Film/DVD

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Fury

Posted By on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 3:23 PM

“Ideals are peaceful, history is violent” passes for profundity in the remarkably uncomplicated and old-fashioned World War II movie Fury. Playing a tank commander named Wardaddy, it’s a straight-faced Brad Pitt who delivers the hokey line. But it might as well be John Wayne, William Holden, or any number of battlefield heroes from the early days of Hollywood — Fury is that far removed from the world of 21st-century film. Only the graphic depiction of heads and limbs getting blown to smithereens marks the movie as a product of the modern age.

Set during a single 24-hour period in the final days of the Great War, Fury has Army sergeant Wardaddy leading his grizzled tank-crew deep into Germany for a series of brutal encounters with Nazis angered by their impending defeat. Pacifist rookie soldier Norman (Logan Lerman) joins the crew just before battle calls, forcing Wardaddy to school the new guy quickly or put his all his crew in jeopardy. It’s a simple setup that evolves in predictable ways, leaving us not as emotionally involved as we should be. Apart from realistic battle scenes, Fury’s primary selling point is the videogame-like thrill of seeing Nazis taken down before they can do the same to us. That’s a slender hook on which to hang a lavishly produced film, and one that seems a bit misguided given the sober nature of the subject matter.

Fury starts today, Oct. 17, at theaters across the New Orleans area.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: Meet the Hitlers

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 6:30 PM



From its droll premise, Tulane University graduate Matt Ogens' documentary Meet the Hitlers follows the infamous moniker back into the past and out into the world, finding subjects in such far-flung locales as Salt Lake City, Utah, Ecuador and the Rhineland. What might have been merely a gimmick resolves into a strange and strangely powerful portrait of bloodlines and family ties, by turns funny, upsetting and affecting. "It's been a little journey, people asking me about my name," carpenter Hitler Gutierrez says, but Meet the Hitlers is nothing of the sort: it contains multitudes.

It screens twice at the New Orleans Film Festival. Ogens previously directed the documentary Confessions of a Superhero, about people who impersonate comic book heroes at Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Ogens also has directed projects for ESPN.

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2014 New Orleans Film Festival starts tonight with red carpet premiere of Black and White

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 10:53 AM

The 2014 New Orleans Film Festival and its mammoth slate of more than 250 films kicks off tonight, Oct. 16, at 7:00 p.m. with the red carpet premiere of writer-director Mike Binder's Black and White at the Civic Theater, 510 O’Keefe Ave. The Hollywood drama stars Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer as grandparents involved in a custody battle. Those scheduled to attend the premiere include Binder, cast-member Jillian Estell, and producer Todd Lewis.

Remaining tickets for tonight's premiere will be available at the door starting at 6 p.m. Admission is $25 for Film Society members and $35 for non-members. A second Film Festival showing of Black and White is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Prytania Theatre. Advance tickets are available here. See the full schedule here.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Director Justin Simien talks about Dear White People

Posted By on Sun, Oct 12, 2014 at 3:45 PM


Director Justin Simien first started thinking about his debut feature film Dear White People in 2006. He imagined a handful of archetypal black students at a prestigious and overwhelmingly white university. As he worked on the script, he eventually created the Twitter handle @dearwhitepeople to work on missives about racial caricatures of black people. He now uses the twitter handle to promote the film, but his stream of observations became the basis for character Sam White's (Tessa Thompson) Winchester University radio program announcements about the same type of campus attitudes.

But another plot point turned out to have a real-world existence and helped him move ahead with the film. In the story, the campus' feisty humor magazine decides to throw a party with a blackface theme. Simien wasn't sure how believable that was, until he realized such parties were actually common.

"It was the Compton Cookout that made me realize this wasn’t just overreach of a satirical screenplay," Simien said in an interview with Gambit. "It was something that actually happened. Spike (Lee) had already done the blackface thing in Bamboozle. I had a version of that in this college campus. As much as everyone in my film had their hands on that party, I thought it was too damning. It would be so outrageous that people would think I wasn’t being fair to the reality of the situation. And then low and behold, almost exactly the way it happened in the screenplay, it played out at the University of California at San Diego at this thing called the Compton Cookout. Then I started searching the Internet. People were writing essays about them. It was just kind of being made public on social media. All these invites are on Facebook, the photos are on facebook. They’ve always been happening and now we know about it."

Dear White People screens Saturday at the New Orleans Film Festival (10 p.m. at the Prytania Theatre) and is scheduled to be open at The Theaters at Canal Place Oct. 24. (Reviewed here.)


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Friday, October 10, 2014

Review: 20,000 Days on Earth

Posted By on Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 1:21 PM

Most music documentaries are designed to reach the existing fan base for a particular artist or type of music. Modest ambitions often come with the territory, if only because it’s difficult to convince general audiences to spend time and money on unfamiliar artists. Created by co-directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard in collaboration with rock icon Nick Cave, 20,000 Days on Earth comes from another place entirely, one where music-film conventions and marketplace concerns don’t apply.

