Archive for September, 2007

2006

April 9, 2007
Sundance
UK
English / Urdu
95 Minutes
Michael Winterbottom

Young British Muslims go to Pakistan for a wedding and later become US military prisoners in Cuba.

Very compelling mix of documentary and fictional footage. Tells the true story of 20-year olds, traveling to a wedding in Pakistan, who become mixed up with a terrorist group and get taken in to prisons both in South Asia and Cuba. Scary story of mistaken identity. There’s not a doubt in my mind that there are other young kids at Gitmo who are equally innocent. Talking head interviews add to the recreated footage.

6.4 Metacritic

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2006

April 9, 2007
DVD
USA
English
88 Minutes
Catherine Keener, Joan Cusack, Frances McDormand, Jennifer Aniston

I really liked this one. A topic not really seen in culture. College or childhood friends who diverge in income rarely remain friends. It’s preposterous that Aniston is a housecleaner, but the rest was pretty believable. It also had one of the BROTHERHOOD Jasons. Realistic arguments. Good and female-centric.

6.8 Metacritic

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2006

April 8, 2007
DVD
USA
English
93 Minutes
Jack Black. Kyle Gass

Worse than expected. I’ve been on the D wagon since “with karate I’ll kick your ass, send you to Tienamen Square” from the late, great Mr. Show. But this one had hardly any good jokes and worse, the songs weren’t that good. Having Dio in it was inspired, but when it was over I shrugged.

5.5 Metacritic

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2006

April 8, 2007
DVD
USA
English / Spanish
102 Minutes
Sylvester Stallone.

Pretty good final chapter of iconic boxer story. About aging, both human and Philly. Semi-creepy love interest who was barely a teenager in the first one is now all woman.

6.3 Metacritic

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2006

April 8, 2007
DVD
Germany / USA
English
109 Minutes
Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingley

Not as bad as I feared. Sort of a caper-who’s-good-and-who’s-not-and-who-is-friends-with-whom. Some of that stuff is fun. And Lucy Liu, who has always been beautiful is, dare I say, sexy in this film.

5.3 Metacritic

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2006

April 7, 2007
DVD
USA
English
97 Minutes
Kevin Smith

The gang’s all here. Pretty good. This is proof that someone like Ben Afleck is a movie star and these other clowns are merely actors, at best. He’s in a 30 second scene and he’s more charismatic than the rest of the cast put together. Except maybe Rosario Dawson.

6.5 Metacritic

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2006

April 7, 2007
DVD
USA
English
84 Minutes
Mike Judge

Had moments of incredible humor and social satire, but also had moments almost unwatchable. Not sure why the studio gave up on it. Too many corporate logos? Costco scene is worth the price of a rental.

6.4 Metacritic

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2007

April 4, 2007
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English
99 Minutes
Scott Frank, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

After you’ve seen THE LOOKOUT, listen to the MichaelVox and Tassoula K. “Cinebanter” podcast, which is available here or at iTunes.

Bullet Points:
–disappointing
–Gordon-Levitt is still a stud
–it’s difficult to play brain damage

7.3 Metacritic

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2006

March 28, 2007
Campbell CA — Camera 7
India / USA
Hindi / English / Bengali / French
122 Minutes
Mira Nair

After you’ve seen THE NAMESAKE, listen to the MichaelVox and Tassoula K. “Cinebanter” podcast, which is available here or at iTunes.

Bullet Points:
–Kumar is simply not a good actor
–blows off blondie because it’s an Indian thing, you wouldn’t understand
–Dad and Mom fantastic
–White family was charicature
–”don’t bogart that joint”

8.2 Metacritic

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2007

March 27, 2007
Sneak Preview — Camera 12 — San Jose CA
USA
English / Japanese
93 Minutes
Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Jenna Fischer

Very pleasant surprise. Sort of a Zoolander, but for ice skating. The crowd couldn’t have been happier.

6.4 Metacritic

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2006

March 25, 2007
Camera Cinema Club
USA
English
101 Minutes
Henry Jaglom

The single worst film I’ve seen in ten years with the Camera Cinema Club. They all can’t be winners, but this one sucked. A girl who lives in her car aspires to acting and somehow moves in with a producer and a guy who is straight but pretending to be gay to get more roles. Just not good.

