The Playlist

Review: 'Alps' Another Unique & Remarkable Film From Director Yorgos Lanthimos

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • July 10, 2012 4:56 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Until a couple of years ago, few outside his native Greece were aware of theater director-turned-filmmaker Giorgos Lanthimos. But when his third film, "Dogtooth," came from seemingly nowhere to win the top prize at Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2009, it kicked off a process that's deservedly seen the helmer become one of the most closely-watched international filmmakers around. Other than a producing and acting role in the rather-less-good "Attenberg," he's been quietly working away on a follow-up, the pitch-black "Alps," which screened for the press here in Venice tonight. And the good news is, it's just as remarkable as his breakthrough.
More: Alps, Review

Review: 'Farewell, My Queen' Introduces Lesbianism Into The Marie Antoinette Story To No Great Effect

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 10, 2012 3:56 PM
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  • 2 Comments
In the land of the costume drama, truly, films about Marie Antoinette are Queen, promising lavish sets, romantic intrigue and shocking decadence -- but they don't always deliver. Director Benoît Jacquot's uninspiring take on the period opened the Berlin Film Festival days ago, but something about the film's lack of urgency must be contagious, and we're only getting around to reviewing it now. While "Farewell, My Queen" does boast admirable elements (more on those below) overall, despite some showy trappings it is a frustratingly empty experience, built around a character whose blankness is supposed to be a virtue, but ends up costing the film dearly in terms of identification and interest.

NYAFF Reviews: 'Warriors of The Rainbow: Seediq Bale,' 'Monsters Club' & 'Nasi Lemak 2.0'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 9, 2012 5:34 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Earlier this year, audiences experienced “Warriors Of The Rainbow: Seediq Bale,” a pulse-pounding, action-heavy epic that told the story of tensions between rural Taiwanese and invading Japanese soldiers. What some audience members didn’t know is that the two-and-a-half hour epic wasn’t even close to the full story, and now NY Asian Film Festival-goers have had a chance to experience the full four and a half hour version of director Wei Te-Sheng’s sprawling epic.
More: NYAFF, Review

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.

New York Asian Film Festival Reviews: 'Couples,' 'You Are The Apple Of My Eye,' and 'Honey Pupu'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • July 6, 2012 1:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Based on the 2005 Japanese hit “A Stranger of Mine” (directed by Kenji Uchida), “Couples” is kind of like those Rube Goldberg sequences from Jean-Pierre Jeunet (or maybe the “how Cate Blanchett got injured” sequence from “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), except for an entire feature-length running time. The results are both exhilarating and (at 110 minutes) exhausting.
More: NYAFF, Review

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.

New York Asian Film Fest Reviews: 'Vulgaria,' 'The King Of Pigs' & 'Dead Bite'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 5, 2012 5:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Usually the New York Asian Film Festival opens with a film that carries name recognition in the West, either by those involved, or by a familiar genre or trope. In the case of this year’s opener, “Vulgaria,” it’s an increasingly familiar genre, that being the hyper-indulgent, semi-improvisational, low budget indie. From the filmmakers behind China’s mega-hit “Sex And Zen 3D” comes this show business satire that shares DNA less with French New Wave auteurist pictures, and more with Steven Soderbergh’s bizarre, sexually ersatz “Full Frontal” in its views on the small cogs in a big filmmaking machine.
More: NYAFF, Review

Review: 'Collaborator' Milks That Old New York-Intellectual-In-LA-Suburb Conflict

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 5, 2012 4:13 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Playwright Robert Longfellow, the lead character in “Collaborator,” is a familiar New York intellectual struggling to produce honest work. Despite notably lucrative side gigs as a Hollywood screenwriter for hire, he hasn’t lived up to what the (fake) Times loudly boasted as a once-hypothetical “the voice of a generation.” His latest play, “American Excursion,” was a flop, and if you really need to know more about that play beyond the title, they you probably don’t recognize the sweater-vest frou-frou type here personified by writer, director and star Martin Donovan.

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.

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