Monday, April 22, 2013
Blancanieves (2012) d. Berger, Pablo (Spain)
An exquisite retelling of the classic Snow White fairy tale, filtered through the lens of a once-great matador, his plucky young daughter, and the scheming nursemaid/wicked stepmonster whose vanity threatens to destroy all in her path. Writer/director Berger cultivates an impossibly charming and rich romantic atmosphere, with emotions worn proudly on sleeves and textures and images dancing in concert with Alfonso de Vilallonga's dynamic and purposefully eclectic score.
Vanishing Waves (aka Aurora) (2012) d. Buozyte, Kristina (Lithuania/France)
Scientists set up an elaborate Altered States-like experiment to see if two separate consciousnesses can interact, allowing a member of their team (Marius Jampolskis) to attempt to psychically synch up with comatose car accident victim Jurga Jutaite. The experiment is a success, in that a connection is made, but when the scientist decides to keep secret certain discoveries from the rest of his colleagues, it threatens both the validity of the test and the safety of its two subjects.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Pieta (2012) d. Kim, Ki-duk (South Korea)
Jung-Jin Lee commands the screen as an amoral loan shark enforcer who thinks nothing of maiming those who cannot pay their debts, telling them that he will be back to collect the insurance money they receive for their injuries. But when mysterious woman Min-soo Cho appears, claiming to be Lee’s long-absent mother, it ignites a spark of emotion that could prove to be his downfall.
Confession of Murder (2012) d. Jeong, Byung-gil (South Korea)
Following the statute of limitations’ expiration, serial killer Si-hoo Park goes public with his heinous deeds by writing a bestselling tell-all; charming and cool, the murderer’s popularity skyrockets with a morbidly fascinated public. Meanwhile, as the cop who allowed Park to slip through his fingers, Jae-yeong Jeong continues to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend, all evidence strongly suggesting she was the rising star’s final act of violence.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
I Declare War (2012) d. Lapeyre, Jason / Wilson, Robert (Canada)
A wondrous coming-of-age examination of the culture of combat, as inventive in its gimmickry as it is deceptively clear-eyed regarding the hierarchies of childhood. Two group of kids gather on either sides of the forest to play out their ongoing Capture the Flag tournament, undefeated pint-sized master strategist Gage Munroe’s scrappy band facing off against the challengers led by cool intellectual Aidan Gouveia and his tempestuous second-in-command Michael Friend. But the rules of engagement are only effective if both sides adhere, and on this particular day, new terms are being brought to bear – strategies such as “coup,” “torture,” and the most terrifying of all, “girls.”
Trap for Cinderella (2012) d. Softley, Iain (UK)
After surviving a traumatic fire, heiress-to-be Tuppence Middleton undergoes extensive plastic surgery to restore her crisped visage. She emerges lightly scarred but more than palatable, minus any recollection of her former life. As she attempts to reassemble her fractured existence by reuniting with various friends and family members, she stumbles across the diary of best friend Alexandra Roach who succumbed to the flames.
Oblivion (2013) d. Kosinski, Joseph (USA)
In the years following an alien attack that has left Earth a barren wasteland, skeleton crew members Tom Cruise and redhead Andrea Riseborough remain stationed above the surface to maintain the hydro-generators powering newly installed reactors on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, where the rest of the surviving populace has relocated. Their days and nights are kept lively defending the pyramid-shaped structures from residual alien “scavenger” crafts, but complications arise when ancient (i.e. early 21st century) space debris plummets to the planet’s surface bearing strange cargo indeed.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Forest, The (aka El Bosc) (2012) (1st viewing) d. Aibar, Oscar (Spain)
A strange and moving tale set during the Spanish Civil War that captures some of the same magic as Guillermo del Toro’s dark twins (The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth). Stubborn young farmer Alex Brendemuhl refuses to kowtow to his village’s radical leanings; when the revolution begins, he is forced to go into hiding with his dedicated wife Raquel Dalmases attempting to keep him supplied with food and drink. But every six months, there is a special, magical phenomenon that occurs in a small grove in their field that allows for an unusual form of eluding capture. A thoughtful and human examination of the effects of war that manages to be both universal and intensely personal.