Icarus Films continues a long history of making (mostly foreign) "provocative" films available in North America with the release of the 2017 Chinese film "Angels Wear White." The 26 wins and additional 41 nominations for this film about a public official sexually assaulting two middle-school girls verify that this is a special addition to the incredible Icarus catalog.
The aforementioned accolades include Best Film and other top honors at the 2018 Asian Film Awards. Closer to home, "Angels" receives similar love at the 2018 Nashville Film Festival and the RiverRun International Film Festival.
Our story begins with middle-school girls Wen and Xin arriving late at school; their positive and less-than-positive interactions with classmates indicates that things are the same everywhere.
The plot thickens on school authorities and the 'rents getting involved. It quickly is learned that the girls are the victim of a sexual assault at the motel where they spent the night. The perpetrator being a local government official complicates matters.
Director/writer Vivian Qu divides the action between the investigation and the two older teen girls who live and work at the scene of the crime. Similar to the dynamic between Wen and Xin, Lily is a lazy party girl who spends a great deal of time with smooth criminal boyfriend Jian; Mia is the country mouse who wants to do the right thing but is vulnerable because she lacks the documentation that legal status requires.
Attorney Hao is the conduit between the two narratives. She wants to protect the victims against police coercion and also is persuading Mia to tell the truth,
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Commissioner is using every weapon in his arsenal in an effort to try to protect his freedom and his reputation. This includes exerting pressure on a man with unclean hands regarding the attack.
We also get a highly cynical negotiating session; this harsh scene includes the highly symbolic message that an iPhone should be of adequately high value to serve as payment for allowing sexual assaults to go unpunished. The significance is that the average Chinese person cannot afford this luxury item that Chinese workers are paid very little to produce.
The conclusion of "Angels" is surprising and provides the last bit of commentary on modern Chinese culture. We see the extent to which the government will go to maintain a facade of an orderly society and to protect the men in power.
The numerous themes in the movie show that it is one to watch; it provides a relatable dilemma and paints what seems to be a realistic picture of China. We additionally get reminded of the perils of hanging out with a bad influence.
Icarus Films once more shows the immense value of world cinema as to the DVD release of the 2017 Indonesian feminist drama "Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts." This compelling movie with a strong live-stage vibe shows that Quentin Tarantino does not have the monopoly on Amazon warrior revenge films.
The 17 wins and 25 additional nominations for "Marlina" show that director Mouly Surya has all the right stuff; these accolades include numerous honors at the 2018 Film Festival Indonesia and Best Cinematography at the 2018 Asia-Pacific Film Festival.
The following Icarus trailer for "Marlina" clearly shows the Tarantino and classic Western influences on this must-see film.
The titular felon is a relatively recent widow living in relative isolation on her farm; as is typical for good storytelling, the extent of her woes is revealed throughout the film.
The nightmare begins within the first moments of "Marlina." Bad hombre Markus shows at her door and immediately plays cat-and-mouse. The horrible truth is soon shared when the interloper matter-of-factly tells his hostess that his gang is on their way to steal all of her livestock and to rape her if they have time after that theft. He adds insult to those imminent injuries by ordering her to start cooking dinner for the group.
As the film title indicates, things do not go as planned. This leads to the second act that centers around Marlina taking the long journey to the nearest town to report the crimes and her response with extreme prejudice. This trip involves both "persuading" a bus driver to co-operate and an overdue pregnant woman with her own man troubles to join the crusade.
The response of the police is true to factual and fictional patterns; any viewer with a soul will want to smash the typewriter of the cop who takes the statement of Marlina over his head.
The long arm of the law coming up short leads to showing that you sometimes must send a woman to do the job of a man. The even more sad truth as to this is that it demonstrates the limited extent to which the phrase "you've come a long way, Baby" applies.
All of this leads to a climax that brings the action back full circle to the beginning of the film; the sad messages as to this are that things never change and that you often much take matters into your own hands.
The bonus features include behind-the-scenes coverage and an interview with Surya.
The Blu-ray quality Film Movement DVD of the 2018 drama "Styx" proves that some do make 'em like they used to; aspects of this are showing that art and commerce are not mutually exclusive and that even a simple low-budget concept can be exceptional in the right hands, such as those of writer/director Wolfgang Fischer.
The well-deserved 29 wins and 18 additional nominations for "Styx" circumventing the globe shows apt love for this film about a solo sailing trip turned horrific ethical and moral dilemma. These accolades include Fischer getting the "New Auteurs" honor at the 2018 AFI Fest and several wins at the 2019 German Film Awards.
The following Movement trailer for "Styx" offers a strong sense of the multi-award-wininng perfect performance by Susanne Wolff in this essentially one-woman show, the aforementioned cinematography, and the compelling dilemma around which much of the action is centered.
The opening on-the-job scenes establish emergency-room doctor Rike (Wolff) as a compassionate and fierce medical professional; subsequently embarking on the aforementioned journey to what can be considered a Charles in charge natural paradise shows that her strong will and independence are not limited to her work.
The first real obstacle on this trip is the most physically daunting; a warning of an impending storm does not deter Rike from literally and figuratively changing course. The ensuing tempest may not be perfect but does throw very rough weather at this fearless crew of one. Her tiny ship is tossed but not lost; nor does she run aground.
The calm after the storm is disrupted when Rike encounters a ship in distress that is filled with people who do have to live like refugees. Rike wisely initially follows maritime protocol in alerting the authorities; conflict arises when the powers-that-be express less-than-hoped-for concern while strongly directing Rike to not come to the rescue. Part of this relates to not attempting a rescue that endangers the rescuer.
The next round of ensuing chaos relates to the passengers on the sinking ship seeing the sailboat of Rike as a sanctuary that prompts a literal swim for the figurative border. However, Rike does bring one of these passengers on board; the ensuing events epically proves that no good deed goes unpunished.
Fischer and Wolff expertly convey the mounting tension as the situation on the other ship becomes increasingly dire, the still-absent authorities amp up the intensity of their insistence that Rike not jump ship, and the now unwelcome passenger exerts strong pressure to come to the aid of his group.
It is predictable that everything comes to a head (no pun intended) near the end of the film as all act according to his or her nature; the surprising manner in which this occurs reflects the 29 wins for the film.
Movement supplements this with the food-for-thought short film "Ashmina." The excellent pairing of this movella with "Styx" relates to the young girl at the center of it is like Rike in that she is caught between two clashing worlds and faces intense pressure to be a good girl and do as she is told. This is not to mention the girl having a similar third-world existence and aspirations as the refugees on the the "Styx" ship.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2018 Buenos Aires-based drama "We Are Thr3e" aptly can be considered the non-missing link between the Breaking tradition of releasing (often artfully arousing) gay-themed films and more mainstream world cinema fare. "Thr3e" sensitively (and mildly arousingly) explores the theme of a long-term loving male-male-female relationship. Minimally, it will give anyone near the middle of the Kinsey Scale something about which to think.
One spoiler is that any guy with an interest in having a broamce include benefits is encouraged to show his buddy this film and proceed according to his reaction.
Breaking does an especially good job communicating the theme and the tone of the film in the following trailer. It clearly shows that the cast is well selected and that writer/director Marcelo Briem Stamm is a good spokesperson for relationships that further expand boundaries in an era in which gay couples receive widespread acceptance in much of the US and beyond.
The depicted genesis of the relationship between Russian-born bartender/free-spirit Sebastian, conformist Argentinian Nacho, and divorced girl-next-door Ana reflects the truism that no one can predict when any form of relationship will develop while engaged any form of activity. The rest of this story is that love more often stems from when you are not seeking it than from when you are searching for Mr. or Ms. Right (or Right Now).
Nacho and Ana meet cute at a party; Sebastian literally and figuratively enters the picture when the other two go in search of the bar. Sebastian soon subtly seduces (but does not abandon) the latest objects of his affection. Although Sebastian calls many of the shots and largely directs the course of the relationship, a morning after scene makes it clear that he is not one of the chosen people.
