Wednesday, June 30, 2021

All In My Power (2021) Queens World Film Festival 2021

 


Nine weeks into the lock down 12 healthcare workers in New York sat down and told their story.  ALL IM MY POWER is the record of what they have to say.

Make no mistake -ALL IN MY POWER is a great film. It’s a film that will suck you and move you with stories of people who found out that were in wildly over their head but kept plugging along because they didn’t know better.  It is also an important film as well since it records what was happening in the words of the people on the front line of the global health crisis as it was happening. Its better in many ways than the little reports we saw everyday on the news simply because while it is telling the same stories it gave the people explaining what was  happening the room to step back and ponder what they were living through.

As some one who doesn’t want to see another pandemic film of any sort, I found myself moved. I was touched by the frankness of the discussions and by the sudden welling up of emotion as several of the people being interviewed were overcome by their experiences.

In all seriousness this is a great film and an important record of what happened.

The question is will you like the film. If you are willing to go with it and willing to relive the early days of the covid pandemic you will absolutely eat this film up. I know I was hesitant to see the film because I’m so covided out. On the other hand its easy to see that this is a great film  and even if you can’t catch the film tomorrow at the Queens World Film Festival do you yourself a favor and put it on your list as a film to see down the road when you can consider current events from a less emotional place.

Recommended

ALL IN MY POWER plays the July 1 at the Queens World Film Festival at 7:00pm at the Queens Theater (14 United Nations Ave S, Queens, NY) Buy tickets here: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5142038

Last Call: The Shutdown of NYC Bars (2021) Queens World Film Festival 2021

 


This is an hour long documentary look at the effect of the covid shut down of bars on local bars in New York, specifically the borough of Queens.

This is a good look at how the covid lock down altered life for those in the hospitality industry. Told through a series of interviews along with footage of the then shuttered bars. It’s a story that gives us sense of what was lost beyond the money, namely to sense of community. If you want to know what it was like for those who work in the bars during the early days of covid, this is is the film to see.

If I was to quibble with the film I would say there are two problems with the film. The first is the first 15 minutes feels like an introduction that keeps getting repeated by various people in various ways. We get introduced to the various people who are telling us their stories and everyone starts the same way.

The other problem, is that the film is aiming to be about how the closure effected all the bars in Queens, however most of the people interviewed are all connected to the same bar. While I know their stories have a great deal in common with other people who work in bars, it comes across as a less diverse cross section of a population than it should.

Still this is a good film and an important record of what happened.

LAST CALL plays July 3rd at the Queens World Film Festival. Details here

Patchtown plays Ovid.tv starting July 1

I saw PATCH TOWN at Fantasia a few years back and it blew me away. It was one of those movies you never intended to see and then once you see it you find you can't imagine ever being without. After I saw the film I couldn't stop talking about. I talked to everyone I knew trying to get them to see it- and I still am.

I don't know what to say except it's wild and crazy and completely unique. its a film that will hang with you and will become one of your all time favorites. I can't wait to see this film again.

Here's my short review from last year's Fantasia:

This is a short review because I wasn't going to see this nor review it. I stumbled into seeing it and fell head over heels for it. But since I never intended in reviewing it I never took notes and was simply pulled along. Consider this less a review and more a mash note.

This is a sure to become a cult musical comedy science fiction fantasy holiday film about Jon, a man working at Patch Industries where toys are made from the babies literally pulled from the cabbage patch. When Jon a worker on the line discovers the truth (that he is one of the toys brainwashed into not remembering) he struggles to flee the factory. But the evil owner of the company has other plans and in order to save his family Jon has to fight.

Brilliantly off kilter fantasy film is one of the great surprises of this years Fantasia and the year. Where did this wonderfully unique film spring from? I don't know but please send more.

Playing like deranged Tim Burton but weirder, mixed with Grimm's fairy tales mixed with Off Broadway and I don't know what, this film is except truly something unique. Seriously I can tell you what it's like and what it riffs and borrows from but it is truly unique.There is nothing quite like this. This is true movie magic.

If you love unique films you must track this film down.

Julian Richings talked about  PATCH TOWN when I spoke with him about his career. That talk can be found  here.

