I had the pleasant opportunity to catch the screening of Not Just A Game at the ReelWorld Film Festival. In the film, renowned sports commentator Dave Zirin, discusses the correlation of sports and politics through footage of significant and historic moments in American sports. In this narrative essay he addresses the intrinsic political elements of sports and its application to American society and vice versa, despite the overwhelming desire to keep both separate.
One of the more interesting films of the 11th Annual ReelWorld Film Festival was David H. Hickey’s Baghdad Texas. Mostly set within the confines of a Texan ranch, somewhere along the American/Mexican border, Baghdad Texas opens as an airplane containing an unnamed Middle Eastern dictator (though it’s clearly Saddam Hussein) crashes down, killing all but one of its passengers. Badly injured the dictator survives; though his victory is only momentary, as not more than a few minutes later he is accidentally run over by three American redneck cowboys riding along in their beat-up pickup truck. While knocked unconscious, the unnamed dictator once again survives a near death experience. When the three men, two of which are drunk off their rocker, discover that
With Hanna, filmmaker Joe Wright has fully recovered from the diabolical hiccup that was The Soloist and given us the strongest, most entertaining movie of the year thus far. The film stars Atonement‘s Saoirse Ronan in the title role as Hanna, a teenage girl who lives amongst the harsh Finland wilderness with her father (play by Eric Bana). Ever since she was a young child, she has been isolated from the rest of civilization, and trained to become an elite super assassin. Everything she has worked for, from the demanding self-defence exercises to the memorized made-up back st
This is mind-clearing stuff, a sparse and immediate film that focuses directly on what it is about without clutter or extraneous filling: the guttural, animalistic sprint for survival undergone by an escaped terrorist, presented with little back-story and almost no dialogue. Which is welcome, since the few intrusions of either are uniformly embarrassing: back-story is given to us through color-saturated flashbacks that play like meek imitations of Neon Genesis Evangelion, while dialogue is mostly uttered by brutish American soldiers condemned to perform the undignified role of villainous cipher historically reserved for Arabs, Asians, Eastern Europeans and the hundreds of faceless Latin Americans who died filming Commando. Otherwise, Essential Killing expunges all potential impurities, giving us the unadorned sight of a body in motion as it struggles past obstacles both organic and inorganic – though mostly organic.
Hiroshi Teshigahara is mostly recognized for his borderline avant-garde collaborations with novelist and screenwriter Kobo Abe; Pitfall (1962), Woman in the Dunes (1964), and Face of Another (1966). However, Teshigahara’s cinematic resume extends well beyond these three features as exhibited by his rather impressive collection of documentary films. One of these documentaries and his debut feature nonetheless was Hokusai, a short 23 minute exposé on the life and artistry of one of Japan’s most acclaimed premodern woodblock painters, Katsuchika Hokusai.
Aurora is not so much slow as it is alert to details that lie outside plot and context. There is a passage in Uruguayan critic David Oubiña’s wonderful book A Philosophical Toystore in which he describes how, while watching Douglas Gordon’s 24-hour Psycho – which unsurprisingly lasts a whole day and consists of Psycho slowed down to cover such a time-span – the plot becomes incomprehensible, since each movement takes so long to complete that our attention is captured by tangential details and the millimetric texture of every mannerism. Thus, our grasp over the sequential order of events loosens to the point that we forget all about it.
The 11th Annual ReelWorld Film Festival began in impressive fashion last night with Rohan Fernando’s tsunami drama, Snow. Sri Lankan born actress Kalista Zackhariyas plays Parvati, a devastated young woman who saw everything she knew swept away amongst the devouring waves of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami; one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.
What would you do if you knew you had less than eight minutes to live? For Jake Gyllenhaal’s Captain Colter Stevens it’s not a matter of choice, but rather of necessity. A terrorist attack has just taken place onboard a Chicago commuter train, killing all passengers. With an imminent threat of yet another even more deadly attack, Captain Stevens has unknowingly entered the Source Code, a computer program th
No sappy high school romances; no shirtless Taylor Lautner; and definitely no sparkles are to be found in this refreshing, made-for-adults modern day vampire tale. Zak Kilberg stars as Jacob, a young man with a rare skin disorder making him extremely sensitive to sunlight.
This film is soaked in the cool machismo of its characters. It flows like a clever turn of phrase, like punchy slang, like a barrage of adjectives. It gestures with street-savvy swagger. The camera flies, stops, stares, makes ironic commentary with an angle or a lengthened take.