Friday, February 22, 2019

Neighboring Scenes 2019: Outer Edge and There Will Come Soft Rain

Outer Edge
Ethereal and trippy drama cum romance about two people who meet, fall in love and come apart and the people who orbit them. More form over content film is going to be a film some people love more than others. With its occasional narration, direct addressing of the audience and mystical feel this is not a film that will click with everyone. Personally I enjoyed the ride to the end but when it was done it didn’t make much an impression, being more of a nice scenic trip somewhere rather than a life changing experience. Of course I recognize that there are some people who will love the film so my advice is if the description of the film intrigues you give it a shot.

There Will Come Soft Rain
Excellent science fiction film about what happens to a bunch of kids when one day the adults fall asleep and the kids have to fend for themselves. Mystical, dreamlike (and echoing Ray Bradbury) the film is one that initially takes the subject of what would happen if the kids are suddenly left alone before veering off in unexpected ways. I was strangely delighted by the film which takes a well-worn sub-genre and turns it into something unique. You will forgive my lack of discussion about the film but half way through I realized I need to see the film again because what the film was different than my expectations and I wasn’t as open to it as I should have been. I need to revisit so I can truly see the film for what it is. Regardless this film is highly recommended for anyone who thinks they’ve seen every version of the end of the world genre.

TOKYO LOVERS (2018) Winter Film Awards


Sachiko's kind of boyfriend travels across the globe to spend Christmas with her in Tokyo only to discover she's run off on family business. He then ends up spending time with her cynical roommate. While not an outright love story it is the story of two people becoming friends... and who knows. This is a small scale tale told on the canvas of a city and it warms the heart as we get to see two people warm and open up to each other. It is an utterly charming little film.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Winter Film Awards 2019: A BITTER RECKONING and A SCIENTISTS GUIDE TO LIVING AND DYING

A BITTER RECKONING
The sheriff comes around to Lester's with more questions concerning his father's suicide and it quickly becomes clear that more was going on than he first thought.

Bittersweet drama about children dealing with parents in pain is on okay, if over long drama. While there is much to discuss and ponder when it comes to questions of assisted suicide, the telling of this tale is a tad too leisurely to really work. While it is never bad it simply isn't compelling enough to sustain the 25 minute run time.

A SCIENTISTS GUIDE TO LIVING AND DYING
A young scientist begins to become uncertain about everything after becoming pregnant with her dead husband's child.

Good looking and well made film never quite manages to pull the philosophy together with the family drama on screen. While it's never bad, and while the two parts, the voice over inner monologue and visual drama, are both excellent they never fully came together for me.

However while the film may not have worked for me there is a good chance it may work for you so if the subject matter intrigues you give the film a shot.

In brief: PROSECUTING EVIL: THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD OF BEN FERENCZ

PROSECUTING EVIL: THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD OF BEN FERENCZ is a very good look at the famed prosecutor and activist for justice. Ferencz made his name as one of the Nuremberg prosecutors after WW2 and continuing his battles for justice across the globe to this day. Tracing his entire life from his coming to America as an infant on the open deck of a steam ship through to the present the film presents the man’s life in his words and those of his friends and admirers.

Solid straight forward documentary is a perfect portrait of the man and his life’s work. It is a great way to get to know who Ferencz is and what he stands for and why he fights for justice still. While it doesn't do anything special, it does let the man tell his story and we are better for it.

Recommended.

THE GIFT OF LOVE (2018) Winter Film Awards 2019


Bleak true story of a woman trying to care for her family and sick husband in North Korea who resorts to telling a lie when confronted about the source of her money, thus bringing tragedy on herself and the ones she loves.

This heavy melodrama that is milked for all it's worth was really not my cup of tea. I'm not particularly partial to incredibly sad tales and while I wasn't certain going in I suspected that this might be the case since it involved a lie and North Korea. Watching the situation spiral farther and farther out of control broke my heart and made me wonder why I was hanging in to the bitter end when I knew it wasn't going to be remotely happy.

