The Magazine of Independent Film



THE CAVE OF THE YELLOW DOG (February, Tartan Films)

Byambasuren Davaa’s follow up to the Oscar nominated The Story of the Weeping Camel continues the director’s look at her Mongolian heritage by using real people to tell her story. In this touching tale that mixes fiction and real life, a young girl named Nansal befriends a small dog, but her family disapproves as they believe it may be attacking their heard of sheep. When the time comes to move the camp, Nansal must decide if she’ll leave the dog behind or defy her parents. Showcasing the beautiful landscapes of Mongolia, like Camel, Davaa weaves a heartfelt story that focuses on family, ancient cultures and friendship.


THE U.S. VS. JOHN LENNON (February, Lionsgate)

During the turbulent ‘60s and ‘70s John Lennon transformed himself from a mop-top idol in a band he called “bigger than Jesus” into one of the loudest voices opposing the Vietnam War. And with his wife Yoko Ono by his side, Lennon became a threat to the Nixon administration. But it wasn’t songs like “Revolution,” “Give Peace A Chance” or “Imagine” that made him a target. His association with activists like Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman and Black Panther Party co-founder, Bobby Seal lead to government surveillance of Lennon and Ono that included phone taps and even an attempted deportation. Co-directors David Leaf and John Scheinfeld examine this turbulent time in the country through Lennon’s music, news footage, home videos and interviewing people who were there like Walter Cronkite, Ron Kovic, G. Gordon Liddy, Geraldo Rivera, White House spokesman John Dean and Yoko Ono.


LUNACY (February, Zeitgeist Films)

Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer’s (Little Otik, Alice) latest film opens with the filmmaker announcing to the audience that what they’re about to see is a “philosophical horror film” based on two Edgar Allan Poe short stories and the works of the Marquis de Sade. But to say the film is just a horror movie wouldn’t give it justice. With a mixture of comedy and stop-motion animation, Svankmajer’s bizarre story of a troubled man (Pavel Liska) fighting to stay sane while being manipulated by a crazed nobleman (Jan Triska) is impossible to categorize, and that’s what makes it so interesting. And I won’t even try to explain the animated meat.


COCAINE COWBOYS (January, Magnolia Pictures)

Chronicling the golden-age of the Miami drug trade that brought a ring of violence not seen since Probation-era Chicago, director Billy Corben (Raw Deal: A Question of Consent) tracks down the key cocaine traffickers that turned 1980s Miami into the Wild West, a story that has since been glorified in movies (Scarface) and TV (Miami Vice). Through photos and news footage, this fast-paced documentary shows how cocaine spontaneously changed a sleepy Florida city into a budding metropolis. But the real meat of the doc is the interviews Corben does with the men who trafficked the drugs from Columbia. Some are comical — like when one dealer explains how he helped a broken police boat back to shore while he had a shipment of cocaine in the bottom of his boat — but most detail the out of control violence that made Time magazine dub Miami during the ‘80s “Paradise Lost.”—Jason Guerrasio



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