Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: Baby Driver

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 9:13 PM


British writer-director Edgar Wright has built a successful career on reimagining familiar film genres. His “Cornetto Trilogy” brought fresh ideas and unexpected laughs to the zombie movie (Shaun of the Dead), the cop picture (Hot Fuzz) and the sci-fi epic (The World’s End). One key element shared by all these films is a well-chosen popular-music soundtrack that helps elevate Wright’s work above that of many of his genre-hopping peers.

None of those films set the stage for Wright’s innovative and entertaining Baby Driver. The story of a young getaway specialist trying to extricate himself from a life of crime, the film draws some inspiration from movies with classic car-chase sequences such as Bullit or The French Connection. But Baby Driver quickly moves beyond its predecessors in hopes of pioneering a new way to integrate music and film on screen.

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Shotgun Cinema presents two screenings this weekend

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 2:03 PM

  • Cameraperson

Local film collective Shotgun Cinema presents a pair of boundary-pushing film screenings tonight, June 23 at 7 p.m. at Tigermen Den (3113 Royal St.), and Saturday, June 24 at 8 p.m. at New Orleans Photo Alliance (1111 St. Mary St.).

Friday night's film is Cameraperson, a documentary by celebrated cinematographer Kristen Johnson (Citizen Four, Fahrenheit 9/11) that explores the ethical complexities of committing real lives to film for documentaries.

On Saturday night it's "Full Aperture: Ladies Shooting Punks," a program of three short films by female punk-identified filmmakers: The Vision Machine (Peggy Ahwesh), I Was a Teenage Serial Killer (Sarah Jacobson) and Portland (Greta Snider). Tickets are $7 and available at the door. More information is here.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Free screenings of Italian horror classics tonight on Frenchmen Street

Posted By on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 2:41 PM

Cemetery Man
  • Cemetery Man

NOLA Horror Film Fest and Creepy Fest present a "Monday Night Massacre" double feature of classic Italian horror movies tonight, June 19 at 8 p.m. at Rare Form (405 Frenchmen St.). A cemetery caretaker fends off zombies in Michele Soavi's 1994 Cemetery Man. Dario Argento's 1982 Tenebre stars Anthony Franciosa as an American author who becomes involved in the search for a serial killer who may have been inspired by one of his novels. The screenings are free and open to the public. More info here.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Review: Rough Night

Posted By on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 3:06 PM

Rough Night, rough go.
  • Rough Night, rough go.

You can tell a lot about a summer movie from the way Hollywood markets it. The latest example is Rough Night, the first feature by Lucia Aniello, who is best known for her work as a writer and producer on Comedy Central’s Broad City. As described in the film’s press kit — and dutifully repeated word-for-word by movie-focused news outlets ranging from IndieWire to Vanity FairRough Night is “the first big-studio R-rated comedy about women to be directed by a woman in nearly 20 years.”

That’s a whole bunch of adjectives just to differentiate Aniello’s film from the many male-centered examples of the popular “grown-ups behaving badly” movie genre, which includes The Hangover and just about everything made by Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg and their friends (Pineapple Express, The Interview, et al.). But then Hollywood tends to place barriers in the path of women hoping to infiltrate male-dominated genres. Given that Aniello surely had to work harder than her male peers for the chance to make a film like Rough Night, it’s easy to hope that the results might prove transformative to the formulaic bad-behavior comedy.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Two June events at Cafe Istanbul highlight abortion rights (rescheduled)

Posted By on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 2:53 PM

At a Feb. 10 Planned Parenthood rally, a supporter steps in front of an anti-abortion activist. - PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • At a Feb. 10 Planned Parenthood rally, a supporter steps in front of an anti-abortion activist.

Back-to-back events at Cafe Istanbul highlight abortion rights and emphasize the importance of abortion access in ever-more-restrictive Louisiana.

At New Orleans Abortion Fund's NOAF OutLoud event June 14, participants share realistic stories about experiences with abortion, whether that be work as a clinic escort and activist or the story of terminating a pregnancy. The event opens up a topic that, for a variety of reasons, isn't often discussed. (Similar initiatives, such as the #shoutyourabortion hashtag, have popped up on social media in the past few years.) There are multimedia and discussion components to the evening. It begins at 6 p.m. and is free to attend.

