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Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v9n7 (02/18/2010) » Section: Film Reviews

The White Ribbon

Winner of the Golden Palm at Cannes last year and a leading contender for this year’s Best Foreign Language Academy Award (historically one of Oscar’s least predictable categories), The White Ribbon is engrossing in a way that Austrian director Michael Haneke has never before achieved. It may even be the first time he has tried: This is, after all, the filmmaker whose most notorious work, the two versions of Funny Games, exist to drive audiences out of the theater.

The Films of Ladislaw Starewicz: Bizarre Early Animation, 1911-1933

With the re-emergence of animation as a popular vehicle for moviegoers of all ages, viewers in recent years have grown more open to types of animated films aside from those programmed and output by computers. Fans of stop-motion movies like Coraline and Fantastic Mr. Fox may find it hard to believe that such intricate work could have been done without enormous budgets and studio support. But in fact films like these were being made a hundred years ago, chief among them the work of Polish-born filmmaker Ladislaw Starewicz.

Shutter Island

Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island begins on the choppy, deep gray waters of Boston’s outer harbor under storm-brewing skies. The soundtrack music, meta-Bernard Hermann-like major chords and mildly dissonant counter notes, washes threateningly over this scene. It’s 1954 and a harbor ferry is bringing two US marshals to an island prison for the criminally insane. They’re investigating the reported disappearance from the facility of a woman who murdered her children.

Club Native

Canada’s “Indian Act” of 1876 was a law much despised by aboriginal people, who saw it as (among other things) an effort to negate their traditional identities through forced assimilation. In 1985 the Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-31, an amendment including provisions to end discrimination against native women who were reclassified according to their husband’s identity if they married outside their band. Putting this issue under the jurisdiction of the tribes has not solved the problem, as shown in this documentary directed by Tracey Deer, who was born on the Mohawk reserve of Kahnawake near Montreal. Her film follows four women of different circumstances who are forced to fight to assert their identities as Mohawks (Kanien’kehá:ka in their self-appellation).

Oscar Shorts 2009

I suppose it’s logistically impossible, but I’ve always wished that some distributor could find a way to supply short films to independent theaters to be shown along with feature films. There’s no lack of them being made, often by talented filmmakers who need a calling card to break into features (for which reason they probably wouldn’t demand a lot of money for the distribution rights).

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