5.2 Metacritic

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2007

March 15, 2007
Camera 7 — Campbell CA
USA
English
158 Minutes

After you’ve seen ZODIAC, listen to the MichaelVox and Tassoula K. “Cinebanter” podcast, which is available here or at iTunes.

Bullet Points:
–old time San Francisco is breathtaking…the Embarcadero…Transamerica Bldg…opening shot…Original Joe’s…Old Paramount Logo
–too long, but not boring
–Jake doesn’t age enough
–The scene with the projectionist had no value
–scene at the refinery was great
–the time-frame art direction is perfect
–second tier cast great: Anthony Edwards, Ione Skye, James LeGross
–scary stabbing scene in sunshine
–fabulous Fincher shot follows a cab from above and the camera turns as the car does somehow.

7.7 Metacritic

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2003

March 15, 2007
IFC
USA
English / German
81 Minutes
Gus Van Sant

Two high school students carry out a massacre of their fellow pupils and teachers in a modern school in Portland, Oregon.

Pseudo-documentary style. Long, long takes of different students simply going about their day until the shooting starts. So low-key as to be non-verbal. Fabulous.

7.0 Metacritic

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WE SHALL OVERCOME
2006

March 11, 2007
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
Denmark
Danish
105 Minutes

Crowd-pleasing Danish film about an incredibly scary and abusive headmaster and the new cool hippie teacher who challenges his authority. Simplistic, but still rousing. Boy interpreting Dr. King’s words from a record player into Danish for his parents is incredibly inspirational. Most characters are cartoonish, however.

Total Count At Cinequest 2007: 21 Features; 9 shorts.

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2007

March 10, 2007 — World Premiere
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
USA
English
98 Minutes

Documentary about Gwen Araujo’s murder in Newark, California. Extremely important subject. Not-so-good documentary.

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PRAGUE
2006

March 10, 2007
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
Denmark
Danish / English / Czech
92 Minutes

…handsome and successful couple travel from Denmark to Prague so that the man can claim his father’s body…the father walked out on his family when the man was 12 years old…there is culture shock and they find themselves in weird situations…the wife continually gets phone calls from her lover who is not as secret as she thinks…is she in love with the new man?…how can the husband, Kristopher, live without showing emotion about his father, or is he about to leave his wife?…

Special Jury Award For Overall Excellence–Cinequest 2007.

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THE BOTHERSOME MAN
2006

March 10, 2007
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
Norway / Iceland
Norwegian
95 Minutes

Man jumps in front of train to commit suicide. Afterlife includes a bus trip to the desert, and easy, boring job, less deep feelings/tastes/emotions…is he surrounded by robots?…he falls in love with beauty who only seems to care about home renovation…he can’t get drunk, enjoy food, have hot sex…he is living in a world of numbness…he cuts off his finger and it reappears a few hours later…the main actor is compelling, the story weird and unique…is this any kind of life?…everyone is too polite…even when he drops one woman for another, neither gets emotional in any way…

Maverick Spirit Award Winner.

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LOVE SICK
2006

March 10, 2007
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
Romania / France
Romanian
86 Minutes

…country girl goes to college in the big city where she falls in love with a member of a disfunctional family who may be sleeping with her own brother…

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THE ROAD
2006

March 9, 2007
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
China
Mandarin
114 Minutes

…surely the most adorable bus fare collector in Chinese history…teenage girl works with local bus driver and communist legend 20 years her senior…she falls for a regular passenger, the doctor…driver loves girls, girl loves doctor…1961…1966…1970s…1992…2006…the story of China is reflected in the characters…the lead girl is so charismatic that you just want her to be happy for once…arranged marriage…cultural revolutions…mismatched partners…can someone please be happy?

