August 11, 2017. “Off the Rails,” a documentary feature shown at the Kew Gardens Film Festival, is an extraordinarily compelling film about a man with a compulsion. Darius McCollum, now in his 50’s, has been obsessed with the MTA subway and bus system since he was 15. Dubbed a “train in the neck” by a local reporter, he has been imprisoned 32 times, more than half his life, for impersonating train operators, bus drivers, and even a superintendent! But, the film asks, does McCollum’s Asperger’s Syndrome (which is characterized by an intense interest in one subject, often leading to obsessive behavior), exempt him from responsibility for his criminal acts? Is prison an appropriate punishment for someone with a neurological disability? Ironically, though the MTA refuses to hire him, because he “doesn’t follow the rules,” he seems to know the rules and the workings of the transit system better than just about anyone else. He is even called upon by the MTA, while in prison lock-down (!), to reveal possible vulnerabilities within the system. Read the rest of this entry
August 10, 2017. The Kew Gardens Film Festival, in its first year, is chock full of little gems that the average filmgoer would not get to see otherwise. Here are two.
“Dancing Day,” which clocks in at only four minutes, was directed, written by and stars Tytus Bergstrom, an incredible dancer who creates a joyful fantasy through the magic of video technology. He emerges from his house, moving to some happy grooves, when another Tytus emerges from the same doorway, followed, surprisingly, by three more in succession. They dance separately, yet echo one another’s movements flawlessly as the five dancers periodically come into sync. Bergstrom’s carefree choreography and technological skill combine to create an unbelievably happy tour de force. Read the rest of this entry