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Guardians of the Galaxy

In many respects, “Guardians,” directed and co-written by indie wit James Gunn, and starring buffed-up former schlub Chris Pratt and Really Big Sci-Fi Blockbuster vet…

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War Story

Director Mark Jackson’s drama is a chilly study in grief starring Catherine Keener as a war-zone photographer shattered by her experiences in Libya.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Beauty's comment bedevils

PARK CITY, Utah -- You can't take food or drinks into the Eccles Center here at the Sundance Film Festival, so you stand in the lobby, gobbling sandwiches from the little refreshment stand. I had my mouth full of roast beef on French bread with some kind of horseradish cream sauce, when a beautiful woman smiled at me.

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Sex, laughs and videotape

PARK CITY, Utah -- I've seen nine movies so far at this year's Sundance Festival, and can report with absolute certainty that there is no trend, unless it is that South American filmmakers are more relaxed around the subject of sex than North Americans. But then we already knew that.

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Postcards from Sundance

PARK CITY, Utah -- Mugging by postcard is the white-collar crime of choice at the Sundance Film Festival. Filmmakers fly to Utah with suitcases filled with postcards advertising their films, which they hand out to anybody who looks vaguely promising. I have 19 in my pocket right now.

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Indies in the spotlight

PARK CITY, Utah -- Sundance has become the nation's most important film festival through an unbeatable combination: inconvenient location, lousy weather, overcrowded screening facilities, municipal hostility, and a 10-day lineup of films that in some cases will never be heard of again.

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Toronto picks best of bunch

TORONTO -- Films set in imperial China, the American South and Iceland won the most important awards here Sunday, as the 25th Toronto Film Festival came to a close. The festival has no jury and is officially non-competitive, yet it managed to honor a dozen films at its closing brunch. There were lots of ties.

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Little screen captures big stars' imaginations

My digital camera slips into my pocket and goes with me to every screening at the Toronto Film Festival. You never know who you'll meet: Helen Shaver bounding out of an elevator, LeVar Burton on his way to a movie, Denzel Washington in the lobby of the Four Seasons at midnight. At the end of the day I download my catch, slipping the photo card out of the camera and into my Mac G3 Powerbook. Software allows me to crop the photos and fiddle with the exposure, and then I load them into e-mail and zap them off to the paper.

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Video, 16mm liberate filmmakers

TORONTO -- Spike Lee's new film was shot on digital video. Joel Schumacher's new film was shot on 16mm. The formats probably made the films possible. Video is not film and 16mm is not 35mm, but the artistic imagination is the same, and the lower-priced formats allow spontaneity and speed that you can't get when you're dragging a 35mm camera and all of its lights and acolytes everywhere you go.

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Fitting the film festival bill

TORONTO -- I walk out of the Uptown and there's a TV crew on the sidewalk, and although they are no doubt hoping for Parker Posey, they ask me a question, anyway: "What do you look for in a festival film?" I say I'm not really looking for anything in particular, blah, blah, but for some reason the question reverberates all day.

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