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Czech That Film Tour 2017: The Devil’s Mistress, by Dayne Linford

18 Apr

Czech That Film is an annual traveling festival showcasing the best in contemporary Czech cinema in theaters around the U.S. A schedule of showings and events can be found here – www.czechthatfilm.com

Nazi movies are a dime a dozen and why not? World War Two is the historical event of the last century most of the world over, and, when the last big things in American history were the Civil War and the West, there was no shortage of westerns, either. Though, like with Westerns, the process of becoming a genre carries with it inevitable clichés, well-trodden paths and obvious drum beats. More importantly, it also carries the weight, so often elided in westerns, of working out your place in history, and history’s place in yourself. Perhaps there’s always a new Nazi film around the corner because we still haven’t exorcised the ghosts of that war, still haven’t resolved the great evil it embodied and unleashed upon the world. Not perhaps – certainly. At least, that’s certainly what lies behind the recent Czech film The Devil’s Mistress, currently being shown on a film tour of contemporary Czech cinema around the U.S. Though a fairly straightforward biopic of the silent film star Lida Baarová (Tatiana Pauhofová), Filip Renc’s film is only as it could be made in the Czech Republic – replete with the sense of doomed history, moral compromise, and the essential mysteries of motivation, love, and personal culpability.

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TCM Classic Film Festival 2017: Part Three, by David Bax

10 Apr

It’s an Internet cliché at this point to say that something “gives me life.” But that sentiment holds true (figuratively, of course) for TCM Fest. For those who hold fast to the ideal that the movies of the past still have plenty to tell us, to show us and to teach us, the festival is live-giving, an undeniable affirmation. This year’s comedy theme only enforces that. There’s nothing quite like the bond you form by laughing together with strangers in the dark.

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TCM Classic Film Festival 2017: Part Two, by David Bax

9 Apr

After yesterday’s witheringly anti-romantic Red-Headed Woman, I needed a good, old-fashioned happy ending romantic comedy. Leo McCarey’s The Awful Truth fits the bill… eventually. For most of its running time, though, this divorce comedy is hilariously cynical about romance in general and marriage in particular. When the couple (Irene Dunne and Cary Grant) call their lawyer to begin the proceedings, he attempts to talk them out of it with an impassioned plea for matrimonial bliss that he repeatedly interrupts to tell his own wife to shut up. Later, when Dunne recounts the story of how the two met, she concludes with “Happily ever after, until now.” It’s both a laugh line and an incredibly sad one which Dunne, the true MVP of the picture, sells beautifully.

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TCM Classic Film Festival 2017: Part One, by David Bax

8 Apr

Not counting last week’s WonderCon, the last festival I attended was Sundance back in January. That kicked off the same weekend as President Trump’s inauguration and, as a result, the prevailing mood cycled through versions of dour and sardonically defeatist. Maybe the folks behind the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival had some foresight, then, when they decided that their theme would be Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy in the Movies. God knows we need it.

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WonderCon 2017: Warner Brothers Panel, by Tyler Smith

1 Apr

Much of the Warner Brothers presentation here at WonderCon was exactly what one would expect. A moderator whose forced enthusiasm for all the films being discussed was borderline nauseating, an excited and forgiving audience, and clips and trailers of varying quality. I tend not to enjoy these large panels, because they are so focused on publicity. I don’t blame them; that’s what they’re meant to be. I just don’t have a great deal of patience for them.

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WonderCon 2017: Midnight, Texas Pilot Review, by Tyler Smith

1 Apr

To refer to Midnight, Texas as “Twin Peaks-lite” wouldn’t be particularly insightful. This isn’t because it’s unfair, but because  the comparison – and inevitable shortfall – is so obvious that to even use that as a shorthand could be considered lazy. Yes, the show is similar in structure and sensibility, but it definitely wants to be its own thing, rather than just a Twin Peaks clone. Unfortunately, the other elements of the show are also derived from other sources, such as the X-Men comics. By combining these elements – to make a show about a small town of supernaturally gifted people – the creators of Midnight, Texas try to distinguish themselves through tone and a unique Western setting, but the similarities to other properties are just too great and we can’t help but compare the show – unfavorably – to the countless other books, movies, and TV shows that came before.

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WonderCon 2017: The 18th Annual Animation Show of Shows, by David Bax

1 Apr

The Animation Show of Shows is an annual collection of notable recent short animated films from around the world. As my headline suggests, it’s been around for eighteen years and can be seen this week in theaters in Cary, NC, Toronto, Sandpoint, ID, Omaha and Littleton, CO. This year’s selection is top-notch, ranging from familiar studio fare from the likes of Pixar to an elemental and touching student film from Russia.

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WonderCon 2017: Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Review, by David Bax

31 Mar

At ten years and 29 movies, the animated DC comics universe predates both the Marvel and DC live-action ones that get so much press, for good and for ill. It’s an impressive body of work but, for casual fans like myself, it’s also an exceedingly daunting one. Sam Liu’s Teen Titans: The Judas Contract makes no attempt to ease that burden, often assuming an advanced level of familiarity with the subject matter and history on the part of its audience. Nevertheless, The Judas Contract is, like many of its predecessors, largely an enjoyable and action-packed experience.

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EPISODE 515: SUNDANCE WRAP-UP

30 Jan

In this episode, David is joined by Scott Nye to discuss the films they saw at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance 2017: Call Me by Your Name, by David Bax

26 Jan

The characters in Luca Guadagnino’s quietly staggering Call Me by Your Name are members of an incredibly wealthy family. These “Jews of discretion” whose family tree covers most of Western society and who spend summers and holidays at their country home outside a small Northern Italian town live in a separate stratosphere from the everyday ham-and-eggers who make up what we proudly think of as “the real world.” But there are reasons other than financial ones to hold them in high regard. For one thing, with their rustic antique furniture and simple but casually elegant wardrobes, they have exceptionally good taste, something that no amount of money can buy (just look at our president). Most importantly, they are intellectuals and lovers of art and history, traits Guadagnino suggests are responsible for their being understanding, respectful and compassionate people.

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