Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
Military marksman Col. Jim McQuade (Gregory Hines, Running Scared) is called into top-secret duty to neutralize a surveillance robot gone haywire in San Francisco. It won't be easy, because for one thing, the android is undetectable from a human. For another, it has a built-in nuclear bomb that will detonate upon imminent threat.
I plead guilty: My friends and I have goofed around with a camcorder before and made stupid movies, but we were smart enough to know that no one outside ourselves would think they were funny. If only the makers of Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas realized the same.
Where Do We Go Now? is easier to admire than praise. An
Arabic-language film that’s part comedy, tragedy and musical, it was a
surprise hit at the Toronto Film Festival, winning the People’s Choice
Award. But while this Middle East fantasy certainly has good intentions,
they aren’t enough to keep it afloat.
Slated to open Friday at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, 2501 W. Memorial, the movie is set in an isolated Lebanese village with an uneasy truce between the town’s Christian and Muslim populations. The peacekeepers are the women — Christian and Muslim alike — who distract the men’s bellicose tendencies any way they can, whether it’s hiring a Ukrainian striptease artists or sedating the guys with hash-laden sweets.
It’s Lysistrata by way of Al-Jazeera.
Writer-director Nadine Labaki is part of the ensemble cast as Amal, a Christian widow and restaurant owner who has one of the film’s better scenes, an effective (if unsubtle) speech in which she admonishes the men for their violence. “You think we’re just here to mourn you?” she screams.
But most of Where Do We Go Now? is burdened with comedy that relies on the conceit that all the men in town are idiots. The drama, meanwhile, feels overwrought.
It’s a mess, albeit an occasionally intriguing one. The film opens with a group of women — dressed in black, hands over their hearts — walking in step toward a cemetery on the outskirts of town. They are en route to mourn the deaths of husbands and brothers, fathers and sons. The women’s movements vacillate between a march and a synchronized dance.
The image is beautiful and quirky, and it’s a promise that isn’t quite fulfilled by what follows.