The turning of the calendar page to 2014 will mark the 25th anniversary of Steven Soderbergh’s breakthrough Sex, Lies, and Videotape, so it is somewhat fitting to end 2013 with a review of a new video-on-demand release.
A quiet revolution began back in 2003 with the release of The Animatrix, a collection of animated short films that explore the history of The Matrix
universe. And in the case of shorts “Final Flight of the Osiris” and
“Kid’s Story,” the collection dared to fill in key information that
would impact the ongoing series, including the back-to-back sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
Right off the bat, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has her very own I Am Legend
moment. She’s in the restricted area outside District 12 with her
trusty bow, surveying the land. The turkeys gobble-gobbling along better
beware because she’s about to head off for her victory tour,
celebrating her “win” at the 74th Hunger Games, and she’s not looking
forward to playing the celebrity role that’s going to be expected of
What are we supposed to expect from a
character named Charlie Countryman played by Shia LaBeouf? Sure, LaBeouf
sports a ratty hipster beard and stringy, unwashed dark locks and
displays the unfortunate penchant of baring his body at the drop of a
hat, which means he’s wandering down a decidedly different and more
unsavory path than when we last saw him leading the charge alongside the
Autobots in the first Transformers trilogy from Michael Bay.
Re-enactments dominate the world of
reality television. There is nothing new in the narrative framework of
recreating scenes of true events for audiences to grant access to the
resonant emotional impact of a situation, a soon-to-be looped moment in
time. Sometimes, it is done in the service of memory and perspective.
From the first moment I walked out of the theater during a private press screening of Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave,
I knew this film had the potential to spark discussion on the subject
and history of race and race relations in the United States.
Independent black cinema might finally be
coming into its own and it’s worth focusing strictly on this moment. As
a longstanding member of the Black Reel Awards, one of several entities
that recognizes the best in black cinema each year, I find myself in
the enviable position of having access to a number of films that rarely
reach theaters in our area.
Sometimes a story, told simply and
effectively, changes the way we as an audience see another part of the
world, the experiences of others and/or ourselves, all reflected in the
moving images before us. What’s more, it can be startling when the
impact, so profound and likely unexpected, cracks our cynical natures
through its very simplicity.
After the briefest bit of narrative
establishment — Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) at home prepping to leave
for his latest assignment and his wife (Catherine Keener) dropping him
off at the airport — the by-the-books sailor runs his crew through their
paces sensing, it would seem, that something lurks on the horizon
Don Jon presents an unfiltered
Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a guy who loves his porn, his friends (Rob Brown, Jeremy Luke), his
family (Tony Danza, Glenne Headly and Brie Larson), his porn, his faith
in God (typified by his pious attendance at weekly confessions), his
workout routine and, in case I failed to mention it, his porn.
Thank you, Toronto International Film
Festival (TIFF), for such a marvelous birthday party. If I couldn’t have
been at home among family and friends, I’m not sure I could have
imagined a better way to celebrate. The first day of the festival was a
decidedly low-key affair. Festival programmers eased us into the
proceedings with a teasing platter of tasty bites and a bit of fizz in
our glasses to whet the appetite.
Adam (Mark Ruffalo) is charming,
good-looking and professionally successful with an easy-going air about
him. Mike (Tim Robbins) gives the impression of being a wise mentor. And then there’s Neil (Josh Gad),
who is obviously a bit of a bumbler. And what do they have in common? They’re
all in a sex addiction support group, Mike as Adam’s sponsor, and all in
various stages of recovery.
The Cincinnati Festival (CFF) kicked off
its fourth year last weekend and continues through Sunday with
screenings at various venues (though most will take place at Tower Place
Mall). The festival boasts some 100 films (including 39 feature-length
offerings) across numerous genres and styles, none more anticipated than
the local premiere of Cincinnati native Tom Berninger’s Mistaken for Strangers, which screened Sept. 6 at Memorial Hall.
A Variety “Breaking News” alert
arrived via email trumpeting, “Venice Joins Oscar Race with ‘Philomena,’
‘Gravity,’ ” and just like that the race is on to tantalize and tease
critics and audiences with the first bite, that world premiere of the
titles that will likely be on the lips of film’s tastemakers during the