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Thursday, September 30, 2010

BOXING GYM

By D.E.Levine

2010 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION

Director: Frederick Wiseman
Writer: Unscripted
Cast: Gym Attendees, Richard Lord
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Genre: Documentary

Frederick Wiseman has made a multi-layered, extremely interesting documentary about a community gym.

The film explores the gym, which concentrates on martial arts, and the varied attendees who join and train because of their interest in martial arts.

The gym membership pay $50 monthly, with no contracts or extra fees and are able to train as much as they want and can handle for that fee.

From the conversations with both the owner/manager Richard Lord and the gym attendees, the film was shot real-time without scripting or rehearsal.

It's an interesting look at the gym and the people who attend and will probably be more appealing to some who have a more intense interest in martial arts and the training necessary to achieve different goals and plateaus within that specialty.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BLACK VENUS

By D.E.Levine

2010 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION

Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Writer: Abdellatif Kechiche, Gayla Laroix
Cast: Yahima Torres, Andre Jacobs, Olivier Gourmet, Elina Lowensohn, Francois Marthouret, Michel Gionti, Jean- Christophe Bouvet, Jonathan Pienaar, Remi Martin, Jean-Jacques Moreau et al.
Running Time: 166 Minutes
Country of Origin: France
Language: English, French
Genre: Drama, History

This may not be a great film but it is certainly an interesting and touching one.

The film opens in early 19th century London where a scientist is presenting a lecture at the Museum of Natural History Museum on the Hottentot, a bulky African female who is known for her large posterior and distended labia.

In a Piccadilly sideshow the African slave Sarah Baartman has been dressed in a nude colored body stocking and is paraded onstage as the Hottentot Venus, a sexualized savage from the jungle who has traveled to London and is now appearing on stage.

Released from her cage, Sarah sings and dances and is at the mercy of her "overseer" in front of an enthusiastic London audience.

Is she being exploited? Or is she reaping the benefits of being a star attraction?

She is a star attraction and offstage, dresses like a lady, goes out on the town where she eats, drinks and smokes with gusto, and is accompanied by a couple of young men to do her bidding.

Are they really there to help her or are they keeping track of her for her overseers? Is she really a free woman as she claims in court, or an exploited slave?

It's painful to watch Sarah but watching also raises questions about the spread of slavery in Europe. Although we see Sarah as an "entertainer" we know and learn little about her early years and her upbringing.

How much of the story about slavery and exploitation is true? Was it all a hype to bring in customers or was Sarah really badly abused?

While the film raises more questions and speculation, it answers very few. Overall, the material and performances are fascinating but raise more questions than they answer.

Friday, September 24, 2010

THE SOCIAL NETWORK

By D.E.Levine

2010 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION

Director: David Fincher
Writer: Aaron Sorkin (screenplay) and Ben Mezrich (book0
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Rooney Mara, Bryan Barter, Dustin Fitzsimons, Arnie Hammer, Josh Pence, Joseph Mazzello, Patrick Mapel, Max Minghella, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake et al.
Producers: Dana Bruneetti, Cean Chaffin, Michael De Luca and Scott Rudin
Executive Producer: Kevin Spacey
Original Music: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Country of Origin: United States
Language: Language
Genre: Drama

The 48th New York Film Festival opens with the much hyped film about the Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard "geek" who formed and rapidly grew the social network, Facebook.

From the start of the film you're aware that Zuckerberg has few or no social skills (which explains his lack of friends), dresses abominably even for a college student, and is only concerned with his programming and blogging.

Mark is smart, probably the smartest guy in the room, regardless of what room he's in. The big drawback is he knows it and that propels him to be consistently rude and obnoxious.

In conversations with his girlfriend he's unable to concentrate and carry on one train of thought, leaping from one thing to another and wearing her down. When she reaches the breaking point and tells him she's breaking up with him he reacts badly.

He takes his anger at his girlfriend and women at Harvard out by blogging distasteful things in public and programming a Facemash site where Harvard men can choose who's hot and who's not.

Whether Zuckerberg knew it or not, Facemash was the predecessor of Facebook. However, it also got him suspended from Harvard.

But things do not run smoothly. Regardless of his brilliance, it turns out that the Facebook concept wasn't totally his alone. The Winklevoss twins from the Harvard rowing team actually had the concept and had already had a couple of programmers working on it by the time they hired Zuckerberg to program for them.

Through a series of flashbacks of lawsuits against Zuckerberg the audience sees that as brilliant as Zuckerberg is, he alienated everyone he dealt with from his only friend through his own attorney.

