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Berlin Review: ‘Another World’ An Energetic But Unsatisying Look At The Rise And Fall Of The ‘Occupy’ Movement

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 13, 2014 5:06 PM
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Another World
How soon is too soon? It’s the meta question posed by Fisher Stevens’ and Rebecca Chaiklin’s documentary “Another World,” which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival this week, and which, despite its thoroughgoing nature, unrivalled access and exuberant, pacy vibe, feels strangely out of focus. It doesn’t appear to be the fault of the filmmaking, although Stevens did mention in an introduction that the film was so hot off the presses that the Berlin screening we attended was pretty much the first time the directors had watched it in its finished entirety. Nor can the intention be faulted, because while it’s clearly delivered from a point of view sympathetic to the movement it documents, it makes no bones about that, and doesn’t shy away from covering the dissolution and disillusion that characterized its later stages. Really, it simply feels like the Occupy movement in its most recognizable form ended exactly long enough ago for it to be no longer hot-potato topical, and yet too recently for us to be able to gain any real perspective on its place in history.

Berlin Review: ‘Cesar Chavez’ Starring Michael Pena, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson And John Malkovich

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 13, 2014 12:03 PM
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An intermittently compelling overview of a movement, but only a cursory portrait of a man, “Cesar Chavez,” directed by Diego Luna and premiering at the Berlin International Film Festival this week, is a well-intentioned, respectable and respectful biopic. But the conservative format of the film, that never goes beyond the kind of paint-by-numbers approach that stultifies so many entries in this genre, was a disappointment, as Luna’s first directorial feature, the small-scale but affectingly odd “Abel” promised better things to come, and at the very least, showed that Luna had a knack for creating characters who were lovable as much for their flaws as for their strengths. But the Chavez we get here has no flaws, unless his choice to nobly sacrifice time with his family on the altar of a higher cause is a flaw. And of course it’s not. Chavez was a true hero, spearheading the campaign to extend union rights to the exploited migrant worker class in 1960s California, and from there to the whole nation. But without the context of his inner struggle, the personal dragons that he must have had to slay in order be the shining knight for an unrepresented minority, all we get is heroism, and heroism of itself does not make for a particularly interesting tale.

Berlin Review: Claudia Llosa’s ‘Aloft’ Starring Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy & Melanie Laurent

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 13, 2014 11:05 AM
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Aloft, Jennifer Connelly
Forgiveness, faith and falconry are among the motifs that run through Peruvian director Claudia Llosa’s first English-language film “Aloft,” which premieres at the Berlin Film Festival this week. Like her previous two features—debut “Madeinusa” and Golden Bear-winning follow-up “The Milk Of Sorrow”—“Aloft” boasts Llosa’s exceptionally lyrical eye for cinematography and her unassailable ability to create a haunted, slightly otherworldly atmosphere even out of banal events. But “Aloft” and its icy landscapes and feel of gently dropping barometric pressure can only distract so far from what is essentially an overwrought melodrama that here and there tips over into heavy-handedness despite the restrained beauty of its images. In fact, the lingering mood and the committed performances almost act as a smokescreen: it may not be until you’re out the door and across the road thinking back on what you’ve just watched that you realize how, well, daft it all is.

Berlin Review: 'In Order Of Disappearance' Sees Stellan Skarsgård On A Blackly Hilarious Rampage Of Revenge

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 12, 2014 5:03 PM
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  • 1 Comment
In Order Of Disappearance
In case you’re unaware, Lars Von Trier is not the only director to regard Stellan Skarsgård as something of a talisman, as the actor has paired up with director Hans Petter Moland three times previously, most recently with "A Somewhat Gentle Man," a film we reviewed in 2011. The duo return to the Berlinale this year with competition film "In Order Of Disappearance" (aka "Kraftidioten"), which marks a deliciously mean-spirited step up from 'Gentle Man'—pretty much bringing the house down at our public screening—though that might be partly due to home crowd advantage, as the film also features regional favorite Bruno Ganz in a small, memorable role.