Well made and well acted this is a film for those who don't mind being reminded how terrible the world is and how the little people will eventually be squashed.

THE GIFT OF LOVE played at the Winter Film Awards this past weekend. For those wanting to see it, it will be playing at the Queens World International Film Festival in March

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Wolf House (2018) Neighboring Scenes 2019

Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León‘s THE WOLF HOUSE is one of the best films you are likely to see all year. I’m still pondering where it stands in the pantheon of animated films. At the same time I’m not sure how big the audience for it will be. The film which is a kind of fairy tale is based on what happened in the the Dignity Colony, a German immigrant community in Chile where abuse ran rampant.

It begins with a live action film about the Colony. A narrator tells us what a great and wonderful place it is and how good the honey is. The film then shifts into an animated tale found at the Colony. It’s the story of Anna, a young girl who is punished for letting three pigs escape. Told she will spend a 100 days without being able to speak with anyone, so she escapes and ends up in a house with two of the pigs. Outside a wolf lurks. As Anna waits for the wolf to go away the pigs morph into a boy and girl. Forming a family, Anna begins to treat the kids as she was taught in the Colony.

Surreal doesn’t begin to describe this ever changing feast for the eye and brain. Using a mix of every type of animation the story and of her charges evolves from moment and moment as reality becomes less certain. It’s incredibly hypnotic to the point that you’ll need multiple viewings to see all the little visual clues and riffs lurking everywhere. I wanted to right down all of the things passing before my eyes but I couldn’t look away because there was simply too much going on. Reality truly is what we deem it to be.

It is all deeply disturbing partly because watching the film in the dark never puts us on any solid ground. Literally nothing stays the same, everything constantly changes to the point where we don’t know what reality is because the images are always morphing. The fairy tale structure further divorces us from reality as does the fact that Anna descends into the cult mindset over the course of the film. There is a kind of creeping madness all through the film and it infects us and our view of reality.

Away from the visceral gut punch there are all sorts of things to ponder, but you'll for give me if I leave you to discover them since I am still processing, and because you truly need to see how they are presented so you understand what and how exactly the film is making its points.

This is one of the best films I've seen this year. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to walk on the dark side and have their heads messed with.

THE WOLF HOUSE plays Saturday night at Lincoln Center as part of Neighboring Scenes. For more information and tickets go here.

Penguin Highway (2018) NYICFF 2019

With PENGUIN HIGHWAY playing at NYICFF this weekend, here is a repost of a review that ran for Fantasia last summer.

How you take PENGUIN HIGHWAY will depend upon how you take Aoyama, the 4th grader at the center. A super smart kid he knows he is going to be great and he knows he will marry the mysterious young woman who works at his dentist's office. What he doesn't know is why there is a flock of penguins in the middle of his tiny town. He is a cock sure kid that made me want to beat the snot out of him.

Yea he's a sweet kid, but he is a real twit. He is kind of like Sheldon from THE BIG BANG THEORY, annoying as all piss which is the reason I avoid the show. He is exactly like a bunch of really smart kids I knew growing up, all of whom I wanted to smack sense into. The fact that I didn't like Aoyama meant that I had a difficult time with the twists and turns involving the rest of the film.

Filled with some wonderful idea, some beautifully rendered sequence and a haunting score PENGUIN HIGHWAY should be a home run but it never really worked for me. It's not just that I didn't like the main character, it is more the fact that the film wants to be more clever than it is. Its trying to be wondrous and instead it is just okay. Yea, the bits look great (I love the penguin hordes), but the story never really works.(And I'm not going to be specific because much of this film is a mystery and the fun is seeing where it goes.)

Worth a look if you like BIG BANG THEORY.

Happy Birthday Unseen Films

Happy Birthday to Unseen Films.

On this date in 2010 I started this website, never expecting it to take me, and my friends (both old and new) where it has...

