Gary M. Kramer
Finding Vivian Maier
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The late Vivian Maier was an amateur Chicago street photographer who left an unbelievable legacy—hundreds of thousands of outstanding images. John Maloof (who co-directed with Charlie Siskel) just happened to purchase a box of Maier’s negatives at an auction and was astonished by his discovery. Viewers will be as well. This extraordinary documentary uncovers the secretive Maier’s true story. An inveterate hoarder, she was extremely private, never exhibiting or sharing her work, and many interviewees emphasize that Maier would be very unhappy about all the attention being paid to her now. Viewers, however, will be extremely grateful.
Esther (the glum Alexia Rasmussen) is nine months pregnant when she is attacked and her baby is killed. Recovering from the trauma, she meets Melanie (the peculiar Alexa Havins) at a support group. Esther becomes more curious about Melanie after she notices her new friend acting strangely in public. Then Proxy introduces a queer twist or six. Director/co-writer Zach Parker crafts a beautiful, stylized and violent set piece around this overlong film’s mid-point, but what follows is so utterly inane and utterly insane that this slow-burn, ultra low-budget thriller proves it has more problems than either of its damaged leads.
Young and Beautiful
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Out French filmmaker François Ozon’s Young and Beautiful is an exquisitely filmed drama that chronicles a year in the life of 17-year-old Isabelle (Marine Vacth). After losing her virginity at the beach one summer, Isabelle returns to high school in Paris and works as a prostitute on the sly. Ozon maintains a cool, detached perspective towards Isabelle’s activities, which become increasingly more complicated and dangerous. Why Isabelle behaves so provocatively is at the heart of this hypnotic film. Vacth gives an incredibly assured performance, and her body language is particularly terrific. Ozon films both her and her story beautifully.