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Showing posts from September, 2017

'Swept Away' and other films by Lina Wertmüller at the Castro Sept 23

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By Moira Sullivan
Mariangela Melato and Giancarlo Giannini
In the annals of women and film history, Italian director Lina Wertmüller was the first woman to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Seven Beauties made in 1975. Four of her films and a documentary made about her will be screened at the Castro Theater on Sept 23, sponsored by the Italian Cultural Institute– in a tribute to this prolific director who made over 20 feature films. The films to be screened are the ones most known outside of Italy - “Love and Anarchy” (1973), “Swept Away” (1974) "Seven Beauties” (1975) and "The Seduction of Mimi” (1972).

All feature Giancarlo Giannini who today appears in the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace as a rogue cop –and as Inspector Pazzi in Hannibal.

“Behind the White Glasses”, made in 2015, will also be screened in the program, a documentary by Valerio Ruiz featuring interviews on Wertmüller with Martin Scorsese, Sophia Loren, Nastassja Kinski, Rutger …

Orrizonti (Horizons) Awards at 74th Venice Film Festival

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By Moira Sullivan The special jury prize in the Orrizonti section of the 74th Venice Film Festival (Aug 30 -  Sept 9) was awarded to Caniba directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel.  The filmmakers allege that they employ “a decentered, nonanthropocentric approach to the visual practice of the moving image" and that "their camera does not focus on humans as privileged actors”. Though this sounds impressive, their subject matter is one that has been medialized and fetishized since the 1980’s in numerous films and interviews, and hundreds of photographs, articles and publications. In 1981, a Japanese graduate student was rejected by a Dutch woman who was his colleague. He then murdered and cannibalized her body. After a brief incarceration, Issei Sagawa signed himself out of the mental ward of a French hospital and returned home to Japan where he supported himself by writing manga and acting in cooking shows and pornographic films.  The filmmakers approach involves an…

Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water wins Golden Lion at 74th Venice Film Festival

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By Moira Sullivan


Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Wateris not one of his best films but it is a story that includes many of his themes. Tyranny over nature , inventions and technology that represent the future of man, and mutants that defy these standards. The Shape of Water is a time capsule of the American/Russian cold war government laboratory much like the setting of Hellboy(2004) and Hellboy: The Golden Army(2008). The sadistic, predatory and racist head of operations at the facility, Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) has control of a mutant that he captured in South America, resembling The Creature from the Black Lagoon(1954). He is called “Amphibian Man” (Doug Jones) and is not able to speak nor is as benevolent as Abe Sapien in both Hellboys (played also by Doug Jones) and is known to attack when pushed too far. The Russian scientist Dimitri is the only official at the plant looking out for Amphibian man. Later one of the cleaning ladies (Sally Hawkins) at the plant takes …

Romance in the Cold War, against insurmountable odds - The Shape of Water

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By Moira Sullivan

Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is not one of his best films but it is a story that includes many of his themes. Tyranny over nature , inventions and technology that represent the future of man, and mutants that defy these standards. The Shape of Water is a time capsule from the American/Russian Cold War set in a US government laboratory much like the setting of Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy:The Golden Army (2008). The sadistic, predatory, misogynist and racist head of operations at the facility, Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), has control of a mutant that he captured in South America, resembling The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). He is called “Amphibian Man” (Doug Jones) and is not able to speak nor is as benevolent as Abe Sapien in both 'Hellboys' (played also by Doug Jones) and attacks in self-defense. The Russian scientist Dimitri is the only official at the plant looking out for Amphibian man. Later one of the cleaning ladies at the l…

“Dead on Arrival” - modern noir set in the Bayou to the tune of Bach.

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By Moira Sullivan

“Everyone’s got a transgender story around these parts”.
“Dead on Arrival” (US 2017)  is a neo-noir thriller by Stephen C.Sepher. The opening scene is ripe with irritating events you should never have to experience– listening to bad news on your cell phone voice mail on a deserted Louisiana road, crippling stomach pains, and a “by the book” local sheriff that arrives on the scene who would rather see proof of identity than call an ambulance. Traveling sales executive Sam Collins (Billy Flynn) may have to wait before he makes it to the ER,  however, there are degrees of local law enforcement incompetence as is later shown with wayward cop Deputy Walker, played by Tyson Sullivan.
After this intriguing introduction, director Stephen C. Sepher launches into a “12-hour earlier”flashback, the scene of a lavish New Year’s Eve party at a private mansion with single white women hired for the event to fraternize with the guests. We learn a couple of details in the flashback. The…

Golden Lifetime achievement award to Jane Fonda and Robert Redford at 74th Venice Film Festival

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By Moira Sullivan

Jane Fonda and Robert Redford have not acted together since they made Barefoot in the Park in 1967—that is until this year when the two side by side worked on Our Souls at Night directed by Ritesh Batra.The film was presented out of competition at the Venice Film Festival in September and both actors received a Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award. The president of the film festival Alberto Barbera presented their awards and Fonda had not been in Venice she said for over 50 years. Not only are the two veteran actors but they have contributed to the film industry with their activism – Redford for the wonderful Sundance Festival and Institute and Fonda for her activism as a feminist and politically aware figure. 
In Barefoot in the Park written by Neil Simon, Paul played by Redford marries Corrie, Fonda. Actually their characters are somewhat similar in Our Souls at Night. Like Paul, Redford as Louis in  is fussy and standoffish, whereas Fonda as Addie like her charac…