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Showing posts from February, 2015

The Short Circuit: Documentary Oscar Nominees

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As promised, we return today with a rundown of this year’s Academy Award Nominated Documentary Shorts! Covering an array of weighty, often dismaying circumstances, this block represents more countries than it does emotions. This isn’t a bad thing; no story as affecting as these should go untold. Here is our ranking of five films that capture the essence of documentary. 5. “White Earth” J. Christian Jensen USA 20 minutes The population in White Earth, North Dakota has increased by 50% in fifteen years. Families uproot their lives and move to White Earth in search for work in the booming oil industry. Characterized by vast shots of bleak landscape and tireless oil fields, Jensen’s fifth documentary short in five years tells the stories of four children from different families and explores the way their parents’ pursuit of the American Dream has affected what they dream for themselves.  4. “La Parka” (The Reaper) Gabriel Serra Arguello Mexico 29 minutes Efrain, better known to his coworke

The Short Circuit: Live Action Oscar Nominees

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With only two days to go before the Oscars grace our screens, you’re running out of time to see what you haven’t already. Worry not, dear reader—as far as the less circulated, harder-to-find short films are concerned, we’ve got your back. The Academy assembles the nominated shorts according to category and distributes them to certain theaters nationwide, typically those driven by independent film; only four in the Atlanta Metro area have screenings. I saw all five at Lefont this evening and will now rank them from least favorite to favorite. Fair warning: as I have little interest in Academy politics, this list points not to an official prediction but to an official preference. Check those little boxes at your own risk! Ulrich Thomsen and Sarah Adler in “Aya” 5. “Aya” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis 39 minutes This Israeli film from 2012 stars Sarah Adler [“Marie Antoinette,” “Jellyfish,” “Self Made”—2015 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival selection] as Aya and Ulrich Thomsen [“The Internati

Atlanta Film Festival Releases 2015 Competition Lineup

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Seventeen titles compete in Narrative and Documentary categories, including two World Premieres, two North American Premieres and one US Premiere. In December of 2014, the Atlanta Film Festival announced its first slate of programmed films, all of which were directed by women. Those ten features included six narratives and four documentaries from four different countries, including three films with Georgia ties. Today, the festival is pleased to announce the competitive lineups in the narrative and documentary feature categories. “This year’s feature competition includes a wide variety of innovative works that truly challenge our perception of traditional film forms,” said ATLFF Director of Programming Kristy Breneman. Three of these films, all of which are narratives, were announced in December: “Breathe (Respire)” directed by Mélanie Laurent, “Next Year (L’annee Prochaine)” directed by Vania Leturcq and “The Sisterhood of Night” directed by Caryn Waechter. Seven of the competition fi

AJFF & Creative Loafing Art Party 2/7: Reel GA Readers Get 10% Off!

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The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival has partnered with Creative Loafing to bring you a night featuring local artists, collectible works, and a celebration of Jewish comedy legends from the 1970s to today! Hosted at the Mammal Gallery , a versatile arts and performance space in the heart of downtown Atlanta, the 2nd Annual AJFF Art Party will feature artists Catlanta, Blockhead ATL, Crazy Monkey Trucker, and Clunky Robot. Still other artists will contribute special art drops, and film-themed photo booths will make you feel like a movie star. Bring a friend and be a part of the most contemporary, innovative event this weekend has to offer! When: Saturday, February 7 @ 8pm Where: The Mammal Gallery, 91 Broad Street Southwest, Atlanta, GA 30303 Use the discount code APCL8296 to get 10% off your ticket, which includes  entry, collectible art, a swag bag, and access to a FREE TACO BAR! Buy your tickets here !

Homespun Series Returns to Plaza Theatre 2/13

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The next installment in the Homespun Series is fast approaching! Since they began in November 2013, Homespun has showcased solely Atlantan-based short films that focus on the real, colorful characters in our city. For 2015’s Winter Screening, Creator Brantly Watts and Executive Producer Jon Watts, Atlanta Film Festival Filmmakers in Residence, have chosen three documentary shorts that comply with a universally resonant theme: music. Films in this installment: “Apples to Peaches” directed by Stephen Oakey Kevin Dunbar grew up in New York and went to one of the most dangerous schools in the country. At an early age, Kevin was forced to give up his passion for music because, “Carrying a trombone around was the last thing someone would do unless it was going to be used as a weapon.” Through a chance opportunity, Kevin left New York and headed down south to Georgia where he fell back in love with music and re-wrote his story. After rekindling his childhood passion for music, Kevin record

Review: "A Most Violent Year" (****½)

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Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac star in “A Most Violent Year.” From the opening credits, “A Most Violent Year” is hypnotic. A tracking shot shows our lead, Abel (Oscar Isaac), jogging through a chilly New York. It’s 1981. Passing graffiti-covered buildings, piles of dirty snow and junk yards, we’re introduced to a New York rarely seen in film. The gorgeous, crisp sepia-toned colors and cool, clean tracking shots call to mind some of David Fincher’s more recent films. Perhaps writer director JC Chandor took a page from Fincher’s how-to-make-anything-and-everything-look-amazing playbook. It’s beautiful. The sun starts to rise as the city wakes up. After Abel finishes his morning run, we see his wife, Anna (Jessica Chastain), applying her make-up and listening to the local news on the radio as she stares into the mirror and exhales cigarette smoke. Soon after, the couple meets up in a damp, snowy parking lot as Abel grabs two brief cases from the trunk of his car and tells Anna that she

AJFF Buzzes With World Premiere of John Goldschmidt's "Dough" (**)

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Jerome Holder, Pauline Collins, Jonathan Pryce co-star in “Dough” International Emmy Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award-winner Jez Freedman began his script for “Dough” with co-writer Jonathan Benson in 2009. Fast forward five years to last night, when his finished product debuted in two venues for the soon-to-be largest Jewish film festival in the world. The two remaining screenings have long been sold out, the demand due largely in part to Director John Goldschmidt’s and leading actor Jonathan Pryce’s critically acclaimed backgrounds. But Freedman and Benson are to thank for the rest; their first film together serves a compelling synopsis that elicits (pardon the pun) high expectations. Nat Dayan (Pryce) owns and operates the kosher bakery his family started in 1947. When a new landlord (Sam Cotton) threatens to squeeze him out of his property by raising the rent and supporting competitors, Nat’s falling profits suddenly look less like a slump and more like a crisis. W

Review: "Whiplash" (****½)

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Miles Teller and JK Simmons star in “Whiplash.” “Whiplash” was—hands down—one of the two best narratives at the 2014 Savannah Film Festival (the other being “Two Days, One Night” ). After it won both the Dramatic Jury Prize and the Dramatic Audience Prize at Sundance, a fast train of lofty expectations was set in motion—with J.K. Simmons’ Oscar campaign leading the way. Although the trailer and word-of-mouth had prepared me adequately for what to expect, I was caught off guard by just how electric this film is. Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are singularly both very good, but it’s the dynamic between them that creates a powerful surge that courses through the film before an explosive ending. These two aren’t solely responsible for the success of “Whiplash,” however. Writer and director Damien Chazelle gives us the most focused and intentional direction in any film from 2014—and it’s only his second feature. While Linklater or Iñarritu helmed more ambitious projects that reach across t