A 48-hour leave from reform school brings life lessons for the teenage protagonist of “7 Virgins,” a street-kids piece that combines energy and delicacy to striking and subtle effect. The best Spanish movie of its type since Fernando Leon’s 1998 “Barrio,” pic rises above genre standard with scrupulous attention to detail and an engaging central tandem. Downsides are lapses into sentimentality and visual deja vu, and an occasional inability to exploit the emotional potential. “Virgins” should snuggle up in plenty of fest beds, with arthouse interest a certainty in Spain-friendly territories.
Sixteen-year-old Tano (Juan Jose Ballesta from “Pellet” and “4th Floor”) is picked up from the Seville reform school by his ultra-taciturn brother Santacana (Vicente Romero), who warns Tano to avoid trouble. But once Tano gets back in touch with his irrepressible buddy, wide-grinning Richi (Jesus Carroza), within minutes, they are on the run in a shopping mall after stealing a wallet to buy a TV set — a wedding-gift for Santacana. Continue reading
Hollywood royalty Joan Collins and husband Percy hold a dinner party for a few of their friends/acquaintances. Among the invited is the acclaimed artist Banksy, renowned for his aversion to the spotlight. Inviting him is fraught with social risk; will he come? How will he behave at table? This would, after all, be the first time he’s revealed himself on camera.
The preparations, the dinner and the goodbyes… the characters speak in the shared language of the famous. Or do they? Perhaps they are commenting on this language, creating a second film within the first; the first being a drama, the second a satire. Continue reading
As soon as Los was completed I added Sogobi to make it a trilogy, the urban and rural portraits needed the Californian wilderness to put them in perspective. Following the same structure Sogobi would look and listen to that wilderness. The first shot of Sogobi would relate to the last shot of Los, and the last shot of Sogobi would return to the first shot of El Valley Centro, revealing its mystery. The entire trilogy would become an interrelated puzzle.
James Benning, December 2001
Coming after the spectacular El Valley Centro and Los, Sogobi is a colossal disappointment. James Benning is the most methodical, careful and mathematically precise of film-makers, so it’s baffling that he should abandon the logical progression established in the first two parts of his California trilogy. Centro examined California’s farming heartland. Los explored the greater LA county, and skirted around the edge of the city itself. Surely the next step should have been to tackle Los Angeles in all its garish, terrible splendour, providing a filmic counterpart to Mike Davis’ books of dystopian polemicism, ‘Ecology of Fear’ and ‘City of Quartz.’ Continue reading
There are, in the movies, few places creepier to spend time than in David Lynch’s head. It is a head where the wild things grow, twisting and spreading like vines, like fingers, and taking us in their captive embrace. Over the last three decades these wild things have laid siege to us even as they have mutated: the deformed baby of “Eraserhead” evolving into the anguished distortions of “The Elephant Man,” the Reagan-era surrealism of “Blue Velvet,” the serial home invasion in “Twin Peaks” and the meta-cinematic masterpiece “Mulholland Drive,” a dispatch from that smog-choked boulevard of broken dreams called Hollywood. Continue reading
BY ROGER EBERT / March 2, 2009
Dear Agnes Varda. She is a great director and a beautiful, lovable and wise woman, through and through. It is not enough that she made some of the first films of the French New Wave. That she was the Muse for Jacques Demy. That she is a famed photographer and installation artist. That she directed the first appearances on film of Gerald Depardieu, Phillipe Noiret–and Harrison Ford! Or that after gaining distinction as a director of fiction, she showed herself equally gifted as a director of documentaries. And that she still lives, as she has since the 1950s, in the rooms opening off each side of a once-ruined Paris courtyard, each room a separate domain. Continue reading
Under the pretext of “bringing civilization”, the Turkish state launched a series of violent military operations against the city of Dersim in Kurdistan between 1937-38. Thousands of people were killed and thousands more exiled. During the massacre and banishment, hundreds of girls were given to the families of high-ranking soldiers in order to be “Turkified”. Told through the story of those missing girls, this film exposes that destructive practice, only recently acknowledged. Continue reading
Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there’s something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they’ve built, wrestle over their new invention. Continue reading