The Turin Horse (2011) Film Review

The Turin Horse isn’t an interpretation of Nietzsche so much as a meditation on those impositions against which Nietzsche railed–order, morality, indoctrination, humanity removed from its animality.

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Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (2011) Film Review

Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan Starring Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel Turkey Once Upon A Time In Anatolia is a film from Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a name some film buffs may recognize. The movie depicts a night-long search for a body in the hills of Anatolia (the Steppe of Eastern Turkey). The police chief, medical examiner, region prosecutor, and, of course, the arrested man–who leads authorities in the direction of a body–are a crew of epistemological travelers. I say travelers in a literal and figurative sense, because the movie is concerned with the assumptions and understandings that characters make and question over the course of one night. The movie progresses linearly and is crouched within the fairytale,

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The Last Rites Of Joe May (2011) Film Review

Directed by Joe Maggio, Starring Dennis Farina United States A couple hours ago–6pm CST to be exact–somebody–an intern, a volunteer, a professional carpet tacker–somebody–rolled out the red carpet to start the 47th Chicago International Film Festival. It was humming with excitement over on East Randolph at the Harris Theatre, as fans and press and associates ushered in the kickoff screening The Rites of Joe May. Or I can only imagine, because I wasn’t there. But director Joe Maggio and star Dennis Farina were slated to show, and I’m sure there were some other guests of note. My press pass doesn’t cover the red carpet, so I watched the screener last night, and I’m okay with skipping Joe May on the

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Karl Krogstad: Saint, Sinner, Painter, Doctor, Oenologist, Writer, Humanitarian, Bird Lover, Butcher, Trumpet Player, Chef, Norwegian and Filmmaker.

  His Brigade: a sprawling horde of Fellini-esque circus folk, armed with monstrous lights, aging cameras, tattered rolls of cellophane, buckets of diluted house paint and a woman dressed as a Giant Albatross. Fiery banners emerge! Behold! The blood and the smoke… Hooves pumping wildly – they follow him valiantly, into the breach once more. This is Krogstad Studios. To some, it is a spiraling vortex of ignorance and depravity. To others, it is nothing more than the vacuous remains of carnivale – a putrid byproduct of post-modern Americana. And yet some would say it is a true sanctuary; a temple to the fantastic, a shrine to the wondrous and absurd – the very heart of the spectacle. Whatever you

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Gromozeka (2011) Film Review

Gromozeka is, in the words of my cohort, “very Russian.” Gromozeka is, in the words of my other cohort, “odd.” This odd, very Russian film is not for everyone. It’s probably not even for 75% of film-going patrons. There’s a plotline — kind of — but it’s comprised of a series of mostly disconnected vignettes. Some vignettes are poignant (a grown man being cradled by a frustrated prostitute), some endearing (a father and son sharing identical mannerisms when eating), some depressing (a man cramming barbituates into a bottle of bourbon). Quite a few are brief and almost pointless (a man ramming the back of his head once onto an elevator door, for instance). But Gromozeka is, in my words, “a

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Bellflower (2011) Film Review

Directed by Evan Glodell United States Artists unavoidably inject themselves into their work. Their personality, their characteristics, their likes, their prejudices, their fetishes, all these things are skin deep in any sort of artistic endeavor. Displaying your work is an inherent form of self-exposure, unavoidable in its necessity. But it’s true artistic talent that knows how to mitigate their own narcissistic influence, and to offer a statement that stands apart from the person behind it. Bellflower, the debut film from Evan Glodell, is not one of those success stories. This indie Action Drama races through its 106 minute runtime without a hint of irony, and a lot of excess fire, whiskey, burnt rubber and orange lens filter. Glodell stars in

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SIFF 2011 : Checkpoint! (Part 2)

Here’s a smattering of reviews that are up way too late for you to take advantage of, but nonetheless you should know about (for better or for worse). All these films were screened at the most excellent so far 2011 Seattle International Film Festival. Vallanzasca – Angels of Evil (2010) Italy, Directed by Michele Placido Biopic of Italian mobster Renato Vallanzasca has plenty of flair, but is possibly a little too fast paced. Kim Rossi Stewart makes the slick-talking Regato easy to fall in love with. Unfortunately, it’s hard to care about anyone else. Renato is wry, everything else just kind of happens. Also, the music almost never fits. The suits they wear are very nice, though. Terri (2011) USA,

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Vampire (2011) Film Review

Directed by Shunji Iwai Canada 2011 The line on Shunji Iwai’s English-language debut, Vampire, is “Don’t worry. The film is really not about vampires,” which is true. There are no mythical shenanigans; no supernatural mystique artificially injected into this story about a serial killer and his travails. However, the title of the movie does not mean to mislead. Iwai’s Vampire is definitely fantastical, and like Lily Chou Chou and Swallowtail Butterfly before it, requires a persistent state of suspended disbelief to truly shine. And by toeing the line of surrealism so expertly, Iwai, like a filmmaking Dracula, puts the view under a spell, allowing him to fully control (and subvert) one’s expectations. The story follows Simon, an attractive young biology

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Black Venus / Vénus Noire (2010) Film Review

The film explores the worst capabilities of human beings and their yearnings to manipulate and take control of others; it addresses multi-tiered issues of race, class, and opportunity and does so with faithfulness to realism, even when realism is uncomfortably atrocious.

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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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