Monday, July 14, 2014


It's festy time again. The chill's i' the air and the projectors are a'hummin'.

Here is my basic list. Got recommendations? Bring 'em awn. I usually end up adding a few to the first set. So lemme know.


Fri 01 Aug 2014 11:00 AM
"Far more than just a tribute to the career of the world's most famous and influential film critic, the often revelatory Life Itself is also a remarkably intimate portrait of a life well lived." – Chicago Sun-Times
The legendary Roger Ebert passed away last year. Life Itself is an unapologetic but touching portrait of the movie reviewer who towered above all others and forever changed the landscape of film criticism.
Directed by Steve James, whose 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams Ebert himself crowned "one of the great movie-going experiences of my lifetime", Life Itself recounts his life and career from his school newspaper beginnings to his Pulitzer Prize-winning heights. Based on Ebert's own memoir, it lays bare his struggle with alcoholism and cancer, and sheds light on the tempestuous rivalry with frequent collaborator Gene Siskel.
"A profoundly moving story about one of cinema's greatest superheroes." – Twitch
D Steve James P Zak Piper, Steve James, Garrett Basch WS Magnolia TD DCP/2014
Find the book at Readings.

Fri 01 Aug 2014 6:30 PM
"Lance Bangs has turned in without a doubt the best film he's ever made … Slint fans will find plenty to geek out over." – Tiny Mix Tapes
Even those who haven't heard Slint have heard Slint. Not only did the band's members go on to perform with acts as diverse as The Breeders, Tortoise, Interpol, Stereolab and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but the cutting, complicated dynamics of their second and final album, 1991's Spiderland, essentially birthed post-rock.
In a riveting study, veteran music clip director and Slint superfan Lance Bangs unearths priceless VHS footage of the gawky teens (some of it shot by Will Oldham) who crafted such elemental and unsettling sounds. And two decades of interviews with members, parents, hangers-on and indie luminaries – including Steve Albini, Fugazi's Ian MacKaye and Jesus Lizard's David Yow – reveal their influence.
This secret history of the Louisville scene and post-rock from the weirdos, punks and regular kids who created it is sure to fascinate acolytes and neophytes alike.
"Wildly entertaining" – Cinephiled
D/P Lance Bangs TD DCP/2014
Mon 04 Aug 2014 4:00 PM
"I have a great fondness for Sorcerer, more than any other film I've made ... Sorcerer is the one I hope to be remembered for and the one film that came closest to my vision." – Director William Friedkin
By 1977, William Friedkin (Killer Joe, MIFF 2012) had won an Oscar for his film French Connection and rocked audiences with The Exorcist. That year he released Sorcerer, a nail-biting reinterpretation of Henri-Georges Clouzot's The Wages of Fear. Things didn't go to plan. It was initially panned as an expensive flop and buried when it premiered in the shadow of Star Wars. Newly restored (under Friedkin's supervision) with a 4K film resolution scan off the original 35mm negative, it is enjoying a fan and critic-led revival, with contemporary consensus acknowledging it as the work of a master at the top of his game.
As per its source, the story involves four men with dark pasts who agree to transport volatile dynamite across hostile Central American terrain for a big payday. Starring Roy Scheider, and with a synth score by Tangerine Dream, the film's iconic sequence – an explosives-laden truck crossing a rickety rope bridge – has became cinematic legend for its real-life risk and, like the film itself, remains as jaw-dropping today as when it was filmed.
"The new restoration makes the film appear as if it was just made ... It looks the way it looked to me when I looked through the lens of the camera." – William Friedkin
D/P William Friedkin S Walon Green WS Park Circus TD DCP/1977
Tue 05 Aug 2014 1:30 PM
A bride's perfect day turns sour when an uninvited guest crashes the party bearing an unusual gift.
Veteran filmmaker Jan Hrebejk won the Best Director prize at Karlovy Vary Film Festival for this nuanced character drama, the third in a loose trilogy that began with Kawasaki's Rose (MIFF 2010) and continued with Innocence. Written by Hrebejk's frequent collaborator Petr Jarchovsky (screenwriter of the Oscar-nominated Divided We Fall) and featuring his regular, the superb Ana Geisterová, Honeymoon initially takes the familiar airy route of wedding stories then veers into darker territory with the arrival of a slightly creepy school friend of the handsome groom.
Set over two days at an idyllic country house in South Bohemia, what was to have been a joyous celebration ends up as a tense revelation of guilt and forgiveness between the newlyweds.
"Gradually weaves some welcoming darkness into the frothy and cheerful façade, concocting a film that is both beautiful and memorable … (an) elegantly intimate drama." – Screen
D Jan Hrebejk P Viktor Tauš, Michal Kollár Tomáš Rotnágl, Jan Kadlec S Petr Jarchovský WS Latido Films L Czech w/English subtitles TD DCP/2013