A pivotal (and particularly well-played) scene is a variation of a situation that is very relatable to any dude who has been on either side of this interaction. Sebastian takes an unauthorized break to catch up with a bonding Nacho and Ana. The sense of relatability continues with Sebastian orchestrating things so that Nacho faces the test of (presumably) having his first mano a mano kiss. The hesitancy of Nacho to take this step provides an early in a series of looks at the skill of Sebastian to proceed things at the pace that Nacho and Ana can handle.
Thing fairly quickly proceed to Sebastian presenting logical arguments for the trois to form a long-term loving menage. The point of reference this time is feeling love for someone who is unable to fulfill all of your physical and/or emotional needs. All of this being out in the open at least as to the three willing participants arguably is worth trying.
One thing on which Stamm does not directly touch is the desire for male intimacy that virtually every man directly or indirectly feels as evidenced by previously largely straight Nacho not displaying much resistance as to the advances of Sebastian. This often manifests itself in the form of at least curiosity as to sex with another man regarding whom there is adequate attraction and trust to deal with the physical and emotional aspect of crossing the final frontier. Some acts are enjoyable for some of us only when you love the one with whom you are with.
The theme of love conquering all continues with Nacho especially becoming emboldened as to sharing the nature of his current relationship. The analogy here from the early days of the campaign for equal rights for gay men essentially is that the friends and family of Nacho must process not only that he now likes men but also has someone special in his life.
Stamm and his cast do a good job keeping things seemingly realistic as to the early sense of Nacho and Ana that the absence of Sebastian creates a hole. The same is true regarding Nacho and Ana inadvertently making Sebastian jealous.
We further see the complications as to our trio already contending with the practical issues that arise in any romantic relationship that further are complicated as to the nature of their arrangement. Accountant Nacho raises many of the transactional considerations, such as the law and business institutions only recognizing one spouse in a relationship.
The bigger picture (no pun intended) is to the extent to which the vision of Stamm is prophetic, The next stage as to gay relationships may be the "straight" guys who traditionally use the anonymous cruising methods of the era to be more open by getting everything that he needs at home, including a willing "beard," who actively participates in her two men mutually enjoying intimacy.
Sebastian addresses the female perspective by offering Ana husband material in the form of Nacho and boyfriend material in the form of himself. Many modern women likely would enjoy having her cake and the hunky baker as well.
The DVD bonuses include what must be an insightful interview with the cast and crew. A time constraint when watching "Thr3e" requires delayed gratification as to that feature.
The Film Movement November 19, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 coming-of-age drama "Geneses" (aka "Genesis") proves that adolescent growing pains are both timeless and universal. Movement pairing this release with that of a DVD of (reviewed) "The Demons" (2015) by "Geneses" filmmaker Philippe Lesage further shows that Movement does right by lovers of art-house cinema.
"Demons" focuses on the preadolescence of filmmaker Philippe Lesage in the form of adventures of quirky Felix, who shows moderate gay tendencies. This leads to the "Genese" all-boys private school life of quirky teen Guillaume during a time that he and his half-sister Charlotte are learning the facts of life.
The numerous festival wins for "Genese" include "Best Film" honors at the 2018 Montreal Festival of New Cinema and Locarno International Film Festival.
The following Movement trailer for "Genese" expertly conveys the agony and the ecstasy of adolescence behind the aforementioned impact of this highly notable film. The audio commentary by Lesage most likely shares the extent to which this is live and is Memorex.
As Movement observes in DVD liner notes, "Genese" starts strong with Guillaume on top of his desk leading his classmates in a rousing sing-a-long., His ensuing interactions with classmates, including a stereotypical jock, are equally relatable to anyone who has attended high school around the globe.
Guillaume seems overall average in that he mostly is well-liked and can work and play well with others; he further clearly is the class clown. The only real animosity that he inspires is as to a teacher.
All is going reasonably well with close friend Nicolas until Guillaume acts on a love that dares not speak its name. Most adolescents can relate to having romantic feelings toward a friend and struggling with repressing it, The hope that expressing love will be well received is a major aspect of this.
Nicolas is more sensitive than the average teen boy in rejecting the unwanted advance, Not knowing better than to quit when he is ahead, Guillaume expresses his love for Nicolas in a witty and charming class presentation. The aforementioned reputation for being a joker is a factor regarding the response of the peers of Guillaume.
The auto-biographical relationship between Felix and his older brother plays a role as to a deepening friendship between Guillaume and a younger student/dormmate.
Particularly guys who attend a boarding school can relate to being on both sides of a younger brother/older brother style relationship, The younger guy largely is on his own likely for the first time in his life and is surrounded by bigger and more physically mature male classmates. The older guy can remember his early days and also feels protective toward the sweet and sensitive kid who is not quite in his element.
The sad truth that Lesage shares (and likely has lived) is that ignorant societal attitudes that include homophobia often lead to hasty incorrect judgments that can punish folks for kindness and PROPER love. Suffice it to say that things do not end well for Guillaume.
Lasage repeatedly shifts the narrative between the growing pains of Guillaume with the angst of Charlotte. Her relationship with Maxime is derailed when he suggests out of the blue that they start seeing other people. The confusion as to that includes the assertion of Maxime that he is not presently interested in anyone else.
A highly memorable scene involves Charlotte, who has started dating someone else, rejecting the lustful advances of Maxime. This leads to one of them weeping on the floor only wearing briefs and the other trying to console that person.
Part of the rest of this story is that Charlotte gets her first lesson regarding the universal truth that most men are alike.
The voice of experience for all the Charlottes (and Charles) out reflects the wisdom of the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes." The "from the mouths of babes and tigers" wisdom is that you are lucky if you can find someone whom you can tolerate and they can stand you in return. The bonus advice is to ask yourself if you would be happier without the other person than you are with him or her.
Similar to "Demons," Lesage ends "Genese" with a vignette that centers around love and a big brother-little brother relationship at a summer camp. This inarguably is the most endearing tale that Lesage tells.
Movement supplements all this with the aptly titled short film "The Lesson." That one has a young woman become enamored with an outwardly desirable male motorcyclist only to learn the awful truth. A hilarious scene has the guy mansplaining only to get massively showed up. The man literally ending up in the bitch seat at the end is highly symbolic.
Film Movement provides perfect double-feature fodder by separately releasing DVDs of teen-angst movie "Genese" (2018) and coming-of-age topic du jour "The Demons" (2015) on November 19, 2019, Both movies are semi-auto-biographical as to writer/director Philippe Lesage.
The accolades for "Demons" include a well-deserved "New Director" award for Lesage at the 2016 San Francisco International Film Festival.
The figurative titular malevolent entities plague 10 year-old suburban boy Felix. The experiences of this pre-adolescent provide the perfect context for the quirky teen boy around whom "Genese" revolves. Other numerous parallels as to this film include both opening with classroom scenes of shiny happy students. Additionally, both boys have close friends whose mothers have serious embarrassing issues.
Much of the angst in the life of Felix revolves around his parents having violent fights only to calm down and hug it out with him and his older brother and older sister. This is a factor as to the older brother being loving and protective of Felix. This relationship symbolically plays itself out in "Genese."
Felix having a sensitive nature that manifests itself in aggressive behavior makes his school days challenging. The aforementioned opening moments include a teacher outwardly being cruel by strictly enforcing a rule against lending Felix a pencil; a similar bias plays out in "Genese."
Felix spending much of his time hanging out with his older brother and the teen friends of that sibling puts a boy in the world of a man. This includes playing on his fears as to a rash of local kidnappings and killings of boys of his age. The older guys also speaking critically about one of their peers being gay also causes Felix, who is displaying blatant homosexual tendencies, equally intense angst.
Some gay men and their childhood friends will relate to a play date in which Felix literally has his buddy play the female role. Scenes that revolve around the snatching and the killing of boys will strike a stronger chord with every viewer.