When I started back in 2010 no one was reading anything we did, nor did they care. Nine years on people seem to think we are something important and that we know what we are doing. I’m not sure we know what we are doing but we have learned to fake it really well.

I can talk about our past glories but instead I want to highlight all of the people who have become part of my and Unseen Films life.

When I started this site it was me in a room with a computer and some DVDs. Over the weeks that followed I roped in my friends into joining me on the quest to highlight films no one was ever talking about.

John and Randi came because they are my best friends and they had to keep me out of trouble.

Ken joined and he pushed me in directions I never thought I could go. He also acted as the de facto editor and social media guru which got us noticed.

Eden Miller came on and then simply said “Why not apply for the NYFF press pass? You’re covering it anyway. What’s the worst that can happen?” and suddenly we were accredited press.

Mondocurry came along because he had a place to write about Asian films and because we were having fun going to movies together.

And from Mondo came Chocko and Mr C. He also put Peter Gutierrez on my radar so when I met him a couple months later I was in awe. Through Chocko came  Ariela

And then there are the friends we made along the way- Joe Bendel, Nora Lee Mandel and Chris Bourne who I literally met on the first day of being accredited press, who scared me because they knew what they were doing and I didn't...it wasn't until sometime later that we actually started to talk and found we weren't that different.

I met Hubert at a New York Asian Film Festival interview of Donnie Yen, and the rest is history. Through him I met Alec. And through NYAFF I made countless friends who aren’t writers but crazed film fans who have broadened my horizons incredibly.

And then there is the Tribeca threads which goes in all sorts of directions but if you want to see how friends introduce friends Lesley Coffin introduced me to Lauren Humphrey Brooks who were there when we stumbled upon Nate Hood, Ben Wallin and Oron Shamir

And somewhere seemingly always there was Liz Whittmore and Nobu…

And everyone introduced everyone to more and more friends.

Of course there are the filmmakers I’ve met along the way such as Jason Kartalian, Patrick Meaney, Dave Palamaro,Ted Geoghegan  and others too numerous to mention

Without the friends I have made along the way I wouldn't keep doing this because having the chance to hang with with all these great people is why I keep putting Unseen together every day.

As we slide toward our tenth anniversary we are going to continue if bringing you reviews of films of all sorts. I can’t say I know what is going to happen or what we will be doing but me are going to keep doing it…

...just at a slower pace. The increasing pace we’ve been keeping has been killing me and I need to back off. Where I used to do long reviews they have grown shorter and shorter because there is always another film. Personally I’m going aim more for what interests me instead of grazing across the board. You might have noticed that our coverage of Film Comment and New York Jewish Film Festival were less than in years past, that’s because I wanted to focus on the things that made me go "oh cool" rather than simply noting every film. Similarly coverage of Rendezvous with French Cinema will be on the light side as well. In the next year I want to give the films a fairer shake than having to jump from film to film.

Ultimately the plan for the next year is to find a sweet spot to make going past the tenth anniversary something that not only will be enjoyable for everyone but also something that will not kill me and allow me to have a life beyond it.

But for now lets not think past today. For day lets go have some cake and cookies and just enjoy the 9 years of Unseen Films.

(The line for cookies is forming to the right- just check with Bully and Shelly....

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Extreme Number (2018) Winter Film Awards 2019

Chechen rebel makes his way into Germany. Captured and put into a prison hospital because he has tuberculosis he makes the acquaintance of a translator who helps him escape. He then is sent on a mission by his superiors in Germany.

Based on a true story  and mixing recreation with footage shot during the war in Chechnya EXTREME NUMBER is a film with a lot on it's mind. Pondering the notions of why people choose to fight and what is acceptable violence the film has a great deal of food for thought. As a result this is a film that is going to hang around in your head for a long time after you see it as you mull what is the right thing to do.

As heady as the film is I found it hard to completely give myself over to the film emotionally. While the actual video allows us to get a good feel for why events happened as they do and they give us a great understanding of the backstory, there i so much that it keeps us at a distance for the films brief running time. Yes, we get to know the translator, but even with the voice over I never felt connected to the soldier.

