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Showing posts from October, 2015

"Meru" Review (****)

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Shark’s Fin, the real star of the extreme sports documentary “Meru.” “Meru,” directed by Jimmy Chin and E. Chain Vasarhelyi, is the harrowing true story of three climbers who dare venture upon this world’s steepest and most challenging of climbs. Conrad Anker (a climber known for his relentlessness, but made famous by his discovery of the remains of George Mallory’s body), Jimmy Chin (National Geographic photographer, world-class climber, and the film’s director), and Renan Ozturk (talented climbing up-and-comer) are willing to test the limits of their potentials, they’re willing to push themselves to do what, literally and truly, no man has ever done before. Anker, Chin, and Ozturk want to climb Shark’s Fin, a steep and unforgiving 1,500 foot wall at the very tip of the Meru Peak in the Himalayas (elevation: 21,850 feet). That’s not as tall as Mount Everest, which rests at a very uncomfortable 29,029 feet, but Meru is considered far more challenging simply because of Shark’s Fin. The

"Best of Enemies" Review (****½)

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William F. Buckley, Jr. and Gore Vidal in “Best of Enemies.” For our illumination, enlightenment, and consideration, Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon give us “Best of Enemies;” a superb examination of William F. Buckley, Jr., Gore Vidal, and how ABC pitted them against each other in order to save the network from impending doom. Through ten televised debates circling the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968, Buckley and Vidal devolved from intellectuals into petty rivals, and a road to our current normalization of morally-void cutthroat political commentary was paved. With this at its center, the film poses what I learned wasn’t an unintentional question through a Q&A with the filmmakers: At what cost did ABC succeed? Was it worth it?  In my mind, what was created then, and stands today, is a modern-day digital greek colosseum. It didn’t happen overnight, it’s been a slow-burn back-and-forth between the well-intentioned and the not-so-well-intentioned, but the capitalizati

Sarah Gavron's "Suffragette" Opens Up the 2015 Savannah Film Festival (***)

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We chat about how Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep got involved and how she fell in love with Georgia after just a few hours in Savannah. Each year, the Savannah Film Festival marks the unofficial anniversary of Reel Georgia. While it was launched a few months earlier in 2011, it wasn’t until I booked it down to Savannah for two days in October that this website really started to post frequent, original content about Georgia films, Georgia festivals and the global industry from a Georgia perspective. This year, my dedicated co-editor Lucy Doughty and eloquent contributor Jessica Hinckle join me here and together, there isn’t a moment we will miss. Eighteen years in, SAVFF is at a peak artistically and commercially. Stars attending this year include Olivia Wilde, Alexander Skarsgard, Saoirse Ronan, Alfie Allen, Meg Ryan and Elizabeth Olsen. Tons of filmmaking talent is also attending—something the festival has obviously been spotlighting more in recent years, as the SCAD filmmaking progr

"The Wolfpack" Review (****)

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“The Wolfpack:” Mukunda, Bhagavan, Govinda, Narayana, Jagadisa, and Krsna Angulo. Almost five years ago, five tall, dark, and slender full-suited boys in sunglasses ran past Crystal Moselle on First Avenue in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. “I had a hunch there was something going on there. So I chased after them,” said Moselle, Director and Producer of “The Wolfpack” during the Q&A after its Savannah Film Festival screening on October 24th. “They asked what I do, and I told them I was a filmmaker, which made them really excited. They’d only been out for about a week.” Director/Producer Crystal Moselle and Associate Producer Megan Delaney on the Savannah Film Festival red carpet. Moselle spent 4.5 years discovering, shooting, and revealing the “something going on.” All six Angulo children—Mukunda, Bhagavan, Govinda, Narayana, Jagadisa, Krsna, and Vishnu, the only girl—spent their entire childhoods in a small apartment in Lower East Side project housing. Fearing the influence and

"Frame by Frame" Review (*****)

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Farzana Wahidy in the documentary “Frame by Frame.” “Frame by Frame” is an elegant and symphonic documentary tribute to the empathy and integrity of the photojournalist, and it might be the most impactful documentary of my generation. In a country once ruled by a regime that criminalized photography for half a decade, directors Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli weave together the ground-breaking work of four photojournalists capturing the aftermath of a post-Taliban Afghanistan. “When a country is without photography, it is without identity.” —Najibullah Musafar Right from the opening credits—a sampling of Afghanistan’s history and imagery—I felt I was about to have something unveiled to me; a light would be cast, and I would be enveloped in a world that wasn’t my own. It was a powerful feeling, a human one; palpable, and entirely mesmerizing—and it didn’t let up the whole way through. When I did take a moment to look around the theatre, everyone’s gaze was transfixed, and it wasn’t

What to See at the 2015 Savannah Film Festival

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The Savannah Film Festival has a special place in my heart because it was my coverage of the 2011 Savannah Film Festival that really launched Reel Georgia back four years ago. This will be my fifth time attending, and I’m happy that Lucy and Jessica will also be in Georgia’s first city with me to cover the 18th annual event. Opening night selection “Suffragette” and closing night selection “I Saw the Light” prove that Savannah has become a significant stop on the fall festival run. “Brooklyn,” “Room,” “Spotlight,” “Truth” and “Youth” are just a few of the Oscar-bait titles screening at this years festival. A host of lesser profile prestige films, foreign titles and true indies dot the lineup. This really promises to be a great year. We’ve highlighted over 30 films for you to check out at this year’s festival. I know, that’s an outrageous number of films to see in just eight days, but don’t blame me—blame Savannah for upping their game! Opening Night:   Suffragette This drama tracks the

"Beasts of No Nation" Review (***½)

