Mark Jenkins http://apr.org en 'I Origins': There's More Than One 'I' In 'Ridiculous' http://apr.org/post/i-origins-theres-more-one-i-ridiculous Viewers of earnest sci-fi dramas like <em>I Origins</em> are required to suspend disbelief, but the scripters of such movies have responsibilities, too. They can't introduce ideas so ridiculous, or suddenly twist their premises so illogically, that audiences are fatally distracted.<p>Take, for example, <em>Snowpiercer</em>, set on a frozen future Earth. While a home nestled in the warm bedrock would be the logical place to wait out an ice age, let's accept that the few surviving humans are instead circling the globe on a "high-speed" train. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 55986 at http://apr.org 'I Origins': There's More Than One 'I' In 'Ridiculous' A 'Closed Curtain' Conceals A Director's Real Confinement http://apr.org/post/closed-curtain-conceals-directors-real-confinement Banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi could hardly have found a more engaging surrogate than the four-legged co-star of <em>Closed Curtain</em>, the second movie Panahi has directed since he was officially forbidden from doing so. Making his entrance by hopping from the duffel bag that's hidden him, the dog called Boy embodies Iranian outcasts at their friskiest.<p>Bushy-tailed Boy, it seems, is the reason the principal human character, played by co-director Kamboziya Partovi, has traveled to this resort home on the Caspian Sea. Thu, 10 Jul 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 55539 at http://apr.org A 'Closed Curtain' Conceals A Director's Real Confinement The Devil's In The Derails: 'Deliver Us,' Indeed http://apr.org/post/devils-derails-deliver-us-indeed For decades, cop dramas have depicted the South Bronx as the devil's playground. <em>Deliver Us From Evil</em> takes that idea all too literally. But then this slow-witted occult thriller takes everything literally, from the Catholic rite of exorcism to Jim Morrison's shamanic posturing.<p>The movie is derived from a book of the same name by former NYPD Sgt. Ralph Sarchie, who reportedly came to believe that some of the criminals he faced were literally possessed. Thu, 03 Jul 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 55109 at http://apr.org The Devil's In The Derails: 'Deliver Us,' Indeed 'Begin Again,' A Music Fantasy Both Sticky And Sweet http://apr.org/post/begin-again-music-fantasy-both-sticky-and-sweet You can be the scrappy newcomer only, well, once. That's a problem for <em>Once</em> writer-director John Carney, who has refashioned his low-budget 2006 hit as the slicker, cornier <em>Begin Again</em>. The new film excels as a pop-music fairy tale, but its real-world notes are seriously off-key.<p>The movie originally traveled the film-fest circuit under an unfortunate title, <em>Can A Song Save Your Life?</em> As in Carney's earlier effort, the life to be saved is that of a struggling man, and the rescuer is a young woman. Thu, 26 Jun 2014 21:10:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 54677 at http://apr.org 'Begin Again,' A Music Fantasy Both Sticky And Sweet You're A Little Flat, 'Boys' http://apr.org/post/youre-little-flat-boys For the final credits of <em>Jersey Boys</em>, director Clint Eastwood sends the whole cast into a backlot street to dance to the Four Seasons' most recent chart-topper, 1976's "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)." <em>Hmmm</em>, the confused viewer might wonder, <em>perhaps this is supposed to be a musical</em>....<p>The movie is, of course, derived from the long-running Broadway hit, and includes numerous Four Seasons songs. But this adaptation, as reworked by original writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, adds dialogue and subtracts music. Thu, 19 Jun 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 54228 at http://apr.org You're A Little Flat, 'Boys' In 'Manuscripts,' A Barred Filmmaker Considers Dissident Art http://apr.org/post/manuscripts-barred-filmmaker-considers-dissident-art Iranian writer-director Mohammad Rasoulof is known for such lovely yet elusive allegories as <em>White Meadows</em>, but his response to being barred from filmmaking has not been to recede further into symbolism. His <em>Manuscripts Don't Burn</em>, smuggled out of Iran last year, is direct and unflinching.<p>Rasoulof and fellow director Jafar Panahi were arrested in 2010, and forbidden from making movies for 20 years. Thu, 12 Jun 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 53796 at http://apr.org In 'Manuscripts,' A Barred Filmmaker Considers Dissident Art All Eyes Turn To One 'Beauty' In Interwoven Tales Of Families And Politics http://apr.org/post/all-eyes-turn-one-beauty-interwoven-tales-families-and-politics Four stories and at least that many themes interlace in <em>Dormant Beauty</em>, veteran Italian director Marco Bellocchio's latest bid to combine the personal and the political. The central issue is euthanasia, which became a national argument in 2009, when the father of Eluana Englaro asked to end her life after 17 years in a vegetative state.<p>The controversy over the real-life case is the backdrop for the director and co-writer's multistrand drama. Thu, 05 Jun 2014 21:08:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 53349 at http://apr.org All Eyes Turn To One 'Beauty' In Interwoven Tales Of Families And Politics Punk Is Alive And Living In Three Swedish Girls http://apr.org/post/punk-alive-and-living-three-swedish-girls Somewhere in liberal-minded but boring Sweden, two teenage girls begin a rebellion. If the premise of Lukas Moodysson's <em>We Are the Best!