"When it all goes quiet behind my eyes, I see everything that made me flying around in invisible pieces."   -  Beasts of the Southern Wild
#470 | December 4, 2012
To Romania With Love
Vadim Rizov reports on screenings from Film Society of Lincoln Center's "Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema," series: Everybody in Our Family and Three Days Till Christmas. The major titles of the recent "Romanian New Cinema"—The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Police, Adjective, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, the brief exchanges in the largely dialogue-less three hours of Aurora—have accustomed viewers to conversational interactions frequently taking the sudden form of often un-incited rudeness. The opening of Radu Jude's Everybody in Our Family seemingly represents similar terrain: sprawled in a half unmade bed, a man stifles his alarm. Read more >>
In This Dispatch:
  • What's New: Unforgivable, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, and more.
  • What We're Watching: Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Alps, V/H/S. 
  • Explore: RETRO ACTIVE: Universal Soldier: Regeneration.
"Literate, intelligent and a model of accomplished European filmmaking, Unforgivable showcases the kind of emotional complexity that is all but gone from the screen these days," writes LA Time's Kenneth Turan of André Téchiné's dense, multi-layered, character-driven drama. The plot involves a crime novelist, his younger model-turned-real estate agent wife, his daughter, his daughter's drug dealing boyfriend, a hired private eye, and her son, all in distinct and complex roles. "Téchiné observes with an egalitarian eye, attending to criminals and deceptively refined artists, to expose for his audience the passions and turbulence that fill them all with desperation, doubt, and surprising reserves of strength," writes Bill Weber of Slant. 
Chinese artist and political provocateur Ai Weiwei is the subject of this doc spanning several years of his life from his home in China and abroad. Combining scenes from Director Alison Klayman and his own personal footage, Jason Bailey (DVD Talk) notes the film "adopts an intimate, vérité-style approach that seems appropriate to the subject at hand; he's a righteous man but an informal one." The film also focuses on his social media efforts, in which he has "achieved a prominence that makes him, in effect, the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn of the Twitter age," writes EW's Owen Gleiberman, adding, "He radiates a mischievous sense of the absurdity — and necessity — of one man tossing stones at a regime this gigantic." 
What We're Watching

Exploding gators, swamp water mojo and a lowly wise six-year-old heroine named Hushpuppy seemed to be almost all that anyone really wanted to talk about at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Behn Zeitlin's audacious feature debut Beasts of the Southern Wild, shot on 16mm in a bayou neverland near New Orleans, felt like the cinematic arrival occasions such as Sundance exist to announce. Two weeks after watching it (in a sleep-deprived state, literally fresh off an airport shuttle bus) at its festival premiere, the film resonates with a beguiling mix of hardscrabble folk mythology and jaw-dropping, how-the-frick-did-they-shoot-that imagery... Read more >>
More like this  Days of HeavenBig Fish

Alps begins with a rhythmic gymnast (Ariane Lebed) facing off against her coach (Johnny Berkis). She wants Euro-trashy club music to soundtrack her ribbon-twirling; he insists on the deadly backing of Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana” (its opening movement, "O Fortuna," is a staple of movie trailers). The bulky trainer threatens to break her arm the next time he questions her musical judgment. "You aren't ready for pop," he tonelessly declares.  Is writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos ready for pop? Read more >>
More like this  DogtoothYou, The Living

All the nasty stuff is nothing remarkable in a horror flick, so it's a testament to the imagination of the team behind V/H/S that they found new buttons to push on the clunky deck that is the found-footage video genre. The premise: a group of drunk buddies are hired to break into an abandoned house and steal a specific tape. Without giving anything away, they end up sampling several, which gives rising young indie directors Adam Wingard, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, David Bruckner, Joe Swanberg and Ti West occasion for a series of shorts built around inherent themes of voyeurism, sex, criminality, violence and the full vault of gnarly horror movie tropes. Read more >>
More like this The Devil InsideKill List

[This week's "Retro Active" pick is inspired by its sequel, the Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren horror-actioner Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning] For a franchise predicated on resurrection, it's an unexpected twist to find Universal Soldier: Regeneration reviving the long-dormant Jean-Claude Van Damme/Dolph Lundgren series by switching its focus from reanimation to cloning. Read more >>
RETRO ACTIVE: Universal-Soldier

The Batman


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