PATCH TOWN hits Ovid.tv starting July 1.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The 24th Annual Long Island International Film Expo is August 10th - 15th


 Bellmore, NY (June 17th, 2021) - The Long Island International Film Expo (LIIFE) is the premiere filmmaker community on Long Island, and one of the most respected festivals of its kind in the world; showing almost 125 feature-length films in many different genres each year. Sponsored by the Long Island Film-TV Foundation (LIFTF), the County of Nassau, the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency and Gold Coast Studios, this year the 24th Annual installment will be held from August 10th - August 15th 2021 at the historic Bellmore Movies, 222 Pettit Ave, Bellmore, NY. In addition to the in-theater experience, this year many of LIIFE’s films will also be shown virtually, and will feature films from around the globe including: 

Tango Shalom which is actor Joseph Bologna's last film; his son Gabriel Bologna (Director) was an actor in "Tracks" which won at LIIFE and directed The Elevator (HBO Original Release); Produced by Joel Zwick (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and Robert Meyer Burnett (Agent Cody Banks franchise) and includes Emmy Award winning and Academy Award nominated Actress Renee Taylor (The Do Over, The Nanny, How to be a Latin Lover), Academy Award nominated actress Lainie Kazan (My Favorite Year, My Big Fat Greek Wedding), Jos Laniado (Jessica Jones), Judi Beecher (Taken 3), Bern Cohen (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Karina Smirnoff (Dancing With the Stars) and Marci Fine (Saturday Night Live). My Promise to PJ starring Alec Baldwin, Daniel Baldwin, Stephen Baldwin and William Baldwin, One Moment starring Danny Aiello in his final performance as well as LIIFE's past Rising Star honoree, Sal Rendino (Billions), The Soul of a Farmer with Isabella Rossellini, Lie Hard starring Catherine Curtin (Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black), Joel Marsh Garland (Orange is the New Black), Alysia Curtin (Orange is the New Black) and Melanie Chandra (Code Black) as well as countless other phenomenal films to enjoy all festival long. There is also the Friday the 13th Horror Block at 11:30 PM and a NEW Midnight Madness Block at 11:30 PM Saturday August 14th.

LIIFE is proud to feature Twenty eight films made by Long Islanders, Twenty World Premieres, Nine US Premieres, Thirty-nine New York Premieres, Thirty-seven Long Island Premieres, and Films from ten countries! There are also Thirty Three Female Directors, a record for LIIFE.

The Closing Night Party and Awards Ceremony will be held on Sunday, August 15, 2021 at Bellmore Movies starting at 5:30pm. This year’s presenters and honorees as well as a full slate of panels will be announced shortly. 

This year’s panels are free, but you must get your tickets online at www.longislandfilm.com/tickets 

You can also learn more about specific showings/times and purchase tickets at: www.longislandfilm.com

Festivals of the past have included such luminaries as the late Danny Aiello, Ed Asner, Blue Bloods’ Robert Clohessy and Abigail Hawk, Ralph Macchio, John Amos, Ally Sheedy, 30 Rock’s Kevin Brown, Cathy Moriarty, Steve Buscemi, Ed Burns, William Sadler, Ilene Kristen, and so many more.

LIIFE has become a must attend festival for serious filmmakers; with local and foreign film screenings, celebrity appearances, entertaining and informative panels, a star-studded awards ceremony, Q & A with filmmakers from the world over and networking galore. 

LIIFE's sister festival, Scared for Your LIIFE, a short horror festival, is open for submissions at https://filmfreeway.com/ScaredforyourLiife and the event will be held October 22, 2021 - further details TBA.

For More Information on LIIFE, Visit: www.LongIslandFilm.com  


The 5th Deep in the Heart Film Festival announces film lineup for hybrid presentation as Waco-based fest returns to theaters (July 22-31)

 


Chris White’s comedy Electric Jesus is the Opening Night selection, Kevin Smokler and Christopher Boone’s Vinyl Nation is the Closing Night film, and Brett Bentman’s Outlaw’s Buckle makes its World Premiere as the Spotlight Screening

Waco, TX (June 15, 2021) – The Deep in the Heart Film Festival announced the film lineup for its 5th edition, which will include a celebratory return to theaters as part of its hybrid presentation July 22-31. Deep in the Heart FF will open with Chris White’s comedy about Christian music, Electric Jesus and then close the film festival with Kevin Smokler and Christopher Boone’s festival-hit documentary Vinyl Nation, about the love of records. Brett Bentman’s thriller Outlaw’s Buckle will make its world premiere as a special Spotlight Screening. Deep in the Heart FF will also present the always ambitious lineup of themed short film programs the film festival has become noted for over the past five years. The popular Waco-based film festival will be screening 133 films (5 features, 128 shorts and music videos).

