Russian Road Rage and Car Catastrophes

What is your worst car wreck nightmare? Is it a drunk or out-of-control driver who is speeding and suddenly swerves into your lane for a head-on collision? Or maybe it’s rounding a curve in the road too fast and breaking through the guard rail to land in the river below. Perhaps it is the unpredictability of an icy road where a speeding truck has jack-knifed and is now sliding sideways at 70mph toward your car. All of these and more are just a few of the accidents and mayhem on display in The Road Movie (2016), Dmitrii Kalashnikov’s compilation of car-cam footage from Russian drivers, which I saw at the November 2017 Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville. Continue reading

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Gloria, G-L-O-R-I-A

Paulina Garcia dancing to her theme song in Gloria (2013)

Paulina Garcia dancing to her theme song in Gloria (2013)

This woman is being transported to someplace we can’t see by “Gloria,” the original Italian version of the pop tune by Umberto Tozzi and Giancarlo Bigazzi. That song became a Top Forty hit in the US by Laura Brannigan in 1982 and is an appropriate theme song for the heroine of a new film by Sebastian Lelio (El ano del tigre, 2011) with the same name. And this film is proof that the Chilean film industry is still enjoying a renaissance; Gloria played to a full house at the recent Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville. Continue reading

Le Joli Mai and more at the Virginia Film Festival (VFF), 2013

Virginia Film Festival 2013 posterNow in its 26th year, the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville might not enjoy the high profile of Sundance or Telluride but that’s actually to its credit. While the latter festivals continue to introduce important new filmmakers and work to audiences, the media attention and crowds they attract can often be exhausting and even competitive for attendees trying to get into a select screening. That is not yet the case with VFF which continues to take a relaxed, laid back approach to film festivals despite an ambitious schedule of almost 100 screenings. Very rarely do you have to contend with long lines or sold-out shows. Nor do you often encounter the entertainment press getting priority treatment or trying to impress you with celebrity name-dropping in cellphone conversations that you can’t avoid at other major film industry events.    Continue reading