While an important film in that it will make you think about why people fight and because it helps us understand the war in Chechnya it never manages to connect to out hearts so it remains a very good film instead of a truly great one.

Murder Me Monster (2018) Neighboring Scenes 2019

For most of its running time Murder Me Monster is a nifty police procedural about a serial killer in a rural village in the mountains that feels like David Lynch and HP Lovecraft had an evil love child that was delivered in the third row of the local art house. And then things get weird and I’m not quite sure what I think.

Opening with one hell of an opening shot where a woman stumbles through some sheep and into the frame. Her eyes are searching around for something as blood dribbles off her neck. Her eyes go wide as her head falls back and her head begins to tear off. She then reaches up and tries to put her head back on… From there we get the story of a local cop who tries to sort out who is behind the killings (more people die) and whether his lover’s husband has anything to do with them.

Dark, moody and incredibly brooding this is a film that grabs you and draws you in and takes you into the heart of darkness. Director Alejandro Fadel has a lot on his mind and he is going to get it out in some long discussions that add to the oppressive mood. Fadel plays this as a serial killer flick with supernatural over tones for much of the film. Yes we know there is something in the darkness well before the officials, but the fact that they don’t know colors what they talk about.  And once we all know what the hell is going on it changes everything but still keeps us feeling rather disturbed.

How you feel about the movie is going to be altered once we get a good look at the monster in the darkness. A disturbing beast that clearly crawled out of someone’s psychotic sexual dreams, it’s a beast that is destined to go down in movie monster lore for all time. You may chuckle at it a little bit, I did, but my ultimate reaction was “that’s just fucked up”. And while I am not a fan of the tail, he rest of the beast is going haunt you forever…

…but as good as the monster is on a purely visceral level it makes no sense. There is a point where you realize that what the creature doesn’t really fit with what happens in the film. Don’t get me wrong it looks good, it and the mood created by the rest of the film deeply disturbs but there is going to be moment either during the film or after where you’re going to realize it, and several other things, doesn’t make sense...however the feeling on unease will never leave you.

My quibbling aside Murder Me Monster disturbs, deeply, from start to finish and is highly recommended for anyone who wants to see a deeply visceral highbrow horror film.

Santo vs The Zombies (1962)

I have a weakness for Santo movies, especially the black and white one. Part of it is that they were just weird little treats that would occasionally pop up on New York TV growing up. Later they would show up here and there like on Commander USA’s rotation of movies and I was filled with nostalgia. A large part of my love of the films is that they represent a complete and total disconnect from seriousness. A masked wrestler is fighting monsters. Yes its very comic book, but for me it’s even more simple than that and it’s all reduced to good vs evil in a pantomime sort of way. Actually what I absolutely love about the films is that they absolutely defy any attempt at deeper meaning. Its pure popcorn for the soul

Such is the case with Santo va The Zombie (aka Invasion of the Zombies). The film has Santo battling an evil genius who is turning gangsters into unstoppable zombies. He uses his army of baddies to rob, assault and kill and there is no one other than Santo who can stop them.

An absolute joy this film is just pure fun. You know who the good guys are, you know who the bad guys are. They fight and the good guy wins. Its not high art just 90 minutes of distraction. For however long the film runs we are somewhere else and forgetting the troubles of the world.

Before you dismiss the film as silly realize that this is just one of dozens of films with masked wrestlers in them. Mil Mascaras, the Blue Demon and many other masked wrestlers have also made movies over the years (yes they are still making them). The genre was briefly popular enough in the 60’s that we even got films like the Superargo films which sought to one up the Mexican films. Some of them, particularly the Santo films, are really good beyond the genre.

If you want a great film to try to see if the masked wrestler films are for you Santo vs the Zombies is the perfect place to start

Winter Film Awards 2019: IT'S WINTER NOW and THE VAULT

ITS WINTER NOW
Despite loving each other deeply a father and son have a strained relationship because the son stopped performing Peking Opera to go into business.

