Cinema

Sickle and Sandal in “Hail, Caesar!”

February 18th, 2016

By Greg Carlson

In the days leading up to the nationwide release of Joel Coen and Ethan Coen’s “Hail, Caesar!,” clickbait slideshows far and wide competed to sort the oeuvre of the siblings. This week, “Slate” culture blogger Gabriel Roth filed a short article laying out a six-point theory to answer his title question, “What Is It About the Coen Brothers’ Movies That Makes Everyone Want to Rank Them?” And now that the film has been met with the kind of public indifference…

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​MJ’s magic the topic of second Jackson doc by Spike Lee

February 11th, 2016

photo cred Kerwin Devonish courtesy of the Sundance Institute.

Spike Lee’s second documentary on one of the most unforgettable, electrifying, and controversial superstars of the 20th century doesn’t compare to the filmmaker’s finest nonfiction features. But the cumbersomely titled “Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall” celebrates an exciting transitional period in the performer’s life with plenty of visual and auditory fireworks.

o-produced with the endorsement and cooperation of MJ estate co-executors John Branca and…

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​Kaufman and Johnson invite you to stay at a special hotel in “Anomalisa”

February 4th, 2016

WARNING: Do not read until after you have seen “Anomalisa”

Like so many of the curious, distinctive places imagined and created for his films, the universe of Charlie Kaufman’s “Anomalisa” is simultaneously familiar and strange, recognizable and alien, inviting and terrifying.

Based on Kaufman’s 2005 play, the film adaptation is co-directed by Kaufman and stop-motion practitioner Duke Johnson, and has the distinction of being the first R-rated movie to receive an Academy…

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​Leo and the Bear: “The Revenant”

January 29th, 2016

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Leading all Oscar challengers with a total of twelve nominations, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “The Revenant” has to overcome a few daunting statistics reported by prognosticator Scott Feinberg in order to win Best Picture. Feinberg notes that only one movie in the last fifty years (“Titanic,” which, coincidentally starred Leonardo DiCaprio) snagged the top prize without a screenplay nomination. Additionally, “Braveheart” was the last film to collect…

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​Fire! The Go-Go Boys load the cannon in “Electric Boogaloo”

January 24th, 2016

Mark Hartley’s “Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films” sprays viewers with an Uzi-like barrage of film clips, trailers, promo reels and talking heads to spin the tale of 1980s powerhouse schlock heavyweights — and cousins — Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. A competitor and companion to Hilla Medalia’s “The Go-Go Boys,” which, Hartley notes with some glee, beat “Electric Boogaloo” to market by three months, the feature documentary captures the…

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​Three-time documentary challenge finalists make “A Perfect Record”

January 21st, 2016

For the third consecutive year, local filmmakers Greg Carlson and Tucker Lucas have made the top 12 of the International Documentary/Film Fusion Challenge (IDC), an annual contest for short format documentary films. This year, they placed for their seven-minute documentary, “A Perfect Record,” featuring Fargo Record Fair founder Dean Sime.

Carlson is an associate professor in the Communication Studies and Theatre Art department at Concordia College and is also the director of film…

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Haynes Takes “Carol” On the Road

January 18th, 2016

by Greg Carlson

The meticulous Todd Haynes shares another engrossing 1950s tale of forbidden romance with “Carol,” a thematic sibling to the director’s career high point “Far from Heaven.” Adapted by Phyllis Nagy from Patricia Highsmith’s bracing novel “The Price of Salt,” “Carol” is every bit as feverish as the legendary anecdote describing the book’s origin. In the title role, Cate Blanchett is a well-to-do woman who might possibly be pursuing the distractions of…

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Brando Comes Back in “Listen to Me Marlon”

January 14th, 2016

By Greg Carlson

Fans and admirers of Marlon Brando won’t require any coaxing to see Stevan Riley’s hugely entertaining documentary “Listen to Me Marlon,” but the film is compelling enough to transcend its status as “mere” Hollywood biography. A visual and aural odyssey that explores the actor’s well-known career highlights as well as intimacies selected from hundreds of hours of previously private personal recordings narrated by Brando, the movie delights in showcasing a…

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The year in Blu-ray

December 28th, 2015

After nearly a decade on the market, the Blu-ray home video format has been relatively slow to capture the imagination (and wallets) of the general public. Nevertheless, it has built a solid collector base and has become the medium of choice for discriminating viewers, especially those with home theatres.

Many people may be switching to online streaming options for watching movies while others continue to remain satisfied with DVD quality, but just as in 2014 the year 2015 has seen an…

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The bladder-slapping magic of “The Forbidden Room”

December 25th, 2015


Global treasure Guy Maddin detonates a cinematic depth charge in “The Forbidden Room,” a stunning cascade of images so gorgeous you might think you’ve stumbled upon some long-lost Yma Sumac record sleeve photo shoot leftovers as lensed by Willy Hameister. Bearing all the filmmaker’s signature stylistic fetishes and then some, “The Forbidden Room” was co-directed by Evan Johnson, who also co-scripted along with Maddin and Robert Kotyk. Additional, hilarious “How to Take a…

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