Lonely, socially awkward dude becomes obsessed with an eerily lifelike female doll. Uh, I've seen that movie before, when it was a horror flick called Love Object. But if you can imagine the same plot transferred into a bittersweet romance and with the kink factor dialed way down, you'll have a grip on Lars and the Real Girl, a movie so softhearted it implies the silicone-worshiping misfit in question (Ryan Gosling) doesn't even have sex with his sex doll. They do smooch on occasion, though.
By now it's natural to expect a lot from the Arab Film Festival, which is opening its 11th annual survey of cinema from the Arab world and diaspora with veteran Tunisian filmmaker Nouri Bouzid's excellent feature Making Of, then presenting more than 80 features, docs, and shorts from 13 countries in screenings around the Bay and, for the first time, in Los Angeles. Ghassan Salhab's The Last Man (2006), on the other hand, delivers something probably less expected: the first Lebanese vampire movie. Read more »
1. Dans la Ville de la Sylvia (José Luis Guerín, France/Spain)
2. My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, Canada) My two favorites of the festival were both ghost stories in which a haunted protagonist (fey Xavier Lafitte in Sylvia and Maddin's voice-over in My Winnipeg) traces his past in a city charged with memory. Read more »
Trucks of day-old bread emptied into landfills, a sea of chicks shoved through an assembly line the horrors of the global food industry make for wildly surreal and yet all-too-real images in We Feed the World, one of six feature documentaries at this year's CounterCorp Film Festival. Read more »
At first glance, For the Bible Tells Me So comes across as a fairly conservative film. Technically and aesthetically speaking, there are no surprises: interviews, found footage, a cute short cartoon, and familiar traditional documentary techniques are mixed with a certain amount of predictability and sentimental cheesiness. But is cinematic form all that defines whether a movie is conventional or groundbreaking? In terms of content, Daniel G. Read more »
That cry, most memorably a mantra for Reverend Lovejoy's wife, Helen, on The Simpsons, encapsulates the pervasive movement to childproof American life. Parents no longer have the time, will, or ability (so they claim) to properly censor all aspects of culture their kids might be exposed to, so a rising chorus demands the government do it for them.
Yet these efforts only underline the scattershot nature of an institutional overview of today's wide-open mediascape. Read more »
Olivier Assayas's films are both strange and engrossing, so much so that they may evade broad comprehension on the first go-round. Whereas instigating French new wave directors like Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut played fast and loose with tone and narrative structure to create jarring juxtapositions, Assayas does so to effect a subtler, more mysterious sense of illumination. Read more »
Sergey Eisenstein's legendary 1925 film Battleship Potemkin was declared a masterpiece from the moment it premiered, and it has placed near the top of greatest-film polls for as long as such polls have existed. According to legend, Douglas Fairbanks imported his own copy and showed it to the Hollywood elite in private screening rooms; no one was converted by its politics, but everyone was euphoric over its pure technical prowess. Read more »
There's a moment in Lust, Caution (Se, Jie) in which you can clearly make out the writing, and this most awkward title's embedded warning, on the wall. The scene: a humid, tryst-friendly boudoir in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. Read more »