“Take Me to the River” has a quality many documentaries lack: it gets better as it goes on. At first, director Martin Shore’s love letter to the Memphis music scene feels like it might be one of those making-of documentaries with too much studio footage to be seen outside of fandom. But as its legends of soul and blues sing on screen, a story unfolds that reverberates with incredible vitality. The takeaway? American music wouldn’t be what it is today same without what flowed from the Mississippi Delta.
Fall officially started on Monday, but the announcement that the British Arrows Awards are returning to the Walker Art Center is truly a sign that summer is in the rear-view mirror.
The love life of ‘50s Hollywood star Errol Flynn is too easily imagined in the lingering phrase “in like Flynn.” The notorious playboy is the “Robin Hood” this film’s title refers to, and his end-of-life relationship with a teenage girl is the focus of writer-director duo Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. The two dive into the relationship’s gray areas, yet the work doesn’t emerge all that dark or dirty. That’s strange, because it probably should.
Food reigns supreme at the Minnesota State Fair, but a lot of it isn’t from Minnesota. The popular Pronto Pup, for instance, isn’t even from the Midwest.
“God has to be busy with everyone else” — Those are the heartbreaking words said by one of the three boys whose lives filmmakers Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo follow in Rich Hill, a sobering yet vividly human documentary about poverty in small-town, Middle America. From the get-go, it’s apparent that at least one of these boys has been called “white trash,” but the film never treats them with scorn. Instead, cinematographer Droz Palermo captures their lives with incredible grace, so much so that it brings to mind the effervescent films of Terrence Malick. But as impressive as the camera work can be, the details in Rich Hill sting.
Anna Kendrick was good in Drinking Buddies, but she’s better in Happy Christmas. This time, in another work of director Joe Swanberg, she plays an infectiously bubbly, if irresponsible, 27-year-old named Jenny, who’s moved to Chicago after breaking up with her boyfriend. She stays in the Windy City with her brother (played by Swanberg), and the film focuses on her struggle to balance her youthful energy with the realpolitik of growing up. And despite what the title suggests, the film’s not really about Christmas.
Mood Indigo, the latest from French director Michel Gondry — Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep — kicks off as a whimsical, surreal Parisian love story before falling, like an autumn leaf, into a melancholy look at aging, death and possibility of fate. The Paris of Gondry’s imagination is remarkable. It’s a quasi-steampunk, sci-fi wonderland with bizarre inventions: keyboard instruments that mix cocktails, flying cloud cars and alarm clocks that scurry up walls, like spiders. Those familiar with Gondry’s work will recognize his flair for fantastical production, of which he is an undeniable master. For those unfamiliar, think of him as a Gallic Wes Anderson, but less of a perfectionist.
It’s unfortunate that this film had to go up against Boyhood. That 12-years-in-the-making, coming-of-age colossus is my most anticipated movie of the summer, and it comes out the same weekend as Hellion, which is also a film about growing up. It’s also unfortunate that Hellion is a bit hit-or-miss.
To say something is seriously wrong with the cost of college – and mountain of debt piling atop the backs of America’s young people – is to state the obvious. Andrew Ross, the director of Ivory Tower, understands this. Instead of just saying “Guys, we’re in a hell of a pickle here,” his documentary gives us a road map as to how we got to this place and tries to decipher, through the fog of unrest and a forest of blinking technological light bulbs, what our possible options are to move forward. Don’t get me wrong, though: Ross doesn’t hint at a savior. The reason, after all, this is such a big mess is that no one has the knowledge, or will, to fix it. Still, it’s a given things are bound to change pretty soon. Everyone, it seems, agrees on that.
Relentless, thoughtful and weirdly surprising: “Snowpiercer” is a twisty, sci-fi rollercoaster that’s tough to pin down and just as hard to forget. South Korean director Joon-ho Bong channels a dystopian world in the somewhat comic style of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil but swaps out the political satire for action and allegory. The result is a tonic for those bored of CGI spectacles and a top-shelf option for the holiday weekend.
