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by Michael Barrett

1 Oct 2015

This three-DVD set conveniently gathers six hard-to-find films that French filmmaker Agnès Varda made on California visits in 1967-1968 and in 1980. Beautifully restored, they look sunny and gorgeous, and bear her distinctive sense of curiosity, intelligence, color, and craft.

In 1967, Varda arrived in America with her husband, Jacques Demy, who was making the film Model Shop  for Columbia. The first disc has two short documentaries she made in Northern California. Saturated with color, light, and whimsy, Uncle Yanco  (1967) is an impromptu profile of her father’s cousin, an artist in a houseboat colony of young bohemians in Anaheim. By re-creating and filming their “first meeting” several times, Varda calls attention to the artificial aspect of the project. We have the option of hearing a largely French soundtrack or an English one narrated by Yanco and Varda.

by Jedd Beaudoin

28 Sep 2015

Entourage: The Movie was almost universally panned when it hit theaters—enough that reviews worked as a repellant for some. But as its DVD release reveals, it’s not that bad.

by Chris Barsanti

25 Sep 2015

The cartel wars’ corrosive corruption and psychotic butchery that have been progressively pulverizing Mexican society for over a decade have just now begun registering as more than a blip on the American cultural consciousness. One would think that such horror-film savagery and rock-and-roll street combat happening right next door, with a constantly mutating cast of heroes who turn out to be villains and villains who turn out to be monsters, would have grabbed more attention sooner. But, then, it was only after Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper reimagined another murky conflict into a reassuring and essentially false good-guy crusader narrative that the public turned out in real numbers for an Iraq War film.

Now there is Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario, set in a U.S.-Mexico border zone awash in drug money, paranoia, and double-digit body counts. Emily Blunt (painfully miscast) plays Kate, an FBI agent who during a seemingly routine raid in an Arizona suburb stumbles into a cartel kill-house where the walls are filled with dozens of plastic-wrapped corpses, like some macabre art exhibit. Pulling that string gets her yanked into a larger cross-agency task force swaddled in official hush-hush.

by Alex Ramon

24 Sep 2015

Certain incidents you just don’t see coming, and they make our everyday anxieties and worries look trivial, indeed. The news of the death of the director Marcin Wrona at Gdynia, occurring on the Saturday morning of the closing gala of the Festival’s 40th anniversary, shocked and deeply saddened everyone in attendance and, of course, in the wider Polish film community and beyond. Relaying the awful news to a critic friend at TIFF, I learned that he had, just days before, met and interviewed Wrona in Toronto, where the director had presented his new film, Demon, before bringing it to Gdynia, where the movie received further acclaim and was judged by some to be the best film of the Festival.

by Alex Ramon

24 Sep 2015

It’s been five years already since the release of Jerzy Skolimowski’s excellent Essential Killing (2010), the director’s controversial take on “rendition” which set Vincent Gallo’s Taliban fighter on the run and struggling for survival in the wintry wastes of rural Poland. If we’re sure of anything by now it’s that the only thing one can expect from a Skolimowski movie is the unexpected: there’s no easy-to-identify through-line that would connect the work of this veteran director (also a boxer, poet and painter) over his 50 year career. What Skolimowski does possess, though, is an uncanny ability to take the pulse and measure of the contemporary world in a way that’s as idiosyncratic as it is insightful.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

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