Tag Archives: Film Festival

First They Killed My Father

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Release Date: September 15, 2017
Screened: September 11, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Runtime: 136 minutes
Rating: NR – equivalent to a strong PG-13
Studio: Netflix
Director: Angelina Jolie
Cast: Sareum Srey Moch; Phoeung Kompheak; Sveng Socheata; Mun Kimhak; Heng Dara; Khoun Sothea; Sarun Nika; Run Malyna; Oun Srey Neang

Angelina Jolie directs the adaptation of Loung Ung’s memoir “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers” and the results are a film that is experienced rather than enjoyed. Continue reading

mother!

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Release Date: September 15, 2017
Screened: September 11, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Runtime: 121 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence; Javier Bardem; Ed Harris; Michelle Pfeiffer; Brian Gleeson; Domhnall Gleeson; Kristen Wiig

I can’t think of a contemporary director who brings the “WTF?!?!” better than Darren Aronofsky, and he proves as much with his latest: the maternal insanity that is mother! Continue reading

BPM (Beats Per Minute)

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Release Date: August 23, 2017 (France); October 20, 2017 (USA – limited)
Screened: September 10, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Runtime: 140 minutes
Rating: No Rating Yet (it’ll be R)
Studio: Memento Films
Director: Robin Campillo
Cast: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart; Arnaud Valois; Adèle Haenel; Antoine Reinartz; Théophile Ray; Catherine Vinatier

**Minor Spoilers**

Director Robin Campillo affectionately explores the early years of the AIDS crisis through the lens of the Paris outfit of AIDS activist group, ACT UP. Continue reading

Valley of Shadows

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Release Date: October 20, 2017 (Norway)
Screened: September 10, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Runtime: 91 minutes
Rating: No Rating Yet
Studio: Film Farms; Them Girls Film; Anna Kron Film
Director: Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen
Cast: Adam Ekeli; Kathrine Fagerland

While there is stuff to admire in Valley of Shadows, this Norwegian import really wasn’t my cup of tea. This is one of those movies that is long on atmosphere, but short on action or dialogue. A very European movie in style and nature, Valley of Shadows will only appeal to filmgoers who are into minimalist exercises in style. Continue reading

I Love You, Daddy

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Release Date: September 9, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Screened: September 9, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Runtime: 123 minutes
Rating: No Rating Yet (it will be R for language, I’m willing to bet)
Studio: None (self-financed by Louis C.K.)
Director: Louis C.K.
Cast: Louis C.K.; Chloë Grace Moretz; Charlie Day; John Malkovich; Rose Byrne; Edie Falco; Pamela Adlon; Helen Hunt; Ebonee Noel

Louis C.K. produces and films a movie under the cloak of secrecy from Hollywood and it proves to be a big, fun, surprisingly poignant treatise on the modern relationship between parent and child. Continue reading

I, Tonya

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Release Date: September 8, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Screened: September 9, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Runtime: 119 minutes
Rating: No Rating Yet
Studio: Miramax 
Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Margot Robbie; Sebastian Stan; Allison Janney; Julianne Nicholson; Bobby Cannavale; Caitlin Carver; Mckenna Grace; Paul Walter Hauser

Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya takes a ripped-from-the-headlines true story and infuses it with unexpected empathy. Invaluable assistance is provided from star Margot Robbie, whose performance here is even more star making than her showy breakout turn in Wolf of Wall Street. Her work, as well as that of co-stars Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney (not to mention director Gillespie and cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis) should garner plenty of attention come awards time. Continue reading

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

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Release Date: April 21, 2017 – Tribeca Film Festival
Runtime: 105 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Public Square Films
Director: David France
Cast: Victoria Cruz; Marsha P. Johnson; Sylvia Rivera

Here is a documentary that should be required viewing in high schools, in gender studies classes, and in history classes from now on. “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” is an important and indispensable piece of work about one of the foremost founders of the modern LGBT movement. Continue reading

Elle

Screened at the New York Film Festival – October 15, 2016

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Release Date: November 11, 2016 (US)
Runtime: 130 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Cast: Isabelle Huppert; Laurent Lafitte; Anne Consigny; Charles Berling; Virginie Efira; Judith Magre; Christian Berkel; Jonas Bloquet

Paul Verhoeven’s first feature in 10 years is a complex work. The director of “Basic Instinct” and “Showgirls” is in fine form stylistically, yet provides much more depth of meaning into this piece than we’ve seen in his previous films as he examines the aftermath of a brutal assault. “Elle” is definitely not for everyone (like most of Verhoeven’s films) and will likely not sit well with those moviegoers who lean more towards the politically correct. However, for those of us who have admired the director’s work in the past and understand his general approach to cinema, there is much to recommend here. Continue reading

King Cobra

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Release Date: Screened April 18, 2016 – Tribeca Film Festival
Runtime: 91 minutes
Rating: Not Yet Rated (but let’s be real..it’ll be R)
Studio: Yale Productions/SSS Entertainment/Digital Ignition Entertainment/RabbitBandini Productions
Director: Justin Kelly
Cast: James Franco; Garrett Clayton; Christian Slater; Molly Ringwald; Keegan Allen; Alicia Silverstone

A movie as salacious and lurid as the story it’s telling, “King Cobra” has its flaws, but is generally an effective, lean, and very mean piece of “ripped-from-the-headlines” cinema. Boasting a cast including James Franco, Molly Ringwald, Alicia Silverstone, Keegan Allen, a hasn’t-been-this-good-in-years Christian Slater, and former teenybopper Garrett Clayton, ejecting himself from tweendom straight into the tighty-whities of grown-up films, “King Cobra” offers a stylish though straightforward, yet not uncompelling, dramatization of this tawdry tale of murder and sex. Continue reading

Mike’s Murder

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Release Date: March 9, 1984 (screened June 22, 2014 – 16th Annual Provincetown Film Festival)
Runtime: 109 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: James Bridges
Cast: Debra Winger; Mark Keyloun; Darrell Larson; Paul Winfield; Brooke Alderson

This is an often overlooked, unseen 1984 film from director James Bridges (“The China Syndrome,” “Urban Cowboy”). While not entirely successful, it’s still an interesting curio and a helluva time capsule for 1980s enthusiasts. Continue reading