Saturday, October 31, 2015

In Brief: Summer Camp (2015) Scary Movies 2015

Playing Monday night at 9 as part of Lincoln Center's Scary Movies series is SUMMER CAMP a new spin on the zombie/madness inducing disease genre.

At the El Buho summer camp the camp in Spain four American counselors have a problem. the people around them are suddenly going crazy- total psychotic blood lust and insanity coming out of nowhere. The counselors begin to attack each other, but there is a weird wrinkle- it only last for 20 minutes and then you're completely fine and totally unaware that you went off your nut. The result is total chaos because the people you're attacking are fighting for their lives and they really don't know you'll be fine in a couple of minutes. Will anyone survive the madness?

Once the film gets out of the genre's cliche filled territory of the set up things begin to pick up since the film isn't sliding down the same old genre tracks. The simple addition of a time limit on the killing madness makes this something special. Never before did anyone have to worry about  having to worry about killing your best friend. In all previous variations of the tale one you turn its allover, but here you have to worry about killing your best friend because they'll get better. The big question becomes how far to you go to protect yourself when you know the madness is going to pass? Its an intriguing question and its something that fuels the tension in the film.

While not absolutely perfect, the film still suffers from a couple of cliched moments, this is still a really solid little film. Frankly it's one of the best films at this year's Scary Movies, new or old. Definitely worth getting a ticket and going to see it.

Tickets and more information can be found here

The Hallow (2015) Scary Movies 2015

Slow building terror escalates into outright horror as the things that go bump in the night come to call on a family in an Irish forest.

Sent to investigate a forest for a development company, a scientist and his family are put into great dangers by the creatures that live inside it. They are warned by the locals that something evil is in the woods but they pay it no mind, never thinking that there was probably a reason that there were bars on there new home. Of course there isn't just monsters at work, there are hints of strangeness with zombie fungus and insects that can bore into your brain and take you over dropped through out. Nature's horrors give ways to body horror and finally other worldly horror as the creatures make an appearance.

You have to be willing to go along with this film for about half it's running time.Slowly building characters and setting a mood director Corin Hardy really wants to make his audience as tense as possible before letting loose the hounds of hell. I know the slow build will annoy some audience members who have been weened on horror films that strike early and often. This one doesn't strike early but once it gets going it does do so often.

In reading on the film I have heard some people have called  for a sequel or series of sequels that more fully explore the mythology of the film. While on some level I think that would be extremely cool, more of me is of the opinion that just once I'd like to see a film as cool as this remain a stand alone film where we can try to parse it all out for ourselves instead of having it all explained for us.

This is one of the better horror films of the year and a must see for anyone who likes really scary movies. My advice is keep the lights on for this one, you'll be less frightened.

The film plays tonight at Lincoln Center's Scary Movies (Tickets here), is currently on demand at Direct TV, hits other VOD platforms Thursday and theaters Friday.

Just a pointer to send you to find SAVAGED (aka AVENGED) one of the best horror films you've never heard of

Really good horror film has a deaf girl on her way to live with her long distance boyfriend kidnapped and raped by a bunch of redneck nimrods. Brought back to life by a native american medicine man her body is now inhabited by a vengeful Apache warrior who want to kill the lst family members of the family that killed of which is one of the girl's rapists.

Violent, crazy and one of the best horror films you've never heard of. This one is a keeper. Hell it will do something almost no horror film ever does- it will break your heart

Friday, October 30, 2015

Lavalantula (2015)

It being promoted  on home video as coming from the network that brought you SHARKNADO- which kind of tells you everything you need to know.

The plot of the film has an earthquake ripping open the earth in Los Angeles and spewing out lava and giant fire breathing spiders. The only one who can save everyone is Colton West played by Steve Guttenberg, a washed up actor trying to make a come back.

Stupid as a stick film on it's own terms this is the sort of thing that needs to be viewed with friends and drinks. Mercifully the film starts off about five minutes in and just goes. On the plus side the film makes more sense than SHARKNADO 2 and 3. The problem is the film makes more sense than SHARKNADO 2 and 3 so it can be a little draggy because the film actually has a plot. On the other hand this was never meant to be high art.

Watching the film on DVD I had a good time, I only wish I had been watching it with friends and drinks.

Worth a look see if you like low brow tongue in cheek horror.

The film hits home video and VOD Tuesday.

Mexico Barbaro (2014)

Eight part horror anthology from Mexico has eight directors banding together in order to tell a series of gruesome tales.

While all but one of the films look good and all have intriguing premises none of them really work well enough to really generate any scares.There is tension but no real payoff. The result is a film that will haunt you visually but which you'll ever be hard pressed to watch a second time except to see the visuals. If only the directors had better scripts this might have been a truly scary film, now it just sort of is.

The worst part is that it isn't a bad film, it just isn't a scary one.

Recommended for horror fans and for those who want to see some really gory horror violence

A journalist talks to a member of a drug gang about the bizarre rituals they commit in order to make sure that all they do goes well. It's a short tale with a gotacha ending.

JARAL DE BARRIOS- fleeing robbers pick the wrong place to hide out. Its a great looking piece with some scary images but over all it's too long  for what it is and it never really is scary.

DRENA (Drain)
A girl must drain her sister's vagina of blood or else have her soul sucked out her anus. While the final images are disturbing  it leaves you more wondering WTF was that.

LA COSA MAS PRECIADA (That precious thing)
A couple staying at an out of the way motel are meanced by evil trolls looking to take Valeria's virginity. This would have worked but the doofy looking trolls and eye rolling by the actress kind of does it in.

LO QUE IMPORTA ES LO DE ADENTRO (It's whats inside that matters)
A young girl realizes that the homeless guy outside their building is up to no good. Incredibly gory but not much else.

What is the terrible secret of the dolls in the swamp.

SIETE VECES SIETE (seven times seven)
A man steals a body in order to bring it back to life... a tale from the PET SEMETARY sub gere

On the day of the dead a strip club full of abused women gets revenge on their abusers. Great looking and very bloody but rather one note.

MEXICO BARBARO hits US DVD and VOD on Tuesday

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Japan Society is doing a full on retrospective of NOBUHIKO OBAYASHI the director of House

Celebrated Japanese Film Auteur Receives Largest U.S. Retrospective,
Introduces Cult Hit 'House' and Takes Part in Career-Spanning Conversation

Nobuhiko Obayashi: A Retrospective

November 20-December 6, 2015, at Japan Society

New York, NY – Japanese filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi (b. 1938) began his career as a pioneer of Japanese experimental cinema in the 1960s, going on to create a number of innovative and popular commercials afterwards, then moving to feature films in the late 70s and establishing himself with a string of cult and mainstream successes.

Obayashi remained virtually unknown in the U.S. until he burst into the consciousness of many American film fans with his hit studio debut House (1977), which made a splash upon its rediscovery in 2009 when it screened at the New York Asian Film Festival and was subsequently run at IFC Center and released on DVD by the Criterion Collection. But House was only the beginning.

