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The Playlist

Mark Cousins On ‘What Is This Film Called Love,’ PJ Harvey, 'Prometheus' & “The Sadness Of Time Passing”

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 14, 2012 12:33 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Having seen and loved Mark Cousins’ almost unreviewably subjective “What Is This Film Called Love” on its international premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival last week (read about that experience here), we got to sit down with Cousins in person pretty much immediately afterwards. And it felt rather like walking straight back into the film we had just left: ‘What Is This Film’ is so unapologetically personal that it’s difficult to escape the feeling that, like him or not, you kind of know Cousins by the end of it.

Karlovy Vary Film Fest Review: Leila Hatami Shines In Wry, Tragicomic 'The Last Step'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 14, 2012 12:12 PM
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  • 3 Comments
If last year’s fantastic “A Separation” put Leila Hatami on everyone’s World Cinema Movie Star radar (you’ve got one of those, right?), then “The Last Step” ("Pele Akher"), which premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and is directed by her husband, Ali Mosaffa, may be the film that consolidates her position. But while it has already deservedly scooped her the Best Actress award in Karlovy Vary, we shouldn’t let her shimmering but grounded portrayal outshine the film itself. Also the recipient of the International Critics' Prize, the movie engrosses from beginning to end as an inventive, playful, semi-tragic drama of marriage, jealousy, love, death and filmmaking in modern-day Tehran.

Karlovy Vary Film Fest Review: Based On Real Events, 'Piazza Fontana: The Italian Conspiracy' Is A Stylish, Densely Plotted Treat

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 11, 2012 5:59 PM
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  • 0 Comments
A deserving winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, “Piazza Fontana: The Italian Conspiracy (Romanzo di una strage)” is a film so skilfully and stylishly put together, that so easily slots into the familiar "procedural" genre, that it almost left this festival attendee feeling guilty, on two counts. Firstly, in amongst the less accessible, though often equally worthy fare that made up a great deal of the programme, the film was remarkable for its commerciality. And by that we don’t mean to damn with faint praise, simply to state that it’s the kind of film that hardly seems to need festival exposure in order to find its audience.

Kenneth Lonergan Discusses The Changes In The New Cut Of 'Margaret,' Digital Vs. Film, 3D & More

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 10, 2012 11:04 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Of the many interpretations of the story of its tortuous, years-long journey to the screen, for a time the favored narrative for "Margaret" ran something like this: overambitious director of indie-darling first feature, dashes sprawling, pretentious sophomore effort on rocks of own hubris -- chaos, bitterness, lawsuits ensue. It’s the kind of Hollywood story that writes itself, based around some putative generalised notion of The Director as a towering Wellesian figure of limitless ego and myopia-verging-on-madness where his creations are concerned.

Karlovy Vary Film Fest Review: 'Leave Me Like You Found Me' A Minuscule But Truthful Portrait Of A Compromised Relationship

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 6, 2012 3:57 PM
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  • 0 Comments
“They were nice,” says Erin (Megan Boone) of some passersby, to the boyfriend with whom she has recently reconciled with after a year-long hiatus, as they trek though the woods on a camping holiday. “Everyone’s nice when they’re on vacation.” Cal (David Nordstrom) replies drily, before promptly going on to prove that that’s simply not the case. Screening at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Adele Romanski’s partially Kickstarter-funded debut film is minutely small in scope, taking place over a few days in a national park, with two other campers and an unseen bear the only notable players aside from the lead pair. Its narrowness of focus is both a strength and a weakness -- Romanski is impressively insightful and surefooted on this limited canvas, but so much so that one kind of wishes she had set herself a broader remit, even if the result might not have been so elegantly contained.

Karlovy Vary Film Fest Review: 'Tremors' Meets 'The Guard' In Fun But Familiar Horror-Com 'Grabbers'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 5, 2012 6:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Perfect fodder for a late-night festival audience (especially one prone, as the Czechs are, to spontaneously bursting into generous applause at certain satisfying story beats) UK/Irish co-production "Grabbers," directed by Jon Wright, played to a raucously positive reception last night at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. And it's a fun ride, and while it doesn't reinvent the "Tremors" and "Slither" modern-b-movie wheel, it adds a few neat touches to that formula. It's a shame it ultimately favours repetition over originality, though, as, to anyone with even a passing knowledge of those films, proceedings run on very predictable lines, leaving the more inspired elements of the story frustratingly underdeveloped.

Our Karlovy Vary Film Fest Reviewer Experiences A Personal Epiphany At Mark Cousins’ ‘What Is This Film Called Love’

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 5, 2012 3:19 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Ok, this is going to be a tricky one. Celebrating its international premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, having only screened before at the festival in Edinburgh, the new film from Mark Cousins had on us such a completely subjective and personal level that it all but defies attempts to marshal those scattered impressions into a coherent, generalised review. But said effects were so positive for us that we're going to try anyway. Essentially, we were charmed beyond belief by this rambling, philosophizing self-described "ad lib" of a film, but we absolutely can't guarantee the same reaction from anyone else.

Karlovy Vary Film Fest Review: Thomas Vinterberg's 'The Hunt' Will Come After You And Not Let Go

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 5, 2012 2:05 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Like many directors who make a big splash with an early feature, Thomas Vinterberg did not have an easy time of it thereafter. And while we don’t particularly understand the critical opprobrium heaped on, for example, “Dear Wendy,” a film this writer admires, it’s clear that he has not fully lived up to the potential on display in his landmark 1998 film, “The Celebration.” After all, that film not only launched his career into the arthouse stratosphere, it launched a whole movement, and has arguably never been bettered as the definitive iteration of what Dogme should and could be.

Karlovy Vary Film Fest Review: Even Helen Mirren Can't Save 'The Door'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 3, 2012 3:27 PM
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  • 2 Comments
If you were to attempt to genetically engineer the perfect film for Karlovy Vary, Eastern Europe’s biggest film festival and one of the oldest in the world, your checklist of ingredients might include: an internationally revered film star lead, a respected veteran European director, a Central or Eastern European setting and a story in which both the Holocaust and post-WW2 communism figure largely. Maybe throw in a little subtext about class division and gender roles for good measure. “The Door” is a new Helen Mirren film from Hungarian director István Szabó ("Meeting Venus," "Being Julia,""Mephisto"), set in 1960s Budapest and detailing the relationship between a wealthy female novelist and a strong-willed cleaning lady who may or may not be harbouring dark secrets regarding her actions during the war. It pretty much hits the jackpot, or rather it would have if it was good. It’s not.

Karlovy Vary Film Fest Review: Lifers Imitate Art In Prison-Set Shakespearean Docudrama 'Caesar Must Die'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 2, 2012 1:56 PM
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  • 0 Comments
In a prison in Rome, real-life convicts prepare to mount a production of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” and as the night of the public performance draws nearer, their real lives and the play’s narrative conflate to the point of indistinguishability. So runs an approximate logline for the Taviani brothers’ “Caesar Must Die” which arrived at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival trailing glowing reviews and the Golden Bear from Berlin in its wake. And given that summation, it’s easy to see why it won – there are few themes more festival-friendly than the interrelatedness of art and life. But there’s a difference between suggesting that such a relation exists and exploring or commenting on its nature, a difference the veteran directors, and the more breathless of the film’s admirers, seem only sporadically to acknowledge.

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