Monday, April 24, 2017

The Settlers (April 27th and 30th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[THE SETTLERS screens Thursday April 27th at 6:45 pm and Sunday April 30th at 8:40 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

The simplistic narrative one usually sees, hears, or reads about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in the American mainstream media generally reduces down to something along the lines of, "the Palestinians want their own country, but every time Israel sits down to negotiate with them, things break down because Arab extremists carry out terrorist attacks on Israel."

And yeah, that's part of the story, but it's hardly the whole story. Israel has extremists of its own, and they are as much a part of the problem, if not more. Because even when the official state of Israel tries to move forward with peace, there are Israelis who insist on moving into territory that doesn't belong to them. And even if the government's official stance is disapproval, there are elements within that government that support the Israeli extremists and ensure that little is done to curtail their activities.

Cleveland Cinematheque's May/June 2017 schedule is here!

[Press release from John Ewing of the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque’s May-June schedule consists of 43 different film programs in four different film series: “Premiere Showcase” (16 exclusive Cleveland premieres, including new films by Werner Herzog and Bruno Dumont); “A Second Look” (15 second-run films or classics, including THE NEON DEMON, TONI ERDMANN, and ONE-TRICK PONY); “Jean-Pierre Melville 100” (6 films by the influential French director who was born 100 years ago); and “Lina Wertmüller: Five Beauties” (5 films by the groundbreaking Italian director, plus a feature-length documentary about her). All 43 movies are listed and described below.
All  will show in the Peter B. Lewis Theater at the Cleveland Institute of Art, 11610 Euclid Avenue in the Uptown District of University Circle. Unless noted, admission to each program is $10; Cinematheque members, CIA & CSU I.D. holders, and those age 25 & under $7. An added film on the same day costs an additional $7 (or the member price for that film).
Free parking for filmgoers is available in Lot 73 and the CIA Annex Lot, both accessed from E. 117th Street off Euclid Avenue. Cinematheque programs are supported by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.
For further information, visit; send an email to; or call John Ewing or Tim Harry at (216) 421-7450.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Born in China

Review by Bob Ignizio

Director Lu Chuan and a crew of filmmakers venture into the wilderness of China to follow the lives of snow leopards, pandas, chiru, and snub-nose monkeys in BORN IN CHINA, the latest in the line of reliably Disney nature documentaries. The photography is gorgeous, capturing not just the beauty and grandeur of the film's animal stars, but of their habitat, as well. John Krasinski's narration helps shape the various narratives and anthropomorphize the animal stars.

Given that the pandas grace the poster for the film, I was a bit surprised they didn't get much screentime. I guess since they have no natural predators and spend their days eating bamboo and rolling around on the ground, there wasn't a lot of drama in their lives. The monkeys and snow leopards, by comparison, experience quite a bit more danger and conflict, earning equal co-star billing. The chiru just sort of hang around the periphery of these stories, doing their grass-eating herd animal thing.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

David Lynch: The Art Life (April 22nd and 23rd at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE screens Saturday April 22nd at 9:30 pm and Sunday April 23rd at 6:30 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Eric Sever

In the spirit of transparency, I should admit that I am a huge David Lynch fan.

So being invited to spend the day with him, discussing his process and his past while watching him work, would be a dream come true.

DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE provides just that.

In his sun-bathed Los Angeles art studio, the documentary follows Lynch through a day of creation. Much like Lynch's life, the rich visuals are filled with canvasses and paints, textures and tools, cigarette smoke and dirty fingers.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tea With Mussolini (April 20th and 22nd at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[TEA WITH MUSSOLINI screens Thursday April 20th at 8:30 pm and Saturday April 22nd at 7:10 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

In 1999, Cher went the Merchant-Ivory route in TEA WITH MUSSOLINI, a very proper, genteel drama, said to be based on incidents in the early life of the UK-Italian co-production’s director, Franco Zeffirelli.

