2015 Updates

2015 in Review: 6/27 – 7/20

In this update: cartels, Outfest, magic Mikes, kilometers, and more.

Magic Mike XXL review

The plot has abandoned all traditional notions of good form, but it astonishingly manages to never wear out its welcome, even over a near-two-hour running time. This is a film that commits 100 percent to hot bodies and FUN, and it won’t let anything get in the way of that. It doesn’t matter that most of its scenes are diversions that could vanish without affecting the overarching whole; the diversions are the point, and to lose them would be to lose what makes it distinct.

Jimmy’s Hall review

Jimmy’s Hall is a nice film, and by that I mean that it is nice in its treatment of its characters and themes, and nice to its audience. It’s this year’s Pride; a movie about social movements that you can take your conservative parents to. Which might sound like a putdown, but I assure that it is not.

Cartel Land review

Increasingly, filmmakers are utilizing the compact qualities of modern equipment to put themselves inside active battlefields. The brass is undeniable and the effect is potent, but the otherwise objectively-minded doc borders on exploitative here. The shootouts are cut for maximum thrill and layered with a garish action movie score. It makes for a schizoid message: this war is horrible, but aren’t these fights SICK? Ultimately, Cartel Land hampers its own efforts to meaningfully address its subject.

Debra Granik interview

The plaudits have rushed in over the past week for Stray Dog. Of all the movies to hit theaters over Independence Day weekend, this documentary turned out to be the least expected but most appropriate one to suit the occasion. Stray Dog tackles many aspects of American life, including faith, military service, immigration and hard work. Its working-class milieu is one that director Debra Granik is well used to, having explored it with her Oscar-nominated Winter’s Bone.

Outfest 2015 preview

Pride month is over, but L.A. cinema isn’t finished celebrating LGBT life. Outfest, one of the country’s oldest queer film festivals, kicks off Thursday, July 9 for more than a week of films about experiences gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and everything between or beyond. There’s something for everyone at the fest, even if you’re as heteronormative as they come (though obviously you’ll need an open mind). Here are nine things you can’t miss.

10,000 km review

Despite Sergi and Alex’s mutual vow that their separation will change nothing, this is an indie drama. These two are doomed. That sense of inevitability comes more from knowing genre convention than it does from anything about the actual characters, although both actors try their best to flesh out their weak material. Alex and Sergi are defined more by their relationship to one another than by any notable personal qualities. An attempt to make them archetypical instead reduces them to morose ciphers. Relatability comes from characters feeling like human beings—emptying them out doesn’t mean a viewer will slot themselves into their place. Via nuance-free dialogue, we are told these two are in love, told they’re trying to have a baby, and told how much they miss one another. There are few tangible expressions of any of this. Marques-Marcet and Clara Roquet’s script is miles (or, ahem, kilometers) behind his direction.

An Outfest interview with Tig Notaro

There are different levels of difficult. I always get emotional when my mother dies in the film. Gosh, I think also, even if it’s not the most embarrassing material, I just really don’t enjoy watching any of my old stand-up. Actually, I don’t enjoy watching my new stand-up, either. Anytime I’m doing stand-up in the documentary, I’m kind of like, “Eww, let’s get through this part.” I find myself cringing. I don’t know what that’s about. It’s not that I hate all of my material—I think it was good. I liked it. I just don’t ever want to hear it.

By Dan Schindel

Born and raised in Maryland and currently based in New York, Dan Schindel is an associate editor at Hyperallergic, freelance culture writer, and available for any copy-editing/proofreading needs you may have. This website was originally a blog called Days of Docs, and chronicled his attempt to watch and review a documentary every single day for a whole year. He was mostly successful at this, and now he knows everything. He puts this knowledge to use by writing about movies, TV, games, books, comics, art, and more.