Borscht 2014: Filmmakers Lucas Levya and Jillian Mayer on Cool as Ice 2

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Still from "Cool as Ice 2"
The most distinctive feature of the filmmaking team of Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer is the bags under their eyes. It's one day before the first night of Borscht9, a film and visual arts festival Leyva co-founded with kindred spirits at New World School of the Arts back in 2004.

Leyva admits he has been sneaking in bedtime from 6 a.m. to 9.30 a.m. Instead of an alarm clock, he's pulled from his slumber with the chimes of text messages and email in-box arrivals. He's often in such a haze of semi-consciousness that he dreams he answered emails, but it's just a dream and not reality. Mayer excuses herself if she picks up her cell phone to respond to text messages, her team is in the middle of making stages and backdrops for "The Multiverse," an interactive evening of Borscht films, video games and more at the YoungArts campus.

See also: Borscht Film Festival 2014: Ten Must-See Films

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Film Podcast: Annie, Mr. Turner, Big Eyes and So Much More

Categories: Film and TV

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Mr. Turner
We begin this week's Voice Film Club podcast with a strange story about Giles Corey, who famously said, "More weight!" as stones were laid upon him during his witch trial. The end of the year is sort of like that for film critics, who are pressed upon with all the Very Important Movies of the Year. Your hosts Alan Scherstuhl, Stephanie Zacharek, and Amy Nicholson run down many of the movies coming out soon, including:

- Annie
- Leviathan
- Mr. Turner
- The Interview
- Big Eyes
- Unbroken
- Selma
- American Sniper
- Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
- Winter Sleep
- Into the Woods
- The Gambler

Oh! We have an email address now: Send jokes, complaints, poems, or comments to filmpod@villagevoice.com


He Brought Down the Wrong Empire: Seth Rogen's The Interview Won't Show in Theaters

Categories: Film and TV

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Photo by Ed Araquel
Editor's note: Sony has officially canceled the theatrical release of The Interview following terrorist threats against theaters, and the announcement that several major theater chains had opted not to exhibit the film. The following review was written before Sony pulled The Interview -- and stands as a reminder that world-shaking art is not necessarily great art.

The big selling point of Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen's The Interview is a jaw-dropper: When the producer and the star of a sensationalistic talk show -- played, respectively, by Rogen and James Franco -- get a chance to interview wackbird North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the CIA butts in and persuades them to assassinate him.

Building a comedy around the planned murder of a real-life geopolitical figure is a pretty wild idea, and apparently, the real-life Kim -- he of the cereal-bowl pompadour and Spanky McFarland jawline -- thought so too. In June, after seeing a trailer for the film, North Korean officials called the movie an "act of war" and held the Obama administration responsible for it, threatening a "decisive and merciless countermeasure" if the film were released. In late November, Sony Pictures became the victim of a major computer hack, carried out by a group identifying itself as Guardians of Peace. The North Korean government has denied responsibility, but "Guardians of Peace"? If that doesn't sound like the handiwork of a scary, nuke-happy comic-book regime, I don't know what does.

See also: Our interview with Seth Rogen about The Interview



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The Colbert Report's Greatness Arrived With Its Very First Episode

Categories: Film and TV

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Colbert in the opening of the very first Colbert Report
The funniest and most incisive show on television is ending this week -- so let's look back at how it began. On October 17, 2005, a power-suited Stephen Colbert furrowed his eyebrows and showed off highlights of his new set. Red letters above him shouted, "The Colbert Report." The title of his show was silhouetted in back of those letters, so it appeared twice. The host's last name was also proclaimed by a plasma-screen on the front of his desk, and it flashed four times on a ticker that ran below it, and was even spelled out on either side of that desk -- "which," he pointed out, "is itself shaped like a giant C." There were nine "Colbert"s in all, not counting the initial he sat in.

"But this show is not about me," the host insisted. "No, this show is dedicated to you, the heroes. And who are the heroes? The people who watch this show.

Here was Colbert teaching us how to watch him. Fake news usually succeeds by doing things the real news never would. But by aping an essentially absurd TV format -- personal-editorial shows like The O'Reilly Factor, with a little Sean Hannity thrown in -- Colbert could stretch the veneer of believability without shattering it. He could widen the gap between what the host said ("this show is not about me") and what the viewer took from it (the nine "Colbert"s on his set) just enough that most people saw right through it -- and laughed. (I say "most" because I know a few late-middle-aged liberals, fans of Jon Stewart and generally smart people, who never quite got the way jokes work on Colbert, and never found it funny.)

See also: Marion Cotillard Wins -- Twice -- in Our 2014 Film Critics' Poll

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The Ten Best TV Shows of 2014

Categories: Film and TV

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"My Dream Breakup" on Inside Amy Schumer

TV continued to unmoor from its origins and transform into something else this year. No longer tethered to a specific appliance, a particular kind of storytelling, or even commercial concerns, "television" now feels like an increasingly obsolete word.


