Films Viewed (May 2013)

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I must recuse myself from reviewing A Teacher, as I hosted the screening as part of my duties as a member of the 2013 MFF Screening Committee, (Maryland Film Festival 2013)

The same goes for the Narrative Shorts program (MFF 2013)

Paradise:Faith was the one from the recent Ulrich Seidl trilogy at the MFF 2013 that fit my schedule. An uber-Catholic woman tries to “make Austria Catholic again” by going door to door with her statue of the Virgin Mary. Violent and disturbing complications arise when her paraplegic Muslim husband returns home from abroad. With John Waters as host, another perfect “date movie from hell” was achieved. (MFF 2013)

Post Tenebras Lux was another head-scratcher from Carlos Reygadas. A family of means navigates familial tensions and class divisions in the Mexican countryside, but to figure that out you have to navigate the prism that is the film. The kind of envelope-pushing cinema I would like to see more of on screens in Baltimore. (MFF 2013)

Computer Chess was pegged as a comedy winner, and it certainly delivered. A group of nerds of various stripes gather in the 1980s to see who will be the next computer chess champion. A quantum leap for director Andrew Bujalski made possible by an amazing ensemble cast. The gamble of shooting with vintage video equipment pays off handsomely. (MFF 2013)

I Used to Be Darker filled the Charles’ Theater One to the gills, chairs being brought in to accommodate the overflow. A direct hit on someone like myself who spends so much time among musicians and someone who has a similar “lost summer” in his past. The scene filmed in the Copy Cat building was note perfect, abstracted just enough to come alive. Another accomplished and stunning film from Baltimore’s own Matthew Porterfield. (MFF 2013)

I can’t review If We Shout Loud Enough because I play a prominent role in this documentary about the excellent band Double Dagger. Yes, I am biased about their excellence. (MFF 2013) 

Slap Shot was a raw slice of 1970s vintage working class America, a comedy with black eyes and missing teeth. I honestly don’t know much about hockey, but this filmed depiction of the life of minor league athletes in the sport was entertaining and surprisingly nimble. (The Charles)

Behind the Candelabra was entertaining, effective, and over-the-top. Oddly generic for Soderbergh’s “last film”, but still a fascinating and tawdry look inside the life of Liberace. (HBO GO)

Yet another creative team has pored over The Great Gatsby and made a film out of it. I taught the novel for a decade, and used to splice film versions together to make a version that I thought was basically okay. I now have more materials for my reels. I particularly enjoyed this version’s “Chapter Five” sequence. The film made students interested in reading the book, but it felt as if it was not speaking to me as an audience member. (Rotunda)

Iron Man 3 was better than was expected.It felt like an action movie from the late 1980s in a good way, if such a thing is possible. Perhaps the director is the cause. I have toyed with the idea of not seeing any of my usual selection of Summer Blockbuster films this year, but I gave in. Oh well. (Cinemark Egyptian 24) 

Total: 10 films, 1 program of short films (9 in theaters)

(Please note: Whenever possible, all titles are linked to their pages on the Netflix website)

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