Mark Jenkins http://krwg.org en 'I Origins': There's More Than One 'I' In 'Ridiculous' http://krwg.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 70745 at http://krwg.org 'I Origins': There's More Than One 'I' In 'Ridiculous' A 'Closed Curtain' Conceals A Director's Real Confinement http://krwg.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 70247 at http://krwg.org A 'Closed Curtain' Conceals A Director's Real Confinement The Devil's In The Derails: 'Deliver Us,' Indeed http://krwg.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 69779 at http://krwg.org The Devil's In The Derails: 'Deliver Us,' Indeed 'Begin Again,' A Music Fantasy Both Sticky And Sweet http://krwg.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 69261 at http://krwg.org 'Begin Again,' A Music Fantasy Both Sticky And Sweet You're A Little Flat, 'Boys' http://krwg.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 68711 at http://krwg.org You're A Little Flat, 'Boys' In 'Manuscripts,' A Barred Filmmaker Considers Dissident Art http://krwg.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 68217 at http://krwg.org In 'Manuscripts,' A Barred Filmmaker Considers Dissident Art All Eyes Turn To One 'Beauty' In Interwoven Tales Of Families And Politics http://krwg.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 67708 at http://krwg.org All Eyes Turn To One 'Beauty' In Interwoven Tales Of Families And Politics Punk Is Alive And Living In Three Swedish Girls http://krwg.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 67297 at http://krwg.org Punk Is Alive And Living In Three Swedish Girls Dizzy From Time Travel, Overstuffed With Mutants http://krwg.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 66696 at http://krwg.org Dizzy From Time Travel, Overstuffed With Mutants In 'Horses Of God,' A Sprawling Slum Breeds A Violent Act http://krwg.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 66213 at http://krwg.org In 'Horses Of God,' A Sprawling Slum Breeds A Violent Act 'Neighbors' Just Wants To Be The Gross Joke Next Door http://krwg.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 65712 at http://krwg.org 'Neighbors' Just Wants To Be The Gross Joke Next Door Travel And Discovery, For 'Ida' And The Filmmaker Who Watches Her http://krwg.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 65268 at http://krwg.org Travel And Discovery, For 'Ida' And The Filmmaker Who Watches Her Tracing One Life, Lost In The Desert http://krwg.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 64755 at http://krwg.org Tracing One Life, Lost In The Desert The Rush Of A River; The Rise Of A Gondola http://krwg.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 64250 at http://krwg.org The Rush Of A River; The Rise Of A Gondola 'Boys Of Abu Ghraib' Focuses Too Tightly On An Army Of One http://krwg.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 62970 at http://krwg.org 'Boys Of Abu Ghraib' Focuses Too Tightly On An Army Of One It's Faction Against Faction In A Grim Future Chicago http://krwg.org/post/its-faction-against-faction-grim-future-chicago The latest teen-girl fiction series to become a movie franchise, <em>Divergent </em>delivers adolescent viewers some bad news and some good news. The bad is that the dystopian future will be just like high school, with kids divided into rigid cliques. The good is that adulthood will be just like high school, so teens face no major surprises.<p>In the first of three movies adapted from Veronica Roth's trilogy, Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) lives in a trashed, walled-in Chicago where everyone belongs to one of five castes: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless or Erudite. Thu, 20 Mar 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 62361 at http://krwg.org It's Faction Against Faction In A Grim Future Chicago Foreign Policy, With A Pugnacious French Twist http://krwg.org/post/foreign-policy-pugnacious-french-twist A frisky tour of the Gallic equivalent of the U.S. State Department, <em>The French Minister</em> boasts robust pacing, screwball-comedy banter and an exuberant central performance. For most American viewers, though, the movie could use footnotes to go with its subtitles.<p>Derived from a graphic novel, the movie observes the travails of Arthur Vlaminck (Raphael Personnaz), a recent graduate of the country's top public-administration college. Thu, 20 Mar 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 62364 at http://krwg.org Foreign Policy, With A Pugnacious French Twist 'Big Men,' Doing Big Business In Africa's Oil Fields http://krwg.org/post/big-men-doing-big-business-africas-oil-fields There are three categories of schemers in <em>Big Men</em>, Rachel Boynton's illuminating documentary about the oil business in West Africa: businessmen, politicians and bandits. Sometimes, though, it's hard to tell the types apart.<p>Filmed over about five years, the movie follows the seesawing fortunes of Kosmos Energy, a small Dallas oil company. Small, that is, by the standards of ExxonMobil, the massive firm that briefly enters the story as a potential partner. Thu, 13 Mar 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 61881 at http://krwg.org 'Big Men,' Doing Big Business In Africa's Oil Fields '300': An Empire Rises, Dripping In Gore And Glamour http://krwg.org/post/300-empire-rises-dripping-gore-and-glamour Talk about meeting cute: The first time they're alone together, the protagonists of <em>300: Rise of an Empire</em> rip each other's clothes off. But then Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) and Artemisia (Eva Green) can't decide if they want to make love or war.<p>The other characters in this movie, a superstylized battle epic that doubles as an S&M comedy, suffer no such confusion. They're all primed to mangle, skewer and dismember each other, generally at angles that send red-black CGI blood spurting directly at 3-D-specs-wearing viewers. Thu, 06 Mar 2014 22:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 61392 at http://krwg.org '300': An Empire Rises, Dripping In Gore And Glamour In 'Stalingrad,' Where The Fog Of War Is Plenty Thick http://krwg.org/post/stalingrad-where-fog-war-plenty-thick If you're only going to see one film about the Battle of Stalingrad — and there are many — <em>Stalingrad </em>would be the wrong choice. Russian director Fedor Bondarchuk's treatment of the World War II turning point is shallow and contrived, if sometimes impressively staged. The movie wins points, however, for sheer wackiness.