From November 20 through December 6, Japan Society presents the largest ever retrospective on Obayashi organized in the U.S., with 10 feature films and a short spanning 50 years of his career, from 1964 through 2014. Launching with House and concluding with his most recent feature Seven Weeks, and featuring several appearances by Obayashi himself, Nobuhiko Obayashi: A Retrospective provides a thorough introduction (or reintroduction) to this endlessly innovative, singular film artist, highlighting a number of commercial and personal films, most of which are unknown outside of Japan.

Guest curated by Dr. Aaron Gerow, Professor of Film Studies and East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University, who made the selection in conversation with Obayashi himself, the series offers a deeper understanding and appreciation of Obayashi’s major themes and considers Obayashi’s entire career beyond cult favorites, presenting him as an established auteur with a coherent vision. "One of the last major Japanese directors active since the 1960s, Nobuhiko Obayashi is a wonderful study in contrasts," writes Gerow.

These rich contrasts are reflected in the impressive range of films in Obayashi’s oeuvre – from early avant-garde work such as his seminal short Complexe (screening in advance of House on Nov. 20), which Gerow calls a "monument" of Japanese experimental film, to popular genre films such as the rock-n-roll coming of age film The Rocking Horsemen (Nov. 22) and the murder mystery Reason (Dec. 6) – each film “an exploration of cinematic form.”

Obayashi’s sense of exploration is further evidenced by his willingness to use the latest technologies (continually reaffirming his status as a stylistic innovator) while simultaneously looking back on the history of Japanese cinema, by honoring past masters such as Yasujiro Ozu in Bound for the Fields, the Mountains, and the Seacoast (Nov. 21), and Japan itself, evoking the nightmare of war and atomic holocaust in his most recent tour de force Seven Weeks (Dec. 6).

Gerow notes that Obayashi's worldview is often defined by nostalgia, particularly for a lost love, such as in Haruka, Nostalgia (Nov. 22) or The Discarnates (Dec. 5). Yet his interest in the past is also expressed through a self-conscious understanding of the limits of its depiction, perhaps most significantly in Sada (Nov. 22), his hyper-stylized, purposefully artificial take on the famous story of Sada Abe, whose brutal crime of passion took on mythic overtones in Japan. And while Obayashi’s interest in the past might be firmly rooted in the local, particularly his hometown of Onomichi, as used in I Are You, You Am Me (Nov. 21), “his adventure in cinema is universal and still very contemporary,” says Gerow. “Such contrasts have made him both fascinating and complex – one of the most bountiful of Japanese filmmakers.”

In addition to introducing House and taking part in a Q&A following the screening, Obayashi will appear in an intimate, in-depth public conversation prior to the screenings taking place on Saturday, November 21. For this U.S. visit, Obayashi will be accompanied by his daughter, Chigumi Obayashi, also a filmmaker, who will present her own documentary film A Dialogue: Living Harmony on November 18 before the retrospective starts, co-presented with Japan Society's U.S.-Japan Innovators Network. (Chigumi is also credited as providing Obayashi with the story for House at the age of 7.)

Admission: $12/$9 Japan Society members, seniors and students, except for the opening night screening of House, $15/$12, including after party. Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling the Japan Society Box Office at 212-715-1258, or in person during regular business hours. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets for at least three films/events in the same transaction receive $2 off each ticket; offer available only through purchases made in-person by calling the Box Office.

Film descriptions written by Aaron Gerow.

House (Hausu)
Friday, November 20 at 7:00 pm
**Introduction and Q&A with Nobuhiko Obayashi.
**Followed by the Hausu Party.
1977, 99 min., 35mm, b/w, in Japanese with English subtitles. With Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo, Kumiko Oba, Ai Matsubara, Mieko Sato, Eriko Tanaka, Masayo Miyako.
Hoping for something wild to electrify a Japanese cinema that had hit the doldrums, Toho gave newcomer Nobuhiko Obayashi free reign to make something no one had seen before. And he did. Ostensibly a horror film about a girl who brings her friends to her aunt's house, only to see them killed, one by one, by possessed household furniture and appliances, House often plunges into parody, while also demonstrating all the tricks that were possible with celluloid which we in the digital age have forgotten. Obayashi's debut film vigorously proclaimed his name at home and eventually abroad, but it was also a marvelous sign of what was to come. "Delirious, deranged, gonzo or just gone, baby, gone--no single adjective or even a pileup does justice to House." --Manohla Dargis, The New York Times. (Read a compilation of reviews here.)

Preceded by:
1964, 14 min., 16mm, tinted b/w, silent.
One of the monuments in the history of Japanese experimental film, Complexe actually shares much with Obayashi's later commercial work: a delightful play with film form (slow motion, animation using human figures, freeze frames, etc.), a consciousness of the camera, a charming mix of pop genres and European art cinema, and a nostalgic, if not Romanticist tone.

Bound for the Fields, the Mountains and the Seacoast (No Yuki Yama Yuki Umibe Yuki)
Saturday, November 21 at 4:00 pm
1986, 135 min., 16mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. With Isako Washio, Koichi Sato, Yasufumi Hayashi, Junichiro Katagiri, Tomokazu Miura. Co-presented with The Japan Foundation.
Two versions are available of this story of kids banding together to try to rescue their idol from being sold into prostitution immediately before WWII, one in color and one in B&W. While the latter is now unavailable, even the color version reveals how Obayashi musters much of classical Japanese film, particularly 1930s Shochiku and Yasujiro Ozu--as well as a bit of experimental film, particularly Shuji Terayama--to present both a playful critique of wartime social power and the Japan that was lost in its destruction, as well as Obayashi's imaginary revenge against that structure. Even the idol looks a bit like Setsuko Hara!

I Are You, You Am Me (aka Exchange Student) (Tenkousei)
Saturday, November 21 at 7:00 pm
**Nobuhiko Obayashi in attendance
1982, 112 min., 35mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. With Toshinori Omi, Satomi Kobayashi, Makoto Sato. Print courtesy of Kawakita Memorial Film Institute.
Two adolescent classmates, the girl Kazumi and the boy Kazuo, tumble down some stairs and find they've switched bodies. This results in pubescent comic confusion and serious pronoun trouble, but Obayashi colors the gender confusion with a tinge of autobiographical nostalgia, not only filming in his hometown of Onomichi, but also framing the story through B&W 8mm film. When a character can say "I are you," then perhaps saying goodbye to another becomes a farewell to oneself, framed by the lens of an old home movie camera. The film was so crucial to his filmography that Obayashi remade it in 2007.

