Vara: A Blessing" A Colorful Hallucination

More Tribeca from Nathaniel...

Have you ever felt cheated by a movie you actually liked? If so sit down next to me and let's talk Vara: A Blessing over popcorn.

Vara: A Blessing
A general rule of thumb for non A-list film festivals: the foreign films will be better than the home-grown product. (There's a reason some films don't win the lottery of distribution beyond bad luck). So of all the films I saw at Tribeca one that I was quite excited for was Vara: A Secret, which is about a temple dancer named Lila (played with impish gorgeousity by Shahana Goswami) who is obsessed with Krishna, the blue skinned god. She decides to pose for a lowly field worker named Shyam who wants to be a sculptor. That's something quite above his station and will anger the village if they find out. 

Shyam looks like this... 

(and this isn't even a particularly flattering photo of first time acting beauty Devesh Rajan)

...which means Lila is in deep trouble and not just from spiritual ecstasy. She starts picturing Shyam as Krishna with blue skin in stylized hallucinations and continues to dance up a passionate storm, exciting the wealthy Landlord who is looking for a young wife. Lots of drama of the spiritual, social, political and carnal nature follows.

I was thoroughly engaged though you can see a lot of the plot points coming a mile away rendering several scenes redundant or extraneous when the film only really takes off whenever it ditches plot for Lila's imagination and worship; more dancing and hallucinations, please.

Maybe it's reductive of me, but I enjoy feeling like I've learned something about "exotic" (sorry) cultures when I go to the movies - escapism with subtitles. So color me perplexed that this extremely Indian film (very steeped in old school traditions and the caste system and the taxonomy of Hindi gods) was in English!!! I felt cheated that I didn't get to read the screen. (This also killed the US release of Kon-Tiki for me since I was so looking forward to all those hunky blonde Scandinavians speaking Norsk. Foreign actors speaking English in movies from their home country? No sale!)

Well, there were subtitles but Vara doesn't need them at all because all of the actors speak English well (the only time I've ever needed subtitles for English language films is during slang-filled movies about the British/Irish/Scottish underclasses, Trainspotting and Fish Tank and the like - you know the type.) B/B-

Thursday
Apr032014

DVD Review: The Great Beauty

Tim here. The recent release of Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty on a DVD/Blu-Ray combo from the Criterion Collection means that most of us in North American finally have our first decent chance to see the most recent winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. And by “decent chance”, I mean two things: one is that if you live outside of any of the usual big urban centers that get little foreign releases, The Great Beauty hasn’t been remotely near your home before now. The other is that even if you live in one of those places, The Great Beauty isn’t likely to have played in any of the best & shiniest multiplexes, but in the dogged little art theaters that don’t have the money to do much besides show movies in a more or less tolerable environment. Where I live in Chicago, for example, the film played in the biggest art house that’s long on well-preserved atmosphere from the golden age of movie theaters, and which boasts just about the crappiest projection and tinniest speakers of any commercial venue.

That’s no way at all to see a movie as heavily invested in surface-level appeal as The Great Beauty, so that’s one cause for celebration all by itself. Now we have a chance to see Luca Bigazzi’s cinematography in crisp, retina-searing high definition, allowing all the rich, lurid colors of the production design and costume to glow right off the screen.

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Friday
Mar212014

Posterized: Lars von Trier

Denmark's most important and most self important troublemaker Lars von Trier is back with the two-part Nymphomaniac. Charlotte Gainsbourg stars as the title character and recounts her lifelong sexcapades. Is there really 5 hours of story to tell? Or is it just hard to edit yourself when you're doing something vignette style? And how do we count this in his filmography anyway... as one or two films?

Is it really one film delivered at two separate chunks or two separate films? Not that Von Trier's filmography is easy to parse in the usual way, making posterized a bit more challenging. [more...]

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