Given that at least two-thirds of the silent films ever made no longer exist, how fortunate that director Erich von Stroheim’s “Greed” has survived. Though its running time of two hours twenty minutes seems long even by today’s standards, in fact von Stroheim envisioned an eight-hour extravaganza, painstakingly shooting over 85 hours of film.
Chile, 1988, held a most unusual plebiscite: vote "yes" or "no" to continue for eight more years the rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet. Having come to power in 1973 in a CIA-backed, military coup, Pinochet has reluctantly yielded to international pressure to hold this referendum, certain he'll win. 97% of the population turned out.
Immediately after a photo of an atom bomb’s mushroom cloud, the prologue of “Ginger and Rosa” moves from Hiroshima 1945 to London 1945 in a maternity ward where two women reach out to each other as they labor and where two men sit apart on benches in a dark hall.
Film directors crave recognition as distinctive, unique voices and stylists. Add a bonus for entertainment value, and this achievement becomes exceedingly rare. But not for writer/director Wes Anderson whose signature defines his films as definitively HIS--a combination of an offbeat, appealing humor and an atypical, stylistic presentation. Anderson is, in essence, fresh and original.
Do not expect to find the quirky character that Tina Fey usually plays in the admissions director she plays in “Admission.” This is not a role that depends on silliness as much as it does on the pedestrian, on figuring out who you are after years of following the textbook.
Washington University hosts the African Film Festival from Friday, March 22nd through Sunday, March 24th. It includes three feature fiction premieres preceded by three accompanying short films. There's also a Saturday youth matinee of African animation accompanied by a short coming-of-age story. Several films have won awards, and two sessions include a Q&A with a director after the screening.
Lore, the nickname for Hannelore, is the title character of this most arresting film about a family. The year is 1945, the season is spring; the family comprises Mutti, Vati, two sisters, Lore and Liesel; twin brothers, Jurgen and Gunther, and an infant son named Peter for the father.
Just off camera in the fascinating, highly unusual opening scene set in a Tokyo bar, Akiko carries on a contentious cell phone conversation with, we'll learn, her boyfriend Noriaki. He'll appear a bit later in the slyly presented interaction among three people, a collision of temperaments more than a romantic triangle.
In a triumph of style over substance, South Korean director Chan-wook Park transforms a relatively isolated house in rural Connecticut into an emotional pressure cooker. The funeral for husband Richard Stoker brings his long-absent brother Charlie to help wife Evie and daughter India. But an undercurrent of distrust makes clear that danger awaits this family.
Documentaries rank among the best films I see every year, but Israel's "The Gatekeepers" also merits recognition as the most unexpected, even astonishing, for several reasons. First, six former directors of Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency, granted director Dror Moreh extensive on-camera interviews, interviews, he says, he asked for at least twenty times to secure each.
"Happy People: A Year in the Taiga" might seem terribly exotic, even a bit off-putting in its foreignness, but it is very seductive.
In 1945, the end of World War II, General Douglas MacArthur headed the occupation force charged with guiding Japan's transition to peace. Among his critical decisions as Supreme Commander, MacArthur had to decide if Emperor Hirohito bore responsibility for the attack on Pearl Harbor and subsequent military activities. If he did, Hirohito would be tried for war crimes.
Spending 24 hours in an emergency room is not anyone's idea of fun. It's a place where dignity and self-sufficiency become humiliation and dependency. That's common knowledge. What "The Waiting Room" shows is much more than that.
Forty-nine million Americans exist without enough to eat. It would be nice if it were enough for a thousand points of light to feed people one at a time. It would be nice if each food pantry fed all the hungry people so everyone else could gorge without shame. But hunger in America is not nice -- and it's not going away because these methods simply do not work. These sorry facts are highlighted in "A Place at the Table," a finely wrought documentary about what it will take to feed the hungry who live in food-rich America.