Flame & Citron
There were many corners of the Second World War which have been neglected by a general history that focuses on the great battles of the Pacific and the Western Front; the resistance movement in Nazi-occupied Denmark is just one of them. Ole Christian Madsen’s historically-based war thriller Flame & Citron, presents an honorable, if dramatically problematic, attempt to remedy that unawareness…
Flame & Citron opens in limited release on Friday. You can read the full review at filmcritic.com.
New on DVD:
The Best of Whose Line Is It Anyway? Uncensored
It’s a well-worn path, this translation of British comedic product to the American televisual sausage grinder. The results range from the good (The Office) to the catastrophic (Coupling). In a few very instances, though, the studios manage to take a fresh and imaginative kind of show and change as little as possible. One of those instances was Whose Line Is It Anyway?…
The 2-disc DVD set of The Best of Whose Line Is It Anyway? Uncensored is available now, and probably worth seeing if just for the (absolutely filthy) guest appearance by Richard Simmons. Read the full review at PopMatters.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
At what point did the Harry Potter film franchise become a race against repetition? In J.K. Rowling’s series of popcorn-munching fantasy-lite page-turners, the cycle of familiar events is something that helps power them along. Without the susurrus of new classes, new teachers, school holidays, and the rising and falling of friendships and crushes humming in the foreground, the books would have been lost beneath a crashing din of Rowling’s hyperactive plotting. As fantastical fictionalizing of the dreary retread of school years that march one towards adulthood, the books’ magic was rarely about exploration or discovery, but rather about circling the wagons of home and hearth against the darkness outside. Repetition, in the correct dosage, helped reinforce the sense of normalcy and protection that progressively shriveled from book to darker-hued book…
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opened everywhere in the universe and beyond at midnight. By now, everyone in America has apparently already seen it. If for some reason you haven’t, you can read the rest of this review at Short Ends & Leader.
The Way We Get By
With Hollywood dramas doing their best to ignore the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the stream of non-fiction films having dried up to a trickle, films like Aron Gaudet’s wrenching The Way We Get By are even more important than they otherwise would be. This isn’t to say that Gaudet’s documentary has even a hint of an eat-your-broccoli lecture to it—that couldn’t be further from the truth. But while watching the film it’s hard to escape the sense that one is witnessing a dispatch from a lonely outpost of the forgotten wars…
The Way We Get By opens this week in pretty limited release, but should make its way to DVD soon. It’s one of the best documentaries of 2009 so far, and highly deserves being sought out. Read the full review at Film Journal International.
Near Death in the Desert
Maybe this sort of thing is just not supposed to be interesting unless somebody’s life is at stake. Otherwise, it’s hard to explain why Cecil Kuhne’s riveting new anthology of travel writing, Near Death in the Desert: True Stories of Disaster and Survival, is pitched so directly (at least in terms of title) at the extreme-travel crowd. In fact, this latest entry in Kuhne’s Near Death series—earlier installments were themed around the Arctic, Mountains, and High Seas—doesn’t really have that much to do with disaster, survival, or even courting death, really. What this skillfully curated collection does instead is present a multitude of takes on an even more basic (and frequently more fascinating) struggle: the yawning abyss of cultures…
Near Death in the Desert is in finer bookstores now. Grab a copy before you head off into the wild. You can read the full review at PopMatters.
A crook-eyed and foppish jerks of jerks, Asterios Polyp is the guy at the university parties whom everybody hates but still self-consciously sidles near to just so they can hear what he’s saying—even if it’ll make them sick the rest of the night. Daredevil and Batman: Year One artist David Mazzucchelli does the amazing in this, his first graphic novel, in not only basing an entire work around such an unctuous creation but actually making him something of a real human being whom one can envision caring about. The result is one of the smartest and most rewarding graphic novels of the year to date…
David Mazzucchelli’s grand graphic novel Asterios Polyp should be hitting stores any day now. Check it out. Read the full review at Re:Print.
It would have been easy for U.K. journalist and TV producer Havana Marking to turn her feature documentary debut Afghan Star into a weepy, patronizing view of a Third World nation’s people rising above their travails by means of song. But Marking’s surprisingly astringent film resists such temptations even while following four heartbreakingly brave finalists in the hugely popular “American Idol”-like talent show the film takes its name from, a melodramatic arc if there ever was one…
Afghan Star is playing now in limited release and should be making its way onto DVD in a few months. The full review was published in The Hollywood Reporter.