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. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Review by Joseph Anthony

1997’s GOOD WILL HUNTING was the story of a genius with a tragic backstory played by Matt Damon. His future was the source of anxiety for those around him. While the well-meaning psychologist - played by Robin Williams - only wants Damon’s character to find happiness, the M.I.T. professor - played by Stellan Skarsgård - wants Damon to become a great academic mind and achieve full potential. And then there’s a motley crew that surrounds Damon.

GIFTED replaces Damon with a brilliant 6 year old girl, Mary (Mckenna Grace). Robin Williams is replaced with a caring Uncle, Frank (Chris Evans). Rather than Skarsgård, we have another M.I.T. academic (this time it’s Grandmother Evelyn played by Lindsay Duncan). Instead of a motley crew, Mary has support from loving neighbor Roberta (Octavia Spencer), school-teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) and the most adorable one-eyed cat, Fred.

Black Girl in the Cle presents a newbie's thoughts on the Cleveland International Film Festival

[This post is courtesy of Shana Black of the Black Girl in the Cle blog.]

by Shana Black

This year, I finally checked the Cleveland International Film Festival off my bucket list, although I admit planning was a little overwhelming in the beginning. Even when I got my hands on the program guide, I had difficulty choosing movies because there were so many. I’d never heard of any of these movies, and since they weren’t your typical Hollywood type, they didn’t come with lots of buzz (or at least any that I was aware of).

The program guide is the CIFF Bible. It includes everything you need to know about the festival from film summaries to hotel info, if you're an out of towner. I thought if I read it cover to cover, I'd be ready to make my plan. Definitely a wrong move for a CIFF newbie!

Fort Tilden (now on video)

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

I enjoyed Martin Scorsese’s AFTER HOURS (1985), a comedy about a Manhattan yuppie trying to make a sex hookup in the boho districts of NYC and finding himself lost in a nightmare urban-hell landscape. But it didn’t knock me over so much as it did the other critics. Maybe because, being better-paid and more prestigious than I ever would be, they knew New York and grokked more of the jokes. Or perhaps Scorese’s idea of comedy seemed to be heavily rooted in pain and discomfort (even more so in his renown Jerry Lewis collaboration THE KING OF COMEDY, which you’re expecting to explode in bloodshed any moment).

But either I’ve gotten older and more bitter (highly likely) or the AFTER HOURS formula found an even better application in FORT TILDEN, a corrosive new farce in which the same sort of idea is applied to an demographic just as dislikable as 1980s yuppies: 2010s Millennials.

The wry comedy from tandem writer-directors Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers is, yes, set in and around New York City, now (unlike Scorsese) in broad daylight. Our callow heroines in their 20s, both jobless, live well in in a roomy apartment thanks to handouts and wire transfers from unseen but very wealthy and indulgent, cosmopolitan parents.