Film Review http://culturecatch.com/film en One of the Best Coming-of-Age Novels and Films of the Decade http://culturecatch.com/node/3749 <span>One of the Best Coming-of-Age Novels and Films of the Decade</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>August 13, 2018 - 14:35</span> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="http://culturecatch.com/node/3749" data-a2a-title="One of the Best Coming-of-Age Novels and Films of the Decade"><a class="a2a_button_whatsapp"></a><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_email"></a></span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/120" hreflang="en">film review</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/446" hreflang="en">film</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2018/2018-08/we_the_animals_image_5.jpg?itok=hS8YNdmP" width="1200" height="659" alt="Thumbnail" title="we_the_animals_image_5.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>"Of course, at their best, movies are anti-literature," Truman Capote noted in a piece on John Huston. "And as a medium, [they] belong not to the writers, not to the actors, but to the directors."</p> <p>Jeremiah Zagar's adaptation of Justin Torres's superb best-selling, <i>We the Animals,</i> both proves and disproves that premise. The film, shovels into the text, at times reenacting passages word for word. Other times, though, through the use of music, animation, handheld camera footage, and razor-sharp editing, Zagar creates a brilliant cinematic equivalent of Torres’s tome, a task much harder than you might imagine.</p> <p>However, the final result is not a mere equivalence. The novel and the film together create a new whole, each enhancing the other in numerous ways. While one lays bare the inner life of a child foisted into a world of dysfunctional love, incomprehensible sexual desires, and a poverty that can "cage" one in for life with addictive sentences, Zagar douses the social realism now and then with wallops of high-flying magic realism.</p> <p>The screenplay begins inside Jonah’s head on his tenth birthday (he is celebrating his seventh in the novel). The boy is part of tribal threesome that includes his older brothers Manny and Joel, a bevy of wildings often unsupervised by their Irish/Italian mother and Puerto Rican dad.</p> <p>She, not understanding completely about sex, became pregnant at age 14.</p> <blockquote> <p>"No one had explained sex to Ma when she was a kid -- not the nuns at school and not her own mother. So when she asked Paps, 'Can't I get pregnant from this?' Paps had lied; he had laughed and asked, 'This?'"</p> </blockquote> <p>He, at age 16, was chatted into marriage.</p> <p>A family accidentally started by two ninth graders in Brooklyn, a union licensed in Texas, and one now relocated to rural New York, searches for the will to persist, forming a battered unit of affection.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jTRZsrj28C4?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Now Ma works in a brewery. Paps sometimes as a security guard.</p> <p>And sometimes Paps beats Ma. Also, the children. Then, without warning, he'll disappear into the bed of another woman, who knows for how long?</p> <p>When he returns, he's asked, "Why did you come back?"</p> <p>"Why'd you think?" Paps replies, his answer to most questions.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the lads rob stores and vegetable gardens to survive, tease neighbors, and are introduced to their first porno. A misconception of adulthood is thrust into their minds.</p> <p>Narrated by Jonah, the pretty one, Ma's special boy, the soft one, the secret chronicler of all that he sees and feels, his Homer-esque notebooks, which have been entertaining us, are kept concealed under his bedroom mattress. We know he'll pull through all this because we have been watching his inner thoughts being revamped into a tale by an older Jonah who's looking back with wonder at how he escaped a fate that caused his bros to become the father they both loved and hated.</p> <p>With a superb cast (the boys by non-actors), sublime cinematography by Zak Mulligan, invigorating editing by Keiko Deguchi, and an ever-so-wise screenplay by Zagar and Daniel Kitrosser, <i>We the Animals </i>crowns 2018 as a year on film to remember.</p> <p><i>We the Animals</i>, having already been screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and Sundance earlier this year, opens this week in New York City.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3749&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="5HfokUbA8KWq5o73ioMfZnbkLj7BLAIrCPE87bK4QvA"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 13 Aug 2018 18:35:28 +0000 Brandon Judell 3749 at http://culturecatch.com The De-Animator: Kung Fu Panda 2 & 3 Director Tries Humans, Leaving Viewers with “The Darkest Minds” http://culturecatch.com/node/3746 <span>The De-Animator: Kung Fu Panda 2 &amp; 3 Director Tries Humans, Leaving Viewers with “The Darkest Minds”</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>August 3, 2018 - 11:32</span> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="http://culturecatch.com/node/3746" data-a2a-title="The De-Animator: Kung Fu Panda 2 &amp; 3 Director Tries Humans, Leaving Viewers with “The Darkest Minds”"><a class="a2a_button_whatsapp"></a><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_email"></a></span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/120" hreflang="en">film review</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/468" hreflang="en">movies</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/tN8o_E_f9FQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>I know <i>The Hunger Games</i>. I survived <i>The Hunger Games</i>. <b><i> </i></b>And<b><i> </i></b><i>Darkest Minds, </i>you're no <i>Hunger Games.</i></p> <p>You're also no <i>Divergent, The Giver, </i>or <i>Never Let Me Go. </i>Well, to be fair, you might be <i>The Giver.