Saigon Electric (2011) Film Review

When director Stephane Gauger prefaced Saigon Electric by requesting that the audience not take it too seriously, I had to wonder what kind of journey I was in for. Turns out, a fairly unpleasant one. This film foray into Vietnamese breakdancing and hip-hop culture serves as a reminder that: 1) Not every film in a well-reputed international film festival need be a good film; 2) Just because a film is from another country does not mean it does not fall victim to Hollywood pitfalls. Even while keeping in mind not to take Saigon Electric too seriously, its over-the-top embrace of all things ridiculously cheesy quickly becomes unforgiveable. Such cheesiness can be found in, but is not limited to, the following:

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Amnesty International Celebrates 50th Anniversary.

Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary is tomorrow, May 28th, and this is just a quick post showing off their latest promotional video in celebration of that. They certainly went a bleak route, full of gunshots and burning torsos — but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The video, Standing Up For Freedom was produced by Eallin Motion Art & DreamLife Studio, a world-renowned international motion art production company based in the Czech Republic. Directed by Carlos Lascano, the video’s aesthetic and art value are rather accessible — but it is the tale that is of particular interest. The piece “takes viewers on a metaphorical journey showing mankind’s struggle for freedom over the last 50 years,” the overarching

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How To Die In Oregon (2011) Film Review

The opening scene of How To Die In Oregon appears to capture the birthday celebration for an elderly member of a family. But one quickly realizes that this isn’t the celebration of the continuation of life, but the celebration of a man’s life — as that man drinks a lethal potion made available to him by Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act. Portland-based filmmaker Peter Richardson has gotten some acclaim for How To Die In Oregon, including the Grand Jury Prize for Documentaries at 2011′s Sundance Festival. It is well-deserved; How To Die In Oregon is an unflinching foray into a question that most people probably never want to think about: if life becomes to painful to live, do you end

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SIFF 2011: Checkpoint!

Here’s a peek into what’s coming up at the 2011 Seattle International Film Festival. You can buy all tickets at www.siff.net. Pinoy Sunday (2010) Taiwan, Directed by Wi Ding Ho It’s The Puffy Chair but in Taiwan. Which makes it better than The Puffy Chair. But not by much. Does mumblecore work in more tonal, conversational languages? If it does, it hasn’t happened yet. A hard movie to pay attention to if there are other distracting things in the room, like a beautiful potted plant or a happy dog. Nonetheless, Taiwan is pretty, and Pinoy Sunday makes me miss a bag of betel nut and a beef noodle soup. AMC Pacific Place 11 – May 24th 7:00 PM AMC Pacific

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Natural Selection (2010) Film Review

Natural Selection Directed by Robbie Pickering, Starring Rachel Harris, Matt O’Leary USA, 2011 Natural Selection took this year’s SXSW Film festival by storm, winning multiple awards in a crowded field including Best Narrative Feature, Best Screenplay and the Grand Jury Prize. With confidence bolstered by such a decisive win, the producers of this dark comedy are expanding the film’s campaigin to every film festival under the sun, including SIFF. But will this film prove to be the juggernaut that SXSW audiences believed it to be? Or will Seattle up-turn its nose to the hype? Groundlings alum Rachel Harris (The Hangover) stars as Linda, a devoted yet sex-starved wife who adopts her husband’s strong Christian values. After her husband suffers a

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Finisterrae (2010) Film Review

Finisterrae Directed and Written by Sergio Caballero Lecha, Cinematography by Eduard Grau Spain, 2010 What exactly is Finisterrae? Dadaist art project? Absurdist bildungsroman? Destructionist popcorn flick? Whatever its inevitable classification may be, it will arrive there surely by accident. Filmed as nothing more than a few beautifully captured scenes and strung together with the thinnest of plot threads, the film, directed by Spain’s Sergio Caballero Lecha, simply is what it is. The “story” behind this art flick is that two ghosts (you know they’re ghosts because of the eyeholes cut in their sheets), fed up with their afterlives, set out to find a way to return to the plane of the living. On the way they murder an indecisive hippie

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Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010) Film Review

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame Directed by Tsui Hark and starring Andy Lau, Li BingBing, Carina Lau China, 2010 Loosely based on the adventures of historical figure Di Renjie, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame is a fun and fantastical mystery/thriller directed by the undisputed master of Chinese pop cinema, Tsui Hark. From the definitive wuxia series Once Upon a Time in China to A Chinese Ghost Story, if it seeps of quality and is from China, Tsui Hark’s probably had his hand in it. Detective Dee stars Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau as the titular hero, a Chinese literary figure and a parallel to fellow eccentric detective Sherlock Holmes. In fact, The

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LO(VE (2011) Film Review

The visual aesthetics of LO(VE are undeniably impressive to even to the most jaded film-goer.

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Sound Of Noise (2010) Film Review

Directed by Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson Sound Of Noise is labeled as a black humor and oddball action film, which it is. More than anything, though, it is a music film – one which celebrates and pays homage to experimental music, as well as avant-garde classical composers. From the hand-drawn opening credits of Sound Of Noise, I knew there would be something punk rock about this film, and there certainly is. A pair of misfits — a music school dropout and a stoic songwriter — enlist four percussionists to join them for a four-movement composition entitled Music For One City And Six Drummers. Executed in true anarchist fashion, the movements take on the form of musical flash mobs,

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SIFF 2011 : Pre-Pre-Preview

SIFF 2011 is upon us. The Northwest’s largest film festival and one of the biggest in the country continues its grand tradition of bringing a vast cornucopia of films to the Seattle area. This year the festival will feature 441 films from countries all across the globe, and will spread them over 25 days at various theaters in the region. 2011 Seattle International Film Festival from Seattle Int'l Film Festival on Vimeo. I don’t have any screeners yet, but I can already point to a handful of movies that I’m incredibly excited for. Cult director Alex de la Iglesia returns with The Last Circus, a blood and guts romp about two warring circuses during the Spanish Civil War. I loved

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San Francisco International Film Festival 2011 : 05/01 – 05/05 Round-Up

If you are looking for films from today, Sunday, the 30th, you can see them here. Below are choice picks for the FINAL week of the San Francisco International Film Festival! Get your butt out there. Full festival details and movie listings here. — American Teacher If you’re an average American, you know that teachers are underpaid and underappreciated. This film certifies this, by chronicling the stories of four teachers throughout the United States. Directed by Vanessa Roth – USA SHOWTIMES Tue, May 3 @ 6:30 (Kabuki) Thu, May 5 @ 3:45 (Kabuki) the ballad of genesis and lady jaye A combination of HD and 16mm, Marie Losier’s first feature film documents a love story between Losier and her former

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Louder Than A Bomb (2010) Documentary Film Review

This review is written just in time for National Poetry Month, which is April of every year. To throw a bit of personal experience into this review, I have to say first and foremost that poetry has been of vital importance in my life, serving as a non-judgmental outlet when I had nowhere else to turn to. Through the positive and the negative, it provided the storytelling framework for me, a struggling individual, to share my stories, without judgment. Louder Than A Bomb, by Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel, documents the Louder Than A Bomb high school poetry slam, an event which takes place in Chicago every March. Over six hundred students from throughout the city participate in the event

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