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BFI London Review: ‘Angels Wear White’ Shows a Devastating Reality

14 October 2017 5:00 PM, PDT

Let’s think about the title to Vivian Qu’s sophomore effort Angels Wear White because the meaning goes far beyond the words themselves. On the surface it’s simply describing religious iconography and the idea that angels wear flowing white linens with halos on heads and harps in hands. But we’ve taken this concept and brought it into real life too. “White” has become synonymous with purity, trust, and expertise. We see a white lab coat on a doctor and automatically provide him/her a reverence built on nothing but an article of clothing. We don’t know them. We merely assume they have our best interests in mind. That white sheen doesn’t mean they’re incorruptible, though. Anyone can be bought or sold despite appearances. Everyone has a price.

Perhaps the cost is paid with money or maybe silence. For the young women at the center »

- Jared Mobarak

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Nyff Review: ‘Wonder Wheel’ is a Gorgeous Ride with an Empty Center

14 October 2017 11:27 AM, PDT

Feeling like a poor stage-to-screen adaptation in the lineage of Rent or The Producers — just without catchy songs to redeem it — Wonder Wheel is an undercooked offering from Woody AllenJustin Timberlake plays Mickey Rubin, a fit lifeguard in a one-piece bathing suit. As is painfully clear in the opening scenes, if you’re going to cast one of the biggest pop stars in the world, at least use him for what he’s good at.

Timberlake begins the film with narration about his time at Nyu and burgeoning writing career. He does his best Allen impression, over-enunciating every word, but the character isn’t your typical, neurotic Allen surrogate. Allen instead writes the neurosis into Ginny, Kate Winslet’s character, a desperate housewife who is cheating on her husband, Humpty (Jim Belushi), with Mickey. Lacking the neurotic charm that made Jesse Eisenberg’s Cafe Society turn so endearing, Timberlake struggles with delivery here, »

- The Film Stage

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Review: ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ Emphasizes the Pain that Birthed ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’

14 October 2017 5:29 AM, PDT

If you’ve always liked Winnie-the-Pooh but wish it overflowed with death undertones and ponderings on the destructive nature of fame, has Simon Curtis made the film for you! In Goodbye Christopher Robin, the director goes behind the story that led British playwright A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) to begin writing children’s books using his son’s favorite toys as protagonists, and how it altered the little boy’s life forever. When we first meet Milne, he’s a shell-shocked veteran plagued by constant nightmares about his days battling the German Empire in France. Milne can’t fathom the frivolity with which life went on after the war, and never misses a chance to share his opinion with society members, who quietly disapprove of him.

For his socialite wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) this means a life of dullness, which leads her to leave her husband and their child Christopher Robin »

- Jose Solís

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NYC Weekend Watch: Philippe Garrel, Stephen King, 35mm 3D, ‘Wonderstruck’ & More

13 October 2017 8:48 AM, PDT

Since any New York City cinephile has a nearly suffocating wealth of theatrical options, we figured it’d be best to compile some of the more worthwhile repertory showings into one handy list. Displayed below are a few of the city’s most reliable theaters and links to screenings of their weekend offerings — films you’re not likely to see in a theater again anytime soon, and many of which are, also, on 35mm. If you have a chance to attend any of these, we’re of the mind that it’s time extremely well-spent.

Metrograph

Two distinct, delicious flavors, Stephen King and Philippe Garrel, are the subject of retrospectives.

Quad Cinema

“Comin’ At Ya!” lives up to its name with 35mm 3D cinema.

Museum of the Moving Image

A number of all-timers play in the “Inspiring Wonderstruck” series.

Museum of Modern Art

“Black Intimacy” continues.

Nitehawk Cinema

The Monster Squad, »

- Nick Newman

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Review: ‘Breathe’ is an Unabashedly Old School Drama

13 October 2017 5:45 AM, PDT

From its opening aerial shots, to the stylized font used to announce its title, it’s pretty clear that Andy SerkisBreathe is a throwback to a kind of movie Hollywood specialized in a very long time ago: the inspirational melodrama based on a true story that once would’ve starred Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon. Breathe stars Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy as Robin and Diana Cavendish, respectively, the married couple who revolutionized the way in which the world saw people with disabilities. When we first meet them in the late 1950s, Robin is a bright eyed young man ready to conquer the world. He sets his eye on the beautiful Diana at a cricket game, and despite his friends suggesting she would never go for a guy like him, within the first ten minutes of the film they get married, she’s expecting a child, and he’s »

- Jose Solís

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New to Streaming: ‘Brawl in Cell Block 99,’ ‘The Meyerowitz Stories,’ ‘War for the Planet of the Apes,’ and More

13 October 2017 5:35 AM, PDT

With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit platforms. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below.