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PURE HEARTS
2006

March 9, 2007
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
Denmark
Danish
82 Minutes

…retarded, delusional guy watches the same old movie over and over at his asylum…the film is called “Pure Heart” and stars a girl named Linda…he memorizes it and sees his own life reflected in it…his VCR tape runs out before the end, so he’s seen the film a thousand times, but the ending never…he befriends a strong, angry inmate and they plan their escape in order to see Linda…they bumble and mess up and hurt people on the way…the actor never winks at the camera, showing that he knows what’s really going on…except at the very end…creative, far-fetched, but somehow touching…

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THE HOST
2006

March 9, 2007
San Jose CA — Camera 12
South Korea
English / Korean
119 Minutes

Took a break from the highfallutin festival stuff to relax in monster-movie splendor. Cool monster, weird mix of serious and funny. Entertaining.

8.5 Metacritic

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2007

March 9, 2007 — World Premiere
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
USA
English / French
88 Minutes

…no info at imdb…documentary about 20-somethings who go past the “No Trespassing” signs…very diverse cross-section…some from punk/x-games world…others geeky and computerish…we go to Scotland and Paris and Minneapolis…photographers take one-of-a-kind shots…fantastic…very nice and conscientious participants for the most part…underground movie theater in Paris and impromptu parties take place far under the hum of the city…very interesting…

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BATAD
2006

March 7, 2007
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
Philippines
Filipino / English / Taglish
90 Minutes

Boy from the provinces wants to acquire a pair of hiking boots. Tries selling food at market and leading tourists on tours of famous terraced rice paddies. Funny, corny, hella pinoy.

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THE MELON ROUTE
2006

March 7, 2007
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
Croatia
Serbo-Croatian / Chinese
89 Minutes.

Serbian bad guy with a heart helps only survivor of capsized boat full of Chinese immigrant border-jumpers…fights mob boss…falls in love without the help of a common language…much different than expected and much better…

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COURTHOUSE ON HORSEBACK
2006

March 6, 2007
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
China
Mandarin
101 Minutes

Old judge on horseback goes from remote village to remote village ruling on disputes between villagers. They often include a stolen chicken or some other social slight. A new judge follows along to learn the ropes. Very, very Chinese.

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THE BORDER POST
2006

March 5, 2007
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
UK / Serbia and Montenegro / Croatia / Slovenia / Republic of Macedonia / Bosnia-Herzegovina
Serbo-Croatian
94 Minutes

A troop leader’s syphilis delays the start of a Bosnian/Albanian border skirmish. Black comedy.

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2006

March 5, 2007
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
Iceland
English
80 Minutes

An English-born Buddhist monk moves to Iceland to start a temple. Documentary.

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2007

March 4, 2007 — World Premiere
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
USA
English
81 Minutes

Slay Normalcy, Save The World.

…finished just six days ago…story of NERO franchise which is like real-acting D & D…people dress up and act out plots that a guy has written…the rule book is 200 pages long…each hit with a foam sword results in points…you say “six health points, six health points” with each hit…people keep track of hits for and against…they play four times a year in a county park near Seattle…

Audience Award For Documentaries

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2007

March 4, 2007 — World Premiere
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
USA
English
76 Minutes

…first hippie family…dad is author and lover of Westerns…wrote pulp fiction about west, then moved his wife and kids up to Ghost Mountain near the Salton Sea…talking heads speak in favor of him mostly…trying to do something new in 1939…on the other hand, experts call him a faker…not living Indian-like as he claimed…Indians knew there was no water up at the top of the mountain…also, he brought in stuff he needed, they didn’t really live off the land…tin roof, water cans…he wrote to get paid so he could buy supplies…at one point no rain for 13 months…he posed his family for photos that kept the mythology alive…monthly diary for “Desert Magazine”…no clothing…no meat…

Really fascinating. Wanted to be off the grid way back in 1939. Became a bit of a folk hero to independence-minded people.

Not even listed at IMDB.

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March 4, 2007
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival
13 Minutes

…a short documentary/narrative about a homeless guy who lived in the hills above 101 back in 1971…no dialogue…we just wake up with him and follow him throughout his day…he shaves, goes to the blood bank for money, shoos some kids away, reads by candle-light, sleeps…

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Written by Michael W. Cummins