‘The Hunting Ground’
Lady Gaga’s song “Til It Happens to You” didn’t win this year’s Oscar, but her performance did draw more attention to the film that included it. And it needs the attention. Activist docs don’t come more necessary than Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s expose of college campus rape, which has been allowed to sustain and even flourish thanks to institutional incompetence and corruption.
Sorry, people expecting a martial arts movie about a female killer (Shu Qi) to be a rip-roaring ass-kicker. Maybe five percent of this one’s running time is devoted to smackdowns, and when they come they’re hilariously brief (though brutal). But what’s bad for action junkies is great for art film heads. The latest from Taiwanese minimalist Hou Hsiao-hsien (“The Flight of the Red Balloon”), “The Assassin” spends most of its length hypnotically languishing on the downtime between nasty blows: observing Tang Dynasty rituals; hanging with people doing nothing but hanging. The best scene is when his camera films an entire five-minute dialogue scene from behind a translucent black veil. It’s every bit as transportive as a Shaw Brothers spectacular — just in a very, very different way.
Chances are if you see live music, you’ve once been shocked and maybe even personally insulted by opening act fake comedian Neil Hamburger: a slovenly gentleman in a moth-eaten tux and a depressing combover, coughing and screeching his way through intentionally terrible (and usually genuinely tasteless) jokes. The creation of comic/actor Gregg Turkington, this singular creation finally gets his own movie, and even for his fans it can be off-putting. Imagining his life between disastrous gigs, it finds Hamburger to be a sadsack who suffers through existence, spending his nights in fleabag motels leaving voicemails for an estranged daughter who will never call him back. Enjoy!