Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

One of the best parts of Netflix’s streaming service is the instant access to content produced in every corner of the globe, from underground cult sensations to award-winning festival fare. For those with stronger stomachs and a thirst for genre films, Netflix now offers an ultra-violent prison film, a gut-wrenching drama based on real life serial killings and a gorgeous Chinese horror.

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! Lots of fantastic (and not so fantastic) titles hitting shelves today including one of the year’s best comedies, an Academy Award winner for Best Film, a near-hilariously bad Korean monster movie, Drafthouse Films’ newest release and more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Sound of Noise Amadeus Warnebring is a detective with a not-so-secret disdain for music thanks to a family that displayed immense and near constant talent for the art, but when a group of musical terrorists begin threatening the city with impromptu performances he’s tasked with overcoming his issues to catch the culprits and prevent the musical apocalypse. You really shouldn’t need more than that synopsis to encourage you to seek this movie out, but I’ll add that this Swedish film is a rare original and filled with laughs and honestly enjoyable music. Check out my full review.

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The average movie run time is somewhere around the ninety minute mark. (I have no stats to back that statement up, but it feels about right.) There are several reasons for this, but the two most common probably have as much to do with the short attention span of audiences as it does the desire of studios and theaters to fit more screenings in per day. To those I would add that most movies don’t need more than two hours to tell their story. But some do. Think Schindler’s List, The Godfather Part II, and JFK. These are big movies telling big stories, and they show that sometimes a film needs a longer canvas. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is not one of those films. Which is unfortunate, because in every regard other than time management this is a fairly fascinating and engaging character drama.

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Wouldn’t you bloody well know it. Before the festival was tarnished by the Von Trier/Nazi scandal, all anyone seemed interested in talking about was the way Terrence Malick‘s latest had split the audiences in attendance almost straight down the middle. Not only that, The Tree of Life also inspired a rejuvenated debate over the nature of film, and the sometimes opposing ideals of entertainment and art. I ended my review stating that your reception of the film would depend entirely on what you valued more in your film-making experience, and it seems we now know that the Jury values the art of something over its entertainment value. Neither approach is necessarily right or wrong, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the film was already chosen before even the first minutes of footage rolled. Held up to the light, The Tree of Life looks exactly like a Cannes film, something eccentric enough, with grand enough aspirations and some sort of importance that extends beyond what we can actually see. And that troubles me somewhat: should a film win because it fits the artistic manifesto of the festival, or should it win on quality? Robert DeNiro‘s comment after the decision answers precisely that: It seemed to have the size, the importance, the tension to fit the prize. Not, “it was fantastic,” not “it moved me,” but it fit the bill.

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Holy Hollywood, the selections for this year’s Cannes Film Festival (both confirmed and mostly-confirmed) are a star-studded bunch so far, if the rumormongers are to be believed, anyway. The news is coming pretty quick-fire at the minute, so I’ll run down the latest… First off, yesterday French site Le Figaro announced that Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides will play on the Croisette out of competition on Saturday May 14th, before it opens to French cinemas on May 18th and in the US on the 20th. This is one I was half-expecting, given the coincidental release dates, and the fact that there are traditionally a couple of mainstream releases showing out of competition at the fest. The third out of competition (joining Pirates and Terrence Malick’s already announced Tree of Life) looks likely to be Kung Fu Panda 2, according to Thompson on Hollywood, who say the 3D Dreamworks sequel starring Jack Black will follow Jeff Katzenberg’s tradition of bringing a DreamWorks project to Cannes to take advantage of a “worldwide marketing blitz.”

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