Berlinale 2014 Review: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Looks Spectacular, But Story Fails

In the 21st century, how is one to present a fairy tale? There are stories ripe with opportunity to create great visual, frequently with lots of action, but the stereotyping, themes, and gender representation can be a bit tricky in... More »
  

Berlinale 2014 Review: ALOFT Doesn't Quite Soar

The sense of touch can be tricky to convey in film. A filmmaker must rely upon visually accurate information in order for the spectator to 'feel' the sensation. Touch is very prominent in director and writer Claudia Llosa's Aloft, how... More »
  

Rotterdam 2014 Review: IN DARKNESS WE FALL Does Not Stumble

(In a cave, everyone can hear you scream...) While there is generally a dearth of genre films at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, on occasion we do get the odd treat or two. This year the festival had a bona-fide... More »
By Ard Vijn   
  

Berlinale 2014 Review: SPROUT's Short and Sweet Seoul Odyssey

A little girl's trip to the market becomes a charming journey through modern Korea in Yoon Ga-eun's delightful short film Sprout, which premiered at the Busan International Film Festival last October. Korean indie cinema often makes a point of demonstrating... More »
  

Berlinale 2014 Review: HISTORY OF FEAR Is Brooding, Atmospheric, And Glacially Slow

History of Fear is set in an unnamed Argentine suburb, an idyllic community where rich families' vast estates are bordered on every side by barbwire fences and imposing gates. The presumed effect is to keep the people inside safe, but... More »
By Ben Croll   
  

Berlinale 2014 Review: THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY Proves Middlebrow Is Timeless

They've been making movies like The Two Faces of January since before they made movies. A graying man, his blonde haired bride, and the younger man who comes between them. Crime and chase amidst sun dappled vistas. Cops and con... More »
By Ben Croll   
  

Berlinale 2014 Review: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, An Ode To Joy

Regrettably, Beethoven got there first. In another world, The Grand Budapest Hotel, a celebration of wit and style and class, an example of a technical master working at the top of his craft, a work as warm and genuinely funny... More »
By Ben Croll   
  

Rotterdam 2014 Review: AFTER THE TONE Leaves A Message

(Hi, this is Twitch, if you want to read the review, please start after the bracket...) Some films catch attention because of a single, clear, brilliant idea. Something you immediately know could be great, or fail badly, based on execution.... More »
By Ard Vijn   
  

Berlinale 2014 Review: THE MIDNIGHT AFTER, Fruit Chan's Maddening Pop-Art Apocalypse

It should have been clear as soon as the title, "Based on the novel by PIZZA", rolled onscreen. Fruit Chan's The Midnight After was sure to be loopy, irreverent and a rare kind of crazy. And it was! But... More »
By Ben Croll   
  

Berlinale 2014 Review: Subdued Yet Powerful, NIGHT FLIGHT Soars

LeeSong Hee-il returns to Berlin a year after White Night (2012) with his fourth feature Night Flight. While his last film was a subdued but powerful work about lingering memories of homophobia in modern Seoul, his new film is his... More »
  

Sundance 2014 Review: WHITEY Presents Criminal Ethics As A Spectrum Of Grey

It is no small irony that a film titled Whitey is actually so morally grey. Once again, one of the great documentary auteurs Joe Berlinger has provided a wonderfully nuanced take on an extraordinarily complex case, providing the viewers with... More »
  

Sundance 2014 Review: CAMP X-RAY, A Work Of Moral Ambivalence

I was busy processing the ending of Camp X-Ray, a film about a soldier relating to prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, when I saw the credit - Executive Produced by David Gordon Green. It's hard to say just what effect this great... More »
  

Ambulante 2014 Review: COFFEE (CAFÉ), Another Look At Mexican Rural Life That Is Slightly Above Average

One of my favorite Mexican films of 2013 was Adrián Ortiz's documentary Elevator (Elevador), a really interesting look at the current decadent state of a Mexico City multi-family complex that once was a promised land. Now at Ambulante 2014, Elevator's... More »
  

Sundance 2014 Review: FRANK, A Fun Musical Mashup That Doesn't Quite Mesh

All the ingredients are her for me to adore Frank. You've got a quirky premise surrounding a bunch of musical fun, a standout performance by one of the world's best actors, a mix of the somber and the slapstick all... More »
  

Sundance 2014 Review: IMPERIAL DREAMS Is A Taut, Effective Social Drama

About two-thirds the way through Malik Vitthal's remarkable film, the lead character makes it plain - he's just trying "to do the right thing."Back in 1989, another African American filmmaker showed how doing the right thing wasn't always easy. Spike's... More »
  

Ambulante 2014 Review: DARKNESS (PENUMBRA) Follows A Deer Hunter Who Will Bore You To Death

After its world premiere at the IFFR 2013, Eduardo Villanueva's Darkness (original title: Penumbra) has had really good presence on the Mexican film festival circuit, as it was part of FICUNAM, Riviera Maya and most recently Morelia. And now it... More »
  

Sundance 2014 Review: RICH HILL Is A Striking Look At Poverty In America

When writing/directing team Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos focus their lens on three kids growing up in the ramshackle Missouri town of Rich Hill, it's not a pretty picture that is captured. Once a thriving mining village, now... More »
  

Sundance 2014 Review: The U.S. vs THE NOTORIOUS MR. BOUT Examines A "Merchant Of Death"

The Pussy Riot documentary, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, had its world premiere last year at Sundance. The doc was co-directed by Russian filmmaker Maxin Pozdorovkin, who now is teamed with a different director (Tony Gerber), but returned to the... More »
  

Rotterdam 2014 Review: Miike Takashi's THE MOLE SONG - UNDERCOVER AGENT REIJI

(Rest assured that people of the fashion police will leave the cinema in tears...) An International Film Festival Rotterdam without a Miike Takashi film is almost unthinkable. Ever since Audition screened, back in 1999, the eclectic director has sent a... More »
By Ard Vijn   
  

Sundance 2014 Review: LIAR'S DICE Gives A Rising Star Another Chance To Shine

Indian independent cinema has been on the rise for the last couple of years. A rapid increase in visibility and growing interest in the biggest film industry in the world have fed this sudden surge in homespun tales of life... More »
By J Hurtado   
  
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