In his first feature film, director Tze Chun weaves a powerful, understated tale about a small Chinese family’s struggles to survive and prosper in suburban Boston. With a keen photographic eye, a provocative script, and a gentle directorial touch, Children of Invention flows effortlessly from hilarious to heartbreaking, and packs a subtle political message about the American Dream that will linger long after its 86 minutes have flown by.
Archive for See It Now
Circumstances are limiting me to short sentences. Moon is great. It is directed by David Bowie’s son, but deserves attention based on its own merits. Sam Rockwell isn’t even annoying as Sam Bell, the isolated astronaut spending 3 years supervising the collection of solar energy by robots on the moon. It asks big, cosmic questions.
As horrific as most post-apocalyptic movie settings are, they can represent a peculiar escapism for the viewer. Sure, in the future, you may have to battle mohawked bandits and dress like a hobo, but the problems of today have been replaced by the problems of an existential samurai. Continue reading
Crudeis the new documentary be relative big-shot Joe Berlinger. The film is eco-themed, dealing with the lawsuit of 30, 000 Ecuadorians against Chevron over contamination to Amazonian land and rivers. But dont hold that against it.* Continue reading
Taking its name from the 1992 Abel Ferrara film Bad Lieutenant, Werner Herzog’s new film bears almost no resemblance to the original, grungy cop drama. Do not confuse them; where Harvey Keitel plays a gunslinging cop laden with guilt and remorse, in Nick Cage’s hands, the character becomes a self-conscious amalgam of genre-busting policemen, assembled from bits of everything from Police Academy to Miami Vice to Lethal Weapon, with a bit of Bad Boys-parody thrown in for good measure; where Keitel pursued a nun’s rapist, Cage tracks down the murderer of a Senegalese family; where the original was a straightforward crime drama about a drug-addicted “bad cop,” Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is equal parts a lighthearted reworking of the 90’s police caper, a reflection on the mania of our overstimulated society, and a meditation on coping with catastrophe, that embeds the texture of addiction into every character and point of view. Continue reading
So… I’ve seen a lot of great films in Telluride thus far. Up in the Air (Jason Reitman), A Prophet (Audiard), The Road (w. Viggo) and Bad Lieutenant POC:NO (Herzog) definitely spring to mind first as the cream of the crop. I have a lot to say about them, and I will in the upcoming days. BUT, i just had a “wow i have to go write about this even though its 1AM and I’m covered in sticky coke and popcorn waste” moment after seeing an amazing documentary by little-known director/star George Gittoes. The 2-man, 2-camera team traveled to Pakistan, deep into the heart of Taliban controlled territory, to bring us one of the zaniest, raunchiest, most profound, massively disturbing documentaries I’ve ever seen. Given the director’s looseness with intercutting “factual” with staged, ad-libbed, and processed footage, and scenes from a film-within-a-film, I’m honestly not even sure it can be called a documentary, it’s that — yes, I’m going there — postmodern.
For all the praise soon to be heaped upon The Road, make no mistake: it will also be one of the hardest films of the year to watch. It is certainly not for the faint of heart; suicide, cannibalism, nudity, limb-chopping, and soul-crushing depression are but a few troublesome human vices recurring throughout. However, there are moments of profound tenderness, introspection, and humanity which support the more extreme tendencies. A stupendous script and some fantastic acting all around bring the desolate world of the suffocating, postapocalyptic America boldly to life – and while the tragedy which destroys nearly all life on the planet is never explained, the taut narrative never misses a beat and never dilutes, compromises, or apologizes for the novel’s ambiguous setting. The film gets under your skin and hypnotizes with its powerful, plaintive message, and doesn’t let go until the final moments with a jarring, provocative ending.
The Cove documents the struggle of a small film crew to capture footage of a notorious, and previously unseen, Japanese body of water where dolphins are captured and slaughtered by the thousands. Taking Rick O’Barry – lead actor in the popular ’60s TV series Flipper – as it’s protagonist, the film traces a complex network of international interests which simultaneously stimulate, protect, and obfuscate the large-mammal farm, allowing it to continue for decades in almost complete isolation and political immunity. Yet the film does far more than simply reveal the cultural forces at work; it deftly weaves together first-person interviews, pop-culture artifacts, shady political organizations, and covert pseudo-military missions into a highly entertaining piece of contemporary documentary horror with a thirst for revolution, not merely review. Wielding video cameras like weapons, the filmmakers directly challenge an entrenched political machine in the hopes of bringing about real political change with their images. Transcending mere documentation, The Cove pulses with an exhilarating, action-packed heart.
District 9 has one of those rare previews that manges to whip up fanboys and critics alike into a frenzy of excitement with a few choice images, while revealing little-to-nothing about the film itself. Given that, I’ll try to avoid spoilers and plot discussion as much as possible, but be warned: most of what you think you know about the film, from the trailer, is tragically misinformed, so any good review is going to reveal things you might wish had been left shrouded in mystery. Consider yourself warned. Follow the jump to find out why it’s one of the best alien movies, ever.