“Promised Land” dramatizes the underhanded tactics of a fictional corporation determined to gain rights to drill for natural gas on farmers’ land. There’s a lot at stake for this rural community, and though the film wears its environmental heart on its sleeve, the debate about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) deserves the attention given here.
The opening titles of “Django Unchained” announce: “1858. Somewhere in Texas. 2 years before the Civil War.” A chain gang of slaves struggles through the dark, interrupted by an educated, polite individual. In short order the hunt for wanted men and a beloved wife will reveal the underbelly of cinematic depictions of the old West, plantation life, and American myths.
After close elderly relatives die, surprising discoveries often await their families as they sort through items kept, perhaps treasured. But after the death of his 98-year-old grandmother Gerda, nothing prepared writer/director Arnon Goldfinger for the window that opened for him on a past his grandparents, Gerda and Kurt Tuchler, never talked about.
Director/co-writer Eric Lartigau’s film “The Big Picture” poses a knotted series of problems regarding identity, anonymity and fame. More a theoretical interrogation than a richly delivered story, the plot begins with self-satisfied Parisian lawyer Paul Exben slow to realize his wife Sarah has enjoyed an affair with long-time friend Grégoire and now wants a divorce.
Relying on ludicrous coincidences in a predictable, badly written story, “Deadfall” offers sociopathic criminals fleeing across snowy Michigan for the U.S.-Canadian border. A sure sign of a lack of depth, about every fifteen minutes an expendable character gets shot or a sex scene intrudes. Nothing really works; it’s lame and superficial and dull.
A familiar story receives a remarkably engaging, technically impressive presentation in director Andrew Dominic’s “Killing Them Softly.” Two dim-witted, imprudent petty criminals decide to rob a high-stakes mob poker game. A professional hit man arrives to set things straight, meaning retribution for those foolish enough to overstep their bounds.
Japanese animation boasts legions of fans who recognize the quality of Studio Ghibli. For one week, Friday, November 30th through Thursday, December 6th, Plaza Frontenac will screen fourteen selections from “The Studio Ghibli Collection: 1984 to 2009". Characteristic of Japanese animation, topics range from romance and adventure to fairy tales, folklore and post-apocalyptic scenarios.
Sir Alfred Hitchcock was, unquestionably, a cinematic genius, a man who made a lasting mark on film substance and style for decades. Director Sacha Gervasi’s “Hitchcock” dramatizes him as an inspired, jealous and conflicted man during his production of “Psycho.” The truth was, according to several, far less complimentary than the sympathetic, sometimes silly portrait painted here.
Bond, James Bond is celebrating 50 years and now, in the embodiment of the able Daniel Craig, Agent 007 has lost none of his cool panache and the film none of its entertaining appeal. The latest Bond escapade “Skyfall” focuses more on M and revenge by a betrayed agent.
I’d venture to say that few people would think about chess competition when asked about associations for Intermediate School 318, called I.S. 318, a Brooklyn middle school. As director Katie Dellamaggiore notes, 70-75% of the students’ families exist below the poverty level. And, oh yes, I.S.318 is a chess powerhouse.