Sunday, November 22 at 1:00 pm
1998, 132 min., 35mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. With Hitomi Kuroki, Kippei Shiina, Toshie Negishi, Tsurutaro Kataoka.
Sada Abe, the woman who notoriously strangled and castrated her lover and became the basis for Nagisa Oshima's masterpiece, In the Realm of the Senses, may seem far removed from Obayashi's young and pure women. But by rendering Sada into an innocent maiden whose pure love for a sickly medical student is offered as the backstory for her life, the film emphasizes that her image is artificial, that Sada herself is "a movie"--and perhaps all the more tragic for being so. A technical tour de force, citing multiple facets of modern Japanese image culture, Sada won the FIPRESCI award at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival. "Bursting with invention and trickery." --David Stratton, Variety.

Haruka, Nostalgia (Haruka, Nosutarujii)
Sunday, November 22 at 4:00 pm
1993, 165 min., 35mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Hiroshi Katsuno, Hikari Ishida, Yoji Matsuda, Toshinori Omi, Bengaru.
Obayashi has made several films about memory and lost loves, and Haruka, Nostalgia is the most famous. These films connect with another major Obayashi theme: the young, innocent woman--termed shojo in Japanese. While now a centerpiece of Japanese culture, from girls comics to Hayao Miyazaki's heroines, the shojo in Obayashi are liminal figures inhabiting the boundaries between past and present and life and death, confronting the heroes with their own mortality. In this film, a writer of shojo novels returns to his hometown of Otaru and encounters first a young woman and then, mysteriously, his own, youthful self, forcing him to remember a girl he once loved and rejected.

The Rocking Horsemen (Seishun Dendekedekedeke)
Sunday, November 22 at 7:30 pm
1992, 135 min., 35mm, color, in Japanese with live English subtitles. With Yasufumi Hayashi, Tadanobu Asano, Yoshiyuki Omori, Taketoshi Nagahori.
Obayashi again ventures into the past via The Ventures, to the time when Japanese youth discovered the electric guitar and rock and roll in the mid-1960s. Four high schoolers in a small coastal town on Shikoku Island hear "Pipeline" on the radio and decide to form their own band. The film features the problems with girls, family and life after adolescence that are staples of the genre, but Obayashi enthusiastically joins the band with his camera, giving a bravura performance. The Rocking Horsemen features a quite young Tadanobu Asano (Ichi the Killer).

Beijing Watermelon (Pekin no Suika)
Saturday, December 5 at 4:00 pm
1989, 135 min., 35mm, color, in Japanese with live English subtitles. With Bengaru, Masako Motai, Yasufumi Hayashi, Haruhiko Saito, Takashi Sasano.
Based on the true story of a Tokyo greengrocer who started helping out poor exchange students from China, Beijing Watermelon is a delicious oddity in Obayashi's filmography. While again using his stock cast of actors like Toru Minegishi and Yasufumi Hayashi, he gives the starring role to Bengaru, a journeyman by-player, and keeps his camera at a distance, letting the performers fill the screen with wonderfully anarchic movement and the soundtrack with busy, overlapping dialogue. The result is a kind of Japanese masala, a multi-ethnic mix of spices. "Quirky, original and unpredictable." --Kevin Thomas, The Los Angeles Times. (English subtitles created in-house by Japan Society just for this screening.)

The Discarnates (Ijin Tachi to no Natsu)
Saturday, December 5 at 7:00 pm
1988, 115 min., 35mm, color, in Japanese with live English subtitles. With Morio Kazama, Kumiko Akiyoshi, Tsurutaro Kataoka, Toshiyuki Nagashima, Yuko Natori
Obayashi's efforts to revisit the past of both Japan and its cinema are often mirrored by characters who explore their own pasts. As with Tomorrow (1995), The Discarnates takes this to the supernatural level, as a scriptwriter mysteriously encounters his dead father in Tokyo's old Asakusa neighborhood one day and begins enjoying the time with his parents--in the Japan of the late 1950s--that he never had, since they died when he was 12 years old. Obayashi allows his characters the opportunity to make up for a loss, but only by underlining how nostalgia is often a longing for what one never had. Winner, 1989 Mainichi Film Award for Best Director. "So firm is Obayashi's control that he can get away with both the sentimental and the bizarre... [you] may well come away from The Discarnates surprised by the intensity of its emotional impact."--Kevin Thomas, The Los Angeles Times

Reason (aka The Motive) (Riyuu)
Sunday, December 6 at 3:00 pm
2004, 160 min., 35mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. With Takehiro Murata, Saki Terashima, Ryo Kase, Ayumi Ito, Toshie Negishi.
Based on a novel by hit mystery writer Miyuki Miyabe, Reason is a good example of Miyabe's focus on the social causes of crime. What seems to be the murder of a family of four in a high-rise condo turns out to be something quite different, as the pasts of both the killer and the killer's killer are explored, divulging their "reasons." First broadcast on the WOWOW satellite channel before being released in theaters, the film extends the novel into a different media by having many of the characters address the camera, not just making us the detective, but making us and the medium itself part of the society that may itself be the "reason."

Seven Weeks (No no Nanananoka)
Sunday, December 6 at 7:00 pm
2014, 171 min., Blu-ray, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. With Toru Shinagawa, Saki Terashima, Tokie Hidari, Yumi Adachi, Takako Tokiwa
Obayashi's most recent film is a grand compilation of his career. Ostensibly about a family mourning the death of their 92-year-old patriarch, it spans the local (set in Ashibetsu, a small northern town whose residents helped fund it) and the global (referencing the history of Japan's colonization of Sakhalin Island, now part of Russia), and explores themes of lost love, memory, war and art. Ruthlessly fragmenting scenes and setting a furious pace with one experimental technique following another, Seven Weeks breaks down the barriers between past and present, reality and illusion, and even self and other, all in order to create an emotionally profound experience of loss and hope. "Seven Weeks pulses with more hot-blooded vitality and audacity than most films by [Obayashi's] younger compatriots." --Don Brown, The Asahi Shimbun. JAPAN CUTS 2015 title.

>>Related Events

A Dialogue: Living Harmony (Hyaku Nen Gohan)
Wednesday, November 18 at 7:00 pm
**Followed by a reception
$20/$15 Japan Society members, seniors & students
2014, 65 min., Blu-ray, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Chigumi Obayashi.
This directorial debut by Chigumi Obayashi (daughter of Nobuhiko Obayashi and co-writer of his cult-classic House) is a documentary that sheds light on the town of Usuki in Oita Prefecture, Japan that came together in 2010 to build the Usuki Compost Manufacturing Center in an effort to revitalize itself through sustainable means. Through the town’s story and its unconventional narrative structure, the film poses universal questions about the future of food and the environment. The screening will be followed by a discussion and Q&A between Obayashi and Richard McCarthy, Executive Director of Slow Food USA and a member of Japan Society’s Innovators Network. Co-Presented by the Japan Society Innovators Network.