Beautifully charting the relationship between family members who can't stop loving each other despite publicly hating each other. The film festival material speaks of it as being something particularly Chinese but it happens in all cultures and IT'S WINTER CAPTURES it perfectly.

This is a small gem of a film.

THE VAULT
First episode of a web series concerns people living in a bunker underground during a post apocalyptic nuclear winter. When out on a scavenging mission they discover man where one shouldn't be able to live.

I normally refuse to review single episodes of web series because it's hard to judge what something is from a single set up show. However the concept intrigued me so I decided to give it a shot.

Based on the slim amount we see, the episode is only 15 minutes long, the show looks good enough that I would be willing to try a couple more episodes to see where they are going. In fairness I can't say more than that since so little happens I can't tell anything beyond that.

Monday, February 18, 2019

ALL I SEE IS THE FUTURE (2018) Winter Film Awards 2019

One of the best films at The Winter Film Awards is the story of Bryant Pearson  Pearson got out of prison with some training as an optometrist. Walking into a clinic on Staten Island he managed to get a job working with licensed optometrist who takes him under her wing. When Pearson is arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time he has to figure out what his path is going to be.

Glorious portrait of a young man who won't et the past stop him. Moving ever forward toward making a life for him and his family, it a shining example of what someone who wants to change and is given the right opportunity can do.

This is a must see. It will renew your faith in mankind and make you feel good.

Highly recommended.

Winter Film Awards Capsule Reviews THE WITCH HUNT and THE UNKNOWN LIFE OF ANTARCTICA

THE WITCH HUNT
Excellent look at the growing violence in New Guinea where the 800 tribes and languages and the lack of real contact with the outside world has sparked a growing number of attacks on people believed to be sorcerers. Managing to explain why rational people would take superstitious beliefs to an extreme level THE WITCH HUNT gives us much to chew on beyond simply telling a terrifying tale of fear running rampant. Highly recommended

THE UNKNOWN LIFE OF ANTARCTICA
A good, but unremarkable look at the various people who spend time at the bases on  King George Island. We watch what it takes to be at the various bases as the scientific experiments are performed. Slightly unfocused in the telling (some details about  where the bases are isn't given for ten or fifteen minutes after the start of the film as we watch tests about penguins and drones)  the film improves once we start to know the various people living at the bottom of the world. I would be curious to see the film in German since the English narration makes the film feel like a run of the mill Discovery Channel documentary instead of a big screen feature film. Regardless of my quibbles the film is worth a look for anyone with an interest.

Arcadia (2017) and other Doc Fortnight 2019 films

With the Museum of Modern Art's Documentary Fortnight beginning Thursday I'm going to review one film, ARCADIA, playing and post links to three other's we've reviewed previously.

When I discovered that Arcadia was Paul Wright's follow up to his criminally under seen FOR THOSE IN PERIL I had to take a look.Wright welded drama with legend to form a great greater truth that surprises you with each viewing. Sadly I’m not certain what the reaction is going to be for the new film.

Playing as part of the Museum of Modern Art’s Documentary Fortnight the film is less a documentary than an essay or poem about human’s relationship with the land, specifically the English country side. Comprised with clips from films from the last 100 years and mixed with a new score by Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Will Gregory (Goldfrapp), the film seeks to say something about how we view the land and how that has changed over times.

Arcadia is film that demands to be seen on a big screen. There are times when he film’s raw power from the perfect mix of sound and image overwhelms us. It’s so staggering that I can’t imagine what will be on a small screen.

Unfortunately the moments of power are scattered through the film. In between there are god one with okay one and meh ones with the result the film never quite got traction as a whole. ..

That’s not quite true the score by Utley and Gregory soars and I found myself periodically closing my eyes to just listen. (It's so good I purchased it)

Is Arcadia worth seeing? On a big screen it’s a must. On the small screen less so. If you are a fan of the composers most definitely.

