REVIEW Given the recent events in Iran, the timing of The Stoning of Soraya M.'s release seems, well, perfect. The film may be set in 1986, but the message of resistance to political oppression couldn't be more relevant. This is a story about the importance of refusing to comply with unjust edicts, of the power one woman can have to make her voice heard. Sound familiar? But the movie is more than just its message: The Stoning of Soraya M. is effective because it's a well-made film. Read more »
If you've seen Flesh (1968) or Trash (1970) or Heat (1972), there's a good chance you'd like to spend an hour alone with Joe Dallesandro. Let's face it — that's probably not going to happen anytime soon, so you may have to settle for something a bit less private. As substitutes go, Little Joe is a nice alternative: no, you can't talk to (or touch) Dallesandro directly, but the experience is certainly intimate.Read more »
Ask any filmmaker: facts and figures may horrify, but images are what leave the most lasting impression. With raw and shocking footage of worldwide atrocities, the movies featured in this year's Human Rights Watch International Film Festival speak multitudes even when their narrators are silent. Rather than attempt to encapsulate the entirety of the injustices committed, these films focus on the human side of things. Read more »
It probably comes as no surprise that postWorld War II Americans decided Hitler was a lot scarier than the Boogeyman. It's a little more shocking to see that fear realized in their comic books. Read more »
REVIEWCoraline is a great film to take your kids to, provided you're willing to let them sleep in your bed for a night. Like the Neil Gaiman novel it's based on, this is a fairy tale with a dark side, an Alice in Wonderlandstyle fable that doesn't dumb things down for its target audience. But then, neither did Alice. Dakota Fanning voices Coraline, a lonely, blue-haired little girl in search of adventure. She finds it, and them some, when she travels into bizarro world by way of a tiny door in her house. Read more »
Mamma Mia! was nominated for Best Picture. I'll let that sink in for a moment. OK, yes, the category in question is limited to comedies and musicals, and sure, the Golden Globes aren't the most significant annual awards, but still. This is the best you could come up with, Hollywood Foreign Press Association? Meryl Streep unabashedly flailing on a rooftop? Pierce Brosnan's nasal tones bringing new lows to the ABBA oeuvre? Best musical of the year, my ass.
Lately publishers seem to be following two rough guidelines: first, anyone can write a memoir; second, if it's a blog, it might as well also be a book.
Waiter Rant, based on (you guessed it) a blog of the same name, does plenty to refute both unspoken rules. Author Steve Dublanica may have some pithy anecdotes, but he fails to compile them in any cohesive or thoughtful way. At best, his book is a series of blog posts stretched out to chapter length. At worst, it's plain dull. Read more »
REVIEW It's the oldest story in the book and no, I'm not talking about Adam and Eve. Eden is yet another addition to the familiar marriage-in-trouble genre, with no real twist to speak of: after 10 years together, Breda (Eileen Walsh) feels unloved by her husband Billy (Aidan Kelly). Meanwhile, Billy finds himself tempted by the forbidden fruit of infidelity. Rather than stunt the film, this well-trodden subject matter makes Eden's success all the more impressive. Without reinventing the wheel, director Declan Recks has crafted one of the most captivating films of the year. Read more »
The title Slumdog Millionaire may sound strange, but it speaks to the style and tone of Danny Boyle's latest production. The film gracefully slides between fairy tale romance and gritty drama, portraying a dichotomy that Boyle (1996's Trainspotting and 2002's 28 Days Later) considers essential to a representation of India, where the movie is set.
"It's just India," he explained on a recent visit to San Francisco. Read more »
PREVIEW The short films showcased at Independent Exposure's "Halloweird 2008" are mostly more bizarre than they are spooky, but that doesn't mean they're not holiday appropriate. There's something deeply unsettling about many of the offerings, which offer a more lingering impression than your standard scares. Loka "Tabernacle 1" is haunting precisely because we're given so little of the overall picture. As the camera glides gracefully alongside gorgeous violins, we find a glowing, floating man, with no explanation. Read more »