Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier, 2015)

green room

How does one make a zombie film scarier? One option is to swap out the undead for the more earthbound terrors of pit bulls and neo-Nazis. Director Jeremy Saulnier takes this approach with the grisly thriller Green Room, the follow-up to his other movie from the color spectrum, the acclaimed indie Blue Ruin. 

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Louder Than Bombs (Joachim Trier, 2015)

Isabel

“The best weapons are the stories, and every time the story is told, something changes. There are no photographs to be introduced as evidence[.]”

“All we can depend on are slow-motion replays of our lives.”
                                                                          ~Sherman Alexie, “Captivity”

Joachim Trier, in his newest and third feature film, is interested in story-telling and in the peculiar power of stories, a theme he explores by way of a particular family, a man and his two sons, struggling with the loss of a wife and mother.  Each survivor constructs and reconstructs their memories of the dead woman, reconstructions that reveal the particular viewpoints and obsessions of each, perhaps more than they reveal the woman’s own story and identity, for each character, we see, is adrift in his own life, alienated and unsure, and the reach back to the past, to the memories of this woman, is a way of coping with the present, a way of constructing a sense of self.  Continue reading Louder Than Bombs (Joachim Trier, 2015)”

Fan (Maneesh Sharma, 2016)

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One of the interesting things about actors who have worked for a long time (and have a recognizable on-screen persona) is that when they get older, they begin to interrogate those personae, and what they mean. Clint Eastwood has been doing this since the 70s. In Fan, the latest film by director Maneesh Sharma, the subject is Shah Rukh Khan, arguably the most famous Indian actor of the last 25 years.

Shah Rukh Khan is a great ham. He’s a shameless entertainer, doing anything to ensure that the films he’s in work. SRK is great because you can see the effort behind his work, the flop sweat. It’s been that way since the beginning. SRK began acting in films in the early 90s in a series of villainous roles (BaazigarAanjam) before becoming more of a romantic hero. His iconic role in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge  paved the way for a new type of hero (and film) that directly addressed the Indian diaspora. The films in this period with SRK in the Swiss alps, his arms outstretched waiting for his love, often fell into cliched territory, but SRK always gave everything to the role. He’s branched out from these roles to become an action hero, a comedian, all while finding time to work with prestigious directors (Mani Ratnam, Kamal Hasaan). While the last few films have seen him make a few lazy choices (his work with Rohit Shetty is pretty uninspired), Fan acts as something of a rejuvenation for him. He hasn’t been this engaged in quite a while.

Fan stars Shah Rukh Khan in a dual role. He plays Aryan Khanna, the biggest Bollywood star in the world, as essentially himself. He also plays Gaurav Chandna, Aryan’s biggest fan, in a performance aided by visual effects that transforms him into a slightly askew version of his younger self. Gaurav moonlights as an Aryan impersonator, and it’s his dream to one day meet him. So, one day he sets out to the big city in order to accomplish this. Things get complicated from there.

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