Browsing: Reviews

NP Approved 30_BD_A_box_348x490_original

It must have been the cheers that come with a big city. Usually the sounds of joy attract me. But since I was walking the path that’s been laid out by the Criterion catalog, I figured it could be anything that brought me to Germany. The mysterious fog had lifted, long enough for me to see…nothing.

It was like a ghost town. Streets, shops and playgrounds that would have housed happy people and their children now brought to an eerie vibe of nothingness. It was the aftermath of a horrific event. This German town had just seen hell. The evidence was posted up on a street pole.

Reviews Biker-Fox-618x400

Most large cities have a few public eccentrics, people who catch the attention of the populace with their very visible displays of oddity. Here in Tulsa, our most famous hometown weirdo is Biker Fox, a middle aged man who rides around the city barking at passers by about fitness. As strange and off putting as his behavior can be, many Tulsans take pride in Biker Fox as a symbol of our city’s independent, Okie spirit. Unfortunately the new documentary Biker Fox does little to illuminate just what makes Biker Fox so special and appealing.

Reviews Kid-Cannibis

A weed comedy released during 4/20 has a target audience. The poster and trailer suggest a light comedy with young boys saying funny things and getting themselves in and out of sticky situations. Maybe some are expecting Pineapple Express but the marketing for this film sells an entirely different movie. Kid Cannabis misses the mark because it cannot decide on a tone. The film also stumbles due to a poor lead performance.

Kid Cannabis tells the true story of Nate Norman (Jonathan Daniel Brown) and his pursuit of getting rich through trafficking marijuana. Norman locates a supplier (John C. McGinley) in Canada and finds a backer (Ron Perlman). With his best friend Topher (Kenny Wormald) and a group of childhood friends he devises a plan to smuggle mass quantities of marijuana across the border. Sounds like a lay-up, right?

Film Festival 1450_1369154445_anina-primer-largometraje-uruguayo-animado-4-large

Uruguay’s Anina is a stunning and rich animate film that circumvents the overused Disney models of animation, instead creating worlds of depth and texture that leaves the rust on automobiles but enraptures the viewer with stunning frames of light passing through droplets of rain. It tells a simple story of growth, understanding, and tolerance but does so with tremendous imagination as we see the world through Anina’s eyes, the titular character that doesn’t know why she has to have a name that is a palindrome as this gives her much grief on the playground, a proving ground for the kids of many cultures where one faux pas can dictate your reputation for the rest of the year. We see a world that is a little scary at times but also filled with unfathomable beauty, dandelion seeds drifting through the breeze become magical and the teacher with the sour demeanor we all had in grade school appears seven feet tall and larger than life when seen through the eyes of a child.

Film Festival 14084-1

Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang is an adventurous romp through the labyrinthine passageways of an old castle that has been turned into some sort of Ayn Rand’ian boot camp for mischievous youths, telling us a story from the perspective of the precocious duo, Zip and Zap, and offering a commentary on the shifting modes of thought on child discipline. The harsh disciplinary tactics of the reactionary parents of yesterday have been outmoded through the reevaluation of priorities and objectives by a new generation that lives in a globalized world and has instant access to information. Wikipedia likely has volumes on unsuccessful parenting tactics that overemphasize discipline to foolishly attempt to impose lockstep idealogical conformity. Unfortunately for our titular duo, the “Hope Reeducation Center” hasn’t received the memo and the sacred right of childhood summer fun isn’t going to be easy with the facility’s harsh discipline and cruel administrators.

NP Approved The-Battery

The Battery tells the story of Mickey (Adam Cronheim) and Ben (Jeremy Gardner, who also wrote & directed), two baseball players who saw their careers get cut due to something known as the zombie apocalypse. The start of the film already sees the duo doing what they can to survive, whether it’s playing loud music through a giant pair of headphones to drown out the madness, or fishing just to find some peace. While raiding an empty house, they discover some decently working walkie talkies, and that in turn leads to the discovery of a possible sanctuary. The two argue about whether or not they should try to find the place, but first they have to deal with the world around them. A world that now has complete control of their fate…

Reviews Journey_to_the_West

Early in Journey to the West, the new action/comedy retelling of a 16th century Chinese novel, there’s a moment when a group of villagers, hounded by a fish-inhabiting demon, attempt to move the giant fish to land by jumping onto what is essentially a huge seesaw. One, two, five men all attempt the jump at…

Film Festival manakamana1-1

In the grand scheme of things, here’s my microscopic version of the events in this film: there are many things around us that we overlook. If you commute by transit, bike, car, or train, you might go over a bridge everyday. I, for example, cross two bridges and rivers almost daily on my bicycle or on the subway. On the subway commute, I can go from the darkness of the tunnel and then suddenly find the vast valley of the Don spread before me, anchored by the veins of the highway below, and framed by the concrete towers of the city around it. Green unfolds everywhere among this tiny patch of civilization. Fellow commuters often don’t look or miss it because it’s become part of their every day.

Made in Canada Review Image4_FINALMEMBER

For a certain form of documentarian, the art of making a documentary is to some extent about learning to roll with the punches. Some documentary filmmakers create their works after the fact, using archival footage, reenactments, and interviews where the subjects can look back on the story from a distance. Others, though, follow a story as it unfolds before them, catching hold of a subject and following it through to its fruition. It’s hard not to think of this latter format as somehow braver—it is, after all, taking the greater risk that nothing particularly interesting will happen—and it certainly adds an element of suspense that is sometimes lacking in retrospective documentaries. There’s something almost magical to watching this kind of film unfold, as if the filmmakers just stumbled upon a great story as it was unspooling and decided to follow it through.

Fantastic Fest 2013 proxy1-1

Zack Parker’s Proxy opens with a brutal beating, depicts a bloody shooting at its midway point, and culminates in another merciless killing. Nestled between these three chilling acts of violence is an equally chilling tale of loneliness, grief, and mental instability. Working from a script penned by both himself and Kevin Donner, Parker seamlessly follows the lives of four different people and depicts the process of their lives intersecting with a skill on level with Soderbergh’s Traffic, Haggis’s Crash, and even Iñárritu’s Babel – admittedly on a smaller scale, but just as concise.

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