78/52 (Alexandre Philippe)

There’s been documentaries that analyze entire cinematic movements, directors, actors, writers, specific films, and more aspects of filmmaking, but it’s rare to see a feature film devoted to a single scene. With 78/52, if the clunky title addition didn’t tell you already, it explores the infamous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho with exacting precision and depth. Featuring interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis, Guillermo del Toro, »

- Jordan Raup

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Biff Review: ‘After the Sun Fell’ is an Excessive, Occasionally Nuanced Drama of Reconciliation

13 October 2017 4:59 AM, PDT

Everyone’s family is crazy. Some may seem crazier than others, but that’s generally a byproduct of them being less self-conscious. The question we don’t ask ourselves — whether a part of the insanity or watching as an outsider — is why. Why does one member prove so gratingly obnoxious when you know he/she knows what others think? Why does another member retreat into his/her insular existence away from the sprawling chaos so that any opportunity to join the others feels like a chore? What has happened to drive this wedge that grows larger with each passing year of silence? The answer usually concerns blame. To be so close to someone when something bad happens to you both requires empathy and understanding. Guilt, however, often forces us to find fault instead.

This is why Brandon (Neal Bledsoe) dreads returning home. He never wants to endure the circus longer than necessary, »

- Jared Mobarak

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Agnès Varda and Jr on Friendship, Life, and the Communicative Power of Cinema

13 October 2017 4:42 AM, PDT

“We kind of like each other… It’s hard every day — I’m counting the hours and the minutes but we are under contract so we have no choice,” the bespectacled Jr jokes about his friendship with legendary French director Agnès Varda, who quickly fires back, “When do we stop the contract?”

Immediately upon entering the room, before questions are even on the table, the friendship between Agnès Varda and Jr is clear; they tease each other about their contractual friendliness lasting only the publicity campaign and the two years of shooting — they’re on that level already.

Varda gives up the joke fairly quickly: “The thing is, we could work together because we have the same way of appreciating people. I’m curious about people and [Jr] is, and so when we meet people it becomes easy to start a conversation. It’s not a Q&A. It’s also »

- The Film Stage

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Nyff Review: ‘Occidental’ Recalls Tati and Leaves Little Positive Impression

12 October 2017 10:00 AM, PDT

French-Algerian visual artist and filmmaker Neïl Beloufa’s second feature, Occidental, opens in media res as its eponymous setting, the tawdry Hotel Occidental, is going up in flames. Its exterior is beset by clashing police and protesters while a man is vexedly trapped inside one of the inn’s rooms, seemingly more annoyed than distraught despite his presently dire situation. This familiar setup suggests that, by the time the film catches up with this scene, the chain of events that preceded it will have provided some clarity or context for the sequence and lead to a fuller understanding of how and why things wound up this way. But as the subsequent opening credits, set against images of the lethargic, largely anonymous protest that led to the ensuing riots, imply with their dual-layered text (tinted by retro pastels scattered haphazardly around the frame), this will not be the case. Beloufa aims »

- The Film Stage

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Biff Review: In ‘Sunset Park,’ a Crime Drama Turns into a Nightmare

12 October 2017 6:53 AM, PDT

When Duane Sarcione (Michael T. Weiss) finds himself in the hole with mobster ‘The Sledge’ (Sam Douglas), he has no choice but to run. It’s not a surprising move despite only knowing him for five minutes — gambling has a hold and he’s drowning under the weight of turmoil both in and out of his control. This act, however, isn’t without collateral damage. His wife had already passed away, but his young son Gino (Nolan Lyons) was still around struggling to get through school with the help of his ‘Gramps’ Joe (Robert Miano). Suddenly Gino and Joe are left holding Duane’s debt because ‘The Sledge’ would rather have his hooks in a local than worry about chasing a coward. The ramifications of this new dynamic arrive ten years later.