Seemingly unable to say words as simple as "Thank You", Zuckerberg builds his database and becomes even more alienated from society, not only cutting himself off from people but also angering them through his actions, his ambition, his lack of grace and his seemingly endless ego.

In the film, Zuckerberg's best friend, Eduardo Saverin, who financed the original project and is treated badly after doing so, captures the viewers sympathy in a way that eludes us as far as Zuckerberg himself.

The thing that stands out about Mark Zuckerberg is his cleverness at accepting help from people and then holding them in total contempt. He's simply not a sympathetic character.

It is ironic that the most successful online "community", a social networking web site that has expanded beyond belief and made Zuckerberg incredibly rich, was created by a man who lacks even basic social skills and doesn't interface well with anyone.

When Sean Parker enters the picture, the flamboyant creator of Napster, Eduardo is pushed aside and Mark starts accepting help and introductions from Sean. Parker is so flamboyant and such a "bad boy" that Mark is immediately dazzled by him.

This was shot in digital and makes Harvard seem normal rather than the elitist institution that it is always represented as. But there's no denying that the school is filled with the wealthy, the powerful and the ambitious.

The Winklevoss twins moved on row in the Olympics and also proved enough of their case to receive a huge settlement.

Zuckerberg, who was never invited into the elitist society, was angry, contemptuous and looking to get even and prove he was just as good as they were, or better, so he created a world of his own, based on data.

In our modern world where information rules, the audience can immediately identify with the story and characters as being in the here and now of modern society.

It's an interesting film and reflects our world but doesn't depict any character that you would want to emulate. Except for the money and the fame most of the characters seem to have rather empty lives.

OF GODS AND MEN

By D.E.Levine

2010 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION

Director: Xavier Beauvois
Writer: Xavier Beauvois (adpation and dialogue); Etienne Comar
Cast: Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, Olivier Rabourdin, Philippe Laudenbach, Jacques Herlin, Laic Pichon, Xavier Maly, Jean-Marie Frin, Abdelhafid Metalsi, Sabrina Ouazani, Abdellah Moundy, Olivier Perrier, Farid Larbi, Adel Bencherif et al.
Producers: Pascal Couchetoux and Etienne Comar
Area Executive Producer: Frantz Richard
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Country of Origin: France
Language: French with English subtitles
Genre: Drama

Xavier Beauvois has given us a brilliant film, so well cast, directed and acted that the viewer forgets they are watching a movie and thinks they are observing a real-time story.

Taken from an actual story about eight Cistercian monks who lived in a monastery in Tibhirine, Algeria from 1993 to 1996, the story focuses on their simple life and harmonious existence with their Muslim neighbors.

When Islamic fundamentalists massacred a crew of foreign workers, the monks turned down protection offered by the regional army and then debated whether to remain or leave their monastery.

Living an austere religious life and providing medical and community services to the local population, the monks were faced with the moral delemma of whether to let their fear drive them away from their mission.the

When they all concluded and voted that they wanted to remain, they demonstrated silent strength and courage that was stronger than their fears.

In 1996 seven of the monks were kidnapped and murdered in one of the extreme examples of violence and atrocities culminating from confrontation between the Algerian government and terrorist groups.

The identity of the kidnappers and murderers and the exact circumstances of the monks' deaths have never been known, but the incident had a profound and lasting effect on the governments, religious communities and international public opinion.

In 2003 the case was taken up by a French court. With the recent declassification of previously classified documents, it's hoped that the mystery of who kidnapped and killed the monks may finally be solved.

Beautifully photographed and capturing the spirit of the monastic order, the Muslim community and the spirit of the events, the story begins several weeks before the terrorists issued an ultimatum ordering all foreigners to leave the country.

Running through the film is the ongoing theme of commitment by the monks to the community and the message of peace by which they live and which they want to spread.

After viewing this beautifully made film, it's easy to understand why this film won the Grand Prix 2010 at the Cannes Film Festival.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

THE ROBBER

By D.E.Levine

2010 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION

Director: Brenjamin Heisenberg
Writer: Benjamin Heisenberg (screenplay); Martin Prinz (novel)
Cast: Andrew Lust, Franziska Weisz, Florian Wotruba, Johann Bedner, Markus Schleinzer, Peter Vilnai, Max Eidelbacher et al.
Producers: Burkhard Althoff, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Markus Glaser, Peter Heilrath, Michael Kitzberger and Wolfgang Widerhofer
Producer: Anne Even (ZDF/Arte), Heinrich Mis (ORF) and Susanne Spellitz (ORF)
Line Producer: Michael Kitzberger
Original Music: Lorenz Dangel
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Country of Origin: Austria/Germany
Language: German
Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama, Thriller, Sport

Taken from the true story of Johann Kastenberger, an accomplished Austrian marathon runner and one of the most successful bank robbers in the country's history, this is really and interesting and easy to watch film.