Deep in the Heart FF co-founders and directors Samuel Thomas and Louis Hunter, said, “Last year was an important step in our film festival’s continued growth as this city and area’s primary presentation of new film discoveries, but it will be incredibly exciting and fulfilling to welcome film fans back into the theater and give our filmmakers that interaction with audiences that is so vital to their development as artists. This year we won’t just be returning to our theater seats. We will also continue to present our films online, virtually, and reach out to Texas audiences in order to introduce them to these films and the filmmakers responsible for them as well. The sense of fun and love of cinema that Deep in the Heart FF has been known for since our very first year never left, even during a challenging year, but our voice and ability to spread the gospel of our films and what we do has become stronger and made us quite a force to be reckoned with.”

White’s Electric Jesus, which will open the film festival’s in-person first weekend on Thursday, July 22 at the famous Waco Hippodrome Theatre (724 Austin Avenue), is a comedy set in the Christian Rock world of the 80s about a teenager who connects and starts to travel with a Christian hair metal band made up of older kids from his church. The film also stars Brian Baumgartner (The Office) and Judd Nelson. White and additional cast and crew are expected to attend.

Friday, July 23 will feature the world premiere of Bentman’s Outlaw’s Buckle as the film festival’s Spotlight Screening selection. The Texas-based production about a serial killer facing off against a group of deputies in pursuit during a storm will make its world premiere at the film festival. Bentman and members from the filmmaking team will be on hand for the screening.

Closing out the in-person opening weekend will be Smokler and Boone’s popular documentary Vinyl Nation. Screening on Sunday, July 25, the film, which looks at the revival of record-playing culture via “Record Store Days” and the handing of the baton from one generation of collectors and enthusiast to the next generation will include a record collector’s event to go along with the screening and Q&A.

Two discussion-point documentaries will fill out the feature film roster with Eden Wurmfeld and Margaret Munzer Loeb’s Chasing Childhood and Nicol Ragland’s Trans Pecos sure to inspire a debate-filled lobby at Hippodrome, as well as at the festival’s after parties and lounge. Chasing Childhood takes a close look at how American children are faring under the weight of overburdened schedules of extracurricular activities and expectation to “succeed” in the academic world. The film follows education professionals and reformed helicopter parents who seek to find a better and more practical balance to the lives of children. Trans Pecos is a Texas-centric exploration of the issues of land and water rights in this state, while painting an honest portrait of what is to come if we allow oil interest to supersede public good. The film is unflinching as it uncovers the truth in Far West Texas and one pipeline reflecting the beginning of the invasion of one of the last American frontiers.

Since it’s inception, Deep in the Heart FF has had a strong focus on programming short films and curating themed programs that go far beyond basic “drama” or “comedy” programs. This year’s themed short film programs run the gamut from “Seeing is Believing” which will put forth films dealing with “Secrets, lies, deceptions, and discoveries. What exactly is the whole truth?” to “Wants and Needs” that focuses on “Obsessions, desires, and some dang 3-ply toilet paper in the employee bathroom”. Other programs include “Relationships 101,” “Altered States,” “Heart of Texas,” and “Oddities.” Of course, there will also be the yin and yang of “Family Friendly Films” on one hand, and “Horror” on the other. 

The first week in July, the Deep in the Heart Film Festival will roll out additional details regarding plan for red carpet entrances, and filmmaker appearances, filmmaker panel discussions, script readings, parties, and other events that will underline the “festival” within the Deep in the Heart Film Festival. 

Passes and tickets go on sale Monday, June 21. To purchase passes and ticket and find more information (including how to volunteer for this year’s edition) on the Deep in the Heart Film Festival, please go to: https://www.deepintheheartff.com/.

2021 Deep in the Heart Film Festival Official Selections

DANCE FILMS ASSOCIATION AND FILM AT LINCOLN CENTER ANNOUNCE LINEUP FOR THE 49TH DANCE ON CAMERA FESTIVAL, JULY 16-18

 


This year’s festival will blend in-person programming at Film at Lincoln Center with virtual programming that highlights some of the best films shown during the festival’s 49 year history. 

