The House


Game of Thrones

It's fitting that the titular House of Black and White is home to No One, for if there's anything true of Westeros, it's that nothing is ever black and white. Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma), for example, blames the Lannisters for her beloved husband's death, and from her viewpoint, it would be just to mail parts of an innocent young girl, Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free), back to her mother, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). Back in King's Landing, looking at the threatening statue of a snake that's been mailed to her, Cersei acts like the victim; she can't fathom why Ellaria might seek revenge, even as she herself swears to burn Dorne to the ground should anything happen to her daughter. Everybody is the hero of their own narrative; those who are mere bystanders, like the current prince of Dorne, Ellaria's brother-in-law, Doran (Alexander Siddig), are warned that their inactions will swiftly lead to their own deposal.

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TAGS: aidan gillen, Alexander Siddig, Anton Lesser, dean-charles chapman, dominic carter, emilia clarke, game of thrones, gwendolin, ian gelder, Indira Varma, jacob anderson, jerome flynn, joel fry, kit harington, lena headey, maisie williams, michiel huisman, nell tiger free, nikolaj coster-waldau, owen teale, peter Vaughan, recap, sophie turner, the house of black and white


Virgin Mountain

The latest film from Icelandic director Dagur Kári concerns an obese, socially awkward man who's still a virgin at age 43, and who finds himself falling for a woman he meets at a line-dancing class. Though Virgin Mountain is the English title, its Icelandic title, Fusí, seems more fitting. Instead of being a broad yuks-with-heart sex romp in the manner of Judd Apatow's The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Kári's film is more a character study of Fusí (Gunnar Jónsson), a particular specimen of arrested development who still lives with his mother; obsesses, among other things, on a giant scale model of the World War II Battle of El Alamein; and works the same dead-end airport job, often enduring the humiliating taunts of his co-workers in the process.

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TAGS: alba rohrwacher, dagur kári, flonja kodheli, gunnar jónsson, ilmur kristjánsdóttir, laura bispuri, sworn virgin, tribeca film festival, virgin mountain


Bridgend

Set in the titular Welsh county, which has experienced a massive influx of teenage suicides since 2007, Jeppe Rønde's Bridgend presents a fictionalized portrait of a young girl, Sara (Hannah Murray), who moves to the town with her policeman father. While Dave (Steven Waddington) is tasked with investigating the spat of suicides, Sara is the one who comes to learn the cult-ish young community from the inside out, from the halls of school to the lake in the woods where ruffian youths congregate like a reckless pack of wolves. The dark forest is also where many young dead bodies have been discovered hanging from trees. As Sara falls deeper into the highly ritualistic social circle, Bridgend essentially outs itself as a gothic coming-of-age tale ponderously obsessed with the dark, corruptible forces of peer pressure.

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TAGS: athalia routier, being 14, bridgend, galatéa bellugi, hannah murray, hélène zimmer , jeppe rønde, najaa bensaid, steven waddington, tribeca film festival


Orphan Black

"You're a legend, Sarah Manning." So one of Project Castor's menacing clones (Ari Millen), imprisoned by the Dyad Group, pays his respects to the former con artist (Tatiana Maslany) in the season premiere of Orphan Black, as the genetic "sestras" of the series confront yet another amorphous enemy. It's the subtext of the scene, however, that suggests both the strengths and the weaknesses of tonight's episode, for the Castor clone's greeting might also be taken as an acknowledgment of Maslany's incomparable talents. "The Weight of This Combination" once again offers evidence that hers is the best performance on television, but it remains unclear if Orphan Black can keep pace.

