Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

201611761_2_IMG_FIX_700x700“Timely” was a popular adjective to describe the film La route d’Istanbul (Road to Istanbul) at its world premiere in the Panorama section of the 2016 Berlinale Film Festival. “Recommended” or even “necessary” may now be more appropriate in light of the horrific terror attacks in Brussels of March 22.

This French/Belgian production is a small, intensely personal examination of a terrible global phenomenon: the radicalization of young Westerners and indoctrination into terrorist organizations such as ISIL. To suggest that the film has something to offer as we grapple once again with the consequences of another devastating outrage is not intended to elevate cinema as a solution for the world’s problems nor is it meant to imply that this movie, in particular, offers an answer to the question of how best to stop further attacks. Perhaps, though, La route d’Istanbul can contribute to a greater understanding of what we are confronting. (more…)

IndignationWith the 2015 Oscar season and show mercifully behind us, now seems an appropriate time to consider the film Indignation, which had its premiere at Sundance in January and then screened in the loaded Panorama section of the Berlinale Film Festival in February. It says here that with the proper handling and a fair bit of luck, Indignation could be next year’s Brooklyn – a “small” film that goes big and ends up with a Best Picture nomination. Both films are set in the United States in the early 1950’s; both have roots in the greater New York City area. But whereas Brooklyn tells the tale of the wonderful things that happen when a young Irish immigrant woman arrives, Indignation is the tragic story of what occurs when an unprepared young Jewish man leaves. (more…)

jane-got-a-gunIf you’re going to make a revenge flick, don’t outsource the acts of vengeance. In particular, if you are scripting a rape-and-revenge movie, empower your heroine to do the heavy lifting and genital severing on her own. Maybe I Spit on Your Grave is not your cup of Earl Grey, but at least, that film had the courage of its convictions.

Jane Got a Gun, but she ain’t got the balls to use it for too much of this genre wannabe flop. (more…)

The Hateful EightQuentin Tarantino wants you to know that he has now directed eight feature films. “The Eighth Film by Quentin Tarantino,” appears in the opening credits of his latest work. His eighth film even has the word eight in the title. Short of pulling a Chad Johnson and changing his name to Ocho, there seems little else Tarantino can do to convey that (1) he has done seven films before The Hateful Eight, and (2) he attaches great importance to the number. To celebrate the accomplishment and further his self-sustaining image as a film buff extraordinaire, the director turned the premiere of The Hateful Eight into a week-long event by releasing a “Roadshow Edition” of the movie to be shown in 100 theaters before the wide release of the standard version. (more…)

The RevenantIs Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant the best actor?

It would seem, for the moment, that question has been answered by the Hollywood Foreign Press, which bestowed the Best Actor award (or more precisely, the Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama award) to DiCaprio at the recent Golden Globes. The win was expected. Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) and Bryant Cranston (Trumbo) were seen in films seen by far too few. Will Smith’s turn in Concussion generated next to no buzz. That left Eddie Remayne in The Danish Girl, work that was too soon since his last win for The Theory of Everything and too far out of the mainstream for some.

So, if the matter is settled until the Oscar nominations are announced, let’s tinker with the initial query.

In The Revenant, is Leonardo DiCaprio the best actor?

Now that is a very different question. (more…)

TrumboLeave it to Hollywood to turn one of its darkest periods of cowardice into a self-aggrandizing cinematic triumph. Celebrating the life of Dalton Trumbo in a major movie from Tinseltown is irony itself; the question is whether the aftertaste is sweet or bitter? Coming off the keys of Trumbo’s typewriter, which he sat behind for hours at a time in his bathtub, beating out some of the most famous screenplays in history, the script of his own life would undoubtedly have been both sweet and sour, awash in fine wine, and surrounded by bilious clouds of cigarette smoke from his six-packs-a-day habit.

Trumbo gives us this Trumbo – a larger than life character in a story that is almost too good to be true. The short version is that Dalton Trumbo was a prolific and outstanding novelist and screenwriter, who, like many of his peers in the 1930’s and 1940’s, was also a member of the Communist Party of America. (more…)

HFilm audiences in Berlin have enjoyed two opportunities to see the film H. this year, first at the Berlinale in February and then, more recently, at the Fantasy FilmFest in August. It is a movie that does well with a second viewing as the allusions to the Helen of Troy mythology from the Iliad and The Odyssey can be distracting rather than illuminating the first time around. As the events slowly unfold on screen, filmgoers can feel as if they have wandered into a graduate school literature class without reading the assignment or even having access to the CliffsNotes version. Letting go of these concerns during a subsequent viewing allows audiences to escape a sense of frustration and enjoy the pleasures of understated storytelling within a technically sound framework. Of course, you still need to devote more mental energy than in most films, but here, one feels as if it is worth the effort even if there are elements that must be pushed to the side.

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