New York, NY (June 29, 2021) – Dance Films Association and Film at Lincoln Center announced today the complete lineup for the 49th edition of the Dance on Camera Festival, running July 16-18, 2021. The 49th Dance on Camera Festival marks a long-awaited return to in-person programming and will be presented partly in the Walter Reade Theater at Film at Lincoln Center. The longest-running dance film festival in the world is offering access to virtual programming simultaneously with in-person programming this year. 

“We are thrilled to return to in-person programming at Lincoln Center this year,” said Liz Wolff, co-curator of the Dance on Camera Festival. “The archival nature of this festival allowed us a unique opportunity to comprehensively reflect on our almost half-decade history. The combined experience of sharing the festival through live screenings and virtual programs to audiences in both New York City and around the world is novel to our history. We look forward to showcasing artists and perspectives from each decade since the festival’s inauguration in 1971 while exploring this blended presentation format.” 

A precursor to its 50th Anniversary, this year’s Dance on Camera Festival celebrates the illustrious films from the festival’s history. The archival program will also spotlight BIPOC stories, dancers, and filmmakers that have been featured during the festival’s run. The festival opens with the New York premiere of Pontus Lidberg’s philosophical Written On Water, which was awarded Dance Films Association’s production grant in 2019. 

“It’s an honor to have my film serve as the opening feature presentation to Dance on Camera’s dynamic celebration of their history concurrent with both the festival and city’s return to live events. I can’t wait to share this work in person with fellow New Yorkers,” said Written On Water director, Pontus Lidberg. “It makes it even more special having been awarded support from the Dance Films Association to make this very film; a truly full-circle moment.” 

The three-day festival will continue with screenings of the Best of Fest 2020 audience award winners. “We are delighted to celebrate last year’s Best of Fest selections in a theater. We look forward to sharing Bend, Shift and Uprooted: The Journey Of Jazz Dance in a setting where the electricity of the films can be shared with a crowd,” notes co-curator and executive producer Shawn Bible. 

As part of the virtual program, Arthur Dong’s Forbidden City, U.S.A. will also feature an exclusive moderated conversation between Phil Chan, co-founder of Final Bow for Yellowface and director, Arthur Dong. Curatorial Advisor and Executive Producer Michael Trusnovec noted, “The opportunity to absorb a work like Forbidden City, U.S.A. or Elliot Caplan’s Beach Birds For Camera really illustrates the depth, diversity, and artistry that is found in the annals of this festival’s history.” 

Dance on Camera Festival will also feature a variety of archival films and programs, including feature, BIPOC-focused films, and shorts. Virtual program ticket purchasers will be able to watch the programming at any time and will have five days from when they first open the link to watch all the films. 

#mydancefilm will return to the 49th edition of the Dance on Camera Festival and showcases submissions from filmmakers all around the globe. It will be available virtually on the final day of programming, free to everyone who registers for an account on the FLC Virtual Cinema.

Additionally, as a prelude to the festival, Lincoln Center’s Restart Stages Program and NEON will be presenting a special preview of Jamila Wignot’s Ailey on Monday, July 12 at Damrosch Park. A panel conversation moderated by Dance on Camera Festival co-curator Liz Wolff will precede the screening. 

Tickets for the 49th Dance on Camera Festival go on sale Friday, July 2 at noon. Virtual programs are $15 each with a discounted All-Access Pass available for just $35 for all three virtual paid programs. Tickets for in-person programming are $15 for General Public and $12 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities. FLC and DFA Members receive 20% off virtual programs and $10 discounted in-person tickets. For additional information, please visit Film at Lincoln Center at filmlinc.org, Dance Films Association at dancefilms.org, and follow us on social media @filmlinc and @dancefilms. 

FILMS AND DESCRIPTIONS

All in-person screenings take place in Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center.

All Archival Films will be available online at www.dancefilms.org starting with the opening of the festival.

IN-PERSON PROGRAMMING

Everything But Fear (2021) Queens World Film Festival 2021


Lovely portrait of Francisco Mendez , Owner of Mendez Boxing, who passed away last year due to covid.

The film is a loving remembrance of a man who loved boxing and wanted to bring it to as many people as he could. He left his beloved Mexico and moved to New York where his gym, Mendez Boxing , a couple of blocks from Madison Square Garden, became the place where champions such as Oscar DeLa Hoya, Laila Ali and Mike Tyson, trained when they had a fight in NYC.  

