Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Review by Pamela Zoslov

More than three years have passed since the release of THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, a sunny trifle and surprise hit that spent many months pleasing older audiences at independent theaters like Cleveland's Cedar Lee. The movie, based on a novel by British author Deborah Moggach called These Foolish Things, told of a group of British seniors who, displaced by the overburdened National Health System, took up residence in a once grand, now rather ramshackle retirement hotel in Jaipur, India. Under the tutelage of the eager hotelier Sonny Kapoor (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE star Dev Patel), the spry residents entangle romantically, find new careers, and experience rejuvenation within the teeming, colorful, disheveled culture of India.

Now comes a sequel, THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, which finds the same elders a few years on, dealing with romantic and career problems. The sequel is the work of the same writer-director team of Ol Parker and John Madden.

Buzzard (opens in Cleveland March 6th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[BUZZARD opens in Cleveland on Friday March 6th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Pamela Zoslov

With his new, lo-fi film BUZZARD, Joel Potrykus revives a nearly forgotten genre, the '90s indie slacker movie. The film’s lead actor, Joshua Burge, with his mournful eyes and hangdog visage, even looks like a young Steve Buscemi, star of so many of those long-ago indies.

Road Hard (opens in Cleveland on March 6th exclusively at Tower City Cinemas)

[ROAD HARD opens in Cleveland on Friday March 6 th exclusively at Tower City Cinemas.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

I don't find Adam Carolla particularly funny. Never have. So that's a fairly major obstacle that ROAD HARD, the new film Carolla stars in and co-wrote and directed, has to overcome with this reviewer. It does so largely by being a personal and surprisingly sweet little film about a once popular comedian, Bruce Madsen (Carolla), who has fallen on hard times both in terms of his career, and life in general. Once co-star of the popular “Bro Show” and other TV programs, Bruce's star has faded and he finds himself back on the road doing stand-up in mid size comedy clubs, flying coach, and living out of hotel rooms.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Nocturna (now on video)

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

I don't know about you, but when a separate Oscar category for Best Animated Feature was inaugurated, I welcomed it as a chance to open audiences up to the rich world of cartoons, CGI and stop-motion that exists outside of the usual Disney/DreamWorks axis of evil. (Plus, I like to think that advancements in animation will mean fewer live-action cinema - meaning fewer borderline-psycho actors employed in our midst - and that can't be a bad thing). So, perhaps thanks to the Academy, more viewers are turned on to stuff like SONG OF THE SEA and the output of Studio Ghibli than would have been otherwise.

Still, there are some major animated features that take some time to get here. I'm still curious about FELIDAE, the German cartoon based on a best-selling thriller novel (that never broke big with American readers) about a cat version of Sherlock Holmes. Then there's NOCTURNA, a Franco-Spanish epic that was completed all of eight years ago. Now it's finally shown up here on disc.

Force Majeure (March 5th and 6th at the Cleveland Cinematheque. Also available on home video)

[FORCE MAJEURE screens Thursday March 5th at 6:30 pm and Friday March 6th at 9:35 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque. Also available on home video.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

We'd all probably like to think that, in a time of crisis, we'd rise to the occasion and behave heroically. But let's be honest. None of us really knows how we'd behave in a sudden, dire situation until it happens. Which is why, uncomfortable as it may be, we can relate to Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke), the protagonist of Ruben Östlund's FORCE MAJEURE.

Tomas is on a ski vacation with his wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli), son Harry (Vincent Wettergren) and daughter Vera (Clara Wettergren). The family is all smiles as a resort photographer has them pose for pictures, but that all changes when a controlled avalanche goes as the family enjoys and outdoor meal. While Ebba's first instinct is to protect her children, Tomas runs away without even glancing back. Fortunately no one is hurt, but as you can imagine there's some tension between husband and wife. Tomas' refusal to even admit what happened only makes things worse.

Monday, March 2, 2015

39th Cleveland International Film Festival Announces Program Line-Up

[Press release from the Cleveland International Film Festival.]

