Michael Beach Nichols & Christopher K. Walker – Welcome to Leith (2015)

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Story
This stunning feature documentary chronicles the attempted takeover of a small town in North Dakota by notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb. As his behavior becomes more threatening and tensions soar, the residents desperately look for ways to expel their unwanted neighbor. With incredible access to both longtime residents of Leith and white supremacists, the film examines a small community in the plains struggling for sovereignty against an extreme vision. Continue reading

Atom Egoyan – Remember (2015)

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Atom Egoyan’s ongoing search for his own best form makes no real breakthrough in “Remember,” a state-hopping Nazi-hunt mystery that puts a creditably sincere spin on material that is silly at best. At worst, tyro writer Benjamin August’s screenplay is a crass attempt to fashion a “Memento”-style puzzle narrative from post-Holocaust trauma. Toggling variables of disguised identity and dementia, as Christopher Plummer’s ailing German widower travels across North America in search of the camp commander he recalls from his time in Auschwitz, the pic is riddled with lapses in logic even before a stakes-shifting twist that many viewers might see coming. Crafted in utilitarian fashion by Egoyan, “Remember” does little to earn the poignancy of Plummer’s stricken performance — though that asset, plus a button-pushing premise, could attract reasonable interest from older arthouse auds. Continue reading

François Truffaut – Tirez sur le pianiste AKA Shoot the Pianist (1960)

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A hapless pianist at a jazz club gets caught up with the mob, when his older brother who owes money to them comes to him for help. Eventually, the piano player and his girlfriend become pawns in middle of a dangerous game.

Truffaut first read David Goodis’s novel in the mid-1950s while shooting Les Mistons when his wife Madeleine Morgenstern read it and recommended it to him. He immediately loved the book’s dialogue and poetic tone and showed it to producer Pierre Braunberger, who bought the rights. Truffaut later met Goodis in New York City, where the novelist gave Truffaut a vintage viewfinder from his brief experience as a 2nd Unit Director on a U.S. film. Continue reading

Cheyenne Carron – Ne nous soumets pas à la tentation AKA Lead Us Not Into Temptation (2011)

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The best movie that I’ve seen so far at Cinequest is the French thriller Lead Us Not Into Temptation. A middle-aged married man does a good deed for a beautiful young woman and finds himself the pawn in a dangerous game. Inventively constructed, we see the story from the perspective of the guy, then from the young woman’s point of view and finally through the prism of another character. Unlike in Rashomon, we don’t see different realities, but, as secrets are revealed, we finally understand the whole picture. It’s a brilliant screenplay by writer-director-producer Cheyenne Carron. In the young woman, Carron has created a character who is both predatory and damaged but who can act charming, vulnerable and sexy. The story hinges on actress Agnes Delachair’s ability to play that complex role – and she delivers a captivating performance. Continue reading

Jeff Nichols – Take Shelter (2011)

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Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband and father questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself.

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From IMDB:

I’m going to try to be restrained in my praise of this film, but it’s going to be hard, because I think it’s about as close to perfect film-making as I’ve ever seen. I generally only write reviews for movies I’ve really loved, or really hated, and this movie I really loved. Continue reading

Yves Boisset – Un condé Aka Blood On My Hands AKA The Cop (1970)

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Synopsis:
‘Dassa, a bar owner who refuses to sell drugs to his customers, is killed by men working for Tavernier, a gangster known as Le Mandarin. Dassas’s sister Hélène is also in danger, for the same reasons. Inspector Favenin and the young inspector Barnero are put in charge of the case. Dan Rover, one of Dassa’s friends, engages the services of a man named Viletti to kill Tavernier. Another man, Raymond, is willing to provide an alibi if necessary. Barnero has grown disillusioned with his job and wants to leave the police service, but first he intends to arrest Tavernier. One day, Favenin and Barnero fail to prevent Viletti from killing Tavernier, and Barnero gets himself killed in the process. Favenin is given permission by his superior to continue the investigation alone. What nobody realises is that Favenin is ready to act without mercy and employ some very unconventional methods to achieve his aims…’
– Henri Willems Continue reading