Tag Archives: Shattuck Cinemas Landmark

‘The Hunt:’ A remarkable, beautifully shot film

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In 1995, Danish filmmakers Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg released their infamous Dogme Manifesto, an artistic ‘vow of chastity’ designed (it was claimed) to cut away the layers of artifice they believed had grown, barnacle-like, upon the body of cinema. As if to prove their point, the very first Dogme film, Vinterberg’s The Celebration (Festen), subsequently won the Jury Prize at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.

Fifteen years and several dozen films later, the Manifesto has, by and large, gone by the wayside. Neither Von Trier nor Vinterberg attach the Dogme label to their work; indeed, Von Trier seems now to be more interested in exploring the artificiality of cinema (see, for example, 2011’s Melancholia) than in abiding by the extremely strict and somewhat puckish rules (‘the film must not contain superficial action’) he and Vinterberg cooked up one long ago afternoon. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: A Hijacking

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If the traditional Hollywood playbook is to be believed, piracy was once one of the most glamorous and lucrative career choices available to the average Joe. All it took was a ship, a few scurvy knaves, and a twinkle in your eye, and you — along with Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, Burt Lancaster and a host of other handsome hunks — would be set for life. And as a bonus, there were wenches and grog aplenty!

Trust the Danish to suck all the fun out of high seas misbehavior. In A Hijacking (Kapringen, opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, June 21), there’s a distinct lack of swashbuckling, and (bar one “What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor?” sing-a-long sequence) none of the film’s characters seem to be having a particularly good time. 21st century piracy, it seems, is a very serious business indeed.  … Continue reading »

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‘Pandora’s Promise’: A love letter to atomic energy

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Over the years I’ve reviewed more than my fair share of ‘right-on’ left-wing documentaries, so it’s only fair that every now and then I spend a little time with one from across the tracks. Of course, Pandora’s Promise (opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, June 14) relies almost exclusively on liberal talking heads to make its conservative point—so perhaps I’m cheating ever so slightly.

It takes some major cojones to make a pro-nuclear power film only two years after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, but that’s precisely what director Robert Stone (whose excellent Radio Bikini earned an Oscar nomination in 1988) has done. A love letter to atomic energy, Pandora’s Promise will provoke considerable controversy in tree-hugging circles. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Wish You Were Here & Waterwalk

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My fellow westerners: If you’ve ever been tempted to take a trip to an exotic locale in a far away land, don’t. Though foreign resorts want your tourist dollars, you’re still likely to offend the locals with your strange foreign ways, refusal to learn their language, penchant for hard drinking and ridiculous dancing, ostentatious camera equipment, and hideous Bermuda shorts. We’re simply more trouble than we’re worth.

If you insist on going, though, you’re likely to come a cropper – and you won’t recognize your mistake until it’s much, much too late. How do I know? I’ve been to the movies. Time and again, world travelers out for a little fun in the tropical sun get into big trouble as soon as they pass through Hollywood’s customs and immigration checkpoints. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Sightseers, a comedy of darkest hue

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Middle-class Americans have the luxurious Winnebago. The English, of course, must make do with something a little smaller, but just as representative of their economic aspirations – the humble caravan. Hauled from campsite to campsite by a fleet of Austin Montegos and Vauxhall Vectras, these cramped homes away from home are as common a summer sight on Britain’s motorways and B roads as flattened badgers.

Behind the laced curtains, however, lurks something much more sinister than a quilted duvet or Union Jack tea cosy. “I’ve known a lot of people who’ve had very bad experiences in caravans,” presciently observes a character in Sightseers, a British comedy of darkest hue opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas today. And so it shall prove to be. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: The Painting

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It seems I’ve become obsessed with French animation. Over the last few years I’ve reviewed The Rabbi’s Cat, A Cat in Paris, The Illusionist, and A Town Called Panic, which is actually Belgian but (with apologies to my Flemish and Walloon readers) may as well be French. Admittedly, there was that time I raved about Toy Story 3, but surely that’s the exception that proves the rule, right?

Opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, May 24, The Painting (Le Tableau) is the latest in this lengthening list of Francophone features. Written and directed by Jean-François Laguionie, it’s a little less droll and a wee bit darker than the aforementioned films, but will still appeal to inquisitive youngsters and parents desperate to avoid another fart-joke-infested kids’ movie. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Something in the Air

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I was too young to be aware of the political ferment of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Blissfully ignorant, I’d walk to school each morning in my English schoolboy’s uniform (cap, tie and shorts, regardless of the weather), and return home each afternoon to watch Blue Peter, Crackerjack (“It’s Friday! It’s 5 to 5! It’s CRACKERJACK!”), or Doctor Who. Why worry about Daniel Cohn-Bendit when Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee were being threatened by Cybermen and Daleks?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the English Channel, French students were on the verge of toppling their country’s government. The fallout of this fraught moment in history is the subject of Olivier Assayas’ new film Something in the Air (more appropriately titled Après mai in France, in reference to the fateful month when De Gaulle’s government almost fell), opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, May 17. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Blancanieves

Now playing at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinemas in San Francisco, Blancanieves will open at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, April 26.
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Would you believe me if I told you there’s a film opening this weekend about bullfighting dwarfs? Would you still believe me if I told you it wasn’t directed by Terry Gilliam? Now let’s up the ante even further: Assuming you’ve answered both questions in the affirmative, would you think I was being truthful if I also claimed it’s the best film I’ve seen so far in 2013?

