What should I be doing instead of this?
 
 

Still Running the Tragic American ‘Race’

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Race documents the powerful legacy of the accomplishments of Jesse Owens, the black Olympic athlete (and Ohio native) who challenged the notion of Aryan supremacy espoused by Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games.  

Protecting ‘Son of Saul’

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Walking the path of another and gaining a different perspective gets lauded often. Film sometimes allows for an uncomfortably literal approximation of this notion.  

Better to Be Alone in ‘Mojave’

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Everything is so literal, brother, in the world of screenwriter-director William Monahan (Oscar-winning screenwriter for The Departed) out here in Mojave.   

Encounters of 'The 4th' Kind

0 Comments · Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Andre Hyland boasts a substantial online following through his sketch-comedy character Jesse Miller — dude loves Monster Energy drinks and button-up shirts with tribal flame designs — but that’s not what has people buzzing about the Cincinnati native nowadays.   

Waking Up to ‘Good Morning Karachi’

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 13, 2016
There’s a funny thing about social and cultural issues in modern society; actually, the debate starts with the whole idea of what it means to be modern.   

Looking Forward to New Characters in 2016

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Will 2016, with its over-abundance of sequels on the horizon, be in a position to introduce audiences to new characters that might one day join the ongoing pantheon of franchise players that dominate the multiplexes?  
by Tony Johnson 12.10.2015
at 11:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Spoonful of Cinema: Room

Irish-born director Lenny Abrahamson last charmed us with the post-modern indie drama Frank. It was a film about finding harmony and friendship — rather low stakes compared to his newest film. The 49-year-old director is hitting us where it hurts in latest effort, Room, a tense indie drama with its fair share of thrills that plays off of a screenplay from Emma Donoghue based on her novel of the same name. Abrahamson boldly and unapologetically drops us into Donoghue’s world. It’s a small shed inhabited by a mother, Joy (Brie Larson), and her 5-year-old son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay). Held against their will by a caretaking yet maniacal captor, the room that they inhabit comes to be their physical world. But what is even more intriguing is the son’s understanding of the world that he has never been exposed to. Jack hasn’t formed his beliefs based on his own observations. His mother has taught him that the room they inhabit is “Room” — what seems to be perceived by Jack as a separate dimension from the world in the same way that the world would be considered a separate dimension from Heaven or Hell. This makes plans for breaking out exceedingly troublesome when Jack’s mother is forced to use her son as the main piece of her escape plan. How do you explain to a 5-year-old when to jump out of a truck, where to run or how to get help when the boy has never even seen the light of day? When they finally escape and are thrust into reality, neither of them is prepared for it. But both of them are caught in shock for different reasons. Joy must face the fallout from her parent’s divorce, an unwanted celebrity status when her story that becomes sensationalized by a ruthless mass media and the reclamation of a life once lost. Jack is thrust into a world he once thought uninhabitable. It shakes the foundation of his entire perspective, and the unraveling of his mother only makes things more difficult for everyone involved. Led by Brie Olsen and Jacob Tremblay’s mother-and-son chemistry, the film unfolds at a pace and with a grace that is sorely lacking from too many pictures. The movie hardly drags for a second. Every detail of every conversation warrants something to consider beyond what we hear and see. As we come to witness Joy and Jack’s re-entry into the world as we know it, they must grapple with a loss of every sense of familiarity, having spent the last five years captive in their room. Joy and Jack are the only link each one of them has to a painful past. Room signifies the beginning of what will be an onslaught of artsy independent films taking trips during awards season. As of this morning it’s garnered three Golden Globe nominations: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama (Larson) and Best Screenplay. From an industry perspective, I imagine it will have a similar role as Whiplash did for 2014’s movie season. It has an up-and-coming director like Whiplash’s Damien Chazelle. They share the quality of leading millennial festival darlings in Brie Larson and Miles Teller. And both of them had low figures at the box office — Whiplash brought in less than $15 million, while Room hasn’t even broken $4 million (this will change if it comes to be nominated for an Academy Award, as most distributers will re-release a film as did Whiplash’s Sony Spotlight partners when awards-hype sets in). Ultimately, I don’t expect that Room has any sort of chance to do serious damage during awards season, but I can’t imagine a scenario where Brie Larson doesn’t bring home some sort of hardware for her efforts. She is absolutely stunning at every turn of the nearly-two-hour story. If someone beats her to the Oscar or Globe for Best Actress, it will be difficult to imagine someone being a clear favorite to win beforehand. It is impossible to take our eyes off of her every move in Room. Larson likely finds herself now at a moment in her career that may soon take her places in the realm of Jennifer Lawrence, Mia Wasikowska, and Rooney Mara as some of the most discussed, beloved and talented Hollywood actresses of their generation. The emotional toll on Larson of portraying Joy in Room could only be imagined for anyone outside of the production process, but I can at least imagine that it will change the way Larson carries herself. Building off of her work in the heart-wrenching Short Term 12, Larson is no longer most notable for her shy-gal cuteness in 21 Jump Street. Rather, she has grown into more mature material with a vastly daring emotional breadth. She has gained and exhibited whatever it is that makes an actress into a star, a character into a friend and a girl into a woman. Brie Larson — not unlike Joy — has seemingly grown up suddenly and without so much as a flinch. She still carries brightness about her, but now there is something more to illuminate. Brie Larson is no longer just a good actress. She is a rare talent worthy of our acknowledgment, our awe, and our admiration. Get to the Esquire before you miss her in Room.
 
