Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: Battle of the Sexes

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 6:44 PM

Emma Stone and Steve Carell in Battle of the Sexes
  • Emma Stone and Steve Carell in Battle of the Sexes

As a winner of 39 Grand Slam titles, Billie Jean King surely ranks among the greatest players in the history of tennis. But a 21st-century perspective on King’s late-1960s and early ’70s heyday suggests that tournament victories may have been the least of her personal accomplishments.

King learned tennis on the free public courts of Long Beach, California and later made it her mission to rescue the sport from its country club origins and make it accessible to all. As the disparity in pay between men and women on the tennis circuit increased — even as the women’s movement gained momentum — King and her colleagues organized their own tournaments and founded the Women’s Tennis Association, striking a blow for gender equality that was felt around the world.

In 1973, King reluctantly agreed to play a match against middle-aged former tennis star Bobby Riggs that was billed as the “Battle of the Sexes.” Riggs took on the persona of a loud-mouthed male chauvinist to create a worldwide media phenomenon — and a made-for-TV spectacle that was viewed by an estimated 90 million people.

That match ostensibly serves as the subject of sports drama Battle of the Sexes. But as directed by husband-and-wife team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine), the film seems uninterested in tennis (it takes almost an hour to get around to a match) and conflicted about buying into the social significance of the manufactured, circuslike “Battle.”

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New Orleans Film Festival adds advance screenings of major fall releases

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project
  • Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project

Among the most exciting events at each year's New Orleans Film Festival are the opening, closing and "Spotlight" screenings, in which upcoming major Hollywood releases are previewed to help generate advance buzz. Just announced by the festival, this year's out-of-competition screenings will feature several of this fall's most anticipated films.

Opening the festival at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Orpheum Theatre will be The Florida Project, writer-director Sean Baker's follow-up to his shot-entirely-on-an-iPhone Tangerine. The closing night selection is Call Me by Your Name, a coming-of-age drama from Italian director Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash).

Four Spotlight films were announced. Richard Linklater's Last Flag Flying stars Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne and is billed as a sequel to Hal Ashby's 1973 film The Last Detail. Directed by Joe Wright (Atonement), Darkest Hour stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. The Upside features Cranston, Nicole Kidman and Julianna Margulies and was directed by Neil Burger (Divergent). Marshall is Reginald Hudson's biopic of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.

More information is available here.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

First trailer released for Wes Anderson's stop-motion animated Isle of Dogs

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 2:15 PM

The mind-blowing first trailer for writer-director Wes Anderson's upcoming film Isle of Dogs has just been released. Anderson's first animated film since his award-winning 2009 Fantastic Mr. Fox, Isle of Dogs is set in a dystopian Japan of the future in which dogs have been banished to an island. Those contributing their voices to the film include Anderson regulars Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel and Tilda Swinton, plus wildcards ranging from Greta Gerwig to Yoko Ono. The film is scheduled to hit theaters March 23, 2018, but we may have trouble waiting that long. See below.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Shotgun Cinema screens two Les Blank documentaries Thursday night

Posted By on Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 9:26 AM

Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers
  • Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers

Shotgun Cinema will screen two little-seen documentaries by the late, great Les Blank — celebrated locally for his classic Mardi Gras-themed Always For Pleasure — at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21 at the Tigermen Den (3113 Royal St.). On the program are Gap-Toothed Women, which explores societal attitudes toward unconventional beauty, and Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers, which traces the history, consumption and strange powers of the illustrious plant. Tickets are $7 and available at the door.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Review: Columbus

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 5:14 PM


The internet has made it easy for aspiring filmmakers to show their work and — in some cases — launch professional careers. A former film scholar who calls himself Kogonada may be the first filmmaker to emerge from the internet-based world of “supercuts,” a remix culture in which fans compile and mash-up clips from feature films to create something new.

Kogonada long has been more than a casual fan or participant in supercut culture. His short pieces are visual essays often made to illuminate the art of filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Bresson, Richard Linklater and Steven Soderbergh. (Examples of Kogonada’s mesmerizing work are freely available at As his reputation grew, Kogonada was commissioned by the British Film Institute, The Criterion Collection and others to create new essays. He abandoned work on a doctoral dissertation on Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu when he realized he would rather create his own feature films than dissect the work of others.

