Author Archive for Tricia Olszewski

The Blue Room, Reviewed

As in Venus in Fur, Mathieu Amalric plays a successful, sly man who is nonetheless easily played by a woman cunningly using her sexuality.

The DC Shorts Film Festival, Reviewed

The DC Shorts Film Festival features 17 collections of shorts, each showing several times over the event’s 11 days. Here: a few reviews of full programs.
Show 1
The Cold Heart, the first film of the first DC Shorts showcase, kicks off the fest in spectacular fashion. An animated adaptation of a German fable, it tells the story [...]

Teenage Suffers From an Adolescent Lack of Focus

Teenage, the second feature film from Matt Wolf, is a documentary about...war? Civil rights? Or is it swing dancing? One thing’s for sure: While you’re watching this 78-minute film salad, you’ll wonder how exactly its title applies.
The technical answer is easy: Wolf and co-writer Jon Savage adapted the doc from Savage’s book, Teenage: The Creation [...]

Omar, Reviewed

Wrestling with someone who has a gun. Trusting anyone in prison. Becoming a snitch—or, worse, trying to play both sides. All bad ideas, and all of which are present in Omar, Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad’s Oscar-nominated drama about three lifelong friends who decide to become freedom fighters in the West Bank. Or are they terrorists? [...]

12 O’Clock Boys, Reviewed

The subjects of director Lotfy Nathan’s debut documentary, 12 O’Clock Boys, do not identify as a gang. These Baltimore dirt-bike riders are a group, or even a team. Pug, a 13-year-old whose perspective Nathan shaped his doc around after three years of filming, says that riding makes his peers feel "powerful" and serves as an [...]

Gimme Shelter, Reviewed

In writer-director Ron Krauss’ soapy drama, Gimme Shelter, Vanessa Hudgens is so fucking street. In the opening scene, Hudgens' Apple, a 16-year-old who lives with her mother (Rosario Dawson, her teeth yellowed) in a crack motel, hacks off her long dark curls into a choppy mess reminiscent of the old Bieber. She repeatedly whispers, "I [...]

The Past, Reviewed

“We have to forget,” a man tells his lover in The Past, Iranian writer/director Asghar Farhadi's follow-up to his 2012 Oscar winner, A Separation. The woman responds, “Is that possible?”
Probably not with this modern family. Marie (Berenice Bejo) is a Frenchwoman who asks her ex, Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa), to travel from his native Iran to [...]

Inside Llewyn Davis, Reviewed

Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis is a character study that may supply the tools, but requires you to do the digging. Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) is a struggling folk singer in 1961 New York, who in the film’s opening captivatingly sings “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me” at a cafe he’s played countless times before. [...]

Enzo Avitabile Music Life, Reviewed

World music. Jazz fusion. Spoken word. If any of these phrases drive you to preemptively plug your ears, you'll likely go batty sitting through Enzo Avitabile Music Life, the latest music documentary from enthusiast Jonathan Demme.
Enzo Avitabile is a Neapolitan multi-instrumentalist who is little known in the U.S. Years ago, however, Demme caught some of [...]

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Reviewed

Last year, The Hunger Games, the film adaptation of the first book in Suzanne Collins’ young adult trilogy, made Josh Hutcherson a heartthrob and Jennifer Lawrence a star. (Her Oscar-winning role in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook was merely the more prestigious cherry.) Director and co-writer Gary Ross culled a faithful enough visualization of [...]