Zoo (2007) directed by Robinson Devor
"In the predawn hours of July 2, 2005, a dying man was dropped off at a rural emergency room in the Pacific Northwest. A surveillance camera captured the license plate of the car that deposited the man at the hospital. This led detectives to a nearby horse farm, where they found hundreds of hours of videotape of men from all over the world having sex with Arabian stallions. The man's cause of death was a perforated colon. Although this incident made headlines and the tabloid news, Zoo is the complete antithesis of what you expect." With the early critical aclaim that this controversial documentary was getting, I thought it would get more of a theatrical run, but it looks like it didn't make it beyond LA, New York and a handful of festivals. Here's just an example of what was being said: "a breathtakingly original nonfiction work" (Variety), "generally terrific, and deserves to find an audience, by whatever means" (indieWire), "haunting rather than shocking, and tender beyond reason" (Cinema Scope).
Death Proof (2006) directed by Quentin Taratino
"Quentin Tarantino indulges his inner fanboy by paying homage to his favorite B-movies in Death Proof. Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) stalks beautiful women with his deadly vintage car, but when he picks a trio of tough girls (Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms, and Zoe Bell), he learns they aren’t such easy prey. As with any Tarantino film, there are plenty of nods to pop culture. Most of the scenes are deliberately short on plot development, the dialogue comes thick and fast throughout, and the film stock is often cleverly manipulated to perfectly replicate the B-movie aesthetic. Death Proof was originally released as part of the Grindhouse double feature with Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror." I will gladly watch the far superior second half of Grindhouse again. I can't help but think that Death Proof would have done so much better as a stand alone movie. Tarantino defies my skepticism and totally won me over with this film.
Boss of It All (2006) directed by Lars von Trier
"The owner of an IT firm wants to sell up. The trouble is that when he started his firm he invented a nonexistent company president to hide behind when unpopular steps needed taking. When potential purchasers insist on negotiating with the "Boss" face to face the owner has to take on a failed actor to play the part. The actor suddenly discovers he is a pawn in a game that goes on to sorely test his (lack of) moral fibre." This film played once the MSPIFF earlier this year to a sold out crowd. At this point I'm not sure what people expect when they go to a Lars von Trier film, but overall people seemed to be disappointed in this film if not simply luke warm. I guess people miss the standard von Tier provocation.
The Valet (2006) directed by Francis Weber
"Pierre Levasseur, an important CEO, is photographed with his lover, Elena, a world-famous model. In an attempt to salvage his marriage, he tries to convince his wife that Elena is not his lover, but that of François Pignon, a valet who was passing by and ended up on the photograph. To make his story believable, Levasseur then has to convince Pignon and Elena to move in together and to pretend to be a couple. Things get more complicated when this creates tensions between Pignon and his former flatmate Richard and his love interest Émilie, and when Levasseur's wife discovers the truth and decides to play games with her husband." Yet another film that screened at MSPIFF and also had a run at the local Landmark Theater. It is a French comedy and you get what you expect.
The Camden 28 (2006) directed by Anthony Giacchino
"How far would you go to stop a war? The Camden 28 recalls a 1971 raid on a Camden, New Jersey, draft board office by 'Catholic Left' activists protesting the Vietnam War and its effects on urban America. Arrested on-site in a clearly planned sting, the protesters included four Catholic priests, a Lutheran minister and 23 others. The Camden 28 were a far cry from bomb-planting Weathermen or even fist-waving militants. But the very difference—their religious motives—may well have made them more dangerous opponents in the eyes of the Nixon administration. A growing Catholic and religious opposition to the war could not be dismissed as extremist to mainstream America, so they had to be brought down." This documentary has played on PBS and has also had various screenings around the US.
Three Penny Opera (1931) directed by G.W. Pabst
"The sly melodies of composer Kurt Weill and the daring of dramatist Bertolt Brecht come together on-screen under the direction of German auteur G. W. Pabst (Pandora's Box) in this classic adaptation of the Weimar-era theatrical sensation. Set in the impoverished back alleys of Victorian London, The Threepenny Opera follows underworld antihero Mackie Messer (a.k.a. Mack the Knife) as he tries to woo Polly Peachum and elude the authorities. With its palpable evocation of corruption and dread, set to Weill's irresistible score, The Threepenny Opera remains a benchmark of early sound cinema. It is presented here in both its celebrated German and rare French versions." Anytime there is a chance to see a film of this era either presented on the big screen of on a Criterion DVD it is worth checking out.
Cult pick of the week:
Severance (2006) directed by Christopher Smith
"When the president of a high-profile international-arms supplier takes his six best employees to an Eastern European mountain retreat as a means of rewarding them for all of their hard work, their team-building getaway turns into a life-or-death game of kill or be killed. Palisade Defense isn't just the leading supplier of weaponry for the war on terror, it's a company that truly cares about its employees. When the Palisade Defense's European sales division exceeds expectations, the president decides that his dedicated employees deserve a relaxing, corporate team-building retreat. The trip takes a turn for the worst, however, when a deadly enemy infiltrates the retreat with the singular goal of ensuring that no one gets out alive." Battle Royale with more laughs?