Incendies

Culture Warrior

I often find that, as a devotee to cinema and little else, I understand history through cinema. After all, cinema can take me to places I’ve never been and times I never lived with a particular sensory gestalt that’s simply not quite the same in other art forms. This is not to say that I make the mistake of substituting cinema for history, or treat cinema the same way I would treat a credible historical annal. But cinema, especially narrative fiction, has a fascinating capacity to represent subjective experiences and particular perspectives of history. By considering history through its cinematic representation, we may not become authorities of chronology, but rather understand emotions and experiences associated with lived events. Few movies claim to be comprehensive authorities of historical representation through cinema (and yes, selection, while problematic is essential for historical writing as well, but cinema simply provides yet another layer of artifice). Some films are canonized as such (anything from Saving Private Ryan to Ken Burns’s documentaries), but even as these are incomplete historiographies, they are in a sense “complete” biographies of thought, reflection, interpretation, and emotion.

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Whether you’re trying to avoid the releases this week or augment them with even more movies, Your Alternate Box Office offers some options for movies that would play perfectly alongside of (or instead of) the stuff studios are shoving into the megaplex this weekend. This week features a ring master with an anger problem, a cross-dressing grandma(n) with a big family, French Canadians in the Middle East and enough product placement to choke an E-CyboPooch.

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Incendies is a film of considerable scope and ambition, an epic that follows young French Canadian siblings on a search for their mother’s Middle Eastern roots. Written and directed by Denis Villeneuve, from a play by Wajdi Mouawad, it’s a feast of sweeping hillsides and vast villages, high-end melodramatic set pieces and restrained, quieter moments. Infused with mystery, tragedy and humor, serving as a genealogical study and Greek tragedy wrapped in one, it’s a fine achievement of bold, deeply felt cinema. The picture commands your attention from its opening frames, commencing with the slow-motion and ominously dreamlike image of an anonymous Middle Eastern boy’s head being shaved by a gun-toting elder. Radiohead’s “Like Spinning Plates” plays. From there, the picture gingerly segues into what’s, in simplest terms, a multigenerational detective story. After the death of Canadian immigrant Nawal Marwan (Lubna Azabal), her children (daughter Jeanne and son Simon) are shocked when the executor reveals letters, penned by their mother, which she wants delivered to their thought-to-be-dead father and a previously unknown brother.

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The Reject Report

…for Elephants! But seriously, that’s a lot of possessive apostrophes going on in that title. If I wanted to do a remake of this movie – I could. I have the funds – who would I have to get the rights from? Madea? Tyler Perry? Oprah? There’s a lot of ownage going on in here. Lionsgate is hoping for a lot of ownage at the box office this weekend, too. I know you saw what I did there. That I’m pointing it out is chalked up to arrogance. The elephants, cats, and birds of the world might have something to say about it, but there’s little chance they’ll be able to do anything about it. Let’s see how everything breaks down. That is, if Tyler Perry allows it.

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So you’ve eaten at Pita Pit and Best Wurst (because there’s nothing wrong with two lunches) and you’re scoping out theaters ready to get more movies on, but you have no idea what you’re going to see. That teary indie drama or that ridiculous sci-fi comedy? You don’t know do you? And you can’t figure it out on your own for some reason. Fortunately, we’ve created this handy guide to help you in your time of duress. Use it wisely. There’s no chance it’ll send you to the porno theater across the highway, so if you end up there, it’s on you.

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French Canadian film Incendies has gotten a trailer to promote its release in US theaters. The film is directed by Denis Villeneuve and tells the story of a set of adult twins who are set out on a journey to the Middle East by their mother’s last will and testament to find their long-lost father and sibling. It has already made a splash with critics by touring the festival circuit, gotten itself a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film by the Academy Awards, and is now set to be released in select theaters on April 22nd by Sony Pictures Classics. For all of you Oscar buffs and year-end completists, this one is going to have to be on your must see lists. Check out the trailer below:

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At the end of the 90s, famous Oscar show writer and Celebrity Fit Club contestant Bruce Vilanch claimed that, “Generally with the Oscars…there isn’t much you can do until the nominations are announced. Then you know what kind of year you’re dealing with – what’s been overlooked, what the issues are.” He was talking about preparing to write the show, but it applies to everyone from the directors, producers and stars on down to the fans. It’s fun to guess around the water cooler (your office still has a water cooler?), but until now, it’s all been speculation. Thankfully, almost all that speculation has been spot on, so we can all continue our conversations about whether Black Swan will beat The Social Network for Best Picture. Whether Natalie Portman has any true competition for Best Actress. Whether, most importantly of all, Colleen Atwood will beat Mary Zophres for Best Costume Design. Here they are. The 2011 Academy Award nominees:

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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