--

Also playing at the Doc Fortnight are three other films we’ve seen. (Click on the links to go to the full review)

WHERE THE PAVEMENT ENDS the story of a city's racial divide which is so good it may end up being one of the best films you see all year.

COMMUNION LOS ANGELS is a mediation about the city that Nate Hood really liked

TAKE LIGHT a thought provoking look at the switch from government to private power in Nigeria and the problems that result.

For tickets and more information about the festival go here

To Tokyo (2018) Winter Film Awards 2019

Wrongly being billed as a horror film, this is more a philosophical journey as a woman who needs to go home for her mothers funeral has to get to Tokyo to make a flight in four days time, however she finds her self kidnapped and dumped in the desert and has to find her way home.

More a quest of a soul about needing to put the monsters in our lives to rest, TO TOKYO isn't really scary so much as meditative. With little in the way of dialog we have to piece things together on our own and deduce what is real and what is metaphor.

This is a film we have to be willing to work with if we are going to get anything out of it. If you aren't willing to work with it and work out some answers on your own you are going to find this hopelessly dull and boring. If you are willing to go with it odds are you will find something inside it.

While I liked the film, I wish it hadn't been labeled a horror film. There really are no scares nor chills, though it is incredibly moody and I absolutely love the opening bathtub sequence to death and think it maybe one of the best openings of any film in the last year.

Assuming you can go into the film and let it do what it is going to do without you're fighting it I recommend it.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Festivals upon Festivals all week long

I hope you all have been enjoying the coverage of The Winter Film Awards International Film Festival that has exploded this weekend. I want to let you know that the plan is to continue to bring you coverage through the end of the festival next weekend. So if you're enjoying it be happy more is coming.

If you haven't been  enjoying it I just wanted to let you know that we'll be having a lot of other coverage of three other festivals this week as well...

The Museum of Modern Art's Documentary Fortnight starts Friday and we'll have a little coverage. While I would like to do  more life, and a schedule that din't thrill me has gotten in the way. Forgive me for saying I'm trying to rekindle my love of doing Unseen by seeing films I want to see and MOMA's slate, while having some great films (which I saw already) didn't have a ton of new stuff I needed to see. Watch for coverage to drop closer to time.

Lincoln Center's Neighboring Scenes runs next weekend it has some great,and some greatly disturbing films. We are going to have coverage of half dozen or more titles and there are some winners there. I highly recommend, with the warning they are dark and disturbing, THE WOLF HOUSE and MURDER ME, MONSTER both of which ill mess with your head something fierce.

One of the great festivals of every year The New York International Children's Film Festival hits Friday and we will be wading in. Look for as much coverage as I can muster over the next four weekends. Again life is interfering and while I will miss the opening night for probably the first time in a decade I am attending several full days of screenings. I have only seen one film so far, PENGUIN HIGHWAY, which I saw last year at Fantasia so look for a repost later in the week. Reviews of everything else will come as I see the films....and we may end up with reports from my niece who is psyched up for her first day at the festival.

Last I want to let you all know that the awesome Queens World International Film Festival which runs March 21 to 31 has announced it killer slate (go here) and it has tickets on sale. I haven't had a chance to really look at the slate yet (working on this weeks four festivals has kicked me to the curb) but I know it's all good, it always is. If you want to get tickets for something great then buy a ticket for PALACE which I've seen and will be reviewing shortly. For more information on the rest and all the insanity connected to the fest go here.

Winter Film Awards 2019: MAGNE, EBB TIDE and BACK TO BERLIN

MAGNE
The story of Magne a man with severe Brain damage who hos world was turned upside down when they discovered a way to allow him to write what he was thinking and feeling.

Very good short documentary about a man and his parents and how some people are not what we think they are.

EBB TIDE
A retired teacher decides to try and find the kids she taught 25 years earlier to see if her choice in life mattered. Deeply moving film about the paths we choose and the lives we touch and how we can make the difference.