There is very little I can say about the film beyond see it and this film needs to be longer. There is enough here that this could easily be expanded into a feature (assuming you can get everyone to tell all their stories)

For information on both the virtual and in person screenings 
Virtual - 6/30:: https://queensworldfilmfestival.org/june-30-2021-queens-world-film-festival/ 

Summer of Soul (2021) opens Friday across the country


While Woodstock was going on in Upstate New York for three days The Harlem Arts Festival was was happening in park in Manhattan. A series of totally free concerts over 300,000 people listened to the music of Stevie Wonder, BB King, David Ruffin, Nina Simone, The Fifth Dimension and many many others. The whole series was filmed, however because no one wanted to buy it and show it it sat awaiting rediscovery.

The truth of the matter is that while the series in many ways changed the course of  history, many people kind of thought it was a dream since no one really talked about it. Essentially it happened and then was largely forgotten.  Except the footage was still out there and it was found by Questlove who has used it, along with interviews with people on stage and in the audience, to make an amazing, and amazingly entertaining film about the fest and the changes it brought.

This film is a stunner. Its a great music and great history. Its a film that puts you in the trenches on on the stage and gives us a view of how the coming together of a wide variety of African Americans from all over New York changed things. This film will open your mind.

To be honest I can't say much more than this is a truly great film, except I fully expect it to be in the running for the Oscar next year. Yea it is that good.

Go see see this movie 

Highly recommended

Monday, June 28, 2021

Brief thoughts on Vicious Fun (2020) which hits Shudder July 29

 


Obnoxious film critic finds himself at a support group for serial killers and has to find a way to survive.

Amusing and fun horror comedy, probably would have worked best as a 15 minute sketch. While the film is funny and has a cast that is literally to die for, the things feel a bit stretched out to 103 minutes. As fun as things get, the film is often very clearly a construct and is very intentionally set up jokes and one liners. You can see the cast reaching for objects or doing things not because they make sense but simply because it allows for a pithy ne liner (our hero goes out of his way to grab a phone to hit someone just so he can say "here's your one phone call")

I liked the film a great deal but I wanted to love it. 

Worth a look as part of Shudder's service.

Ariela Rubin on For Your Consideration which hits Omeleto and Vimeo today


For Your Consideration is a 13 minute short that starts with a stereotypical LA mansion living, yoga loving, young woman, who decides she wants to make an Oscar winning movie with the help of her friends. The privileged women brainstorm ideas to attempt to give a voice to social awareness, while really having no idea what they're talking about. 

It's a satire about "woke" pop culture. It's been getting really good press, so I feel like I'm in the minority, but I found it to be pretty cringeworthy. I read one review where the person said they wished it were longer, but for me, even though this is a short, it's one you shouldn't even waste 13 minutes watching.


Sunday, June 27, 2021

Tribeca 2021 Closing Notes


The Tribeca Festival is done for this year and it damn near killed me.  I had a great time but trying to keep up with all of the films dropping every was bad enough, but having to write on them made them even more difficult. Thank god for Ariela  because without her I would not have slept the last two weeks.

From a cinema standpoint this may have been the best year. I think I loved more films than in any other year that I’ve attended. More importantly I actually remember what the films are, this year almost all of them stood out. Amazingly there were very few I hated.

When its all said and done we covered over 150 films, podcasts, VR presentations ect. We did several interviews (which are coming, they are hung up at the transcriber) and generally had a good time.

While I largely missed doing anything in person, Ariela was repeatedly in the trenches. I hope that next year is a full on return to years past because we missed seeing friends.

Okay- how was the  fest really?

Different. Even compared to the numerous virtual fests I’ve covered in the last year it was atypical. And at the moment that is all I’m going to say. It’s not because there is nothing to say, rather that I’m trying to work it all out and do a post mortem on this years fest and I’m not done unpacking it. I’m still hearing stories about how things were and what happened here or there.

Ultimately I had a good time. It was fun

And if they ever try to do a virtual or hybrid fest again I’m taking time off from the day job since trying to do both has crippled me.

I should probably mention a the few films we saw but chose not to review:

I  saw but  am not reviewing ALL MY FRIENDS HATE ME because I hated everyone on screen

I realized that I saw SWEET THING which returned from last year. I saw the film last year but didn't review it because the film played like a vanity project for the director and his kids.

