Friday, May 22, 2015

Iris (opens May 22nd in Cleveland at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[IRIS opens on Friday May 22nd in Cleveland exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

Remember that Monty Python sketch (actually a bit of Terry Gilliam animation) about how you can collect and put around your dwelling-place portraits of perfect strangers who lead far more interesting lives than you've got? That way you can pretend they are YOUR relatives, and that YOU are now MORE interesting by fiat? I promise, the idea was funny.

Should you wish to really meet somebody much more fascinating than yourself (or myself), one need look no further than IRIS, the final feature by the late documentary eminence Albert Maysles, who died earlier this year. IRIS is an affectionate portrait of a spry and witty figure in the field of fashion and design, Iris Apfel. 

Still elegant in her 80s, with her trademark oversized glasses, tastefully attention-getting outfits, and a practically Seussian array of costume jewelry (some of her adornments, from the Himalayas, she says are so heavy she can only wear them for short periods of time), Iris Apfel continues to be a NYC fashion/design scenester. Even if old age has slowed this silver fox down a bit.

Tomorrowland

Review by Matt Finley

There's a climactic moment in TOMMORROWLAND, Brad Bird's (RATATOUILLE) latest live-action Disney adventure, in which characters discuss the possibility of "zapping an idea" into someone's mind. It's a beguiling notion, especially for a film that's otherwise content to transmit it's themes via sledgehammer.

Given the ponderous shroud of secrecy draped over the film by the house of mouse, I went in with only one solid expectation: Fun. Bird's past features THE IRON GIANT and THE INCREDIBLES are among my favorite animated films of all time, and both demonstrate the director's ability to create smart, heartfelt, visually audacious science fiction. While TOMORROWLAND is certainly a thoughtful, ambitious, and occasionally thrilling project, it never realizes the joyful promise - and graceful simplicity - of retro-futuristic skyscrapers glittering against an open sky.

The Skin (May 23rd at the Cleveland CInematheque)

[THE SKIN screens Saturday May 23rd at 5:00 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Set in 1943 Naples as American forces are driving the last of the Nazis out of Italy, THE SKIN shows the lengths regular people will go to in order to survive. For the most part this is shown from the perspective of Curzio Malaparte (Marcello Mastroianni), a pragmatist doing his best to use his position as liaison to the American forces, led by General Mark Clark (Burt Lancaster), to help his own people. When he's not doing that, Malaparte tries to find time to romance Princess Consuelo Caracciolo (Claudia Cardinale). American soldier Jimmy Wren (Ken Marshall) acts as Malaparte's assistant and enjoy the company of Italian women, including a possible real romance with Maria Concetta (Lilliana Tari). There's also an Americna Senator's wife and ace pilot, Deborah Wyatt (Alexandra King), who wants to see firsthand how operations are going. Since General Clark doesn't want her getting in his way, he pawns her off on Malaparte.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Good Kill (opening May 22nd)

Review by Milan Paurich

GOOD KILL is a bit like an Oliver Stone movie on Quaaludes. Certainly the topical subject—drone warfare in the post-digital age—is uber-Stone-y, but the execution is dreamy and purposefully disorienting. It’s as though the DOORS-era Stone had directed WORLD TRADE CENTER. Writer-director Andrew Niccol’s background in thinking man’s sci-fi (GATTACA, S1M0NE, IN TIME, and THE TRUMAN SHOW, which he scripted for Peter Weir) informs his new film both stylistically and intellectually. Yet the Niccol work it most eloquently bookends—it almost serves as a companion piece—is his bonkers 2005 dark comedy LORD OF WAR in which Nicolas Cage played an international arms dealer. KILL is a modern take on combat in which the very concept of “arms dealer” seems almost quaintly old-fashioned. Why bother stockpiling military hardware (or WMDs for that matter) when a drone can do the job with no muss or fuss? All you really need is a computer console and a moderately skilled gamer.

An affair to remember: CinEvent in Columbus, May 22-25

[CinEvent takes place Friday May 22nd through Monday May 25th at the Renaissance Downtown Columbus Hotel.]

Event preview by Charles Cassady, Jr. 

Before it became more or less identified with summer-blockbuster kickoffs and superhero sequels, Memorial Day Weekend was actually about memorializing the fallen - remember?

And this Memorial Day we would like you to remember a certain Steve Haynes, who died in April at the age of 68.

Haynes, a film super-fan, was one of the co-founders of Ohio's oldest movie expo, CinEvent in Columbus. A Memorial Day weekend tradition, CinEvent happens this year in its 47th edition. Expect many tributes to Haynes during the three-day festival.