Wed 06 Aug 2014 6:30 PM
"Mind-blowing … a fascinating movie about science, and an exciting, revealing and sometimes poignant movie about scientists." – New York Times
Neil Armstrong taking humanity's first steps on the moon is one of the most significant moments in scientific history. The enormously uplifting documentary Particle Fever tells the story of our generation's equivalent moment: the Large Hadron Collider's discovery of the Higgs boson "God particle" (as it's been popularly dubbed).
Focussing on six uniquely fascinating scientists involved in the search, physicist-turned-filmmaker Mark Levinson tells a moving, and surprisingly nail-biting, tale of the human heartache and triumph behind this extraordinary feat of scientific endeavour.
Stunningly shot by Claudia Raschke-Robinson (award-winning cinematographer of My Architect, MIFF 2003) and masterfully edited by Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now, The English Patient, The Godfather trilogy), Particle Fever won the Sheffield Doc/Fest audience award and has received a rock-star reception around the world for its accessible celebration of discovery.
"Jaw-droppingly cool stuff … And it's flat-out thrilling." – NPR
D Mark Levinson P David Kaplan Dist Madman Entertainment TD DCP/2013
Thu 07 Aug 2014 11:00 AM
"Le Corbusier's famous assertion that a house must be ‘a machine for living' acquires new force in Exhibition, an exquisitely crafted and thrillingly ambiguous chamber drama." – Cinema Scope
Set almost entirely within the confines of a modernist West London house, two artists, D and H (played by musician Viv Albertine, of 1970s post-punk band The Slits, and Turner Prize-nominated artist Liam Gillick), go about their day. With the house for sale – an ongoing source of tension – the married couple exists in an odd stasis, alone in each other's company in a precisely designed space.
Joanna Hogg's (Unrelated, MIFF 2008) spare yet expansive drama is filled with small, incremental, pointed scenes that allow the striking space to have a life of its own, building an observational character piece that is unique and beautifully detailed.
"Every shot is composed with the rigour of an old master, packed with painterly juxtapositions, quilted with signs and symbols." – Huffington Post
D/S Joanna Hogg P Gayle Griffiths Dist Vendetta Films TD DCP/2013
Fri 08 Aug 2014 1:30 PM
Winner of the top prize at the 2013 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.
Haunted by a song he once heard on the radio, American ethnomusicologist Louis Sarno tracked the exotic sounds to a Central African jungle tribe. He fell in love – with their way of life and with his future wife – and spent the next 25 years living among the Bayaka, recording more than 1000 hours of music and, eventually, starting a family.
When his Bayaka son, Samedi, is 13 years old, Sarno fulfils a promise to show the boy the world he came from, taking him to New York to meet family and friends (including his college buddy Jim Jarmusch). It is the first time Samedi has left the forest, and the first time in years Sarno has returned to a home he no longer recognises.