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Idris Elba and Abraham Attah star in “Beasts of No Nation.” Cary Fukunaga’s “Beasts of No Nation” is a brutally harrowing, yet utterly captivating, adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala’s novel of the same name. Set in an unspecified African country, the story is told through the eyes and meditation of Agu (Abraham Attah), a young boy who through the harsh realities of war, became a soldier—or more aptly, a savage war criminal. After his family is slaughtered by rebels, Agu is adopted into a battalion comprised of children and young teenagers, helmed by a questionably-sane Commandant (Idris Elba). As the rest of these impressionable and revenge-seeking youth did before him, Agu falls in line behind his new ‘father’ and falls down a rabbit-hole of war. One filled with heroine-induced lunacy, blind obedience-driven acts of savagery, and a slow-burn toward the inevitable—they weren’t fighting the men that had murdered their families, they were becoming them. “Beasts of No Nation” was undoubtedly

“Breathe (Respire)” Review (****)

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Lou de Laâge and Joséphine Japy star in “Breathe (Respire).” While watching “Breathe,” I was filled—simultaneously—with a sort of nostalgia and also a heavy, poignant sense of dread. The film circles, almost in a dizzying way, around the intimate friendship between two teenage girls: Charlie (Joséphine Japy) and Sarah (Lou de Laâge). And their whole relationship is so… romantic. Not in a sexual sense (strictly), nothing truly romantic happens between them, but their ideas and impressions and beliefs about one another (and the world) are so idealized and hyperbolic and wonderfully naïve. It’s a lovely thing to be young and beautiful and confident of your place within the world…until it isn’t. Until the quiet, subtle pressures and insecurities of being a seventeen-year-old tackle you and swarm you and threaten the very breath within your lungs. The relationship between Charlie and Sarah, which at the beginning of “Breathe” was fast and intimate and intense, turns toxic rather quickly. An

Indie #GAfilm "blackhats" Opens in Metro Atlanta on October 23rd, Ahead of VOD Release

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You might see us talking about big blockbusters filming here or traveling the Peach State film festival circuit, but Reel Georgia also exists to spotlight films that are fierce in their homage to our good ol’ state. LaRon Austin’s “blackhats” is just that, highlighting the beauty and charm and grit of Atlanta’s city streets. “blackhats” is an action-filled thriller that navigates the ins-and-outs of cyber terrorism. It’s a high-pressure, high-stakes film starring Errol Sadler as a fiery ex-bounty hunter whose life is disrupted when he’s convinced to track down a colleague’s brother. Janelle, his colleague, is played by the beautiful Doris Morgado (“2 Guns”). They soon discover that Janelle’s brother is in over his head, as he’s also being hunted by the FBI and a rival bounty hunter. Believe me when I say, chaos really does ensue. The film is written and produced by Martin Kelley, who is certainly no stranger to the Atlanta indie scene. Kelley is one of the founders of our sister-site C

"The Martian" Review (****)

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Matt Damon stars as Mark Watney in “The Martian.” “The Martian” is an emotional, ruthlessly realistic space-travel survival story that never once overwhelms you with the scope of it, with the concept of interstellar isolation, or with hopelessness. Instead, it magnifies the magnificence of everything within its frame. Ridley Scott is practiced and controlled and patient with the grandeur of space, and “The Martian” is arguably his loosest and most playful project to date. And with Drew Goddard adapting Andy Weir’s bestselling novel for the screen, this film can’t be anything but good… and it is. Honestly, it is. “The Martian” never maroons you within the darkest pits of Mars, never speaks in platitudes about the smallness of humanity, never reduces itself to cliché. It’s a champion of exploration, of adventure, and of knowledge and innovation. I doubt there’s much contention in me saying that “The Martian” will be the blockbuster film of 2015. At this point, I’m sure you’re all aware

The Goods: Emily Blunt's 10 Best Performances

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One of the year’s best films, “Sicario” continues to post gains in both box office revenue and awards buzz , especially for its lead, Emily Blunt. We’ve been fans of Blunt for a while here, following her from her early days in British indies through her Hollywood breakthrough in “The Devil Wears Prada” and her rise from solid supporter to bonafide leading lady. After her Georgia Film Critics Award nomination for “Looper,” Blunt really started making some moves. Recent roles in films like “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Sicario” have us officially proclaiming—Emily Blunt has gone next level on us. We know you love her too, so we put our heads together and came up with a list of the ten best Emily Blunt performances to date. Did your favorites make the cut? 10. ROSE in “Wild Target” “Wild Target” is not a great film; I doubt it made any top ten lists back in 2010 when it was first released. But it is a film that I find to be so sweet and so full of flair and style and humor that even as I write

Meg Ryan, Olivia Wilde, Elizabeth Olsen among expected guests at 2015 Savannah Film Festival

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Four of the 2015 Savannah Film Festival’s special guests clockwise from top left: Meg Ryan, Elizabeth Olsen, Saoirse Ronan, Olivia Wilde. As the Savannah Film Festival gets closer to turning 20-years-old (this year will be the 18th festival), it is pivoting itself as an important stop on the national festival circuit in terms of programming but also as a continually celebrity-friendly festival. Just in the last few years, I’ve enjoyed attending alongside stars like Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, John Goodman, Jane Seymour, Alec Baldwin, Matt Bomer, Gena Rowlands, Lily Tomlin and Miles Teller. This year, honored guests include Meg Ryan, Olivia Wilde and Alfie Allen. Elizabeth Olsen, Saoirse Ronan, Riley Keough and Tab Hunter are also expected to attend. Meg Ryan is this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Ryan’s directorial debut, “Ithaca,” will screen during the festival. Ryan stars in the film alongside frequent collaborator Tom Hanks. Her most popular credits include “When Harry