An interview with 'We Are Still Here' director Ted Geoghegan

[WE ARE STILL HERE screens Friday May 22nd and Saturday May 23rd at midnight at the Capitol Theatre. Writer/director Ted Geogegan will be present for a Q & A after the film both nights.]

Ted Geoghegan has written and produced a number of films since 2004, most in the horror genre, but this year's WE ARE STILL HERE marks his first time directing a feature film. Turns out he just may be suited for it, as WE ARE STILL HERE is already garnering a considerable amount of praise both from horror specialty sites and publications, and mainstream critics, too. It's an atmospheric horror film that draws influence from a particular kind of late seventies/early eighties supernatural horror film, perhaps best exemplified by the works of Italian director Lucio Fulci (ZOMBIE, THE BEYOND, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, etc.,). The film is currently playing limited engagements in select cities, including a pair of midnight showings May 22nd and 23rd at Cleveland's Capitol Theatre. Ted will also be doing a Q & A session after each screening, but in the meantime I had a Q & A session of my own with him via email.

We Are Still Here (May 22nd and 23rd at midnight at the Capitol Theatre)

[WE ARE STILL HERE screens Friday May 22nd and Saturday May 23rd at midnight at the Capitol Theatre. Writer/director Ted Geogegan will be present for a Q & A after the film both nights.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

A couple movies in to an old farm house only to find it isn't just a fixer-upper, it's haunted, in WE ARE STILL HERE. Paul and Anne Sacchetti (Andrew Sensenig and Barbara Crampton) hope that a change of scenery will help them get over the grief of losing their teenage son, Bobby. But almost immediately, Anne senses a presence in the home that she's certain is the spirit of her son. There are other strange phenomenon as well, like the unnaturally hot basement. Paul is skeptical, but after the contractor he hires to check out the basement suffers mysterious injuries, he isn't so sure. Then one night the Sachetti's neighbors Dave (Monte Markham) and Maddie (Susan Gibney) stop by to cheerfully inform them about their new home's history as a funeral parlor where the bodies didn't always make it into the ground. He goes on to explain that the owners at the time, the Dagmar family, were run out of town on a rail.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Lambert & Stamp (opens in Cleveland May 15th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[LAMBERT & STAMP opens in Cleveland on Friday May 15th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Pamela Zoslov

Among British rock bands, there was always something different about the Who. Why, for instance, were so many of their albums created for, or adapted to, the stage? The group pioneered the ambitious “rock opera” with Tommy, Quadrophenia and the ill-fated Lifehouse. Broadway, the Metropolitan Opera House — how did this posh image mesh with the group's scruffy looks and slashing Mod rebellion (“Hope I die before I get old”)?

The key, at last, is found in a new documentary, LAMBERT & STAMP. Directed by James D. Cooper, the film tells the story of the group's long-term relationship with the inimitable Christopher “Kit” Lambert, and his business partner, Chris Stamp, who discovered the band –— then called The High Numbers and playing mostly blues and R&B covers —  and determined to make stars of them. The name Kit Lambert is familiar as the band's manager and producer, but most fans are probably unaware of Lambert's role, alongside Stamp, in shaping, and in a sense creating, the Who.


Mad Max: Fury Road

Review by Matt Finley

It's hard to review a movie as magic and wonderful as MAD MAX: FURY ROAD... it's just impossible to metabolize so much visceral joy into slack lexical strings without losing the crucial crackling surge of pure love that rare films like this so effortlessly conjure. Or maybe it's just hard to review it without sounding like a 10-year-old at the dusty end of his third Fun Dip pouch running in circles and making car sounds.

So please allow me the occasional hood-kicking VROOM as I assure you that the fourth installment in George Miller's sand-choked, rust-coated, post-apocalyptic odyssey is as vibrant, wild, nasty, and fun as any of its preceding entries - THE ROAD WARRIOR included.

Deli Man (May 16th and 17th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[DELI MAN screens Saturday May 16th at 7:40 pm and Sunday May 17th at 4:30 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

The delicatessen has long been a part of Jewish-American life. DELI MAN chronicles the history of this culinary institution from a peak in the thirties, when New York alone boasted thousands of delis, to the present day in which only about 150 remain in the entire United States. It's a story filled to bursting with pastrami and corned beef, told by the admittedly “mashugana” (crazy) individuals who keep the tradition alive, and their customers both famous and not.

Although the film interviews a number of deli owners still plying their trade in New York, it's Ziggy Gruber, a trained French Chef who learned the deli business as a kid from his grandparents, who gets the most screen time with his Houston, TX establishment Kenny and Ziggy's. So yes, in case you were wondering, there are Jews in Texas, and they make a damn fine sandwich. Going to the deli is about more than just food, though – it's a huge part of the Jewish-American cultural tradition. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, delis also helped “Americanize” many Jews back in the thirties.