BACK TO BERLIN
Documentary that follows 11 bikers as they travel from Israel to Berlin carrying the flame for the opening ceremony of the 2015 European Maccabiah Games. Along the way they will make stops at locations to visit the locations from which their families came as well as places connected to the Holocaust.

Very good look at group of people connect the past present and future. It is a great time, and often sobering history lesson that manages to entertain and more importantly touch the heart.

Running a scant 75 minutes there were times where I wished the filmmakers had stayed a little longer with some of the stories we are being told. Still that's quibbling when what is here is so good.

Monsters (2018) Winter Film Awards 2019

My question about twenty minutes into MONSTERS was why wasn't this on anyone's radar?  Don't get me wrong I love that the Winter Film Awards picked it up but frankly I can't believe that any of the bigger name festivals didn't snap this gem of a film up.

MONSTERS is about three masked men who break into a house to rob it....well...that's what they say but there is a more going on then meets the eye and as a result it all goes horribly terribly wrong.

And that is all I am going to say about the plot because the less you know going in the farther forward on your seat you will be and the more uncomfortable you will become with each new revelation.

Small scale and claustrophobic MONSTERS takes place in a couple of rooms of one house in Morocco.  It has a real feel to it. We feel like we are flies on the wall where something bad is going down. I have no doubt that part of the way it is shot is a result of the budget but writer director Aksel Rifman turns what would have been a minus in the hands of some one else into a positive since the fact that we are largely anchored to a few rooms tricks us into thinking that this is happening in real time right before us.

The performances are all largely on target, and believable. My sole complaint is that one of the bad guys constant flipping of a knife is too much. It feels like he's doing it for the camera as opposed to something his character would do.

Please forgive me if this review reads slightly awkward but I am trying very hard not to spill the beans as to what is happening. This is a taut thriller where layers are peeled  away and the ground shifts as a result. I want very much to to discuss what happens and why this film is so good but I find that with each sentence or paragraph where I try to say something I end up leaking something out, so I cut it out and write something less thrilling.

Trust me this is a nifty little crime story that you really want to see before people start discussing it. Writer director Rifman has crafted a rough around the edges gem that has more heart soul and suspense than most of the big budget films that come from the big studios.

This is one of the finds of the year.

If you are in New York do yourself a favor and get down to the Winter Film Awards tonight and see this great film before your friends and neighbors. Tickets and more information can be had here.

Winter Film Awards 2019: WINTER RIDGE and A LAND SHAPED BY WOMEN

WINTER RIDGE
Detective Barnes arrives home to find his wife has been put into a coma as a result of a terrible accident. Several months later he throws himself into a murder investigation that morphs into a hunt for a serial killer who is killing anyone with a degenerative disease.

Less feature film than two part TV detective show episode WINTER RIDGE is never bad but it never quite puts us on the edge of our seats.  More concerned with the characters than the mystery it plays out like some of the British TV shows where they mix in a heavy dose of the characters's personal life as well as a mystery. That's the way you want to go in a series but in a one off mystery not so much.

A big problem with the film is that there really isn't enough in the way of suspects to make us work very hard to figure out who is behind it all. At a certain point we've ticked off who it is.

WINTER RIDGE is never a bad or uninteresting film, its simply more of an okay time passer


A LAND SHAPED BY WOMEN
Snowboarders Anne Flore Marxer and  Aline Bock travel around Iceland snowboarding and meeting the women who have shaped the history of the country.

Odd mix of sports film and political/social documentary introduces us to a of really interesting women and the the world they are working to create. The two pieces are quite good but they don't work together as well as they should since the shifting between great looking images of travel and snow take away from all of the wonderful women. Its not bad but I think if they had focused more on the women and less on the travelogue this would have been a great film instead of just a good one.

WINTER RIDGE and  A LAND SHAPED BY WOMEN play this afternoon with the animated  YESTERDAY WILL BE TOMORROW. For tickets and more information go here.