The film industry soon came calling and the result is Columbus, Kogonada’s debut feature. Probably best described as the world’s first architecture drama, Columbus builds on the essence of the director’s visual essays by offering new ways of seeing modern art and its place in the world. Kogonada had never even visited a film set before starting work on his feature, which should serve as inspiration for any film industry outsider harboring dreams of cinematic glory.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

NORD announces fall lineup for free "Movies in the Park" series

Posted By on Tue, Sep 12, 2017 at 11:26 AM

Star Trek Beyond.
  • Star Trek Beyond.

The New Orleans Recreation Development (NORD) Commission has announced the schedule for its fall 2017 family-friendly Movies in the Park series, which takes place at parks and playgrounds across the city. Highlights include Jaws, Star Trek Beyond, Moana, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and La La Land, which is billed as NORD's first "Date Night" screening.

A welcome addition to the series is a plan for alternate indoor "rain sites" for each screening, which will help stave off disappointment among the little ones. See the full schedule here.

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Friday, September 8, 2017

New Orleans Film Festival adds social activism and Caribbean-themed series

Posted By on Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 1:29 PM

  • New Orleans Film Festival
  • Divided City

The New Orleans Film Society has added two "programming strands" to the 2017 New Orleans Film Festival. "Change Makers" presents nine feature-length documentaries and 10 short films on social activism. Titles include Divided City, Silent Parade or the Soul Rebels Vs. Robert E. Lee, and Goodbye Old Glory, three short films examining the controversy surrounding the removal of confederate monuments in New Orleans.

The Caribbean film series features seven short films with a Cuban theme. Included are Kira Akerman's Parade, which documents music students form New Orleans on a cultural exchange trip to Cuba, and Matthew Gelb's Prince of Smoke, which tells the story of artisanal cigar maker Hirochi Robaina, More information about the festival is available here

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Prytania Theatre presents free classic horror movies every Sunday in October

Posted By on Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 12:25 PM


The Prytania Theatre (5339 Prytania St.) will screen classic (and well chosen) horror movies on five consecutive Sunday nights in October at 10 p.m.  Admission is free and open to the public but it's best to reserve tickets in advance here. The full schedule:

Oct. 1 — House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Oct. 8 — Carnival of Souls (1962)

Oct. 15 — White Zombie (1932)

Oct. 22 — Dementia 13 (1963)

Oct. 29 — Nosferatu (1922)

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Review: Escapes

Posted By on Fri, Sep 1, 2017 at 4:31 PM


It would be reasonable to assume that anyone deserving of a feature-length biographical documentary has accomplished great things, or at least is widely admired.

But what about those who are not so driven or well-known yet possess a special talent for living life to the fullest? A documentary focusing on someone like that might be more interesting and instructive than yet another film about perseverance and personal sacrifice — especially if the subject has a knack for storytelling and a lifetime of unique experiences on which to draw.

Here to test that hypothesis is seasoned, sometimes experimental filmmaker Michael Almereyda (Nadja) with Escapes, a documentary about actor, writer and raconteur Hampton Fancher. Best known as co-writer of Ridley Scott’s landmark sci-fi film noir Blade Runner — along with the long awaited but soon-to-arrive sequel, Blade Runner 2049 — Fancher appeared in a few Hollywood films before settling into a Westerns-focused, 1960s and ’70s TV career, guest-starring on shows like Have Gun — Will Travel and Bonanza. This is hardly the stuff of documentary glory.

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Restored Close Encounters of the Third Kind and related documentary open locally today

Posted By on Fri, Sep 1, 2017 at 11:46 AM


A restored 40th anniversary edition of Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind begins a weeklong run today, Sept. 1, at the Clearview, Elmwood and West Bank theaters. To further commemorate the classic sci-fi film, Chalmette Movies will screen Who Are You People? on Sept 1 and 2 at 9 p.m. The documentary chronicles the making of Close Encounters on location in Mobile, Alabama from the point of view of locals who served on the film crew.

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