The skill of Lesage as to portraying a boy nearing the cusp of adolescence and another approaching the end of that awkward period is what makes his films Movement worthy and SCREAM for watching them as a double feature. Lesage expertly straddles the line between sensitive and saccharine.
You will feel the agony and the ecstasy of the subjects but never will feel that you are watching either an "After-School Special" or a Greg Berlanti or Ryan Murphy tale of the adolescence of those Millennial gay men idols.
The Film Movement DVD release of the 2013 Italian Gothic psychological thriller "Ritual: A Psychomagic Story" awesomely takes the concept of "50 Shades of Gray" to an exceptional level and celebrates the true spirit of feminism.
Vulnerable Lia is catnip to controlling manipulative Viktor from the moment that they meet; one spoiler is that both display their crazy long before there are any thoughts of putting a ring on it.
Viktor supplementing his compliment of the self-designed dress that Lia is wearing by suggesting that she complement it with the shackle-like bling that he apparently carries around for such chance meetings is the first of many warning signs.
Things "progress" to insanely jealous Viktor exerting increasing control over Lia to the point that she literally drops her panties as his command. Further kink comes courtesy of Viktor blindfolding his willing victim.
Lia finding herself with bastard introduces further drama in the relationship. Viktor insisting that Lia terminate the pregnancy does not help matters.
The audience being a fly on the wall during therapy sessions that earn Lia portrayor Desiree Giorgetti at least a festival award provides further context for the dynamics of her relationship with Viktor. This relates to her premature introduction to womanhood being horrific for her.
A rude awakening convinces Viktor to reverse his denial of a request by Lia for a therapeutic visit with her aunt Agata, who lovingly raised Lia after the death of her mother. The icing on the cake is that Agata lives in the beautiful old family villa, The fly in the ointment is Viktor crashing the family reunion.
The rest of this portion of the story is that Agata is either a new-age healer or a witch depending on the mindset of the beholder, No one can dispute that she gets wonderful results for those who consult her.
The Shakespearean magic of this idyllic locale includes the nicest kids in town taking Lia under their wings. This offsets an highly psychological haunting.
All of this culminates in a titular rite that reinforces the girl power theme of the film.
The appeal of this character study is that Lia is a character well worth studying.
The Icarus Films DVD of the 2017 Chinese drama "The Widowed Witch" helps bring one of the most stylized and bizarre (not to mention honestly cynical) films in the past few years to North American audiences. Whether "Witch" casts its spell on you partially depends on whether you believe in magic (i.e., whether you believe that you believe that you do.) A related note is that if your mission is magic,your love will shine through.
The accolades for this bizarre comically tragic mash-up of the '60scoms "Bewitched" and "The Andy Griffith Show" include director/writer Cai Chengjie winning the coveted Tiger Award at the 2018 Rotterdam International Film Festival. Star Tian Tian equally deserves the Best New Actress trophy that she brings home from the 2018 Chinese Young Generation Film Forum.
The visually artistic elements of "Witch" extend beyond the very sharp cinematography to the shifts between color and black-and-white with some scenes having elements of both. The symbolical use of this technique expands on the use of it in the 1998 Tobey Maguire film "Pleasantville," which also has a strong connection with "TV Land" series.
The real action begins after a prologue. The camera is from the POV of the titular sorceress Er Hao, who newly is a three-time loser regarding husbands. She is paralyzed and initially silently witnesses the conclusion of the ritual that is credited with saving her life.
Er Hao soon learns of Husband Number Three dying in an explosion at his fireworks factory that also is the home of the couple. The ensuing violation is almost as sickening to the viewer as it is to Er Hao.
The rest of the story is that young Er Hao having buried three husbands is a major factor regarding the superstitious rubes in her rural village both believing that she is a witch and shunning her based on that conclusion.
A homeless Er Hao soon discovers that her only options for shelter involve requiring that she allow men who hold the keys to have their way with her, This is the first of many instances in "Witch" in which someone with something to gain does not mind consorting with a bride of Satan if that association involves a benefit.
These desperate times drive (pun intended) Er Hao and her deaf 10 year-old brother-in-law to take up residence in a panel van. It soon becomes clear that that downfall does not satisfy some angry villagers. An early confrontation indicates that Cai Chenjie is a fan of "Back to the Future III."
The interpretation of the results of a hilarious oversight by Er Hao in this portion of the film further establishes her cred, as a magical being; other humor relates to the aforementioned shifting sentiments regarding whether our lead is a good witch or a bad witch.
Er Hao fully plays the survival game when charged with ridding a home of a spirit; the rubes readily accept her statement that that ghost busting requires an extended stay in the house,
The best flip-flopping is saved for last; we really see that an irate mob has no shame when the locals come looking for help after inflicting a humiliating punishment on Er Hao related to the same manner in which they essentially asking that she twitch her nose and put right what once went wrong at the hands of the supplicants.
The nature of this film that is made far from California makes it just as likely that it lacks a Hollywood ending as it is that Er Hao marries a loving advertising executive and raises a family with him in the suburbs.
As indicated early in this post and as shown throughout, the primary appeal of "Witch" beyond the exceptional surface elements is the mirror that reflects every society. "Respectable" people are very quick to spit on outcasts until they almost inevitable require assistance from that undesirable.
The Cinema Libre separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the aptly titled 2018 highly realistic French drama "At War" once again proves that Euro cinema surpasses Hollywood in both substance and style. This timely and relevant portrayal of an white-hot labor dispute at a French auto plant hits close to home in both Europe and North America. Candor requires 'fessing up to thinking the film is "live," rather than "Memorex," on watching it.
The accolades for this clever mockumentary include the Best Screenplay award at the 2018 Chicago International Film Festival and the Best Film honor at the 2018 Palic Film Festival.
This "ripped from international headlines" fictional tale centers around Perrin Industries closing down its auto plant in a small French community two years after agreeing with the 1,100 workers to not close down the plant for five years in exchange for major concessions that include working some hours without pay and for forgoing traditional hours. The stated justifications for the closure include that the minimally profitable plant does not allow Perrin to remain competitive.
The ensuing battle in which plant union official Laurent Amedeo leads the campaign to get the attention (and the support) of the French government and of German CEO Martin Hauser is reminiscent of the Michael Moore documentary "Roger and Me" about the closure of a Michigan auto plant.
The similarities between "War" and "Roger" extend to footage of the "hero" effectively staging a sit-in after stonewalled efforts to meet with the big boss. We also get the ensuing strong-arm tactics to oust the interloper.
The comparisons extend to truths that relate to life in general. The first one is that even propaganda that supports your side still is propaganda. The other is that there is your story, the story of the other guy, and the truth.
Both Moore and "War" filmmaker Stephane Brize are highly biased as to portraying the workers as the good guy victims; no reasonable person can deny that they are sympathetic and face a tough immediate future.
The presentation of Brize (possibly purposefully) provides some sympathy for the devil; this compassion is inadequate.
The hypothetical "reasonable man" (or woman) should realize that no rational company disregards the impact of a plant closure on the employees. Further, very few could argue that any manufacturing industry in Europe or North America is thriving. Perrin additionally deserves the benefit of the doubt as to having good faith when entering the underlying bargain two years earlier.
Our hypothetical analytical thinker also should feel the pain of management when labor fails to grasp that more than 10 million Euros in concessions by the workers during the past two years did not go in the pockets of the executives; those saving went toward keeping prices competitive for the buyers of the goods that the plant produced.
The same figuratively blind anger behind the waived income prevents the workers from understanding the duty of the management to the shareholders. The bottom line is that poor profits and reduced stock prices harm management and labor alike by lowering the amount of invested capital in the corporation.
The workers have a slightly stronger case as to the high salaries of executives and those chats grosse getting raises while the workers are on the brink of poverty. Although one must understand that the demand for a world-class CEO keeps salaries in the stratosphere, it is hard to grasp that the expertise and the management skills of any individual are worth compensation that translates to $100s (if not $1,000s) an hour.
