films

Fernando Trueba's New Film Searches for the Artistic Ideal

William Eley

"So, the best we can do is to remain in a small corner eating some potatoes… while there is some left," thus states the artist in Fernando Trueba's latest feature The Artist and the Model.  This aforementioned declaration, or, perhaps, exhalation, summarizes well the central thesis of this mesmeric, black and white masterpiece:  war is an interruption, an impediment in the way of beauty and its purveyors.  

Anamorphic Illusion and the Magic of Current Events

Maggie Hennefeld

Revealing secret symbols or transforming a flat plane into a 3-dimensional world, anamorphosis activates a sudden shift or rupture in its impression on the spectator. Whereas perspective seeks to systematize an image of the known world for the benefit of the human eye, anamorphosis “leads the eye slowly through incomprehension and then offers a resolution.”

‘Silver Circle’ Fails to Present a Compelling Storyline or Captivating Animation

Snapper S. Ploen

Although this synopsis sounds interesting and relevant to our country’s current socio-political discourse, this film is neither of those things. Director Pasha Roberts brings a potentially compelling Libertarian vision of rebellion to the screen but chooses to do so through an animation style that is too stunted for genuine emotional impact. In speaking with the director, he admits the budget was limited, but even South Park’s creators were able to deliver social commentary that was enlightening and entertaining with limited financial resources. In addition, the animation isn’t the only thing holding the film back. 

Despite a Rocky Middle, ‘Tabu’ Beautifully Captures the Pains of an Illicit Affair

Gabriella Tutino

Tabu, the Portuguese film directed by Miguel Gomes, tells the story of an illicit love affair set against the backdrop of the Portuguese Colonial War in 1950s-60s Africa. The film is shot in black-and-white and narrated for a majority of its running time, lending Tabu a romantic, nostalgic whimsy. The tragic relationship between Aurora and Gian Luca begins a few years before the Portuguese Colonial War starts. It is triggered by an impromptu meeting, as Gian Luca is the friend of a friend of Aurora’s husband. 

Neil Landau on the Art of Screenwriting

Christopher Karr

This is the kind of practical, well-articulated knowledge you can find in The Screenwriter's Roadmap. It's organized into 21 chapters that each focus on an essential aspect of the writing and re-writing process. Each chapter also includes a corresponding interview with a screenwriter currently in the business. The guidebook is clear, well-organized, and sometimes painfully academic and overly analytical. This is a common attribute of all screenwriting guidebooks, but Landau's prose is, at times, more readable than Field and McKee. 

Film & Special Effects: Blurring the Lines Between Reality and Imagery

Maggie Hennefeld

Special effect (SFX) techniques have undergone momentous transformations throughout the past century of the medium’s history. Even SFX’ anatomical obsessions have developed (as it were): from early cinema’s in-camera techniques that never tired of limb dismemberment tricks to the 21st Century race to shatter “the uncanny valley” and use computer imagery to simulate human likeness. Film producers like Méliès and Edison ejaculated limbs from all sides of the frame using stop-start substitution tricks (the trick splice). 

Paul Thomas Anderson and the Perplexing Genius of ‘The Master’

Christopher Karr

Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film, “The Master,” is his most consciously esoteric movie to date. As the scenes add up, you have a growing suspicion that you’re missing something. Or that something is missing. I’m still not completely sure which is the case. All I can say is that the movie invokes the same experience as a queasy-strange nightmare that gradually churns to a haunting, perplexing conclusion. 

The Dark Knight and the Rise of ‘Realistic’ Superheroes on Screen

Christopher Karr

Batman has been stuck in the same cycle for 70 years. As soon as the “Dark Knight’s” mythology becomes too dark, he is reinterpreted through the faddish lens of pop cultural parody. Consequently, Batman’s legend lacks substance. So he’s reinterpreted once again with darker shadings. But “The Dark Knight Rises,” the final chapter in Christopher Nolan’s epic addition to the Batman myth, looks past both interpretations. As Nolan promised us from the beginning, his trilogy offers a realistic superhero. But can there really be such a thing? Should there be?

Angelina Jolie’s Directorial Debut Highlights the Troubled History of Former Yugoslavia

Trevor Laurence Jockims

In The Land of Blood and Honey, written and directed by Angelina Jolie, focuses on the relationship between Danijel (Goran Kostić), a Bosnian-Serb soldier, and Ajla (Zana Marjanović), a Bosnian Muslim. Aside from a handful of largely forgettable films (Welcome to Sarajevo, Behind Enemy Lines, and Savior come to mind), the wars of 1992-1995 in the former Yugoslavia have received limited attention from Hollywood. 

Director Steve McQueen Presents a Controversial Anti-hero in “Shame”

Elizabeth Pyjov

Some of the best movies have no villain  or hero. Director Steve McQueen’s main character Brandon, played by Michael Fassbender in what ought to be an Oscar-winning performance in “Shame,” is neither. McQueen’s new film is executed to a startling perfection. It reveals deeper truths about self-control and a lack thereof, and how self-control on the surface could be used to conceal a certain chaos and desperation within. 

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