In April 2011, Ai Weiwei — the Chinese artist who helped design the Beijing “bird’s nest” Olympic stadium and who filled London’s Tate Modern with 8 million sunflower seeds — was arrested by authorities in his home country. They held him in detention for nearly three months on what later turned out to be tax fraud charges. After that, they placed their most prominent international artist on house arrest. This is where Danish filmmaker Andreas Johnsen’s documentary The Fake Case starts. The beloved, world-renowned creator is leaving the very grip of the authorities’ intimidation chamber, and he’s rattled — not talking to international press, keeping quiet. Something’s wrong.
Brooding, tense, and disturbingly quiet: “Night Moves” feels strangely like a thriller despite its slow, steady burn. It’s like watching the last embers in a fire pit. The flames are low, yet there’s a strange power in the wood’s hypnotic, pulsing glow.
It’s been 23 years since Alejandro Jodorowsky, the filmmaker whose El Topo sparked the midnight movie craze in the early ’70s, made a film. And although the playwright, actor, author, musician, and spiritual guru is 85, his latest, The Dance of Reality, is just as dazzling and unforgettable as the titles that earned him his wings as the patron saint of cult cinema.
Why the hell is she doing this? — That’s the question you’ll likely be asking yourself throughout Young and Beautiful, a film focused on the sexual adventures of a devastatingly beautiful girl.
“The German Doctor”, a film by Argentinian filmmaker Lucía Puenzo, is a psychologically challenging drama in which a heinous Nazi war criminal hiding in South America attaches himself to a family and spin them into his web of cold, calculated misery.
Blue Ruin is a great American revenge movie, because it doesn’t play out like most great revenge movies. In it, the target — the villain who must die, the object of the hero’s obsession — is confronted and dealt with before we even have a good grasp on who the hero is, or what’s going on. As such, the focus is on the aftermath: the consequences of killing, of eye-for-an-eye justice. And amid all the bloodshed and dark humor is a message about violence in America, I’m just not sure what it is yet.
Kristen Wiig — known for starring in and writing “Bridesmaids,” and for her work on “Saturday Night Live” — is probably one of the very brightest comedic actresses working today.
Toward the end of The Unknown Known, Donald Rumsfeld says he’d loved to have known what was going through the mind of Saddam Hussein’s right hand man, Tariq Aziz, during the final years of the dictator’s regime. “[Aziz] is a perfectly rational, logical individual,” the Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush says. “You wonder: What goes on in a mind like that?”
Clocking in at under an hour, An Arctic Space Odyssey traces the story of a group of men who worked for a year on a satellite station on an island that could be considered the […]
What makes Ilo Ilo more than just another family drama is the nuance with which writer/director Anthony Chen builds his characters. While each one appears based on a stereotype (the commanding mother, the shy maid, the troublesome son), they also have certain flaws or attributes that make them, as individuals, appear much more human than the usual fare that alights in family dramas, which are so fatally prone to melodrama.
Since antiquity, humankind has dreamed of a library robust enough to store, and distribute, all of our accumulated knowledge. And with every technological step forward in publishing, thinkers have dreamed of how that vast well of information, if easily available to common people, could change the world.
Rippling, oozing, flowing: Concrete Night is moody Finish noir film awash in smoke and liquids. Submerged at the start, the camera shows us the main character, a teenage boy named Simo (Johannes Brotherus), struggling in a dream sequence to swim […]
Italian filmmaker Roberto Minervini has created one of the most gorgeous and subtle films on Christianity in America that I’ve ever seen. Using real-life goat farmers from rural Texas, his film both documents a lifestyle and explores the complications […]
At the center of Nymph()maniac: Volume II is the interplay of sex and cruelty, love and pain. While masochism becomes the well from which the protagonist, Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), draws pleasure from middle age, it’s the people whom she loves or trusts that hurt her most. Likewise, it’s only those whom she’s closest to that she ever seeks to wound.
The film is set in the year 1990, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. We meet Katrine in an airport in Germany, and due to her wearing a disguise, we know that she’s up to something fishy.