Mark Jenkins http://whqr.org en It's Faction Against Faction In A Grim Future Chicago http://whqr.org/post/its-faction-against-faction-grim-future-chicago The latest teen-girl fiction series to become a movie franchise, <em>Divergent </em>delivers adolescent viewers some bad news and some good news. The bad is that the dystopian future will be just like high school, with kids divided into rigid cliques. The good is that adulthood will be just like high school, so teens face no major surprises.<p>In the first of three movies adapted from Veronica Roth's trilogy, Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) lives in a trashed, walled-in Chicago where everyone belongs to one of five castes: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless or Erudite. Thu, 20 Mar 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 52165 at http://whqr.org It's Faction Against Faction In A Grim Future Chicago In 'Stalingrad,' Where The Fog Of War Is Plenty Thick http://whqr.org/post/stalingrad-where-fog-war-plenty-thick If you're only going to see one film about the Battle of Stalingrad — and there are many — <em>Stalingrad </em>would be the wrong choice. Russian director Fedor Bondarchuk's treatment of the World War II turning point is shallow and contrived, if sometimes impressively staged. The movie wins points, however, for sheer wackiness.<p>This is first film about Stalingrad, for example, to open with voiceover in Japanese. The completely unnecessary framing story is set in the Tohoku region just after it was pummeled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Thu, 27 Feb 2014 22:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 51148 at http://whqr.org In 'Stalingrad,' Where The Fog Of War Is Plenty Thick 'Dangerous Liaisons' Gets A Far-East Makeover http://whqr.org/post/dangerous-liaisons-gets-far-east-makeover Relocating<em> Dangerous Liaisons</em>, the 18th-century French erotic intrigue, to 1930s Shanghai is a bold move. And yet it's not especially surprising. In Chinese movies, that city in that decade frequently serves as shorthand for decadence. And what could be more decadent than two debauched ex-lovers cold-heartedly planning to destroy the innocence of not one but two virtuous women?<br /> Thu, 08 Nov 2012 22:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 27025 at http://whqr.org 'Dangerous Liaisons' Gets A Far-East Makeover A 'Big Picture' Intently Focused On The Details http://whqr.org/post/big-picture-intently-focused-details The original French title of <em>The Big Picture</em> — an adaptation of a novel by American expatriate writer Douglas Kennedy — means "the man who wanted to live his life." That's pointedly ironic, since this existential thriller is about a person who seeks personal freedom by becoming somebody else.<br /> Thu, 11 Oct 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 25553 at http://whqr.org A 'Big Picture' Intently Focused On The Details The Visible Costs Of The Military's 'Invisible War' http://whqr.org/post/visible-costs-militarys-invisible-war In documentaries, showing is almost always more effective than telling. But <em>The Invisible War</em>, an expose of sexual assault in the U.S. military, is compelling despite being all talk. Footage of the many crimes recounted in the film is, of course, nonexistent — and would be nearly unwatchable if available.<p>So director Kirby Dick addresses the subject directly, without gimmicks or gambits. Thu, 21 Jun 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 19131 at http://whqr.org The Visible Costs Of The Military's 'Invisible War' Two Couples Bunk Up For 'A Burning Hot Summer' http://whqr.org/post/two-couples-bunk-burning-hot-summer Lovely people, beautiful places, a suicide attempt and echoes of a French New Wave classic — these ingredients seem to promise lots of passion in <em>A Burning Hot Summer</em>. Thu, 21 Jun 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 19134 at http://whqr.org Two Couples Bunk Up For 'A Burning Hot Summer' Under His Parents' Shadow, Both On And Off Screen http://whqr.org/post/under-his-parents-shadow-both-and-screen In his debut feature, <em>Americano</em>, writer-director Mathieu Demy casts himself as Martin, a brooding French real estate agent who travels to Los Angeles after his long-estranged mother dies. He plans to sell her apartment quickly — until he finds a letter in which she promises to leave the place to a friend, Lola. Martin can't locate the woman, but hears she may be in Tijuana.<p>Several aspects of this scenario should pique the interest of cinephiles. Demy is the child of filmmakers Jacques Demy and Agnes Varda, and <em>Americano</em> pays tribute to both. Thu, 14 Jun 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 18529 at http://whqr.org Under His Parents' Shadow, Both On And Off Screen 'Bel Ami': Period Drama Skips The Small Talk http://whqr.org/post/bel-ami-period-drama-skips-small-talk Words, words, words: Novels, especially 19th-century ones, are full of the damned things, which can be an inconvenience for filmmakers doing adaptations.<p>Directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, theater veterans making their cinematic debut with <em>Bel Ami</em>, try to downplay language, which seems a promising idea. But the strategy fails for several reasons, the foremost of which is their leading man.<p><em>Twilight</em> franchise player Robert Pattinson plays the title character in the latest movie based on Guy de Maupassant's 1885 tale. Thu, 07 Jun 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 17941 at http://whqr.org 'Bel Ami': Period Drama Skips The Small Talk In 'Patagonia,' Pristine Rivers And A Plan For Dams http://whqr.org/post/patagonia-pristine-rivers-and-plan-dams The way the Andes divide Patagonia, Argentina gets most of the land and Chile most of the water. As shown in <em>Patagonia Rising</em>, a new documentary, the landscape on Chile's side of the border is similar to coastal British Columbia or the Alaska panhandle: chilly, forested, mountainous and very wet.<p>As in many other Latin American countries, the water doesn't belong to the people: The government utility that once controlled it has been privatized and is now owned mostly by European investors. Their goal is to dam the cascading rivers to generate electricity for the country's north. Thu, 07 Jun 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 17943 at http://whqr.org In 'Patagonia,' Pristine Rivers And A Plan For Dams 'Pink Ribbons,' Tied Up With More Than Hope http://whqr.org/post/pink-ribbons-tied-more-hope Provocative yet far from definitive, <em>Pink Ribbons, Inc.</em> is a critique of "breast-cancer culture." It could even be called a blitz on pink-ribbon charities and their corporate partners — though to use that term would be to emulate the war and sports metaphors the documentary rejects.<p>As one woman observes, describing the treatment of cancer as a "fight" or a "battle" suggests that the disease is always beatable if patients make a heroic effort. Thu, 31 May 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 17357 at http://whqr.org 'Pink Ribbons,' Tied Up With More Than Hope