Ostensibly a portrait of a single day in Cave’s life — his 20,000th — the film walks the line between documentary and fiction to examine the mysteries at the heart of the creative process. It may not find an audience beyond Cave’s international legion of fans, but anyone with a stake in where art comes from or how it is made will find much to consider here.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP...

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pontchartrain Film Festival accepting submissions from regional student filmmakers

Posted By on Thu, Oct 9, 2014 at 1:36 PM

The 3rd Annual Pontchartrain Film Festival will take place Nov. 7-9 at the Slidell Little Theatre, 2024 Nellie Drive in Slidell. Presented by the Olde Town Arts Center, the Festival spotlights regional films and is accepting submissions through Oct. 27 from high school and college filmmakers in Louisiana for inclusion in its Student Short Film Showcase. Films must be less than 30 minutes long and filmmakers must be currently enrolled in school. Prizes include a gift card from Lakeside Camera. Go here for full submission guidelines.

Also featured in this year's Festival are screenings of Bayou Maharajah, Lily Keber's groundbreaking film about New Orleans Piano Prince James Booker; Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney' Dear Governor Cuomo, a 2012 documentary and about a concert to rally New Yorkers Against Fracking; and local film legend Glen Pitre's little-seen 2003 film Home Front, which stars Tatum O'Neil, Tim Curry and Julian Sands and tells the story of German POWs in coastal Louisiana during World War II. The Festival's full schedule is available here.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

New Orleans in the brackets of Gawker's "America's Ugliest Accent" tournament

Posted By on Tue, Oct 7, 2014 at 4:26 PM

I was on a flight to New Orleans yesterday after a week away, and in the boarding area of the airport it occurred to me that I hadn't heard a New Orleans accent for a week. What that New Orleans accent is is hard to say, exactly; there are so many "New Orleans" accents that the famous Rick Aschmann map of "North American English Dialects" has to have its own special inset for New Orleans:

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That's quite an achievement, considering that the entire country west of the Rocky Mountains is divided into only two sections. According to Aschmann's map, we have that many accents between Broadmoor and Carrollton. Somewhere along there, according to Aschmann, "pin" and "pen" begin to rhyme.

That map came to mind because Gawker is now running a bracket-ish contest to determine "America's Ugliest Accent," and New Orleans is one of the 16 accents in contention (first knockout round against Scranton, Pennsylvania):

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Monday, October 6, 2014

6th Annual Film Industry Expo cancelled

Posted By on Mon, Oct 6, 2014 at 4:28 PM

The 6th Annual Film Industry Expo scheduled for Oct. 11 at the Sheraton New Orleans has been cancelled due to "unforeseen circumstances." According to the Expo website, those who pre-registered can expect refunds within 30 days.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Review: As It Is In Heaven

Posted By on Fri, Oct 3, 2014 at 1:26 PM

LSU film professor Joshua Overbay’s low-budget but quietly affecting As It Is In Heaven shows how much can be done with limited resources as long as all the crucial elements are in place. Shot in a scant 17 days with a crew consisting almost entirely of film students while Overbay taught at Kentucky’s Asbury University, the movie portrays the rise of a charismatic religious-cult leader and his power struggle with the son of the sect’s original “prophet.” Armed with a subtle script written by his wife, Ginny Lee Overbay, the director sidesteps easy caricatures and stereotypes to find the humanity at the core of religious fervor. Cinematographer Isaac Pletcher uses light and shadow to ratchet the tension amid the film’s bucolic rural setting. The result is an original piece of work, and one that finds its purpose in empathy and understanding.

As It Is In Heaven begins an exclusive run tonight, Oct. 3, at Zeitgeist Films. Director Joshua Overbay will be in attendance tonight only for an audience Q&A. More info here.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Full schedule released for 25th Annual New Orleans Film Festival

Posted By on Thu, Oct 2, 2014 at 2:05 PM

The massive schedule for the 25th Annual New Orleans Film Festival is now available on the New Orleans Film Society website. The Festival takes place at venues across the city Oct. 17-23. Two new series have been added this year. The Marquee series spotlight films made in or about New Orleans and includes Big Charity, a documentary about New Orleans' Charity Hospital, and We Won't Bow Down, a history of Mardi Gras Indians. The Centerpiece series presents some of the year's most highly anticipated films, including the award-winning satire Dear White People and The Great Invisible, which examines the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its effect on the people and culture of Louisiana.

Got to this page for a variety of methods to penetrate the sprawling schedule — alphabetically, or by date, genre or series. Passes and tickets are available here.

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