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Film

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cinematheque to Screen 'Revenge,' an Empowering and Brutal Rape-Revenge Thriller, this Saturday

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 10:02 AM

NEON FILMS
  • NEON Films
French writer/director Coralie Fargeat rocked the film world with her feature debut, Revenge when it hit the festival circuit this year, including a screening at the Cleveland International Film Festival. While the Netflix-of-Horror app, Shudder, has the exclusive streaming rights to the film, the Cleveland Cinematheque is offering the opportunity to catch this brutal film as it was intended, on the big screen.

Rape-revenge films were a staple of the exploitation wave of the 1970s, and many of these stories were told by men. In the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Fargeat's masterful examination of the emotional complexities of rape survivors feels like a perfect allegory for the fire burning beneath the surface of women everywhere.

The story follows a wealthy man named Richard (Kevin Janssens) who has escaped to the desert to enjoy a weekend of cheating on his wife and avoiding his responsibilities as a father with his mistress, a young aspiring actress named Jen. What feels like a fantasy getaway quickly turns into a nightmare when Richard's friends Stan (Vincent Colombe) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchède) show up earlier than expected.

Stan comes on to Jennifer who completely rebuffs him, and in a fit of rage from rejection, brutalizes Jennifer convinced that she wants it. Of course, because Richard and Dimitri are toxic masculinity personified, they completely stand behind their man and decide that the only way they can get away with their bro raping a woman is to kill the victim.

As is the case in most films from this subgenre, the attempt to kill her fails and the rest of the film is spent following Jennifer on her path toward survival and revenge. Revenge is a polarizing flick, with whiny dudes online complaining about it so much that the production company NEON even cut a specialty trailer using men's comments from YouTube similarly to how films will cite critic review comments to entice potential audiences.


Moments of Revenge are downright grueling to witness, but there's a cathartic release as we are allowed to slip ourselves into the shell of Jennifer (clearly named for the lead in I Spit On Your Grave and played by the phenomenal Matilda Lutz) and witness the savage justice enacted by a woman who was brutally violated.

Despite the uncomfortable reality of what Jennifer endures, there is not a single moment in this film where we're not cheering for her to give the men that wronged her their comeuppance. The circumstances surrounding Jennifer's survival are excruciating, and Fargeat puts to bed the idea that female filmmakers don't have the stomach for gore, brutality or buckets of blood.

The highly-stylized and gutturally captivating film completely blurs the lines between vengeance and excessive violence, but does so in one of the most satisfying third acts of recent memory. This is definitely a film that could trigger some audience members, so doing a little research ahead of time is recommended.

However, if you're into an action-packed thriller complete with justified sadism and enjoy watching rapists get exactly what they deserve, Revenge is an absolute must-see.

The film screens at the Cinematheque on Saturday, July 21 at 9:15 p.m. Tickets are available by clicking here

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'The Cakemaker' is the Gay German-Israeli Drama that Food Network Lovers Have Been Waiting For

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 8:47 AM

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Written and directed by Ofir Raul Grazier, The Cakemaker is a sad and sensitive exploration of an emotionally and culturally unique relationship. The 113-minute Israeli drama opens at the Cedar Lee Friday.

Thomas (Tim Kalkhof) is a soft-spoken pastry chef in Berlin who, in the opening scene, meets Oren (Roy Miller), an Israeli businessman who travels frequently to Germany for work. There’s an instant attraction, conveyed deftly and probingly in the soft light of the cafe, and the two strike up an affair. When Oren suddenly stops returning calls a year later, Thomas discovers that he has been killed in a car crash in Jerusalem. Thomas travels there to get some peripheral whiff, we sense, of the man he loved.

Oren left a wife, Anat (Sarah Adler), and a son, Itai (Tamir Ben Yehuda), and before long Thomas enters their life, earning a job as a dishwasher and errand boy at Anat’s cafe.

