film review: BOARDING GATE

Written & directed by Olivier Assayas
Produced by Françcois Margolin
Director of Photography, Yorick Le Saux
Edited by Luc Barnier
Released by Magnet Releasing
Language: English, French, & Cantonese with English subtitles
France. 93 min. Not Rated
Cast:  Asia Argento, Michael Madsen, Carl Ng, Kelly Lin, Joana Preiss, Alex Descas, & Kim Gordon

[Article originally appeared: http://www.film-forward.com/boarding.html]

Boarding Gate, a B-style movie but not quite a film noir, looks slick on the surface but just beneath is an awfully slimy mess. It stars the young Italian actress Asia Argento (the upcoming Go Go Tales) as an ex-prostitute-turned-reluctant action hero, Sandra, and the usually reliable Michael Madsen as down-on-his-luck entrepreneur Miles, her ex-lover/ex-employer. The two have been estranged for some time but circumstances bring them back together. Their history suggests a combination of S/M as well as actual romantic love.

During their time apart, Sandra has seemingly turned her life around and been working at a legitimate job for a Chinese couple running an import/export company. She has also embarked on a passionate affair with the husband, played by the model/actor Carl Ng. Madsen, always a compelling actor and one who seems to further resemble Nick Nolte with each passing role, has very little to do with his character and, mercifully for him, he disappears reasonably soon. Read more

film review: GRAND CANYON ADVENTURE — A RIVER AT RISK

Directed by Greg MacGilllivray
Produced by Mark Krenzien, Greg MacGilllivray & Shaun MacGillivray
Written by Steve Judson & Jack Stephens
Edited by Judson
Director of Photography, Brad Ohlund
Music by Steve Wood & Stefan Lessard
Released by MacGillivray Freeman Films
USA. 43 min. Not Rated
Narrated by Robert Redford

[Article originally appeared: http://www.film-forward.com/grandcan.htmlhttp://www.film-forward.com/grandcan.html]

IMAX 3D, when used appropriately, can be as dynamic a visual experience as one can hope to witness. In “Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk”, this is proven from the moment go. Rushing down the rapids of the Colorado River, the film’s credit sequence appears on drops of water that spray towards you. The Dave Matthews Band, a well-chosen source for the movie’s soundtrack, keeps the mood upbeat, and, like the kayaks and rafts that we follow through the movie’s journey, propelling forward. As gorgeous as the movie looks – and you can be assured, it looks spectacular – the movie’s topic is quite grave. The truth is that the Colorado River, like so many rivers around the world, is experiencing a drought that literally threatens its existence.

The film follows anthropologist Wade Davis and his daughter, Tara Davis, as they photograph and follow the river through the Grand Canyon. Also along for the trip are Robert Kennedy, Jr., son of the senator and a longtime environmental activist, and his daughter Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy. Early in the film, Kennedy reflects on how meaningful it is to share this particular adventure with his daughter, who is just preparing to leave for college. Footage of his father taking him to the Grand Canyon when he was roughly the same age as Kit makes this moment more resonant. Read more

film review: SPUTNIK MANIA

Directed by David Hoffman
Produced by Jay Walker, Eric Reid, David Hoffman & John Vincent Barrett
Written by Hoffman & Paul Dickson, based on the book Sputnik: The Shock of the Century by Dickson
Edited by John Vincent Barrett
Released by History Films/Balcony Releasing
USA 87 min. Rated G
Narrated by Liev Schreiber

One of the more compelling lessons taken from David Hoffman’s new documentary, “Sputnik Mania”, is how the space race was as much a part of the Cold War as it was any other facet of mid-20th century popular culture. As soon as satellite technology was developed, it was immediately co-opted for the purposes of weapons proliferation by both the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Based on Paul Dickson’s book Sputnik: The Shock of the Century, “Sputnik Mania” effectively illustrates the extremes of American fear and paranoia after the Soviets launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957. There are obvious parallels to be drawn between 1950’s Cold War America and this country 50 years later; between the fears of Al Qaeda today to the Soviets back then, for instance. Another parallel, and one that is ultimately quite ironic, is that the president was another conservative Republican who also took an unpopular military position that nearly jeopardized his reputation. The difference: Dwight D. Eisenhower, a former army general and World War II hero, was an outspoken critic of weapons proliferation. Read more