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Mónica del Carmen Leaps Past Mexican Taboos

Mónica del Carmen

Mexico is no stranger to violence. And sadly, "feminocidio" in border town Juárez has serialized images of marred women on national news. But it remains to be seen how Mexican filmgoers will stomach the fiendish sex play lensed with auteurist naturalism in Leap Year/Año bisiesto when the film opens in domestic theaters September 24.

Here at the 2nd Chihuahua City International Film Festival -- in the capital city of the same state as Juarez -- Michael Rowe's first go at directing a feature has ignited fiery debates. Exploring the carnal abyss during February of a leap year, the Australian-born filmmaker eyes his adoptive culture with the distance needed to vault taboos.  

Some hail Leap Year as the nerviest entry in Mexico's New Wave of sacrificial eroticism let loose by Carlos Reygadas (Battle in Heaven, Japón). Others dismiss it as a frontal assault on morality and the senses; some 15 of the latter fled Festival venue Cinépolis half-way through the August 20 screening.

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Classic 3-D at Film Forum August 13 – 26

Classic 3-D GlassesUpon observing certain aspects of the world around him, my father used to say, “The more things change the more they remain the same.” Nothing could be more apropos to Dad’s favored expression than the film industry’s current trend of releasing 3-D movies.

Hollywood’s first Golden Age of 3-D films lasted briefly, from 1953 to 1954, and came about as a response to the competition -- television. “I’m amazed that, almost 60 years after the first 3-D heyday, which lasted two years, Hollywood once again sees 3-D as the future and savior of the industry,” explained Bruce Goldstein, Film Forum’s Director of Repertory Programming, who put together the Classic 3-D screening series at Film Forum running August 13th – 26th, 2010.

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Billy Magnussen Gives Em Hell in "Twelve"

In light of television's fascination with the lives of others, especially those of different economic orders either up or down the scale, the recently released Twelve fit right into the general zeitgeist. Though veteran director Joel Schumacher's film didn't exactly charm the critics or audiences when it came out, one bright spot in the film's ensemble cast was the face time from actor Billy Magnussen.Billy  Magnessen as Claude

His very non-hero of a character (not a bad guy but a pained, tortured guy), older brother Claude to Rory Caulkin's younger bro Chris provided great fodder for anyone who's ever had a gripe with the offsprings of the rich and privileged. Having lived on the Upper East Side, deejayed in preppie clubs (such as long-shuttered Surf Club) and gone to the area waterholes, I have an informed knowledge of these spoil brats. These are the kids who people such series as Gossip Girl or NYC Prep and provided material for 17-year-old author Nick McDonell, whose book inspired this film.

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French Director Christian Carion bids Farewell to Russia

Another hot Russian spy fills our news media and infiltrates our movie screens. From Anna Fermanova in the real world to Angelina Jolie in Salt (about a Russian gumshoe who was recruited during the Soviet era to destroy America), stealth plots to topple foreign governments are exploding. But one cloak-and-dagger story actually happened the other way around, something detailed in L'affaire Farewell, the new French political thriller. 

Based on the book Bonjour Farewell by Serguei Kostine, the cinematic Farewell tells the riveting true tale of a disenchanted KGB colonel who gives state secrets to a French businessman working in Russia. Devastated by how the Communist ideal has become corrupted under Leonid Brezhnev's regime, he committed treason, and in so doing hastened the Cold War's end and made way for Gorbachev, glastnost and perestroika. He acted without seeking financial compensation – much too capitalist for his taste – but rather followed his nose to a new dawn for all his fellow Russians, and especially for his son.

As directed by Academy Award®-nominated Christian Carion (Joyeux Noël), the film boasts a remarkable international cast starring two noted film directors who are also respected actors, Guillaume Canet (The Beach, Merry Christmas, Tell No One) and Emir Kusturica (The Good Thief, Underground, Arizona Dream). The ensemble also includes Alexandra Maria Lara, Ingeborda Dapkunaite, Diane Kruger, Willem Dafoe, Fred Ward and David Soul.

Farewell crisscrosses romance, politics and the state while telling a compelling story through terse dialogue and understated action. When Carion came to New York earlier this year to debut Farewell as the Opening Night presentation of Rendez-Vous With French Cinema, presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and UniFrance at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater, he gave the following exclusive interview. NeoClassics Films will release Farewell in the US.

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