<p>This is first film about Stalingrad, for example, to open with voiceover in Japanese. The completely unnecessary framing story is set in the Tohoku region just after it was pummeled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Thu, 27 Feb 2014 22:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 60919 at http://krwg.org In 'Stalingrad,' Where The Fog Of War Is Plenty Thick Zola's Scandalous Raquin Clan, Sordid 'Secret' And All http://krwg.org/post/zolas-scandalous-raquin-clan-sordid-secret-and-all Emile Zola was one of the founders of naturalism, and his first major work, 1867's <em>Therese Raquin</em>, is full of precise physical description. The novel's plot is utter melodrama, though, and that's the aspect emphasized by <em>In Secret</em>, the latest in a century-long string of film and TV adaptations.<p>With its small cast of characters and limited number of locations, the book does lend itself to dramatization. Thu, 20 Feb 2014 22:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 60404 at http://krwg.org Zola's Scandalous Raquin Clan, Sordid 'Secret' And All Two Exiles, Digging Through The Past For Clues To Their Present http://krwg.org/post/two-exiles-digging-through-past-clues-their-present <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeBtHKRy1Ns</p> Thu, 13 Feb 2014 22:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 59924 at http://krwg.org Two Exiles, Digging Through The Past For Clues To Their Present Family Matters, With A Dose Of Pharmaceuticals http://krwg.org/post/family-matters-dose-pharmaceuticals Josiane Balasko's <em>Demi-Soeur</em> suggests that modern pharmaceuticals can abet the storytelling in an old-fashioned sentimental farce: A dose of Ecstasy is all that's required to activate the relationship between Nenette (Balasko), a 60-year-old with the understanding of a first-grader, and her previously unknown half-brother Paul (Michel Blanc).<p>But if the "love drug" can heal characters like Paul, a crabby provincial pharmacist, it's not as curative for a limping screenplay like the one co-written by Balasko and Franck le Joseph. Thu, 06 Feb 2014 22:02:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 59426 at http://krwg.org Family Matters, With A Dose Of Pharmaceuticals 'Charlie Victor Romeo': In Crisis In The Cockpit http://krwg.org/post/charlie-victor-romeo-crisis-cockpit <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMCP8IYEfuQ</p> Thu, 30 Jan 2014 22:02:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 58932 at http://krwg.org 'Charlie Victor Romeo': In Crisis In The Cockpit Two Families, Decidedly Unalike In Dignity http://krwg.org/post/two-families-decidedly-unalike-dignity Tokyo filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda is known for deft work with kids, sometimes in scenarios with little or no adult presence. But the English-language title of his latest movie, <em>Like Father, Like Son</em>, is a little misleading. Thu, 16 Jan 2014 22:02:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 57969 at http://krwg.org Two Families, Decidedly Unalike In Dignity In A Past-Plagued Laos, A Youth Chases A Future http://krwg.org/post/past-plagued-laos-youth-chases-future <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSXomfO5r20</p> Thu, 09 Jan 2014 23:02:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 57496 at http://krwg.org In A Past-Plagued Laos, A Youth Chases A Future A Hong Kong Film Titan, With A Reach Well Beyond His Roots http://krwg.org/post/hong-kong-film-titan-reach-well-beyond-his-roots <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tqs2hKv2ARE</p> Tue, 07 Jan 2014 18:20:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 57311 at http://krwg.org A Hong Kong Film Titan, With A Reach Well Beyond His Roots From 'Cinema Paradiso' Director, An Offbeat 'Offer' http://krwg.org/post/cinema-paradiso-director-offbeat-offer A stylish if ultimately silly attempt to marry erotic puzzler and art-world critique, <em>The Best Offer</em> benefits from assured performances and an agreeably nutty Ennio Morricone score. The movie plays as if director Giuseppe Tornatore (best known for <em>Cinema Paradiso</em>) is doing all he can with a dubious script. But he's the one who wrote it.<p>Save for brief moments in London and Prague, the story is set in an unidentified Italian city where everyone speaks English. Mon, 06 Jan 2014 16:19:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 57239 at http://krwg.org From 'Cinema Paradiso' Director, An Offbeat 'Offer' A Wall Street Predator With An Appetite For Excess http://krwg.org/post/wall-street-predator-appetite-excess Several times during <em>The Wolf of Wall Street</em>, the wolf himself turns to the camera and offers to explain some stockbroker term or strategy. But then he stops himself and says it doesn't really matter.<br /> Tue, 24 Dec 2013 20:21:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 56543 at http://krwg.org A Wall Street Predator With An Appetite For Excess 'The Selfish Giant' Spins A Grim Modern Fairy Tale http://krwg.org/post/selfish-giant-spins-grim-modern-fairy-tale In Oscar Wilde's fairy tale <em>The Selfish Giant</em>, the title character brings eternal winter to his garden by banishing children from it. Writer-director Clio Barnard's film of the same name was inspired by Wilde's fable, yet is much different.<p>The original story was for kids; the movie is about kids, but its grim depictions of violence against innocents may be too harrowing even for some adults. Yet the movie is engrossing, and sure to linger long after its poignant culmination.<p>Barnard, a Yorkshire native, sets the tale in Bradford, one of that British county's scruffiest cities. Thu, 19 Dec 2013 22:01:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 56259 at http://krwg.org 'The Selfish Giant' Spins A Grim Modern Fairy Tale