</em> sounds familiar, that's because it's roughly identical to that of the writer-director's charming 1998 debut, <em>Show Me Love</em>.<p>As well as being something of a retread, <em>We Are the Best!</em> is a thematic retreat from its predecessor, <em>Mammoth</em>, a well-meaning if contrived globalization parable. Artistically, however, the new film is a rebirth. Fri, 30 May 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 52984 at http://apr.org Punk Is Alive And Living In Three Swedish Girls Dizzy From Time Travel, Overstuffed With Mutants http://apr.org/post/dizzy-time-travel-overstuffed-mutants As the seventh X-Men movie begins, New York City is in ruins, its residents nearly annihilated. Yet <em>X-Men: Days of Future Past</em>'s true plight is overpopulation. The film is so stuffed with characters that including twin versions of Professor X and Magneto scarcely boosts the confusion.<p>The first X-flick directed by Bryan Singer since 2003's <em>X2</em> clicks in its middle section, which mostly focuses on the younger crew of heroes introduced in 2011's <em>X-Men: First Class</em>. Thu, 22 May 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 52493 at http://apr.org Dizzy From Time Travel, Overstuffed With Mutants In 'Horses Of God,' A Sprawling Slum Breeds A Violent Act http://apr.org/post/horses-god-sprawling-slum-breeds-violent-act Anyone seeking to establish an incubator for suicide bombers could hardly improve on Sidi Moumen, a slum on the fringe of Casablanca. As depicted in <em>Horses of God</em>, the neighborhood is a place of crushing poverty, rampant hostility and exceptionally limited options.<p>Those burdens alone, of course, were not enough to motivate the 12 bombers who attacked sites in the nearby city in May 2003, killing 33 people as well as themselves. Thu, 15 May 2014 21:04:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 52032 at http://apr.org In 'Horses Of God,' A Sprawling Slum Breeds A Violent Act 'Neighbors' Just Wants To Be The Gross Joke Next Door http://apr.org/post/neighbors-just-wants-be-gross-joke-next-door Makers of R-rated comedies face an essential dilemma: finding brand new ways to gross out their snickering adolescent viewers. But as <em>Neighbors </em>demonstrates, there's another challenge that's just as tricky: piloting the raunchy scenario to a payoff that upholds the very middle-class values the movie gleefully profanes.<p><em>Neighbors</em> opens in an upscale suburban Anywhereville, where a house is occupied by a standard sitcom couple: goofy, pudgy dad and improbably beautiful mom. Thu, 08 May 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 51587 at http://apr.org 'Neighbors' Just Wants To Be The Gross Joke Next Door Travel And Discovery, For 'Ida' And The Filmmaker Who Watches Her http://apr.org/post/travel-and-discovery-ida-and-filmmaker-who-watches-her Everyone is on a voyage of self-discovery in <em>Ida</em> — the two central characters certainly, but also Poland-born, Britain-based director Pawel Pawlikowski, making his first film in the homeland he left at 14.<p>The austerely luminous black-and-white drama is set in 1962, an era the director can't remember all that well. (He was 5 at the time.) The title character is 18 and about to learn who she is, or was. Thu, 01 May 2014 21:04:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 51187 at http://apr.org Travel And Discovery, For 'Ida' And The Filmmaker Who Watches Her Tracing One Life, Lost In The Desert http://apr.org/post/tracing-one-life-lost-desert <em>Who Is Dayani Cristal?</em> attempts to humanize the many who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border by focusing on just one: a corpse found in the lethal Arizona desert with the words "Dayani Cristal" tattooed on his chest. The documentary follows the models of several genres of fictional films: the forensic procedural, the road movie, the man-who-wasn't-there mystery.<p>The results are poignant, yet show the difficulties of applying fiction templates to true stories. Thu, 24 Apr 2014 21:08:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 50793 at http://apr.org Tracing One Life, Lost In The Desert The Rush Of A River; The Rise Of A Gondola http://apr.org/post/rush-river-rise-gondola Although they take very different approaches to the eco-documentary, <em>DamNation</em> and <em>Manakamana</em> are both immersive experiences. In the former, one of the directors is the narrator and an onscreen character. In the latter, the directors stay off-camera (or behind the camera) as they turn a simple journey into a slowly unraveling ethnographic mystery.<p><em>DamNation</em> opens with a recording of FDR, who acclaims the then-new Hoover Dam and denounces those of "narrow vision" who reject major public-works projects. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:02:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 50352 at http://apr.org The Rush Of A River; The Rise Of A Gondola 'Boys Of Abu Ghraib' Focuses Too Tightly On An Army Of One http://apr.org/post/boys-abu-ghraib-focuses-too-tightly-army-one Essentially a one-man show, writer-director-star Luke Moran's <em>Boys of Abu Ghraib</em> observes a soldier's deployment at the prison during its most notorious post-Saddam year, 2003. As such, the movie works pretty well. But spotlighting a single GI sidesteps the group dynamic of what happened at the U.S.-run jail, where poorly supervised guards incited each other to behave in ways that were, at the least, unprofessional.<br /> Sat, 29 Mar 2014 17:29:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 49277 at http://apr.org 'Boys Of Abu Ghraib' Focuses Too Tightly On An Army Of One