Renamed Rettenberger in the film, the film opens with Rettenberger in prison, working out on a treadmill.

Released, he goes back to bank robbing and then shows up at the state work bureau to apply for help finding a job.

Getting involved with someone who works at the bureau, Rettenberger ostensibly runs to work out, but breaks up his training to successfully rob banks, hiding the money under the bed where he lives.

Some say that his training produced an endorphin high that motivated the robberies and later killings. However, as played in this film, Rettenberger has a problem with society and rehabilitation. He appears almost emotionless and keeps himself remote even when having an affair.

His love interest also seems remote. She covers up their involvement and shows few emotions, but her glances and look convey an enormous amount.

This may constitute an "art" film but it's a masterpiece. More than once when the film appears to be winding down it suddenly ratchets up again. It's intriguing and stimulating and certainly worth seeing.

LENNONNYC

By D.E.Levine

2010 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION

Director: Michael Epstein
Writer: Michael Epstein
Cast: John Lennon, Yokon Ono, et al.
Producer: Susan Lacy, Jessica Levin and Michael Epstein
Executive Producers: Stanley Buchthal, Michael Cohl and Susa
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Genre: Documentary

This is a critically acclaimed film that was made for PBS but is premiering in theaters at the 48th New York Film Festival.

As the world remembers John Lennon on what would have been his 70th birthday and the 30th anniversary of his death, it seems fitting to bring this film to the public.

There's a great deal of archival footage, much of which has never been publicly seen. Additionally, Director/writer Epstein interviewed some artists who worked with Lennon, who have never spoken publicly before, as well as artists like Elton John and others.

The film covers the 1970s when Lennon immigrated to America from England. It's mostly a positive portrayal although it does cover his descent into alcohol and drugs when he separated from Yoko and went out to Los Angeles.

Yoko is portrayed as the steadying force that brought him back to his senses and his creativity and since this film was made with the approval and assistance of Yoko Ono, we have to expect it would portray her in a positive light.

For everything good and bad we know about the public performer Lennon, it is the years when he lived with his family in NYC that are the most endearing and appear to have been the happiest in his life.

The ending lacks relevant information as we see the memorials in front of the Dakota but Mark Chapman's name is never mentioned, nor the fact that he has been consistently denied parole and is up for it once again.

Definitely worth seeing one must assume that the film adds to the myth already surrounding John Lennon and is overly reverent about his post-Beatle days.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

CERTIFIED COPY

By D.E.Levine

2010 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION

Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Writer: Abbas Kiarostami
Cast: Juliette Binoche, William Shimell, Adrian Moore et al.
Producers: Angelo Barbagello, Charles Gillibert, Marin Karmitz, Nathanael Karmitz and Abbas Kiarostami
Executive Producers: Claire Dornoy and Marin Karmitz
Line Producer: Gaetano Daniele
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Country of Origin: Italy
Language: French and Italian with English subtitles
Genre: Drama

Beautiful Juliette Binoche is beautiful and talented in this film and that's undoubtedly why she won the Best Actress Award at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.

In a beautiful bittersweet comedy set in Italy, Director/writer Abbas Kiarostami veers away from the photography, poetry and experimental films for which he is known.

A tale about an American writer in Tuscany to promote his latest book who meets a French single mom who's running an antique gallery in town.

She invites him to visit her gallery but once there he informs her he'd prefer to drive around in the Tuscan sunshine before his train leaves.

From their initial trip in her car, a male-female clash begins. She's romantic and he's pragmatic.

During the afternoon she avoids her son's phone calls while coming onto the author. She takes him to a wedding chapel and insists they pose with one of the wedding couples, telling the couple a story about having been married there 15 years before.

After a misunderstanding with some locals, she gets the author to pretend they are a long-married couple and they then proceed to have a series of amusing spats.

The film is more of an art film and will probably have limited draw despite Ms. Binoche.

