Hello Cleveland! One Night at CIFF.

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Thanks to the fabulous Alexis Perrone and Outlook, I got a chance to check out a screening of The Case Against 8 at the Cleveland International Film Festival sponsored by the LGBT mag. So I figured I may as well make a night of it.

Case follows the four-year legal effort to overturn California’s Prop. 8, which started in the state’s courtrooms and worked its way up to the Supreme Court through the dogged appeals efforts of the discriminatory law’s proponents. Centering on the two couples chosen to act as plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit and the two lawyers taking the lead - former opponents in the historic Bush v. Gore case - the movie suffers a bit from the last-minute decision not to allow cameras into the California courtroom. But in the coverage of counselor Ted Olsen and the defendant’s key witness, it offers two compelling examples of just how powerful a tool knowledge is in eradicating prejudice. I sure as hell never expected to end up rooting for the guy who gave us President George W. Bush.

From there, I checked out Handy, a movie about a hand that breaks free of its human host, travels the world and falls in love with a fashionable appendage named Manicure. Because yes. Made on the super-cheap by an Italian spitfire named Vincenzo Cosentino, who wore multiple hats including lead actor (that’s his hand in the title role), it’s got a goofy low-fi flavor that’s irresistibly charming even when it comes with a sprinkling of cheese. Same for Cosentino, who, like his movie, was laugh-out-loud funny. During the Q&A, he professed his love for Tim Burton and said he wanted to make a movie that would keep audiences guessing. Mission accomplished.

I made it through most of the Late Night Shorts program before the old highway was a-callin’. The horror-centric selection was a bit heavy on incidents of mistaken identity but stronger overall than programs I’ve seen in previous years at CIFF. The animated Dave Eggers adaptation Francis from England, the genially disturbing French film Guys Girls and Australia’s Hungry Man, a story of a man and his tapeworm, are worth going out of your way to find.


The Muppets Most Wanted has its problems, but also its share of surprises, such as the newfound respect I developed for a certain power ballad-singing pop star. I’ll save the details for you to discover. Here’s a bit more on the movie for The Dispatch.

The Muppets Most Wanted has its problems, but also its share of surprises, such as the newfound respect I developed for a certain power ballad-singing pop star. I’ll save the details for you to discover. Here’s a bit more on the movie for The Dispatch.


The absolute last top 10 list for 2013 (this one goes to 11)

I promised a friend I’d do this weeks ago and kept putting it off, partly because it was a good enough year to make winnowing the year’s best movies down to 10. But at long last, prompted by tonight’s Oscar telecast, the ballot I put together for my first-year participation in The Muriel Awards and the repeat airing of the Independent Spirit Awards currently on my TV, I submit to you a list of my favorite movies of 2013.

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1. Upstream Color: Shane Carruth’s defiantly strange fantasy/romance/horror film is more than a movie. It’s a semi-hypnotic sensory experience that doesn’t fade quickly, even if (perhaps especially if) it doesn’t immediately make sense.

2. Inside Llewyn Davis

3. The Act of Killing

4. Her

5. Stories We Tell

6. The Wolf of Wall Street

7. 12 Years a Slave

8. Before Midnight

9. The World’s End

10. Frances Ha

Honorable mention: All The Memory in the World, an exhaustive, endearing survey of photo portraiture in cinema by Columbus’ own Mike Olenick. No one does movie obsession like he does.


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Mar 02

mikeolenick:

RED LUCK will be screening in this year’s Chicago Underground Film Festival.  For more info, check out http://www.cuff.org

www.mikeolenick.com


51 & Done - Movie reviews in 51 words or less.

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With The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki caps a career of creating extraordinary fantasy worlds by celebrating the power of dreams and the miracle of human innovation. Anyone who calls this stunningly beautiful, heartbreakingly tragic tale of aviation pioneer Jiro Horikoshi a moral whitewash of WWII horrors is missing the point. 

For more words on the subject, I’ll pass things over to Film Critic Hulk.


Ego Trippin’ by April Sunami, a Columbus artist and originator of the term “Psychenwelic,” a form of art in which the hair on a subject’s head reflects the thoughts within it. She’s put together a fabulously coiffed group show at Second Site Studio in Franklinton. It’s on view through March 15. More info here.

Ego Trippin’ by April Sunami, a Columbus artist and originator of the term “Psychenwelic,” a form of art in which the hair on a subject’s head reflects the thoughts within it. She’s put together a fabulously coiffed group show at Second Site Studio in Franklinton. It’s on view through March 15. More info here.


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51 & Done - movie reviews in 51 words or less.

With A Field in England, Ben Wheatly adds ballsy, why-the-hell-not formal elements to the darkness that permeated Kill List and Sightseers. A monochromatic period piece of war, death, forced friendship and hallucinogens, it borders on the experimental, but has enough twisted humor and gritty, wacky style to reward the bold. 


George Clooney’s Monuments Men isn’t a total win, but fans of Bill Murray, Bob Balaban and the great masterpieces of Western art will get something out of it. Here’s my review.

George Clooney’s Monuments Men isn’t a total win, but fans of Bill Murray, Bob Balaban and the great masterpieces of Western art will get something out of it. Here’s my review.


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Jan 13
What were some of the best visual art shows in Columbus in 2013? Here’s a list. The image is from one I liked enough to visit three times, spending about nine hours total in its spell.

What were some of the best visual art shows in Columbus in 2013? Here’s a list. The image is from one I liked enough to visit three times, spending about nine hours total in its spell.


Bull by Tim Rietenbach, part of "You Call That Art?", a show inspired by New York’s infamous 1913 Armory Show, now on view at the former armory space that’s home to the Cultural Arts Center. Originally made for Columbus’ bicentennial celebrations, this work was salvaged from the Scioto River after its floating installation base was totaled by a storm.

Bull by Tim Rietenbach, part of "You Call That Art?", a show inspired by New York’s infamous 1913 Armory Show, now on view at the former armory space that’s home to the Cultural Arts Center. Originally made for Columbus’ bicentennial celebrations, this work was salvaged from the Scioto River after its floating installation base was totaled by a storm.