An extreme (but relatable) example of obscene CEO compensation is a Google search while writing this post revealing that Jeff Bezos earns $1.5 billion a WEEK while subjecting the customers who foot that bill to horrific overseas customer-service centers and arguably underpaying his warehouse staff. This is not to mention indirectly shaking down taxpayers by demanding major concessions to open new Amazon facilities in communities.
Another aspect of "War" is the striking workers not comprehending the role of the national government as to their plight. The sincere statements of a high-level official that the president of France feels their pain and is their advocate largely falls on deaf ears. The same is true as to that civil servant trying to get Team Laurent to understand that even the guy sitting in the French equivalent of the Oval Office cannot force Perrin to keep the plant open, a French court to reverse a decision for the corporation, or Hauser to meet with them.
All of this occurs among confrontations with outside groups, the "suits," and among the union officials.
All of the above shows that documentary vibe of "War" includes provoking as much thought and debate as well-produced films from the non-fiction genre. One can argue that artificially high labor costs and the related expense of complying with possibly undue government regulation is at the root of the problem; on the other hand, no one can deny that maximizing profits is a high priority for most businesses.
The most important point to consider regarding the Film Movement DVD release of the 2018 documentary (which plays like a docudrama) "Over the Limit" is that the appeal of this telling of the tale of Olympic Gold medalist Margarita Mamun extends well beyond sports fans. Pointing out that Variety aptly compares "Limit" to "Black Swan" does not help this case much but illustrates that this is another overcoming adversity story in the same style as "Rocky."
"Limit" being a New York Times Critic's Pick and figuratively earning the Gold at the 2018 Krakow Film Festival further documents the quality of this film for the masses.
The following Movement clip of the official US trailer for "Limit" highlights the intensity of the film and of the central relationship between Magmun and coach Irina Viner. There is NO doubt that a docudrama of this story would NEED to be titled "The Devil Wore Talbots."
Much of "Limit" centers around Magmun either training for competitions leading up to the main event or actually competing. Viner literally is there every step of the way mercilessly berating the gymnast and almost as diligently ensuring that this athlete always stays on her toes. This aspect of "Limit" should make it mandatory reviewing for any parent or "participant" who thinks that a recreation league or school coach is too hard on the kids.
One interesting dynamic is watching the mother of Magmum be good cop to bad cop Viner. This plays out in one of the most notable scenes in "Limit." The two parental figures argue about the allowable level of support that actual Mom can show her little girl.
We also see a friendly rivalry between Magmun and a fellow gymnast; the conflict here is that only one can be the best. This kinder and gentler version of the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan dynamic warrants kneecapping jokes.
Although folks who already are familiar with the tale of Magmun know the end of "Limit" before it begins, seeing how she gets there truly is all the fun. Everyone will cheer for her and feel her agony and her ecstasy.
Movement supplements "Limit" with the bonus 11-minute short "Iron Hands." This "Rocky" story tells the tale of a plucky 12 year-old girl bonding with a groundskeeper with a "history" while the girl does her final training for her tryout for the prestigious traditionally all-boys Chinese youth Olympic weightlifting team. The twice-told moral here is to not judge a book by its cover.
The final commentary regarding this sports-oriented double-feature is that they make particularly good viewing for a quiet weekend afternoon.
The Film Movement DVD release of the 2013 drama "An Afghan Love Story" is one of the more thought-provoking titles in the extensive Movement catalog of foreign and domestic art-house movies. "Story" being based on actual events enhances this tale of modern woman Wajma running afoul of the old-school standards in her country.
The accolades for "Story" include a 2103 Sundance award for screenwriting and Best Film honors at the 2013 Amazonas Film Festival.
The following YouTube clip of the SPOILER-LADEN Movement trailer for "Story" provides a synopsis of this movie about a wedding hook-up gone terribly wrong.
Wajma and Mustafa know from the outset that they experience the lust that dare not speak its name; this newly accepted law student and her waiter lover literally and figuratively go to great lengths to avoid her being seen entering his apartment for their afternoon delight.
The skyrockets take flight when Wajma learns that she has a nan in the oven; Mustafa informing her that he will not put a ring on it or otherwise do the right thing by that cow who has given away the milk for free because she is damaged goods enhances the drama. Abortion being illegal in Afghanistan is another complication. Presenting India as a liberal country in the context of abortion being legal there provides further context.
The zinc lining in all this is that mother and the grandmother of Wajma are sympathetic and compassionate; the bad news is that the "wait 'til your father comes home" element of the story makes things far worse.
Father Haji constantly is away because of his job detecting and removing landmines; no pun is intended in stating that he goes ballistic in learning of what he considers a major disgrace to his family. The manner is which he takes Wajma to the woodshed is horrific.
Filmmaker Barmak Aktam does an excellent job first introducing the characters, and then presenting the flirting and the resulting "courtship" of Wajma and Mustafa. This leads to the pregnancy that results in the aforementioned building drama and the trauma for the mother-to-be. Akram next provides a perfect payoff regarding the desperate measures that the desperate circumstances require. This climax shows that things are not so different in traditional and "civilized" countries.
The good acting, the drama rarely straying in "melo" territory, and this somewhat true story being relatable to many make "Story" one to add to your collection and for parents to rewatch when even adult offspring commit a blunder that prompts thoughts of wanting to make them drop trou and bend themselves over your knee.
The Icarus Films August 6, 2019 DVD release of the 2017 mystery thriller "The Girl in the Fog" adds to the mountain of proof that Euro cinema greatly outshines Hollywood fare. This tale of a 16 year-old gone girl is based on the novel of the same name by Donato Carrisi, who writes the screenplay and directs the film.
The formal accolades for "Girl" include a 2018 Italian Golden Globe for Carrisi for his screenplay and an even more deserved Best Actor Golden Globe for Toni Servillo for his perfect portrayal of police Detective Vogel.
Carrisi achieves an ideal balance of action, exposition, and tone by having the opening scene portray the title of the film. We see a shadowy village teen walk out of her Avechot home in the Italian ALps and disappear into the night. This little wander is outwardly good-girl Anna Lou Kastner, who never makes it to her stated destination of her fundamentalist church.
The quality of this film with frequent narrative time shifts is reinforced by following a variation of the modern movie staple of immediately moving us to the beginning of the end of the story without insulting our intelligence by including an intertitle that explains that jump,
This leap begins with a literal rude awakening for town shrink Dr. Augusto Flores (Jean Reno). He is called into his hospital office in the middle of the night due to an emergency related to a car accident.
On arriving, Flores is dually (and duly) surprised to see that his patient is unscathed physically (and seemingly mentally intact) and is Vogel, who is a local celebrity due to both the Kastner case and an earlier (and even more bizarre) crime spree known as "The Mutilator Case." The latter involves a mad bomber hiding explosives in containers for everyday items and putting them on grocery-store shelves.
This discussion between these two weary veterans of their professions provides exposition for the rest of the film, which mostly shifts among the events following the disappearance and the "whodunit" scene at the end of "Girl." These men further talk about the theme of connectivity that is a major element of the film.
All of this relates to Vogel being more interested in media relations and providing a resolution that satisfies the masses, rather than bringing the actual killer to justice. Ambiguity exists regarding the extent to which Vogel will go to achieve his objective. This is not to mention a television reporter showing that she can play the game as well as the boys.
New high-school teacher Prof. Loris Martini is at the center of much of the primary action. One lesson here is that just because you find yourself in a Kafkaesque nightmare does not necessarily mean that your are innocent; the second-part of this moral is that the guilty and the innocent alike face intense media persecution.
An "incident" has prompted Loris to move his (now unemployed) attorney wife and his (now sullen) teen daughter to the village. A media-whore girl does not help matters when she first persuades Loris to give her acting lessons and then distorts the nature of their extra-curricular relationship when he becomes the prime suspect in the Kastner case.
Circumstantial evidence of varying degrees of credibility creates a strong possibility that Loris will spend the rest of his life as a guest of the state regardless of his guilt. The important thing for some with a horse in the race is that Loris is an attractive suspect.
