Author: Jason Ooi

Cannes Review: Toni Erdmann Succeeds in Its Simple Ambition to Entertain

Overview: A man plays pranks on his daughter to address her seriousness. 2016; 163 Minutes. A Feel Good Film: When Winfrey Conradi is sent home after a disappointing weekend attempt to reconnect with his daughter Ines, he realizes the extent of which her life is consumed by her work. He returns, as the titular alternate persona, the life coach Toni Erdmann, and attempts to instill a more zestful life energy into her monotonous routine by playing pranks and tricking her friends. Toni Erdmann is as feel-good a movie as one can expect to see at Cannes. The film explores...

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Cannes Review: Ma Loute is Monotone, But Lastingly Funny

Overview: Two inspectors investigate a series of disappearances in a coastal village. Memento Films distribution; 2016; 122 Minutes. A Comedic Turn: Following a summer’s worth of events on the beaches of the French coast, Bruno Dumont’s Ma Loute pits the wealthy, incestuous, vacationing Peteghems against the Bréforts, a cannibalistic family of anglers and mussel collectors composed of four sons, all lifelong residents of the island. Stuck in the middle, attempting to solve a series of disappearances, is the ditzy crime fighting duo of Investigator Machin and Detective Malfoy, a veritable Sherlock and Watson dipped in buffoonery. This is such...

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Cannes Review: Rester Vertical (Staying Vertical) Defies Cinematic Boundaries

Overview: A filmmaker seeks inspiration while raising a child. Les Films du Losange; 2016; 100 Minutes. Rocky Start: Rester Vertical (Staying Vertical) begins as dreadfully boorish, before mutating into a hilarious absurdist comedy rich with symbolism and subtext. Alain Guiraudie presents a world in which relationship boundaries and definitions are blurred. The central father-son relationship offers an unpredictable, insane romp headfirst into some of the most unfathomable corners of cinema. This is the kind of film that divides audiences. To call it risqué cinema is to undersell the effort. It is bold, confident filmmaking that will either prove immensely rewarding or frustratingly...

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Cannes Review: I, Daniel Blake Has So Much Heart

Overview: An unhealthy man in need of state assistance meets a homeless single mother. eOne Films/Le Pacte; 2016; 100 Minutes. A Familiar Setup: I, Daniel Blake tells the classic tale of man versus oppressive government and sadistic bureaucracy. The struggle for survival reveals beauty in humanity. The titular character and all those who accept and reciprocate his benevolence represent the best in ordinary people and Loach-ian storytelling. The film suggests that, for all of our social flaws, we can truly persevere through those important, meaningful connections afforded by small, seemingly trivial interactions. If occasionally the film veers to close...

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Cannes Review: Sieranevada’s Realism Tests Viewers’ Patience

Overview: A family gathers to commemorate a deceased father with a shared meal. Mandragora Movies, 2016, 173 Minutes. A Slow Step Forward: When you consider that directors like Thomas Vinterburg and Christian Mungiu are able to capture the barebones viscera that Cristi Puiu strives for in Sieranevada (and his entire filmography) in under ninety minutes with The Celebration and 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days respectfully, it becomes harder to appreciate Puiu’s style, which aims for the same painstaking reality through replicating exclusively the boring bits. Sieranevada, with a 173 minute run time, though an improvement from the terse and somehow even more meandering construct of the director’s earlier Aurora,...

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Cannes Review: Café Society is Standard Modern Woody Allen, for Good and Bad

Overview: A New Yorker moves to Hollywood to make it in film. Amazon Studios/Lionsgate; 2016; 96 Minutes. Woody Allen as an Adjective: Café Society is Woody Allen at his most Woody Allen. Whether he’s tackling the infectious nature of fame and success or even creating a plain, simple romance, neuroses and cynicism oozes through his screens of warm-hues, bright colors, and lavish lifestyles. The disapproval of the Hollywood lifestyle feels almost editorial and auto-biographical, as characters find success on a surface level but lack any inner sense of fulfillment. Allen keeps the negativity in the forefront, at most, always a few rows back,...

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Sing Street Is Incredibly Wild & Charming

Overview: A young musician in the 1980s starts a band in order to impress his crush and escape his difficult life. The Weinstein Company; 2016; Rated PG-13; 106 minutes. Relationships: Sing Street, with Once‘s heart and Begin Again‘s fine tune and budget hits all the right notes, finding that perfect happy-sad (but not bittersweet) blend that its main character, born Conor but dubbed Cosmo, struggles to. The film finds Cosmo in an impoverished Ireland, transferring to a new school and struggling to understand his slowly estranging parents. Armed with nothing but his guitar, he finds a talent for music, the primary catalyst for this...

