Archive for the Festival/Event Category

Telluride 37: 15 reviews in 2000 words!

Posted in Festival/Event, JAGP, Review with tags , , , , , on September 8, 2010 by Jared Parmenter

I’ve just returned from the 37th annual Telluride Film Festival, held high in the Colorado mountains Sept 3-6th, and damn it was another good year.  As a volunteer usher at the Chuck Jones Cinema for the third year in a row, I once again had a backstage pass to see some of the larger films that premiered and screened at the fest; in this post I’ll give ultrashort reviews of every film I saw, and try to recount a bit of the experience of being there as well, with links updated to more substantial reviews as I write them.  Continue reading

Kicking and Screening Film Fest, Night 2

Posted in Festival/Event, Guest Spot with tags , on June 3, 2010 by Timothy Parfitt

The following is a guest post by Isaiah Cambron. 

Last night I attended Night 2 of the Kicking and Screening film festival in Tribeca Cinemas here in NYC (previous parts here and here, tickets here). The previous night was about fans, about the passion for the game that we all have, but last night was a more somber affair. I don’t really know if he’s the one that said it first or not, but it’s certainly attributed by history to William Tecumseh Sherman: “War is Hell.”
And that it most certainly is. The night started with a short, Ana’s Playground (2009, dir: Eric Howell), centering on an unnamed city where a girl and three friends are playing soccer in the cold of winter by shooting against a wall. Ana is the goalie. Their gritty surroundings–a burned out car, shrapnel-torn buildings–were very reminiscent of scenes from the Balkans during the tumultuous 1990s. They are interrupted by gunfire and dive into the burned out car as a truck filled with assault-rifle-wielding men careens around the corner and fills their soccer field with a dead body and dozens of bullet casings. When the firing stops, the children continue playing, only glancing at the dead body, hardly registering it. They kick the casings out of the way and line up another shot on goal.
The ball flies over a wall and the fear is evident on their faces as the children flip coins to see who has to go get it. It falls to Ana, of course, and she crawls through a break. She finds herself in an open space between buildings in what feels like a different world. Her ball sits near the base of a building across the open space. She hides and it turns out to be a good idea because a sniper begins to fire at her. I don’t want to give away the entire thing, but it suffice to say that it leaves the viewer fairly gutted. Half inspired, half miserable. Children, Howell said in a panel discussion afterwards, losing their souls is the most heart-wrenching thing you can depict. That’s a paraphrase of about 20 minutes of discussion, really, but it’s so very true. The film has elements of soccer throughout it, but what really brings it all home is the anonymity of everyone. There is no defined place, no defined war, no defined culture on display. This isn’t about what “they” go through, but rather what we all go through when war latches on. It is what we do to others, what others do to us. It is humanity and a child represents our ultimate innocence; when that innocence is destroyed, when it is subjugated to the horrors of war, what do we have left?
Film Grade: 7/10. The cinematography was good, but I was a little lost in the allegory in the end, though if the point was to throw me off balance, it achieved that quite well.
The second film is a true documentary: The Last Yugoslav Team (2000, dir: Vuc Janic) covers the history of what happened to the players who made up the core of the Yugoslavian team just prior to the disintegration of the country into the mini states that exist now (Croatia, Slovenia, etc). The main actors are the players who made up the 1987 Youth World Cup (Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinečki, Predj Mijatović, Dejan Savićević, and Siniša Mihajlović) and their various stories. They grew up in different parts of the country, but trained together throughout their youth and ended up playing for different countries when Croatia and Yugoslavia were drawn in the Euro2000 qualifying group together.
The film brings up questions: what does war do to interpersonal relationships and how does it affect the principle actors on the international stage? The game can challenge norms or support them, destroy chasms between groups or widen them. The players react in various ways, of course, and the access Janic had was unbelievable. There are moments that make you laugh, moments that make you cringe, and moments that make you wonder why you didn’t study more Balkan history in college. Cause seriously, I got lost a bit. That was the only drawback in the movie, really, and even that was tempered by the inclusion of random facts that cleared up a few of the questions I had. Perhaps it’s unfair of me, though, since I’m a history major who is very serious about studying things for years before saying they know anything about a subject.
Film Grade: 9/10. Loved it. Watch it, people. It’s worth it. Sure, it was made in 2000 and contains “old” 1990s footage that looks ridiculous on our HD TVs, but whatever, it’s brilliant executed and you get to know the players and you understand a lot of their motivations. It is, at least, a starter kit for Balkan soccer history.
After the movies there was a panel discussion that involved the two filmmakers, Adam Spangler of This is American Soccer (as moderator), and Jakob Lund of Play31, the charity K&S is donating a portion of the profits of the film festival to. They spoke about what they were trying to convey–empathy for Howell, peace for Lund, and a myriad of things for Janic)–and I found it fascinating to see 3 people from completely different walks of life  bring 3 completely different approaches to the game, yet ending up together talking about roughly the same things (war sucks, soccer can be both good and evil). It was good to hear them and then good to talk to them afterwards in the mini-schmoozefest at the bar. Janic especially struck me as a wonderful fount of information and understanding (he’s a Serb, for the record).
Tonight is HUGE, though. Check this: El Arbitro is playing tonight. You should go. Why? Cause I’ll be there and the film is about a Barça v Espanyol match–er, sorta. It’s about the ref, but whatever, our boys are in it. I’ll be there in my home kit and I’ll be writing wonderful things about it either tonight or early tomorrow. Buy tickets here here here. The film is by Justin Webster, who also made FC Barcelona Confidential, which you should see if you haven’t.
And then on Friday, be there for Eine Andere Liga, a film about a Turkish-German woman with breast cancer whose life revolves around soccer. Sounds, uh, intense. And wonderful. If you live in NYC, you should do this because, really, you have nothingbetter to do and you want to meet me and see some awesome films. Okay, maybe meeting me isn’t that great, but think of it like a free bonus. Like that 2nd Shamwow completely free…which happens to be consuming alcohol.

You can read more of Isaiah’s tequila-soaked soccer rants at barcelonafootballblog.com.

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Kicking and Screening Film Festival, Night 1

Posted in Festival/Event, Guest Spot with tags on June 2, 2010 by Timothy Parfitt

The following is a report by guest blogger Isaiah Cambron.

Tonight was the first night of the Kicking and Screening film festival in Tribeca (previously discussed here), meaning I was not only on my best behavior (I didn’t scream things at the screen a single time–I must be getting old), but I was also taking notes on the movies and thinking as intelligently as I could about topics covered in the panel discussion. I burned a lot of calories doing it, I can assure you; I can see why all these movie reviewers are so fit. Continue reading

Oscar season is here!

Posted in Festival/Event with tags , on March 6, 2010 by Jared Parmenter


Ever since Titanic swept the 70th Academy Awards in 1998, I have held very, very little faith in the Oscars. At 16, the injustice of such a trashy, poorly-acted, poorly-written teenage-cryfest of a movie winning out over the obviously far more artistic L.A. Confidential, struck me like a revolting brick to the face, and I remember annoucing to my family, “These awards must be rigged. This is bullshit, and I’m never going to watch these again.”
Continue reading

Snowed In – Wednesday 10 February 2010

Posted in Festival/Event, Samuel C. Doob with tags , , , , , , on February 11, 2010 by sdoob

Full Metal Jacket (1987) 