 
by Kerry Skiff 12.07.2015
Posted In: Literary, Movies, Film at 11:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Beyond the Books

Movie screening at Kenton County Public Library's main branch

While this time of year is the season to go out and explore various holiday happenings, sometimes it’s nice to have a quiet movie night. As a seasoned college student, some of my favorite times with friends are the nights we hole up in bed and watch a Disney film. So when I saw that the Kenton County Public Library’s main branch was hosting a free movie screening last Tuesday, I found myself venturing to Covington for the event. The screening was of the 1993 film, And the Band Played On, a docu-drama depicting the beginnings of the AIDS virus in America. The screening was held on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, as a way to spread education and awareness of the virus.My first worry was about walking in a few minutes late, but that concern was quickly doused when I entered the large but empty room. The film had already been started and was running through the beginning credits at the front, where dozens of vacant chairs sat in rows facing the screen. As there was no one in the audience to protest, I settled down, taking up more than my fair share of seats as I cozy. After about an hour, I looked around and noticed that I was still alone, a fact I attributed to the cold and rainy weather of the day. The film itself was an interesting depiction of how the U.S. medical and political communities first handled the virus, especially in the wake of a changing presidential administration and the changing dynamics of the gay community at the time. “This is the third year we have screened this film,” says Gary Pilkington, Adult Program Coordinator for the Kenton County Public Library. “At previous screenings, most people enjoyed the film. They don’t usually think about AIDS very much in their day-to-day lives, so this helped to re-focus their awareness.” According to Pilkington, it’s important to host events that bring attention to health concerns in the community. “We chose to screen And the Band Played On … to help the community understand that HIV and AIDS haven’t disappeared,” he says. “Most people don’t think twice about it unless a major celebrity reveals they have it or are HIV-positive … It has reached the point where it isn’t in the public consciousness as much as it had been, yet it is still a real threat to health.” I learned a lot about AIDS from the film, since most of my prior knowledge had been brief training on how to safely avoid contracting HIV and AIDS from the lifeguard training I received years ago. While I personally enjoyed the film, it was disappointing to see that no one else took advantage of the free screening, but perhaps with better weather and more awareness the next showing will be packed.Find this event interesting? Check out similar events at the Kenton County Public Library: Star Wars Bash: The Force Awakens at the library with themed crafts, food and a costume contest. Film Friday Matinee: Come to the library for a showing of Far From the Madding Crowd. Classic Movie Matinee: Join the crowd for a special showing of holiday film Christmas in Connecticut.
 
