It's always difficult to critique a film based on a beloved book. One has to judge the film on its own merits, no matter how true it hopes to stay to its original written form or despite whatever clever methods the filmmakers could concoct. For The Sense of an Ending, the screen adaptation of British author Julian Barnes’ 2011 novel, I’m afraid that the film fails to capture the same essence as the novel. Nevertheless, on its own, the picture is a great character study, and some might find it to be an important statement on youth and regret.
The Mo Brothers, Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto, are back to give us another over-the-top, bloody Indonesian actioner, Headshot, which taps more directly into the success of friend and collaborator Gareth Evans’ The Raid series. But does this violent martial arts shoot-‘em-up stand on its own or does it lurk in the shadow of the best action films ever made? Unfortunately, it’s mostly the latter, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the hell out of it.
The title of writer/director Onur Tukel’s latest is fairly straightforward, perhaps a bit of an understatement as a descriptor, but straightforward nonetheless. Catfight has catfights; more than one, actually. Although, the catfights contained within Catfight are not your stereotypical, garden variety physical altercations between females that would warrant that label. There is no hair-pulling or face-scratching. There is nothing but an abundance of pure, unfettered brutality inflicted upon the faces of the film’s co-leads.
What if you lived the same day over and over again? What would you do? If it were me, I might try to visit to every single city in the world that I could reasonably travel to in one day. I would try and meet interesting people, try every type of food dish, read every book. I would attempt to learn different languages, dance styles or musical instruments. Sure, I would have to lie, beg, borrow and steal, but in short, it wouldn’t be the same day for me; I would only wake up in the same place.
Movies like Wolves occupy a safe middle ground. They are here to show us a story that has been told before with the hope to entertain us in the moment. It’s modest filmmaking, discarding subversive aspirations and daring ideologies in favor of tried and true formulas.
Whether or not it works depends on your tolerance for such things. Writer/director Bart Freundlich admirably shapes his story based on these principles, and while never impressing the audience, he crafts with a sturdy hand and brings about well-rounded performances.
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.