Long Center for the Performing Arts
"...Its new composition, Music for One City and Six Drummers is a revolutionary piece designed to thwart government restrictions and thumb a nose at the musical establishment. It’s a work in four movements, each movement occurring flash-mob-style at a specific location..."
"...Shot in a faux home-brew documentary style that manages to feel both way too intimate and frequently surreal, Project X chronicles the 17th birthday of Thomas (a pitch-perfect Mann), which begins when his parents leave town for the weekend and ends with something approximating the destruction of Cloverfield. There's no monster here, but that handheld camera turns out to be one of the film's major strengths, as it mirrors the constantly shifting emotions of the main characters and the increasingly outrageous (and potentially life-threatening) events surrounding them..."
"...The film’s visual style is a throwback to classic studio movies: epic in composition, drenched in widescreen vistas, and framed by bold background colors. Spielberg’s typically emotive storytelling only comes to the fore in a few of the film’s pivotal action scenes, a couple of which are truly spectacular and remind us only all too well of what this film might have been..."
"...His youth in Nazi-occupied Paris offers one of the film's most memorable moments when an anti-Semitic propaganda poster comes to life and chases young Serge down the cobbles. Flash forward to the 1950s and the polymorphously perverse sensualist is trying his hand at everything from painting to lounge singing before hitting on the exactly right mélange of anti-style, wild musical talent, and timing..."
"...Assistance of the Robin Hood variety arrives in the form of benevolent, local Shaolin monks, who do what they can until they can do no more and then begin raiding the wealthy generals’ food stores, ninja-style, distributing sacks of rice and generally embodying the Buddha's teachings in an exemplary manner. Paranoid (or more likely up to date on his Sun Tzu), Hou betrays and kills General Sung but loses everything in the process, including the love of his wife and the life of his beloved daughter...."
"...Buoyed by top-notch digital effects – you'll believe a troll can lurch! – and a surprisingly affecting turn from Jespersen as a man who really, really loathes his job, Trollhunter plays like the Brothers Grimm meets Cloverfield with a hint of Monty Python-esque ridiculousness. For a small indie film from Norway, Trollhunter rocks it gargantuan style and then some...."
"...But, no, it’s just part of our stark introduction to the amoral serial killer Kyung-chul (Choi, who is best known stateside as the star of Oldboy). Kim’s South Korean revenge drama is a nasty piece of work, yet it’s executed with superlative style and wit..."
"...Not reviewed at press time. Proving that Jane Austen adaptations never go out of style, Aisha offers a Bollywood interpretation of Austen's novel Emma...."
"...In fact, the most interesting character in this drama may be Stravinsky’s sickly wife, Katarina (Morozova), who, as the composer’s greatest advocate and adviser, frequently leans toward doing what is best for his music rather than her marriage. The filmmaking style is rote biopic mode; events sinuously follow one another yet disclose few details..."
"...Based on a novel by Peter Cameron, the script is by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the screenwriter responsible for most of the Merchant Ivory canon. Typical of a Merchant Ivory film, The City of Your Final Destination exudes a tasteful quality and style: It is exquisitely cast, lovely to look at and listen to, finely edited, and so on..."
"...Starring: Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Filippo Timi, Fausto Russo Alesi, Michela Cescon, Pier Giorgio Bellocchio, Corrado Invernizzi and Paolo Pierobon. The long-scuttled tragic story of the lives of Ida Dalser, the first wife of Benito Mussolini, and their child, Benito Albino (Mussolini’s first-born), is brought to the screen with arresting style by Italian director Bellocchio..."
"...The audience can try sleuthing it out all it wants; the clues are there, but it takes absorbing the trilogy as a piece to make sense of them. In Julian Jarrold’s RR: 1974, a dolorous thing thrumming with style, it hardly mattered; the artistry of the filmmaking trumped all..."
"...I'm really hoping that Kevin Smith picked up enough comic material during his recent fracas/hullabaloo/altercation with Southwest Airlines to generate a scathing fusillade of vitriolic satire aimed at the airline industry – Jay and Silent Bob Get High(er), maybe? – because it's going to take a serious amount of classic Kevin Smithery to purge the sub-fun Cop Out from fans’ memories. What was supposed to be a Smithy homage to 1980s-style buddy-cop action comedies à la 48 Hrs..."
"...(The sets are despairingly realized with a dead man's palette by production designer Dante Ferretti and photographed with horrific flair by Robert Richardson.) Visual comparisons to Scorsese's canny do-over of Cape Fear are apt, but Teddy's tenuous, paranoid grip on the truth is straight out of Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor. Shutter Island may feel, on the face of it, like one of Scorsese's lesser films, but that's only because it places itself squarely in the center of what novelist Robert McCammon once called the “horror ghetto." This is low art done with high style from a filmmaker who has always known which shadows the real monsters are hiding in..."
