February 24, 2012 |
A crucial civil rights issue receives dull, inelegant scrutiny in "Iranian Taboo," director Reza Allamehzadeh's documentary that attempts to shed light on the persecution and scapegoating of members of the Bahá'í faith by Iran's Islamic regime. Allamehzadeh, reportedly banned from entering his native Iran (friends secretly filmed "Taboo's" Iran-set footage, while the director shot in such countries as France and Israel), takes an unsatisfying, two-pronged approach to this complex subject.
August 23, 2012 |
At any other time, the storyline of a film like "R2B: Return to Base" - a reckless young fighter pilot (Korean superstar Rain) is taken down a few pegs by a more experienced and disciplined rival (Yu Jun-sang) and learns the value of teamwork - would likely earn references to "Top Gun. " With the film by chance seeing release so closely after the recent death of "Top Gun" director Tony Scott, one almost feels sorry for "R2B" director Kim Dong-won for how inescapable the comparisons will be. They are not unfounded, of course, as Kim's film looks to get premium mileage from the thrill of a slo-mo formation walk across a tarmac or the whooshing rush of the horizon line slipping by the cockpit.
February 8, 2008 |
The decline of the art-house theater has severely curtailed America's exposure to foreign films -- now limited largely to the occasional picture so prize-laden or distinctive that it breaks through. Romania's current critical darling, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," is a prime example.
May 6, 1999 |
As the growing number of otaku (American fans of anime) can attest, animation in Japan is very different from what Americans are accustomed to seeing. In the United States, virtually every feature has followed the upbeat musical comedy model Walt Disney established in 1937 with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Nuanced acting and lip-sync dialogue bring the characters to life as individuals.
January 13, 2008
The Air I Breathe Four stories based on a Chinese proverb interweave to depict life's emotional cornerstones: happiness, pleasure, sorrow and love. With Kevin Bacon, Forest Whitaker, Andy Garcia, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Brendan Fraser, Julie Delpy and Emile Hirsch. Written by Jieho Lee and Bob DeRosa. Directed by Lee. ThinkFilm, Jan. 25. Alexandra Opera star Galina Vishnevskaya plays an elderly woman visiting her grandson, an army officer, at his base in Chechnya.
January 20, 2012 |
Over the course of a career that stretches back more than 50 years, Jean-Luc Godard might have cultivated a reputation as a maker of forbiddingly dense, impenetrably allusion-heavy films, but his work also always holds the potential to offer something groundbreaking and new. Despite (or maybe because of) his penchant for provocation and predilection toward the obtuse, he was and remains a rare, uncanny mix of professor, trickster and crackpot, guardian of the past and gatekeeper of the future.
September 30, 2010 |
The austerely titled "The Girl" is a lyrical, deliberately paced summer's tale of a 9-year-old Swedish child (never referred to by name) whose Africa-bound, missionary parents leave her in the care of her flighty aunt. It's no spoiler to reveal ? an offhand remark tips us off to Aunt Anna's spotty reputation before she even arrives ? that the girl must fend for herself around her rural home when Anna soon takes off with her Porsche-driving beau. The result is a kind of quiet Scandinavian cousin (OK, twice removed)
August 16, 2012
As goofy and singular as its look-twice title, "Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same" is a weirdly ingratiating trifle lampooning dating, urban isolation, cut-rate sci-fi flicks and ecology. It's got midnight movie written all over it - and not in a bad way. This black-and-white comedy follows the romantic blossoming of self-conscious, lovelorn lesbian and stationery store clerk Jane (Lisa Haas) after she meets an honest-to-goodness alien named Zoinx (Susan Ziegler). Turns out the deadpan, bald-headed Zoinx, along with fellow space travelers Zylar (Jackie Monahan)
August 23, 2012
The concise documentary "Words of Witness" proves a vivid snapshot of the hectic, yet hopeful weeks in early 2011 following the end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year-dictatorship, the start of the military's interim rule and the nation's rocky road toward democracy. Czech-Egyptian director Mai Iskander, who also produced and shot the film, tells this crucial story of modern revolution through the eyes of Heba Afify, a 22-year-old, newly hired journalist at the English edition of Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt's chief independent newspaper.
October 24, 2013 |
From the stark glare of paralyzing grief to the shadow eroticism of a neo-gothic romance, "Il Futuro" makes for a peculiar strain of otherworldly viewing. An exquisitely shot love-among-the-ruins story adapted by Chilean filmmaker Alicia Scherson from a novel by her late countryman, the cult author Roberto Bolaño, it begins with a pair of dazed, bored teenagers, Bianca (Manuela Martelli) and younger brother Tomas (Luigi Ciardo), facing uncertain times in a rundown Rome apartment following their parents' death from a car accident.