VIDEOROVER: Season 5 is the latest program of experimental videos from New York-based non-profit organization NURTUREart. It will screen tonight, May 18, at 7 p.m. at Press Street's Antenna Galley, 3718 St. Claude Avenue. The program is described as "a selection of videos focusing on the mystification or de-mystification of a single character or group. They serve as quasi-fictional documentaries, leaving the viewer to decide the level of truth." Seating for the event is limited. A reception with curator Rachel Steinberg will follow the event. More info here.
The alienated teenage protagonist of award-winning French Canadian film I Killed My Mother doesn’t actually do the evil deed of the title — it’s not that kind of movie — but you might not entirely blame him if he did. Hubert (Xavier Dolan) and his annoying mom Chantale (Anne Dorval) fight like star-crossed lovers, but their vivid love-hate relationship feels all too familiar to the many of us who barely survived adolescence. Complicating matters is Hubert’s status as a gay teen, which is only an issue because he hasn’t managed to communicate this simple fact to his mother despite all their endless chatter. Both writer-director and star of his own debut as a filmmaker, then-19-year-old Dolan (the film was made in 2009 but held from widespread distribution by a protracted legal battle) has called the film autobiographical, and it has the low budget, handmade feel to match that pedigree. The pace is little slower than it should be, but Dolan’s movie manages to walk a fine line between Woody Allen-style black comedy and more conventional coming-of-age domestic drama.
I Killed My Mother starts Tuesday, May 21, exclusively at Zeitgeist Movies.
It’s not easy to make a film about events surrounding World War II that’s essentially different from all those that have come before. Since the mid-1940s an average of at least 20 major World War II films have been produced internationally each year, a pace that has remained surprisingly steady even after the internet made it much easier to keep tabs on such things. Labeled “a German-Australian official co-production,” Lore is a World War II movie unlike all the others. It turns the tables on cinematic convention by telling the story of a group of German children — the offspring of defiant, swastika-wearing Nazi’s — as they try to survive the weeks immediately following the end of the war and make their way on foot across Germany to the relative safety of their grandmother’s house. This is a morally ambiguous path for a film to tread, and one that connects easily with a 21st-century world in which people of all nationalities cling to their own righteous version of the truth.
Led by the eldest sibling — the 14-year-old, blonde-and-blue-eyed Lore — the kids face unimaginable horrors on their voyage through a seemingly post-apocalyptic landscape. Lore holds on to her ingrained hatred of Jews even when surrounded by the murder, sexual assault, squalor, and starvation that were caused by it. But you can’t help being sympathetic to all the kids’ plight, especially given the innocence of the younger siblings. Australian co-writer and director Cate Shortland shot her film largely in extreme close-up, reveling in visual detail to enhance the intimacy of the story. She uses a German-language version of her script for its inherent authenticity. Surprisingly, these choices never seem arty or gimmicky. Lore may wind up in a different place than she started, but there’s no escaping the identity thrust upon her by her heritage.
Lore starts today, Friday, May 17, exclusively at Chalmette Movies.
Where Y'at (hello), a feature-length film made for last fall's FFOne film festival and consisting of 15 segments by local filmmakers, will get screenings tonight, May 15, and tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Chalmette Movies. Timecode:nola assigned individual New Orleans street corners to local filmmakers and asked them to create 5-minute slice-of-life films reflecting the character of each neighborhood. The best of these short films were complied into Where Y'at (hello). Filmmakers will be on hand for post-screening Q&As.
The New Orleans Film Society's outdoor screening of Cool Hand Luke scheduled for tonight, Friday, May 9, at the old U.S. Mint has been cancelled due to rain, along with tomorrow night's planned screening of Django at Piazza d’Italia. Cool Hand Luke will be rescheduled for later in the summer. Django has been rescheduled for Saturday, May 18. The free screening of A Cat in Paris scheduled for Sunday night at Piazza d’Italia will go on as planned, apparently because someone at the Film Society believes it's going to stop raining. More info here.
If the road to hell is paved with good intentions then Baz Luhrmann’s outrageously overblown adaptation of The Great Gatsby must be the first toll-free superhighway to the fiery depths. Co-screenwriter and director Luhrmann clearly has nothing but admiration and respect for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary masterpiece, going so far as to invent a system of rules for condensing Fitzgerald’s elegant prose that Luhrmann actually calls “Fitzlish.” Snowflakes turn magically into alphabet letters and famous phrases from the book appear nonsensically on screen in Luhrmann’s film. But the internal monologue of protagonist Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) doesn’t translate well to voiceover narration, no matter how faithfully rendered. The movie captures little of the fragile humanity that has made the novel an enduring classic.