Writer/director Jason Sarrey’s feature debut Sunset Park picks up with an adult Gino (Michael Trevino) working »

- Jared Mobarak

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Biff Review: ‘Crash Pad’ Blatantly Reinforces Stereotypes of Masculinity

12 October 2017 6:48 AM, PDT

Morgan (Christina Applegate) is drowning in a marriage on the rocks. Both her career and her husband’s (Thomas Haden Church’s Grady) are booming — the time allotted to spend together often earmarked for something else. So they’ve drifted apart over the last fifteen years. Their sex life is non-existent and he’s away on business trips that “run long” more often than not. Why wouldn’t she assume he was therefore cheating on her? No reason besides a level of trust that appears non-existent in a day and age where the worst is usually believed and proven true. And since he’s always been a “man’s man” brute with toxic edges she’s sought to smooth out, why not embark on some cheating herself with the embodiment of everything he isn’t?

Enter Stensland (Domhnall Gleeson), an Irish ex-pat caught within a self-diagnosed “early life crisis” who »

- Jared Mobarak

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Biff Review: ‘The Sounding’ is a Drama of Skillful Precision

12 October 2017 6:45 AM, PDT

What is it about our quest to not simply help those in need, but solve what is supposedly ailing them? What in the history of mankind shifted focus from wanting to understand that which was different to assimilating (eradicating) it? Greed. Power. Sanctimony. Ego. There are an infinite number of words able to answer these questions and yet no one has actually solved the issue. Or perhaps no one can. Utopic visions presume that it is possible: peace on earth. We strive to fight for a world that is truly colorblind and free whether to choose language, religion, sexuality, or love. The United States was built on these freedoms, but from a very specific worldview perpetually lording one above all others. We remain stuck in that box still.

So what then do we do when it’s discovered everything we’ve been educated and raised to believe is false? How »

- Jared Mobarak

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Andrei Tarkovsky’s Final Film ‘The Sacrifice’ Receives Trailer for Theatrical Restoration

12 October 2017 6:32 AM, PDT

After a gorgeous restoration of his landmark existential sci-f film Stalker earlier this year, another Andrei Tarkovsky masterpiece has been remastered and is coming to theaters. The director’s final film, The Sacrifice, has recently undergone a 4K restoration and ahead of a screening at New York Film Festival and theatrical run starting at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, a new trailer has arrived.

Judging from the trailer, this restoration does justice to Tarkovsky’s swan song with no shortages of haunting imagery. The Sweden-shot film follows an upper-class family who learns World War III is upon them. Starring Sven Vollter, Alexander Erland Josephson, Allan Edwall, Valerie Mairesse, Gudron S Gisladottir, and Susan Fleetwood, check out the trailer and poster below.

The sacrifice in Andrei Tarkovsky’s final film, completed only months before his death from cancer at the age of 54, is performed by Alexander, an aging professor who »

- Jordan Raup

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U.S. Trailer for France’s Oscar Entry and Cannes Winner ‘Bpm (Beats Per Minute)’

11 October 2017 11:47 AM, PDT

One of the most heart-stirring, transportive cinematic experience you can find this year is in France’s Oscar entry, Bpm (Beats Per Minute). Winner of the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Robin Campillo’s drama is set in early 1990s France as we follow the group of AIDS activists in Act Up. Ahead of a release later this month, The Orchard has now released the first U.S. trailer.

“The ensemble cast that comprise Robin Campillo’s AIDS activists in Bpm (Beats Per Minute) all work together to be the same voice,” we said in our review. “Through this group, the director captures a force that resonates more in message than in any of the conventional, dramatic sparks you might find in a Hollywood version of this story. This is one of the most politically-minded movies to come around in quite some time as Campillo stages »

- Jordan Raup

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‘Call Me by Your Name’ Team on Romance, Sufjan Stevens, Maurice Pialat, and Sequel Potential

11 October 2017 6:20 AM, PDT

Call Me By Your Name came to the 55th New York Film Festival last week and both screenings were met with rapturous applause and standing ovations (a rare occurrence at the fest). Director Luca Guadagnino participated a press conference with the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Dennis Lim, and also did a public Q&A at Nyff Live with actors Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Timothée Chalamet at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater.

In the press conference, Guadagnino discussed his collaboration with cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (who also shot his upcoming Suspiria remake), Sufjan Stevens writing two original songs for the film when only one was requested, and avoiding romantic film cliches.

