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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Screening Gotham: June 30-July 2, 2006

A few of this weekend’s worthwhile cinematic goings-on around New York:
–You should know going into Andrew Berends’ Iraq documentary The Blood of My Brother (opening today at Cinema Village) that the film takes itself almost too seriously to bear. But if you will allow me, I intend that as a compliment. Rather than reiterate another 90 minutes of counteracting platitudes from Americans and Iraqis thrown together by war, Berends walks into the maw of the insurgency and just rolls tape. His overriding conceit tracks Ibrahim, a young Iraqi whose life implodes following his brother’s death at the hands of coalition forces. Split between his family responsibilities and a febrile drive for revenge, he considers joining the Shia uprising. But while Ibrahim hedges, Berends follows the ragtag Medhi Army into and out of mass protests, funerals, prayers and, ultimately, gun battles with American tanks and helicopters.

Medhi Army fighters from Sadr City take up arms in The Blood of My Brother (Photo: Andrew Berends)

The tone and action supercede the icy cynicism of The War Tapes or mournful revelation of Control Room; it is the first Iraq doc I have seen in which death permeates every frame. That said, The Blood of My Brother is not quite a great film–it reflects a cloying political self-consciousness at times when it should let its director’s hard-won images speak for themselves. But to the extent Berends reveals danger as the only sense more resonant than hopelessness, you pretty much have a waking nightmare on your hands. And fair warning: Animals were harmed in the making of this motion picture.
–On a lighter, trashier note, the Pioneer is reviving Showgirls for one final June screening. I would elaborate on what a treat this is, but I doubt I can say it better than good old Jeffrey the projectionist (via Pioneer’s MySpace page):

Ladies, mention this mySpace blog post and get discounted admission. BITCHES TO THA FRONT. BITCHES TO THA BACK. BITCHES ALL AROUND BITCHES SMACK SMACK SMACK. I don’t know what that means, but it’s okay. You know what, anyone can just come and mention this mySpace blog and get discounted admission. That’s how we roll: GENEROUS.

Rumor has it that “discounted admission” means $6.50 instead of the regular $9. Which, you have to admit, is a small price to pay for such date-ready debauchery.
–You knew that last week’s rainout would not enough to break the spirits of the gang behind the Billyburg Short Film Festival, which unspools this evening with host Michael Showalter (Stella, The Baxter) presiding. Films include Braden King’s music video Bonnie “Prince” Billy: Horses and the 2006 BSFF Best in Show, Baby Eat Baby–“a film about war and truth starring nude babies and people made of clay.” Assuming you survive, an afterparty featuring live music by Japanther follows.

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“I love Los Angeles. Have I said that? I love it all. The earnestness. The artifice. The blowsy, sunny beauty. The bland, bland, pleasant weather.  The drama of traffic. I love that people don’t know how to make conversation and can’t recognize a joke at a hundred paces. I love that people care about silly things and embrace ridiculousness wholeheartedly. I had a serious conversation with a good friend about his fascination with channeling, for example. Channeling. “I don’t think you’re patient enough for it,” he said and all I could think about was Shirley MacLaine with ectoplasm coming out of her head. Of course I’m fucking patient I thought. I’m fucking spiritual. Shove that up your namaste. Ha ha ha. I love that I’ve become desperately un-English, in the immortal words of my friend Giles, and yet not quite American.”
~ Bumble Ward In The Present Los Angeles Moment

“I didn’t see anything this year. I’ve been making this movie for so long. I loved Kingsman. I really liked It Follows. It was the best premise I’ve seen in a horror film in a long, long, long time. It’s one of those movies that’s so good you get mad at it for not being great. He could have kept his mythology straight. He broke his mythology left, right, and center… Noah Baumbach. There’s a Paul Mazursky quality to his films. I haven’t seen all the Duplass brothers movies, but the ones I’ve seen I really liked. All that mumblecore stuff happened when I was in Germany doing Inglourious Basterds, so I didn’t even know about it. Then I came home and started reading about it, like,What the fuck is this shit? So I watched Baghead. I said to my friend Elvis Mitchell, “Have you seen any of those mumblecore movies? I was curious and watched Baghead, and I thought it was really good.” He goes, “You saw the good one. They’re not all like that. You reached into a pickle barrel and grabbed the right pickle.” I haven’t seen Hannah Takes the Stairs.”
~ QT On Movies He Likes

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