This initially culminates in revealing the full story behind the"accident" of Vogel and then what becomes of Anna Lou, who is a pet with her own secret life.
All of this amounts to "Girl" proving that quality intelligent thrillers still are out there and just require a little investigating to find,
The Film Movement Classics division of foreign-film god Film Movement fully embraces the spirit of summer action-adventure films with the spectacular June 25, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1986 John Woo film "Heroes Shed No Tears." It is the precursor to the Woo film "A Better Tomorrow," which likely will be a future Classics Blu-ray release.
Although Woo reasonably considers this 90-minute big-screen video game a gangster film, it bears comparison to the literally banned-in-Boston cult-classic film "The Warriors" (1979) about members of a New York street gang spending a night battling several other gangs to make it back to their home turf.
This fully shot in the natural beauty of rural Thailand looks incredible in Blu-ray; choosing the well-dubbed (but still amusing) English audio version over the subtitled Cantonese and Mandarin options is part of the fun of this Asian bloodbath.
The following YouTube clip of the Movement restored original trailer for "Heroes" includes some of the best ultra-violent moments in this never a dull moment film.
The opening narration provides the exposition that the Thai government war on drugs includes hiring the Chinese commando team of Chan Chung (Eddy Ko) to capture Golden Triangle drug lord General Samton. The payment includes a new life in America for Samton and his immediate family. This aspect is at the center of a highly notable scene in which an American soldier-of-little-fortune offers his perspective on American life only to have Chung put him in his place.
The aforementioned mayhem commences with the aforementioned attack. Team Chung disrupts the operation and gets their man. However, Team Samton takes off in hot pursuit as our titular good guy makes a run for the Thai border.
The mission becomes a family affair when Chung comes home to find his baby momma and his son under attack from his new enemy. An agrarian buying the farm provides unintentional humor. This requires an impromptu bring your son to work day.
The plot fully thickens on Team Chung further running afoul of another power broker when they interrupt an attack on a pair of French journalists. Suffice it to say that the colonel whom Chung bests fully embraces the philosophy of an eye for an eye. This dynamic also plays a role in a pivotal scene that adds a dimension to the title of the film.
An essay by highly humorous screenwriter Grady Hendrix states that hands-down the funniest scene in "Heroes" likely is the work of a director who steps in after Woo finishes his work. A gambler literally cannot lose despite facing a heavy price for his winnings; the twist at the end is a highlight.
All of this culminates in a variation of classic epic style, a heavily bruised and bloodied Chung reaches the end of his mission but is not quite home free. The added insult to the multiple injuries is discovering that all might have been for naught.
The additional social commentary of this film includes the related truism that the real golden rule is that the guy with the gold makes the rules and that "waste" rolls downhill.
Classics supplements this bloody good film with a video interview with Ko. A time constraint required having to postponing hearing what must be his entertaining insights until a better tomorrow.
The Icarus Films May 14, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 period-piece comedy "Return of the Hero" fills the void left by Hollywood no longer producing amusing and clever (or at least adequately creative) summer movies. Subtitles aside, "Hero" is so good that you will not even want to look at your phone or other devices while watching it.
Another awesome aspect of "Hero" is that it shows that writer/director Laurent Tirard is more than a un trick cheval regarding the even more delightful (reviewed) "Nicholas on Holiday" (nee "Petit Nicholas") about the family summer vacation of the titular French school boy. Other "Hero" cred. relates to Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin delivering another award-worthy performance as the titular soldier who is not at Waterloo when Napoleon did surrender.
This presumably shot-on-location beautiful film begins in 1809 Burgundy. Captaine Charles-Gregoire Neuville seemingly employs his entire personal staff in preparation for froggy goin' a courtin'. The object of his affection is sweet and innocent girl next door Pauline. She lives on a lavish estate with her adoring parents and her less sweet and innocent older sister Elisabeth (Melanie Laurent).
Neuville seals a chaste deal with Pauline just ahead of being called on to defend emperor and country. Like many soldiers before and since, Neuville makes an empty promise to faithfully correspond with Pauline.
A combination of motives prompt Elisabeth to forge letters from Neuville to Pauline; the responses to that correspondence shows Elisabeth that her little sister is all grown up.
In true farce/classic sitcom style, the scheme of Elisabeth gets out of hand. Circumstances and her creativity result in increasing elaborate and contrived fictional adventures of Neuville that enrapture both Pauline and the rest of the local elite.
All goes well until the inevitable titular appearance of a filthy and disgraced Neuville in 1812; Elisabeth being the only one to initially know that that boy is back in town helps move the story forward; this plot thickens on Neuville returning after a brief absence and presenting himself as the man in the aforementioned letters. His objectives include wooing a now-married with children Pauline.
Dujardin and Laurent wonderfully play off each other as she must watch him make fools out of those nearest and dearest to her. Neuville further shows that he is no gentleman in using the vulnerability of Elisabeth for his own fun and profit,
One of many notable moments involves Elisabeth seeming to get the upper-hand on her frienemy. The manner in which Neuville turns that tactic around to his advantage proves that you cannot con a con man.
The aptly surprising climax that begins with a desperate act leads to a final scene that is very true to the spirit of the film and that is one of the best endings in any film ever. This lesson this time is that we all remain true to our nature.
The Icarus Films June 4, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 musical dramedy "Guy" provides so much wonderful fodder for a post that it truly is difficult to know where to begin. One spoiler is that this film is just as good as the copious Gallic films in the Icarus catalog but strays from the pattern of revolving around the emotional fallout from a hit-and-run. However, the audience is treated to the disco scene that another reviewer states is ubiquitous in French movies.
The central theme of the film is the comeback tour on which the titular French idol who enjoyed commercial success from the '60s through the '80s is engaged to promote a new greatest hits album. The handful of videos and concert footage provide great nostalgia for folks who "were there" and give Millennials a music-history lesson. An '80s video that evokes strong feelings of the "Sandcastles in the Sand" video (complete with appearances by Alan Thicke and James Van Der Beek) by faux '80s pop princess Robin Sparkles of the 2000s sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" is true fun for all ages.
Writer/director/star Alex Lutz EARNS a well-deserved 2019 Cesar Award for his portrayal of Guy Jamet. He receives the same recognition at the 2019 Lumiere Awards. Watching this 40 year-old play Guy at various stages of his life is incredible
The rest of the story is that Guy knowingly allows young filmmaker Gauthier to document his tour and other aspects of his current life. The pop star does not know that his constant companion has reason to believe that his subject also is his biological father. This element adds an extra-credit aspect to this A+ film.
Lutz stays very true to the mockumentary style both by having follow the camera follow Guy everywhere. We see him interviewed at a cafe, performing for an audience of adoring aging fans, at home with actress Sophie Ravel (who is promoting her hilarious spot-on procedural), jamming with his band and back-up singers on the tour bus, and (of course) pulling the plug on the film project only to come around. This, also of course, is not to mention the incident that threatens to derail the tour.
All of this culminates in the mother-of-all film finales. Documentarian and subject are still feeling the effects of a night of hard drinking when they emulate Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Their conversation and a documentary-staple reveal a few minutes earlier indicate that Guy finally is starting to get the picture.
The best news is that "Guy" shows that they still can make 'em like that. The story stands on its own without either being an ego project for the star or relying on pyrotechnics. Further, the characters are among the most real and relatable reel-life folks to come along in quite awhile. Any resemblance to persons living or dead clearly is not coincidental.
The Film Movement May 14, 2019 DVD release of the 2016 documentary "Bosch The Garden of Dreams" provides a well-produced equally entertaining and educational art-history lesson before many of us turn off our brains for the summer on Memorial Day weekend. As often is the case, the life story of Early Netherlandish painter Hieronymous Bosch is as interesting as the tale of his work "The Garden of Earthly Delights,"
The following YouTube clip of a "Bosch" trailer illustrates (pun intended) the complexity of the man, and the work. You also get a sense of the art world notables, including author Salman Rushdie, who participate in making the film.
