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Posts Tagged ‘four stars’


Review: Primer

Directed by Shane Carruth.
Starring Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden, Anand Upadhyaya and Carrie Crawford.

We live in a pretty interesting time for movies, from a technical standpoint. They’ve become so cheap to make that any two-bit hack can get a camera, shoot his own feature and edit it on his Mac. And, here’s the best part: Hollywood will actually distribute it. This is both good and bad. You get outright crap like The Blair Witch Project, you get derivative crap like Napoleon Dynamite, and then, on a really good day, you get surprising, impressive stuff like Shane Carruth’s $7,000 debut feature, Primer.

Carruth hides his extremely low budget pretty well. Shooting it on film rather than digital video was a good choice. For the most part, he knows what to do with the camera, too — the colors are terrific, and the film is mostly well-framed, only infrequently suffering from too-eager-to-impress camerawork. Much of the dialogue in the first half hour seems to have been re-edited, with lots of shots obscuring the actors’ mouths and more shots where the voices and the mouths don’t really match up. It’s a common enough trick for avoiding extensive reshoots, but it’s not usually used as pervasively as it is in Primer‘s first act. The result is a little bizarre, but given the film’s budget, you have to overlook some of the film’s technical quirks.


Review: City of God

Directed by Kátia Lund and Fernando Meirelles.
Starring Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino da Hora, Phellipe Haagensen, and Douglas Silva.

Films like City of God are hard to recommend. In its company, I would include Amor es Perros and Requiem for a Dream: they are brutal, heart-wrenching movies to watch, let alone enjoy, though undeniably well-written, well-acted, and well-filmed.

City of God, a 2004 Academy Award nominee for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Cinematography, is the “based on a true story” tale of an aspiring photographer, Buscapé (Alexandre Rodrigues), centering largely on his relationship with Little Zé (the riveting Leandro Firmino da Hora), a demented childhood acquaintance who becomes a psychopathic crime lord of a slum outside of Rio de Janeiro.