Is there a more perfect example of an early-’80s exploitation film than the 1983 classic of the women-in-prison genre, Chained Heat? Let’s examine the evidence:
• Gratuitous sex, nudity and violence? — Check!
• Outrageous and potentially offensive exploitation of racial, sexual (both straight and lesbian), crime, and drug-related themes? — Yup!
• Does the film star Linda Blair, John Vernon, Sybil Danning or Stella Stevens? — All four!
• Pam Grier or Tamara Dobson present? — No Pam, but Tamara is on the scene!
• Explosions and gunfights? — You betcha!
• Sex in a hot tub — Oh yeah!
• A bizarre and disturbing creature present? — Does a stuffed leopard with light-up eyes count?
What more do you need to know? Get yourself down to the Cult Fiction Underground underneath Logue’s Black Raven Emporium this weekend, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. and be prepared for quality entertainment! While you’re waiting, check out the NSFW (could there be any other kind for this film?) trailer!
After an indifferent week at a local multiplex back in July, it seemed that Fill the Void was going to be just another of those independent/foreign films that slips through the cracks. Thankfully, the Nashville Jewish Film Festival has stepped in to give the film a one-night return — 7 p.m. tonight at The Belcourt — to the benefit of cinephiles throughout the city.
In a Haredi community in Tel Aviv, an unspeakable loss leaves a family besieged on all sides. Young Shira (Hadas Yaron, in one of the finest performances of the year), coming into her own as a woman, is devoted to her sister Esther (Renana Raz). Esther's marriage to the kind and dreamy Yochay (Yiftach Klein) has been blessed with a child, and Shira finds a great deal of joy living vicariously through her older sister.
But when Esther dies in childbirth, the family is faced with a double dilemma: Should Yochay be married off to a recent widow in Belgium — or should he take Shira as his bride, as is levirate custom, despite her own plans for marriage? The newborn child only makes circumstances more and more complicated.
Boasting one of its strongest lineups yet, the 14th annual Nashville Jewish Film Festival begins tonight with a 5:30 cocktail supper at Cabana, followed 7:30 p.m. at The Belcourt by the Nashville premiere of Eran Riklis’ well-reviewed drama Zaytoun, starring Stephen Dorff as a downed Israeli pilot rescued by a 12-year-old Palestinian boy. A $75 ticket covers both dinner and the movie, while the screening alone is $10.
Coming entries include one of the most acclaimed Israeli films of recent years, Rama Burshtein’s marital drama Fill the Void; a retrospective of Jeremy Paul Kagan’s 1981 cult favorite The Chosen; Michael Cantor’s self-explanatory Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy; the doc When Comedy Went to School, about the comics who honed their craft in the Catskills; and the banned-in-22-Arab-nations terrorist-aftermath thriller The Attack, directed by Ziad Doueiri (a longtime Tarantino associate who also worked on the Nashville-shot actioner The Expert back in the ’90s).
Screenings are split this year among several venues, including The Belcourt, the Franklin Theatre and the Gordon Jewish Community Center. Watch Country Life and the Scene for updates, and click here for information on tickets, films and screening times.
It could have been a devil-child movie, like The Omen or another of its ilk, with an adorable moppet racking up a body count while the outside world is helpless in its grasp — but what if the child is actually one of the scions of an intergalactic warlord, his progeny sown across the cosmos like time-delayed grenades of pint-sized perniciousness with the help of corporate allies? It could have been a Carrie rip-off with a flaxen-haired girl reaching out through the air with rage itself to smite her enemies — but what if we also bring in giant flocks of birds, because they're on the same psychic wavelength? It could even have been a Star Wars-like epic tale of a ceaseless battle between the forces of balance and the forces of chaos — but what if it's framed like a Bible epic, and we take more of a Love Boat-style approach to casting and bring in some of your '50s and '60s favorites?
The thing to understand about The Visitor, showing midnight this Friday and Saturday at The Belcourt, is that it is all of those things at once. And so much more. Partially shot (and mostly set) in Atlanta, it's an Italian-made soak in a giant hot tub filled with insanity juice.
All right, let’s just cut the bullshit and call Last Vegas what it really is — Grumpy Old Hungover Men. (I’m sure I won’t be the only critic who comes up with that title.)
Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline play four childhood buddies who travel to Sin City to celebrate Douglas’s tanned-to-hell character getting hitched to a pretty young thang. Kline’s surprisingly agile old man gets a condom and a Viagra pill from his wife (Joanna Gleason), who gives him her permission to get his freak on, while Freeman’s cardiac-prone fogey just wants to have a good time and escape his too-concerned son (Michael Ealy). Meanwhile, longtime romantic rivals Douglas and De Niro go head-to-head for the affections of a lounge singer (a MILF-alicious Mary Steenburgen).
As you’d expect, it’s goofy and routine as all get out. Director Jon Turteltaub (those damn National Treasure movies) seems to have made this movie for no other reason than to see these Oscar winners make wisecracks about getting old, but the foursome maintains a dignified, wink-wink playfulness that offsets all the cringe-worthy shit they do.
However, the scene where they judge a poolside bikini contest while that guy from LMFAO grinds his junk in their faces may make you wonder if they’ve reached the age where they shouldn’t make decisions on their own anymore.
Dino De Laurentiis’ 1976 remake of King Kong has been vilified over the years as a big simian flop. Truth be told, the movie made ape-fist loads of money and really isn’t that bad. Sure, it’s kind of “meh” compared to the original, but it does have some beautiful ape-suit acting from special effects master Rick Baker, and the young Jessica Lange is charming and certainly easy on the eyes.