Nobuhiko Obayashi: A Conversation
Saturday, November 21 at 1:00 pm
$12/$9 Japan Society members, seniors and students
In conjunction with his largest-ever U.S. retrospective, famed director Nobuhiko Obayashi appears in person to discuss his career, from what got him started in experimental film and how he transitioned to commercials (working with celebrities like Charles Bronson, Sophia Loren, and Catherine Deneuve), to his biggest influences and inspirations when he began making feature films. Moderated by series curator Aaron Gerow.


Born in Onomichi, Hiroshima in 1938, Nobuhiko Obayashi began creating films at age three after first encountering a film projector in a home storage room. By the time he was in his 20s, his independent film Tabeta Hito aka The Person Who is Eaten (1963) won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1963 Belgium International Experimental Film Festival, and his 16mm experimental film Emotion (1966) played around Japan at galleries and universities to wide acclaim. During the early years of television, he directed many commercials with international figures such as Charles Bronson for the brand “Mandam”, Sophia Loren and Catherine Deneuve. From the 60s to today he has directed over 2,000 commercials. In 1977, he directed his first feature film House, which won the Blue Ribbon Award for Best Newcomer, a prestigious
award presented by film critics and writers in Japan. His three films shot in his hometown—Exchange Students, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Lonely Heart—are widely known as the “Onomichi Trilogy.” He has won many awards including the FIPRESCI Award at Berlin International Film Festival for Sada (1998). He is also the recipient of the Spring 2004 Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon and the Fall 2009 The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette from the Japanese government. For further details about Obayashi's life and career, read Midnight Eye's "Nobuhiko Obayashi, Vagabond of Time". His experimental films from 1960-68 have been digitally archived at

Aaron Gerow is Professor of East Asian Cinema and Culture at Yale University and has published widely on variety of topics in Japanese film and popular culture. His books include Visions of Japanese Modernity: Articulations of Cinema, Nation, and Spectatorship, 1895-1925 (2010); A Page of Madness: Cinema and Modernity in 1920s Japan (2008); and Kitano Takeshi (2007). He also runs his own Japanese film website, Tangemania. More at

The Japan Society Film Program offers a diverse selection of Japanese films, from classics to contemporary independent productions. Its aim is to entertain, educate and support activities in the Society's arts and culture programs. Japan Society has actively introduced Japanese cinema to New York’s international audiences since the 1970s, presenting works by the era’s then-new giants such as Shohei Imamura, Seijun Suzuki, and Hiroshi Teshigahara upon their first release, and groundbreaking retrospectives on now canonical figures such as Kenji Mizoguchi and Yasujiro Ozu. The Film Program has featured retrospectives of great directors, thematic series and many U.S. premieres, and toured some series to other U.S. venues. While Japan Society’s repertory film programming gained new momentum and institutional support in the 70s as a full-fledged program, the first screening at Japan Society was actually in 1922, a four-reel film of then Crown Prince Hirohito’s 1921 visit to Europe. For more, visit
Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan.

Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and M subway at Lexington Avenue). For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit

# # #

This program is subsidized by J-LOP+, funding from The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan. Japan Society's Film Programs are generously supported by the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Endowment Fund. Additional season support is provided by The Globus Family, Kenneth A. Cowin, Mr. and Mrs. Omar H. Al-Farisi, Laurel Gonsalves, David S. Howe, James Read Levy, Geoff Matters, and Dr. Tatsuji Namba. Screening of A Dialogue: Living Harmony is made possible in part with public funds from NYSCA’s Electronic Media and Film Presentation Funds grant program, administered by
The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.


Friday, November 20
7:00 pm - House (preceded by Complexe) + After Party

Saturday, November 21
1:00 - Nobuhiko Obayashi: A Conversation
4:00 - Bound for the Fields, the Mountains, and the Seacoast
7:00 - I Are You, You Am Me (aka Exchange Student)

Sunday, November 22
1:00 - Sada
4:00 - Haruka, Nostalgia
7:30 - The Rocking Horsemen

Saturday, December 5
4:00 - Beijing Watermelon
7:00 - The Discarnates

Sunday, December 6
3:00 - Reason (aka The Motive)
7:00 - Seven Weeks



Emelie (2015) Scary Movies 2015

In the opening moments of EMELIE a girl on her way to a babysitting gig is kidnapped off the street. Its a jarring moment that is completely unexpected. Its also probably the best thing in this film since it completely upends the board before the game even begins.

With Anna now among the missing the parents of three children end up with Emelie in her place while they have a night out. All seems fine until the parents are gone and Emelie begins her work playing games with the children that up bending minds and pitting them against each other. In the most talked about scene feeds one of the children's hamster to the other's pet snake and makes them watch.

Coming out of this year's Tribeca Film Festival EMELIE got very mixed reviews from anyone I talked to  who saw it. Most of them liked it up to a certain point and then found it kind of jumped the shark as it had to bring everything to a conclusion and required no so much a suspension of disbelief but the outright killing it. The reaction was so all over the place that I didn't add ittomy already full dance card and waited for it to show up down the road. My chance to see the film came with the announcement of this years Scary Movies line up at Lincoln Center and I instantly I asked to see a film that had conflicted my friends so much.

My reaction too is very mixed. Well acted and well made on a technical level I'm not sure the film adds up to much beyond being a mean and nasty warning about hiring babysitters.This is the sort of film that will make parents never want any one to go near their kids until they are 30. I don't know if what Emelie is doing ever makes any sense beyond her being nuts. Worse despite running a scant 80 minutes the film feels too long with the scenes of the parents at dinner feeling largely unnecessary. I know why they are there, to keep them in the mix and nominally to build suspense, but at the same time  we see them a couple of times too many.

For me the film never really lived up to the promise of the opening moments. In the first three minutes the film genuinely had me believing that anything was going to happen, It had me believing something great would follow but that never happened. What I got was a typical crazy lady and some really unpleasant scenes but I don't know to what end. It never scared me, it just grossed me out and left me feeling disappointed.

EMELIE plays Halloween evening at 515pm. For tickets and more information go here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Shrew's Nest (2014) Scary Movies 2015

Nia is the only contact with the outside world  for her sister Montse. The girls live together in an apartment left behind by their father after their abandoned them not long after their mother died.  Montse has retreated into the apartment and never left, fearing the terrors of what is outside. One day a young man has an accident outside their door. Montse drags the young man in and things begi to go wildly off the rails in a twisted turn of events that make Stephen King's Misery look like  kids story.

A weird mix of horror and the grotesque the film actually seems more like a very unpleasant black comedy with Macarena Gómez's performance as Montse seemingly over the top. The film is sort of like watching a really bad accident where you can't take your eyes off the screen because you can't believe the terrible things that are occurring. I sat there watching the film wincing at what was happening, but unable to cover my eyes because I had to see where this was going.

Its the sort of film where you'll be mumbling to yourself about how f-ed up it all is. This is also a film that you can use as a measuring stick about whether you should be talking to someone. If they love this film and can relate to Montse run as far away from them as you can go.

