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Reviews for November 12th, 2010






Cool It

Directed by JOndi Timoner.


*Full review coming soon*

Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Opens at the Angelika Film Center, AMC Empire 25, and Clearview 1st & 62nd. Center.
Released by Roadside Attractions.



Disco and Atomic War

Directed by Jaak Kilmi.


This delightfully entertaining documentary follows the rise and fall of the Soviet Unionís power in the country of Estonia during the mid-1980ís. The Soviet Union government controlled every aspect of Estonian life in many ways through the use of propaganda that Estonian watched on television. No forms of entertainment came from Western culture, though, so the Estonians were oblivious to what was really going on around the world. The construction of a giant antennae right across the border in Finland led to the gradual Finnish and American culture to seep into Estonian culture much to the disapproval of the Soviet government. Ordinary citizens in Talinn, the capital of Estonia, learned how to make their own antennas using mercury from thermometers to access the illegal television and radio programming. Soon enough, Rock Ďn Roll and disco music permeated into their culture along with the hit TV shows Dallas and Knight Rider and movies such as Star Wars and Emmanuelle. Co-directors Jaak Kilmi and Kiur Aarma both grew up in Estonia during the 80ís, so not only do they know the sociopolitical and cultural aspects of Estonian life a posteriori, but also a priori because they understand how those important aspects evolved throughout the years and how Western culture, together with the Estonianís courage to be subversive against their Communist government, led to the downfall of Soviet Union power in Estonia. If any of you consider history to be dry and boring, think again. Kilmi and Aarma present the facts and revelations in a manner thatís far from dry because they use humor and wit as they show reenactments and some TV clips of Finnish programs. Sure, youíll find some talking heads every so often, but each interviewee is insightful and articulate. At a running time of only 1 hour and 19 minutes, Disco and Atomic War is the kind of rare documentary that simultaneously informs and delights even those who donít care much about history or politics.
Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Opens at the Cinema Village.
Released by Icarus Films.



Expecting Mary

Directed by Dan Gordon.


*Full review coming soon*

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Opens at the Village East cinema.
Released by Rocky Mountain Pictures.



Helena from the Wedding

Directed by Joseph Infantolino.


*Full review coming soon*

Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Opens at the Quad Cinema.
Released by Film Movement.



Practice of the Wild

Directed by John Healey.


*Full review coming soon*

Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Opens at the Quad Cinema.
Released by San Simeon Films.



Tiny Furniture

Directed by Lena Dunham.


22-year-old Aura (Lena Dunham) has yet to find purpose and happiness in her life. Upon returning from college with a degree in film theory, she moves back home to live with her mother, Siri (Laurie Simmons), and younger sister, Nadine (Grace Dunham), in New York City. Her aimless best friend, Charlotte (Jemima Kirke), tends be clingy and doesnít help or inspire Aura to get out of the phase of confusion and uncertainty that sheís currently. Perhaps Auraís life can head in the right direction after she meets and befriends a filmmaker, Jed (Alex Karpovsy). She kindly lets him crash in her room during his ephemeral visit to New York for business purposes. Luckily, or so she initially thinks, she lands a job as a hostess at a local restaurant where a cocky, handsome chef, Keith (David Call), flirts with her. Writer/director Lena Dunham has created a very organic, unpretentious slice-of-life thatís simultaneously funny, poignant and perceptive about that awkward phase between the end of college and when life as a grown-up truly begins. Aura is a complex character whoís relatable because sheís going through that universal search for love, happiness and way to follow her true passion for art. Sheís trying to make sense of her life, a task thatís easier said than done. The more you observe Aura, the more you want to learn more about her. Dunham breathes life and humor into the film not only through witty dialogue, but also through its many interesting details, i.e. Jedís complaint that he doesnít like sleeping with a girl in bed because he thinks that girls often sweat. He reads the Woody Allenís book, Without Feathers, while lying in bed. The death of Auraís hamster, a symbolic moment, leads to a darkly humorous scene where she stores it in the freezer. Even details such as the pipe where she has sex with Keith at night add to the filmís richness and, of course, to its off-beat humor. Itís also worth mentioning Dunhamís impressive use of colors, production design and cinematography. At a running time of 1 hour and 38 minutes, Tiny Furniture is a perceptive, funny and poignant slice-of-life brimming with sharp dialogue and interesting, believable characters worth getting to know.
Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Opens at the IFC Center.
Released by IFC Films.



Unstoppable

Directed by Tony Scott.


Based on true events. Will Colson (Chris Pine), a train conductor on his first day of the job, teams up at work with veteran engineer Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington). Little do they know that an incompetent railroad employee, Dewey (Ethan Supplee), has accidentally caused a train the size of the Empire State Building to travel, unmanned and full-powered, at a high speed. The runaway train happens to be carrying toxic, highly flammable chemicals that could set off huge explosions if it were to derail. Meanwhile, rail yard manager Connie (Rosario Dawson) tries to monitor the situation and, in initially, sheís under the impression that the runaway train is merely a coaster. Will Barnes and Colson be able to find a way to stop the train before it could cause the greatest train disaster in U.S. history? The police along with the a welder, Ned (Lew Temple), eventually try to come to the rescue while Galvin (Kevin Dunn), the train corporationís selfish and greedy VP, would rather risk the lives of many townspeople rather than to force the train to derail and crash without harming anyone. From the get-go, screenwriter Mark Bomback wastes no time in getting right into the intense second act where the runaway train begins to create havoc. Bomback knows that when audiences come to an action thriller, they expect action, thrills and a little suspense along the way. Fortunately, Unstoppable has a large supply of those requisite qualities. Thereís also some backstory to Frank and Will which helps to humanize them a little: Frank has recently been fired and his daughters work at Hooters while Will has to deal with a restraining order that his wife put on him. Director Tony Scott, a master of style over substance, knows how to maintain momentum by including a pulsating musical score and plenty of explosions and action sequences with camerawork that doesnít resort to shakiness as a means of generating tension. The pace moves very fast with lots of stylish cinematography so youíll barely have time to stop and apply any logic or reason let alone breathe. At a running time of 1 hour and 40 minutes, Unstoppable is a taut, action-packed, mindless thriller that delivers a pure rush of adrenaline.
Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Opens nationwide.
Released by 20th Century Fox.





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