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If a male filmmaker desires to throw up grim truth and reality before the eyes of moviegoers and also swoon critics, many of whom subsist on darker themes, he will at some point consider making a film about war or prison. There are no greater immediate settings for tapping perennial sentiments of a mad world, or for demystifying masculinity by scraping it and reducing it to a primal essence. Unlike the ambitious gangster or mob film, reputable prison dramas tend to feature a protagonist that is closer to us, a person thrown to hell rather than embodying it, nakedly amidst wolves as opposed to running with them. (Ironic, given these characters’ punishments at the hands of society and/or government.)

Engrossing and well-crafted but formulaic and borderline genre-fare, A Prophet is the latest prison film to follow this mold and punch its way creatively outward. Winner of the Grand Prix at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, A Prophet has landed on a number of top 10 lists for 2009; with a domestic release forthcoming, we’ll likely see its inclusion on many of this year’s as well.

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Opening a trailer with a quote comparing the advertised film to The Godfather could be considered the greatest act of hubris in the movie advertising world. Perhaps it’s OK when the film in question is Jacques Audiard‘s A Prophet (Un Prophete), which won the Grand Prix at Cannes this past May, and has been called the favorite film of that festival (not just by the quote shown in the trailer) despite Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon taking the top prize. Since then A Prophet has been frequently heralded as one of the best films of the year.

Sony Pictures Classics picked up the movie for US distribution, and the company has released quite a nice little trailer, which you can see after the break. Read More »

Fish Tank

So, I’ve been at the Telluride Film Festival for about 24 hours, and have found little time to post any updates. I’ve decided to record a quick video blog with Alex from FirstShowing while in line to get into the sneak preview premiere of Jason Reitman‘s Up in the Air. We talk about the hype going into Reitman’s third film, which is evidenced by the three plus hour long line. We also discuss two films we liked.

  • The first of which is the uk coming of age drama Fish Tank, directed by Andrea Arnold, who won an Academy Award for her 2003 short film Wasp.
  • The second of which is A Prophet (which I incorrectly call “The Prophet” in the video), a french crime film which can be simply described as “Scarface in a French Prison”.  The film won the Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes this year.

Both films are recommended, and the more I think about Fish Tank, the more I would love to see people discover this wonderful indie character drama. Watch the video blog embedded after the jump.

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