Set in a modern day, northern Albanian village, The Forgiveness of Blood zeroes in on a family trapped by the dictates of a punishing tradition. Trouble begins when a cantankerous resident named Sokol refuses to let bread salesman Mark in his horse cart cut across his field.
In her second co-writing/directing foray, W.E., Madonna interrogates the infamous Wallis Simpson/King Edward relationship from her, rather than his, perspective, the film insists. But repeated cross-cutting to contemporary couple Wally Winthrop and her increasingly estranged psychiatrist husband forces awkward, even silly, parallels as Wally falls for Russian widower Evgeni. Neither romance captivates because the parallel stories collide short-circuiting any involvement.
Amidst the many father-son conflict and reconciliation films, Being Flynn stands out with its multidimensional physical and psychological layers. They include the struggles of Nick Flynn, the 20 something son of absent, alcoholic father Jonathan Flynn. Nick's floundering, trying to establish a life at just the moment that his father reenters it, at first purposely and then accidentally.
Washington University hosts the seventh African Film Festival March 23rd through the 25th. It includes eight films, three features introduced by short films plus a youth matinee. Selections this year celebrate independent women and the power of youth. Of those available for preview, A Trip to Algiers stands out for one family's political drama as Algeria embraces independence.
Polish director Agnieszka Holland at first resisted, before gradually and then enthusiastically embracing the true story of In Darkness. An eclectic group of a dozen Jews survived World War II by hiding for over a year in the sewers of Lvov, Poland, right under the noses of the occupying Nazis. Leopold Socha, a ne'er-do-well thief called Poldek, made this possible.
For over forty years, producer, director and editor Frederick Wiseman has crafted unique nonfiction films. Choosing institutions or groups as subjects, adding no interpretive voiceover narration, refusing to intrude with his queries, Wiseman delivers a fly-on-the-wall immersion. His latest documentary takes viewers inside Paris' Crazy Horse, described by the director as "supposedly the best chic nude show on earth."
French director Benjamin Marquet's Lads & Jockeys follows three 14-year-old boys from their entry into a training school for prospective jockeys to one lad's first professional race. Without any voiceover interpretation, the cinema verité style renders the loosely episodic approach an experiential immersion more than an insightful elucidation of this behind-the-scenes opportunity.
British director Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin charts the first 16 years of the emotionally damaged title character who lacks the ability to empathize. As Kevin's mother Eva, Tilda Swinton carries the film registering an amazing array of reactions as the film's narrative structure fragments time, a design that eerily fits Kevin's dissociative state.
Cinema lovers know about the legendary Roger Corman: his extraordinarily low budget films beginning in 1954, his giving a who's who of stars and directors their starts, and his work ethic that accounts for over 400 projects as writer, producer and/or director. Still Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel brings this man and his accomplishments to vivid life.
French films specialize in effectively and efficiently dramatizing personal relationships. Declaration of War continues this careful examination of the intensely interpersonal as a young, unmarried couple must deal with doctors' diagnosis of their 18 month old son's brain tumor. Valérie Donzelli and Jérémie Elkaïm co-wrote and star in this highly autobiographical story that she directed.