The 39th Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF39), presented by Dollar Bank, announces its program line-up at  The CIFF39 will take place March 18th – 29th at Tower City Cinemas and select neighborhood screening locations.  The Festival will showcase 193 feature films and 234 short films representing 60 countries during its 12-day run.  Be sure to continue to check for program updates between now and March 29th.  You can also download our free Android and iPhone apps for all the latest CIFF39 info.

Tickets go on sale to members only on Friday, February 27th and to the general public on Friday, March 6th.  Not a member?  Become one by clicking here or by calling 216.623.3456 x10.

Ticket prices for films are $13 per film for CIFF members and $15 for non-members.  Once on sale, tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (1.877.304.FILM), in-person at the Film Festival Box Office in the lobby of Tower City Cinemas, or by mail using the Program Guide order form.

Program Guides will be available throughout the region, including all Dollar Bank locations, the week of February 23rd.

French film "Li'l Quinquin" rescheduled for 3/9/15

[Press release from the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

This Cinematheque film that was not show last week due to the frigid weather has been rescheduled for Monday, March 9.
Monday, March 9, at 6:45 pm
France, 2014, Bruno Dumont

A comedy from Bruno Dumont (Humanité, Hadewijch), France’s foremost proponent of miserablism and heir to the ascetic spiritual striving of Robert Bresson? Stranger things have happened, especially in Dumont’s miracle-laden movies. Li'l Quinquin, originally a four-part miniseries for French TV, is set in sea-swept, sparsely populated northern France (the rural setting of most of Dumont's films). There two provincial cops try to solve a series of bizarre murders while a mischievous moppet (li'l Quinquin) looks on. Cahiers du Cinéma named this the best film of 2014. “A wonderfully weird and unexpectedly hilarious murder mystery.” –Variety. Cleveland premiere. Subtitles. Blu-ray. 200 min. Special admission $11; members and those age 25 & under $9; no passes, twofers, or radio winners. This film supported by a generous grant from Maison Française de Cleveland.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Lazarus Effect

Review by Bob Ignizio

In Walt Disney's BAMBI, the rabbit Thumper quotes his father as saying, “If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all.” If Thumper's dad were reviewing THE LAZARUS EFFECT, it would probably be one sentence: “THE LAZARUS EFFECT is less than an hour and a half long.” At least that's the only nice thing I can find to say about it. Of course film critics have never been the sort to take the advice of Thumper's dad to heart, so I'll elaborate further.

Akron Film +PRIDE presents LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS focused film series at the Nightlight Cinema

[Press release from CANAPI.]

Community AIDS Network and Akron Pride Initiative (CANAPI) is proud to present Akron Film +PRIDE, an LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS-focused film series that will be featured at The Nightlight Cinema (30 North High Street). CANAPI, collaborating with Summit County Public Health, The Nightlight Cinema and The Gay Community Endowment Fund bring these contemporary issues to light on the second Monday of each month of 2015 at 7:00 p.m., February through November.

“Our goal is to bring informative and entertaining films to the Akron community,” said CANAPI Outreach and Risk Reduction Coordinator Joshua Morgan. “It is our hope that these will bring awareness to important issues in our community.”

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Leviathan (opens in Cleveland February 27th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[LEVIATHAN opens in Cleveland on Friday February 27th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Milan Paurich

A masterpiece by Andrey Zvyagintsev, the greatest Russian director to emerge in the post-Soviet era, LEVIATHAN sucks you in like a vise grip. I think I held my breath for the entire 141-minute running time. With intonations of Chekhov (real estate squabbles) and Dostoevsky (crime, punishment), Zvagintsev’s Job-like parable set in Putin’s Russia has an intensity of feeling that seems almost primordial. 

Although set in present day, LEVIATHAN might as well be taking place hundreds of years ago. The unsullied natural setting—an Arctic town in northern Russia—is as stark and elemental as its quasi-Biblical narrative. Kolya (magnificently played by Aleksey Serebryakov), Zvyagintsey’s everyman protagonist, will lose everything he holds dear during the course of the film. His home, land, wife, son, best friend and livelihood will all be brutally taken away from him through a domino-like series of catastrophic events. Which doesn’t mean that Kolya goes down easily or without putting up a fight. But when the gods have seemingly conspired against you, raging to the heavens will only get you so far. Either way he’s screwed.