Cinema

Celebrating Human Rights and Social Justice: Experimental and Animated Film Series

by HPR Contributor | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | February 12th, 2020

film still from Gulf

by Kris Gruber
perriex1@gmail.com

High Plains Reader spoke with the executive director of The Human Family, Sean Coffman, about the North Dakota Human Rights Arts Festival, and the special screening of eight experimental and animated films at the Fargo Theatre on February 20th. The Human Family promotes human rights and social justice through film and art. This is a free, one night only event -- the public is encouraged to reserve their spot, as seating is limited. Go to:

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‘The Turning:’ Sigismondi Struggles with Henry James Oft-Told Tale

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | February 5th, 2020

The telling one-two punch of a January release date dump and a rocky production history spells serious trouble for Floria Sigismondi’s “The Turning,” a supernatural horror based on Henry James’ timeless “The Turn of the Screw.” A one-time “passion project” championed by no less a light than Steven Spielberg, the original incarnation of the film was developed for Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo before a Scott Z. Burns script rewrite failed to convince Amblin…

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Sanctified: Great film in the Bad lands

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | January 30th, 2020

cover design by Raul Gomez

In this part of the world there’s something about a good western that resonates among us. Whether we grew up watching them with our families or whether we developed a love for the genre as an individual. This especially rang true for Dan Bielinski who grew up watching John Wayne films. When Bielinski traded in the lights of New York City for the Northern lights of North Dakota to direct the theatre program at the University of Mary in Bismarck he fell in love with Western North…

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Chukwu Directs a Powerful Woodard in 2019 Sundance Winner ‘Clemency’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | January 29th, 2020

In January of 2019, Chinonye Chukwu made history as the first black woman to win the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition of the Sundance Film Festival. “Clemency,” which Chukwu also wrote, is only the filmmaker’s second feature, but it unfolds with the confidence of a veteran at the helm. A harrowing, close-quarters examination of the human cost of capital punishment, the film is anchored by Alfre Woodard’s sensational performance as prison warden Bernadine…

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Kotevska and Stefanov Score Oscar Nomination with Golden ‘Honeyland’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | January 22nd, 2020

Nearly one year ago, Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov’s stunning documentary “Honeyland” collected a trio of awards following its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Those accolades, including special jury recognition for both cinematography and “Impact for Change,” as well as a Grand Jury Prize, were the first indicators of the film’s critical potential. The recent announcement of an Oscar nomination marks the conclusion of a successful journey that features…

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A Master Looks Back: ‘Varda by Agnes’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | January 15th, 2020

The death on March 29, 2019 of Agnes Varda concluded a career perpetually in bloom. The legendary artist and filmmaker, unmistakable in later years under her wonderfully cartoonish yet delightfully chic two-tone coiffure, was 90 years old but operated agelessly. Working to the end with future projects in queue, Varda shares directorial credit on swan song and retrospective “Varda by Agnes” with Didier Rouget. The pair of one-hour episodes combine clips with new images and selections…

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Takal Celebrates ‘Black Christmas’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 23rd, 2019

Filmmaker Sophia Takal’s reimagining of Bob Clark’s 1974 slasher classic “Black Christmas” improves on a tepid 2006 remake by Glen Morgan without finding the weird alchemy of the original. Sharing screenplay duties with April Wolfe, Takal may not have managed a definitive version, but she should be credited with constructing a genre entry interested in the feminist exploration and expression of ideas that reach beyond superficial blood and gore exploitation. Playing with…

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March On: Gerwig’s Very Own ‘Little Women’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 23rd, 2019

Greta Gerwig continues to exercise her command of cinematic storytelling with “Little Women,” a perfectly wrapped and beribboned Christmas gift as welcome as a steaming cup of cocoa after a frosty skate around the local frozen pond. Proving wrong many skeptics who initially questioned her choice of post-”Lady Bird” material, Gerwig deftly adjusts the contents of Louisa May Alcott’s much-loved, oft-filmed tale through a skillful chronological reorganization that allows her to…

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​Jennifer Kent Sings a Bloody Song in ‘The Nightingale’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 11th, 2019

Screenshot of The Nightingale'

By Greg Carlson
gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Jennifer Kent’s “The Nightingale” will not attract the same cult following or breadth of widespread fan devotion as “The Babadook,” but her latest marks significant progress in the filmmaker’s command of story and cinematic language. Harrowing, painful, and -- for those viewers who walked out of festival screenings -- unrelentingly bleak, “The Nightingale” draws from a number of inspired sources in Kent’s original tale of Irish…

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​Love on the Run

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 4th, 2019

Queen & Slim screenshot

The politics of race in contemporary America inform the text and subtext of “Queen & Slim,” a vivid feature debut from music video director Melina Matsoukas. Described so often in “The Player”-style shorthand as “Bonnie and Clyde meets Black Lives Matter” that the tag unfairly deflates some of the character-based nuance surrounding the love-on-the-run tragedy of the central duo, Matsoukas’ stylish road movie should be destined for cult status as an object of cool. Unlike…

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