Indie Snapshot: The Invisible Woman and The Past

by Ethan Alter December 26, 2013 11:43 am
Indie Snapshot: <I>The Invisible Woman</I> and <i>The Past</i>

Take a break from the multiplex with the latest art house offerings from Ralph Fiennes and Asghar Farhadi.

Indie Snapshot: Blue is the Warmest Color

by Ethan Alter October 25, 2013 5:55 am
Indie Snapshot: <i>Blue is the Warmest Color</i>

You can't get more art house than a Palme d'Or winning, three-hour long, sexually explicit French film chronicling the rise and fall of a lesbian love affair. (If Seinfeld were still on the air, that sounds like it would be the logline to the inevitable Rochelle, Rochelle sequel). But Blue Is the Warmest Color mostly defies such easy designations, telling an absorbing, relatable story while also achieving an intimacy and raw emotional power that has deservedly made it a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic… though not always for reasons stemming from the movie's quality. Ever since Blue's triumphant Cannes premiere in May, controversy has dogged the production, as the behind-the-scenes tensions between director Abdellatif Kechiche and stars Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux has spilled into the public arena. (As if that's not enough, the author of the graphic novel the movie is based on, Julie Maroh, has repeatedly expressed her dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the film.) As juicy as those stories are, try not to let it distract from the film itself, which succeeds (and, in some ways, fails) entirely on its own merits.

Indie Snapshot: How Sweet It Is

by Ethan Alter May 10, 2013 6:00 am
Indie Snapshot: <i>How Sweet It Is</i>

We're only halfway through 2013, but it's unlikely that we'll see an odder cast than the one at the center of Brian Herzlinger's low-budget musical comedy How Sweet It Is. In fact, the movie is almost worth seeing solely so that, years from now, if you ever get asked the trivia question "What movie musical starred Joe Piscopo, Erika Christensen, Paul Sorvino and Eddie Griffin?" you'll be able to provide the answer, plus a plot synopsis and maybe a few bars of the title number, with complete authority.

Indie Snapshot: Unmade in China

by Ethan Alter May 3, 2013 9:22 am
Indie Snapshot: <i>Unmade in China</i>

As media reporters rarely miss an opportunity to remind us, China is rapidly becoming the world's biggest market for entertainment. Amidst the Hollywood studios in particular, getting a movie onto the nation's carefully regulated screens represents the new box office Holy Grail. To try and grease the wheels in their favor, more and more big companies are striking co-production deals with Chinese media conglomerates as a way around the lengthy, laborious approval process. The documentary Unmade in China depicts another potential way for American filmmakers to tap into this market. Unable to find domestic funding for his thriller based on the infamous "lonelygirl 15" Internet scam, indie director Gil Kofman winds up finding an interested backer in China and agrees to direct a Chinese-language version of the film on location in Xiamen, despite having never visited the country before or speaking a single word of Mandarin or any other of the country's numerous dialects.

Indie Snapshot: The We and the I

by Ethan Alter March 8, 2013 12:54 pm
Indie Snapshot: <i>The We and the I</i>

After his leaden attempt at a superhero movie, The Green Hornet, Michel Gondry gets back to his low-budget roots with The We and the I and rediscovers his formidable formal playfulness in the process. Set entirely aboard a New York city public bus on the last day of high school before summer break, the film begins with a group of rambunctious high schoolers (all of whom are played by actual teenagers from the South Bronx and members of a prominent after-school drama program) boarding the vehicle and ends when the last of them disembarks roughly an hour and a half later. Apart from a handful of flashbacks and a brief pizza run when the bus is parked in traffic, we never venture through those double doors into the outside world. The bus, in effect, becomes a high school hallway in miniature, with the kids bitching about their lives, making up (and out) with each other and, in general, flirting like mad.

Indie Snapshot: Josh Radnor Takes a Crash Course in the <i>Liberal Arts</i>

The How I Met Your Mother star tries to sweet-talk his Liberal Arts leading lady, Elizabeth Olsen, into playing his love interest this season. Also, our reviews of Arbitrage, Solomon Kane and two documentaries.

Indie Snapshot: The Intouchables

by Ethan Alter May 25, 2012 5:58 am
Indie Snapshot: <i>The Intouchables</i>

Male bonding, Gallic style

Indie Snapshot: Damsels in Distress

by Rachel Stein April 6, 2012 6:00 am
Indie Snapshot: <I>Damsels in Distress</i> In Damsels in Distress, three college girls set out to revolutionize their East Coast university through the power of intellect and dance. The film is Whit Stillman's first picture in 14 years (his last being 1998's The Last Days of Disco) and is far too coy to be successful. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Indie Snapshot: The Iron Lady, Pariah and A Separation

by Ethan Alter January 6, 2012 1:56 pm
Indie Snapshot: <i>The Iron Lady</i>, <i>Pariah</i> and <i>A Separation</i>

For the love of God, skip The Devil Inside this weekend and check out some of these independent and foreign releases instead.

Indie Snapshot: The Skin I Live In and Father of Invention

by Ethan Alter October 14, 2011 3:20 pm
Indie Snapshot: <i>The Skin I Live In</i> and <i>Father of Invention</i>

Pedro Almodóvar spins another twist-filled yarn, while Kevin Spacey's would-be comedy inspires more yawns than laughs.

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