Jordan Peele, along with his collaborator Keegan-Michael Key, skillfully constructed short-form satire on the TV show Key & Peele. With his directorial debut, Get Out, Peele proves to be equally proficient in crafting a tight, smart, relevant genre feature. If there’s any knock it’s that the film is almost too efficient, telegraphing some twists, but even if we occasionally see what’s coming it always feels fresh and honest. It’s also just really entertaining, combining humor with thrills while slyly presenting discussion points to take away from the theater.
Titan Books have outdone themselves with the release of The Great Wall: The Art of The Film, a coffee table book celebrating the recently released Matt Damon-starring action film. This 204-page, super-high-quality art book is a must-own for fans of the series and one of Titan’s best releases to date.
For a cat lover, there’s no better place to visit than Istanbul, a city that embraces its cat population, where hundreds of thousands of their feline friends roam free. Ceyda Torun’s new documentary Kedi explores the city’s relationship with these creatures by following seven unique cats as they drift in and out of the lives of the people around them.
Erwin is not only the focus but he seems to overwhelm the frame at every turn; the repertoire of his three expressions always extending out past the confines. One being the computer-gaming trance of glazed-over eyes, pixelated Vikings hacking and slashing reflected in his glasses; the other, an exasperated long-face of frustration and, finally, the resting inactivity of slumber. The presentation of these personal states of Erwin, in claustrophobic close-up, point to the possibility of two perspectives; one from the viewer and one from Erwin himself.
All throughout, in directing and writing, Ambs tries to match the beauty of the scenery with fluid camera movements to imbue grace and a voiceover that is sobering in its solemnity (complemented by the score from Eluvium). The cinematography does well in keeping the somewhat redundant imagery from growing stale. The camera is patient, usually fixed on our cyclist but occasionally breaking free; panning away from the open road, as if rubbernecking to witness the beauty of the landscape, inserting the viewer in the trip but also capturing the sights for McKurtis himself as his focus is pin-pointed on the unfurling white line before him.
My apprehension toward spin-offs and my love of (nearly) everything Batman proved to be at odds with one another going into the kinetic The Lego Batman Movie, resulting in cautious optimism about an entire film based on the brick version of one of DC’s most popular heroes and one of The Lego Movie’s most humorous characters.
Movement reigns in the feature-length debut from writer/director Celia Rowlson-Hall; unsurprisingly, given her background in dance (most recently as a movement consultant on Anna Rose Holmer’s The Fits) which she utilizes to great effect within her modern reimagining of Mother Mary’s pilgrimage. There is an airy feel to the proceedings of Ma; a narrative which more so resembles a sequencing of transient creative impulses, both quick and chaotic, with lingering respites of meditative artistry detached from any standard, straightforward storytelling mode. Suggestive in nature yet with one clear imperative: movement is key.
Though its title may suggest it, Fifty Shades Darker is no more profound or intense than its predecessor. It is, however, nearly as unintentionally hilarious as Fifty Shades of Grey. The BDSM fairy tale never feels dangerous or edgy and the film has a slick soap opera sheen with one-dimensional characters moving through clichéd romantic drama and delivering ridiculous dialogue. They also stare longingly a lot.
After a sequel to the hit 2014 actioner John Wick was announced shortly after the first film’s release, I was cautiously optimistic for its success. Aside from the top-notch action, one of the most intriguing aspects of the first film was its world building — showcasing a shadowy, yet suave, underworld where sophisticated killers spend gold coins as currency and follow a series of meticulous rules. It begged for a sequel, however I was concerned that diving too deep into this world and these characters might dilute the mystery and sheer coolness of the first.
When it comes to the Criterion Collection’s contemporary titles, the majority of their selection happen to be male filmmakers. Established male filmmakers like Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, the Dardenne brothers or, say, Michael Haneke. All of which are rather safe picks; all a bit mainstream, essentially. However, this time around they have seemed to break from their comfort zone, releasing Kirsten Johnson’s highly-regarded feature, Cameraperson, which appeared on a multitude of best-of lists from last year. Here it is presented in a new high-definition digital master, alongside a handful of well-crafted supplements that offer considerable insight into the production of the film.
Unoriginality is a common criticism of horror sequels. It’s easy to line up another string of teenagers for a masked killer to slice through or move a new family into a haunted house. Years-later sequel Rings, then, earns at least a little credit for attempting to tweak formula and develop a new mythology. It just doesn’t do either of those things, or anything, well.
Regarding the films of Iranian writer/director Asghar Farhadi there is a certain reputation that precedes his work; one thinks of skillfully-crafted drama that is well thought out, that can be interpreted and misinterpreted depending on a particular point of view; and, that is what Farhadi delivers time and time again, like he does with his latest, The Salesman, thus reiterating himself as one of the finest purveyors of domestic drama working in cinema today.
When I was just a kid, probably no older than the protagonist of this film, my parents rented a movie that they thought would be a quirky black comedy called Parents. While it is indeed a black comedy, it leans more into the horror genre, and as a result, this movie scared the bejesus out of me.
Released as part of the new Vestron Video Collector’s Series, Ken Russell’s cult classic The Lair of the White Worm has been digitally remastered and released on Blu-ray, marking another great entry in this awesome catalogue of releases from Lionsgate.
A diptych on the inner lives of supporting characters, each afforded the lead in their own half of the film, is how writer/director Joyce Wong decides to explore the ups and downs of the people that usually occupy the margins of a film in her debut, Wexford Plaza. A series of interactions, both intimate and social, taking place within the vacant spaces of a strip mall tilting towards dereliction, of well-meaning intentions unraveling the frayed strands of two lives to differing degrees.