Archive for the ‘Foreign’ Category

Dragon InnToo often lost in the hype surrounding anniversary re-releases and 4K restorations of classic films is whether these movies still maintain a contemporary entertainment value or are they of interest only to cinephiles and film school students. So far in 2015, we have seen the 75th anniversary release of The Maltese Falcon and a return to theaters of the 1954 classic, On The Waterfront. Not only are these two movies among the most influential in film history, both remain riveting cinema and still hold the power to enthrall a mainstream audience. (more…)

Advertisements

ALOYSFor many, full immersion into a film festival – that is, seeing between 30 and 40 films in the course of less than two weeks – does not seem a pleasurable or meaningful way to spend one’s life, or even one’s vacation. Considering that in 2014, the average number of movie tickets sold per person in the U.S. for the year was 3.7, the idea of seeing that many films in a day is mind boggling for many. Other than an intense love of film, another explanation exists for why someone would travel 11 hours over two flights to a foreign country, spend 12 nights alone in a hotel, only to watch three or four movies per day – which is the thumbnail itinerary for this critic’s February trip to Germany for Berlinale. Invariably, over the course of the festival, at least a hidden treasure emerges, one film, maybe two, that might otherwise go unnoticed or unreleased internationally.  At the 2015 Berlinale, Austrian films Homesick and The Last Summer of the Rich were two gems on display that have been seen only sporadically since their premieres.

At the 2016 Berlinale, Aloys, a Swiss feature that defies categorization, but might be best be described as a post-modern detective flick in which an Asperger Sam Spade goes off in search of himself, was the prize that made the trip worthwhile. (more…)

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…)

CreepyOften, the greatest threat to the success of a thriller is an insistence on providing answers in the second half of the movie to the questions that have been skillfully raised in the first half. Not knowing is invariably more suspenseful than having your suspicions confirmed. Such is the case with the new Japanese film Creepy that had its world premiere in Berlin in February. For the first hour, the movie successfully navigates between two distinct storylines, but when the plots begin to converge, the entire effort unravels. The last half hour of this too long film (130 minutes) is a chore to get through. Director Kyoshi Kurosawa, best known for J horror standards including Pulse, Loft, and The Cure, takes too long to get where we know he’s going and then doesn’t seem to have a very good idea of what to do once he gets there. (more…)

TrivisaThere is a notable lack of overt sentiment in the Hong Kong action thriller, Trivisa, but just below the surface of this intriguing film, there is an ache. Trivisa is a bittersweet valentine to the heyday of the hardboiled Hong Kong crime flicks of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Strikingly, the movie does not attribute the decline of the genre to the growing regional influence of Hollywood films that assimilated the themes and talent of Hong Kong action cinema, but squarely targets the handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997 as the end of an era. (more…)

office2The new Korean thriller Office has one of the most dramatic demonstrations of the power of image in recent memory. A single shot, some five minutes into the movie, showing a hand gripping a hammer in the foreground and a domestic scene within an apartment in the background elicits gasps from audiences anticipating and fearing what will happen next before it is even shown. That director Hong Won-Chan can capture such a moment in his first feature film merits kudos, and, even if that represents the dramatic zenith of this uneven effort, his talent is unmistakable.

(more…)

MV5BMTM1MDI5NDIzN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTE2Nzk1OA@@._V1__SX1202_SY828_Is there such a thing as rational nostalgia?

Can a romantic longing for missing elements of the past be justified analytically?

In the rush to a streamlined, sensible, efficient 6G, fully digital world, have we left behind essential naugahyde elements of the old, analog neighborhoods?

Damn it, wouldn’t life be better if we still had drive-in movie theaters? (more…)