Seemingly Stanley Kubrick’s most outright comedy, it surpasses even Dr. Strangelove in this regard. Although the film lives up to its name, hitting a plateau from the center on.  (Kubrick once likened the story to the shape of a bullet (full metal jacket). Looking somewhat like a tube of lipstick, it starts at a fine point, expands, then runs flat until the end.  In this way, the film could have been a shorter bullet.)  There are scenes in the middle that seem superfluous: namely, the documentary interviews, and the scene where the platoon stands around two American G.I. corpses, each soldier saying a word regarding one particular corpse, until we finally rest on Private Cowboy (Arliss Howard) who explains to Private Joker (Matthew Modine) the dead soldier’s masturbation disability.  If just these two scenes were cut, would the end of the movie still have its impact?  I think so.  Nonetheless, the cinematography and production design are almost always stunning.  The ensemble acting is hilarious and beautifully orchestrated.  And the opening fifty minutes are among Kubrick’s best work.  Outstanding performances by R. Lee Ermey and Vincent D’Onofrio. 
 

Father of the Bride (1950) 

Dull, dull, dull!  The film hints at a meltdown – in the opening scene, Spencer Tracy sits, defeated, in a completely wasted living room and proceeds to tell us (he speaks directly to the camera) how he had no idea what he was getting into when his daughter (Elizabeth Taylor) said she was getting married – but this meltdown never comes.  Nothing happens so much as a few sleepless nights, a fight between the fiancées, and Spencer Tracy grumbling about too many guests at the reception and too much money spent on live music.  Two notable scenes: Tracy tries on his old tuxedo cutaway, he believes it still fits and it doesn’t – that’s the joke – then the suit inevitably tears at the back.  The other scene is a nightmare Tracy has the night before the wedding: he crawls down the aisle, his arms fall through the checkered floor, his pants stretch a yard as he tries to keep moving.  Pretty good.   
 

Mr. Skeffington (1944) 

Mr. Skeffington, starring Bette Davis and Claude Rains, has the ingredients of an epic: two World Wars, prohibition, the great depression.  But Fanny Skeffington (Davis) never even bats a false eyelash; she is much concerned with her hair.   

Fanny Skeffington is a woman who declines – with a smile – the many advances of her loyal suitors.  After she marries, she allows the suitors to come around still! And more often!  We find this out from Mr. Job Skeffington, played by Claude Rains.   The emasculated Mr. Skeffington tells his cousin-in-law that he, Job, is a very patient man, concerning his wife’s suitors; but he says it with such pride, and with such a harsh look in his eye, I scarce say, in addition to being patient, he seems a very angry fellow!  Rains brings grace and humility to this seemingly stiff man.  When he goes off to Europe during World War II, we miss him.  Then we get to see Fanny Skeffington without her saving grace, her husband.   

Fanny is a phony.  She is shallow and narcissistic.  She is dumb in elemental ways, while claiming she is no fool.  Of course, she contracts diphtheria and not only loses her looks, but has hallucinations of her ex-husband sitting beside her, just watching her, which drive her up the wall because throughout the movie she repeatedly says to Job – whether in flirting or angry – she feels as if he is always silently laughing at her, laughing, she says, without moving a muscle.  And something I noticed: upon Mr. Skeffington’s return from the Nazi concentration camps, Fanny behaves differently around her husband than she does around anyone else.  She seems to be unconsciously trying to amuse him.  It is very sweet: a sweet ending.  There is much that is left unspoken, a lot to observe when the characters choose not to say something, and these silences are short and subtle, the way they should be; you don’t feel you’re getting hit over the head with a brick: Pay Attention!  It’s a class act, this film. 

Jack goes Boating

Posted in Festival/Event, Review with tags , , , , on January 29, 2010 by Timothy Parfitt

So last night I went to this “sundance USA*” screening, for Jack goes Boating, this really mediocre movie directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman.  He wears a stupid wool cap for the first hour of the movie, only to reveal dreadlocks?  I guess it was a comedy.  The film follows two friends, both chaffeurs, as one finds a new romance, while the other watches his longterm relationship fall apart.  Hoffman said afterwards that him and his theatre company pals were doing it as a play, but everyone said the play was “cinematic” so they adapted it into a movie… Continue reading

Happy Halloween!

Posted in Festival/Event with tags on October 30, 2009 by illwatchanything

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