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Showing posts from September, 2013

Review: "Don Jon" (****½)

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson star in “Don Jon” For all three of you itching for an “Angels in the Outfield” reunion, look no further. Okay, maybe it’s not the full-blown thing you were hoping for, but it does reunite Joseph Gordon-Levitt with his pal Tony Danza, and that’s just going to have to do. Gordon-Levitt steps up to the plate (okay, that’s the last “Angels in the Outfield” reference) as writer, director and star of his massively impressive passion project, “Don Jon.” “Don Jon” tells the story of Jon Matello. He’s a New Jersey cool guy who, as we learn in the first few stylish minutes of the film, loves only a few things: his body, his pad, his ride, his church, his family, his boys, his girls, and his porn. Originally the movie was entitled “Don Jon’s Addiction.” As that title might suggest, Gordon-Levitt’s character has an addiction to pornography that is hopelessly life consuming. Jon doesn’t really see it as a problem, but does sense there might be something w

Review: "Short Term 12" (****½)

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Editor’s Note: Today marks a special occasion for me. I first put a bug in the ear of Lucy Doughty about writing for Reel Georgia many moons ago, and today we publish her first piece with us. “Short Term 12” is a remarkable film that won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Prize at SXSW earlier this year. I saw it at Sidewalk, where I was moved and impressed enough to have awarded it the full five star rating. Lucy’s review is written as beautifully as the film plays out, and I look forward to reading everything she’ll write for us in the future. Even though her reviews will make mine look as though I’ve compiled them using Alphabet soup, I’m thrilled to have such a gifted wordsmith on board. -CM John Gallagher, Jr., Brie Larson, and Rami Malek star in “Short Term 12” “Short Term 12”   premiered in its first form as first-time writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton’s Master’s thesis project at Sundance in 2009. A friend told Cretton he’d be a fool to attend Sundance without a fea

Around town for the 2013 Rome International Film Festival

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A crowd forms outside the DeSoto Theatre for RIFF’s closing night film, “The 25,000 Mile Love Story” The 10th annual Rome International Film Festival wrapped last weekend, marking a decade of globally-minded, globally-sourced independent features and shorts. Rome is a delightful city—Broad Street’s residents and businesses welcoming RIFF’s attendees with open arms every year. A few reviews from this year have already been posted, but we have more to write about the festival in the days to come. In the meantime, check out dozens of pictures from around town after the jump! “The King of Size” director Peter Dowd speaking at a Q&A following his film. Peter Dowd. An audience at the Rome Area History Museum. The cast and director of “Illness.” Reel Georgia’s own Christo Stevens. The DeSoto Theatre marquee at night. Filmmakers Brantly Watts and Puja Chaudari at the Director’s Party.  Filmmakers Peter Dowd, Greg Harding and Jason Brown at the Director’s Party. Filmmaker Jon Watts at the D

Sidewalk review: "Coldwater" (****)

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P.J. Boudousqué stars in “Coldwater” Since its SXSW premiere, Vincent Grashaw’s “Coldwater” has embarked on a successful festival run, leading up to where I caught it in Birmingham at the Sidewalk Film Festival. Following a wayward teen’s abduction and forced placement into a privately-run juvenile behavior reform camp, “Coldwater” is a brutal, visceral take at the real and often hushed world of privatized rehabilitation. With facilities operating without local or federal regulation, these programs have free range to ‘reform’ their clients (or, rather, inmates). Grashaw’s lens is not afraid to show what most filmmaker’s cameras would turn away from. In addition to successfully creating a a climate thick with acrimony, Grashaw also succeeds at operating “Coldwater” in reality. There are actually real camps where legal battles are in progress but drawn out beyond belief, cops have their hands tied and news agencies can only expose the truth after extreme tragedy occurs. Shedding light on

RIFF review: "CowJews and Indians: How Hitler Scared My Family—And I Woke Up in an Iroquois Longhouse with a Picture of Jesus, Reminding Me—For the Wrong Reason—That I Owe the Mohawks Rent" (**)

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Marc Halberstadt and Nathan Blindman appear in “CowJews and Indians” “CowJews and Indians,” as its massive title might suggest, is interesting in concept but somewhat dull in execution. We follow Marc Halberstadt, the film’s director, from the very start as he seeks restitution from the German government for land that was taken away from his Jewish ancestors during the war. Through research and realization, Halberstadt considers the hypocrisy surrounding his situation, due to the fact that the home in which he grew up was located on Native American land. From here, he assembles a small team of local Native American leaders and heads to Germany. His proposal is to have the Germans pay the Indians directly, thus cutting out the middleman. Halberstadt is extremely passionate about his quest and does bring up very interesting points, however the film’s central focus often strays. Throughout the documentary things are repeated and sometimes drawn out. With a running time of about 90 minutes

RIFF review: "FrackNation" (***)

