The Playlist

Rooftop Films Review: Petra Costa's Documentary 'Elena'

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • August 9, 2013 2:50 PM
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  • 0 Comments
How can one describe Petra Costa's film "Elena"? If it's just the facts, one could say that it's a documentary about Costa searching for answers and understanding about her sister Elena, who committed suicide when she was a child. And yes, it is that, but it is also so much more than that. It's a cinematic rendering of a memory; a visualization of a person long gone, made real again through ephemera. It's a journey through one's own darkness, a deeply personal poem of film that manages to also be incredibly humane and universal. This is avant-garde autobiographical filmmaking at its finest, and the results are stunningly beautiful, and achingly emotional within a lyrical and dreamlike aesthetic.
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Christopher Bell's Best Films Of 2012

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • December 28, 2012 2:32 PM
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  • 23 Comments
Another year, another fifty lists. There were a lot of truly terrific movies to come out in 2012 and it was difficult to sit down and whittle away at a list that contained 30+ films that warranted special acknowledgement. Eventually you have to go with your gut, and I admit that this list may look different in a year, a month, a week, maybe even a day -- but these are the films that really stood out, the ones that had an especially resonant strength.

11 Notable Films You May Not Have Seen In 2012

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • December 20, 2012 2:30 PM
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  • 30 Comments
Every week (bar the very thinnest parts of the calendar), somewhere between seven and twelve movies end up opening in theaters. On some weekends, it's even more -- the first week of December saw eighteen films begin their theatrical runs. As such, it's hard enough for film writers to stay on top of things, let alone Joe Public, who doesn't have the benefit of free screenings, and DVDs in the post to take the edge off things.

Interview: 'Elena' Director Andrei Zvyagintsev Talks Changed Ending, Favorite Filmmakers

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • May 17, 2012 5:45 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Cinephiles, unite! The name Andrei Zvyagintsev is relatively unknown on these shores, as his remarkable debut "The Return" quietly came and went (though it is now on Netflix Instant -- GO!) and his tremendous sophomore effort "The Banishment" never saw a proper release in the West. That's all about to change with "Elena," his third and most refined piece of work, which not only saw a premiere at Cannes Film Festival but also left with the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize. Zvyagintsev's aesthetic might make him seem like Andrei Tarkovsky II, but his voice is still his own, eschewing his mentor's liberal use of magic for more grounded, realistic stories.

VIFF '11: 'Elena' Is A Dramatic Masterwork From Russian Director Andrey Zvyagintsev

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • October 18, 2011 2:57 AM
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  • 7 Comments
For this writer, there are fewer things in cinema more satisfying than a filmmaker in total control of their story. Sure, we love the visceral thrill of a well-choreographed, impeccably staged action sequence as much as the next red-blooded human being. And there’s the perfect combination of song/score over moving images, blissful moments heightened through all the tools available in the medium. But then there are those rare moments when a film has just begun, and the feeling sets in immediately that you’re in good hands; that no matter what happens in this film, you can trust the filmmaker has thought everything through and knows what he or she is doing. It’s a good feeling. Comforting even. But it’s rare.

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