Lift Louisiana hosts a screening of Trapped, the documentary exploring Targeted Restriction of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws and the ways such legal restrictions harm women. (You can watch a trailer for the documentary on its website.) A panel discussion follows the screening, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $12. The June 21 event has been rescheduled for June 27.

As of May 1, the Guttmacher Institute (a research institution that studies reproductive health) found 31 newly-enacted restrictions on abortion nationwide in 2017. Other analysts also point to several potential restrictions on abortion funding in the American Health Care Act, the House-passed bill currently undergoing secretive debate in the Senate.

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Casting call for local kids to star in Disney film

Posted By on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 1:38 PM

Timmy Failure
  • Timmy Failure

The Department of Motion Pictures (formerly known as Court 13) has issued an open casting call for its upcoming film adaptation of children's book series Timmy Failure. The film will be shot in Louisiana in late 2017 and distributed by Walt Disney Studios.

The company is looking for children to play "characters ages 9-12, any gender or ethnicity. Unconventional looks, incredibly intelligent, prepubescent. They see life through their own lens and will happily tell you whatever they believe to be true. They absolutely march to the beat of their own drummer. No acting experience is necessary!"

Those interested in arranging an audition can email a photo of their child plus location and contact information to, or leave a voice message at (504) 517-3372.

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Review: I, Daniel Blake

Posted By on Fri, Jun 9, 2017 at 2:34 PM

Hayley Squires and Dave Johns in I, Daniel Blake
  • Hayley Squires and Dave Johns in I, Daniel Blake

British filmmaker Ken Loach made a name for himself in 1966 with Cathy Come Home, a BBC film about a fictional homeless couple that shocked audiences and raised public awareness of a growing social crisis in the U.K. Fifty years and more than two dozen films later, Loach returned to the topic with I, Daniel Blake, which won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Finally making its way to U.S. theaters more than a year later, I, Daniel Blake proves that the 80-year-old Loach scarcely has lost a step when it comes to stirring up controversy and debate around the social issues of the day. The film portrays in painstaking detail a 21st-century British welfare system that seems designed only to frustrate and humiliate those in legitimate need of assistance — and may actually push some of the neediest into homelessness.

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Fathom Events presents Some Like It Hot at three local theaters this weekend

Posted By on Fri, Jun 9, 2017 at 10:57 AM


Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events' "Big Screen Classics" series presents director Billy Wilder's classic Some Like It Hot at the Canal Place, Elmwood and West Bank theaters this Sunday, June 11 and Wednesday, June 14 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis star as musicians who dress in drag to go on the road with an all-female band (that includes Marilyn Monroe) and escape mafia gangsters. The film ranks at number one on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest American comedies of all time. More information here.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Free screening and discussion of documentary In My Father's House tonight at the Jazz Market

Posted By on Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 2:46 PM


100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans and AARP will host a free public screening of documentary In My Father's House tonight, June 7, at 6 p.m. at People's Health New Orleans Jazz Market (1436 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.).The film chronicles the personal story of Oscar & Grammy award-winning artist Che “Rhymefest” Smith as he becomes a caretaker for his homeless father, who abandoned Che when he was a child. Smith will be in attendance at a a pre-screening reception starting at 5:30. A public discussion, "The Role of the Black Male Caregiver," will be held after the screening and moderated by Dr. Calvin Mackie. More information is here.

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Review: Soul on a String

Posted By on Fri, Jun 2, 2017 at 4:05 PM


There are unique pleasures to be found in genre films. Westerns, film noir, science fiction — any film that embraces a set of familiar, easily defined parameters may fit the bill. The genres are naturally limiting (just about any Western has to accommodate horses, outlaws and the open frontier), but limitations are key to genre films’ appeal. The finest examples mix the tried-and-true with the unexpected to create something comfortable but new.

There’s another range of possibilities created by films that blend familiar genres in unfamiliar ways. Mix two parts spaghetti Western and one part samurai film, add splashes of magical realism and Eastern mysticism and you’ve got the basic recipe for Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yang’s Soul on a String.

Adapted from two novels by Tibetan author Tashi Dawa (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Zhang), Soul on a String demonstrates the potential gains from pushing genre films into uncharted territory. It’s far from perfect — the film loses focus in its final act, blunting the effect of its big finale — but those with a strong appreciation for its varied sources may find the film difficult to resist.

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