Category Archives: New
From Israel, the new film “Fill the Void” opens at Landmark Theatres Sunshine Cinema (143 East Houston Street) and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas (Broadway between 62nd and 63rd Streets) on Friday, May 24. I attended a press screening of “Fill the Void,” as part of the New York Film Festival, last October. The preview included a post screening Skype conversation with the film’s director, Rama Burshtein, from her home (her kitchen actually) in Israel. “Fill the Void” shows the emergence of an interesting new filmmaking talent, showing the point of view of an orthodox Jewish woman filmmaker. Read the rest of this entry
There are many levels to director and actress Sarah Polley’s new documentary, “Stories We Tell.” In fact, now, having seen the film, I think that its trailer, while certainly intriguing, tells more than it should (as do most trailers these days). I recommend going in cold to see this compelling documentary, playing locally at Angelika Film Center (18 west Houston Street). Now having said this, my challenge is to convey my thoughts and feelings about “Stories We Tell” without giving away more than I should about the film.
“Every family has a story. This one thing that happened.” This quote from early on in “Stories We Tell” sets in motion a story about Polley’s parents. Her mother, Diane, who died when Polley was 11, was larger than life and full of fun. She fell in love with Sarah’s father, Michael, not so much with the man himself, but with a character he portrayed in a play in which the two of them performed. The mother and father were very different people, as Sarah’s father, Michael, frankly recounts. From there the story is launched and flies off at a trajectory somewhere between melodrama and thriller. Read the rest of this entry
“What Maisie Knew,” is an absorbing, well acted and uniquely told story of a family breakup. What sets it apart from other dysfunctional family stories (if that could be called a genre) is that it is seen entirely from the point of view of Maisie, an only child, who looks to be about four or five-years-old.
Maisie is played by Onata Aprile. It is a performance simultaneously rich in depth, childhood naivete and yet one that also displays great strength as Maisie tries to come to grips with, and make sense of, what is happening around her. How directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel got such a performance from this young actress, without relying on easy sentiment, is a real credit to them. Read the rest of this entry
The trailer for “Paradise: Love” gives the impression that this film is a comedy. Yes, there is humor, something played up in the movie’s trailer. Director Ulrich Seidl, who co-wrote the screenplay with Veronika Franz, favors deadpan humor using long takes, a technique that I enjoy.
The ancient Greeks gave us a short menu when it came to drama: comedy or tragedy. The strict definition of a comedy is that the main character has failure, then success and learns something along the way. In a tragedy the main character has success, then failure and learns nothing.
How then to categorize this tale of Teresa (Margarete Tiesel) a middle aged, over weight Austrian woman who leads a less than exciting life running a bumper car concession and dealing with an unresponsive teenaged daughter? Teresa takes a vacation at a resort in Kenya where other women of her ilk curry sexual favors from fit Kenyan males who work at or near the resort. Read the rest of this entry
Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival, “Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia” is a wild ride through the life of the eponymous, critic, author, play-write, raconteur, screenwriter, essayist, novelist and probably a few other things that I am leaving out. Director Nicholas Wrathall managed to capture Vidal on camera during his final years, during which Vidal had lost none of his very acerbic bite. Read the rest of this entry
I have been attending this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which, conveniently, has been taking place, at least partially, in our neighborhood. Many of the screenings are at the AMC Loews Village 7, at 66 Third Avenue.
When attending film festivals, I usually stick with the documentaries. In my experience, the documentaries are almost always very good. The narrative (fiction) films tend to be uneven. Some are good, while some are not. In either category it can be hard to tell which films are worthwhile seeing. The reason for this is that, at film festivals, viewers are always dealing with untested commodities – new films, many of which do not yet have distribution.
While I still adhere to my “documentaries only” strategy, as a rule, I am nothing if not open-minded. As a result, this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, now through April 28, has thrown me two very different, thought provoking exceptions to my documentary-centric point of view. Each of these films involves teenagers dealing with choices and both have stayed with me. Read the rest of this entry
From April 17 – 30 Film Forum will present the US theatrical premiere of the documentary “Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay.” The film is about the life and career of actor, world famous magician, magic historian and collector of antiquarian books, Ricky Jay. Jay narrates the film, a fascinating look at the life and career of this unique performer. Read the rest of this entry
I am always envious of people who can follow and enjoy a movie at which I can do neither. Does it have to do with taste, brain synapses misfiring or attention span? I have no idea, but one day I would like to devise an experiment to find out why this occurs and, most important, why, from time to time, it occurs in me. On the other hand, if we all understood and enjoyed films equal to everyone else, maybe the movie world would not be as exciting. That having been said, I must confess to being kind of lost in the new movie, aptly titled, “Trance.” Read the rest of this entry
“The Place Beyond the Pines” is one of the best movies I have seen this year. The proper way to see this movie is the way in which I saw it, which was to go in cold, not knowing anything upfront. While the argument could be made that this is the best way to see any movie, it is especially true in this case. That being said, this makes my job, as film critic, a bit tricky.
In my film writing I do not give away important story details, commonly referred to as “spoilers.” This is the difference between writing a film critique and writing a film review. Although these two terms are generally used interchangeably, a review tells the reader what the movie is about. A critique, on the other hand, explains why the particular movie under consideration is worthwhile or not. So, how to critique “The Place Beyond the Pines” without giving away the film? The answer, hopefully, lies in what follows. Read the rest of this entry