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TAGS: ari millen, Evelyne Brochu, James Frain, jordan garvaris, kristian bruun, maria doyle kennedy, orphan black, recap, skyler wexler, Tatiana Maslany, the weight of this combination


Among the Believers

Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi's Among the Believers takes viewers to the frontlines of an ideological battle playing out in the Islamic world that receives little coverage in the Western media. Capturing both the desperate poverty of rural Pakistan and the claustrophobic urban sprawl of Islamabad, the film portrays the ongoing struggle between Islamic fundamentalism and moderate secularism in the Pakistani educational system. While several key figures in this conflict are touched on, it's Abdul Aziz Ghazi, a radical Muslim cleric who runs a network of madrassas collectively titled the Red Mosque, who emerges both as the documentary's most compelling character and its terrifying antagonist. Located throughout Pakistan, these religious schools boast approximately 10,000 students, whom the Red Mosque trains to spread Islam by jihad or proselytization in an effort to fulfill Ghazi's vision of a revolution that would bring the entire country under sharia law. Affiliated both with ISIL and the Taliban, Ghazi openly declares that the purpose of the Red Mosque is to turn its child jihadists into mujahedeen to fight what he sees are Islam's two greatest enemies: the Pakistani government, and secularism (in all of its guises) both within and beyond the nation's borders.

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TAGS: abdul aziz ghazi, among the believers, hemal trivedi, mohammed ali naqvi, pervez hoodbhoy, tribeca film festival


Trevor Noah

1. "Necessarily the News." Understanding the explosion of outrage around the announcement of Trevor Noah as the new Daily Show host, says Grantland's Wesley Morris, requires looking at everything from the state of political satire to the Brian Williams mess to the racial politics of South African popular culture. In other words: It gets really complicated, really quickly.

"If The Daily Show were a sitcom, four-year-old derogatory tweets about women and one's penis wouldn't matter. Neither would the fact that Noah's comedy's extensive forays into race are humorously unimaginative at best and appalling at worst. But Noah is being handed a now-venerable news program to which there are standards of taste, respect, and propriety, none of which a comedian should be expected to uphold, but which are certainly desired in a newsman. In Noah's work as the former, he's run afoul of the latter. Now the questions are, do we move on and wait to see him on the show (which will take months to evaluate)? And what does it mean to do so? Noah not being American (or British) could be bracing. So, too, should his being biracial. Larry Wilmore's show, primarily about race, frees a Trevor Noah Daily Show from the bedeviling limitations of race without keeping the subject off-limits—and Comedy Central's new late-night lineup would also put television of any kind in a potentially exciting new place."

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TAGS: audrey hepburn, clouds of sils maria, dave kehr, grantland, jon stewart, justified, madonna, matthew sweet, museum of modern art, olivier assayas, richard brody, star wars: episode vii, the daily show, timothy olyphant, trevor noah, walton goggins, wesley morris


In Transit

In Transit's first scene features a young man telling a fellow passenger about a major life change toward which he's heading on the train they're both riding: He found himself unhappy with his current lifestyle and decided to take an opportunity offered by a relative to start afresh elsewhere. When he ecstatically rhapsodizes about how he's seizing this "opportunity to change," one might initially assume that the film is essentially offering its statement of intent; certainly, a subsequent anecdote from a Chinese woman who recently fled her home country to come see the U.S. buttresses an impression that this film will be a paean to the freedom and possibility of human connection that train travel represents. But as ever with the late documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles, who co-directs here with Lynn True, Nelson Walker, David Usui, and Benjamin Wu, things aren't quite so simple.

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TAGS: albert maysles, benjamin wu, david usui, in transit, Lynn True, Nelson Walker, tribeca film festival


Gored

Ido Mizrahy's Gored is a survey of hard knocks and the terror of dying dreams. Its subject is the death-defying, dogged, and spirited Antonio Barrera, the most gored bullfighter in modern matador history. After years of battles and heartbreak, he prepares for his final performance in the bullring, and Mizrahy's camera is there, ready to capture the last throes of a legacy built through blood. Even for those who consider bullfighting a nasty, anachronistic sport (something for the Hemingways of old), Mizrahy's account of Barrera may still surprise and move, focused as it is so narrowly on a man as vulnerable and endangered, it seems, as the bulls he goes to fight.