Hammer and Chalamet talked about the non-verbal sensuality of their character’s relationship at Nyff Live. Stuhlbarg discussed his character’s famous conversation with Elio in the film, and Guadagnino lists all the things he hates »

- The Film Stage

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The Film Stage Show Ep. 266 – Blade Runner 2049

9 October 2017 7:57 PM, PDT

Welcome, one and all, to the latest installment of The Film Stage Show! Today, Michael Snydel, Bill Graham, and I begin to question who is real, what is real, and what reality even matters in the end. That’s because we are talking about the new Denis Villeneuve film, Blade Runner 2049.

Subscribe on iTunes or see below to stream download (right-click and save as…).

(Also, don’t be scared but we have a new Patreon page! Read up on the great rewards available and become a patron today!)

M4A: The Film Stage Show Ep. 266 – Blade Runner 2049

00:00 – 07:12 – Introductions

07:13 – 39:10 – Blade Runner 2049 review

39:11 – 1:42:21 – Spoilers

The Film Stage is supported by Mubi, a curated online cinema streaming a selection of exceptional independent, classic, and award-winning films from around the world. Each day, Mubi hand-picks a new gem and you have one month to watch it. »

- Brian Roan

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‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Trailer: Rian Johnson Goes to Hyperspeed

9 October 2017 7:04 PM, PDT

If you follow director Rian Johnson on Twitter, then you might have already clicked out of this page, but if you don’t mind potentially spoiling the complete experience of the next Star Wars installment, Episode VIII aka The Last Jedi, then a new trailer for the sci-fi epic awaits your eyes and ears.

Featuring franchise newcomers Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran, as well as  Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, and Andy Serkis, who return from The Force Awakens (and beyond), check out the trailer below.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens on December 15. »

- Jordan Raup

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‘Brawl in Cell Block 99’ Director S. Craig Zahler on Casting Vince Vaughn and Realistic Violence

9 October 2017 10:52 AM, PDT

In Brawl in Cell Block 99, Vince Vaughn, after finding out his wife is having an affair, assaults her car in a fashion that would remind anyone who owned a Sega Genesis or Super Nes in the 90s of a bonus stage in Street Fighter II.  Vaughn, who is mostly known for his roles in broad comedies, including the likes of Wedding Crashers and Old School, plays Bradley Thomas, a no-nonsense, towering figure with a large, black cross tattooed on the back of his head. Thomas runs drugs to support his wife Lauren (Jennifer Carpenter) who is pregnant with their first child, who they adorably refer to as “The Koala.”

He works for a dealer named Gil, who is working on developing a partnership with a Mexican dealer. Thomas is skeptical when Gil persuades him with time off after the birth of his daughter. The run goes bad and the Mexican dealer, »

- The Film Stage

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Biff Review: ‘Marshall’ Depicts the Procedural Fight to Overcome Prejudice

9 October 2017 5:06 AM, PDT

It’s hard to believe America’s first black Supreme Court Justice hadn’t yet earned the big screen cinematic treatment until now. Besides Thurgood Marshall appearing as a character in a few TV productions (including HBO’s Emmy-nominated one-man play Thurgood starring Lawrence Fishburne) and two movies (The People vs. Larry Flynt possessing the highest profile), this iconic hero who successfully argued Brown v. Board of Education in front of that same Supreme Court was all but invisible. And that ubiquitous 1954 moment interestingly isn’t even the one screenwriters Jacob and Michael Koskoff chose to adapt as Hollywood’s first mainstream look at him. They decided to go back even further to 1941 so they could highlight the hunger and fight of a young man on the cusp of changing the world.

The case: Connecticut v. Joseph Spell wherein a black chauffeur was accused of the rape and attempted murder »

- Jared Mobarak

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Biff Review: ‘Woman on Fire’ is an Inspiring Portrait of NYC’s First Openly Transgender Firefighter

9 October 2017 4:58 AM, PDT

I’m not sure anyone could have written a better script than Brooke Guinan’s real life to truly focus on what it means to be a transgender person in a bigoted, “traditional” world. Here’s a woman born as George Guinan VI into a Fdny (New York Fire Department) family, whose adolescence was met with constant ridicule and bullying as an “other.” She not only had to come out to her parents at the age of eleven, but again when the decision to transition into a woman arrived. She had to fight for her place within a life that is still situated under a patriarchal umbrella—a battle that even saw her go back into the closet to not “rock the boat” more than she already was. And she persevered.

Brooke evolved into someone that finally resembled the person she knew she was but could never see with her eyes open. »

- Jared Mobarak

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