The titular artwork is a massive three-panel painting that presents an intentionally strong "And there was light" vibe when the two side panels are opened to reveal the work. The Prado Museum in Madrid opens its doors to allow "Bosch" to be made.
Many of the seemingly countless aforementioned talking heads use the life of Bosch to provide context for their comments on one of the seeming countless scenes in the painting. The larger context is that Bosch, if that is his real name, belongs to a religious order for which he creates "Garden." This aspect of the art reflecting the artist includes a scene in which a film participant points out that a "Garden" image of Jesus speaking with Adam and Eve has the son of God looking at the painting viewer.
The copious (often terrifying) surreal images in "Garden" prompt discussing dreams in the context of the psyche of Bosch, The even more fascinating element of this is the theory of the nature of dreams. Under this theory, Bosch has a very disturbed mind,
The path of "Garden" in its early years seals the deal regarding the story of Bosch being worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. A regime change leads to a purist undergoing extreme torture to avoid having the painting fall in the wrong hands. The spoiler is that resistance proves to be futile, but "Garden" ends up in arguably a greater place of honor than one would expect.
We further get a sense of the arguably sloppy technique of Bosch. It is surprising to learn that this pro essentially does not color within the lines. However, this helps explain why this art so closely reflects the artist.
The bigger picture (pun intended) is that "Bosch" addresses visiting and thinking about a painting and its artist in an era in which they vast majority of the very few of us who still look at great art only spend a few minutes looking at a reproduction of it online or in a coffee-table book. Even fewer of this small minority take the time to really study and appreciate the result of an artist pouring his or her soul into a project.
The Film Movement DVD release of the 2014 Italian dramedy "Cam Girl" is an entertaining fable for our dystopian times. It also follows the pattern of Movement films presenting universal themes.
The relatability begins with 20-something aspiring Madwoman Alice successfully pitching an idea at the marketing firm where she is a freelancer with what she thinks is a reasonable dream of full-time employment. This reflects both many Millennials not wanting to pay the dues that the the job that they want requires and formerly gainfully employed Gen Xers now being white-collar day laborers.
Alice gets her reality check at the same time that friend Rossella is tiring of being exploited at her cam girl job, other friend Martina is working hard to make a women's basketball team, and waitress Gilda wants to help grease-monkey boyfriend with a personal financial crisis. This leads to Alice organizing the group into starting a cam girl site that pays above the going rate and otherwise offers a desirable work environment.
The aforementioned entertainment stems from the trauma and drama associated with the new normal. Alice has great difficulty managing her intertwined professional and personal lives. This largely comes down to the basic capitalist challenge of both having enough money to keep the business viable and paying labor fair compensation for his or her services. This is not to mention Alice not telling her Cinderella-caliber evil sister and mother how she pays her rent.
Meanwhile pretty woman "Ross" is dating a trust fund baby whom she meets on the job. The obstacles to happily ever after extend beyond whether Ross being a working girl precludes bringing her home to meet the family and the reception that she will receive if that occurs. The happy couple must decide their comfort level regarding bringing things to the next level.
The drama for Gilda revolves around the jealousy of her man. The initial suspicions of Mateo are bad enough; his reaction on learning how his girlfriend earns his money is very typical of reel and real-life ingratitude,
Of course all this comes to a head as the wolves of varying degrees of figurativeness come to the door. The spoiler is that human nature wins out over loyalty.
The overall message is that women can succeed in business so long as they are willing to pay the heavy prices for playing with the boys.
The Film Movement release of the 2018 docudrama "un Traductor" (a.k.a. The Translator) provides further proof that truth is stranger than fiction. Fellow recent Movement release "An Afghan Love Story" is another "based on actual events" movie that reinforces the above statement.
"Traductor" also is notable as a simple movie that greatly defies expectations. Our story centers around 30ish college professor Malin, whom Rodrigo Santoro of the HBO "Westworld" series perfectly portrays. This Cuban native is a Russian literature professor at the University of Havana when the film opens; he also is happily married to an artist and has an adored young son.
Everything changes when Malin arrives at work to discover that his department is disbanded, He learns on regrouping with his colleagues that they are reassigned to the local hospital to serve as translators for Chernobyl victims and their families,
Malin initially understandably balks at being stationed in the ward that treats children; his 'tude softens on helping with a "lost in translation" problem between the Russian mother of a sick girl and a Cuban nurse.
The heart (in both senses) of "Tradacutor" centers around Malin bonding with an especially sick boy and the father of the nino; the bonding and the angst include the father being a teacher whose Chernobyl assignment was a reward.
The schedule of Malin and his becoming more involved with his work creates additional friction at home as his wife gets a good opportunity and providing child care becomes increasingly challenging. A "home alone" situation developing greatly escalates the tension.
The larger context is that the Cold War is ending in ways that include the Berlin Wall coming down; also, Cuba is experiencing an economic downturn. Needless to say, this is not a good time for Malin.
Typical hospital insensitivity and a combination of bureaucracy at that institution and the Cuban government further complicate things on the micro and macro levels. In other words, the personal and professional worlds of Malin are experiencing tremendous stress at a time that his country also is enduring game-changing struggles.
All of this leads to inevitable fish-or-cut-bait moments; Malin must choose wisely regarding the next stage in his life. The fact that the audience connects with him from the start invests in the outcome.
As indicated above, the power and the appeal of this film is the same as all good docudramas. A sympathetic personal face is put on world events about which we learn much more than we absorbed through media accounts. In this case, it includes the new knowledge about Russian patients going to Cuba.
Movement provides icing on the cake in the form of the well-paired short that accompanies every selection in the Film of the Month Club of this purveyor of global films. The selection this time is "For Dorian." This film takes a sensitive approach to a man struggling with his teen son with Down's Syndrome demanding more freedom and generally experiencing the same symptoms of adolescent as every lad his age.
The Icarus Films February 5, 2019 DVD release of the 2017 Iranian drama "No Date, No Signature" adds more proof to the pile of evidence that world cinema eclipses even indie productions in the United States.
This release comes a few weeks after the announcement of the eight "Best Picture" nominees for the 2019 Oscars. Of this octet. having only seen "Black Panther" and solely doing so to keep up with the "Avengers" franchise reinforces that something is rotten in the state of California (and Wakanda).
On a lighter note, fans of the many (oft-reviewed) Icarus films will recognize the theme of a car striking a pedestrian that is an element of several movies in that catalog. It seems that a filmmaker who wants to increase the odds of Icarus releasing his or her production should have a character take one for the team.
Many of the 13 wins and additional 15 nominations being for rookie writer/director Vahid Jalilvand reinforces that that artist has excellent instincts. The fests that bestow that accolade range from the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival to the Fajr Film Festival the same year.
The following YouTube clip of the official U.S. trailer for "Date" further illustrate the merits of the film. It is a quality production of a compelling story. There is no reliance on the star power of the lead, and the story (mostly) avoids melodrama.
The opening scenes reflect Jalilvand striking a good balance between exposition and getting down to business. We see forensic pathologist Dr. Kaveh Nariman going about his business before getting in his car for the drive that changes everything.
Many of us can relate to the circumstances that lead to to Kaveh striking the motorcycle that Moosa is driving, These events also establish the theme of shared (and arguably ambiguous) culpability that runs throughout "Date."
Kaveh immediately does the right thing by offering medical care and monetary compensation; he also repeatedly urges Moosa to bring his injured young son to a nearby medical clinic. Moosa refuses the offered care and cash but indicates an intent to take his son to the clinic.
Anyone (i.e., all of us) who has experienced thinking that an unpleasant incident is resolved only to have it resurface can relate to Kaveh learning soon after the accident that the injured boy is DOA on arriving at the hospital where that medical professional works. The autopsy form listing the cause of death as unknown does not help matters.