But that's a discussion for another time, for we've come to celebrate TV, not mourn it. Among the bajillions of hours of programming that's constantly available, here are the 10 shows, miniseries, and films that really stood out:

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Marion Cotillard Wins -- Twice -- in Our 2014 Film Critics' Poll

Categories: Film and TV

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Sundance Selects
Marion Cotillard, was voted best actress in this year's film critic's poll.
What kind of circle is time again? A year after blowing the doors off our annual critics’ poll, golden boy Matthew McConaughey won just a single vote for his turn in the loudest movie of the year, Christopher Nolan’s tears-in-space effort Interstellar, which has tied with the unprescient Transcendence as 2014’s worst film. (Transcendence dreamed that Johnny Depp’s character would take over every screen in the world — that didn’t happen.) But his margin of victory lives on, this year in the form of Marion Cotillard, who wins best actress twice: first for the Dardenne brothers’ vote-gathering drama Two Days, One Night, then besting second-place Scarlett Johansson (Under the Skin) with her turn in James Gray’s glorious melodrama The Immigrant, available now on Netflix streaming because Harvey Weinstein doesn’t believe Oscar voters will bite.


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Borscht Film Festival Returns With a Five-Day Showcase of Local Works

Categories: Film and TV

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Photo by Ciara Osorio
In a nondescript, one-story house not far off NE 79th Street and Biscayne Boulevard on Miami's Upper Eastside, a collective has set up shop to finish works for the 2014 Borscht Film Festival. The local group of visual artists and filmmakers has spent more than a decade opening eyes to the splendor beneath Miami's surface while simultaneously celebrating its surface. It's the festival's ninth edition, which is often as surreal as it is campy, tongue-in-cheek, poetic, and layered. Jonathan David Kane, who's been making films with Borscht since 2009, explains, "It's whenever we've made enough content to share. This year we have too much content; that's why we have like a weeklong festival."

See also: Borscht Film Festival 2014: Ten Must-See Films

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Borscht Film Festival 2014: Ten Must-See Films

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Julian Yuri Rodriguez's Lake Mahar.
Not all sequels suck. Case in point: the Borscht Film Festival, which launches its ninth edition this week at venues across Miami.

The work coming out of the Borscht Corp. film collective has earned major accolades over the past several years. Bernardo Britto's Yearbook took home the Short Film Jury Award for animation at the last Sundance Film Festival, and this year two Borscht-produced shorts, Papa Machete and El Sol Como Un Gran Animal Oscura (The Sun Like a Big Dark Animal), will be screened at Sundance. Borscht has had a presence at that festival for five straight years now; films by the collective have also screened at SXSW, the Vienna International Film Festival, the Fantasia Film Festival, and others.

You can see all three films at the Borscht Film Fest's biggest event, Borscht 9, a screening of 29 short films at the Arsht Center this Saturday at 7:30. But plenty of other worthy pieces will show at a series of events taking place between this Wednesday and Sunday. The whole lineup looks like required viewing for anyone interested in Miami, or film, or Lou Gehrig, or stripper fights. Here are ten that look especially promising.

See also: Borscht Film Festival Announces 2014 Lineup

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Florida Kids Take Center Stage Monday Night on HBO's Saving My Tomorrow Environmental Awareness Series

Categories: Film and TV

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Photo by: Richard WhiteCloud
Teakahla WhiteCloud reaches for a baby sea turtle as part of her work as founder of Sea Turtle Oversight Protection, Inc.
"Lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter."

Martin Luther King, Jr., said that many years ago, but we heard it recently from a 12-year-old girl. Teakahla WhiteCloud lives in Ft. Lauderdale, and in her short years, she's become one of the world's great champions in the fight to save critically endangered sea turtles.

She caught the attention of HBO for her tireless works as founding director and secretary of Sea Turtle Oversight Protection, Inc., a junior ranger at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, and for scoring a runner-up award for Oceana's 2012 Ocean Heroes. She and fellow Floridian Daniel Bravo, 10-year-old friend to butterflies, will appear in HBO's two-part documentary Saving My Tomorrow Monday night at 7 p.m., an inspiring series about kids who truly make a difference and why we need to heed their calls for action.


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The Best Films of 2014: Wes Anderson, Robin Wright, and We Are the Best!

Categories: Film and TV

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via Fox Searchlight Pictures

Here are movie moments from 2014 I'll never forget: Gugu Mbatha-Raw's sad pop tart smacking her ass in Beyond the Lights, the sickroom choked with flowers in Michel Gondry's Mood Indigo, Oscar Isaac and Kirsten Dunst's Greek island all-nighter in The Two Faces of January, and the entire soundtrack of Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo's Begin Again, which I've hummed every week since. But hard choices must be made. The movies that made it through to my annual top ten represent a full range of what the cinema can offer--and as such, I'm presenting them as awards.


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