Sophia Takal

heart machine still

Spoiler warning: If you haven’t watched the first ten episodes of this season of House of Cards, there are some small potential spoilers ahead. One of the strange things about small screen programming and binge-watching is that opinions can form, break, change, and reform in a matter of days and hours, not over the course of whole weeks and months. Earlier this week and on the tail of watching just the first episode of the second season of House of Cards, I happily penned a bit of a rating system for who viewers should be rooting for this season, and although I won’t detail just how and by whom I have been disappointed, mere days later, I’m already scoffing at my own early predictions and hopes for a season that has become more about diminishing returns than building up good stories and good characters. But although plenty of House of Cards has crumbled into soap opera-styled twists and double-crosses that are increasingly hard to believe, there is one plotline that continues to maintain both intrigue and interest – the near-imprisonment of former prostitute Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan), who has unexpectedly found solace in a close new friend, in the form of Kate Lyn Sheil as the strangely soothing Lisa Williams. The duo met early in the second season, when Lisa reached out to Rachel on the bus to query her about her musical choices. For Rachel, so long trapped by Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), the concept of a friend was […]

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Editor’s note: Sundance screamfest V/H/S finally hits theaters this week after a successful VOD run, so here’s a re-run of our original review, first posted on January 26, 2012. Chilling! The brainchild of producer Brad Miska, horror anthology film V/H/S features five shorts (and one wrap-around story) from a variety of genre directors, writers, and actors handily proves that the found footage genre is far from dead and there’s plenty of new material to bleed. The film’s “wrap-around” section features a group of Jackass-inspired wankers who get their kicks by filming mayhem and destruction. Dispatched by a mysterious person to break into a house and steal something, they agree – partly for the laughs, partly for the pay-off. The item they must procure? A simple, singular VHS tape. The actual mission? Multi-level and rife with unexpected complications.

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What’s always most exciting about film festivals is the range of different films available for watching and enjoying – all within the same period of time, and often in the same venues. That’s just as evident as ever in this year’s Tribeca Film Festival line-up, a festival that has kicked off with The Five-Year Engagement, will end with The Avengers, and will show over 200 films in between. Our first round of Tribeca reviews only highlights that variety of films, as it include a French actioner, an true American independent, and a dramedy about ladies of the night. After the break, check out mini reviews for Sleepless Night, Supporting Characters, and Elles – all very different Tribeca Film Festival films, and all films likely to find their own unique audiences in the Big Apple and beyond.

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With AFI FEST 2011 presented by Audi rapidly approaching, the festival has just announced their first slate of film selections, including the full line-up for three of the festival’s most unique and important sections – Young Americans (which features film from up-and-coming American filmmakers), New Auteurs (which gives a platform for first and second features from around the world), and Spotlight (which picks one filmmaker for special recognition and screenings of their work). This year’s AFI FEST is already shaping up to be a fine festival for the fall season (alliteration is so choice), and the announcement of these selections only highlights that. Today’s announced films include a bevy of already buzzed-about titles from the festival circuit, including Sophia Takal’s Green, Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Attenberg, Michaël R. Roskam’s Bullhead, Markus Schleinzer’s Michael, Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown, Clay Liford’s Wuss, Alison Bagnall’s The Dish & The Spoon, and many more. This year’s Spotlight will also shine on filmmaker Joe Swanberg, who will show all three films of his Full Moon Trilogy, including the World Premiere of the final chapter, The Zone. AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. The best part? Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting October 27). After the break, check out the full list and descriptions of the films to be featured in AFI FEST’s New Auteurs, Young Americans, and Spotlight sections.

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