Let’s Go To The Movies!
ROBOCOP 2014 dir José Padilha
Only when I saw that Brazilian José Padilha would be the director did I become interested in learning more about RoboCop 2014. I had seen all of Padilha’s films. Bus 174 made its North
American debut at SXSW Film Festival Austin, Texas. His reconstruction of the kidnapping of a passenger-filled bus in full daylight in downtown Rio had me sitting on the edge of my seat.
I knew the landscape of politics and action he could bring to the new RoboCop but wondered how much he could get away with in a Hollywood, big budget, action.
Padilha and the screenwriter Joshua Zetumer have brought RoboCop 2014 into 21streality by making him of the generation of war-damaged US vets now cops and the world of the post 9/11 Patriot Act seeded militarized police state enabled by the technology to maintain peace and fight crime using weapons developed for war. In the simplified world of action films, the narrative is a bad and smart, driven robot developer (welcome back Michael Keaton) on the cusp of drone innovation who wants to bring drones into the local police station but is having a hard time selling the idea to a “liberal” US Senator (Zack Grenier) who objects to letting feeling-less machines do policing. The CEO has the support of a Fox news-like channel with Samuel L. Jackson playing an ideologue masquerading as a journalist. Desperate to put a human element into his robot, he turns to a police officer blown up by crime boss, mashing human and mechanical in one drone being.
The casting is super. New, sensitive, tall hunk Joel Kinnaman, fresh off of the moody cable series The Killing, brings his Tony Perkins/James Dean sensitivity and his mangled body to the robot container and his struggle to keep his heart beat driving the rhythm of machine policing. Padilha is able to landscape the story seeding drone ethics, police corruption, moral science and libertarian ethics of succeeding at any cost. He projects it on to an IMAX screen in 3D.
Padilha succeeds because he never sentimentalized the video game mentality of contemporary pop culture. Special mention goes to Australian actress Abbie Cornish for taking the cliché of the frightened wife and making her a fully dimensioned character. Praise to Gary Oldman for showing the complicity of science in militarization public safety servants. Padilha triumphs in updating RoboCop, making it moment-to-moment thrilling and asking some very serious questions about man and technology, business and ethics. See it!
MARS AT SUNRISE dir Jessica Habie
The new Israeli Cinema has consistently confronted the grandfather politics and looks directly into the eye of a dream gone wrong, not from a point of view of rejection, but with the intent of bringing a cold shower to the romantic notion of homecoming. It depicts the journey from idealizing the celebration of survival to a nitty-gritty reality of how a socialist dream of communal effort devolved into a militaristic nation built on collective fear and economic aggression financed by world governments and successful entrepreneurship be it oranges or guns. The fear of extinction mines the psyche of old and young has spiralled into a defensive policy of containment and aggressive occupation of disputed land. A generation of young people both in
Israel and Palestine ask themselves a new question about survival: How do we live here?
Jessica Habie’s Mars At Sunrise is an attempt to bring a different lens to the living conditions experienced on both sides. She places her non-linear narrative on the border experience set on the Palestinian side. She lived and worked in Palestine while conceptualizing this story of a painter whose creative space both physically and psychically is literally invaded by the politics of the region. The Israeli government’s policy of containment plays out in restrictive boundaries to movement and creates fissures of resentment on both sides Mars At Sunrise attempts to avoid the almost by now narrative cliché of the true social conditions of the occupation. Looking at the dead-end of confrontation politics, Habie attempts to not fall into the expected narrative and instead landscapes through human encounter, the topography of place and creative desire. Mars At Sunrise demands a letting go of intellectual arguments and mines possibility in a visually stimulating exploration amplified by a soundtrack of infectious beats and collisions of music expression.
Recommended with a word of caution: let go and sink into the aesthetic landscape. You can watch this film at Marsatsunrise.com/the-film/
Watch a Q&A reel deal filmed w/ director/ Actors http://youtube.be/3T59_FsvtRw
TEENAGE dir Matt Wolf
Science teaches that the body and brain are not fully grown until a person is in their early 20s. Until the 19thmost of the world much earlier. The 20thin how children were brought up. Economic conditions and gender difference greatly shaped the way children were educated when education became mandatory.
This is the backdrop of a delightful look at what has been named the teen years in Matt Wolf’s delightful if provocative look at the World War II population fallout. John Savage, a noted British public intellectual and culture critic, published a very dense scholarly book on the subject, Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875 -1945 where he posits the capitalist creation of a self-conscious market. Matt Wolf, the enfant terrible of the art driven, non-linear film bio of people like David Wojiarowicz and Joe Brainard, collaborated with Savage in adapting his book to a screenplay.
Drawing on archival film clips and the voices-overs of actors including Jena Malone and Ben Wishaw to make a cinematic narrative of Savage’s book. Teenage documents the making of and the marketing to teens. It does not ask all the relevant questions nor attempt to be definitive in its answers. It will be a pleasurable if challenging take not so much on bodies, although the hormone fallout is well represented as it is on the creation of young consumers both as an identity with a material consumption. Teenage is a meaty yet pleasurable exploration of what is called also adolescence and a must for parents and adult teens.
KIDS FOR CASH dir Robin May
A recent exposé of teen life is the tabloid headline scream documentary called Kids For Cash.
This story almost bumped all the Kardashians off the supermarket tabloids with their lurid headlines lining the checkout lines at grocery stores and mall superstores. Two judges, so the story goes, conspired to build a juvenile detention facility in Western Pennsylvanian. Hearings begun after frightened, indigent parents had signed away their right to legal representation for their child in trouble with the authorities. Kids being disinclined for pranks, fights, social media fantasy were no longer being sent to detention or assigned penalty work.
This judge was sending them, sometimes for six years, to prison like youth detention centers for rehabilitation and reform. The presiding judge had a policy of zero tolerance post Columbine and with a stern voice and a wave of his hands sent teenagers into a prison environment which in some incidents reminds one Abu Grade. The judge claimed to be doing it for their own good because their parents had failed in their role of responsible parents. What he did not tell the court visitors, the accused adolescents and their shamed parents was that he had a financial interest in the juvenile detention center. The kids at the prime of their teen years and body changes were sitting in cells and many times in solitary confinement. Finally a crusading local reporter and a few angry parents fought back and finally brought the two judges down. Too late for those kids so damaged that they turned to drugs and wound up dead either as overdoses or suicide.
That you would think was the core of Kids For Cash. However, it gets deeper and also treads a questioning line that subtly asks how you raise teens and teach them right from wrong. It is not just a story of a wrong made right, which of course it is, but significantly it ask real questions: what does it mean to parent, when is it right to intervene and what is the best corrective treatment?
NOTE: Please go to either jimfourattsreeldeal.blogspot.com or westviewnews.org/reeldeal for my recommendations for both MoMA’s New Directors/New Films and The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Rendez-Vous with French Cinema as well as a thought provoking essay by
WestView’s Theater Critic Irv Bauer on the difficult journey of adapting plays to film + Matthew McConaughey shares about making Dallas Buyers Club and his method of acting (video).