The Spectacular Now
dir James Ponsoldt; with Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley 13/US ****
Credit to these filmmakers for creating an adolescent comedy-drama that feels bracingly raw and honest. And their willingness to go places most movies shy away from gives the actors a chance to create fresh characters who are engaging even when they do stupid teenager things... [full review to come]
dir Anne Fontaine; with Naomi Watts, Robin Wright 13/Aus ***.
Infused with a sense of sun-kissed physicality, this drama has a provocative premise that would be hard to take if it weren't shot so beautifully and played with such offhanded authenticity by the solid cast. And despite the Australian surf-community setting, the film has a refreshingly grown-up European sensibility... FULL REVIEW >
dir Ivan Sen; with Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving 13/Aus ***.
Writer-director Sen captures a vivid sense of life in the Australian Outback in this rural Wild West-style drama. And he cleverly undermines the film's thriller-like plot with low-key pacing and a refusal to indulge in genre cliches. The problem is that this makes the film almost inert, as it never generates even a hint of suspense... [full review to come]
dir Calin Peter Netzer with Luminita Gheorghiu, Bogdan Dumitrache 13/Rom ***.
Romanian filmmaker Netzer takes a strikingly intimate look at the layers of control within families and society. And while some of the details are a little heavy-handed, witty touches and rippingly honest acting hold our attention. As does the unusually intimate, urgent filmmaking... [full review to come]
The Sarnos: A Life in Dirty Movies
dir Wiktor Ericsson; with Joseph Sarno, Peggy Steffans Sarno 13/Swe ***.
Leave it to a Swedish filmmaker to find the important social relevance in the 1960s sexploitation movies of the legendary Joseph Sarno! But that's exactly what this documentary manages to do while exploring the filmmaker's lengthy career, his enduring marriage and the history of cinema itself since the 1960s... [full review to come]