Author: Elena Oumano

  • At the Edge of the World

    With no nation willing to enforce a 1986 international agreement establishing Antarctica’s Ross Sea as a mammal sanctuary, the Sea Shepherds, an under-funded, unprotected volunteer group of nautical vigilantes, has sailed into the breach to hunt down Japanese ships exploiting a loophole that allows whale killing for “science,” even though the “experiments” wind up in […]

  • Getting Old’s a Bitch in Gotta Dance

    Dori Berinstein’s documentary, which looks at a year in the lives of the 12 women and one chunky B-boy in the New Jersey Nets senior (as in over 60 years old) hip-hop dance team, would be just another disposable, albeit touching, distraction if its subtext didn’t hint that growing old in this ageist society is […]

  • Amusingly Improbable Coincidences Satisfy in Off Jackson Avenue

    Brutal Albanians dupe an innocent Mexican (Jessica Pimentel) into sex slavery—she plots escape; a Chinatown don imports a Japanese schoolteacher/hit man (Jun Suenaga) to off said Albanians for underselling his own “yum yum” business, and the assassin turns out to be a conscience-stricken momma’s boy; a perpetual loser (writer/director John-Luke Montias) frenetically jacks cars in […]

  • Downloading Nancy Delves into Schizoid Realm of S/M

    ‘Life is like being trapped in the wrong house, looking for a way out,” says Nancy (an excruciatingly believable Maria Bello) in this film’s first moments. A stranger she’s met in an s/m chat room, named Louis “Deep Pain” Farley (Jason Patric), has promised Nancy the torture-‘n’-sex release she yearns for, so off she goes […]

  • New York African Film Festival

    Africa is producing many films these days; sadly, few reach audiences in Europe or, especially, the U.S., where visions of Africa usually come packaged for Westerners. The 16th New York African Film Festival is the exception, presenting Africa as seen by Africans, and while that used to mean leisurely paced variations on the theme of […]

  • Forbidden Lie$ Explores Con Artist Lies and Documentary Truth

    In 2003, 35-year-old Jordanian virgin Norma Khouri published Forbidden Love, her bestselling memoir recounting a Muslim friend’s murder by her father for falling in love with a Christian man. A year later, Khouri was revealed to be a fraud, a married mother of two from Chicago, not Jordan, wanted by the FBI for scamming an […]

  • The Matador

    David Fandila is bland and uni-browed—classic nerd material. But once he steps into the ring, this Spanish Clark Kent transforms into El Fandi, a preening, balls-out bullfighter determined to become one of the few matadors in history to complete 100 corridas in a single year. With a restless camera and quick-paced edits enhanced by a […]

  • Let the Right One In: a Vampire Movie About Alienation and Love

    This lucid Swedish indie gem, adapted for the screen by John Ajvide Lindqvist from his novel and directed with imagination and restraint by Tomas Alfredson, releases the vampire movie from overwrought conventions like close-ups on trembling bosoms and bloody fangs, offering instead a coolly balanced and utterly compelling examination of alienation and love. Let the […]

  • Ballast is an Extraordinary Debut from Writer-Director Lance Hammer

    Unhurried rhythms and spare, beautifully composed shots infuse Lance Hammer’s Ballast with the sweet, dark melancholy of a Delta blues. This remarkable, unfailingly intelligent debut film, rooted in the Mississippi Delta’s vanishing way of life, tells of the fall-out from one man’s suicide on three people. Ballast doesn’t portray the sensual Delta of popular imagination, […]

  • Tarrus Riley

    The son of Jamaican music legend Jimmy Riley, Tarrus offers nothing really new—and that’s the point. Like his dad, it’s simply about a great voice working out over old-school–styled roots reggae tracks, like “She’s Royal,” and that’s reason enough for Planet Reggae’s current bout of Tarrus fever. With Duane Stephenson, Dean Fraser, and Blak Soil […]

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