Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 1:22 pm
Credit Courtesy of the artist
Back in the day – the 17th century – Vermeer, Rembrandt and the rest of the Dutch Golden Age crew blazed a trail for realism in art. Their work wasn't just technically dazzling; it was also distinctive. Instead of fat baby cherubs and saints, they painted the stuff of every day life. Often, that meant food.
In their hands, grapes popped with juiciness. Lobsters steamed, ready for cracking. Milk practically splashed the viewer as it poured from the jug.
We were all struck last week by Noel Murray's A.V. Club piece "The changing face of'nerds' (and autism) in popular culture," so we spent this week's first segment talking about the separate but related matters it raises of how popular culture deals with nerds and how it deals with autism, not to mention how it deals with the messy and imprecise crossover between the two.
After his lover dies in a military exercise, a devastated Yosssi (Ohad Knoller) must move from grief and shame into acceptance of his homosexuality.
Credit Strand Releasing
In the decade since Israeli director Eytan Fox made Yossi & Jagger, the precursor to his sublimely tender new drama Yossi, Israel has undergone two significant changes. A tacit and active homophobia has given way, at least in the open cultural climate of Tel Aviv, to a matter-of-fact acceptance of gay rights. At the same time, Israeli cinema has bloomed, becoming a thriving international presence in just about every genre.
Time now for a home-viewing recommendation from NPR movie critic Bob Mondello. A quiet recommendation — because Bob is touting the Ultimate Buster Keaton Collection, a 14-disc set of classic silent comedies.
Silent film had three great clowns. Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp is the one everyone remembers; all-American daredevil Harold Lloyd is the one who made the most money; and Buster Keaton was the genius.
The Gatekeepers is an Israeli documentary based on long interviews with the six surviving heads of the Shin Bet — that's Israel's domestic security service. These six "gatekeepers" were in charge for more than 30 years.
Journalist Arnie Blondestone (Paul Giamatti) interprets the bizarro story at the heart of the too-twisty horror fantasy <em>John Dies at the End.</em>
Credit Magnet Releasing
There's a fine line between a genre filmmaker with an offbeat sensibility and a maker of prefab cult movies — someone who appeals too aggressively to a cult audience that doesn't yet exist. Don Coscarelli's career has inched too far across that line.
The creator of the Phantasm series, which developed a dense and satisfying (if fan-oriented) mythology, and the prime fantasy cheese The Beastmaster, Coscarelli has lately been a cult alchemist, mixing up quirky elements aimed at winning a following that his previous films won effortlessly.
Chris (Vinny Curran) resists his friend Mike's (Peter Cilella) attempts to save him from drug addiction in the indie horror film <em>Resolution</em>. As unsettling intrusions into their rundown rural abode mount, however, they both might need a different kind of rescue.
Credit Tribeca Film
Staging a one-on-one intervention with a drug-addicted friend carries certain risks. At the very least, the long-term survival of your friendship is in jeopardy. If the friend is a gun-obsessed meth head living in an abandoned shack in the middle of nowhere, your own survival may be in question.
But surely, whatever the other dangers of staging a forced detox, at the very least you don't usually have to worry about malevolent and potentially supernatural forces stalking you.
Political consultant Paul Turner (Rob Lowe) may be "the master of disaster," but the campaign satire <em>Knife Fight </em>doesn't give him much of an edge.
Credit IFC Films
Framed for television and photographed in faded panels of astonishing blahness, Knife Fight is a dull political dramedy that ping-pongs between caustic misanthropy and soapy sentiment. Playing like a mashup of tropes from far superior small- and large-screen entertainments (Scandal, House of Lies, Ides of March), this clunky feature from Bill Guttentag is satire at its most soft-bellied and toadying.