The author is played by famed operatic baritone William Shimell. He does an outstanding and believable job in his first non-singing role.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

OKI'S MOVIE (Ok hui ui yeonghwa)

By D.E.Levine

2010 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION

Director: Hong Sang-soo
Writer: Hong Sang-soo
Cast: Lee Sunkyun, Jung Yumi and Moon Sungkeun
Producer: Kim Kyounghee
Original Music: We Zongyun
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Country of Origin: South Korea
Language: Korean with English subtitles
Genre: Comedy, Drama

Oki's Movie actually consists of four short films where the three main characters appear in all four of the films, but have different but overlapping roles in each of the films.

The first film "A Day for Incantation" follows Jingu after he has a few successful films produced. Jingu is a philanderer who feels entitled due to his success. He wants to rest on his laurels and achieve success without actually putting in the work. Overall, he's a very annoying character who drinks, smokes and chases women.

The second film "King of Kisses" takes us back to Jingu's college days when he tries to fall in love with a woman. Known as "Psycho" to his friends he pesters Oki with the continual story that he's never dated before. The film seems unfinished and even juvenile as it represents a common form of student filmmakers production.

The third film "After the Snowstorm" finds Professor Song waiting for his students after a snowstorm. The two students, Jingu and Oki, ask questions about life for which Professor song doesn't have good answers. Song claims he isn't very wise and after indulging in a dinner of live octopus, vomits it up outside the restaurant. While the film isn't overly interesting, it does set the stage for the fourth film.

The fourth film "Oki's Movie" is told from the viewpoint of Oki, who compiles a student film to tell her story of loving two men - one older (Professor Song) and one younger (the filmmaker Jingu). The storyline is basically about Oki taking both men to Mt. Acha on different days in winter. Oki's voice provides a voice over telling the viewer what transpired with each visit and how the visits and the two men compared to each other.

The films are interesting but lackluster. The major interest derives from how they compare with other films done by Hong Sang-soo.

POETRY (SHI)

By D.E.Levine

2010 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION

Director: Chang-dong Lee
Writer: Chang-dong Lee
Cast: Jeong-Hee Yoon, Nae-sang Ahn, Da-wit Lee, Yong-taek Kim, Hira Kim et al.
Producer: Jun-dong Lee
Running Time: 139 Minutes
Country of Origin: South Korea
Language: Korean with English subtitles
Genre: Drama

Poetry is a very sobering philosophical film. It's also very beautiful and thoughtful.

Mija works as a maid to a disabled elderly man several days a week and cares for her deadbeat ungrateful teenage grandson.

Plagued by constantly forgetting simple words such as "wallet", Mija is in her sixties and senses something is wrong with her, which precipitates her visit to the hospital for tests.

Seeing an advertisement for a poetry class at the local community center, Mija registers and takes her teacher's advice to observe, take notes and write poetry very seriously.

Along the way five fathers of her grandsons friends visit her and report that the six boys were involved in raping a farm girl who later committed suicide.

The fathers decide to pay the girl's mother a settlement of 30 million won, split six ways, so that the family won't sue the school or ruin the six boys' lives.

Mija gets up and leaves the meeting, not just because of the difficulty raising the money but also because she's not convinced that paying a settlement is the right thing to do. Throughout the film she seems to question making the payment.

Mija, on her modest income is unable to come up with her share of the money (5 million won) and tries a variety of people and techniques in order to raise it.

Mija undergoes a great deal of pain and hurt and endures things that are demoralizing and degrading. In the end she learns that loving her grandson doesn't mean she has to protect him from the punishment he deserves.

Director Lee Chang-dong's message is really about how language of your own creation can liberate you, even in the situation where you live in a society where there is institutionalized male aggression.

Monday, September 20, 2010

CARLOS

By D.E.Levine

Director: Olivier Assayas
Writer: Dan Franck and Olivier Assayas
Cast: Edgar Ramirez, Alexander Beyer, Julia Hummer, Anna Thalbach, Susanne Wuest, Alexander Yassin, Alexander Scheer, Ahmad Kaabour, Juana Acosta, Alejandro Arroyo, Talal El-Jordi, Christoph Bach, Rodney El Haddad et al.
Producers: Daniel Leconte and Jens Meurer,
Executive Producers: Judy Tossell and Ralph Cohen
In-house Line Producer: Marc Wachter
Junior Producer: Undine Filter
Running Time: 330 Minutes
Country of Origin: France
Language: French and Spanish with English subtitles
Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama, History, Thriller

Carlos is a fantastic film but it's 5 hours and 30 minutes long so a viewer must be prepared for some discomfit simply because the break arrives 3 hours and 18 minutes into the showing.

