No Man’s Land


We made a point with this year’s “Best of” lists to only include titles that received a U.S. release in 2014, but I’m not going to stick with that here. Foreign language films in particular can be difficult to highlight and give attention to if forced to wait for a proper American release — 2000’s Battle Royale, for example, took over a decade before getting a U.S. release — and many titles only see festival screenings before leaving our shores for good. So while the majority of the films below have been released in some form or other here in the States five of them remain outside the system. The odds are that some of them will debut here in 2015, and we’ll spread the word if and when that happens.


NYAFF 2014

NYAFF 2014 runs June 27-July 14 in New York City. Follow all of our coverage here. Pan (Xu Zheng) just wants to go home. After a hard stretch of work — he’s a lawyer who used sleazy tactics to get his cop-killing, falcon-poaching client off — he just wants to leave this Podunk town in rural China behind and get back to Beijing. His amoral and unapologetic client, known only as Boss (Duo Bujie), claims to not have Pan’s full fee so the lawyer takes his car as collateral and heads out on what should be a simple drive across part of the Gobi desert. Of course it ends up being anything but simple. A run-in with a pair of vindictive truckers sets in motion a chain of events that sees him running afoul of Boss’ henchman, some rest stop scam artists and eventually of Boss himself. Pan keeps moving forward in the belief that his position in society, his superior attitude and his cash-filled wallet are all he needs to thrive, but he soon discovers he’ll need more than that if he wants to survive. No Man’s Land feels at times like a Chinese desert-set After Hours with vehicular mayhem replacing Cheech and Chong, and it’s as good as that sounds. Director Ning Hao‘s latest is an exciting and energetic romp across a gorgeous yet deadly landscape that manages both surface-level thrills and a deeper, more vicious commentary on modern-day China.


Rza Directing

Anyone who spent their teen years driving around in their mother’s hand-me-down car with the windows rolled down and the Wu Tang Clan blaring on the stereo knows that the RZA, the GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, the Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, U-God, and the Masta Killa have a deep, abiding love of kung-fu movies. And, in the years since their musical heyday, RZA has taken this love further by composing the score for modern martial arts movies like Ghost Dog and Kill Bill, by trying his hand at being an actor, and even by becoming a director with his upcoming martial arts epic The Man with the Iron Fists. RZA doesn’t plan on stopping there either, apparently his experience directing a movie was so positive that he’s already lined up two more projects.


The Dark Knight Returns

As superhero movies go, few have been as highly anticipated as Christopher Nolan’s final outing as captain of the Batman franchise. The Dark Knight Rises received a level of hype and hoopla second only to the superhero Cobb salad that is Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, and now, finally, the long-awaited Friday has arrived. So once you see the movie, what happens if your eyeballs remain unquenched of their thirst for Gotham’s caped protector? With the future of the franchise uncertain, might we offer the alternative of returning to some of the printed source material from whence it came? I’m no comic book expert, that much is clear any time I speak with the true comic literati. However, Batman is the one character I’ve read in-depth and he continues to be my favorite hero. While watching The Dark Knight Rises, I became antsy to go home and read some of my favorite stories. Below is a list of Batman comics we highly recommend that you tear into should a similar inclination grip you. Be forewarned: the reason this article is titled as such is that some of these stories will spoil elements that comprise the surprises of Nolan’s film. See the movie first, then read…


The Cannes Film Festival is about far more than just the Competition titles, and the Cannes Classics line-up allows those willing to broaden their focus to experience often seminal works on the big-screen for the first time. Last year, I nearly got to see The African Queen for instance, but was sadly unable thanks to a clash in the chaotic screening schedule. This year, I’m determined to see at least one of the just-announced films in the line-up, and I shall not be thwarted. Unless there’s something, like really good on at the same time… Anyway, the official Cannes site has today released the Classics, and features some of the most important films in cinematic history, including the restored color version of Georges Méliès’ A Trip To The Moon, beefed up with a brand new soundtrack from French hipsters AIR, plus restored prints of A Clockwork Orange and special screenings of Bertolucci’s The Conformist and De Niro’s A Bronx Tale. That’s some line-up for what is usually considered only a tertiary concern out on the Croisette. The full line-up is as follows:

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published: 12.23.2014
published: 12.22.2014
published: 12.19.2014

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