Contrasting the urban jungle with the African jungle, journalist and first-time filmmaker Michael Obert crafts an exquisitely gorgeously shot, moving study of a man caught between two incompatible worlds, and his relationship with his family, his heritage and his environment.
"Perceptive and utterly gorgeous … Song from the Forest compellingly foregrounds the ephemeral nature of all culture." – Indiewire
D/S Michael Obert P Alex Tondowski, Ira Tondowski WS Deckert Distribution L Yaka, English w/English subtitles TD DCP/2013
Sat 09 Aug 2014 6:30 PM
"A tremendous feature debut, haunting and elegiac." – Twitch
Sixteen-year-old Marie lives in a remote Danish fishing village with her father and her heavily medicated, wheelchair-bound mother. She has begun working at the local fish-processing plant, and is harassed by her co-workers. But when Marie's body begins to transform in a superhuman manner, she discovers a long-kept family secret.
Filmed on the beautiful stormy coast of Jutland, When Animals Dream is a stunning coming-of-age story, full of a restrained horror tonally reminiscent of Let The Right One In (MIFF 2008). With impressive cinematography and a beautiful score, it's an intriguing supernatural drama that uses lycanthropy to examine the role of women in remote, repressed communities.
"An atmospheric fantasy chiller that marks an accomplished feature debut from director Jonas Alexander Arnby." – Screen
D Jonas Alexander Arnby P Ditte Milsted, Caroline Schluter Bingestam S Rasmus Birch Dist Madman Entertainment L Danish w/English subtitles TD DCP/2014
Mon 11 Aug 2014 9:00 PM
"A crackling little suspense thriller/morality play indebted to Dostoyevsky and Hitchcock." – The Playlist
When admirable aims lead to disastrous deeds, does the intention or the aftermath win out? Writer/director Kelly Reichardt (River of Grass, MIFF 1993; Wendy and Lucy, MIFF 2008) probes this quandary in Night Moves, an eco-activist parable brimming with the simmering tension of ‘70s psychological dramas, including the Arthur Penn neo-noir that inspired its title.
Fringe-dwelling farmhand Josh (Jesse Eisenberg), his high school dropout girlfriend Dena (Dakota Fanning) and their ex-marine mentor Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard) plan an attack on a hydroelectric dam in Portland to protest the environmental devastation in their midst, but they are sidelined by the unforeseen consequences of their actions.
Aided by exceptional performances, Reichardt carefully charts the before and after in intensive detail, crafting a restrained, seductive picture of moral and ethical murkiness.
"Night Moves gives us the pleasure and satisfaction of an established voice having achieved perhaps her finest work yet." – Sight and Sound
D Kelly Reichardt P Anish Savjani, Neil Kopp, Chris Maybach, Saemi Kim, Rodrigo Teixeira S Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt Dist Curious Film TD DCP/2013