The mystery for the co-workers of our Iranian version of Quincy is why he is so upset regarding the treatment of a boy that he merely identifies as the son of an acquaintance. The first part of the puzzle for Kaveh is whether the injuries from the hit without a run or the diagnosed botulism is the cause of the death of the deceased. A related issue is whether the boy would have fatally succumbed to the disease in a few days regardless of whether the accident occurred.
The survivor's guilt of Moosa manifests itself in his probable role in his child getting botulism. This prompts the distraught parent to confront a man with a role in those events. Suffice it to say that that exchange takes a heavy toll on both men.
All of this leads to resolutions that provide one-and-all realistic but not happy endings. The lessons are that many people can contribute to bad outcomes and that karma is the mother of all bitches.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2017 drama "Longing" once again shows the talent of Breaking regarding separating the wheat from the chaff. Facially, this tale of 40-something businessman Ariel Bloch learning that he knocked up his college girlfriend back in the day is about coming to terms with not raising your child, This film being so much more makes it special.
The strong indie vibe, the quirky characters, and the increasingly bizarre situations evoke thoughts of the hit art-house film "Little Miss Sunshine." That movie has a dysfunctional family taking a hurried cross-country road trip.
The Israeli Film Academy and the Jerusalem Film Festival both bestowing best screenplay awards on "Longing" reinforces the praise for it,
Our story begins with baby momma Ronit ambushing Ariel with the big news at what he thinks is a casual reunion; Ronit becoming hysterical in both senses of the word makes the audience wonder what Ariel saw in her in the first place, Ronit naming their son Adam is very apt in the context of how well his birth father knows him.
The next big bombshell is that Adam is dead; this prompts Ariel to travel to see the grave of this teen.
This visit really sets the film in motion; the almost constant reveals should be relatable to even parents who discover that they really do not know even their kids in the hall, Watching Ariel increasingly getting involved in the former life of Adam and becoming protective of him is even more fascinating. This clearly extends well beyond guilt related to not being there and empty gestures that try to compensate for that failure. Ariel feels very strongly about fighting for his boy.
Writer/director Savi Gabizon artfully builds this part of the story on micro and macro levels. This begins with the partner-in-crime of Adam tracking down Ariel and telling him more and more things that he does not want to hear. This climaxes with that boy making unreasonable demands on Ariel.
We then meet the object of the obsession of Adam and get to know his live-in booty call. This is not to mention seeing a grand declaration of love that is not perceived well.
Things really get weird when Ariel bonds with the father of a teen suicide victim. The men develop an unorthodox plan that they hope provides their offspring eternal peace. The execution of this scheme leads to a very bizarre confrontation regarding an assertion that Adam is not good enough for the daughter.
The"wait there's more" aspect of "Longing" is that we learn of a like father like son side of Adam; this only contributes to the sense that the boy is haunting his parents from the grave.
Gabizon wraps all this up with a scene that concludes many more conventional films.
This review wraps up with the observation that "Longing" has so many twists and wry humor that lovers of indie films and/or character studies are sure to love it.
Icarus Films shows good timing regarding releasing the 2014 mockudramedy "Hippocratres Diary of a French Doctor" on January 15, 2019. This roughly coinciding with medical students returning to their studies provides a good chance to ease back into the rigors of these programs by watching this generally mockumentary-style story of newbie medical intern/legacy 23 year-old Benjamin Barois. Much of the sense of authenticity relates to director Thomas Lilti having trained to be a doctor.
The following YouTube clip of the "Diary" trailer provides a good sense of the drama and the humor about this look a life in a busy Parisian hospital.
Lilti sets the perfect tone for "Diary" right from the opening scenes. We see a solitary Benjamin dodging large laundry carts as he wanders the halls in the basement of the public hospital on his first day of work. His projecting an image of a lost sheep on his way to be slaughtered extends beyond the unruly mop of black hair that seems required of every male French medical intern.
Limited success in obtaining a lab coat introduces Benjamin to hospital bureaucracy and his status at that institution; this is despite his father being a senior doctor there.
The next rapid succession of wake-up calls begins with Benjamin learning about the number of patients in the ward to which he is assigned; his "its complicated" relationship with more experienced intern Abdel begins with that older man arguably being unduly assertive in how he steps in when Benjamin has difficulty with a medical procedure.
The first real doctor's life lesson comes on Benjamin losing a patient. The circumstances of that death lead to that kid throwing Abdel under le bus and giving viewers a few more reasons to avoid hospitals.
Benjamin survives to fight another day until facing his next major challenge, which also involves Abdel. The general consensus that an elderly cancer patient should be allowed to continue circling the drain becomes a bone of contention when the ICU team is called in to perform arguably heroic measures; Benjamin and Abdel stepping in to pull the plug on those efforts leads to a disciplinary proceeding with negative consequences for both men. Part of this involves Benjamin showing that he does not feel like working and playing well with others. This leads to a confrontation with even more dire consequences.
We additionally get several looks at the daily lives of the interns; this includes enthusiastic meting out of punishment for talking shop during meal times, watching reel doctors, arguing about who should work on holidays, and a New Year's dance party at which hospital staffers rock out with their docs out. A message here is that guilty feet have got no rhythm.
As mentioned above, the camera being an unobtrusive fly on the wall as all the action transpires greatly contributes to the realistic sense of "Diary." This makes this film one from which both medical students and producers of reality TV shows can learn.
Icarus Films marks Oscar season by releasing the aptly hybrid film "Good Manners" on DVD on November 13, 2018. "Manners" is weirdly wonderful with top-notch twists.
"Manners" DESERVEDLY winning 24 awards and having an additional 18 nominations speaks to the quality of the film. These accolades include a "Fantastic Features" honor at the 2017 Austin Fantastic Fest and "Best Picture" at the Buenos Aires International Festival of Latin America Cinema and the 2017 Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Manners" provides a glimpse of the successfully eclectic style of this future cult classic.
"Manners" begins on a tone that reflects one aspect of the titular phrase. Clara is at the home of disgraced party-girl Ana to apply to be the nanny of the baby of this heiress when she delivers that illegitimate bundle of joy.
This portion of the film is laden with social commentary; Ana shamelessly exploiting Clara, who must grin and bear it, and Clara becoming the caregiver of flighty Anna reflects the system in most of the "civilized" world. We also get a strong sense of the feeling of entitlement on the part of Ana.
The first twist comes via Ana and Clara crossing way over employer/employee (and racial) lines. This is not to mention another relatively unusual aspect of their relationship. Ana sleepwalking and having odd dreams is the icing on the cake in this portion of "Manners."
Ana telling Clara the story of her not-so-immaculate conception is a highlight for two reasons; this tale is told via very stylized animation and sets the stage for the rest of the film.
All this leads to Ana giving birth to Joel, who clearly is not like other boys; a complication leads to Clara taking custody of the new-born and moving him to her apartment. The cover story that she subsequently tells him is straight out of Grimm's Fairy Tales.
A montage covers the early years of Joel up to his seventh birthday. With the exception of literally and figuratively having a vegetarian diet, this cute and charming lad mostly is like his peers with the exception of several days a month. The days during this period are just fine, but he must spend the nights shackled in "the little bedroom" for the mutual safety of himself and the general populace. Part of the challenge for Clara is making her son understand why there are times that he cannot play reindeer games with the other kids.
Things come to a head when our excitable boy and his buddy run off to a mall for an overnight mission. This causes Clara even more angst than is typical in such situations; subsequent events show that she has good reason for concern,
This leads to a scene that is well known to horror fans; the resulting confrontation creates terrific ambiguity that ends this perfect movie on an ideal note.
As this posts and many other reviews discuss, the magic of "Manners" relates to the perfect blending of numerous themes and tones. We get the aforementioned social commentary, the drama of a single mother contending with a special-needs child, a fairy tale, and the overall theme of society being hostile toward people who are different. As "Frankenstein" address, the monster is not always the "freak."