Snarky remarks aside this film is highly recommended for anyone who want a trip into madness or really likes to be made uncomfortable by the terrible things that some people do on screen. If you want a film that is going to force you to engage with it this is the one.

The film plays Monday at Lincoln Center's Scary Movies. For tickets and more information go here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Unseen Repost: SAUNA(2008)

Finnish horror film concerns the parties assigned by Sweden and Russia to draw the border between the two countries in 1595. The need to do so comes out of a 25 year long war that became so terrible that both sides realized that they had to call an end to it. As the party heads off into the wilderness they come upon a village in the middle of a swamp. In the town no children are born and the elderly don't die. There is also a sauna, where dark things happen.

Focusing on two brothers the film is a low key film with some blood and little gore. In a weird way it's less a straight on horror film then a Grimm's Fairy Tale like meditation of damnation and absolution. It's an odd film in how it doesn't play by horror film conventions. I'm still not sure what I think of it, but there is something about the performances and the feel of the film that refuses to go away. If you look at IMDB you'll find that some people love it and some people hate it. I'm somewhere in the middle, and rolling between love and hate. Either way it's made a big enough impression that I think it's worth a try.

Out on DVD.

Monday, October 26, 2015

In Brief: Girls Lost (2015) NewFest 2015

Closing night film of this years NewFest is GIRLS LOST about three young girls who end up being able to become boys, thus setting up all sorts of complications.

Working on several different levels this film, based on the award winning novel by Jessica Schiefauer, GIRLS LOST has three put upon girls growing a strange plant who's nectar will turn them into boys until they next fall asleep. Finding a certain amount of freedom the trio find that experiencing life as boys helps them in their regular lives. However complications arise as they fall in with some less savory young men and one of the girls falls for one of the guys while she is in her male identity.

A good little film explores not only what its like to be a kid of a certain age but also raises all sorts of issues about gender, sexuality and who we really are inside. The cast of teens is first rate with the three leads completely disappearing into their characters. The film also looks and feels wonderful managing to evoke both the real world as well as one where something magical really could happen.

You'll notice that I am not doing a large review of the film and that is intentional. The reason behind this is that seeing the film as part of New Fest the film was saddled with a great deal of baggage concerning  the obvious LGBT themes that the film kicks up and I don't think that's entirely fair. Yes the themes and plot threads are there but watching the film it was clear that the film is greater than being just a LGBT film. There is something about the way the issues raised that the film should speak to a wide audience. Watching the film I knew I was seeing something more universal, and that I shouldn't be forced to see it through one prism.  For that reason I want to see the film again and see it on it's own stand alone terms and not one imposed by the NewFest write up.

A solid and decidedly very good film it is recommended when it plays tomorrow at NewFest here in New York

For tickets and more information on tomorrows screening go here.

Royal Road (2015)

Beginning a week long run Friday at New York's Anthology Film Archives ROYAL ROAD is Jenni Olson's hour long meditation on her life, gender, love, the movies, the Spanish conquest of the American South West and whatever subjects that drift off from there.

The film is essentially an illustrated monologue told via voice over as Olson discusses her life or a version of her life, including her appropriation of male characters from films as a means of connecting to the world. The on screen images are of various locations that we are to believe the places we  are hearing discussed. As to whether this is true or not is for us to decide, though I'm guessing that they are more spiritually connected places rather than actual ones (at least as far as the cityscapes are concerned.

I am a sucker for films like this. I love to have some one tell me a really good and really involving story. My collection of films is littered with similar films where the filmmaker is essentially giving us an illustrated lecture of of some kind- one where the words mix with the images to become something greater. While this film is nominally a documentary, the style is frequently used by fiction filmmakers such as Peter Greenaway in many of his early films (THE FALLS, WALK THROUGH H) or Patrick Kieller's ROBINSON films.

What I like about the film is that while it begins with Olson's search for identity in Hollywood portrayals of masculinity the film is in actuality simply about a quest for self regardless of if you are a person or a country. This is about the paths we all take to now even as we look back at the past.

You have to forgive me as I fumble my way through this review because this is one of those films that I can tell you what it is, and it is deceptively simple, but at the same time it kicks up a whole hell of a lot of thoughts and feelings and ideas.  In trying to explain my feelings about the film I find I want to say everything right at the start-as if every sentence of thought and feeling wants to come out out at once. At the same time I'm trying to wrestle with the fact that if I started to actually write down everything that this film kicked up and where it goes and all of that we'd probably end up with a piece that's novella length.

(Sits staring at the computer screen for about 15 minutes pondering what to say)

This is the problem with writing on film,or writing on anything thing. There are times when you are required to say something or explain things and it's kind of pointless to do so. It's like the comment the Quay brothers made when I recently spoke with them and they basically said things sometimes  just are and it's kind of mad to try and explain them. ROYAL ROAD is something that is going to kick up stuff and affect each viewer differently because it's going kick up stuff from each person's life. How I am reacting, what I am trying to explain is not how you are going to react.

I think probably the best thing I can say is that you need to track this film down and just see it. It's an hour so it's not a huge commitment of your time- at least on the front end- on the back end I'm guessing you'll be discussing it and mulling it over for a few hours afterward. If you are in New York Friday or the following week, make your way to Anthology and see the film,  If you're not watch the film's website for screening locations and details on how to see it.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Nightcap 10/25/15 We're in another trailer and John and Randi go link crazy

We are quoted once more in a movie trailer. The movie is coming soon and is wonderful.
My Tribeca review is here if you want to see it

The weekly link exchange went crazy this week. After Randi and I exchanged the first bunch of links John unleashed his collection earlier today leaving Randi and I to throw up our hands and say you win.  It was such a big to do that Bully gave John a cupcake and hug calling him The Man.

How to hack the NYC subway
Cultural heritage at risk
A floating city over China
Hunting for trolls
The bodies on Everest
Superheroes in Gotham at the NY Historical Society
Weren't the Muppets always for adults?
Madeleine Albright had to pause filming MADAME SECRETARY to take a call about Iran

And John wins the award for best link finder:

Why was the Battle of the Somme film bigger than Star Wars? (BBC iWonder)

Available to listen on the BBC iPlayer:
Blythe Margaret: Stephen Fry looks back at the life and work of, Margaret Rutherford, one of our finest comedy actors and one of Britain's best-loved box office stars.

Unmade Movies: A BBC radio series dramatizing unproduced screenplays by major authors of the 20th century. This week: Orson Welles' Heart of Darkness.

Screen 6 Special: Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes discusses the music that has featured in his films, from Spectre and Skyfall to Jarhead and American Beauty.

Sound of Cinema: Matthew Sweet introduces music for films exploring the theme of witchcraft. The Classic Score of the Week is Roy Webb's "Cat People".