While I was mixed on it DATING AND NEW YORK made Ariela do something she almost never does for a romcom, turn it off early because it was boring

VENUS AS A BOY was pretentious nonsense

As I wind down the coverage from this year I want to thank Ariela for being my wing woman and partner in cinematic crime. I could not have done this without you

I need to thank Liz Whittemore for endless discussion of the films and the fest and making me laugh

I want to thank Wendy Feinberg for her discussions on docs and some other films as well

A thank you to Melanie Addington for directing toward several titles sooner than later.

And I need to thank Danielle Solzman for suggestions and occasionally pointing out things to distract me and keep me on the straight and narrow.

And now to decompress until next year

11 that moved Steve to tears at Tribeca

PAPER AND GLUE
CHOICE OF WEAPONS: INSPIRED BY GORDON PARKS
ALL THESE SONS
GIRL WITH A THERMAL GUN
BLUSH
KATA
BUDDY GUY
NO MAN OF GOD
LAST FILM SHOW
BERNSTEIN'S WALL
NORTH BY CURRENT

Lydia Lunch The War is Never Over opens June 30th at the IFC Center

With THE WAR IS NEVER OVER opening June 30, here is my festival review from DOC NYC when it World Premiered

Lydia Lunch is a goddess. A hell raising woman who has been challenging the status quo she is a survivor and a fighter who hasn’t stopped or given ground. She is ultimately the woman that all our daughters should be.

My introduction to Lydia Lunch was via the films of Richard Kern. I was a young film fan and I was exploring the underground when I stumbled upon Kern’s film starring Lunch. I had no idea what the hell I was seeing (and for some I still don’t) but they left a lasting impression. From there I discovered her music and while I was not one to always go searching for her art it still always was there in the background and sometimes in the foreground as friendships were sealed by a shared appreciation for her screams into the night.

The cinematic biography of Lunch that just premiered at DOC NYC is absolutely wonderful. A no bullshit account of Lunch and her life it is a glorious tribute to a woman who kicks ass and takes names. Told by the lady herself, with some occasional shading from her friends and colleagues it reveals Lunch in all her glory. It’s a film that explains the world as we see it and makes clear that she has helped to change the world as we know it.

I loved this film sooooo much, that when I was done I emailed some of the kick ass women I know and told them they had to see it. I also sat and stared at the screen pondering how to show the film to my nine year old niece so she could have someone to assure her that she doesn’t have to take shit from anyone.

One of the joys of DOC NYC

Saturday, June 26, 2021

How it Ends (2021) Tribeca 2021


Shot during the covid lockdown HOW IT ENDS is about the last day of the earth. We are hours away from some great celestial body slamming into the earth and everyone is largely resigned to dying.  In the final hours Liza and her younger self wader through the city trying to score drugs before heading to a party where they will dance and drink and eat until the inevitable happens.

I skipped HOW IT ENDS at Sundance (the previous year was not a happy one) and I considered skipping it at Tribeca but since it was going to be my last film at the festival I decided to give it ago. If it put me in a dark place I could turn it off.

It is a maudlin and occasionally funny story about life, the choices we made and regrets.  I was amused by much of it. I was also overwhelmed by the sadness inherent in the situation. I know my view of the film of the film was colored by losing my dad and numerous friends in the last 18 months. Seeing the film and it’s world with death hanging over it all was not that far from how I’m seeing the world right now.

While I like the film it is clearly a footnote film. When you watch the film you can see that there is a distance to everyone. We only have a crowd at the end and until then everyone is 6 feet apart. It’s not completely noticeable until you realize how it was filmed. Because of that there is a lack of weight to some of the proceedings because we are distant from the characters. Personally I thought the similar SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD was better and more satisfying.

Regardless of my quibbling , its worth a look.

Steve on THEY'RE TRYING TO KILL US (2021) Tribeca 2021

 


While it is rough in a couple of places and a bit over long They’re Trying to Kill Us is one of the most important films playing at Tribeca. The film is a look at how the African American communities are essentially being targeted with stores that only sell processed food or foods that are bad for human being. Yes the food tastes good but the cheap crap they sell at many of the stores is responsible for the various health problems that are affecting the majority of the people living in the depressed communities.

You have to applaud filmmakers Keegan Kuhn and John Lewis for making one hell of a film. It beautifully lays out how African Americans are essentially eating them selves to death. It’s a frightening tale that makes it clear that what is available to many families is killing them. Where the film scores is not just in its saying the food is bad but in how it explains why it happened and more importantly why it doesn’t need to happen. The argument that eating good food costs more is put to rest as we see how it is possible to eat better and save money too.