Shot entirely on sound stages in Sydney, Australia, Gatsby looks and feels like the product of some imaginary literature-themed amusement park. It’s not so much a period piece recreating roaring ’20s New York as a highly stylized and intentionally artificial representation of that era. The 3-D effects only undermine the extravagant sets and costumes, further distancing them from any connection to the real world. And the Jay-Z produced soundtrack, which ranges from hip-hop to electronica to indie rock, seems oddly out of place, though it was obviously intended to help bridge the story to the modern era and the financial excesses of today. Leonardo DiCaprio makes an ideal Gatsby, leaving everyone else in the movie to seem miscast by comparison. But his performance won’t even put a dent in Gatsby’s reputation as an unfilmable book. That is now etched in stone forever. — KEN KORMAN
Set amid the early 1960s folk-music boom in New York City's Greenwich Village, the Coen Brothers' new film, Inside Llewyn Davis, is their first as directors since 2010's True Grit. The film is loosely based on a memoir by folksinger Dave Van Ronk and stars Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake, and Coen Brothers mainstay John Goodman. The film won't open theatrically until December of this year, but it will have a single screening at the Cannes Film Festival this month, where it has been chosen to compete for the Palme d'Or. Here's the first trailer, hot off the presses:
NOLA Drive-In — the people who brought you outdoor screenings on the roof of the old Schwegmann's store on North Broad Street — return tonight with a screening of Rob Reiner's beyond-classic mockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap. We believe Spinal Tap is the funniest movie ever made and are quite happy to argue the point on a moment's notice, thank you very much. The screening will happen at 8 p.m. tonight, May 7, at the Bayou-Treme Center, 2541 Bayou Road. Tickets are $5 and food trucks will be on hand from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Hollywood tried and failed twice last year to make a worthwhile movie based on the Brothers Grimm’s 19th-century fairy tale Snow White. So the news of another movie inspired by the story — this one written and directed by Spanish filmmaker Pablo Berger — may not elicit much enthusiasm from potential audiences. But Blancanieves is a Snow White of a different color. A silent movie set in 1920s Spain and shot in the atmospheric black and white of early European impressionist films, Blancanieves intentionally recalls that freewheeling era without becoming a slave to it. The film uses full-screen dialogue cards in place of spoken word just like 2011 Best Picture Oscar winner The Artist, but has a natural, organic quality that makes that earlier film — for all its deserved success — seem artificial by comparison.
Like any good fairy tale, Blancanieves is both whimsical and dark. It reimagines Snow White as the daughter of a great bullfighter. There’s an evil stepmother (Maribel Verdu, of Pan’s Labyrinth fame) and the title character (Sofia Oria) is rescued in the woods by Los Enanitos Toreros, which translates to “The Dwarf Matadors” — a real-life phenomenon easily verified by a quick search on YouTube. But Blancanieves transcends its familiar literary roots. The film’s bountiful art and poetry can be found in the lush images of cinematographer Kiko de la Rica, which are handcrafted using a variety of styles and techniques to maximize the power of each scene, and in the expressive score of composer Alfonso De Vilallonga, ranging from orchestral to solo piano to flamenco and adding emotional depth throughout. You’ll forget your watching a “silent” movie. And it’s almost like those other Snow Whites never happened at all.
Blancanieves begins an exclusive one-week run today at Chalmette Movies. More info here.
It can’t be easy being Terrence Malick. After debuting with the powerful one-two punch of Badlands and Days of Heaven in the 1970s, he has gone on to work only when he feels like it, making a total of six feature films as director over the course of a 40-year career. Malick has gradually acquired the status of a mystic guru of cinema, complete with the singular power to make the world’s top actors drop whatever they’re doing and travel to far-flung locations without seeing a script for the rare chance to appear in one of his films. But his recent work hasn’t really lived up to the reputation.
Like Malick’s previous film, Tree of Life — which suddenly interrupts an impressionistic coming-of-age story (and a stellar performance by Brad Pitt) for a lengthy and wordless sequence depicting the creation of the cosmos — To the Wonder is an all-or-nothing, love-it-or-hate-it proposition. There’s not much plot: a man we never get to know (Ben Affleck) bounces back and forth between two beautiful women (Olga Kurylenko and Rachel McAdams) in the American heartland. Reportedly made without benefit of a traditional script, To the Wonder delivers a visually rich but somber meditation on the nature of love and spiritual fulfillment. You have to admire Malick’s daring, and his willingness to go wherever his muse happens to take him. But he has started to appear stuck on the cusp of the elusive late-career masterpiece everyone seems to know he has inside him.
To the Wonder begins an exclusive one-week run today at Prytania Theatre.
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