But Mizrahy doesn't dig deep enough into his subject. Composed mostly of complimentary interviews and archival footage, Gored considers Barrera from a distance. Interviews with Barrera, his wife, friends, and an old-school matador journalist, only scratch the surface. Noting Barrera's ability (or lack of) compared to the stars of old, the journalist comes closest to being the film's much needed expert voice and adversarial opinion. He doesn't say it, but it's obvious that he isn't a fan of Barrera. Moments like this feel as if they could have pushed further and granted audiences richer insight into the ritual of bullfighting and Barrera's ego, hopes, and life outside the ring.

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TAGS: antonio barrera, gored, Ido Mizrahy, tribeca film festival


Race on the QTAiming to confront "the racial frankness in [Quentin] Tarantino's films and not the man himself," Adilifu Nama's new book offers close readings of the writer-director's eight feature films (and additionally, True Romance) in order to unveil the complexities of racial interest and formation as they occur within the Tarantino oeuvre. Nama takes this charge as a corrective to critics like Armond White who view Tarantino's films as "pop sleaze without the politics," or Stanley Crouch, who's compared Tarantino's interest in race with novelist Ralph Ellison's. Nama falls somewhere in the middle, wishing to lift the "hackneyed claims that Tarantino is a racist," while stopping well short of hagiography, stating "at most [Tarantino's films] serve as catalysts for discussions around black racial formation across the public sphere." The latter assertion is well taken, since the totality of Race on the QT provides ample, perceptive examinations, but almost exclusively along narrative and character lines, with little attention paid to form or aesthetics, rendering several of these readings useful, but only up to a point.

Nama's best insights come in the book's first chapter with analyses of Reservoir Dogs and True Romance, where clever approaches to dialogue and each film's implicit critiques will make even the most ardent viewer want to revisit them. Nama is particularly on point with Reservoir Dogs, which he deems "a visual analogue of the type of hypermasculinity and extravagant violence rapped about on top of 1970s funk samples." That is, Nama meticulously mines each of the film's white characters' racist views on blackness (of which there are plenty) and positions them in relation to Holdaway (Randy Brooks), the film's sole black character, since he's "a formidable tactician and the principle architect for bringing down [the] crime organization." By recasting Reservoir Dogs as a "racial revenge narrative," Nama acutely displays the film's ties with Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, films that utilize this kind of narrative far more explicitly. However, Nama's discussion of these films proves largely unsatisfactory, since here he's adamant and repetitive in his assertions that Inglourious Basterds is a "science-fiction fantasy" and Django Unchained a "Gothic horror film." These categorical imperatives detract from Nama's stated interests in reading for blackness.

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TAGS: adilifu nama, death proof, django unchained, inglourious basterds, jackie brown, kill bill, kill bill vol. 2, pulp fiction, quentin tarantino, race on the qt: blackness and the films of quentin tarantino, reservoir dogs


Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones

Everything a player needs to know about Curve Digital's literally sneaky puzzle platformer, Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones, is in its title. Though the original name, Stealth Bastard, might have more accurately summed up the epithet players are most likely to hurl at the screen right before breaking their controller, the use of a pun more accurately describes the playful way in which a player's path to victory is littered with a healthy mixture of laughter and groans. As with Game of Thrones, there's a steady and sometimes surprising stream of murder; what makes this bearable, if not enjoyable, is that, because the PTi Institute is in the clone-testing business (they harvest each clone's goggles for use as a child's happy-meal toy), a death is merely a teachable moment in QA followed by a rebirth, not an end to the story. In fact, given the level construction, players will often have to die dozens of times in order to figure out how to avoid, say, a whirling sawblade that abruptly pops out of the wall, or a ceiling with a penchant for suddenly crushing those underneath.

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TAGS: curve digital, game of thrones, stealth inc. 2: a game of clones







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