One of the central questions of the film — with deep metaphorical reverberations — is whether or not Anat will manage to keep her cafe’s kosher certificate. Though Anat is not religious, the kosher certificate is crucial for maintaining her devoutly Jewish clientele. And hiring Thomas, a German, is perceived with confusion and alarm by Anat’s strict brother, Moti (Zohar Shtrauss). Anat learns, nevertheless, that Thomas is skilled in the kitchen, and delights in the popularity of his pastries. But because he’s unable to use the oven, according to kosher rules, Anat must bake the recipes that Thomas concocts.

All the while, Anat is ignorant of Thomas’ connection to her husband, though she begins to stitch together clues about Oren’s life in Germany, even as she develops affection for Thomas herself. It’s clear that these are two very lonely people, two outcasts in different senses. And one of the great successes of the quiet and heartsore script is its ongoing portrayal of loneliness without ever resorting to high tragedy.

Both Kalkhof and Adler turn in strong performances as Thomas and Anat. In their scenes together, deep wells of emotion are often visible beneath the untroubled surfaces. Other times, the surfaces themselves are troubled, as in the moment of frustration in the kitchen — Anat can’t get the dough to obey — when Anat and Thomas stumble into lovemaking. Anat first touches Thomas’s hair impulsively, and then leans on him. When she tries to kiss him, Thomas backs away, and they lock eyes for a long time. It’s not the heat of passion that drives them together but something else, a sadness.

The following scene is merely Anat sitting alone in silence, giggling as her eyes well up with tears.

It’s worth noting that there is much baking in the film as well! Lovers of the Food Network will appreciate Thomas’s elegant and simple recipes, from the German Chocolate Cake that Oren lovingly devours in the first scene to the warm cinnamon cookies that crumble in Anat’s hands when she first senses Thomas’ culinary talents.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Singer Grace Jones Puts Her Remarkable Talent on Display in New Documentary Film

Posted By on Fri, Jul 13, 2018 at 9:27 AM

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Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, the new documentary about the talented singer, actress and model, begins with a lively concert clip that finds Jones crooning “I’m a slave to the rhythm” while wearing an elaborate golden mask and a black leotard. Afterward, she meets and greets her adoring fans and graciously signs as many autographs as she can. It's a great way to start the movie, which shows just what a compelling performer and persona Jones is.

Director Sophie Fiennes, who started filming Jones in the mid-2000s, simply follows her on stage and off as she strives to capture her life without any narration or voice over.

We see Jones negotiate with the talented production duo Sly and Robbie, telling them that they need to set a date for recording with her. We see her in her native Jamaica as she jokes with family members and listens to various beats while driving through the countryside. And we see her yell at a tour manager who hasn't properly booked the hotel rooms for a tour.

Ultimately, the movie creates a striking portrait of the artist, who, at one point, describes herself as "a gypsy."

It shows at 9:30 tomorrow night and at 8:20 on Sunday night at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

'Three Identical Strangers' is Your New Favorite Psychological Documentary and Opens Tomorrow at the Cedar Lee

Posted By on Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 12:58 PM

COURTESY OF NEON
  • Courtesy of NEON
On his first day of college in 1980, 19-year-old Bobby Shafran was immediately shown kindness and friendship by people he'd never met before. As it turns out, Shafran was being confused for another person, triggering a classmate to inquire about Bobby's birthday and whether or not he had been adopted.

When it was uncovered that yes, he was adopted, this classmate connected him with his friend Eddy Galland, who turned out to be Shafran's long lost twin. After a reporter covered the story about their reconnection, another 19-year-old named David Kellman reached out to reveal that he was also adopted, and he would complete the trinity of long-lost triplets.

After their reunion, it was discovered that the three identical brothers were all raised from vastly different backgrounds. One was raised with a blue-collar family, another was adopted into the middle-class, and the third was raised with an extremely wealthy family with a doctor father and an attorney mother. This is starting to sound like a chapter in a psychology textbook, isn't it?

The three brothers quickly became local celebrities in New York City, and even got an apartment together after appearing on The Today Show and Phil Donahue. However, the anger from their adoptive parents sparked an investigation on why the Louise Wise Adoption agency (one of the most prestigious adoption centers in New York) would separate three identical siblings, and the documentary takes an insidious turn that has to be seen to be believed.