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Eye in the Sky Is Expertly Contained

Overview: A mission to eliminate a group of terrorist leaders finds itself interrupted by heated debate after a young girl wanders into the blast radius. Entertainment One; 2016; Rated R; 102 minutes. Politically Sound: Eye in the Sky is a thrilling, uniquely small-scale war movie for the new age. The film, which follows a joint operation to capture a group of terrorists in Naorobi, focuses on seven different parties involved, and how an exceedingly simple moral dilemma can trigger so much conflict. War movies are a tricky sort. Those which involve multiple nations often find themselves allied, whether intentional or not,...

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Knight of Cups Is Another Malick Masterstroke

Overview: A screenwriter searches for himself and connections in Los Angeles. Broad Green Pictures; 2016; Rated R; 118 minutes. The Magician: Perhaps director Terrence Malick’s most abstract and unforgiving work, the enigma of the narrative of Knight of Cups is nearly impenetrable, but the general gist of it and the emotions that come with are easily known. Just as Bale’s screenwriter Rick, who finds himself torn in a downward spiral of success and solitude is reminded of the Hymns of the Pearl in an early scene, about a son of kings made to forget both lineage and quest, so are we, sidelined by...

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny Cares Little for its Characters

Overview: A new martial faction lead by the evil Hades Dai attempts to steal the Green Destiny and take over the world. Netflix; 2016; PG-13; 103 minutes. Different Director; Different Style: Lacking the grace and sensitivity of the first film, Sword of Destiny conforms to a different style. With a focus on action, its fight scenes feel less like well-choreographed dances characterizing each contender so much as they do large action set pieces; there is no focus on the people fighting them, only faceless and insignificant deaths (for the most part) and stylish moves. However, this is not to completely detract...

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Oscars Crash Course: Animated Features

Every year in the lead up to the Academy Awards, there is plenty of buzz surrounding every major category. So much so, you could likely enter your office betting pool with a fair idea of what your safe bets would be, whether you had seen some of the films or not. But what about the under-discussed categories? What about those films that flew under your radar? Some of the best movies of the year aren’t contending for Best Picture. Before you start to panic in the remaining hours before the big event, fear not, because we here at Audiences Everywhere are stepping...

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Oscars Crash Course: Foreign Language Films

Every year in the lead up to the Academy Awards, there is plenty of buzz surrounding every major category. So much so, you could likely enter your office betting pool with a fair idea of what your safe bets would be, whether you had seen some of the films or not. But what about the under-discussed categories? What about those films that flew under your radar? Some of the best movies of the year aren’t contending for Best Picture. Before you start to panic in the remaining hours before the big event, fear not, because we here at Audiences Everywhere are stepping in to break...

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Sundance Winners and Purchases Roundup

After ten days of premieres, the Sundance Film Festival wrapped up with its awards ceremony Saturday night in Park City. Birth of a Nation stood out as the big winner, inking the biggest purchase deal in the history of the festival and taking home top prizes. Below, you can see a list of other big purchases and a full list of award winners from the ceremony. Big Deals Birth of a Nation (Fox Searchlight) Nate Parker’s bold directorial debut, which borrows its name from D.W. Griffith’s controversial classic, set a new Sundance record with its $17.5 million purchase from Fox...

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Lamb Thrives On And Gets Lost In Its Ambiguity

Overview: A man meets a young girl in a parking lot and takes her on a journey to his cabin in the woods, where he shows her the beauty of the outside world. The Orchard; 2015; Not Rated; 96 minutes. Not Quite Kidnapping: A touch of Leon: the Professional with an emphasis on beauty over death, Lamb sports an unusual relationship which consistently floods the film with a sense of unease, but also allows glimmers of touching emotion to shine through. The film follows two people, David, dealing with the death of his father and the departure of his wife, and Tommie,...

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James White Reflects On Personal Chaos

Overview: A young New Yorker finds himself wrestling with his demons in the face of diverse family challenges. The Film Arcade; 2015; Rated R; 85 Minutes. A Tightly Knit Character Study: The camera never leaves its titular subject in writer-director Josh Mond’s new film. It invades the area directly around him, the emptiness of which grants him comfort and provides a deeply intimate look at a coming of age drama. These revealing close-ups betray his emotions in a way that words cannot. Yes, he is a disappointment, forever condemned to failing his dying mother, forever forbidden closure surrounding his recently-deceased father, and permanently bound...

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