"...One other clever gambit is so outlandish, so Swiftian in its brazen improbability, that the positive reaction it receives from the corporate side is, frankly, nauseating (think Soylent Green). Directed and edited with verve and style, the film, in the end, is unlikely to save the world per se, but the Yes Men’s bravery and unflagging sense of optimistically doomed humor – which comes across as a quixotic version of Monty Python by way of Upton Sinclair – is to be applauded and, wherever possible, acted upon...."
"...Think film festivals are all about dour, arty indie pics? Yeah, that’s not really SXSW’s style...."
"...One of the more surreal docs to come down the pike in some time, Afghan Star follows a group of male and female contestants from across Afghanistan in what is essentially an Afghan version of American Idol. Shot in an iffy, hand-held style, Afghan Star intersperses these images with sit-down sequences to help rough out the backstories of the 10, then seven, then three surviving contestants until one is crowned the new Afghan Star and awarded a $5,000 cash prize in Kabul some months later..."
"...Mostly, however, we see Chanel as a dispassionate and aloof playmate who never finds the happiness she desires. Fontaine (The Girl From Monaco) also shows Chanel’s individual sense of style as she strips off the frou-frou from dresses and hats and – voilà – transforms articles of clothing into visions that are uniquely hers..."
"...At once a gripping recent-history lesson, a textbook example of how to be a successful homegrown terrorist (depending, of course, on one's definition of “successful”), and a black-leather primer on the importance of haute couture when undertaking violent, revolutionary actions (something the previous German generation fully understood and embraced), The Baader Meinhof Complex is explosive stuff. Director Edel (Christiane F., Last Exit to Brooklyn) chronicles the birth and surprisingly lengthy life span of the West German domestic terror cadre, the Red Army Faction, and does so in grim high style and with precious little agitprop..."
"...When the scantily clad and perpetually gratingly buxom sisters of Theta Pi decide to get back at one of their own's straying boyfriend, Garrett (Matt O'Leary), they devise a none-too-clever plan to fake the weaselly creep out by pretending that his girlfriend has accidentally overdosed on the Rohypnol (aka roofies, the date-rape drug) he's given her. So far, so bitchy, but the gag predictably goes genre-style wrong when Garrett's horrified coup de gross to the faux dead Theta ends in her actual demise..."
"...Starring: Arta Dobroshi, Jérémie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione and Alban Ukaj. The latest film from the Belgian Dardenne brothers keeps with their award-winning and highly recognizable realist style of storytelling..."
"...Bland to the point of pointlessness, Post Grad follows the inane romantic and career highs and lows of perky optimist Ryden Malby (Bledel) as she burrows, ferretlike, into and out of the job market while surrounded by the type of pseudo-kooky nuclear family usually relegated to Disney Channel movies or upbeat Lifetimers. Co-produced by Ivan Reitman, who should know better, and directed with an utter absence of style by Shrek's Jenson, this is the very definition of cookie-cutter filmmaking, a strange hybrid of subgenres (post-teen comedy, oddball family outing) that brings to mind nothing so much as elements of The Devil Wears Prada and Little Miss Sunshine fused together and then stripped of anything that might make the final product even remotely unique, satisfying, or borderline interesting..."
"...In short, it's the most original and entertaining sci-fi film in ages. Produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Canada-based filmmaker Blomkamp, much of District 9 is shot in a documentary, "you are here" style, and where you are is Johannesburg (Blomkamp is is a native of South Africa and grew up in Jo'Burg), a densely populated metropolis over which hovers a dead alien spacecraft of immense proportions..."
"...Arkin, a housebreaker with a heart of gold – much is made of his dedication to his own young daughter – opts to burgle the Chases’ home and retrieve a fist-sized gemstone he knows is secreted in an upstairs safe. The film kicks into Saw-style overdrive when, in the midst of cracking the combination, Arkin discovers he is not alone, and a far worse sort of home invader, the titular Collector (Fernández, sporting a bizarre full-head mask that looks as though it's made entirely of scorched marshmallows) has arrived to install some unspecified home improvements of his own..."
"...To summarize more would spoil the fun, and Drag Me to Hell is nada if not a big, crimson bucketful of fun. Raimi pairs his love of Three Stooges-style physical comedy with moments of pure gross-out schtick (Dig that anvil scene! Groovy!) and ends up with one of the purest and flat-out satisfying horror films in decades..."
"...You probably know the rest: drugs, booze, women (countless), three years in a federal pen on a rape conviction, and the career-ending chomping of Evander Holyfield's ear during the pair's rematch in 1997. It was all downhill from there, and just like his fighting style, it was anything but graceful..."