Dino’s belated sequel, 1986’s King Long Lives, however, is a monkey turd of epic proportions — but that just means there's more fun to fling at its expense. The movie starts with the revelation that truckloads of 50-cal bullets and a fall from the World Trade Center didn’t kill the big guy: it just put him in a coma for 10 years. All he needs to be back up and chasing blondes is the transplant of one big honkin’ mechanical heart. Things get more complicated when a female Kong is captured to provide the King with a blood transfusion plus a little monkey spanky on the side.
This big ball of gorilla butt cheese just gets better from there. Don’t miss it tonight and Saturday at 8 and 10 p.m. in the Cult Fiction Underground underneath Logue’s Black Raven Emporium.
Got your tickets yet for tonight's opening night kickoff of the 2013 International Black Film Festival of Nashville, featuring an advance screening of The Best Man Holiday? In the new Scene, Ron Wynn tells why you shouldn't wait:
As the IBFF begins its 2013 fall festival Thursday, running through Nov. 3, they have plenty to celebrate. The first is the opening-night event, the U.S. premiere of the much-anticipated sequel The Best Man Holiday. The second is the relocation of the festival screenings to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's 700-seat CMA Theater, a move [festival chief Hazel] Joyner-Smith says was critical for IBFFN.
"This gives us downtown proximity and also a central location for our events," Joyner-Smith says. "We started working months ago on lining up Best Man Holiday for our opening night. Unfortunately, it took so long for the studio to finally decide to go with us for the national premiere it got backed up against the rollout for the press campaign. So we won't have anyone here from the film for a Q&A, but there will be a studio representative to discuss the production and its importance."
The Best Man was a sizable hit in 1999, a relationship/buddy comedy/drama about secrets, alliances and surprises among old friends reuniting for a wedding. It may have been most notable for the sterling cast it assembled, catching talents such as Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan and Harold Perrineau on their way up. Again written and directed by Malcolm D. Lee, the sequel checks in with the group 15 years later as they gather during the Christmas holidays, bringing back excellent performers such as Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Regina Hall and Melissa De Souza.
The screening is 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Country Music Hall of Fame's CMA Theater, where the festival continues through Sunday with films, panels, workshops and parties; for ticket info and a full schedule, click here.
From this week's Scene:
"Paris is the subject of a tale as hackneyed and legendary as Cinderella's slipper," reads the filmmakers' statement about the legendary 1963 documentary Le Joli Mai (The Lovely Month of May). "No one can boast of having owned it; no one can boast of having worn it. Better to await Paris patiently, and observe it without seeking to surprise it." The attribution of those words is ambiguous, like so much else involving its co-director, the late Chris Marker, who died last year on his 91st birthday. (When asked to provide a photo, he frequently substituted a cat's for his own.) But the playful wit, boundless curiosity and spirit of intellectual adventure sound like Marker's own.
Shooting just after the spring 1962 accords that ended the Algerian War, Marker and co-director/cinematographer Pierre Lhomme offer a prismatic view of Paris during the first time since 1939 that the country had not been at war. Juxtaposing the city's private and public life — weddings and funerals, natives and immigrants, salesmen and schoolkids, the possibility of space travel and the lure of a long-awaited apartment — the directors record the moment's optimism even as they question and complicate it.
Now touring the country courtesy of Icarus Films, in a black-and-white digital restoration supervised by Lhomme, the movie screens two days only at The Belcourt: on Sunday, Oct. 27 (with Jonathan Rattner, filmmaker and assistant director of Vanderbilt's film studies program, discussing the film after the 4:40 p.m. screening), and Wednesday, Oct. 30.
Click here for show times.
Earlier this month, WikiLeaks launched a pre-emptive strike of sorts when it published a letter from the organization's founder, Julian Assange, to Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Assange in Bill Condon's biopic The Fifth Estate.
Cumberbatch had asked if the two could meet, but Assange declined, saying in the letter that a meeting would "validate this wretched film, and endorse the talented, but debauched, performance that the script will force you to give."
"I believe you are a good person," Assange wrote to the British actor, "but I do not believe that this is a good film."
With a minor edit, that could work as a blurb for The Fifth Estate's poster: "Benedict Cumberbatch is a great actor, but this is not a great film."
In this week's Scene, Michael Sicinski writes about the most gripping documentary we've seen this year: Let the Fire Burn, Jason Osder's chilling account of urban warfare on a residential block of an American city. It plays Sunday through Tuesday at The Belcourt, and it's likely to end up on our list of the year's best films.
From the review:
Let the Fire Burn is a film composed entirely of pre-existing footage. There are no talking heads or re-enactments. Filmmaker Jason Osder has gone back to reassemble the contemporary coverage, and the official city council postmortem, of the 1985 police raid on the urban commune MOVE in Philadelphia that led to 11 deaths. A radical black-consciousness group headed by John Africa, MOVE was at odds with police, city officials and the commune's neighbors, many of whom objected to the group's activities, which included blasting obscenities over loudspeakers and piling their yard with rat-attracting compost. The police, for their part, had a chip on their shoulder regarding MOVE, since an earlier raid had resulted in the death of a Philly cop. (MOVE maintained it wasn't responsible.)
Osder's film is structured as a harrowing narrative spiral into inevitability. Mostly organized around the hearing in which city politicians, former MOVE members, the police and fire chiefs and Philly DA Ed Rendell (who would go on to be a pillar of Democratic politics) sought (or shirked) accountability, the film demonstrates certain unavoidable facts. MOVE was a cult, and unlike most cults with their isolated compounds, the group was ensconced in a brownstone in the middle of a city block. This presented unheard-of tactical problems.
You have no idea, unless you see the movie — which we strongly recommend. Read the rest of the piece here. (It also covers another documentary Sicinski recommends, God Loves Uganda — whose director, Roger Ross Williams, will discuss the movie via Skype 3:20 p.m. Saturday at The Belcourt with Scene reporter Steven Hale moderating.)
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