 
by Steven Rosen 12.03.2015
Posted In: Movies, Film at 11:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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'Anomalisa' in the Running for Academy Award Nominations

The film joins 'Carol' as a Cincinnati-related movie garnering praise

There looks to be another very artful Cincinnati-related movie, besides Carol, that is on important Best Films of 2015 lists, wins critics awards and even figures in Oscar nominations. And it wouldn’t be Don Cheadle’s Miles Ahead, which like Carol was predominately filmed in Cincinnati but set in New York. Sony Classics isn’t planning to release that Miles Davis biopic, which Cheadle directed and stars in, until April. Rather, this is a film that is set in Cincinnati but wasn’t shot here because it’s an animated feature for adults that uses stop-motion puppets. It’s called Anomalisa and was written and co-directed by the always-adventurous Charlie Kaufman, who wrote Being John Malkovich and Adaptation and also wrote and directed Synecdoche, New York. (The co-director is Duke Johnson.) Anomalisa started life as a 2005 play called Hope Leaves the Theater. I have not seen it, but going by online and print stories from those who have, it is the tale of a depressed, married motivational speaker who, on a trip to Cincinnati that features a one-night hotel stay, believes he has found his ideal mate. But there may be complications. David Thewlis voices the lead character; Jennifer Jason Leigh is the woman he is attracted to. All other characters are voiced by Tom Noonan and have the same faces. That latter fact is important because it could be interpreted as a characteristic of a delusion called Fregoli Syndrome. In fact, the hotel in the film is named Fregoli. Independently financed, partly through Kickstarter, Anomalisa has won raves since premiering at Telluride and Venice film festivals in September. Britain’s Sight & Sound, one of the world’s most important film journals, has just ranked it the 11th best new film of 2015 — Carol ranked second. And both it and Carol are Best Feature nominees for the Independent Spirit Awards. It has been acquired by Paramount Pictures and is getting a limited release at the end of this month, after playing at film festivals, to qualify for Academy Awards. A huge poster board for its (still-undetermined) Cincinnati opening is already up at Esquire Theatre. If all this sounds too good to be true, there is a catch. Advance reports and early reviews don’t make it appear that Anomalisa’s depiction of Cincinnati is an especially complimentary one. In fact, the city just might have been chosen intentionally as an appropriate place for someone like the film’s principal character, Michael Stone, to have an emotional crisis. Here’s how Rodrigo Perez’ review on Indie Wire began: “With apologies in advance to the people of Cincinnati, in the worldview of Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson's Anomalisa, or at least to the misfortune of its characters, the Queen City represents a soul-crushing dullness and boredom that could drive any man mad. For customer service guru and author Michael Stone (brilliantly voiced by David Thewlis as a classic Kaufman-esque misanthrope), already fundamentally unhappy and in the midst of a huge existential crisis, Cincy is a grueling hell on Earth of fatuous people and irritating small talk. “In all fairness, it could be any faceless and anonymous city — part of Kaufman’s aim is to examine and send-up the mundanity of the business trip and that odd experience of feeling like an alien exploring the world of this not-quite-real, single-serving fantasy existence where people wait on you hand and foot.” Whatever its take on Cincinnati, the work that went into making Anomalisa is impressive. According to the Crafting Anomalisa short, it involved the creation of 1,261 faces and 1,000 costumes and required 118,089 frames of film to reach its final 90-minute running time.
 
 

A Resourceful Pair Breaks Out of ‘Room’

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 18, 2015
We tell ourselves the world is a big place, but director Lenny Abrahamson (Frank), adapting Emma Donoghue’s novel Room, shows us just how infinite the space can truly be.   

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