"...In the opening scenes, we listen as she discusses the film Man on Wire with that night’s date before getting advice on financial investments over a nightcap before bed. Life is a series of transactions, director Soderbergh seems to be telling us in this movie, shot in quick, DV-cam style (by Soderbergh under his Peter Andrews pseudonym) during the weeks leading up to the November 2008 presidential election and the U.S..."
"...Furthermore, anyone who notices the Rudo y Cursi storyline about two brothers who play for opposing soccer teams and arrives expecting rousing scenes of athletic prowess will also find expectations quashed, because this film contains hardly any action footage whatsoever. Should you also notice that Rudo y Cursi is directed by the brother of Alfonso Cuarón (whose films run the stylistic gamut from Y Tu Mamá También and Great Expectations to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Children of Men), it’s likely you will be less than captivated by writer/director Carlos Cuarón’s utilitarian visual style and thin narrative mechanics..."
"...Scenes with Ronnie’s mom, who drinks until she passes out on the living room floor and wets herself, are painful to watch and add nothing of narrative value; other key characters, such as Ronnie’s would-be paramour, Brandi (Faris), and his actual cop nemesis (Liotta), are played as one-note foils – total ditz and ball of anger, respectively. Hill’s uninventive visual style further removes any possibility of surprise or ingenuity with its rote shot/reverse shot gambit..."
"...But it becomes harder to argue with him when planes and subway trains start crashing on cue and deadly energy bursts start working their way from the sun toward the Earth’s ozone layer. In true mid- to late-period-Cage style, Knowing is a film in which little things like acting and writing and intelligibility take a back seat to special effects..."
"...Rose, in other words, is the heroine of a Sundance-ready independent movie. Produced by the same team that scored a hit in 2006 with Little Miss Sunshine, Sunshine Cleaning isn’t much more than an exercise in style and behavior, a blueprint for young filmmakers hoping to get their dark comedies about working-class despondency into Robert Redford’s hands..."
"...(Austin scriptwriter Ernie Cline wrote the first draft prior to The Phantom Menace's release.) When one of their own, newly diagnosed with a terminal illness, stares down an expiration date prior to Episode I's release, the title's fanboys make it their holy crusade to drive cross-country to Lucas' Skywalker Ranch and break into the facility in order to watch a rough cut of the film. Fanboys is something of a slow starter; its leads, Huntington and Marquette, share a laconic acting style and poker-face resemblance, and their characters' rift isn't terribly interesting..."
"...Did I mention the wealth of anatomically correct eyeball trauma? No? Well, this way-above-average remake of George Mihalka's plodding 1981 splatter film has it in spades and asses. As one retro slasher fan to another, I kid you not: My Bloody Valentine 3D earns every bloody drop of its hard "R" rating and does so with an eye – heh, heh – toward resurrecting the moribund Eighties-style slash ’n' splash teen slaughter picture with precious little irony or Scream-esque, self-effacing commentary..."
"...A celebratory documentary that skips briskly along to cover a 60-plus-year career, Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer begins in 1941 when O'Day was discovered by the bandleader Gene Krupa and follows the artistic development of this white jazz singer whom many put in the same league as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan. With a vibratoless voice that brings to mind a French horn, O'Day took her 1940s big-band swing style and over time added new shades, such as bebop hipsterism..."
"...Paul Haggis' script (with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade) focuses not on the wages of sin but of vengeance, and they appear to be considerably more corruptive. Quantum feels, somewhat, like part two of some sort of very nasty Bond subgenre – it's a grim, dark, and relentlessly violent film throughout; James Bond as Terminator rather than Templar – but it delivers the goods in bloody high style: explosively, sexily, and with 007 shaken (not stirred) to his icy core...."
"...It’s a pattern that repeats throughout: a snatch of devastating statistic, a longer slice of performance. It’s an unsatisfying, schizophrenic style of filmmaking that sells the audience short – did Dillon think we wouldn’t be interested in the cause were it not for British songstress Natasha Bedingfield’s sad-eyed endorsement? The real problem, however, is in Dillon’s inability to take a back seat..."
"...He may have come into this old world a puzzled panther waiting to be caged, evolution a process too slow to save his soul (or his life), but Darby Crash (né Jan Paul Beahm), the mad genius-cum-L.A. punk rock junkie godhead exited in grotty, smacked-up anti-style, injecting his collapsed veins with a final, deadly dose on Dec..."
"...Robbins is quietly effective as the elder of the bunch, while Peña shows us something of the growth of a cocky kid into sobering adulthood. The film's contemporary realism differs radically in style from Burger's surprise hit The Illusionist..."