Maureen O'Hara obituaries
(The Guardian):
(The New York Times):

Why are gambling films so hard to follow? (The Guardian):

Seeing 3-D Cinema From the Stereoblind Perspective (The New York Times):

At NewFest, Movies About Changing Genders and Chasing Love (The New York Times): (our coverage of the fest is here)

Awards season begins, and it’s been a way better movie year than you think (Salon):

Video: A Tribute to the “Magic Hour,” Creator of Cinema’s Most Beautiful Images (Slate)

The History of Horror-Comedy in 11 Crucial Films (Vulture):

Words Cannot Describe How Insane the Kung-Fu Musical Tokyo Tribe Is (Vulture):

Scary Movies 9 is coming Thursday

Something evil from THE CHERRY TREE

Scary Movies, Lincoln Center’s annual selection of Horror movies lands on Friday and it’s a must attend. I say that despite not being sure if I’m going to be attending actual screenings myself, but it’s true, if you love horror films this is the one horror festival in New York you must go to. Its true and has nothing to do with considering Rufus DeRham, one of the programmers a friend, but it has everything to do with the festival running some really good films.

I will be reviewing some of the newer films later in the week but for now I want to mention some of he older films you should see if you’ve never seen them…
Stark terror in THE HALLOW

PAPERHOUSE - Bernard Rose's dark fantasy has a strong cult following and is definitely worth checking out. The film concerns a young girl who is carried off to a house she has drawn when she goes to sleep. There she meets a boy who is disabled. The film is a haunting fantasy about the fine line between reality and make believe. Yes this is out on DVD but see it big anyway.

LAST WINTER Larry Fessenden's Alaska set about the strangeness that is going on in the wilderness. Are the weird things related to global warming, strange creatures or is nature in full on revolt. I think this film is largely dead on great. The problem for me is that there is a point in the last third where things get fudged and the logic of the film snaps breaking the spell.

FRANKENSTEIN (1931) if you've never seen the original Universal classic you must. Its also a must if you've never seen it on the big screen.  While no longer scary it is still a damn fine film.

THE GORGON- Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing taking on Medusa. If the two actors chewing scenery isn't enough, know this is a damn good horror film.

PIECES- I saw this film when it came out in theaters back in 82 or 83. Some people walked out. Some people laughed at it and some of us loved the pure exploitation craziness of a serial killer collecting pieces of women. They don't make insane films like this any more-which is probably a good thing.

SLUGS- from the director of PIECES comes a film about killer slugs mutated by toxic waste. Yesit is exactly what you think only more enjoyable

As for the newer films- look for reviews over the next week- and realize that there are some killer films here.

For tickets and more information go here.
The face of insanity in SHREW'S NEST

Fassbinder: To Love Without Demands (2015) NewFest 2015

Christian Braad Thomsen uses his many interviews with prolific director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, as well as interviews with friends and family in order to make what can only be a truly amazing portrait of the director and his psyche. This is a look at the man and his films that is completely unlike any other film biography of anyone I've ever seen.

For those who don't know Fassbinder was a German film director who made films ove an extremely brief period of time. Working over roughly a 15 year period made and /or appeared something on the order of sixty films plus two television series.He also wrote and starred in works for the theater. When he died a friend said he died of an overdose of work because he never stopped creating. He was so influential that his work helped to reinvent German and European cinema. (If you don't know his work go to the Criterion collection and buy everything they have released)

Thomsen's film is a one of a kind masterpiece. A portrait of the mind and soul of Fassbinder the film kind of throws out your typical film biography in that the film isn't full of clips from Fassbinder's films. yes there are clips, but they are not willie nillie ones. they are carefully chosen to illustrate a particular point.More often than not we see stills from the films which allows the endless audio of Fassbinder to be heard with out distraction.

Perhaps the center piece of the film is an interview Thomsen did with Fassbinder at Cannes in 1978. The interview was done the morning after a night of hard partying and Fassbinder was clearly hungover. Sitting with a huge glass of whiskey the director talks about a variety of subject that apparently never had before. Thomsen thought the director looked terrible and was so afraid that he came off badly that he buried the footage, never looking at it for over 30 years. However when he went back to look at it he found that he had a real treasure.

For me the joy of the film is that it makes me want to go back and re-watch all of Fassbinder's films again. Seeing the director talk about his life and ideas suddenly made all of his films snap magically into focus. I suddenly began to understand what he was doing and why. Additionally I want to see this film again because I know I missed stuff. I love when a film is not a one and done sort of film. I love that you have to go back and study it. Since Fassbinder's films are like that I find it delightful that his biography is that way as well.

This is an absolute must see for any fan of the director or anyone who love cinema.

The film play tomorrow night at NewFest in New York. For tickets and more information go here. I've read that the film will be hitting VOD and the usual outlets once the festival circuit is done.
The hung over Fassbinder in Cannes 1978

Horror Network (2015)

Trust me the DVD cover does not do this film  justice

HORROR NETWORK is probably the best horror anthology of the last few years. Its one of the very few anthologies that works from top to bottom and start to finish. Its an ugly punch in the face and poke in the eye. Its so good that I can't recommend it enough.

Made up of five short films this film will curl your toes and straighten your hair. Its's a disturbing trip to the dark side.  Its so good that I want a sequel. Its so good that I'm not going to talk too much about the stories- I'm just going to tell you a little bit in order to get you to see this kick ass film...

3AM concerns a woman who keeps getting woken up by  calls at 3am.  When the woman decides to stay up to the appointed time- things get ugly. Creepy as all hell this film builds a glorious sense of tension. While I normally don't like films that rely on the manipulation of sound to produce effect, 3AM uses it for more than just jump scares, here the soundscape is a vital part of creating a mood. Its awesome and leaves you unnerved.

EDWARD is the longest of the stories. What begins as a movie obsessed patient talking to his therapist, turns slowly into something else. I thought it was going to be a a long talky film, instead it becomes something else. Yea there's a lot of talk but it creates one hell of a mood and leaves you chilled.

THE QUIET has a young deaf girl getting off her school bus and walking home when her mother doesn't show up. She soon ends up in a cat and mouse game with a man in a blue van. While the film seems to cover similar ground  of other stalking films where it goes and how it plays out is something special and flips things.

MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS - I don't know. consider it a kind of hellish trip into the psyche of three people. Its a fucked up gory little nightmare that is like being trapped in hell. I saw it but I'm not sure what happens and to be completely honest I don't ever want to go back. ...well I do, if only to get past the gut visceral gut punch and understand what is really going on.  Emotion over rode reason and I want to get back to reason.

DEVIANT ONE is the story of two neighbors' interaction. Short and sweet punctuated by biblical verse this is one hell of a little confection.  Better in the short version that is part of HORROR NETWORK (an extended version is included as an extra) this film does what it does and gets off, leaving you wanting to stagger into the light.

This anthology is a must see when it hits home video Tuesday just in time for Halloween.

