Mark Jenkins http://wypr.org en The Rush Of A River; The Rise Of A Gondola http://wypr.org/post/rush-river-rise-gondola Although they take very different approaches to the eco-documentary, <em>DamNation</em> and <em>Manakamana</em> are both immersive experiences. In the former, one of the directors is the narrator and an onscreen character. In the latter, the directors stay off-camera (or behind the camera) as they turn a simple journey into a slowly unraveling ethnographic mystery.<p><em>DamNation</em> opens with a recording of FDR, who acclaims the then-new Hoover Dam and denounces those of "narrow vision" who reject major public-works projects. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:02:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 11741 at http://wypr.org The Rush Of A River; The Rise Of A Gondola 'Boys Of Abu Ghraib' Focuses Too Tightly On An Army Of One http://wypr.org/post/boys-abu-ghraib-focuses-too-tightly-army-one Essentially a one-man show, writer-director-star Luke Moran's <em>Boys of Abu Ghraib</em> observes a soldier's deployment at the prison during its most notorious post-Saddam year, 2003. As such, the movie works pretty well. But spotlighting a single GI sidesteps the group dynamic of what happened at the U.S.-run jail, where poorly supervised guards incited each other to behave in ways that were, at the least, unprofessional.<br /> Sat, 29 Mar 2014 17:29:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 10808 at http://wypr.org 'Boys Of Abu Ghraib' Focuses Too Tightly On An Army Of One It's Faction Against Faction In A Grim Future Chicago http://wypr.org/post/its-faction-against-faction-grim-future-chicago The latest teen-girl fiction series to become a movie franchise, <em>Divergent </em>delivers adolescent viewers some bad news and some good news. The bad is that the dystopian future will be just like high school, with kids divided into rigid cliques. The good is that adulthood will be just like high school, so teens face no major surprises.<p>In the first of three movies adapted from Veronica Roth's trilogy, Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) lives in a trashed, walled-in Chicago where everyone belongs to one of five castes: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless or Erudite. Thu, 20 Mar 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 10363 at http://wypr.org It's Faction Against Faction In A Grim Future Chicago Foreign Policy, With A Pugnacious French Twist http://wypr.org/post/foreign-policy-pugnacious-french-twist A frisky tour of the Gallic equivalent of the U.S. State Department, <em>The French Minister</em> boasts robust pacing, screwball-comedy banter and an exuberant central performance. For most American viewers, though, the movie could use footnotes to go with its subtitles.<p>Derived from a graphic novel, the movie observes the travails of Arthur Vlaminck (Raphael Personnaz), a recent graduate of the country's top public-administration college. Thu, 20 Mar 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 10366 at http://wypr.org Foreign Policy, With A Pugnacious French Twist 'Big Men,' Doing Big Business In Africa's Oil Fields http://wypr.org/post/big-men-doing-big-business-africas-oil-fields There are three categories of schemers in <em>Big Men</em>, Rachel Boynton's illuminating documentary about the oil business in West Africa: businessmen, politicians and bandits. Sometimes, though, it's hard to tell the types apart.<p>Filmed over about five years, the movie follows the seesawing fortunes of Kosmos Energy, a small Dallas oil company. Small, that is, by the standards of ExxonMobil, the massive firm that briefly enters the story as a potential partner. Thu, 13 Mar 2014 21:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 10019 at http://wypr.org 'Big Men,' Doing Big Business In Africa's Oil Fields '300': An Empire Rises, Dripping In Gore And Glamour http://wypr.org/post/300-empire-rises-dripping-gore-and-glamour Talk about meeting cute: The first time they're alone together, the protagonists of <em>300: Rise of an Empire</em> rip each other's clothes off. But then Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) and Artemisia (Eva Green) can't decide if they want to make love or war.<p>The other characters in this movie, a superstylized battle epic that doubles as an S&M comedy, suffer no such confusion. They're all primed to mangle, skewer and dismember each other, generally at angles that send red-black CGI blood spurting directly at 3-D-specs-wearing viewers. Thu, 06 Mar 2014 22:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 9679 at http://wypr.org '300': An Empire Rises, Dripping In Gore And Glamour In 'Stalingrad,' Where The Fog Of War Is Plenty Thick http://wypr.org/post/stalingrad-where-fog-war-plenty-thick If you're only going to see one film about the Battle of Stalingrad — and there are many — <em>Stalingrad </em>would be the wrong choice. Russian director Fedor Bondarchuk's treatment of the World War II turning point is shallow and contrived, if sometimes impressively staged. The movie wins points, however, for sheer wackiness.<p>This is first film about Stalingrad, for example, to open with voiceover in Japanese. The completely unnecessary framing story is set in the Tohoku region just after it was pummeled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Thu, 27 Feb 2014 22:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 9360 at http://wypr.org In 'Stalingrad,' Where The Fog Of War Is Plenty Thick Zola's Scandalous Raquin Clan, Sordid 'Secret' And All http://wypr.org/post/zolas-scandalous-raquin-clan-sordid-secret-and-all Emile Zola was one of the founders of naturalism, and his first major work, 1867's <em>Therese Raquin</em>, is full of precise physical description. The novel's plot is utter melodrama, though, and that's the aspect emphasized by <em>In Secret</em>, the latest in a century-long string of film and TV adaptations.<p>With its small cast of characters and limited number of locations, the book does lend itself to dramatization. Thu, 20 Feb 2014 22:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 9026 at http://wypr.org Zola's Scandalous Raquin Clan, Sordid 'Secret' And All Two Exiles, Digging Through The Past For Clues To Their Present http://wypr.org/post/two-exiles-digging-through-past-clues-their-present <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeBtHKRy1Ns</p> Thu, 13 Feb 2014 22:03:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 8720 at http://wypr.org Two Exiles, Digging Through The Past For Clues To Their Present Family Matters, With A Dose Of Pharmaceuticals http://wypr.org/post/family-matters-dose-pharmaceuticals Josiane Balasko's <em>Demi-Soeur</em> suggests that modern pharmaceuticals can abet the storytelling in an old-fashioned sentimental farce: A dose of Ecstasy is all that's required to activate the relationship between Nenette (Balasko), a 60-year-old with the understanding of a first-grader, and her previously unknown half-brother Paul (Michel Blanc).<p>But if the "love drug" can heal characters like Paul, a crabby provincial pharmacist, it's not as curative for a limping screenplay like the one co-written by Balasko and Franck le Joseph. Thu, 06 Feb 2014 22:02:00 +0000 Mark Jenkins 8376 at http://wypr.org Family Matters, With A Dose Of Pharmaceuticals