Berlin Review: ‘A Long Way Down’ Starring Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots & Aaron Paul

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 12, 2014 2:01 PM
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  • 1 Comment
A Long Way Down
Oh dear. [D]. Sort of tempted to leave the review at that, to be honest, but what would the internet do with all of that white space? So here is a bunch more words about it, and no matter how haphazardly they’re arranged we can take some comfort in the fact that it’s with seemingly more care than went into a certain screenplay.

Interview: Jack O'Connell On '71,' 'Starred Up,' Working With Angelina Jolie & Getting Spray Tanned For '300' Sequel

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 12, 2014 1:04 PM
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  • 1 Comment
'71 Jack O'Connell
It’s February 2014 and it’s more than likely that, if you live in America, you’d have a hard time picking Jack O’Connell out of a line-up. But by year’s end we’ll wager that will have changed as by then, if there’s any justice in the world both “Starred Up” the fantastic prison drama that we caught in Goteborg, and “‘71” which has proven one of the biggest hits of the Berlinale will have made it across the Atlantic, to be followed by “Unbroken” the Angelina Jolie-directed bestseller adaptation that has “prestige project” and “potential award magnet” writ large on it already. And that’s not even mentioning an abs-bearing, sword-brandishing role in the “300” sequel. Once all of this exposure hits, O’Connell may feel like an overnight sensation, but as the 23-year-old reminded us during our very enjoyable Berlinale interview, he’s been at this for nearly a decade now.

Exclusive: Find Out Who 'Cesar Chavez' Is In Clip From The Biopic Premiering At The Berlin Film Festival

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • February 12, 2014 11:00 AM
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Cesar Chavez
Who is "Cesar Chavez"? It's a good question to ask, as young audiences may not be familiar with the activist, labor organizer and civil rights leader who fought for change in the '60s and '70s. But with his life getting the big-screen treatment, a lot more people will soon know his story.

Exclusive: Follow The Hand In Clip From 'Black Coal, Thin Ice' Premiering At The Berlin Film Festival

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • February 12, 2014 10:10 AM
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Black Coal, Thin Ice
Slowly building a name for himself on the international film scene with previous efforts "Uniform" and "Night Train," director Yi'nan Diao heads to the Berlin International Film Festival this week for the first time with "Black Coal, Thin Ice." And with the film slated to screen in-competition for the Golden Bear, it bodes well for what audiences are about to experience.

Berlin Review: Josephine Decker’s ‘Thou Wast Mild And Lovely’ Both Fascinating And Frustrating

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • February 11, 2014 4:10 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Thou Wast Mild and Lovely, Joe Swanberg
In the sun-dappled, sweltering hills on a Kentucky farm, a minute shift in the pastoral chemistry is seemingly unnerving nature. This change in the air is not initially calamitous, but nevertheless felt, possibly subconsciously, by the entire environment. This interruption comes in the form of Akin (filmmaker/actor Joe Swanberg), a young farmhand whose presence upsets the delicate balance of harmony on the ranch of Jeremiah (Robert Longstreet of “Take Shelter”), a curmudgeonly old farmer and Sarah (Sophie Traub), his naïve and very peculiar young daughter. And perhaps the equilibrium of this idyllic setting is thrown because their relationship has something ineffably insalubrious hanging over it.

Berlin Review: Saar Klein's 'Things People Do' Starring Wes Bentley, Jason Isaacs & Vinessa Shaw

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 11, 2014 1:16 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Things People Do, Wes Bentley
Aiming to be the kind of restrained, grown-up ethical drama that we don't see a great deal of anymore, "Things People Do" from editor-turned-director Saar Klein, premiered unassumingly at the Berlin Film Festival, as though aware it was predestined to be almost immediately eclipsed by showier, punchier titles. Which is probably a little unfair, as the film does boast a lot of strong elements: unusually expressive cinematography; a well-rendered sense of place; Jason Isaacs. And in general it nearly succeeds in delivering on its gently moralist ambitions. However, its failings are all the more glaring for being in the realm of characterization, which is kind of crucial if a film of this kind is to transcend the potential limitations of the indie drama ghetto. Unfortunately "Things People Do" scuppers its own chances by having people do things we just don't ever, ever believe they would.

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