In Brief: The London Firm (2015)

THE LONDON FIRM which hits DVD, iTunes and VOD Platforms in the UK on Monday October 26th  and is a twisty film about two hit men hired by a client to travel with him and keep him safe. While traveling in the back of a truck, the three men all pass out. When the hit men wake up they find their client dead, the truck still moving and the situation uncertain.

This is the sort of film that is really difficult to really write about. Told out of order and jumping through time saying too much will potentially ruin the fun of the film-that said there are a couple of things I do think you should know.

This is a solid, if B level, crime film. It is not quite the slam bang action film that one might have hoped for based on the above poster with three men with guns, but it does what it does nicely in it's allotted 80 or so minutes.  While the film is more talk than action it does manage to keep enough of a mystery going, thanks in part to the jumbled telling, that you will want to see where it's all going.

If there is any real flaw in the film its that the film is a bit too mysterious for it's own good. What I mean by that is that almost none of the characters have names, the leads are called A and B another is called The Contractor, and one of the plot points is more MacGuffin than solid item. The looping plot is sometimes a bit too obtuse.

At the same time the film manages to hook you early and drag you along kicking and screaming straight on to the end. Hell I was up until well after 2am watching the film because I really wanted to see how it all came out. Would I watch it a second time? Probably not, but I will most definitely be recommending it as a good little film for anyone who wants to see something that is decidedly different than what we largely get from Hollywood and it's studios.

THE LONDON FIRM is something to try when it hits home video if you want to try something a little different.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

In Brief: The Girl King (2015) NewFest 2015

THE GIRL KING is film that has me very mixed. Being touted as the first film to really look at the sexuality of Queen Christina of Sweden (it plays tomorrow at the LGBT NewFest in New York City) but it's handling is so matter of fact that if people weren't making a big deal about it it wouldn't really register on the radar. While I highly approve of the film simply adding it to the mix of Christina's life, I also realize that if it wasn't trumpeted this film would very rapidly fall between the cracks and disappear.

Following the life of Christina from before her coronation on through her abdication, THE GIRL KING is a kind of sumptuous looking PBS film that really should have been a mini-series. Reducing down the court intrigue to a few key points the film never has the meatiness that one would have liked. I was kind of hoping to see more of Christina's battles across the board. To be honest so much was going on in her court that you could make a many season mini-series out of it and not have to add in anything.

One of the biggest problems with the film is that it is in English. While I delighted that I could watch the film and take in all of the visual delights without having to glance at the words at the bottom of the screen, I was kind of cringing at some of the verbal twists the script required the actors to perform. The problems with the script is that it was written in French and then translated into English where a cast of largely non-English speaking actors delivered the lines. While this no doubt made the film more salable across the globe it also made for very uneven performances with some actors not getting the inflections right.

I need to point out I don't hate or even remotely dislike THE GIRL KING. I think it's a solid little film that looks absolutely stunning. My reservations about the film come more from disappointment rather than anything else. I wanted something more about the films subject. Additionally while I love that the film deftly handles Christina's sexuality, I really hate that it is being brought to the forefront since to me there is more to the film than that. I very much do recommend the film for those wantinfg a very good film, especially a well dressed one.

Coming to theaters in December. The film screens tomorrow the 25th at NewFest in New York City and tickets and more information can be had here.

Sisters of the Plague (2015) NewFest 2015

Jo, a young woman who leads ghost tours in New Orleans begins to experience weird visions after her father moves in with her and her girlfriend. Needing answers she begins to look into the drowning death of her mother as relationships crack and reality fragments.

Great looking, well acted film plays at times as if it is a cinema verite documentary as we watch very real characters interact. If I had stumbled up the film not knowing what it was I would have sworn it was a real life story, particularly in the scenes between her and her dad. Many of the images conjured up in the film are ethereal and creepy. As a visual exercise the film can be first rate.

The trouble is the script never generates and real tension or scares. To be certain there is a creepiness during some scenes but the film never seems to pull it all together enough to make you feel like the screenwriters know whats going on. Weird event follows weird event follows visit to witch or psychic.  I'm not sure if the filmmakers were going for mood or sense. Yes they create a mood, but the film never seems to have any sense. Dreams may have their own logic but at least things follow I'm not sure that happens here. I tuned  out about a half an hour in and other than during the odd moment I never really engaged with the film past that point.

The bits that work make this an intriguing misfire,

The film plays Sunday the 25th at 530. For tickets and more information go here.

The Glamour and the Squalor (2015) NewFest 2015

Seattle DJ Marco Collins broke Nirvana, Beck, Garbage and Weezer. He also was played early Eddie Vedder when he was with Bad Radio. He was the kingmaker at 107.7 The End which was so powerful that it could increase the sale of a record from 5000 units to 100,00.  But addiction and a changing music industry derailed his career.

This is a great portrait of a man who changed music by his choices and thus changed popular culture. The ultimate outsider, he was a gay kid who didn't fit in, who didn't want to play sports, was frequently beat up and found comfort in music and the radio. Believing his mother when she told him he could do anything he wanted he left home at 18 and began a long career in radio that gave us many legends of rock and alternative music.

Marco's story is one that speaks to more than just the gay kid, but to anyone who ever felt as though they were an outsider. Watching Marco tell his story I found that many thing hit very close to home as I saw myself within some of the stories he told about growing up. I was moved when he talked abut being the kid sitting alone in their room listening to the radio because it was a story that some of my friends  told me about when they were growing up and their only friends were the voice from the airwaves. I love that Marco said that when ever he is on the radio he was always talking to that kid. Say what you will about Marco's story, his attempts to connect with that one kid speaks volumes about his understanding of himself and his audience.

More celebration than a roast, the film mirrors Marco's attitude of "this is my life, warts and all." Yes we hear of the bad things that happened, but we don't dwell on the darkness since Marco is trying to make good things happen and get back on top. While on some level I would have liked a bit more explanation of some of the lows (and even some of the highs), I completely understand that to do so would make this another film entirely. This isn't a Behind the Music tell all,  but rather a portrait of this really cool guy you want to sit down and have a beer with...well not a beer but a cup of coffee.

I should also point out that the film is a great portrait of the now disappeared days of radio when big corporations didn't control the airwaves and radio was more  than just playing commercials.

THE GLAMOUR AND THE SQUALOR plays Sunday the 25th at 10:15 pm and is must see for anyone who has ever felt that they are an outsider or for anyone who wants to know the story of the guy who broke one of their favorite bands. For tickets and more information go here.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A first pass by Peter Greenaway's Eisenstein in Guanajuato (2015) NewFest 2015

Peter Greenaway seemingly bursts gloriously back to life with a film about one of film's greatest directors going to Mexico in order to make a movie. Moving away from Dutch artists Rembrandt and Goltzius and his frequent use of tableaux in order to make a film that is living and breathing and is very much the very definition of a motion picture.

