Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Hollywood still thinks the suburbs are weird in 'Greener Grass'

[GREENER GRASS screens Saturday January 18th at 9:50 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Everyone in the pastel world of GREENER GRASS seems blandly happy, but (shocker) there’s a darkness underneath. Hollywood has given us similar visions of twisted suburbia in films like EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, THE BURBS, and BLUE VELVET. But writers/directors Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe distinguish their film with a comically surreal flavor of their own. “Jokes” like having housewife Jill (DeBoer) offer up her new baby to fellow soccer mom Lisa (Luebbe) as though it were simply good manners to do so display a level of matter of fact weirdness that recalls Luis Bunuel.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

'Atlantics' is both deep and eerie

[ATLANTICS screens Thursday December 12th at 8:35pm and Friday December 13th at 7:00 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.

ATLANTICS (Atlantique) tells the story of Ada (Mame Bineta Sane), a young woman living in Dakar, Senegal. She is in love with Souleiman (Ibrahima Traoré), one of the construction workers erecting a luxury skyscraper on the seacoast, but is betrothed to the less personable but more financially stable Omar (Babacar Sylla). It would seem Ada has a decision to make, but the choice is taken out of her hands.

Soulemain and the rest of the workers haven’t been paid in 3 months. Hoping to find better prospects, they head out to sea. Ada doesn’t find out until after the fact, and is understandably upset. But with her nuptials fast approaching, she can’t exactly talk about her feelings openly, even when it begins to seem likely that Souleiman and the others have died at sea.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Errol Morris questions controversial figure Steve Bannon in 'American Dharma'

[AMERICAN DHARMA screens Friday December 6th at 7:00 pm and Sunday December 8th at 8:20 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

A documentary about Steve Bannon probably seems like an odd choice to review for Utter Trash. I could be snarky and justify it by saying that Steve Bannon is utter trash, but that would be beneath me. No, the real reason I’m reviewing AMERICAN DHARMA is because it was directed by Errol Morris, the filmmaker responsible for some of my favorite documentaries. And since this is my blog, I get to do what I want, dammit!

I may not care much for Bannon, but there’s no denying he’s an interesting figure. And if anyone could make a good film out of such a despicable guy, I figured it would be Morris. After all, he pulled the same thing off with such questionable individuals as Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (MR. DEATH) and Robert S. MacNamara (THE FOG OF WAR). Both of those subjects proved to be forthcoming and open in their interviews with Morris. But Leuchter was frankly kind of naïve when it came to revealing himself, and MacNamara was looking back on his career with regrets he wanted to get off his chest. Neither of those things is true of Bannon.