</i></p> <p>This adaptation of the first book of Alexandra Bracken's bestselling dystopian YA trilogy is the live-action debut for helmer Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who has previously earned cheers for directing computerized pandas, peacocks, and tigers.</p> <p>With flesh-and-blood creatures, she's not so hot. Of course, she and her cast are saddled with a clumsy, inane script by Chad (<i>Wayward Pines)</i> Hodge that will have you wincing at times. Experiencing his dialogue is sort of like getting a mental colonoscopy without the anesthesia, especially during the clichéd romantic moments and, in fact, nearly whenever an actor opens his mouth:</p> <blockquote> <p>"You're just a bunch of negative nellies."</p> </blockquote> <p>But the blame clearly lies with Yuh. Her staging continually lacks imagination. From the action scenes to the car chases to the flashbacks, these could all be excerpts from a film major’s C+ final project, which is sad because the premise is intriguing, and the book, at least what I read of it, is thoroughly engrossing and relevant. (The first three chapters are available free on Amazon. I didn’t feel like spending $6.95 for the whole Kindle experience.)</p> <p>Then there are the continuity problems. In one scene, our heroine is handcuffed to a cot. After a quick cut, she's strutting down an aisle cuffless. How? Editor Dean (<i>Stranger Things</i>) Zimmerman was apparently asleep at the wheel, but then much of his work here is stupefyingly amateurish. Note the substandard fight scenes in the shopping mall.</p> <p>The plot commences with over 90% of American youth, starting at age ten, dying from Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration. The few young survivors apparently have developed extraordinary powers such as psychokinesis, the ability to control minds (e.g. getting adults to shoot themselves), emitting fire from their eyes, and the capability to pass advanced calculus exams. They are very bright. Two even have a prolonged conversation on the benefits of red peppers over green peppers.</p> <p>Fearful of what these youths are capable of, the President forcibly separates them from their parents <em>a la</em> Trump, placing the teens in camps where they are divided by the color of their brain powers. Orange is the most dangerous. They are then forced to shine the shoes of the guards subjugating them.</p> <p>After six years of polishing, Ruby Daly (the affable Amandla Stenberg) escapes thanks to the help of Cate (a bland Mandy Moore), who’s with the revolutionary Youth League, which wants to overthrow the government utilizing the kids’ powers. Not trusting her, Ruby jumps into a van with three other young escapees. She immediately falls in love with one of them, Liam Stewart (Harris Dickinson). He responds and gifts her with a pair of tube socks.</p> <p><i>The Darkest Minds</i>, of course, doesn't end when it ends, because it's part of a trilogy, and you are supposed to be hooked by its finale to want more and more. And if you are a pre-adolescent, you might just be. If your voice has already changed, you'll probably not be.</p> <p>For the rest of us, there might be some satisfaction garnered from the fact that one of America's most promising actors, Harris Dickinson, who was brilliant in last year's indie offering, <i>Beach Rats,</i> is finally making some major studio dinero. If you're going to waste talent, you might as well spread the wealth. - <em>Brandon Judell</em></p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3746&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="nUCI6wp1dJUm7M-Z6FnUCA-5eiukOXo2AW4CIdtSfn4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 03 Aug 2018 15:32:51 +0000 Brandon Judell 3746 at http://culturecatch.com Dance Until You Drop: High-Kicking On Celluloid http://culturecatch.com/node/3741 <span>Dance Until You Drop: High-Kicking On Celluloid</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>July 20, 2018 - 10:00</span> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="http://culturecatch.com/node/3741" data-a2a-title="Dance Until You Drop: High-Kicking On Celluloid"><a class="a2a_button_whatsapp"></a><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_email"></a></span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/189" hreflang="en">movie review</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/120" hreflang="en">film review</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/527" hreflang="en">dance</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/528" hreflang="en">Lincoln Center</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ygm3qn4d3NU?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>As Nietzsche noted, "We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once." The man who buried God would no doubt add, if still around, that watching a film or two on this most active of the arts a fine substitute.</p> <p>And to make it easier for those of us who wish to honor Terpsichore by perching instead of pirouetting, The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Dance Films Association will for the 46<sup>th</sup> straight year screen full-length documentaries and shorts from 17 countries within 16 joyously distinct programs.</p> <p>From American tap to Mexican acrobatics, from Marcel Marceau to Spike Jonze, and from Japan to Finland, visual treasures will be unearthed that will make you rethink every aspect of dance that you were once so sure about.</p> <p>For example, "Bleeding and Burning," a two-minute Canadian short directed by Guillaume Marin, in addition to causing you to ponder, supplies a pulsating finale that just might trigger a few seizures. Featuring the dancers Anabel Gagnon and Victoria Mackenzie -- one fully garbed in red fabric from head to toe, the other in black -- the duo sometimes encase each other, when not bombarding their other half. Heavily edited with a pounding accompaniment, the film, the press notes claim, is "an eerie encounter between a malleable human form and a galaxy unknown." I saw a Middle-Eastern woman fighting for survival against a specter of death. Possibly the same conclusion.