What I love about the film is that while the film is focused on the African American community the film lifts itself up by speaking to any economically depressed community. All across America there are poor of all races who are not eating well and if they watched They’re trying To Kill Us there is a good chance that they could get healthier.

One of the most important films of Tribeca and of the year.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Ariela Rubin on Lorelei (2020) Tribeca 2021


Wayland is released from prison after spending 15 years there for armed robbery.  Very soon after he is reunited with his high school sweetheart, Dolores.  They quickly pick things back up where they left off. Only difference is now she is a single mother of three kids, and struggling to support them. Wayland shortly after moves in.

I really loved all the kids in this movie.  They all had such personalities. They were probably my favorite parts of it.  I loved Wayland and seeing him become a father figure for these kids who really needed one. I will say the character of Dolores was pretty unlikable. (though she also is a single mom with no support, so I'm sure she hasn't had the easiest life).

This is a story of love, second chances, and really touches on the working class struggling to survive.  This film was touching. It felt a bit long at times, but I recommend it.

Clean (2020) Tribeca 2021


 Clean is a garbage man with a past. He is trying to save himself by helping the people  around him. Long after the death of his daughter in an accident he is still broken and trying to make up for past sins. However when the local mob’s actions begin to effect his life Clean must make a stand to make things right.

Slow burn, slow building film from Adrian Brody, he wrote the screenplay, is a killer film for anyone who is patient. This is a film that slowly and quietly takes its time setting the table and setting up all of the characters. It’s a film that gives us a reason to like/hate characters so that when things pick up and violence comes we are invested in what happens to everyone on screen. The result is a sweet little thriller where we remember the characters more than we do the violent turns.

I really liked this film. I like how it slowly pulls us in an pulls us along and makes damn sure that we have to hang around to the very end

This is a sweet little movie that’s worth a look

Fathom (2021) Tribeca 2021

 FATHOM is about efforts to communicate with whales in the wild via recordings. It’s one of the most beautiful films you will see all year. Sadly it is glacially paced and odds are you will fall asleep before a half an hour has passed.


The film follows Dr. Michelle Fournet as he attempts to communicate with humpback whales. There have been efforts previously but they all went wrong, but now with the help of computers and data collected from around the world she is hoping to connect with the animals.

This was high on the list to be covered by Unseen Films at Tribeca. When it was announced Ariela jumped and called dibs on it because she loves whales so much. However not along after she deep dived into the film I got an email asking me to take a look at the film because she thought she was missing something.

I took a look and promptly found that the film simply didn’t engage me. Long beautiful sequences look spectacular but they don’t move us anywhere. All of the sequences with everyone are so low key as to be floor level. Don’t get me wrong this is interesting stuff with numerous spectacular sequences but the film never generates any excitement  and when it does it quickly loses it by going to another low key sequence.

I fought to stay awake.

Despite being beautiful this is one of the dullest nature films in many years

Too Late (2021)

 


Young woman works for a terrible boss putting stand up shows together. While she and her friends think he is a figurative monster, the fact is he is a literal monster who eats the talent that he feels has no shot at going anywhere.

Billed as a horror comedy (or is it comedy horror?), TOO LATE is neither particularly funny nor scary. This is a film that sort of lays there and completely wastes it's excellent cast. Blame the script which doesn't do much of anything and kind of meanders along  to various plot points. Its a shame really because the sequences that have noting not do with the comedy club, nor the monster are pretty good. They are so good that I kind of wish they and the cast were in another film.

As good as the cast is I can't recommend this film.

Brief thoughts on Girls Can't Surf (2021) Tribeca 2021

 


This is a look at the early days of Women's Professional Surfing as told by the women who lived it...

...well kind of. 

The reality of it all is this is a lot of great interviews and video footage concerning the early days of surfing badly put together. Truth be told everything for a great film is here except for a sense of order and a context for everything. People just appear, there is no sense of who anyone one, and events happen but there is no real effort made to produce a time line of things. While I enjoyed the stories I had no sense of who anyone was or where things were. It was guess your best.