Originally made as a three part television special and shown on German TV, separate or together, Carlos is a formidable undertaking.

Written and directed by Olivier Assayas, the film is both illuminating and engrossing. It details the life and career of Carlos the Jackal, a myth in his own time and an extraordinarily adept terrorist who holds a place as a central figure in the annals of international terrorism.

Slated to be shown on the Sundance Channel, the film shows how countries embrace and use terrorists to further their individual domestic and international goals.

While the film is extremely politically informative, the individual, Carlos (aka Ilrich Ramirez Sanchez) is still an enigma about whom little is known making it necessary to label the story as fiction.

A successful killer for hire, Carlos was used repeatedly by African nations only to ultimately be betrayed by them and handed over to French authorities by the Sudan.

Despite the fact that we know the ending, the story is taut, suspenseful, exciting and horrifying all at the same time.

He was arrested in 1997 and had an extremely successful and profitable career as a hired assassin during the 1970s and 1980s when he garnered lots of newspaper space.

What is known was that the man who ultimately became Carlos was born in Venezuala to a Marxist lawyer and was educated in England and the Soviet Union.

When he joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Beiruit in 1970, Carlos became the engineer and protagonist in bombings, kidnappings and murders worldwide.

Always surrounded by a following, including many infatuated women, he was intelligent, charming and extremely dangerous.

He was a master at manipulating individuals and organizations and claimed that he knew he would die violently.

As with so many communists and socialists, while claiming his actions are to benefit the masses and the oppressed, Carlos lives in luxury surrounded by plenty of money and women.

The film is intriguing because Carlos managed to elude authorities for so long as well as for the fact that even now while he serves a life sentence in a French prison, it's still difficult to get personal details about the man known as The Jackal.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

CAMERAMAN: THE LIFE AND WORK OF JACK CARDIFF

By D.E.Levine

2010 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION

Director: Craig McCall
Writer: Craig McCall
Cast: Jack Cardiff, Martin Scorsese, Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, John Mills, Alan Parker, Thelma Schoonmaker, Freddie Francis, Raffaella De Laurentis, Richard Fleischer, Peter Yates, Kathleen Byron, Christopher Challis, Kevin McClory, Ian Christie, Moira Shearer, Peter Handford, George E. Turner, Michel Ciment, Michael Powell, Dustin Hoffman, Humphrey Bogart, Sophia Loren, Craig McCall, Niki Cardiff and Deborah Kerr
Producers: Craig McCall and Richard McGill
Executive Producers: Mason Cardiff and Julie Williams
Associate Producers: Sean Broughton, Alex Ireson, Chris Roff, Penny Verbe and Mark Wildig
Original Music: Mark Sayer-Wade
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Genre: Documentary

Perhaps the greatest of British cinematographers, Jack Cardiff worked well into his nineties and was pretty much revered and acknowledged by everyone for his great abilities.

Starting as a child actor in film, he became a teenage gofer and then learned the process of using a motion picture camera becoming a formidable force both behind the camera and as a director.

Cardiff, who died in 2009, was interviewed at length about the films on which he worked and the dramas and people that surrounded the films.

Very simply, Cardiff was a genius and it's evident in every frame that's shown of his work. He worked on great films that have become classics, like The African Queen and the Red Shoes.

In fact, it was Cardiff who was chosen to be the first to use a Technicolor camera in the United States.

More insight into the man is given by interviews done with living friends like Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall, and archival footage with Humphrey Bogart and other deceased greats.

Cameraman is a loving look at a great talent who's work will live on through the masterpieces he left behind.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

NEVER LET ME GO

By D.E.Levine

Director: Mark Romanek
Writer: Kazuo Ishiguro (novel) and Alex Garland (screenplay)
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightly, Izzy Meikle-Small, Charlie Rowe, Ella Purnell, Charlotte Rampling, Sally Hawkins, Kate Bowes Renna, Hannah Sharp, Christina Carrifiell, Oliver Parsons, Luke Bryant, Fidelis Morgan, Damien Thomas et al.
Producers: Alex Garfield, Andrew MacDonald and Allon Reich
Executive Producers: Mark Romanek and Tessa Ross
Co-producer: Richard Hewitt
Original Music: Rachel Portman
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Sci-Fi

I loved this film and despite some disparaging remarks I've heard from other reviewers, the film made me want to go read the book.

Director Romanek, an American, has made a name for himself directing typically British films and once again he excels.

The cinematography is absolutely beautiful as the lushness of the British countryside with its towns and estate houses are lovingly captured on film.

