Joana Vicente

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24th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards

Garrett Bradley and Joana Vicente - Photographs of a variety of stars as they arrived at the 24th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards which were held at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, New York, United States - Monday 1st December 2014

Joana Vicente

Mr. Untouchable Review


OK
It has to be the oddest situation of pointless one-upmanship imaginable. On the one side is Frank Lucas, glamorized urban criminal and self-proclaimed king of '70s Harlem heroin. His corporate, buttoned-down approach to people poisoning would eventually become the source of cinematic legend, polished and de-fanged by Ridley Scott and his soulless American Gangster. And on the other side is Leroy "Nicky" Barnes, king pimp of the same paradigm. To hear him tell it (in the insightful new documentary Mr. Untouchable), Lucas was an illiterate Carolina boy who embarrassed himself on the streets of New York. Instead, it was Barnes who created the mafia-subverting network of connections that would lead a city to swelter in a decade long grip of addiction.

Why anyone would want to win this contest remains a concept outside the actual narrative provided by filmmaker Marc Levin. With access to the actual figures fictionalized in Scott's crime drama, as well as an unusual amount of openness from said participants (most have done their time and are ready to rewrite history), we get the seedier side of the Me Decade in the Big Apple. Barnes describes his own pretend professionalism, taking credit for turning drug dealing into an "above board" case of supply and demand. His associates discuss their designer clothes, outlandish jewelry, and the lovely ladies that hung from their arms like erotic accessories. Thanks to some incredible archival footage, we witness the actual nude dope factories, bare-ass biz-natches cutting and bagging the killer powder.

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Redacted Review


Terrible
Brian De Palma is some cool customer. His camera can linger longingly on a beautiful woman's torso or a bloody, severed corpse, and in the mechanical gaze of his camera, he can feel no pain. In De Palma's heyday, a De Palma film could induce spirited fistfights and high-flying brickbats among film folks -- was De Palma a brilliant creative genius or a stylish rip off artist? This reviewer was ensconced in the later camp, finding De Palma's mannered depictions of sex and violence and his "homages" to other directors (particularly Hitchcock) particularly cringe inducing. His films were loaded with elegantly staged set pieces duplicating scenes from great films of the past, only devoid of any depth or meaning (take a peek at Obsession), and larded with peek-a-boo sexploitation and exploitative acts of random violence. As the years wore on, De Palma's voyeurism curdled into the diseased sex and violence romps of Femme Fatale and The Black Dahlia. Now with Redacted, shot on HD video with a cast of unknowns, De Palma proves you can't keep a good sadist down. Paring away his stylistic crutches, glorifying in an unmediated roughness, De Palma mines an atrocity committed by American soldiers in Iraq as grist for another hat trick of cynical exploitation.

Based upon the 2006 rape of a 15-year-old girl and the murder of her family by a group of American troops in Mahmoudiya in Iraq, the film bears more than a passing resemblance to Casualties of War, his exploitative examination of a similar incident during the Vietnam War. In fact, it is Casualties of War.

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Broken English Review


Grim
Don't you just love Parker Posey? She's such an original talent, and it's irksome to see her do so well in a film that just doesn't cut it. Broken English plays like a tired retread of Sex and the City, with all the same preoccupations and issues but with none of the fun. Posey gives it her best shot, but she has little to work with.

Nora (Posey) is a thirty-something hotel concierge specializing in VIP guests, but her life has little glamour. When not tending to the VIPs, she's home drinking red wine, popping sleeping pills, and wondering why she can't find just one nice man. A fifth-anniversary party for her best friend Audrey (Drea DeMatteo) adds insult to injury, even as her own mom (Gena Rowlands, director Zoe Cassavetes's mother) tries to cheer her up.

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Fay Grim Review


Grim
Roughly ten years after cementing his place as an offbeat indie favorite, Hal Hartley revisits the characters that put him there. His 1997 Henry Fool, a screenplay-award winner at Cannes, introduced us to lonely garbage man Simon Grim, his horny sister Fay, and the titular character that drastically changes their lives. Hartley brings them back with Fay Grim, but the "where are they now?" fun wears thin quickly.

Part of the problem is Hartley's distinct style, which, if you're a fan, you already know well. Characters often speak slowly, pausing pensively for dramatic or comedic effect. Conversations -- and camera angles -- are unexpectedly funny and skewed, dabbling in established genres. When this approach has purpose or emotion (as in Henry Fool), it works. When it runs in circles, as in the second-half of Fay Grim, it exists only for the "art" and can be annoying as hell.

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Diggers Review


Weak
Listless clam diggers in 1970s Long Island... sounds like a recipe for comedy, right?

I'm not sure what director Katherine Dieckmann (best known as an R.E.M. video director) thought she was grabbing hold of here, but this melodrama (tinged with cheap gags) is all atmosphere, broad Lawn Guyland accents, and jokes at the expense of Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. Even the "crying Indian" makes an appearance.

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One Last Thing... Review


Weak
One Last Thing... was another one of those experimental films -- experimental from a business standpoint, not from an artistic one -- in which the film would be released in theaters and on DVD on the same day.