Directed by Pablo Berger (whose previous feature, Torremolinos 73, dealt with Spain’s adult film industry during the Franco era), Blancanieves is a silent black-and-white adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘Sneewittchen‘ (better known as ‘Snow White’). That, of course, is where the dwarfs come in, while the bullfighting reflects the film’s Spanish roots. Now playing at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinemas in San Francisco, Blancanieves will open at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, April 26. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: My Brother the Devil

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Britain has changed a great deal in the last 50 years. Afternoon tea, colliery bands and swinging like a pendulum do are all relics of the past, while the sun set on the British Empire sometime after 1971, the year the UK withdrew most of its military forces from East of Suez. One thing, however, hasn’t changed: the primacy of the ‘kitchen sink drama’ in British filmmaking.

From Andrea Arnold to Ken Loach, British directors are as enamored today with cinematic representations of working-class life as they’ve ever been – and judging from newcomer Sally Al-Hoseini’s new film My Brother the Devil (opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, April 12) the kitchen sink isn’t about to be drained any time soon.

Set among the tower blocks of Hackney, My Brother the Devil tells the story of Mo (Fady Elsayed) and Rash (James Floyd), sons of first-generation Egyptian immigrants. Mo’s a studious young man looking ahead to university while Rash is a ‘jack-the-lad’ deeply involved with what he calls ‘big boy stuff’ – otherwise known as selling dope — as part of a local gang known as DMG (Drugs, Money, Guns). … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: The We and the I

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An AC Transit bus ride is, on most days, a boring and predictable way to travel from point A to point B for $2.10. Regular passengers know, however, that every now and then they’re going to experience one of “those” rides – the ones where your seat mate is in need of some serious grooming, the person behind you is sharing the most intimate details of their sex life via cell phone, and a gaggle of hormonally out-of-control middle-schoolers are busy inventing amazing new insults for one another while decorating their seats with Sharpees.

Judging from the bus ride in Michel Gondry’s new film The We and the I (opening Friday, Mar. 22 at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas), however, AC Transit ain’t got nothin’ on New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The kids of the MTA may not be any ruder or surlier than ours, but they certainly seem to have longer journeys to contend with. That’s not terribly good news for their fellow passengers. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: In “Lore” kids navigate WW2

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The sins of the fathers are most definitely visited upon the children in Lore, a new World War II drama opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday March 1. “Oh, no”, I hear you moan, “not another movie about World War II. Surely its admittedly significant cinematic possibilities have long since been exhausted?”, and on most days I might agree with you. This film, however, offers something genuinely different.

Taking its title not from the word meaning ‘a body of traditions and knowledge on a subject or held by a particular group’ but from the first name of its lead character, Lore is the story of five German refugee children traveling light from Bavaria to Hamburg. Their parents arrested by Allied troops (Vati has been a member of the Waffen SS, while Mutti simply appears to be a loyal Nazi), the children are under orders to seek refuge with their grandmother over five hundred miles to the north. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Happy People

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German filmmaker Werner Herzog’s career can be neatly and conveniently divided into two distinct segments. Beginning with 1970’s Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen (Even Dwarfs Started Small) and continuing through 2009’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, the iconoclastic director created a remarkable series of frequently brilliant (and never boring) character studies about obsessed loners and outsiders kicking against the pricks of both nature and society.

Parallel to his work in dramatic features, the tireless Herzog has also somehow found time to direct numerous documentaries. As intrigued with real-life loners and outsiders as he is with fictional ones, his non-fiction films have examined such unique characters as bizarre televangelist Gene Scott (Glaube und Währung – Dr. Gene Scott, Fernsehprediger, 1981), borderline psychopath and frequent collaborator Klaus Kinski (My Best Fiend, 1997), and loopy but lovable bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell (Grizzly Man, 2005). … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: 56 Up

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“Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” This Jesuit motto was taken to heart by the producers of Granada Television’s 1964 documentary, Seven Up!, no doubt because its premise of predestination dovetailed so comfortably with their assumptions about Britain’s enduring class system.

Almost fifty years later, the premise has, in some respects, been borne out. The privileged children of the early sixties became lawyers; the working class children drive forklifts and taxis. But the Up series (continuing with 56 Up, opening this Friday, February 15th at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas) also provides evidence that, while the class system may not have crumbled, its constraints have loosened somewhat over the last half century. … Continue reading »

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