With a stellar ensemble cast, we follow three central characters through their childhood at a private school where we don't know until well into their lives that then children at this school (and others) have been bred and are being raised specifically so they can donate organs to individuals who need replacement parts.

They are living donors from whom organs will be harvested more than once, until ultimately they succumb to death.

It's a sci-fi thriller without the alien invasion. It's a love story between friends and lovers. It's a combination of beautiful, emotional, touching and poignant combined with horrifying, demented, warped and sick.

Romanek has brilliantly used different color palettes for the different decades of time, and those palettes reflect the life and emotions of the characters. The colors are soft and Romanek says he deliberately avoided primary colors.

The casting and performances are brilliant. However, to talk about the plot is to give away the story with its inherent twists and turns, which is unfair to anyone who wants to see the film with a fresh unbiased view.

It's enough to know that the story, written by Kazuo Ishiguro, who also wrote "Remains of the Day" is unusual and mesmerizing, beautifully expressed and definitely something that will make each viewer consider his/her own mortality and the relationships within their lives.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP

By D.E.Levine

Director: Bansky
Writer:
Cast: Bansky, Shepard Fairy, Thierry Guetta, Rhys Ifans, Space Invader and Joshua Levine
Producers: Holly Cushing, Jaime D'Cruz and James Gay-Rees
Executive Producers: Holly Cushing and Jaames Gay-Rees
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Country of Origin: United States and United Kingdom
Language: English
Genre: Documentary, Comedy

Is graffiti art? Are graffiti practitioners true artists?
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These are the questions that Bansky's comedic documentary asks. It's an entertaining quirky film but the question is never really answered.

The film is essentially about how a Los Angeles shop keeper named Thierry Guetta approached Bansky about making a serious documentary about Bansky and other graffiti artists.

Guetta used to buy second hand clothes by the pound and sell them individual at inflated prices to trendy customers. He became very wealthy doing that. However, he must have been bored because when he came into possession of a video camera he became obsessed with making video tapes of everything including himself making video tapes.

Although Bansky guards his privacy and his facial image closely, he agreed to let Guetta follow him around and make the documentary. That was the beginning of eight years (that's right, eight years) of Guetta following Bansky around, being introduced by Bansky to other graffiti artists, and making video tapes.

Unfortunately, Guetta never actually made a viable film. He does try to produce something but his tapes are uncatalogued and the resulting film looks like a disjointed avant garde film.

Bansky, located in the UK, decides he'll try to put a film together a film himself. He sends Guetta back to the U.S. advising him to become a street artist, advice that Guetta takes seriously.

The film is just too interesting to give the rest away. It's entertaining and well worth watching.

Is Bansky putting us on or is he making a critique about the art world? He's definitely making a statement about who makes it as an artist and how they do it.

While, according to Bansky, Guetta wanted to make a documentary about Bansky, in the end Bansky made a film about Guetta, whom he claims is more interesting.

Everyone seeing this film will have their own perception. Is it a real documentary or a satirical look at the world Bansky in which Bansky lives and works.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

MONSTERS

By D.E.Levine

Director: Gareth Edwards
Writer: Gareth Edwards
Cast: Whitney Able, Scott McNairy
Producers: Allan Niblo and James Richardson
Line Producer: Jim Spencer
Original Music: Jon Hopkins
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Language: English, Spanish
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Drama

Filmed in Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico and Texas (USA)

Although titled Monsters, this is not a film where man eating creatures appear to decimate the population.

Instead, Monsters takes us to a place in history where six years after a NASA space probe carrying alien life form samples is destroyed while attempting to re-enter earth over Mexico.

Andrew Kaulder is a photojournalist based in Mexico and paid for taking photos after post-creature attacks.

When his publisher assigns Andrew to escort the boss's daughter Samantha back to the U.S. after she's injured. Andrew agrees to take her to the border of the Infected Zone where she can get a ferry to take her back to the U.S.

Naturally, things don't go as planned and the two wind up having to resort to a more dangerous route. During their travels others are killed as they trek straight through the Infected Zone.

Frankly, the film isn't very exciting until Andrew and Sam are in the Infected Zone.
There seems to be more fear from what the audience doesn't see than what they do.

We don't see much of the creatures until the very end. But, we see a lot of the aftermath and that is terrifying.

The entire film serves as a backdrop for the blossoming romance between Andrew and Sam.

Monsters is an interesting film, well worth seeing as long as you don't expect to see either your typical monster movie or love movie.