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Carol Collier and Phelim McAleer appear in “FrackNation” “FrackNation” is a feature documentary from directors Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney and Magdalena Segieda. Funded by donations through Kickstarter, the film is essentially a rebuttal to the 2010 juggernaut doc, “Gasland.” In that film, Pennsylvania resident Josh Fox, narrates his journey while focusing on how natural gas drilling and fracking are bad for the communities involved as well as the environment as whole. “Gasland,” being the powerful, informative work that it was, garnered a lot of attention, not only from audiences and activists alike, but also from the Academy. Fracking, which is the process of extracting natural gas from shale deep under the earth’s surface, is a divisive issue largely thanks to Fox and his claims. “FrackNation,” narrated by McAleer, furthers the discussion by allowing for some more voices to be heard. However, this time we’re being told that fracking is perfectly safe. The film is refreshingly no

Alexander Payne's "Nebraska" to open Savannah Film Festival

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Bruce Dern and Will Forte star in “Nebraska” The 16th annual Savannah Film Festival has announced Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” as its opening night selection on October 26th with both Payne and lead actor Bruce Dern scheduled to attend. The film premiered earlier this year at Cannes, where Dern took home the award for Best Actor and the film was in contention for the Palme d’Or. Dern, who was honored by the Savannah Film Festival in 2006, will present Payne with an Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Award on behalf of the festival. Since its spring unveiling, “Nebraska” has garnered plenty of awards buzz—particularly for former Oscar nominee Dern. Following a father and son (Dern and “Saturday Night Live” alum Will Forte) as they travel from Montana to Nebraska to claim prize money, the two encounter many friends, family members and creditors along the way. The black and white film also stars June Squibb, Stacey Keach and Bob Odenkirk. The Savannah Film Festival marks only the second Am

Review: "Adore" (***½)

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Naomi Watts, James Frecheville, Robin Wright and Xavier Samuel in “Adore” “Adore,” premiering at Sundance with its original title “Two Mothers,” is an Australian and French film from director Anne Fontaine. Based on the British novel “The Grandmothers” and possibly known to most as ‘the movie where the two moms sleep with each other’s kids,’ “Adore” is a strangely well-executed film about desire, boundaries and consequences. Naomi Watts and Robin Wright play Lil and Roz, life-long best friends who’ve been together since as long as they can remember. In a beautifully bright, dream like sequence at the opening of the film, we see them as young girls playing with one another gleefully. They grow up, get married and have kids, but their sisterly love for one another only grows stronger. “We’re not lezzos, are we?” Lil jokes. The pair lives next door to each other, and while Lil is a widow, Roz is married. Lil and Roz spend their days with their sons, Ian and Tom, who are best friends thems

Plenty of filmmakers scheduled to attend 2013 Rome International Film Festival

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The marquee at the DeSoto Theatre during last year’s festivities. Now in its tenth year, the Rome International Film Festival has seen plenty of changes in terms of content, media coverage and leadership. Although, the same could be said for any festival that is more than a few years old. One thing is for sure, however, RIFF has always been—and remains—a filmmaker’s film festival. If you attend this weekend (like you should), a great deal of the lanyards you see around Broad Street will belong to filmmakers that will be in town to showcase their film and engage with a new audience. This festival is small enough and far enough away from the glitz and the glamour for the craft to be the sole focus. Have you ever wanted to pick the brain of a director, actor, writer or producer after watching their film? Now is your chance! These guys love hearing your thoughts about their hard work and it is a rewarding experience for both parties involved. Several workshops will also be held with filmma

Sidewalk review: "Hide Your Smiling Faces" (****½)

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Ryan Jones stars in “Hide Your Smiling Faces” Having heard great things out of Berlinale and Tribeca, Daniel Patrick Carbone’s “Hide Your Smiling Faces” was one of the most alluring prospects at this year’s Sidewalk Film Festival. Shot in northern New Jersey, an incredible, rustic beauty that isn’t usually associated with the state—at least the northern half—is evident in every frame. The landscape is wild and overgrown, looking as though it could have been shot on the slopes of Lookout Mountain. The setting is as much a main player as the two young stars, Nathan Varnson and Ryan Jones (playing brothers Eric and Tommy, respectively), who rarely give you a moment to turn your eyes away from their lead. Unconsumed and completely unaffected by the sedentary, video game culture of today, we watch as these two teenage brothers wrestle, throw rocks and play with dead animals. I was taken back to the days of my youth; my brother and I running through the woods in our cut-off jean shorts, drin

10 Days of Woody Allen at Atlanta's Plaza Theatre

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Starting today, September 1st, at the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, you can catch twelve different films from Woody Allen over the next ten days. Playing chronologically (except for “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986) playing right after “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989) on the same day), the program starts with 1971’s “Bananas” and runs through 2011’s “Midnight in Paris” on September 10th. Tickets are $12 per film, but you can purchase an all access pass for only $45 —a good deal since tickets to all twelve films would run you $144 otherwise. Later this month, similar programs honoring Steven Spielberg, the Coen Brothers and François Truffaut will also run at The Plaza. Check out more on those in the coming weeks and check out the Woody Allen schedule after the jump. Date Film Showtime 9/1 “Bananas” (1971) 7:45 PM 9/2 “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask” (1972) 7:45 PM 9/3 “Sleeper” (1973) 7:45 PM 9/4 “Annie Hall” (1977) 7:45 PM 9/5 “Manhattan” (1979) 7:45