In January of 2013, activist and filmmaker Laura Poitras received a series of encrypted e-mails from an anonymous sender claiming to have proof that the public had been duped, and that the National Security Agency had been lying about the extent of its ability to spy on American citizens. The sender identified himself only with the alias "Citizenfour," and if what he asserted was true, personal privacy was a thing of the past.
In this eye-opening documentary, screening as part of the Witness Palestine Film Series, Israeli author Alice Rothchild interviews Palestinian survivors of the Nakba. Rothchild collects an oral history of their culture, knowing that such stories are what keep a history alive.
Closing out the Witness Palestine Film Series is this documentary double feature, beginning with "Stone Cold Justice." Originally created to be broadcast on Australian news, the film investigates the shocking Israeli military prosecution specifically targeting Palestinian children and the results of a policy which cultivates fear in the citizens of the West Bank.
A docudrama for our time
A great many television viewers, especially young people,
apparently learn about the news from Jon Stewart's
long-running comedy program, "The Daily Show."
In Lynn Shelton's amiable new comedy, "Laggies,"
Keira Knightley plays Megan, a 28-year-old woman
still stubbornly clinging to adolescence. Aimless in both her personal and
professional life, Megan may technically be grown up, but she's not truly an
Any means necessary
Typically in films of the "inspirational teacher" genre, the
celebrated, unconventional instructors that inspire their pupils to reach
greatness do so by kindly reaching out to their young students, instilling in
them a lifelong love of learning through their sheer passion for teaching. In
"Whiplash," Terence Fletcher, the tyrannical music teacher played with gleeful
relish by J.K. Simmons, motivates young jazz drummer Andrew Neyman
(Miles Teller, "The Spectacular Now") by hurling a chair at his head,
repeatedly slapping him across the face, and berating him to tears while
screaming about what a worthless piece of s**t he is. "Dead Poet's Society"
Screening as a part of the Witness Palestine film series, "On the
Side of the Road" is a documentary by Israeli journalist Lia Tarachansky
probing into the collective Israeli denial about the expulsion and displacement
of Palestinians in the wake of the 1948 war for independence. Referred to by
the Palestinian people as the Nakba, or "the catastrophe," the destruction of
villages resulted in generations of refugees and, as parks and new cities were
built on the ruins of those villages, years of violent history were swept under
Physics and metaphysics
Any intrepid voyager through the vast space of science
fiction should recognize the origins and context of Christopher Nolan's new
movie, "Interstellar." The picture owes a great deal to all those contemporary
doomsday flicks, along with some special debts to the "Star Trek" series and
the landmark Stanley Kubrick film, "2001: A Space Odyssey." Its several discussions of the science of space
travel and the prospects for mankind, however, bear some resemblance to
Emerson's dictum that "the axioms of physics translate the laws of ethics."
The Rochester Polish Film Festival returns for its 17th annual chapter this week, offering a program of interesting, thought-provoking films that make up the best of what contemporary Polish cinema has to offer. The Festival officially started Saturday, November 1, and Sunday, November 2, with screenings of two classic Polish films; this week begins the screenings of more recent films, and the brunt of the festival.
An actor’s movie about acting
It is of course tempting, if a bit too facile, to construct a
comparison between the situation in "Birdman" and the realities of Michael
Keaton's career. He began performing as a comic, then as an actor in some
entertaining film comedies -- "Night Shift," "Johnny Dangerously," and "Mr.
Mom," for example -- then achieved great success in the first of the revamped
Batman movie franchise way back in 1989.
Canonizing Bill Murray
Despite the myriads of changes in taste and fashion, in audience
demographics and box office appeal, the film industry still depends heavily on
the ancient formulas of high concept and old hat. High concept refers to a
simply understood movie idea that can be summed up in a neat phrase or sentence
-- "fish out of water" remains one of the most popular, for example, and
describes all those old screwball comedies of the 30's as well as works like
"Kindergarten Cop," "Doc Hollywood," or "After Hours." It also applies to the innumerable horror
flicks that place a young couple or a group of college students or a TV crew or
a rock band or anyone else in some dangerous situation -- a haunted house, a
town full of inbred yokels, a family of cannibals, etc. Old hat, however,
surely needs no explanation.
Screening as a part of the annual Witness Palestine film series, the documentary “It’s Better to Jump” focuses on the changing face of Akka, a picturesque Palestinian city on the coast of Northern Israel. Over the years, the city’s Arab residents have found themselves squeezed out by Israeli authorities, Jewish settlers, and developers keen to turn the city into a tourist destination, complete with luxury resorts and upscale restaurants.
College is traditionally a time when we're allowed to
experiment, try on different personas, and generally attempt to figure out what
type of person we ultimately want to become. It's also the first time many
of us are truly on our own and most of us take advantage of that in every way
The High Falls Film Festival returns Thursday, October 23, through Sunday, October 26, for its 12th year. Under the guidance of a new Executive Director, Mary Manard Reed, the festival has shifted to a new fall timeframe (previous editions occurred in early summer) but remains committed to its focus on spotlighting the achievements of female filmmakers.
War continues to be hell
No one doubts that war is Hell, but for Hollywood it remains
good cinema. Perhaps because of the passage of time, or because of the rise of
the comic-book superhero flicks with all their excessive effects, World War II,
the obvious favorite for war films, rarely appears on the screen.
You can’t go home again
Although in real life as we call it, most trials, even criminal
trials, are deadly dull affairs, with long, tedious interrogations of
witnesses, repeated inquiries about minor points, quibbles over legal minutiae,
and often incomprehensible discussions of scientific or technical matters, much
of it guaranteed to confuse or anaesthetize jurors. On the stage and screen,
however, trials provide genuine entertainment, capitalizing on the restricted
setting, itself much like a theater, the engaging dialectic of prosecution and
defense, and of course the tension of an eagerly awaited verdict.