American Mary

american_maryUS release date: May 31

Mary Mason is a very much broke surgeon school student desperate to make some quick money. While working on a strip club seems like a very obvious option, Mary turned out to be so much luckier. Before she has to shed more clothing items she founds herself hired on the spot to treat a badly injured man; easy med school stuff. Then she quickly builds up her resume without much effort as soon as the next morning when a crazy client offers her even more money to perform more crazy amateur surgeries. Well, can’t say no to money when you need it. Basically, it’s just cutting and slicing meats, right? Mary’s life could be so much brighter from then on, if only she could stop herself from mingling too much and partying too hard with those creepy old surgeons.
The movie could also stop here with a clichéd but quite valid moral lesson, but instead nose-dives into PG13-ish freak show and outside the frame torture scenes when Mary finally quits her doctorate dream and establishes a private practice plus a torture chamber with the help of those very same strip club crew where she almost had a career start earlier.

My Rating: 4/10

Shadow Dancer

shadow_dancer2013 Irish Film and Television Awards – Winner Best Supporting Actress Film.
2013 London Critics Circle Film Awards – Winner British Actress of the Year.
2013 Evening Standard British Film Awards – Winner Best Actress.
2012 Edinburgh International Film Festival – Winner Best Performance in a British Feature Film.
2012 Dinard British Film Festival – Winner Audience Award.
2012 British Independent Film Award – Winner Best Actress.

US release date: May 31

How could somebody work for people who were responsible for the death of a brother? For Collette McVeigh there’s no choice, because she was also responsible of it too. She has no choice, because those people are also her brothers. And when MI5 (also) force her to cooperate, to betray her own family, again, she really can’t say no. Because this time she has a son to be responsible of. And when she does agree to cooperate, she, again, will be responsible for the death of more people that she cares about. There’s really no escape.

My Rating: 6/10

Fill the Void

lemale_et_hahalal2013 Palm Springs International Film Festival – Winner FIPRESCI Prize Best Foreign Language Film.
2012 Venice Film Festival – Winners, SIGNIS Award – Honorable Mention, Best Actress.
2012 Sao Paulo International Film Festival – Winner International Jury Award Best Dramatic Film.
2012 Haifa International Film Festival – Winner Best Cinematography.
2012 Awards of the Israeli Film Academy – Winners, Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup.

US release date: May 24

My not-so-big ultra orthodox Jewish wedding. It’s all about beards, black suits, long curly sideburns, weird hats, traditional sing and dance, money–of course, many lots of old Rabbis and many lots of “Amen.” Shira’s older sister is dead, leaving a baby boy behind. And now the young accordionist is supposed to marry her brother-in-law. Of course, no one is pressuring her. Of course, it’s all her own decision to make. Yeah, of course.

My Rating: 8/10

Outrage Beyond

Outrage_Beyond2013 Asian Film Awards – Winner Best Director.
2012 Mainichi Film Concours – Winner Best Supporting Actor.

The direct sequel to 2010’s Outrage. Less stylish, more chatty, but more engrossing, and just as violent and chauvinistic as the original.
The politicians are still corrupt, so do the police; some of the cops are quite sneaky too. The Yakuza members still wear their fancy black suits, ride shiny black Lexus (okay, this is Tokyo, so it’s Toyota) and Mercedes, dine and drink like kings, and stab each other’s backs (figuratively), then shot each other’s heads (literally) without much mercy. Cut more fingers (or in this case, bite off), and the next logical ingredient to the formula is, of course, setting the old–and turned out to be nowhere near dead–Ohtomo out from prison to get his wrinkled hands soaked in blood once again.

My Rating: 7/10

Inferno – Dan Brown

infernoInferno by Dan Brown

“The human mind has a primitive ego defense mechanism that negates all realities that produce too much stress for the brain to handle. It’s called denial.”

Question: If a mad genius is spawning an evil plan to disrupt the world, why on earth does he left so many very specific elaborate clues for others to trace and foil his lunatic plan? Because, Robert Langdon explains, the lunatic has a flair of symbolism and dramatics? Hmm?
Well, the whole plot might sound quite ridiculous, written in an almost identical template as The Da Vinci Code: another mysterious old man is dead, and Langdon with the company of another beautiful lady sidekick once again running around all across Europe, this time starting in Florence, hopscotched from one historical site to the next to solve the mystery. The writing is, yeah sure, Brown certainly not the best writer around. Critics might laugh their butts off. But it sure is fun to ride along in another installment of his (admit it) unique art-thriller series.
Architectural descriptions might be too Wiki-style, but they indeed are enlightening. Historical lore and geographical explanations might be inaccurate or embellished, but they surely will spark your curiosity (or book your next holiday to Istanbul and Italy). The story twists might be eye-roll-inducing and at times aren’t even that surprising, but they are there to keep you guessing, and reading.  If you read Angels & Demons and asked aloud, “The Pope had a child. So what?”, this time Brown gives you a more interesting, more thought-provoking (Jesus had a child?? Who cares??), a bit Crichtonesque, non-Vatican and non-Freemason, MacGuffin. And the action? It’s non stop. Run, Robert! Run! Langdon doesn’t even have time for a toilet break. Literally.
So, Mr. Hanks, ready to shoot another sequel?

Augustine

Augustine2012 Mar del Plata Film Festival – Winner Best Actress.

US release date: May 17

What’s wrong with Augustine? Is it epilepsy? Or something even worst?
But, wait. She’s grabbing… her crotch? Are people in epileptic seizures usually do something like that? It certainly is puzzling. Whatever it is, it must be nerve related, mentally related, or brain related. Or is it?
They put her in a mental hospital and her very unusual condition quickly draws the attention of Doctor Jean-Martin Charcot, a cold, dedicated, legendary neurologist who took his profession very seriously and emotionally neglecting his beautiful wife. Of course, this is 19th century France. The medical examinations and procedures are crude, inhuman from our modern perspective, and very, very, creepy. Is it real illness? Or, does she fake it?
The story–also based on real historical figures (but not necessarily a ‘true’ story)–is similar, but fortunately, much better than Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method. Also worth noted, the movie is scored by the legendary Jocelyn Pook.

My Rating: 7/10

The English Teacher

english teacherUS release date: May 17

Why should Miss Linda Sinclair get married? The literature world and a nice teaching career are satisfying enough, while the world of men offers nothing. School is her sanctuary. And while things starting to grow a bit cold, a knockout stage play script from a former student, a once aspiring but ultimately failing playwright, certainly more than enough to reignite her fire.
But when the big fire starts spreading to some unwanted corners, like in monetary sense, also in a bit screwed-up romantic sense, school suddenly turns into a quite nasty place. It’s about time for Miss Sinclair to realize the real truth that teachers–like herself, and literatures, don’t always tell the whole truth (And because it’s a good-spirited uplifting comedy, yes, that the world of men isn’t always that bad).

My Rating: 6/10