Tue 12 Aug 2014 11:00 AM
"A thought-provoking gem … as courageous as it is terrifying." – Twitch
Named for the fictitious or non-existent streets cartographers sometimes include in their maps, Trap Street introduces us to happy-go-lucky Li Qiuming, who has a good life digitally mapping the labyrinthine streets of an unnamed but ever-evolving Chinese city. Then one day he spies an attractive woman who flits out of sight and down a secluded alley. This brief glance, while sparking his romantic interest, sets in motion mysterious events when he returns to the spot to find the data he collected was never registered – the alley has fallen off the map.
Embedded in China's recent history and with a restrained observational noir style, first-time director Vivian Qu's (producer, Black Coal Thin Ice, MIFF 2014) Trap Street sets young love in a place where personal freedom clashes with modern forms of control.
"In the film's world full of prying cameras and cloned SIM cards, where everyone seems to be spying and spied on, paranoia is good policy." – The Hollywood Reporter
D/S Vivian Qu P Sean Chen L Mandarin w/English subtitles TD DCP/2013

Tue 12 Aug 2014 6:30 PM
"Absolutely mad. It is every insane urge and image that Sono has had banging around in his head unused over his career distilled down and splashed on screen in all its absurd, and frequently very bloody, glory." – Twitch
Described by its unfailingly unpredictable director, MIFF regular Sion Sono (Himizu, MIFF 2012; Guilty of Romance, MIFF 2011), as "an action film about the love of 35mm", Why Don't You Play in Hell? sees the cult auteur at his most fun-lovingly bloodthirsty.
Things spin out of control when an aspiring film troupe known as The F**k Bombers collide with a yakuza boss who wants to make a movie with his daughter. Within this, the yakuza genre gets mashed with martial arts, gore, slapstick and whatever else you care to nominate in a wonderful mess that boils down to one thing …
Huge fun.
"A deliriously gaudy celebration of the decline of everything (including Japanese cinema, film as a medium, and any notion of good taste), it plays like the improbable bastard offspring of Cinema Paradiso and Kill Bill." – Sight and Sound
D/S Sion Sono P Takuyuki Matsuno, Tsuyoshi Suzuki Dist Madman Entertainment L Japanese w/English subtitles TD DCP/2013

EXTRA - RIGOR MORTIS Tuesday 12 Aug. Kino2 9pm

Fri 15 Aug 2014 6:30 PM
Are the eyes the window to the soul, or a portal to the past?
After Another Earth (MIFF 2011), director Mike Cahill and actress Brit Marling spark a new existential scepticism-versus-spirituality debate, again exploring the immutability of faith in the absence of proof.
In I Origins, biologist Ian Gray (Michael Pitt) finds love in the gaze of beguiling beauty Sofi, until their opposites-attract connection ceases abruptly. Haunted by her memory, his research into the evolution of the human eye with partner Karen (Marling, Babylon, MIFF 2014; The East, MIFF 2013) triggers hope for a different ending to their romance.
Cahill's second consecutive effort to win the Sundance Film Festival's Alfred P Sloan Feature Film Prize for the innovative depiction of science in film, I Origins is "a bracingly venturesome, exploratory work that achieves an exceptional balance between the emotional and intellectual aspects of its unusual story" (Hollywood Reporter).
D/S Mike Cahill P Mike Cahill, Hunter Gray, Alex Orlovsky Dist Twentieth Century Fox TD DCP/2014

Sun 17 Aug 2014 4:00 PM
"Hard to Be a God is brutal and visceral, visually and aurally dense, with a loose narrative thread and unheroic protagonist. It is, essentially, cinema reinvented." – Calvert Journal
A legendary and frequently overlooked enfant terrible of Russian filmmaking, Alexei German spent nearly half his life on this incomparable film: inspired by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky's 1964 sci-fi novel of the same name, he wrote the screenplay in 1968, shot between 2000 and 2006, and died before post-production was finalised in 2013 by his wife, Svetlana Karmalita, and son Alexei German Jr (whose Paper Soldier screened at MIFF in 2009). A notorious perfectionist, German's uncompromising attention to detail lent the film a semi-mythological status for years. It is finally here and does not disappoint.
Thirty scientists are sent from Earth to a present-day planet stuck in a perpetual medieval existence, to bring it through renaissance. German's camera fixates on one burly inhabitant (or is he?), treated by the locals as a kind of god. Like him, we observe this world, in as close to documentary vérité of the Middle Ages as we're ever likely to get: it's a narratively anarchic cinematic immersion in a violent, grotesque world so palpable you can almost feel it.
At 170 minutes of richly detailed black-and-white historical mimesis, Hard to be a God is a living diorama not for the weak stomached; but for cinephiles seeking a big-screen spectacle of unparalleled visual and aural grandeur, there's nothing that comes close.
"Hard to Be a God is like stepping into a panoramic Bruegel painting and putting your foot right into a shit-stained corpse… in a good way." – Film Comment
D Alexei German P Marina Dovladbegyan S Svetlana Karmalita, Alexei German WS Capricci Films L Russian w/English subtitles TD DCP/2013

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