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Topsy-Turvy (Review)

Criterion Collection, 1999, Rated R

1 Comment · Wednesday, April 20, 2011
At first glance, Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy seems the oddball amongst the work of a filmmaker best known for the raw explorations of contemporary lower- and middle-class British life in Life Is Sweet, Secrets and Lies, Naked, Happy-Go-Lucky and more. A period piece set in Victorian London, the film looks at the often contentious relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan and the creation of their musical, The Mikado.  

Enter the Void (Review)

MPI, 2009, Unrated

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 13, 2011
From the opening credits of Enter the Void, which pulse like strobes at an all-night rave, through the ambiguous ending, Gaspar Noe pummels his "drugs are bad" thesis with subtlety of a jackhammer. Of course, subtlety is not in the director’s vocabulary.  

Four Lions (Review)

Magnolia, 2010, Rated R

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Is terrorism funny? Are Islamic jihadists bent on destroying Western culture a laugh-riot? Not normally, but in British filmmaker and writer Christopher Morris’ Four Lions, they are dangerously hysterical. The black comedy follows a group of inept, wannabe terrorists who are determined to find glory as suicide bombers.  

Kings of Pastry (Review)

First Run Features, 2009, Not Rated

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The French Ministry of Labor bestows the title, Le Meilleur Ouvrier de France, on the top craftsmen in France. Textile designers, photographers, woodworkers, masons, graphic artists, florists and beyond can all strive for the honor. Kings of Pastry explores pastry chefs as they strive for this honor.  

Last Train Home (Review)

Zeitgeist, 2010, Not Rated

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 2, 2011
China’s coming maelstrom of cultural tension is a central theme in Chinese/Canadian filmmaker Lixin Fan’s Last Train Home, a gritty, verite-style documentary about a family struggling to adapt to its country’s evolving, increasingly globalized economy. Lixin fixes his narrative (and inquisitive hand-held camera) on a married couple, Changhua and Suqin Zhang, onetime rural farmers who have worked grueling garment factory jobs far away from home for nearly the whole of their 17-year-old daughter Qin’s life.  

The Magician (Review)

Criterion Collection, 1958, Not Rated

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The Magician (originally released as The Face) is an unjustly overlooked Ingmar Bergman film, sandwiched between cinema monoliths The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries and early-’60s classics The Virgin Spring and Through a Glass Darkly. It’s as vibrant as any work in his oeuvre — an odd mix of drama, bedroom farce and horror deep with critical, religious and existential symbolisms.  

Middletown (Review)

Icarus Films, 1982, Not Rated

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Middletown, a 1982 PBS documentary series about everyday life in Middle America has had a troubled history. Produced by Peter Davis, it was meant as a return to the searing, revelatory, verite-style reality television that PBS pioneered with 1973’s An American Family.  

Let Me In (Review)

Anchor Bay, 2010, Rated R

0 Comments · Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Matt Reeves' remake of Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson's atmospheric vampire thriller — both of which are based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel 'Let the Right One In' — is not as restrained or as poetic as its predecessor, but Let Me In's nuanced take on the genre generates unexpected empathy for its central duo in near equal measure.  

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Review)

20th Century Fox, 2010, Rated PG-13

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Oliver Stone’s Wall Street is entirely of its time: a note-perfect portrait of 1980s superficiality and money-lust appropriately channeled through a world where wealth and class can be bought and sold daily. It made a true star of Michael Douglas, who delivered an iconic performance as Gordon Gekko, the cold-hearted, crazy-rich corporate raider who takes a young trader under his wings.  

Alamar (Review)

Film Movement, 2010, Not Rated

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio’s verite-styled familial drama is an aspirational observance of three generations of males living at one with nature in the Caribbean’s coastal solitude of Banco Chinchorro, Mexico’s largest coral reef.  

Who Is Harry Nilsson? (Review)

Lorber Films, 2010, Not Rated

1 Comment · Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Harry Nilsson was a late-1960s/early-1970s Los Angeles-based songwriter’s songwriter — The Beatles adored him and Three Dog Night recorded his “One” — who also had such a fluidly expressive vocal range that he briefly became a best-selling recording artist with both hits that he wrote (“Me and My Arrow,” “Jump Into the Fire”) and ones he covered (“Everybody’s Talkin,’ ” “Without You”).  

Colin (Review)

Walking Shadows, 2009, Unrated

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Low-budget zombie films are dime-a-dozen. For the most part, they reflect their cash-strapped status in form and function. Refusing to use their deficiencies to their advantage, they become dumbed-down affairs that pump gore effects, cheap scares and violence at the expense of smart narrative and plot. This sad fact makes Colin all the more precious and important.  

The Sacred Triangle (Review)

Sexy Intellectual, 2010, Not Rated

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Here’s a shocking discovery for Cincinnati Pop-music historians: Did you know it was a legendary Iggy Pop performance here in 1970 that inspired David Bowie to create his Ziggy Stardust character and thus turn the British Glam Rock movement into a worldwide phenomenon? That’s one of many perceptive insights in this new documentary.  

Nollywood Babylon (Review)

Kino, 2008, Not Rated

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Nicknamed Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry churns out 2,500 films per year — most at budgets under $15,000. Quick-dash, self-financed B-movie affairs primarily shot on video, the productions have created a booming insulated economy for the poverty-stricken nation. The themes are insular, as well, eschewing stories and narratives popularized by cinematic imports in favor of relatable themes. In short, Nollywood creates African films for Africans. And the people of Nigeria prefer it that way.  

Leonard Cohen Releases (Review)

Songs from the Road, Bird on a Wire and Lonesome Heroes

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Bird on the Wire was shot by the British filmmaker Tony Palmer (All You Need Is Love, 200 Motels) and supposedly had some kind of theatrical release in 1974. But he recently discovered 294 film cans with bits and pieces of "lost" footage and, given Cohen's resurgence, decided to reassemble it to create a new print closer to his original intentions.