House Logo
Explore categories +

Alex Ross Perry (#110 of 12)

Hope and Chaos: The Sixth Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival

Comments Comments (...)

Hope and Chaos: The Sixth Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival

Forager Films

Hope and Chaos: The Sixth Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival

Watching Australian director Jennifer Peedom’s Mountain one morning at the sixth annual Los Cabos International Film Festival, I was struck by the fullness of the auditorium and by the prominence of children in the audience. Peedom’s film is an essayistic documentary about humankind’s relationship with mountains all over the world, with tender, ruefully poetic narration (spoken by Willem Dafoe) that emphasizes how our appreciation of nature can morph into an urge to conquer it, rendering the wild another of the controlled habitats from which we seek refuge. Mountain isn’t what Americans would designate a “children’s film,” as we have a habit of parking young ones in front of whatever A.D.D.-afflicted cartoon happens to be topping the box office at any given moment. It was gratifying to see such a varied audience turn out for Mountain, imparting hope as to the communal possibilities of cinema in the 21st century. Of course, many of the children were whispering and running around the theater, seemingly bored with the film in front of them, but at least they evinced some effort and curiosity.

SXSW 2015: 7 Chinese Brothers, Kings of Nowhere, & Limbo

Comments Comments (...)

SXSW 2015: 7 Chinese Brothers, Kings of Nowhere, & Limbo
SXSW 2015: 7 Chinese Brothers, Kings of Nowhere, & Limbo

You’ve seen this character a million times before: white male, late 20s, prone to wise-ass comments, incapable of keeping even the least stimulating job—but of course with a soft spot. It’s exasperating that Bob Byington is content with lobbing another one of these sad-sack character studies at a festival in which that very subject has far exceeded its sell-by date, and not only that, but to do it with Jason Schwartzman, who plays these kinds of witty mopes in his sleep. 7 Chinese Brothers—an arbitrary title whose meaning Byington lazily deferred to the audience after the screening—suggests a revivification of early 2000s indie cuteness, an impression made all the more troubling by the contemporary roster behind the project: The film features appearances by such notable of-the-moment talents as Alex Karpovsky, TV on the Radio frontman Tunde Adebimpe, and even Alex Ross Perry.

Berlinale 2015 Queen of the Desert and Queen of Earth

Comments Comments (...)

Berlinale 2015: Queen of the Desert and Queen of Earth
Berlinale 2015: Queen of the Desert and Queen of Earth

Theoretically, the subject of Queen of the Desert could hardly be more Herzogian in nature. With her passionate spirit of ceaseless adventure, Gertrude Bell—a British writer/archeologist/map-maker who, among her many achievements, played a major role in British imperialist foreign policy—would seem to be a kindred spirit to a director like Werner Herzog, who in both his fiction and nonfiction features exudes a willingness to follow even the nuttiest of protagonists to the ends of the earth and their outer psychological limits. This is, after all, a filmmaker who, during the making of his 1982 epic Fitzcarraldo, famously followed the path of his opera-loving protagonist, created an actual massive boat, and had people lug it over a real mountain in Peru.

Art of the Real 2014 The Second Game, La Última Película, & More

Comments Comments (...)

Art of the Real 2014: The Second Game, La Última Película, Castanha, & Bloody Beans

Film Society of Lincoln Center

Art of the Real 2014: The Second Game, La Última Película, Castanha, & Bloody Beans

In The Second Game, filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu and his father sit down to watch an old analog tape of a soccer match that the father refereed in 1988, one year before the toppling of Nicolae Ceaușescu. We stare with them at the fuzzy television screen for 76 minutes, the duration of the match on which they comment. The documentary, part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “Art of the Real” series, is an autobiographical meditation on memory, but also an off-handed treatment on the nature of film. At one point, Porumboiu’s father remarks that the match is like a film (Porumboiu’s, or perhaps films in general): “You watch and nothing happens.” But, of course, in this sly, multilayered haunting of the past, very much happens when nothing does.

Firstly, there’s the grim fascination of watching a match without sound; it becomes a silent ballet of players indistinguishable to most viewers, a reminder that soccer, like history, creates very localized allegiances. On the field, the visibility is awful as snow trickles down, yet devout fans fill the stands, partly because this is no ordinary game: The two minor-league teams are backed by dueling factions, the communist military police and the army, a tag of war in which Porumboiu’s father, who refused to let either team buy the results, stands as a cautious, politic mediator. Offering a soccer match as a metaphor for a fallen system that transformed sports into nationalistic pageantry of pride and honor, while secretly rigging games—and, politics—behind its citizens’ backs, The Second Game turns an ordinary, nostalgic gesture into a self-reflexive time capsule.

AFI Fest 2011: A Separation, The Color Wheel, & Green

Comments Comments (...)

AFI Fest 2011: <em>A Separation</em>, <em>The Color Wheel</em>, & <em>Green</em>
AFI Fest 2011: <em>A Separation</em>, <em>The Color Wheel</em>, & <em>Green</em>

Human beings have the unique ability to turn miscommunication and misunderstanding into an art form, especially when it comes to the complicated nature of relationships. Fittingly, this year’s AFI Fest was in no short supply of challenging narratives dealing with the brutal consequences of emotional entanglements gone sour. The most gripping example has to be Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s brilliant mosaic A Separation, a staggeringly sharp drama that charts the collective downfall of many different couplings after a seemingly small disagreement is made exponentially worse by denial, judgment, and guilt. To get an idea of A Separation’s thematic scope, imagine a slow moving avalanche that starts with a single bad decision, then spirals out of control, consuming everyone in sight. Even as Farhadi slowly unveils more narrative information, the consequences of each character’s actions and reactions have an ambiguous, real-world feel that resonates deeply.

Vancouver International Film Festival 2011: The Color Wheel, Mr. Tree, & Sauna on Moon

Comments Comments (...)

Vancouver International Film Festival 2011: <em>The Color Wheel</em>, <em>Mr. Tree</em>, & <em>Sauna on Moon</em>
Vancouver International Film Festival 2011: <em>The Color Wheel</em>, <em>Mr. Tree</em>, & <em>Sauna on Moon</em>

[Editor’s Note: Our coverage of the Vancouver International Film Festival is cross-posted at Parallax View.]

Just like Toronto 2011 and many festivals over the past year, the digital evolution stumbled big when VIFF scheduled numerous DCP (Digital Cinema Projection, the gold standard of high definition digital cinema) screenings in the Granville 7, the biggest house in the Granville multiplex, only to be left high and dry with two faulty projectors. Yes, the emergency system flown in to replace the first also failed to work and in place of high quality, 4K DCP prints, audiences were left with projected DVD screeners (complete with company watermarks) of some of the most heavily attended films of the first weekend. I sat through one but couldn’t do it a second time when The Front Line came out bleary and blurry, with colors off and an incorrect aspect ratio. Some of those problems were fixed a few minutes after I ducked out, I’ve been informed, but it’s still an inadequate substitute for what was supposed to be a state-of-the-art digital presentation. I’ve adjusted my Sunday schedule accordingly to skip the DCP presentations entirely (unless I hear that the system has been repaired) and look to other theaters. Meanwhile, here are some quick notes on what I saw on Saturday, October 1, my second day at VIFF.