Archive for November, 2012

Indie Roundup: ‘Killing Them Softly’

Director Andrew Dominik previously worked with Pitt in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” an ambitious, meditative reworking of the Western that recalled the works of Terence Malick. For his latest movie, “Killing Them Softly,” Dominik takes a stab at another well-trod American genre, the crime flick. Dominik gives this movie plenty of atmosphere, too, but the film’s end boils over with a surprising amount of rage directed squarely at American-style capitalism. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Killing Them Softly’’

Indie Roundup: ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

David O. Russell’s movies often feel like a visit from a cantankerous relative. After all, a large chunk of both “The Fighter” and “Flirting With Disaster” is basically people standing around shouting at each other. His movies are marked by characters that are wounded and not yet wholly formed, who inevitably clash, loudly, with parents who are just as screwed up as their kids. With another director, that formula might make you want to flee from the screen, but Russell has the ability to walk the line between grating and ingratiating. He not only keeps you engaged, but also wins you over. Though his latest film, “Silver Linings Playbook,” is his most accessible, awards-friendly movie yet, Russell still gives the movie plenty of the sharp edges. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Silver Linings Playbook’’

Indie Roundup: ‘The Other Son’

The trope of getting switched at birth goes way back to Shakespeare, but French director Lorraine Levy gives it new urgency by setting it in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for her movie “The Other Son.” Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘The Other Son’’

Director Craig Zobel talks about screening ‘Compliance’ abroad

Just before the movie “Compliance” screened in Manaus, Brazil, during the Amazonas Film Festival, director Craig Zobel was more than a little nervous about how the flick would be received. After all, it was arguably the most controversial movie at Sundance earlier this year.

“At that first Sundance screening, a woman told me that it was a horrible film and I was a horrible person,” Zobel recalled to me while standing just outside the Teatro Amazonas — Manaus’s magnificent 100-year-old opera house and the primary venue for the fest. Many critics (including this one) lauded the film as being a chilling cinematic psych experiment; others decried it as exploitation. Either way, it’s not a feel-good movie. Continue reading ‘Director Craig Zobel talks about screening ‘Compliance’ abroad’

The Amazonas Film Festival: Good Movies, Good Times in the Jungle

“Who would have thought that making a movie about a fast-food joint in Ohio would get me here?”

That’s what Craig Zobel, director of the indie hit “Compliance,” asked me while we were standing waist-deep in a stream in the Amazon rain forest.

This all started a month ago, when I got one of the most random emails of my life. I was selected as one of four journalists to cover, all expenses paid, the Amazonas Film Festival in Manaus, Brazil. My first thought was that the email was spam. My second thought was that this was some sort of scheme to separate me from my kidneys. But no, it was legit. I was invited. How could I turn this down? Continue reading ‘The Amazonas Film Festival: Good Movies, Good Times in the Jungle’

Indie Roundup: ‘A Royal Affair’

With his chiseled features and heavy-lidded eyes, Mads Mikkelsen has the face of a villain. He was James Bond’s enemy in “Casino Royale,” he played a murderous thug in Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Pusher” trilogy and he’s even going play Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter in the upcoming TV show. But in “A Royal Affair, ” Mikkelsen proves that he’s got more acting tricks in his quiver than just playing the heavy.

The movie is set largely in 1760s Denmark. Though the ideas of Voltaire, Rousseau and company were just starting to catch fire in the rest of Europe, Denmark, ruled by the clergy and conservative noblemen, was doing its best to keep the Enlightenment from crossing its borders. Enter English noblewoman Carolina Mathilde (Alicia Vikander) who has been betrothed to the Danish king Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard). Upon arriving in Copenhagen, she learns that many of her books have been deemed dangerous and shipped back to her home country. Worse, King Christian proves more Buster Bluth than Prince Charming — a feeble-minded man-child whose bizarre behavior proves to be less than regal. Hoping to curb the king’s antics, the court hires physician Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mikkelsen) to be essentially the royal babysitter. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘A Royal Affair’’

Barry Levinson on his environmental horror movie ‘The Bay’ – 80 percent of this is true

Barry Levinson had a streak of critically praised, wildly popular movies in the ’80s and ’90s, from “Diner” to “Wag the Dog” to “Rain Man,” for which he won an Oscar for best director. For his latest movie, the Baltimore native has taken a decidedly different tack.

“The Bay” is a horror flick about an ecological plague that devastates a sleepy berg on the Chesapeake Bay and is then covered up. Using footage from various videos, iPhone FaceTime conversations, and security cameras, one of the town’s few survivors tries to piece together how the town’s Fourth of July celebration turned into a gory mass panic when one person after another developed horrific skin rashes that prove fatal. The culprit, it turns out, is a fish parasite called an isopod that, thanks to all the toxins dumped into the bay — piles of chicken poo, nuclear waste, etc. — has started snacking on humans. Think “Cloverfield” meets “Contagion.” Continue reading ‘Barry Levinson on his environmental horror movie ‘The Bay’ – 80 percent of this is true’


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