Screening Room: ‘Gueros’ – French New Wave in Mexico City

'Gueros' (Kino Lorber)

‘Gueros’ (Kino Lorber)

Style doesn’t go out of style. That’s why directors around the world are still aping the French New Wave, in good and bad ways.

Güeros is a grab-bag of the right and wrong ways to appropriate the Nouvelle Vague’s stream-of-conscious plotting and jazzy rhythms. It did the festival circuit last year and is now getting a limited release. My review from the Tribeca Film Festival is at PopMatters:

[Güeros] gets a lot of traction from its mainly directionless young protagonists. They wander through Mexico City through a couple formless days backgrounded by worries about the future and uncertainty about their place and purpose in the present. It’s a film riddled and with questions and switchbacks, circling in on itself time and again…

Here’s the trailer.

Screening Room: Chaos Reigns in ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Vroom, vroom - 'Mad Max: Fury Road' (Warner Bros.)

Vroom, vroom – ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (Warner Bros.)

madmaxfuryroad-posterIt’s been three decades since George Miller’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Things have changed. No more Mel Gibson, for one. Also, the postapocalyptic subgenre that Miller’s series helped sparked off has practically gone full mainstream. Sadly, no Tina Turner. Now, here comes Mad Max: Fury Road, with Tom Hardy in the driver’s seat.

Mad Max: Fury Road (aka, the fourth one) is playing pretty much everywhere now. My review is at Short Ends & Leader:

A demolition derby of a chase scene occasionally interrupted by scraps of crackpot wit and Aussie slang-strangled dialogue, Mad Max: Fury Road burns through ammunition and fuel with abandon. You would think that the characters were video-game avatars possessed of endlessly replenishable digital supplies, not the starving and sickly remnants of humanity barely surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Unlike many action films, though, where such profligacy is determined by need for trailer-ready action beats, here it’s central to the film’s story and message…

Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron fight the future (Warner Bros.)

Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron fight the future (Warner Bros.)

Here’s the trailer, dig it:

Now Playing: ‘Every Secret Thing’

everysecretthing1

Diane Lane and Danielle Macdonald in ‘Every Secret Thing’ (Starz Digital)

In Amy Berg’s adaptation of the Laura Lippman domestic thriller Every Secret Thing, a pair of teenaged girls are suspected of abducting a small child years after they were convicted of stealing and murdering a baby of strikingly similar looks.

Every Secret Thing is out now in limited release. My review is at Film Journal International:

Alice (Danielle Macdonald) is both a ball of cheer and a pit of frustrated desires. She perkily pretends to audition for a reality show like some bedroom-dreaming girl many years her junior, and talks eagerly about her exercise and diet regimen. A few flashbacks to childhood humiliations and some choice scenes with her mother Helen (Diane Lane, dripping with well-meaning malice), though, make clear that Alice is marinating in a cold, calculated outsider rage even before the police come calling. Her fellow convict, Ronnie (Dakota Fanning), wears her anger right out on her raccoon-eyed, heavily made-up face. The story circumnavigates around Ronnie’s poor, straitened existence for most of the earlier stretches, focusing instead on Alice and her dreamy fantasy world in which few glimmers of reality ever seem to intrude…

Here’s the trailer:

Now Playing: ‘Slow West’

Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee in 'Slow West' (A24)

Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee get acquainted in ‘Slow West’ (A24)

Slow West Final PosterA teenaged boy embarks on an epic journey to track down the woman he loves … and bad guys intervene.

Slow West is playing now in limited release. My review is at Film Journal International:

Indie westerns have blazed and snuck across screens for the past few years in a variety of flavors, from the lo-fi musings of Meek’s Cutoff to the bloody-minded vengeance of The Salvation. But none has been quite as surreptitiously odd and original as John Maclean’s Slow West. There are times when it plays as such a straightforward oater you wouldn’t be surprised to see a craggy Robert Duvall come riding up, Winchester rifle perched casually but authoritatively on his hip. At other moments the story slants sideways to resemble a loonier frontier-mad dream piece like Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja. It never quite stays in reach…

Here’s the trailer:

Now Playing: ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

The Avengers, in a moment of friendly contemplation, sans outfits (Marvel Studios)

Some Avengers, in a moment of friendly contemplation, sans outfits (Marvel Studios)

The band gets back together in Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is now playing everywhere throughout the Multiverse.

My review is at PopMatters:

A sturdy piece of inessential workmanship, The Avengers: Age of Ultron begins where it ends, with Joss Whedon shooting the works. In “Sokovia,” another made-up slice of the Balkans, the Avengers are assaulting a mountain fortress controlled by Hydra. That would be the world-spanning network of bad dudes discovered at the end of the last Captain America to have infiltrated the S.H.I.E.L.D. network. It’s not entirely clear what their motivations are besides being evil. Perhaps they’re ticked off at not having quite as cool a name as Cobra Command…

Here’s the trailer, in case you haven’t already seen it two dozen times:

New in Theaters: ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’

Carey Mulligan and dog in 'Far from the Madding Crowd' (Fox Searchlight)

Carey Mulligan and dog in ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ (Fox Searchlight)

postimageimage-ffmc-ffmc_blogIn Thomas Vinterberg’s take on Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, the beautiful outfits and gorgeous Dorset vistas don’t detract a bit from a story about a strong-willed woman willing to rebuff all suitors, no matter how well-suited they might seem.

My review is at PopMatters:

Some people have all the luck. Take Bathsheba Everdere (Carey Mulligan), the willful heroine in Thomas Vintenberg’s gleamingly romantic adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. Mulligan’s perceptive performance gives some hint of Bathsheba’s internal anxieties, but in the main, she is blessed and seems to know it. In 1870 Dorset, at a time in Europe when it was by no means uncommon to fall sick and die or starve to death simply for lack of funds, she is beautiful and unattached, a young woman free to find her way in the world. This comes before her surprise inheritance…

Here’s the trailer, feast your eyes:

Now Playing: Ryan Gosling’s ‘Lost River’

Iain De Caestecker tries to leave 'Lost River'

Iain De Caestecker tries to leave ‘Lost River’

Lost_River_posterA fantastical baroque about a mother and son fighting for survival in a slowly dying rust-belt town, Lost River is playing now in a few places.

My review is at Film Racket:

The best way to approach Ryan Gosling’s debut as a writer/director is to imagine what might happen if David Lynch were ever to shoot a nature documentary. Or if a consortium of mumblecore filmmakers dropped acid and decided to make a horror film. Something that Terence Malick might have tossed together after bumming around Detroit for a few weeks. The worst way would be to watch the film and try and determine afterwards what that was all about…

Here’s the trailer: