There’s a great story behind the production “Escape from Tomorrow” but not much story in it. Shot primarily at Orlando’s Walt Disney World and Anaheim’s Disneyland without permission, the film follows husband Jim, his wife Emily, their boy Elliott and girl Sara on vacation. Through Jim’s creepy hallucinations, director Randy Moore finds the vexingly nightmarish in the forced frivolity.
Opionated and original, philosopher Slavoj Žižek takes on our pervasive and long-standing cultural attitudes in "The Pervert's Guide to Ideology," a two hour interrogation of embedded values teased out through decades of film history. Though in many ways the film is a protracted lecture, the illustrative film clips with Žižek in remarkably similar settings brings principles to vivid life.
Based on Jordan Belfort's book charting his rise and fall, "The Wolf of Wall Street" recreates the wild ride through the 90s of this penny stock trader, soon multi-millionaire never bothered by ethics. Leonardo DiCaprio's tour-de-force performance drives the film from work at a Wall Street corporation to a shabby office to his own Stratton Oakmont Long Island firm.
The recently deceased Nelson Mandela distinguished himself through his charismatic leadership of South Africa and his inspirational compassion and forgiveness exhibited under exceedingly difficult conditions. The world, that now mourns his passing, knows him most affectionately as Madiba/Father (from his Xhosa clan name), the first black elected President of post apartheid South Africa (1994).
When a film begins in its opening seconds with these words on the screen, "Some of this actually happened," humorous playfulness is on the way. And "American Hustle" does not disappoint with its stellar cast, often playing against type, and a delightfully mischievous approach to the con game.
Rarely does one living person participate in major international events over two and a half decades. But that's exactly what Yehuda Avner experienced as speechwriter and assistant to five Israeli Prime Ministers beginning in 1958. Director, co/producer and writer Richard Trank's informative, well-researched documentary "The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers" presents Avner on camera, narrating his behind-the-scenes observations.
Near the end of the documentary "Design Is One: Lella & Massimo Vignelli," an expert observes that a good designer is the "intermediary between information and understanding," making the complex clear. As directors Roberto Guerra and Kathy Brew work through illustrative examples from the Vignellis' work, what that means becomes crystal clear.
Producers and directors Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy Newberger bring a welcome restraint to their documentary "Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Show." Anyone familiar with Downey's nationally syndicated show from early 1988 to July 1989 remembers the loud, confrontational, trash-talking host who blew smoke in guests' faces while screaming at them.
"Out of the Furnace" wants to be a blue collar, gritty film, and it succeeds. Set in Braddock, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh) in 2008, the future for the steel mill workers looks about as bleak as the sky and the town. Two brothers pursue different paths: Russell still employed at the mill, younger Rodney floundering, heading off to Iraq.
Co-writer/director Alexander Payne has crafted a masterpiece in "Nebraska." Bruce Dern, who won Best Actor at this year's Cannes Film Festival, plays Woody Grant, an elderly curmudgeon who's convinced, via a letter, that he's won a million dollar magazine sweepstakes prize. Determined to claim it, Woody, with his resigned but reluctant son David in tow, heads from Billings, Montana, to Lincoln, Nebraska.