Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Hottest State

Posted By on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 12:00 AM

When aspiring actor William (Mark Webber) meets aspiring singer Sarah (Catalina Sandino Moreno) in a New York City bar, he quickly finds himself caught up in a nervous dance of delirious infatuation and awkward advances. Every moment of William and Sarah’s budding romance is dizzy with possibility but sober with uncertainty. When intimacy turns into talks of marriage and William is head over heels in love, we know from his voiceover that he’s headed for a fall. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by its director, Ethan Hawke, The Hottest State is an achingly heartfelt and surprisingly touching portrait of love-struck idiocy.

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Manda Bala

Posted By on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 12:00 AM

A student of famed documentarian Errol Morris, New York-based Jason Kohn adopts his mentor’s excitable visual style and convoluted storytelling to splashy but confusing effect. Bouncing from one subject to the next and back again, it takes nearly half the film for Kohn’s jumbled puzzle pieces to present a meaningful picture. It’s an ambitious attempt to jazz up the political, but the young director’s brash style often undermines the impact of his ideas. Still, there’s no denying the hallucinatory power of juxtaposing Sao Paolo’s sun-bleached cosmopolitanism with its ferocious underbelly of corruption, indigence and crime, especially when watching the obscenely rich commute in bulletproof sedans and private helicopters in order to avoid the retaliating masses.

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Feast on this

A winning argument in favor of life and green things

Posted By on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Austrian filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter's rigorous, astringent documentary about factory farming shows you the industry of modern food production in a way that will make you rethink what's on your plate. Making its case viscerally, with images unadorned by explanation or context, the film's lack of narration can be jarring, as we are whisked from open fields to industrial greenhouses, from breeding facilities to slaughterhouses, following Geyrhalter's unwavering gaze.

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Vitus

Posted By on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 12:00 AM

For the hyperaware 6-year-old Vitus von Holzen (Fabrizio Borsani), it isn't hard to see the moment he changed from a beloved and indulged precocious boy to a child prodigy whose future must be managed. It happened the night his formerly bohemian parents were celebrating their upward mobility with a party at their newly-furnished modest apartment, working hard to impress the colleagues of the kid's father, Leo (Urs Jucker), an engineer and inventor. Resentful of Leo's rapid ascent, some questioned his wife, Helen (Julika Jenkins), when she claimed Vitus could play the complex classical pieces whose sheet music rested on their upright piano. So Helen collects her petulant son to prove them wrong. Trotted out to perform for the guests, Vitus is reluctant and defiant, but soon capitulates to his mother's wishes, a response that would mark his relationship with her for years to come.

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The Brave One

Posted By on Wed, Sep 19, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Someday Jodie Foster will reward us by taking a role that's worthy of her immense talent. But until then we'll make do with yet another of her noble efforts to make enlightening mainstream studio productions. The Brave One has the pedigree, budget and buzz-worthy patina of quality to ensure trophy talk, but it lacks a rationale to justify its bizarre metaphorical excesses. Foster stars as Erica Bain, an Ira Glass-style monologist who engages her public radio listeners with textured audio love letters to NYC, in all its messy, vibrant complexity.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

3:10 to Yuma

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Based on an early Elmore Leonard story that’s a marvel of tick-tock efficiency, building tension every step of the way on the road to a fateful climax, Yuma is stark and focused with only the mildest distractions spoiling its ride. Bale plays wounded Civil War vet turned rancher Dan Evans, struggling with drought and debt to keep his meager land and protect his family, when he stumbles into a violent robbery in progress. A stagecoach is being plundered by the sinister and seductive Ben Wade (Crowe), a mythic bad guy with a nagging streak of decency, who lets Evans and his sons go in exchange for their silence. That agreement lasts until Wade is captured in town and a railroad exec offers Evans $200 help escort the outlaw to Yuma on the train. Hot on their heels is Wade’s cutthroat gang, led by his vicious, crazy-eyed deputy Charlie, in a borderline campy, scene-stealing performance by Ben Foster.

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The Boss of It All

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Billed as the first comedy from Dogme95 co-founder Lars von Trier, The Boss of It All is actually the latest mindfuck from the Danish provocateur. There is nothing innocuous about a von Trier project, even one in which the filmmaker himself appears in the opening scene (reflected in the windows of an office building) to placate his audience. “Although you see my reflection, trust me,” he coos, “this film won’t be worth a moment’s reflection.” Don’t bet on it.

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Shoot ’Em Up

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2007 at 12:00 AM

It takes all of 10 minutes to decide whether or not you’re on board with writer-director Michael Davis’ giddy, balls-to-the-wall celebration of handheld ballistics. That’s when Clive Owen, mid-gun-battle, shoots off the umbilical cord of the infant he’s just delivered. Yow. If the flash flood of hysterical violence, visual puns and bad one-liners in the opening scene turns you off, you won’t enjoy the rest of the movie. Because it gets crazier. Forget plot, character or thematic subtext, every scene in this breezy but bloody matinee flick is there to set up the next action sequence, constantly upping the ante on preposterous mayhem. It ain’t called Shoot ’Em Up for nothing.

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Lady Chatterley

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2007 at 12:00 AM

When Lady Constance Chatterley (Marina Hands) accidentally comes upon Parkin (Jean-Louis Coulloc’h) as he’s washing up, there’s something about his broad, muscular back that completely unnerves her. Ferran doesn’t film this as a Harlequin moment, but a shock of recognition, a reminder of the corporeal world. As she begins regularly visiting the hut where Parkin breeds birds, and basks in its isolation, she moves from Lady Chatterley to Connie, and finds equanimity with this taciturn man of the woods.

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The Brothers Solomon

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2007 at 12:00 AM

John (Will Arnett) and Dean (Will Forte) Solomon are brothers who want to have a baby before their father dies to fulfill his dream of becoming a grandfather. Their social ineptness and seemingly innocent baby-making motives scare Jeanine (Kristen Wiig), the lucky surrogate, at first. As the movie goes on, Jeanine convinces the brothers that only the most prepared men will be allowed to touch her child, so the two shape up. Despite their baby-proofing and diaper training efforts, Jeanine has a change of heart after seeing an ecstatic new mother come into her Lamaze class, and reconsiders giving her baby to the brothers.

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