No, Cher does not attempt an English accent, but appropriately plays a flamboyant American showgirl-turned-gold-digger, part of a mini-society of high-born ladies hanging around the piazzas of Florence, Italy, in the 1930s. Mostly English aristocrats - and mostly acted by grandes dammes of British drama such as Joan Plowright and Judi Dench - these aged Italophiles drink tea, throw parties, have affairs, pamper their dogs/children, visit Roman ruins, restore art frescoes, and otherwise have it pretty easy.  Until the rise of strutting Nazi ally Benito Mussolini drags their precious Italy into fascism.

Hometown movie Lux in Tenebris premieres in Euclid April 21

A local film production has its debut this week, and no,

Branislov Tatalovic, an instructor at the recently
instituted digital-filmmaking courses at Cuyahoga Community
College, premieres his feature LUX IN TENEBRIS at the Atlas
Cinemas Lakeshore multiplex in Euclid.

The drama (with a title translating as "light in darkness"),
was shot in the Cleveland-Akron area and in Belgrade with an
international, multicultural cast, including Oscar-nominated
thespian Eric Roberts. LUX IN TENEBRIS centers on two
sisters calling upon spiritual strength in trying to overcome childhood traumas and dark shadows in their past.The screening will be followed by Q&A with the filmmakers and an after-party.

The cinema address is 22624 Lakeshore Blvd., and the phone
number is (216) 731-1700. Tickets are $10 and the material
carries an R-rating.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Lovesong (April 20th and 21st at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[LOVESONG screens Thursday April 20th at 6:45 pm and Friday April 21st at 9:30 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

If you like subtle, well-acted character studies of complex and believable female characters, then LOVESONG may well be for you. The film is about the friendship between Sarah (Riley Keough), a married mom with a young daughter and a frequently absent workaholic husband, and Mindy (Jena Malone), a more free spirited woman who is her best friend. With Sarah's daughter in tow, the two embark on a road trip. Along the way they hash out Sarah's issues with her husband, attend a rodeo and a carnival, and perhaps get a little closer than just friends.

Maybe a little too close. Seemingly out of the blue, Mindy buys a ticket back home. It's 3 years before the women reconnect, for Mindy's wedding. Not surprisingly, it's a bit awkward.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Jesus (recently screened at the 41st Cleveland International Film Festival)

Review by Eric Sever

Much like the aimless New York teens of Larry Clark's KIDS, the youngsters in the Chilean film JESUS spend their free time drinking, drugging, fucking, and searching for the next cheap thrill -- which in this film includes watching videos of terrorist beheadings and starting a boy band.

Jesus (Nicolas Duran) spends his time with his fellow popstar wannabes roaming around causing stoned urban mischief that never really amounts to much, until one night, the group begins to harass a drunk man they find in the park. For reasons never really explained, things turn dark, and the group beats the man into a bloody mess.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Queen of the Desert (now available on VOD)

Review by Bob Ignizio

It's not hard to understand why famed German writer/director Werner Herzog would have been drawn to the true life story of Gertrude Bell, the subject of his latest film QUEEN OF THE DESERT. Bell was, like many of Herzog's protagonists, a person driven to do things that everyone else said were impossible, or in her case, at least not the sort of things that a woman should do. And her adventures in the same desert locales as T. E. Lawrence gives Herzog, who relishes the challenge of filming on real, often difficult locations, yet another chance to do battle with nature in the course of making his film.

One can also easily grasp why Nicole Kidman would have jumped at the chance to tackle the lead role. In Bell, she gets to play a woman who was a real-life adventurer, not some cartoonish female action hero (which seems to be the only lead role available to women these days outside of Oscar season).

The Fate of the Furious

By George M. Thomas

Vin Diesel and Charlize Theron in The Fate of the Furious.
Sitting through the eighth film in the Fast and the Furious series – THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS – most people will wonder what exactly is missing.

After a couple of days mulling it over, it finally hit me.  Although the filmmakers try, they cannot replicate the emotional heft that the last movie possessed.

Considering that was the last in the nearly two decades old franchise to have a connection to the late Paul Walker and his ghost-like presence informed almost every moment of that film, it would have been an impossible task for ask any filmmaker, including F. Gary Gray (STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, THE ITALIAN JOB), to attempt.

However, it also frees Gray to take a cast that comes across as family on film, step right in, and go all-out while putting his stamp on the franchise.