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Sundance 2012 Film Review: LUV

Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in Festival Reviews | 0 comments

Baltimore was given an excellent TV series in the form of HBO’s The Wire, which chronicled the city’s drug scene through both the dealers and the authority’s perspecti

ves. Young director Sheldon Candis sheds light on the oft-underused metropolitan area in LUV, primarily a coming of age tale set in the criminal underbelly of Baltimore. The film boasts an outstanding cast despite some archetypical characterization. Overall, LUV is a well-acted, thrilling and emotionally engaging coming of age tale that unfortunately suffers from some sluggish sequences and mild-to-major stretches in credibility.

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Sundance 2012 Film Review: The Sessions (The Surrogate)

Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in Festival Reviews | 0 comments

The Sessions (formerly titled The Surrogate) certainly deserved to win the Audience Award and Special Jury Prize for ensemble acting in the U.S. Dramatic category.  Character actor and now Sundance veteran John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene) turns in an Oscar-worthy performance despite the physical limitations of the role (only being able to move his head and change facial expressions).  Director Ben Lewin and his exceptional cast take a potentially disastrous subject matter and turn it into a tender memorial of one man’s life-long struggle with polio and his desire to lose his virginity.  It has everything a film should have, amply providing comedy while striking the right dramatic notes; it should have widespread appeal at least amongst adults given the probable hard-R or possibly NC-17 rating.  The Sessions is a wonderful, albeit morally challenging, film with a perfect balance of humor and heart; viewers will find themselves in all sorts of tears: joy, laughter and heartbreaking emotion.  Fear not though, it is one of the more accessible, uplifting and life-affirming tales ever to come out of a typically edgy, gritty and downbeat Sundance Film Festival.

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Sundance 2012 Film Review: Safety Not Guaranteed

Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in Festival Reviews | 0 comments

The quirky, oddball romantic dramedy Safety Not Guaranteed became a hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It even garnered the screenwriting award. While I was

not as enamored by the film as others were, it was still a highlight of the festival. Filled with charismatic, endearing performances and featuring a surprisingly layered screenplay, Safety Not Guaranteed is a humorous and heartfelt dramedy with crossover appeal to charm both indie and mass audiences.

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2012 Sundance Film Review: Grabbers

Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in Festival Reviews | 0 comments

With a title like Grabbers (2012), one should not expect extremely compelling drama. Yet, this film could not care less since it strives to be something else: a crowd

-pleasing horror-comedy in the vein of Tremors. The filmmakers have stated it borrows a lot from the 1990 creature movie, and succeeds for the most part in giving the audience what it wants – a rather fun diversion. Grabbers is an amusing horror-comedy that should delight fans of the subgenre or comedy fans in general, as it generally favors eccentric humor over a semi-serious tone (though it certainly has its share of fun-filled monster-movie tension).

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2012 Sundance Film Review: Simon Killer

Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in Festival Reviews | 0 comments

Borderline Films, a production company created by Sean Durkin, Josh Mond, and buying viagra515/”>Antonio Campos, have presented several extremely dark character studies, such as Durkin’s 2011 Sundance hit Martha Marcy May Marlene. Campos, who also directed Afterschool (2008), a harrowing indie film starring We Need to Talk About Kevin’s Ezra Miller, came to the 2012 Sundance Film Festival with yet another sharply divisive film: Simon Killer. It is unlikely to find much of a market in the U.S. due to its unhurried pace/minimalistic plot, grim subject matter, and graphic sexual nature that would ensure an NC-17 rating. Nonetheless, Simon Killer is a remarkable, albeit dark, demanding, and polarizing character study featuring a great lead performance from Brady Corbet and a solid female lead from Mati Diop. Other reviewers have likened the film as a modern day Last Tango in Paris (1972), Midnight Cowboy (1969), or an “American Psycho in Paris,” though Simon Killer is perhaps the most unsettling of the bunch.

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Sundance 2012 Film Review: Middle of Nowhere

Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in Festival Reviews | 0 comments

Middle of Nowhere may seem like just another typical “black film” on the surface, what with a majority of the cast filled by African-American actors. However

, writer-director Ava DuVernay’s measured approach helps keep it real rather than catering to the Tyler Perry crowd and mass appeal (she won the directing award for US dramatic category). The result is both refreshing and dreary. The movie occasionally meanders and slows to a sluggish pace at times with an overall somber tone that is sometimes difficult to connect with and stay engaged to. Nevertheless, Middle of Nowhere is a frank, emotional journey full of soul thanks to some remarkable performances from its cast, particularly Emayatzy Corinealdi’s leading one.

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Sundance 2012 Film Review: Smashed

Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in Festival Reviews | 0 comments

Addiction stories often saturate the movie market, but few accurately portray the rough road to sobriety. Smashed is one such film that is just bleak enough to truthf

ully illustrate the nasty descent into addiction and demanding path to recovery without becoming either utterly depressing or cheaply uplifting. Instead, it is simply honest. Although this diminishes some of the visceral impact some addiction films strike, such as Leaving Las Vegas (1995), Requiem for a Dream (2000), and Shame (2011), Smashed still packs an emotional punch largely thanks to Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s remarkable performance. It is a low-key, heartfelt and important film that many recovering addicts can relate to and functions as a warning or wake-up call to viewers who think they have their behaviors under control rather than calling them what they are: a sinful addiction, a lack of self-control and possibly a lack of self-respect.

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Sundance 2012 Film Review: Wuthering Heights

Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in Festival Reviews | 1 comment

As a big fan of director Andrea Arnold’s last film Fish Tank (2009), starring cialis for sale6235/”>Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender (pre-Inglorious Basterds stardom), I was very much looking forward to catching her third film Wuthering Heights at the festival. Furthermore, Cary Fukunaga’s adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre was my second favorite film of 2011, so I had high hopes for Arnold’s re-interpretation of Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights. Unfortunately, it fell short of expectations. With such a minimalistic style and vindictive, self-serving main characters, connecting to the story and romance can be difficult at times. Yet, that is what Arnold’s Wuthering Heights is all about: providing a sparse, cold, painful anti-romance romance. Her bare-bones revisionist method may alienate and bore most audiences, but it is a visually stunning and emotionally raw arthouse wonder.

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Sundance 2012 Film Review: The Imposter

Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in Festival Reviews | 0 comments

Could a documentary be my favorite film of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival? It is definitely in the top three. The Imposter is the best documentary to come out in se

veral years. It plays more like a thriller with numerous reenactments intercut with interviews. While the intricate plot can get a bit convoluted at times and may have viewers questioning the veracity of certain events and testimonies afterwards, the film is completely captivating for its gripping drama and layers of depth. It is an exhilarating exploration of denial and lies. The Imposter is a gripping, unforgettable and surprisingly cinematic docudrama in the vein of The Thin Blue Line (1988), Man on Wire (2008), and Dear Zachary (2008) that will have you on the edge of your seat throughout its entire runtime, riveted by the countless twists and turns in this stranger than fiction true-life story.

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2012 Sundance Film Review: Room 237

Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in Festival Reviews | 0 comments

Rodney Ascher’s sensational documentary film Room 237 is the most fascinating film I saw at the 2012 Sundance Film Fe

stival. It is perhaps one of the best movies about movies; film lovers will adore this documentary. It explores several theories about the hidden meanings, symbolism and conspiracies involving Stanley Kubrick’s controversial horror film The Shining (1980). Most of the theories are simply absurd, but some are strikingly relevant and profound. As such, Room 237 is a brilliant and wildly fresh and entertaining documentary that simultaneously criticizes and celebrates film criticism with a highly original way of presenting its ideas.

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