</p> <article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2018/2018-07/stopgap_in_motion.png?itok=GJyHioYZ" width="1200" height="723" alt="Thumbnail" title="stopgap_in_motion.png" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>Stephen Featherstone's short, "Stopgap in Stop Motion," highlights how a company that "employs both disabled and non-disabled artists [can] find innovative ways to collaborate." Not unlike what The Apothetae brilliantly demonstrates with the current production of <i>Teenage Dick </i>at the Public Theater, the British Stopgap Dance Company accomplishes on both film and no doubt live.</p> <p>Cleverly choreographed by Lucy Bennett, the film showcases black-and-white photographs of the troupe situated on a colorful office desk with its pens, pencil sharpener, and eraser. Suddenly the dancers come alive and let loose, eventually breaking out of the boundaries of the snapshots, an appropriate metaphor if there ever was one. Clearly, this work provides evidence that great art thrives on limitations, assumed or otherwise.</p> <p>Marie Brodeur's<i> A Man of Dance (Un homme de danse) </i>begins with Vincent Warren noting, "I love what Agnes de Mille used to say, 'Dance is written on air.'" He might have added, noting his own career, "It's also written with blood, sweat, and tears."</p> <p>Mr. Warren was born in Florida in 1938, the youngest of 14 children. At age 10, he saw <i>The Red Shoes</i>, and instantly became infatuated with ballet. He started a scrapbook on dance and began paying for his own lessons with an after-school job. He not unexpectedly wasthe only boy in the class. Then, in his teens, he eventually realized he did not fit into the macho culture he was born into so it was off to New York City to develop his talent and to be gay.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="1690" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2018/2018-07/vincent_warren_a_man_of_dance.png?itok=RD33OGIh" title="vincent_warren_a_man_of_dance.png" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1200" /></article><figcaption>Vincent Warren, A Man of Dance</figcaption></figure><p>Warren soon became the poet Frank O'Hara’s lover, and remained so until O'Hara’s tragic death on Fire Island. With his world turned topsy-turvy, he eventually wound up with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, retired at age 40, became a renowned dance teacher, and later a highly recognized dance historian.</p> <blockquote> <p>"Sometimes I meet people who remember me as a dancer. Maybe some old ladies It's something you have to accept." Vincent Warren</p> </blockquote> <p><i>A Man of Dance</i>, which begins with Warren packing up his home in box after box, ends with him in his new, smaller abode with the physical remnants of his life more squeezed together.</p> <p>Clearly articulating the joys and frustrations that accompany one's career in dance, this biography spotlights the early aching of the joints, the lack of decent salaries, and the strains placed upon romance. It also asks why choreographers do not create pieces for older dancers.</p> <p>Summing it all up, the grey-haired former star states, "We weren’t rich, but we were happy." Sadly, Mr. Warren won't be at Lincoln Center for the New York premiere of the documentary. He died in 2017, one year after the film was completed.</p> <p><b>Dance on Camera 46 runs from July 20 to the 24</b><b><sup>th</sup></b><b>. For more information and a full schedule, go to: <a href="https://www.filmlinc.org/festivals/dance-on-camera-festival/" target="_blank">https://www.filmlinc.org/festivals/dance-on-camera-festival/</a></b></p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3741&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="_Fs7_7EgvGt6VRX0cC3rSzQe3Gn43WoEU_jwTP6rDjk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 20 Jul 2018 14:00:00 +0000 Brandon Judell 3741 at http://culturecatch.com How to Waste 93 Minutes of Your Life with Jonathan Rhys Meyers http://culturecatch.com/node/3740 <span>How to Waste 93 Minutes of Your Life with Jonathan Rhys Meyers</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>July 18, 2018 - 16:57</span> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="http://culturecatch.com/node/3740" data-a2a-title="How to Waste 93 Minutes of Your Life with Jonathan Rhys Meyers"><a class="a2a_button_whatsapp"></a><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_email"></a></span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/120" hreflang="en">film review</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/403" hreflang="en">films</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ly10vn4gS_Y?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Jonathan Rhys Meyers broods well. Better than most, in fact.</p> <p>His uncontrollable yearning for his family's new hiree (a Jewess in disguise) in <i>The Governess </i>(1998) is an indelible depiction of post-pubescent desire. In Todd Haynes' <i>The Velvet Goldmine </i>(1998), his petulant take on a David-Bowie-esque rocker cemented the film's rep as one of the best narratives on rock. Then there's his Dracula, Elvis, and Henry VIII with their applaudable sneers, plus his obsessed adulterer in Woody Allen's <i>Match Point </i>(2005) whose coin flip brings his comeuppance.</p> <p>Now in David Zelik Berk's highly cliched, instantly forgettable Middle-Eastern spy caper, <i>Damascus Cover</i>, Meyers goes stoic.  What a waste! So wooden is his performance, if you were casting for the part of an elm, you would definitely be stuck between choosing him or the splintery Henry Cavill.</p> <p>Based on Howard Kaplan's bestselling thriller from 1977, Meyers plays the recently divorced Ari-Ben Zion, an Israeli spy pretending to be a German businessman interested in purchasing Syrian rugs from a merchant who regularly commingles with a group of transplanted Nazis. Ari's tas