Drama

Yesim Ustaoglu – Araf (2012)

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There isn’t much that can prepare you for the drastic second-half turn of “Araf,” an often-gorgeous drama playing in the Main Slate at the New York Film Festival. Evocative and somewhat alien in equal measure, “Araf” takes place in a withered Turkish countryside that might as well be another planet. We see the economic strife through the lava runoff that occurs in the very first shot of the film, lumbering out of a cauldron, spilling out onto the land. Though fairly mundane within the lives of the characters (one of whom is discussing sex in voiceover as the orange-red substance burns all that lies underneath it), it’s an introduction that rivals the eye-opening early shots of Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus,” though while it was that film’s high point, here it’s an example of a world dying while underdeveloped, neglected, managed and monitored by day laborers barely getting by on their own. Read More »

Emin Alper – Tepenin Ardi aka Beyond the Hill (2012)

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SYNOPSIS/PLOT: It’s a summer’s day and retired forester Faik is receiving visitors at his country home. His son Nusret has come to visit with Faik’s two grandsons Caner and Zafer. Despite the summer setting however, the mood remains oddly muted. Faik is having problems with the local nomads and is constantly on his guard. This small group is completed by the family of Mehmet and Meryem and brings together different temperaments and social classes. But conflicts are avoided: it’s all someone else’s fault, that of the nomads, who remain an invisible foe. Read More »

Chris Smith – The Pool (2007)

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The Pool is the story of Venkatesh, a “room boy” working at a hotel in Panjim, Goa, who sees from his perch in a mango tree a luxuriant garden and shimmering pool hidden behind a wall. In making whatever efforts he can to better himself, Venkatesh offers his services to the wealthy owner of the home. Not content to simply dream about a different life, Venkatesh is inquisitive about the home’s inhabitants – indeed about the world around him – and his curiosity changes the shape of his future. Read More »

Abel Ferrara – Mary (2005)

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Bad Lieutenant director Abel Ferrara takes the helm of this allegorical drama concerning an actress locked in the throes of a profound spiritual crisis, and the affect that it has on both the director of her latest film and a New York journalist. Marie Palesi (Juliette Binoche) is a major European screen star who has just finished shooting her latest film, a revisionist religious drama directed by maverick American film director Tony Childress (Matthew Modine). In the film, Palesi portrayed the character of Mary Magdalene not as a common prostitute, but a full-fledged disciple whose power struggle with Peter set the stage for centuries of controversy. But the role has had a greater impact on Palesi than anyone could have foreseen, and after the shoot wraps, she makes the decision to remain in the Middle East and make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. A year later, New York investigative journalist Ted Younger (Forest Whitaker) is producing a week-long network series examining the historical facts about Jesus Christ. After attending a screening for Childress’ film, Younger contacts the director about the possibility of interviewing both himself and Palesi for the project. Unfortunately for Younger, Palesi has disappeared and Younger has no idea how to track her down. But while married journalist Younger is currently having an affair with an actress (Marion Cotillard) who just happens to know Palesi’s number in Jerusalem, convincing the elusive starlet to appear on his special will pose a whole new set of challenges. by Jason Buchanan Read More »

Abel Ferrara – 4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011)

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4:44 is a look at how a painter and a successful actor spend their last day together before the world comes to an end.

Ferrara began shooting the film in April 2011 with his longtime cinematographer Ken Kelsch. 4:44 is Willem Dafoe’s third collaboration with Ferrara after 1998’s New Rose Hotel and his last feature film, 2007’s Go Go Tales. During Montclair State University’s film forum event in February 2011, Ferrara revealed that Ethan Hawke was slated to star originally. The film was shot in one location, an apartment, set during the course of the last 24 hours before the biblical apocalypse.

The film showed in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival in September 2011. It had a limited theatrical release on 25 March 2012. Read More »

Gregg Araki – Nowhere (1997)

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“Described by director Gregg Araki as “A Beverly Hills 90210 episode on acid” (with no suggestions of what it might be cut with), Nowhere is a companion piece with Araki’s previous meditations on youth gone wild in the 1990s, Totally F***ed Up and The Doom Generation — Araki’s self-described “teen apocalypse trilogy.” Nowhere follows 18-year-old Dark Smith (James Duval) as he goes through a fairly typical day in Los Angeles. Dark needs, but rarely gets, emotional support from his girlfriend Mel (Rachel True). Mel, however, is also involved with a girl named Lucifer (Kathleen Robertson), while Dark moons over hunky Montgomery (Nathan Bexton). Dark’s best friend Cowboy (Guillermo Diaz) has troubles of his own, as his boyfriend and bandmate Bart (Jeremy Jordan) is back on drugs and spending most of his time with his dealer. Mel’s friends include sugar junkie Dingbat (Christina Applegate), doomsday poetess Alyssa (Jordan Ladd), and Egg (Sarah Lassez), who is being unexpectedly wooed by a Famous Teen Idol (Jason Simmons). Egg’s brother Ducky (Scott Caan) has a crush on Alyssa, but she’s keeping company with a biker named Elvis (Thyme Lewis). Alyssa’s assignation with Elvis gets a psychic boost by her twin brother Shad (Ryan Phillippe) and his tryst with Lilith (Heather Graham). Read More »

Orson Welles – Citizen Kane (1941)

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Citizen Kane is a 1941 mystery/drama film released by RKO Pictures, the first feature film directed by Orson Welles. It tells the fictional story of Charles Foster Kane, a man whose fight for power in the publishing world transformed from sheer thrill-seeking to ruthless war, and how his life affected everyone in his orbit. The storyline follows a reporter seeking to find what Kane meant by his dying word: “Rosebud.”

The film’s main character, Kane, is a composite of several historical individuals: newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst; the reclusive aerospace and movie mogul Howard Hughes; and the Chicago utilities magnate Samuel Insull. Citizen Kane is widely considered to be a masterpiece by critics and viewers alike, and is often cited as being one of the greatest and most innovative works in the history of film. Read More »