Captain Abu Raed (2007) Film Review

Set in contemporary Jordan, Captain Abu Raed is a tale of friendship spreading generations. When Abu Raed, an airport janitor, finds a discarded pilot’s hat in the trash, he wears it and is soon spotted by a neighborhood boy who’s convinced Abu Raed is a pilot. Although reluctant at first, Abu Raed soon finds himself playing along with the neighborhood children in this fantasy, regaling them with stories from his “travels.” Soon, the children meet with Abu Raed on a daily basis to hear his stories.   One day, however, it is revealed by one of the boys, Murad, that Abu Raed is in fact a janitor and not a pilot. One might think that the tale begins and ends

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Dead Snow (2009) Film Review

Directed by Tommy Wirkola If you like zombie movies, read only the bolded parts of this review. Dead Snow is a smart, funny, and overall impressive addition to the campy Zomedy subgenre. It doesn’t deviate from the formula, and throws hundreds and hundreds of zombies at our heroes, who range from valiant to imbecilic. All the classic zombie tropes can be found here, from grunting growling zombie communication, the continued movement of dismembered undead limbs, and gruesome disemboweling/dismemberments. Four medical students travel to the mountains to vacation. While out there, they run into an old man who tells them the tale of Nazis, and their cruel actions against the local people. The local people rebelled, driving the Nazi zombies along

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In Your Absence / En Tu Ausencia (2008) Film Review

Directed by Ivan Noel In Your Absence, or En Tu Ausencia, is a surprising first-time effort by director Iván Noel that emanates beauty in more ways than one. Set in a pristine stretch of Spanish countryside, In Your Absence is filmed amidst a breath-taking setting full of enveloping blue skies, abundant sunflowers, flowering fields, and rolling hills. The film’s backdrop defines “summer” in its absolute perfection, and the pairing of fine-tuned imagery and diverse, mood-setting music makes the film both an aural and visual delight. Young actor Gonzalo Sánchez Salas fills a heavy role with ease. He plays an emotionally-enclosed 13-year-old named Pablo whose father has recently passed away. Naive and vulnerable, Pablo has become a bit of an outsider

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We Live In Public (2009) Documentary Film Review

An artist’s dream is that work he/she leaves behind will outlast their lifetime — that he/she will make a permanent mark on the annals of human history. Ultimately, the result is much more important than the person behind it, but in many cases, the artist becomes larger than the art itself, obscuring their legacy and leaving them forgotten, lost in a wind of ego and fame. Ondi Timoner’s documentary, We Live In Public, is, ostensibly, about Josh Harris, the tragic and misunderstood dot-com multi-millionaire with an uncanny eye for the future. His ideas about technology, the flow of information, and the basic human need for exposure made him millions of dollars at the dawn of the World Wide Web. But

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The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle (2009) Film Review

About a year ago, I was working for a start-up in an old building in Seattle’s SoDo District. It was complete with rickity floorboards and unusual decorations crafted from salvaged parts. The overwhelming scent could’ve been described as “dusty.” The upstairs housed uniquely-decorated office spaces, and the downstairs had a large, spacious room with no functional use. It was being fitted to house a club and a bar (and has since been successfully deemed Club Motor). Imagine our curiosity and surprise, then, when it was announced to us that a film crew would be shooting a feature-length movie in our building. We had no idea what to expect, but peering into a set revealed a strange-looking set with a lot

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School Days With A Pig (2008) Film Review

School Days With A Pig is a film that begins initially with a delightfully cute premise yet veers into the territory of issues such as morality and death. Teacher Mr. Hoshi, played by Satoshi Tsumabuki, introduces to his class of sixth graders a young pig, and then asks them if they would be interested in raising the pig for their school term and then eating it afterwards. The children emphatically agree, living only in the present and considering little about the potential end result. The director, Tetsu Maeda, weaves the audience through the lives of the children, who take care of the pig from when it is still a piglet to when it is larger than they are. Slight scuffles

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Confusions Of An Unmarried Couple (2007) Film Review

Confusions Of An Unmarried Couple is a film about a couple, Dan and Lisa, who separate after Dan catches Lisa having a lesbian encounter. He leaves without another word to her and returns months after the incident to finally speak with her about what had happened. Shot partly like a documentary and partly like a home video, the film seems like a fairly realistic take on a couple who simply can’t communicate with one another all that well. It’s low-budget and lacking in scenery, with most of the film taking place in either Lisa’s house or Dan’s house, which makes the importance of good dialogue the key to this film’s sustaining itself. And it does, because although backgrounds don’t really

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Barstool Cowboy Review (2009) Film Review

Barstool Cowboy begins with a man donning a cowboy hat, drinking a beer, sighing, and smoking a cigarette. He stares into the camera for a good few minutes while interchanging between all of those activities before he starts speaking. And from that initial scene on, one can immediately conclude that Barstool Cowboy will either be quite excellent or quite atrocious — and nothing in between. The initial scene is shot like a documentary, and it starts to look like Barstool Cowboy is a documentary. The main character painstakingly recalls a tale of heartbreak and vows to spend three months on a barstool, drinking away his pain. From there, new characters are introduced with awkwardly-placed music — the unfitting likes of

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Haack: The King of Techno (2005) Documentary Review

Recently, I had an experience with a friend who basically attributed a huge amount of today’s electronic music and electronic music hybrids to the well-known artist, Aphex Twin. Aphex Twin started his career in the early ’90s, and while he has been extremely, extremely influential in the emergence of and style of contemporary electronic music, there’s one person who is perhaps just as significant, yet does not get enough credit for his contributions. That person is the Canadian-born Bruce Haack. Prior to receiving one of Haack’s albums and this documentary in the mail, I had never, ever heard of Haack. A musician who was trained at Julliard, Haack primarily created music for children’s television shows and advertisements, but his personal

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Girls Rock! (2009) Documentary Film Review

While female musicians are represented a fair amount in Redefine’s reviews and interviews, I have noticed, over time, that the majority of bands and musicians we cover are in fact male. The number of female rock musicians has certainly increased through the years, but the industry is still largely male-dominated. Girls Rock! takes a look at this issue by documenting an annual all-girls rock n’ roll in Portland. With over 60 volunteer counselors and staff, including well-known musicians like Carrie Brownstein from Sleater-Kinney and Beth Ditto from The Gossip, the camp helps young girls aged 8 to 18 build confidence in their songwriting skills, in their instrumental skills, and most importantly, in themselves. Girls are split up into groups according

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Goth Cruise (2008) IFC Documentary Film Review

My first, and probably only, cruise experience was two months ago. It sailed through the Northern European Baltic Sea countries, like Norway, Sweden, Poland, and Russia, and it epitomized all that I hate about traveling: gluttony, closemindedness, and lack of desire to really get to know other countries. To make it worse, I was one of less than a dozen people under 40 on the entire cruise (workers not included, of course). It was a harrowing experience in where I thought I was the only one like me on the entire ship. No one seemed to share my interest. I wanted off. Apparently, Angel Sil, Goth Cruise founder, felt just like I did. She and other goths wanted the luxuries

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Rewind Short Film Review (2007)

One of the best shorts I’ve ever seen, Rewind is a complete mind fuck that is confusing at first and genius upon completion. Set wholly in a dingy room, the entire short is played backwards, with no dialogue between the characters. The only words are the description of a narrator, who is not describing the scene, but the events leading up to the scene. Yet, somehow, the entire short meets together at a common point and makes perfect sense. Rewind is absolutely captivating in its nonlinear storytelling, and the way the visuals sync up with the narration is brilliant in its inventiveness. Directed by Atul Taishete Ω

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