The holiday engagement season openly including same-sex couples makes November 13, 2018 an apt release date for the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD of the 2018 comedy "My Big Gay Italian Wedding." The truth bombs and overall fun of this one make it a good gift for the boys in your life who either have tied the knot or who plan to go to the Chapel of Love where they're gonna get married,
This neo-modern rom-com begins with dreamy 20-something actor/Berliner Antonio narrating how he meets live-in boyfriend Paolo. This recap quickly leads to Antonio popping the question and an excited Paolo saying yes. The ritual of putting a ring on it is one of the first of many highly amusing moments.
The honeymoon period ends on Antonio discussing he and Bohemian landlady/roommate/fag hag Benedetta taking an Easter vacation to the small mountaintop Italian village where his parents live. This also is when Antonio learns that resistance is futile regarding not wanting Paolo to tag along. This relates to Antonio never actually telling that his parents that he is gay or that Paolo even exists.
Many gay men can relate to Antonia not being ashamed of his sexuality but not being particularly "proud" in that he does not have a rainbow flag outside his house or march in a pride parade. His comfort zone encompasses being out among gay and straight friends but not being ready to bring Mr. Right home to meet the parents.
Textbook comic relief enters the picture on middle-aged cross-dressing suicidal bus-driver Donato moving in with Benedetta and the boys. He soon becomes a pity addition to the trip.
Roberto the dad being the liberal mayor of the small community introduces an interesting twist. He is battling his council over his advocacy of 15 refugees who are living there. However, the tolerance of Roberto does not encompass his son being gay.
Momma Anna is much more supportive; her acceptance of Paolo and pushing him to invite his estranged mother to the ceremony reflects the brand of love of mothers-in-laws across the entire Kinsey Scale. This also makes those of us whose mothers have passed away happy about that in this particular context.
Anna asserts her motherly love to the extent of drawing a line in the sand regarding Roberto; suffice it it to say that he does not step up. Surprisingly stronger support by the local clergy is much nicer.
This leads to the typical hilarity that occurs in any film that centers around planning any wedding. We get the crazy ex booty call, a problem occurring with the venue, the whole party-planning going out of bounds, etc. Gay-themed obstacles include affirmative efforts to prevent the boys from walking down the aisle.
All of this (of course) climaxes with the big gay day. Genuine hilarity in these final few moments include a psychotic "I object" moment and Paolo attempting a "Three's Company" caliber ruse. All of this concludes with a scene that triggers PTSD memories of Katherine Heigl movies.
Breaking continues its solid track record by supplementing this comedy for our times with good extras. We see the actress who portrays Benedetta steal the show from her co-star who plays Antonio at a Q&A session following an opening-night screening at the 2018 Out Shine Film Festival in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale.
We also get an "making-of" feature that shows the actual filming of scenes interspersed with comments by cast and crew.
The Film Movement November 13, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2017 Japanese courtroom drama "The Third Murder" provides particularly strong proof that the best modern films come from overseas. This is not to mention that New York Times Critic's Pick "Murder" meets the Movement standard of being a film that can be remade word-for-word and shot-for-shot in the U.S. and still make perfect sense.
Movement is giving American audiences another treat by theatrically releasing "Shoplifters" by "Murder" director Hirokazu Koreeda in the not-too-distant future. IMDb describes that one as "a family of small-time crooks take in a child they find in the cold." That story makes that film more representative of the family dramas for which Koreeda is best known.
The six Japanese Academy Award wins for "Murder" further reflect the quality of the film. These versions of Oscars are for Best Film, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Editing.
The following YouTube clip of the official U.S. trailer for "Murder" provides a good sense of the compelling drama and the stellar performances that warrant the hype for the film. This promo. additionally provides a sense of the exceptional cinematography of the movie that REQUIRES buying the Blu-ray version.
The mastery of "Murder" begins at the outset. Although the opening scenes seem to leave no doubt that ex-con/factory worker Misumi is guilty of the slaying for which he is awaiting trial, the facts that emerge throughout the film show that things are not as they seem.
High-powered criminal-defense attorney Shigemori soon figuratively and literally enters the picture to help prepare for the trial of Misumi. The defendant has already pleaded guilty to a charge of robbery-murder related to killing the victim in the course of stealing his wallet. The frustration of the defense counsel relates to Misumi changing his story a few times in the course of the proceedings against him.
The rest of the backstory is that the father of Shigemori is the son of the judge who makes Misumi a guest of the state regarding a 30 year-old murder. The nature of that crime is increasingly shown to have relevance regarding the current charges.
The direct and indirect evidence that emerges in the weeks before the trial gives Shigemori increasing reasons to have reasonable doubt regarding the nature of the killing and the culpability of his client. These new facts including indications of collusion to an undetermined extent between Misumi and the wife of the factory owner. Even then, the proverbial smoking guns may lack the believed importance.
Things are further kept in the family when the teen daughter of the factory owner states that she has relevant information. This ties into the relationship between Misumi and his largely estranged adult daughter and the impact of the career of Shigemori on his 14 year-old daughter.
Doubt further relates to "Kung Fu" style wisdom that Misumi shares with his dream team. This includes his statement that some people never should have been born; that declaration not having the assumed importance is very consistent with the spirit of "Murder."
All of this builds to the climax of the trial, which provides plenty of courtroom drama. The pragmatic outcome validates the impression of traditional court system that is presented throughout "Murder." The impact of this includes providing good reason to not trust what even seems to be an entirely voluntary confession.
The literally bigger picture relates to "Murder" presenting a variation of arguably the most famous Japanese movie other than "Godzilla." "Rashomon" centers around four conflicting accounts of an incident. Just as is the case in "Murder," each of these tales has an element of truth.
All of this amounts to "Murder" being a compelling film with strong doses of social commentary and thought-provoking philosophy.
As is the case with every selection in the Movement Film of the Month Club (which are available to the general public), "Murder" is well paired with a short film. Movement aptly describes "A Gentle Night," which as the Best Short Film winner at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, as follows. "In a nameless Chinese city, a mother with he daughter missing refuses to go gentle into this good night."
The extras are a making-of "Murder" feature and "Messages From the Cast" of that film.
The Icarus Films DVD release of the 2015 French drama "In the Shadow of Women" proves that this home-video distributor with a strong history of releasing compelling documentaries looks for "innovative and provocative" titles regarding its fictional titles as well. The strong documentary elements of "Woman" make it a particularly apt addition to the Icarus catalog.
The festival love for this future art-house classic include the Best Film honor at the 2015 Athens Panorama of European Cinema and the Best Actress win at the 2015 Seville European Film Festival.
The most overt documentary element in "Women" is central character Pierre being a documentarian whose spouse Manon fills several roles that include researcher and film editor. Additionally, filmmaker Philippe Garrel regularly provides exposition via voice-over narration. Having the camera largely follow the characters around and simply record their conversations and reactions to events further contributes to the cinema verite vibe of the film.
The film being in black-and-white enhances the French New Wave aspects of "Women."
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Women" nicely highlights the artistry and overall Frenchness of the film.
The early scenes establish that Mannon working with Pierre is a holdover sacrifice from his days of struggling to establish his career. One reason that the couple still works together is that Mannon sees this as an opportunity to spend time with her husband.
The proverbial fateful encounter that jeopardizes many reel (and real) couples occurs when Pierre stops to help intern/grad. student Elisabeth carry several film canisters. This leads to an affair that soon leads to indifference and boredom by Pierre, who believes that being a man entitles him to have an affair.
The response of Manon to the changes in Pierre include her starting an affair. The response of Pierre to learning about that extra-marital activity is resentment and rage despite knowing that Manon knows of his relationship with Elisabeth.
The "B Story" in the film revolves around Pierre and Manon interviewing a man about his experiences with the WWII French resistance for a film that Pierre is making on that topic. The drama related to that extends well beyond the subject being particularly personal to Pierre.
All of this leads to a somewhat surprise ending that shows the need for reflection and the related value of deciding what you will sacrifice for something that you think will more than offset that consideration,