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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cinebanter #122 - BEFORE MIDNIGHT

The mp3 of this show is here.

In this episode, Michael and Tassoula are smitten with BEFORE MIDNIGHT, the third installment in their favorite trilogy of all time. In the Last Five®, Michael revisits a Paul Thomas Anderson hit, while Tassoula discovered a new European thriller. Tassoula also provides a wrap-up of her coverage of the 39th Annual Seattle International Film Festival. The breakdown is as follows:

• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 Review of BEFORE MIDNIGHT, Part 1
• Break
• 20:02 Review of BEFORE MIDNIGHT, Part 2
• Break
• 46:49 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 47:25 The Last Five®
• Break
• 1:09:44 Tassoula's Top 3 from SIFF 2013
• Break
• 1:20:32 Credits


Want to contribute to the show and help with production costs and server fees? Click on the "Make a Donation" button to the left of this blog.

Special thanks to Brad Daane and Mark Cummins for providing the original music in this episode.

Tassoula has reviews, musings and movie-related product links at Tassoula's Movie Review Blog.

Reviews and/or notes of movies Michael sees can be found at his MichaelVox website.

Feedback is always welcome - you may leave comments here or e-mail the hosts at

We hope you enjoy the show!

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Saturday, June 08, 2013

SIFF Sighting: LOVE IS IN THE AIR (romance; France)

Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) is a woman living in New York, headed home to France to marry her boyfriend, who is a respected lawyer.

Antoine (Nicolas Bedos) is a mess—traipsing through life with one woman after another, none satisfying him for more than two weeks.

As often happens in romantic comedies, our two stars here have a "meet cute," and this time it's on an airplane in the seats right next to one another.

They both discover (Julie in horror; Antoine in delight) who they're seated with and we quickly learn they were longtime loves before Antoine did something horrible to wreck it all.

Through glasses of champagne and an abundance of turbulence, they recount their relationship for those within earshot and remember why they parted.

As often happens, the memories recalled make the mood bittersweet and the two must contemplate if they'll go their separate ways once the plane lands, or try one more time to be a successful couple.

Sagnier's manner is reminiscent of early Meg Ryan performances; Bedos nails his role as a careless playboy effortlessly, but what stops this film from being as charming as it wants to be are the continued formulaic scenarios.

The ending also risks leaving a bad taste in the mouth. Anyone who has ever had another person sabotage them for selfish reasons may not appreciate the resolution here.

The classic French Kiss would probably be a better option for those seeking a happily ever after rom com.

LOVE IS IN THE AIR screened at the 39th Annual Seattle International Film Festival.

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Friday, June 07, 2013

The Prey

It's easy to root for one of the "bad guys" in this smart thriller from Eric Valette.

Franck (Albert Dupontel) is serving time for a bank robbery when he finds himself rescuing a fellow prisoner from a brutal attack. He believes the man, Jean-Louis (Stéphane Debac), is innocent of the crimes for which he's accused. When Jean-Louis is released from prison, he offers to pay back Frank's kindness by helping him protect his family on the outside.

Fearing he may have made a terrible mistake in trusting Jean-Louis, Franck escapes from prison and lives on the run, desperately searching for his wife and child while at the same time hiding from law enforcement who believe he's a serial killer.

Each layer of discovery in this film represents a thrill ride for the audience—from the cops in pursuit of Franck to the sadistic nature of the real serial killer. There are foot chases, shoot-outs,  stake-outs, setups and an abundance of bloody results.

Thankfully, the lead actors do a brilliant job of convincing the audience that each act is feasible, which is enough to keep us hanging on through the twists and turns of the story to the very end.

Though there are undeniably formulaic elements to the script, the results are perfectly satisfying.

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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

SIFF Sighting: THE HUNT (drama; Denmark)

Lucas (Madds Mikkelsen) is a likeable kindergarten teacher about to win custody of his teenage son, starting a relationship with a new girlfriend.

Klara (Annika Wedderkopp) is the daughter of his best friend, who lives next door. She attends his school, confuses her words and unknowingly accuses him of sexual abuse.

With Oscar-worthy performances, the film is a heart-wrenching exploration of what can happen when one is wrongly accused.

THE HUNT screens June 6 at the 39th Annual Seattle International Film Festival. For tickets, click here.

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A Tribute to Kyle MacLachlan at SIFF

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Monday, June 03, 2013

SIFF Sighting: CHILDREN OF SARAJEVO (drama; Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Rahima (Marija Pikic) is a young, hard-working cook in Sarajevo. She and her brother Nedim (Ismir Gagula) were orphaned during the war and now she is responsible for taking care of him. He doesn't make it easy on her.

Though there is evidence of him being bullied, Nedim doesn't handle matters well, frequently engaging in bloody fights and getting reprimanded at school.

He blames Rahima's recent need to wear a headscarf as the reason for his troubles; she has frequent flashbacks to the war, which he is too young to remember, that fuel her faith.

The documentary footage of the actual war, spliced in as her memories, are especially powerful contrasted with the sounds of celebratory fireworks, which remind her of the grenades and sounds of war. Though the city has recovered, there are scars that will never heal.

Though undeniably bleak, there is hope in this story. Hope that comes from the love of a dutiful sister; hope that comes from the kind neighbors who befriend them and in Rahima's fierce independence.

It's just one more film that forbids us from forgetting the past--and that's a good thing.

CHILDREN OF SARAJEVO screened at the 39th Annual Seattle International Film Festival.

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