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Lineups for Venice and Toronto Film Fests – Proof that 2011 is Far from Over

The film year, just like the real one, is split into seasons. There’s the time around May through August, which is filled with Summer blockbusters; there’s January through April, which contains all of the buzz from Sundance and Berlin and a hefty slew of off-kilter picks. And then there’s September through December, better known as Oscar season. It kicks off every year with two events, the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals. Between these two weeks, early picks for Best Picture, as well as the acting awards, surface and separate themselves from the rest of the chaff; films that do well here are practically guaranteed a good run a few months down the line. This year’s lineups were announced two weeks ago, and if nothing else, they reveal that the best of 2011, cinematically speaking, is yet to come. Continue reading

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HBO fantasy epic “Game of Thrones” has trailer

George R. R. Martin’s beloved fantasy book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is being adapted into a tv mini-series by HBO and they have just released the first (info) trailer. Continue reading

DVD Tuesday: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Of all the prolific filmmakers that have ever lived, Woody Allen is second only to Rainer Werner Fassbinder. He has directed over 40 films since his career began in 1967, and Allen’s fans agree that very few are sub-par. Of course, with any great director, the autumn years tend to show a noticeable decline in quality, and certainly this can be said for Allen. But his newest film, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, may be one of his best. Continue reading

EIFF Daily Roundup (part 6)

*I fall for Au Revoir Taipei

*Sir Patrick Stewart makes it so

other news

Au Revoir Taipei was a great break from multiple dramas in a row.  The Patrick Stewart interview was completely packed and it was cool to see him have such passion for his work (and the work of others) after so many years.  After the talk it made me want to start watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.  If DVDs and Netflix allow whole seasons of TV shows to be accessible, it would be interesting to go back and watch some older shows (especially Quantum Leap).

reviews to come

Police Adjective, Putty Hill, Cigarette Girl

“Lucky” documents lottery winners, but not much else

“What would you buy if you had a million dollars?”  This is the type of hypothetical fantasizing we’ve all indulged in as children, but what if you actually won that million dollars?

Lucky follows the rare people who have won the lottery, varying from 5.5 to 22 million dollars in winnings.  The effects of fame and fortune are disclosed by the winners in interview format.  Some find it a curse they’re happy to spend until they’re again broke; others help their families or migrate to wealthier locales to fit in.

The general idea behind the film is immediately an attractive one: how do one of our fellow proles cope with becoming a part of the elite?  In a brief interview with a lottery player, he explains that he gambles so, “I can actually be free.”   Right there is a golden opportunity to explore our definition of “free” in a country that heralds itself as the uber-democracy and how capitalism and wealth play into that concept.

But director Jeffrey Blitz (Spellbound, Rocket Science)  doesn’t follow these breadcrumbs.  When former friends of lottery winners Kristine and Steve’s tell us they are envious of their bump up the class ladder, the film fails to dig in and ask why.  Why are we envious of the wealthy?  What does it mean to us to have money, to yearn for it?  Instead of providing an insightful document on the U.S.’s religion of greenbacks, it takes hunger for cash for granted.

Sure, we meet the guy who keeps a lid on his expenditures, except the stay cats he feeds every night and the stripper friends he visits; we even see the literal ruin of a man due to the cash (his siblings hired a hit man so they could acquire the wealth).  But Lucky doesn’t get the pick axe to the heart (so to speak) and leaves an aftertaste just slightly better than the Inside Edition clips it uses.

When a Vietnamese lottery winner’s wife stops the interview when it becomes too emotional, it stands in metaphorically for the film overall.  It could go deeper, but maybe it hurts too much.