Film

Spiralling Out of Control

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Review of 'Buffalo Soldiers', director Gregor Jordan

Buffalo Soldiers is a film that suffered from poor timing. Acquired by Miramax on 10 September 2001, a day later it was the sort of film that Hollywood didn't want. Its release was postponed again due to the Iraq war. At its first showing in the US an outraged critic threw a water bottle at the director because of its negative portrayal of the US military.

Little Gain and Plenty of Pain

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Review of 'Unknown Pleasures', director Jia Zhang-Ke

In 1978 Deng Xiaoping introduced free market reforms in China. The increasingly bureaucratised economy had stagnated under Mao, but in the 1980s its average annual growth rate was 10 percent. China now has the world's third largest economy. Yet the vast majority of Chinese people have benefited little from these reforms.

When Art and Politics Don't Mix

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Review of 'Max', director Menno Meyers

Max' is set in Munich after the defeat of Germany in the First World War. One of the two main protagonists is Max Rothman (John Cusack), a Jewish artist who lost an arm in the war. Now he runs an art gallery and shows the new art that exploded in Germany as a result of the turmoil of defeat. He meets another veteran who, unlike him, is penniless. He too has an interest in art - and reactionary politics. It is struggling artist Adolf Hitler.

A Symbol of the New World Order

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Review of 'Lilya 4-Ever', director Lukas Moodysson

This dark, sobering film, the latest by acclaimed Swedish director Lukas Moodysson, is all at once a profoundly moving story, a protest against misogyny, a damning indictment of the new world order and a longing for something better. It is, in short, a tale for our times. Set in the bleak housing schemes of the former USSR, it charts the descent of an abandoned Russian teenager into prostitution, rape and finally suicide.

A Revolution in the Making

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Review of 'To Kill a King', director Mike Barker

This film is set against the background of the English Civil War after the parliamentary rebel armies have decisively defeated the Royalist forces of King Charles I at Naseby in 1645. A film covering the period to Charles I's public execution and beyond has many devolopmental options - a history of the 17th century, the causes of the Civil War, the nature of the social revolution of which it was an expression, the religious cloaks, the main dramatis personae of the action, and more.

Bullets and Ballet

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Review of 'Matrix Reloaded', directors Larry and Andy Wachowski

The 'Matrix' films take place in two parallel worlds. In the real world, machines rule. Most humans are kept in tanks to be farmed by the machines to provide their fuel. The few that remain free live in the last surviving city, Zion, deep within the earth's crust. Our world is the world of the Matrix - a computer simulation designed to keep the bulk of humanity pacified while the machines feed. The 'Matrix' trilogy chronicles the struggle against the machines, which takes place in both the real world and the illusory world of the Matrix.

It's a Marvel

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Review of 'X-Men 2', director Bryan Singer

It's safe to assume that Bryan Singer's superhero sequel will not only dominate the multiplexes for the next couple of months. This $100 million-plus blockbuster also comes with the full array of merchandise tie-ins--figurines, magazines and no doubt promotions at a fast food chain near you soon. But is there anything of artistic merit to be gleaned from a comic book adaptation about mutant superheroes (and villains) with such implausible names as Cyclops, Magneto and Lady Deathstrike?

Oh Ye of Little Faith

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Review of 'Trembling Before G-d', director Sandi Simcha DuBowski

This beautiful, moving, perplexing documentary describes the lives of Orthodox Jews who are lesbian or gay. Orthodox Jews, a minority among Jewish people, live deeply conservative lives centred on the Bible and the family. Their attitude to homosexuality starts from the biblical judgement that sex between men is an abomination. Members of the Orthodox establishment have opposed any mention in America's Holocaust Museum of the fact that gays died in Nazi concentration camps.

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