Without spoiling the film's jaw-dropping reveals, Three Identical Strangers is a captivating analysis of one of the most ethically questionable moments in America's psychological history. Their heartwarming reunion made for great television but the deeply problematic circumstances surrounding their separation is the true highlight of Tim Wardle' remarkable documentary. From the first minute until the final credits, Three Identical Strangers puts you in a vice-grip and never lets go.

Three Identical Strangers is a must-see for anyone that binged Making A Murderer, The Impostor or listened to Serial. Every moment is absolutely riveting, and once it's seen, you won't be able to stop talking about it.

Three Identical Strangers opens tomorrow for a week-long run at the Cedar Lee Theatre. 

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

New Documentary Film Chronicles the Rise and Fall of Whitney Houston

Posted By on Thu, Jul 5, 2018 at 11:29 AM

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Much like Amy, Asif Kapadia’s 2015 documentary about singer Amy Winehouse, Whitney documents the rise and fall of singer Whitney Houston. Kevin Macdonald’s documentary commences with footage from the music video to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” one of Houston’s biggest hits, but then proceeds in chronological order, telling the story of how Whitney became such a major figure in the pop world and how drugs and personal issues led to her demise.

A limited number of screenings take place tonight, and the movie opens areawide tomorrow.

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

'The Land' is Finally Available to Watch on Netflix

Posted By on Tue, Jul 3, 2018 at 12:08 PM

IFC FILMS
  • IFC Films

2016's The Land was a mega-hit amongst Clevelanders, and now the rest of the world will finally have the opportunity to see why it's always been and always will be 'Cleveland Against The World.'

Directed by Steven Caple Jr. (who is currently filming Creed II), The Land is a love-letter to this city from the perspective of people who know it best, delivering the beauty in the ugliness of our wonderful city, while delivering an incredibly entertaining story in the process.

Cleveland's Mike Wendt served as the assistant locations manager during production of the film, and is ecstatic that The Land is finally available on Netflix, and therefore, widely available to the rest of the country.

Wendt works on just about every film that comes through Cleveland, like the upcoming White Boy Rick and the recent, My Friend Dahmer.

"Many of the films that are shot here do not take place here," Wendt tells Scene. "But this is a film that I know was a personal one for director Steven Caple Jr. and he chose many great locations that show off the city — both the gritty and nicer parts,"

As Sam Allard stated in his review of The Land when it first debuted, it's a gnarly ode to Cleveland. Thanks to the spotlight given to us in large part from LeBron James, there is a sense of curiosity and preconceived notions about our city from the rest of the nation. This isn't some depressing look at yet another rust belt city suffering in the Midwest, but rather an exploration of the passionate drive to not just exist, but to really live despite your circumstances.

While Caple Jr. is off to a hell of a successful start to his career, it's been estimated that Netflix is the lifeblood for independent film. The Land nabbing a showcase spot on the streaming juggernaut isn't just great for the film and those who worked on it, it's also great for Cleveland.

With The Land is available on Netflix, Wendt is hoping that more filmmakers take note of the possibilities Cleveland offers to the film community at large. "I hope that people see it and realize that we have a lot to offer here from a film standpoint — talented crews, actors and diverse and beautiful locations," he says.

If you want to make it an event, you can even host a double shot-in-CLE feature of The Land and My Friend Dahmer, which is also now available via GooglePlay, Amazon Prime, and YouTube's paid streaming service. So the next time you invite someone over for 'Netflix and Chill,' do yourself a favor and actually watch the films in their entirety.

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Friday, June 22, 2018

'Jurassic Park' Sequel Settles for a Simplistic Storyline

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 at 2:39 PM

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The producers of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom could have come up with any number of concepts for a sequel to the long-running sci-fi adventure flick. That they chose the most simplistic and unimaginative of them speaks volumes to just how poorly conceived this movie is.

Undoubtedly bound to be one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters despite whatever negative reviews it might get, the film opens area-wide today.

Continue reading »

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