Nominally the story of what happened when Sergei Eisenstein went to Mexico after failing to make a film in Hollywood. The  film is less concerned with  the making of QUE VIVA MEXICO than it is with Eisenstein's sensual and intellectual awakening he had with Palomino Canedo.  At the start Greenaway says that the film could be called THE TEN DAYS THAT SHOOK EISENSTEIN, a sentiment stated at the end of the film by Eisenstein himself. We watch as the two men become close and then are broken apart by various forces at play in Mexico and the making of the film.

I can not in good conscious begin to discuss the film on an intellectual and thematic level. Where I had attempted it with some of his recent films, the Rembrandt duo (NIGHTWATCHING and REMBRANDT J'ACCUSE) and GOLTZIUS AND THE PELICAN COMPANY, in the current case the film is much too complex and much too distracting (in a good way) for me to have actually even begun to grasp everything that is going on. In it's way the film hearkens back to the TULSE LUPER films which had a great deal going on visually and thematically and dared you to keep up. Both in this film and the TULSE LUPER movies Greenaway has made complex tales that need to be digested as complete entities and not picked apart as pieces.

Adding to the problem is that the viewing of the film I saw was tied to the NewFest screening of the film that happened last night. I did not have the time to really sit with the film as I would have liked in order to full comprehend it's complexities.I had one pass to get it all in and it was sink or swim, with little chance to notes, I had to jjust let the film wash over me.

What amazed the hell out of me was the technical virtuosity with which Greenaway attacked the filmmaking process. Using just about every trick in the book the director breaks the almost static bonds of his previous films in order to make a film that you have to watch with new  eyes. Where GOLTZIUS and NIGHTWATCHING (and even some of his other films) seemed to be almost plays performed on a platform in a room where characters come and go in an approximation of theater, here Greenaway is out in the world in real locations. Where in the earlier films the camera was almost motionless, here it is constantly moving and circling. Even the shots that aren't in motion have action, multiple image, or over lays added to them. Its as if Greenaway is taking his many recent lectures to heart and reinventing how he shows us the world. EISENSTEIN IN GUANAJUATO is a glorious celebration of cinema and the craft of cinema and of those that went before. Greenaway may claim cinema is dead but in giving us a feast like EISENSTEIN he simply proves it's become something else when manipulated by a master.

This is the sort of Greeaway film that made me fall in love with him some thirty years ago.

And to be fair, this is a film that is not going to be for all audiences, never mind the full frontal male nudity and sex, this is, as I said above a complex film that is actually about something, love loss, humanity done in a way that challenges and delights it's audience...

...which leads me to a slight digression this is possibly the most emotional of the director's films. Somewhere along the way Greenaway stated that he makes films more for the head than the heart, which is a very true statement. There is a coldness and an order to films like THE COOK,THE THIEF... or  DROWNING BY NUMBERS or BELLY OF AN ARCHITECT.  The world is ordered. Greenaway if playing with ideas not emotions One need only watch the constant reliance on the controled universes that are his "stage bound" films  (BABY OF MACON, GOLTZIUS, PROSPERO'S BOOKS and others) to see this.  Here,, however there is real emotion as Eisenstein awakens a part of himself  that he had kept asleep. The injection of emotion into the film makes the end of the film touching in a way that the earlier films never were. The world is not truly controled and ordered, we are, for one of the few times in Greenaway's 45 year career in the real world among real people where anything and and will happen. Yes Greenaway is in control of the images, but I never felt he was in control of the characters, they were entirely at the mercy of their feelings.

I adore this film with my heart as well as my head.

After only one viewing I don't know what I fully think of the film nor do I know what it's fully all about, however I don't think I would be far off in saying that it is the work of a master film director working at the top of his game. It is in a way a reinvention if not of cinema then of his own private cinema. It is a film that I am looking forward to seeing again and again once the film hits American screens in January when Strand Releasing blesses us with the film.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Meadowland (2015) New York Film Critics Series

Ariela is back with a look at the film MEADOWLAND at the New York Film Critics series.  

The film originally premiered back at the Tribeca Film Festival. On Monday the film had a special screening with  director Reed Morano and star and producer Olivia Wilde  talking to  Peter Travers from Rolling Stone and Ariela was there. Here's her report.

MEADOWLAND  opened in select theaters in NY and LA last Friday the 16th. I saw a screening of it on October 19th, put together by New York Film Critics.

MEADOWLAND tells the story, of what I imagine to be any parents worst nightmare, your child going missing. Olivia Wilde plays the mother(Sarah), and Luke Wilson plays the father(Phil). They both deal with the loss in their own ways. Phil, who is a cop, tries to find out what happened to their son, while also attending group therapy with others who have lost someone in their lives. (John Leguizamo plays one of the people in group) While Sarah, a teacher, is on lithium and becomes obsessed with a student of hers.

It seems weird to say I enjoyed this movie, since it's such a sad heartbreaking topic. You could really feel the pain these people must be feeling. The movie gives a good depiction on people dealing with grief. Not knowing what happened to their child, it's terrifying.

There was a Q&A after with the director, Reed Morano, and Olivia Wilde. One thing Olivia Wilde said is that she liked that her character wasn't necessarily likeable. She added that often movies portray women as being likeable..and she liked the fact that you didn't always like this woman. This is true, in some scenes you really want to yell "what is wrong with you??". It made me confused and sad at how disconnected Sarah and Phil became from each other, but I didn't pass judgement, because I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be dealing with that kind of pain.

One thing I want to know is, what's the story with the yellow hoodie? Sarah is often seen walking around at all hours of the night wearing a yellow hoodie. Was it yellow for a reason? Someone, I can't remember if it was the interviewer or even Morano or Wilde, did bring it up at the Q&A, but they didn't give an answer!

I recommend it. Go support female directors & see it at Village East Cinemas in NYC.

Unseen Repost: Osamu Tezuka's Buddha: The Great Departure (2011)

This is a repost of a review that ran in connection with the 2012 New York Asian Film Festival. It was a review that go buried in a long post of 22 films(I was young and stupid back then). This is the review unaltered for the passage of time:

This opened a month ago in Japan and is a highly anticipated bit of anime in the US as well on the basis of the questions I'm getting. I've seen it, and a full review will be coming when the film premieres at the festival by some one other than myself (Eden is making a special effort to see and review the film).

The reason I'm not reviewing the film is that I'm too close to the source. Osamu Tezuka's Buddha is one of the milestone novels of my life. It's a story that radically changed how I thought and saw the world. Fifteen minutes into the film I realized I was not the audience for the film. I found the paring down of the narrative too extreme (this is the first of three films that is trying to compress roughly 3200 pages in 8 volumes into say 6 hours of screen time) and the characters are more typically anime in style with only the barest hint of Tezuka's artistic style.

Does the film work? For me no. But I'm the wrong person to ask. I have personal issues which is why I'm having some of the other people here at Unseen Films take a run by it. That said I am very curious as to how the second and third film will play since the film finally feel focused in the closing moments. (If and when you see it I would be curious to hear what you have to say)