"...Parsing polling data and conducting interviews with journalists, election officials, disenchanted voters, and politicos of various ideological stripes, Fadiman lays out a timeline of that fateful day – a day that will live in infamous-itude, as our president might say – from early reports of electronic-voting-machine shortages and malfunctions to midday talk of vote switching (whereby votes cast for Kerry were magically leaping onscreen to the Bush column, right before voters' eyes), from dinnertime footage of lines at inner-city polling stations stretching for blocks to the sad sight of Kerry conceding the election before some districts in Ohio had even closed their doors. To a die-hard partisan like Fadiman, all the anecdotes about voter malfeasance, polling-data manipulation, suspect election officials, questionable machine programmers, and mysterious statistical turnarounds can only add up to one thing: conspiracy and treason, Republican-style..."
"...Devour Visconti’s 2007 autobiography Bowie, Bolan, and the Brooklyn Boy and you can tack on credits for U2, Paul McCartney, Joe Cocker, Morrissey, Gentle Giant, the Boomtown Rats, the Stranglers. When that mark of excellence stamped the advances for Alejandro Escovedo’s new Real Animal, Austin’s very own Lou Reed/Iggy Pop/Mick & Keith had finally arrived in rock royalty style..."
"...Po (Black) may be an animated panda bear, but make no mistake: Deep down, he’s really just a nerd with a pop-culture obsession. In Kung Fu Panda’s opening scene (animated in a gorgeous, throwback, two-dimensional style that suggests both the work of Jamie Hewlett and Indonesian shadow-puppet theatre), Po imagines himself as a great martial-arts master teaming up with local heroes the Furious Five (featuring a monkey, tigress, viper, crane, and praying mantis) to defeat vast and evil armies..."
"...He is the ultimate übermensch, both Nietzsche's and Hezbollah's worst nightmares. But (in an inspired comic riff on Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer – which precious few die-hard Sandler fans will likely get) what the Zohan really wants to do is cut and style hair for Paul Mitchell..."
"...Having previously dug into Seattle grunge (1996's Hype!) and hip-hop scratch (2001's Scratch), filmmaker Pray continues his subculture-immersion studies in this revealing portrait of Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, the spiritual father of Israeli surf and the corporeal father of a nine-child surfing dynasty. A Stanford-educated, surf-loving general practitioner who shrugged off bourgeois comforts (and two failed marriages) to go on a religious quest to the promised land and then a fact-finding mission into the “psychosexual development” of the other sex (essentially a one-man, 100-woman fuck-fest), Paskowitz eventually married a third time and adopted a survivalist-style of child-rearing, ever-broke and piled tight into a 24-foot camper..."
"...Beneath all the derring-do and Indy's patented wry understatement ("this can't be good," he notes on more than one occasion, echoing Han Solo's "I've got a bad feeling about this") runs a smart if somewhat overcrowded script by David Koepp, which makes allowances for both Ford and his character's advancing maturity while sacrificing none of the series' innate innocence. Quite a feat, that, considering that before the plot even really begins, we're treated to alien beings, a nuclear explosion in the Nevada badlands, and squirrelly, HUAC-style federal agents with pinkos on the brain..."
"...But until we see what he actually does, the viewer is mystified by what the videographers see in Sato. Then he gets the call, and races off to the nearest electrical power station and, after electrodes are attached to his body, he transforms into the giant superhero Big Man Japan, who wears nothing but purple underpants and a Don King-style haircut..."
"...Diana (Thurman) suffers from a serious case of survivor’s guilt – or so it would seem. As a teenager she experienced a Columbine-style rampage in her high school, and the upcoming 15th anniversary of that massacre is making her more skittish than usual..."
"...But despite an occasional lapse into nudge-nudge jokes about geriatric sex, incontinence, and the driving skills of the elderly, Young@Heart eschews the clichés about old people for something that we can all relate to: our own mortality. Shot in a straightforward style that feels deceptively simple, this documentary spends two months with these senior citizens as they prepare for their Alive and Well concert in their home base of Northampton, Mass..."
"...Chow's films of late (Kung Fu Hustle, Shaolin Soccer) are energetically nonsensical comedies, in which he stars as well as directs. With CJ7, however, Chow applies this manic style to a kids movie, and the result would be better left off his résumé..."
"...Together, these groups waged a war over what kind of town Austin was to become – hippie paradise or capitalist playground; sleepy artists' town or suburban monstrosity – and over the whole nature of American capitalism and Texas identity. At the heart of Dunn’s first full-length documentary – which is part history lesson and part anthropological study, part geological survey and part nature special (complete with profoundly gorgeous views of the Springs and other Austin landmarks shot in the style of the film’s co-executive producer Terrence Malick) – lies Bradley, who came to Austin from the wilds of West Texas in the 1970s, the product of a world where nature, like God, is the source of both abundance and destruction..."
"...The problem with Meet the Browns is not really the story but, rather, the slapdash mechanics of Perry's storytelling. His visual style aspires to nothing more than rudimentary point-and-shoot blocking, and his storytelling bounces radically between low comedy and high melodrama, while excising any fluidity or plausibility that might bridge the two contrasts..."