March 23, 2009
Paper Soldier, a Russian film from director Alexey German Jr., takes a street-level approach – or more specifically a gray, damp, muddy earth-level approach, to the Russian half of the space race, in an attempt to strip this proud moment in Soviet history of all its glory. While it succeeds in this effort, the film falters a bit with the more human side of story and ends up feeling a little bit like a history lesson.
Forget about any uptempo cosmonaut-training montages or gorgeous outer space vistas. Instead, Paper Soldier is tightly focused on the psyche of Daniel (Merab Ninidze), a physician involved in the space project who grows increasingly uncomfortable risking human life for the sake of science. Daniel’s also got a wife (a fellow doctor played by Chulpan Khamatova) at the training facility in Moscow and a girlfriend at the launch site (Anastasya Shevaleva) in Kazakhstan, and in time these personal and philosophical conflicts take a toll on him.
Read the rest of the review at Film Linc Blog!
March 23, 2009
New Directors/New Films/New Panda
New Directors/New Films is the one of many exciting cinephile things to do in New York City that I have somehow managed to avoid for the nearly 6 years I’ve been living here (NYFF – I’ll get to you eventually). That is, until last week, when I lucked into an opportunity to review a couple of the films at the fest for the Lincoln Center Film Blog. While I wasn’t crazy about either of the films I saw, it was still exciting to see something well, new, and artistically serious during this season of shitty films.
I’ll excerpt both of the pieces I’ve written here when they officially go online, but until then you should check the FilmLinc Blog for all kinds of reviews from the festival and a bunch of other exciting film-nerd stuff as well.
And in case you were wondering about the adorable pandas, they’re just there because I couldn’t find any interesting pictures of the festival or Lincoln Center or anything, you know, relevant. I guess I could’ve posted some still from one of the films, but then again, none of those stills feature cute animals, do they?
March 17, 2009
If you’ve followed the career of sketch comedy group The Whitest Kids U’ Know – saw their live shows at Pianos on the Lower East Side, checked their website for the latest no-budget shorts, cheered as they landed a show on Fuse, then cheered louder when it moved to IFC and became way less censored – then you’re probably surprised, or even a little disturbed to see the picture above, with stars Trevor Moore and Zach Cregger sandwiching Playboy founder and reality-TV staple Hugh Hefner. Shouldn’t Trevor and Zach be working on some bizarrely comic sketches instead palling around with Hef at the Mansion? And how do these guys even know each other?
Read the rest at BlogStage!
March 17, 2009
Last week, I wrote a piece on this site about Miss March, a raunchy teen sex comedy from two of the members of sketch troupe The Whitest Kids U’ Know. Though I’ve long been a fan of the group, I wasn’t kind to the movie, and I felt a little bad about trashing what was, after all, only intended as a mindless diversion. But then I saw the other reviews.
As it stands now, Miss March is at 4% on Rotten Tomatoes, with only 2 of the 46 reviews aggregated on that site considered favorable. On Metacritic, it has an overall score of 8, which puts it as the 13th worst reviewed film of all time, just below State Property, Meet the Spartans, and something called The Price of Air.
Visit BlogStage to read the rest of the post!
March 2, 2009
this man is a dandy
Despite the lack of surprises among the actual winners (see mostly accurate predictions here, here, and even here), the general consensus seems to be that Sunday’s 81st Academy Awards were one of the most entertaining Oscar ceremonies in years. Much of the credit goes to producers Bill Condon and Laurence Mark, whose had cryptically promised big changes to the telecast in the press leading up to the show.
While I do think that, overall, the show was unusually brisk and amusing, I’m not sure all of those big changes were successes. So I thought it’d be useful to evaluate each of them on their own. Without further ado…