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The science fiction film genre offers so much potential. It’s too bad that it’s so easy to screw up (see this recent review). But then, you have movies like The Man Who Fell to Earth, something I once called “the last of the great sci-fi revolution.” Then, of course, there’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film I wrote my MA thesis on. It is among those inventive, quality movies that the 1973 animated film Fantastic Planet (La planète sauvage) stands. Now this film directed by René Laloux has been restored for 4K theatrical presentation, and it’s coming to our South Florida area thanks to the Miami Beach Cinematheque.

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The People vs. Fritz Bauer presents the story of Attorney General Fritz Bauer, a Jew on a quest to prosecute the crimes of the Third Reich, as he was also briefly in a concentration camp, at one point. The action is set in motion when he learns that Adolf Eichmann, a lieutenant colonel responsible for mass deportations, is not only alive but living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. To be sure, Eichmann is one of the worst Nazi officials, and in today’s political climate it would be hard to imagine that his prosecution would be riddled with difficulties, yet as this film shows, even in the late 1950s the political climate in Germany was not as progressive as it is today.

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This morning, Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival announced its GEMS 2016 Lineup. Like last year, the mini film festival will offer an array of films that will satisfy connoisseurs of world cinema, fans of music and those looking for a sneak peak at films that will surely go on to be Oscar contenders.

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If it’s hard for Terrence Malick to weave together an affecting story from shreds of beautifully photographed pastiche and disembodied voice over, then imagine one of his acolytes giving it a try. With that in mind, The Vessel, the feature-length directorial debut of Julio Quintana, a camera operator who worked with Malick on The Tree of Life and To the Wonder, actually comes across as quite accomplished.

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Director Ron Howard takes advantage of the wealth of archival photos and videos of the Beatles to recreate their touring years in his most recent film, Eight Days A Week. The documentary captures that sense of wonder that fans of the Beatles once had as this new phenomenon emerged and became a cultural icon. The style of the documentary is straightforward, as is the narrative, which follows a chronological, linear direction. The talking heads in the documentary are interspersed with stills and abundant video footage of the Beatles in action, some of it never seen until now.

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Sometimes Miami has a stigma in the world of the arts. It’s cultural scene unfortunately exists in the shadow of beaches and nightlife. Though we here at Indpendent Ethos have long championed its unique music, from Holly Hunt to Boxwood, to most recently Xela Zaid, and such pioneering film events like the first Horror Film Festival in Florida to filmmakers like Jillian Mayer, Monica Peña and Carla Forte, the prejudice of a party city always seems to (unfairly) haunt this place. Further south, in the islands of the Caribbean, a place known for its resorts, it only seems worse. But just like Miami, the Caribbean has so much more to offer, including surprising music and human stories unique to the area.

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In the documentary In The Land of the Enlightened two worlds collide visually, technically and spiritually. This is a hybrid documentary, meaning some shots were staged while others focus on the environment of Afghanistan and its people through an observational style. The cast, if you may call it that, are all real people. Some of the action scenes are rehearsed and others are presented as they happen. The blur between fiction and non-fiction is intentional, as Belgium Director and Photographer Pieter-Jan De Pue takes on a non-traditional view of how to craft a true story, with imagines elements that respond to a lived experience of Afghanistan, rather than real-life depictions. Shot over seven years, the documentary focuses on the lives of a group of children who are also fighters. Their lives are all about survival and war in the mountains of Afghanistan.

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