Posts tagged Cannes Film Festival
MOVIE REVIEW: The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis

In a terse 80 minutes, The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis locks its suspenseful build and holds your attention.  Open-ended as it is, the film could have employed additional time to hammer its points home and offer a payoff.  However, it’s minimal surface and suddenness feels intentional to mirror the mysterious fates that befell so many people of this era.  Quietly powerful, the effect and feeling are convincing.

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MOVIE CLASSROOM: The Beguiled

Sofia Coppola's film may have been lauded at the Cannes Film Festival, but The Beguiled was a bit of a miss for me, despite its rich aesthetics.  Here my full review, complete with new intro music and title card, and watch an interactive whiteboard lesson of notes and fun created by the ShowMe app for iPad over on my YouTube channel and "Movie Classroom" series.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: Guest on "Feelin' It" quick take on "The Beguiled"

Feelin' Film host Aaron White and I hashed out our thoughts on Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled, debuting this weekend in theaters after wowing the Cannes Film Festival last month.  It hit Aaron more than it hit me, but this counts as a wickedly entertaining remake from Coppola. We try to inform you so you can decide whether this seductively complex, yet simple, film is one for you.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Beguiled

The transitive verb “beguile,” as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “to engage the interest of” or “lead by deception.”  Hoodwink and divert are synonyms.  Director Sofia Coppola’s remake of The Beguiled means to charm our corsets and britches off right in line with its title’s root definition.  Methodically and dastardly, the film wishes to seduce us with a heightened intrigue of challenged sexual repression.

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MOVIE REVIEW: I, Daniel Blake

I, Daniel Blake is unabashedly a “bleeding heart” film on literal and figurative levels.  If this was a Hollywood film, it would be overrun with shouted speeches and orchestrational swells trying to manufacture emotional peaks.  Fluff like that is unnecessary if you have the right poetic realism,  For Loach, that’s second hand and he picks the right soapbox placement and thickness.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Loving

With a minimalist style and unadorned simplicity to reflect on racial intolerance, Jeff Nichols crafts “Loving” as a reminiscence of history without the histrionics.  Devoid of soapboxes, speechifying, and manufactured swells of forced emotion seen in far too many historical dramas, “Loving” cuts a different cloth, trading in Hollywood glamor for blue collar truthfulness.  Nichols brilliantly lets the honesty and grace of Richard and Mildred Loving stand on their own without an unnecessary pedestal.  Cite this film as proof that “tell it like it is” does not require bombastic noise and volume.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Sea of Trees

Cloying as it may be to some, “The Sea of Trees” still contains a poetry and a message of forced reflection and vitality with incorporeal nudges.  These are touchy musings, for sure.  Audiences that have the reflective capacity for tapping into those feelings and fears will appreciate this effort and the dedicated performances.  Close-hearted and discomforted cynics that do not will flatly dismiss it instead and tell you (and it) to keep your feelings to yourself.  This writer is openly capable of being in the first audience welcoming the deep thoughts.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Hell or High Water

If I was trying to create a snazzy pull quote to add to the "Hell or High Water" lobby poster (one that is already filled with oversold promises), it would be "redneck edge."  Fashioned as a genre-advancing Modern Western from the same screenwriter that knocked us out with "Sicario" last year, director David Mackenzie's new film is inspired in ambition but lax in execution.  Its edge is the inability to decide whether to bark or bite.

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EDITORIAL: The Best of 2016 (so far)

Many of my personal most-anticipated picks and my crystal ball Oscar prognostications are still coming, but I have been lucky enough to see over 50 film films in the first half of 2016.  Since it's only been a half-year, I'll split a year-end "10 Best" list into a Top 5.  True to this website's theme, I present you my picks for the "Best of 2016 (so far)" coupled with their best life lesson from my full reviews. 

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Lobster

With intentionally languid brushstrokes, "The Lobster," from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos in his English language debut, creates a challenging moral setting that twists the realities and consequences of two human conundrums and fears: What happens when you are single and what happens when you die.  His muse at the center is Colin Farrell in arguably the most understated performance of his career.  With more talent and a high concept at play, "The Lobster" is missing the charm to tie it all together.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Louder than Bombs

"Louder than Bombs" is the English language debut of Norwegian director Joachim Trier and his writing partner Eskil Vogt, best known for their 2006 Academy Award-nominated foreign language film "Reprise."  Their newest work was a competitor for the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Norway's first since 1979.  Possessing a compelling rotation of inner monologues, the heavily dramatic film observes a fractured family of men dealing with the overhanging aftermath of losing their iconic matriarch.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Youth

Directed by Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino, “Youth” is a cornucopia of quirk colliding with decadence.  We get to see how the other half lives through messy characters making sense of their lives while soaking in a lavish vacation.  Thanks to a stellar cast and brilliant performances, “Youth” surprises us to show how much interest and intrigue can be found in foppish people we normally wouldn’t closely identify with as an audience.

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DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: Hitchcock/Truffaut

Picture your personal influences, either worshiped or admired, and imagine being granted the opportunity to have a conversation with them.  What would you talk about?  What would you ask them?  How would it change you?  In the world of cinema, such a conversation happened between a then-neophyte auteur Francois Truffaut and the aging master Alfred Hitchock in 1962.  Their documented meeting has gone on to inspire generations of future filmmakers and cinephiles.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Carol

51st Chicago International Film Festival OUT-Look Special Presentation

"Carol," among many other superlatives, is a film completely driven by the weight of reason and accountability within its female lead characters.  Played by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and Oscar nominee Rooney Mara, we witness two women formulating the capacity to reason with the undeniable truths they find in their hearts while understanding the ramifications and accountability acting on those feelings would result in as women of the pre-feminist 1950s.  "Carol" is a fascinating and empowering love story, no matter what label you associate for your identity or disposition.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Love

French filmmaker Gaspar Noe's new film, "Love," demands audience acceptance of seeing art in the explicitness of sex.  When you bring up the idea of explicit sex, the immediate label is "pornography."  Lead by trio of unknown leads and shot in exploitative 3D, "Love" is going to have a hard time (go ahead and start inserting "that's what she said" at every opportunity) shaking that label of "pornography" in favor of "art." 

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Assassin

"The Assassin," directed by Taiwan New Wave director Hou Hsiao-Hsien, is the latest and brightest wuxia film looking to make an international splash.  The film was an official Main Competition selection of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the awards for Best Director and the Soundtrack Award.  It is making the rounds of the international film festival circuit, including a recent Highlight selection bow at the 51st Chicago International Film Festival, and will represent Taiwan's entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards this coming February. 

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MOVIE REVIEW: Sicario

"Sicario" is a raw labyrinth of grit and surprises.  This film is a python of suspense.  Just when you think the film can't squeeze you any tighter, it chokes you even more.  It resets the bar as the best and finest film on drug warfare that Hollywood has ever attempted.  "Sicario" is steely, seedy, scary, and jarring in its underlying social and political commentary to bore that out.  It's the kind of film that will make you never want to visit Mexico or live in Arizona or Texas.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: Dope

The next sure-fire addition to any list of possibly great coming-of-age films is "Dope," the fifth feature film from writer-director Rich Famuyiwa ("Brown Sugar," "The Wood').  "Dope" debuted in dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival and was selected as the prestigious closing film of the Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival in France last month.  Those are prominent feathers to have in any film's cap.  Better yet, they are kudos that are more than earned by this film's energetic brilliance.

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