10/20/2017

Coming to Amerika


Amerika Square (Plateia Amerikis)
(Greece/UK/Germany, 86 min.)
Dir. Yannis Sakaridis, Writ. Yannis Tsirbas, Vangelis Mourikis, Yannis Sakaridis
Starring: Makis Papadimitriou, Yannis Stankoglou, Vassilis Kukalani, Ksenia Dania, Alexandros Logothetis, Rea Pediaditaki, Themis Bazaka, Errikos Litsis
There are many sad stories in the global migration crisis: deaths, rootlessness, hopelessness, and families torn apart. However, there are few narratives as distressing as those of people who refuse to accept change and hold the gates to freedom shut. Borders are closing and fences are going up to clamp the human flow. The rampant xenophobia inherent in the era is not humankind’s finest hour.


10/17/2017

Denis' Dark World


Blade Runner 2049
(USA, 164 min.)
Dir. Denis Villeneuve, Writ. Hampton Francher, Michael Green
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks, Jared Leto, Mackenzie Davis
Ana de Armas and Ryan Gosling star in Blade Runner 2049
Here’s the thing with updates: they can be a redundant waste of time, but, when they work, they can improve things by ironing out bugs and improving early drafts into a finely tuned revisions. Windows 10, for example, might be the best contemporary example of an utterly pointless remake. It adds nothing to the original except more kinks, headaches, and bad karma. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve’s outstanding revision of Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult hit that improves upon the original film. The measured Blade Runner 2049 might seem as slow as Windows 10, but in this case the massive update is worth the patience. This return to the world of the runners is deep and thoughtful sci-fi thanks to Villeneuve’s uncompromising vision.


10/16/2017

The Heart Goes Pitter-Patter for 'BPM'


BPM (Beats Per Minute) (120 battements par minute)
(France, 140 min.)
Dir. Robin Campillo, Writ. Robin Campillo, Philippe Mangeot
Starring: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel, Antoine Reinartz, Ariel Borenstein, Mehdi Touré
Nahuel Pérez Biscayart stars in BPM.
The Orchard
Expect your heart to skip a beat during BPM. It’s impossible to avoid feeling a stirring pitter-patter of the chest in this invigorating and rewarding drama about courageous AIDS activists. BPM (Beats Per Minute) dramatizes the story of the Paris faction of ACT UP, a committed band of activists from the LGBTQ community fighting to make the French government and big pharma be quicker to respond to the growing AIDS crisis. The film, which won four prizes at Cannes including the Grand Prix and is France’s bid in the Best Foreign Language Film race, is a stirring tale of a community asserting its voice in the face of adversity. Director Robin Campillo presents a group of individuals united by their lust for life and their hunger to see another tomorrow, and the vibrant pulse of BPM is truly life affirming.


10/13/2017

Jackie Chan Joins the Liam Neeson Club: A Conversation Between Members


The Foreigner
(UK/China/USA, 114 min.)
Dir. Martin Campbell, Writ. David Marconi
Starring: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Katie Leung, Charlie Murphy, Orla Brady
Courtesy VVS Films
Liam Neeson, Denzel Washington, and Bruce Willis are sitting around a table. It’s 4:15 PM and the actors are partway through the seniors’ special at Denny’s. They nibble their chicken wings, lick their greasy spoons, and sip their decaf coffees while trading war stories of action films of the past.

In walks Jackie Chan.

“Some people care too much. I think it's called love.”

Goodbye Christopher Robin
(UK, 107 min.)
Dir. Simon Curtis, Writ. Frank Cottrell Boyce, Simon Vaughan
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly Macdonald, Will Tilston
Domhnall Gleeson and Will Tilston star in Goodbye Christopher Robin
Photo by David Appleby / Fox Searchlight Pictures

Do you remember Winnie-the-Pooh? That little golden bear who lived in the Hundred Acre Woods with Piglet and Eeyore? That cuddly teddy who was friends with Christopher Robin and, in turn, a friend to all of us who cherished his adventures during story time?

But really, did any of us ever forget Pooh Bear?

Yikes—What a Mess!

The Limehouse Golem
(UK, 109 min.)
Dir. Juan Carlos Medina, Writ. Jane Goldman
Starring: Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke, Eddie Marsan, Douglas Boothe, Sam Reid
Bill Nighy and Olivia Cooke star in The Limehouse Golem
Photo by Nick Wall
There are two or three great movies somewhere in The Limehouse Golem, but, holy crap, do they ever get lost in this nonsensical nightmare. Plot the first is a Jack the Ripper-ish bloodbath in which Scotland Yard inspector John Kildare (Bill Nighy) investigates a string of grisly murders committed in a dark corner of London. The deeds are so heinous and gruesome that people believe that only a monster could have committed them.


10/01/2017

"Oh, Let Them Talk"


Our Souls at Night
(USA, 103 min.)
Dir. Ritesh Batra, Writ. Scott Neustadter, Michael Webb
Starring: Robert Redford, Jane Fonda,  Matthias Schoenaerts, Phyllis Somerville, Bruce Dern
Jane Fonda and Robert Redford star in Our Souls at Night
Netflix

Our Souls at Night lets Netflix hit its stride with an original production that benefits from the smaller screens on which most audiences will see it. After the so-so Beasts of No Nation and the excellent First They Killed My Father, which really demand the grandeur of a theatrical screen for optimal effect, this sparse and delicately restrained adaptation of Kent Haruf’s equally simplistic posthumous novel fits the scale of the streaming site handsomely. It helps, too, that director Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox) knows what prizes he has in veteran actors Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. A film like Our Souls at Night doesn’t need any dressings when the core of the film—its stars and its script—is so rich and substantial.