I have no idea what theaters played the film -- certainly none in my town -- but you shouldn't have much trouble finding the DVD, a medium to which this movie thoroughly belongs.

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The Guys Review


Weak
There was much pain on September 11, 2001 when so many lives were lost. Some of it was very personal and close, but it's fair to say that it affected all of us, in America and abroad. How we remember it and mourn it is a personal matter; how we pay homage to it is something still being struggled with. The Guys is one woman's way of approaching the subject with the aim of catharsis through indirect exposure to the calamity we never imagined.

Journalist Anne Nelson wrote the play of the same name then adapted it as her first screenplay for this movie. Jim Simpson, whose only directorial credit is for a segment of Tales from the Crypt, directed it. The result is not so much a movie as it is a way to reflect on the nature of the loss we all experienced to one degree or another. In this respect, it's as universal a matter as the feelings that are still being experienced.

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Love in the Time of Money Review


Grim
Filmmaker's dilemma: You want to make a movie with a lot of sex scenes and no plot whatsoever, but you have to make something respectable. Hell, Robert Redford is an executive producer! He isn't going to tolerate any Cinemax soft-core porn.

Answer: String together a bunch of unrelated vignettes revolving around sex. Start with a hooker and her client, then send that client to work to have sex with someone there, then send that woman's husband to an art gallery to have sex with an artist, and send him on his way as well.

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Down To You Review


Terrible
Down to You was a case of adding insult to injury.

The injury was having to see this film at all. I would rather suffer whiplash in a VW bug than sit through this film again. The insult was that all through this film, I had to listen to three annoying teens who threw popcorn (which often landed on me).

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Too Much Sleep Review


OK
Indie filmmakers who want to make their own version of After Hours better damn well know what they're doing. In his first feature, David Maquiling appears to have a grasp of the basics, but his film falls short of its goal.

At its heart, Too Much Sleep is an extremely simple story about a young man named Jack (Marc Palmieri), a lazy security guard who finds his father's handgun stolen during a bus ride daydream. His quest to retrieve the gun sends him on the kind of wacky misadventures seen only in the movies. With his friend's uncle Eddie (Pasquale Gaeta, apparently channeling Bruno Kirby in The Freshman here), Jack visits male strip clubs, foreign parties, and even a Chinese restaurant in order to track down the mysterious Kate (Nicol Zanzarella), whom he suspects of conspiring to steal the weapon. Naturally, we expect Jack will also find himself along the way.

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Coffee And Cigarettes Review


Weak
Coffee and cigarettes. What is it about this magical combination of caffeine and cancer that's so irresistible to millions of café and pub patrons around the world? Despite its title, don't go looking to Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes for the answer. A series of vignettes populated by an all-star cast of actors and musicians, the film has the laid-back attitude of its tobacco-smoking, java-gulping protagonists, each of whom spends his screen time ruminating on a host of arbitrary issues involving class, race, and physics. However, like its central delicacy, Jarmusch's comedy is apt to provide a slight, delectable buzz but little nutritional value.

Jarmusch enlists a diverse cast of indie stars and former colleagues for this modest ensemble, but his uncharacteristically wheezy writing frequently undermines the film's wry humor. Cate Blanchett, in a dual performance, plays an arrogant version of herself as well as her skuzzy, jealous cousin, but the piece's portrait of jealousy and resentment loses steam after you become accustomed to seeing the actress talk to herself. Similarly, The White Stripes' Meg and Jack White provide a brief lesson on inventor Nikola Tesla's Tesla Coil, but save for the creepy, Mao Tse-tung-inspired portrait of Lee Marvin hanging on the wall behind them, the skit is nothing more than an overly long non sequitur. And even a brief appearance by Steve Buscemi can't rescue an insipid bit about two argumentative African-American twins talking racial politics in a Memphis diner.

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Series 7 Review


Excellent
The title Series 7 stands for the seventh season of the highest-rated reality based show on television, The Contenders. Set a few years from now, the program rules are laid out with unsparing precision: Six average, everyday citizens are chosen via random lottery to mercilessly kill one another. This will continue until one survivor remains. Sound familiar? When historians chart the downfall of human empathy, they will see that we were only one step away from moral paralysis in our increasing apathy to Survivor, Temptation Island, and The Real World. Here we are, now entertain us.

This satire couldn't be more cutting edge. Former tabloid TV producer Daniel Minahan (and co-screenwriter of I Shot Andy Warhol) takes dead aim on glib, pre-packaged network formulas for success. A terse narrator (Will Arnett) offers mock-sympathetic encouragement for the contestants as well as in-depth play-by-play ring coverage. Opponents are given screen time for weepy confessions to their assigned guerrilla cameramen, dispassionately filming their fight or flight confrontations on hand-held digital video.

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Three Seasons Review


Grim
The worst thing about Asian cinema is when the characters inevitably start singing to themselves. Three Seasons has a lot of singing, compounded by a lot of talking about flowers, which is the only thing imaginably worse than the singing. To be sure, this intertwining tale (the first Vietnamese production since forever) has moments of haunting beauty, most notably the final image -- which also serves as the poster and video box -- but those are few and far between. Most of the time we're stuck in dreary Ho Chi Minh city in the rain and mud. And that movie, I've already seen.
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