How far will a person go when commanded by an authoritative official to perform unwelcome, upsetting actions against a colleague? This is the question asked and answered in writer/director Craig Zobel’s film Compliance, alarmingly and sadly based on real events. The total humiliation of a young worker follows as a self-proclaimed policeman so directs over the phone.
Premium Rush takes the wild, intense world of New York bicycle messengers and makes it—dull. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Wilee, a fearless, fast rider. At Columbia University, he picks up a small envelope that must arrive in lower Manhattan in fewer than four hours—as the title telegraphs, what’s called a premium rush.
It’s difficult to embrace a film as downright emotionally and often physically ugly as director William Friedkin’s Killer Joe. Yes, it trades on many of the familiar elements of film noir, anchored in a murder scheme for money. But unlike the best of those, it lacks the grace, wit and humanity embedded in cautionary tales.
The ability to deceive, to take on different personas, takes center stage in many entertaining films. But British director Bart Layton’s documentary The Imposter takes deception to another level, and Layton lays it out in the opening minutes of the film, knowing that revealing this bizarre story does not in the least diminish its mesmerizing appeal.
Some stories are so amazing that, were they not verified, they’d be dismissed as a hoax. That’s the case with 1970s Detroit singer/songwriter Sixto Rodriguez as revealed in writer/director Malik Bendjelloul’s documentary Searching for Sugar Man. The investigation of the tantalizing mystery of who Rodriguez is and was begins in Cape Town, South Africa.
At Webster University, over the August 24-26 weekend, documentary filmmakers David Redmon and Ashley Sabin will present two of their works, lead a question-and-answer session after Friday and Saturday screenings, and present a workshop on Saturday on documentary filmmaking. The works screened, Girl Model and Downeast, thoughtfully shine a spotlight on two serious subjects.
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote, “The rich are different from you and me.” Lauren Greenfield’s documentary The Queen of Versailles about billionaires Jackie and David Siegel proves the multitude of ways. It’s not an attractive portrayal; but with the indulgence on display, that would prove very difficult.
Elena the Russian film and Elena the title Russian woman have an intriguing, mysterious presence. Both the film and the character communicate volumes while explicitly saying very little. Information is slowly parceled out as middle-aged Elena’s two-year marriage to older Vladimir takes shape. Elena indulges her married, lazy son Sergey; Vladimir seldom talks to his daughter Katya.
Stories set behind the scenes of historical royalty offer intriguing promise as they pull back the privacy curtain. Farewell, My Queen teases with such tantalizing scenes beginning July 14, 1789 and ending July 17. Three and a half momentous days in Versailles unfold with the French Revolution as the backdrop.
Science fiction films open up space for the imagination to play with ideas as much as gadgets. Total Recall is a case in point. Benefitting from fabulous CGI work reminiscent of Metropolis and Blade Runner, it finds time to play with the vagaries of memory and the question of how we know who we are.