Worth a look for surf fans, everyone else is on their own.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Ballad of a White Cow (2020) Tribeca 2021


This is the story of Mina, a woman who is informed that the execution of her husband, a year earlier, was a mistake. He was innocent and that the authorities now know who the killer was. They apologize and say that there is nothing really they can do because it was the will of god. As she tries to recover from the blow, her husband’s family attempt to get her daughter away from her, saying she is not raising her correctly. Into the fray comes a mysterious man who seems nice but actually has an ulterior motive.

This is a good little drama highlighting the problem with capital punishment. It clearly shows the damage that is left behind when the wrong man dies. At the same time the film is burdened with a heavy dose of melodrama with some of the turns coming out of the need to keep the thriller like structure moving along.

And please allow me an aside--Watching the film I became troubled, not because of anything in the film, but because this is yet another heavy drama from Iran. Don’t these people laugh? Is there no music? It seems for whatever reason the only films that come to America and play the festivals and such are bleak dramas saying how wrong the society is and how terrible the people, particularly the men are. Here for example all the men are asses  and out for any money they can grab. I am so weary now of the darkness I never want to see another film from Iran again because I know this can’t be all there is any more than believing that every person from the country is a religious nut.

Reservations aside. BALLAD OF A WHITE COW is worth a look for those looking for a serious film.

Neutral Ground (2021) Tribeca 2021

 


Teacher and comedian CJ Hunt takes a look at the rocky course of removing Confederate statues and monuments in New Orleans over the course of half a decade as some people try to hold on to their white washed history and others try to remove the constant reminder of racism and hatred.

Solid documentary score a good number of  points by being one of the few documentaries I’ve seen on the subject that actually makes an effort not to be  loud and screaming. Too often filmmakers reduce the side wanting to keep the statues to  pithy sound bites that make the people sound like completely craze individuals or are just pithy quips. Its funny but it kind of makes a change of mind impossible because people will dig their heels in. On the other hand what Hunt does is he finds Thomas Taylor and lets him have his say. In letting him speak we get a better idea of why people who aren’t rabid nut jobs want the monuments to remain. It may not sound like much but it moves us past the point of where it’s us or them to the point where we can change minds.

Another key thing that the film does is that it really explains how invested in slavery the south was. When I was in grammar school and college everything was keyed to showing the South as fighting to retain slavery but only as it related to the notion of state’s rights. What I was taught was that the South wanted to do things it’s own way beyond slavery. Since most people in the south didn’t own slaves they were fighting for the right to determine their own lives. What Neutral Ground does is put forward the words of the leaders of the Confederacy to show that the war really was about slavery first and foremost. That may not sound like much but for someone like me who has a degree in American History, it’s bracing to realize how off the things we were taught  about the war downplayed essential details. This was one of the few times where we are shown the real weight of the writing on Slavery. Even if I hadn’t focused on the military history in school I would never have seen all of the material Hunt puts before us.

This is a really good film.  Though to be honest I would much rather have seen a film put together by his father who is funnier and much more in your face.

Neutral Ground played the Tribeca Film Festival and can be seen July 5 on PBS’s POV.

Being Bebe (2021) Tribeca 2021

 


This is a look at Bebe Zahara Benet, who was crowned the first winner of Ru Paul’s Drag Race in 2009. Born Marshall Ngwa in Cameroon he emigrated to the US for a better life and found success as drag performer.

This is a good film about one of the first person who RU Paul made a star. It’s a film that gives us a great idea of what Bebe’s life was before and after winning Drag Race. We see how the he busts his ass to keep his career going and to help those coming up.

What I really like about the film is that while the film is firmly focused on Bebe and his life the film finds time to deal with the gay men in Cameroon who are living under the threat of violence for being gay. I was moved by the films handling of the material with a straight forward seriousness that was missing from another Tribeca film that was focused on a similar situation in Nigeria. Somehow this film seemed to say more in its several sections than a whole film on the subject. Even if the film was not as good as it is I would recommend it for those sections alone.

Honestly I had a blast watching this film thanks entirely to Bebe who comes off as extremely charming.

With Echoes of the Invisible (2020) now on VOD here are Steve's and Nate's reviews from last year

Two hour meditation on life, time, the interconnected nature of all things, god, the universe and everything else. It forces you to ponder how you see the world and what you think it is all about. We do this by looking at a blind man who ran through Death Valley, a photographer who searches out the oldest living things in the world, scientists looking for the source of the creation of the universe and the world, and a journalist who walks from Ethiopia, where humans were supposed to have come into being, to the farthest point south in South America, the farthest anyone traveled from our birth place. It is a film about silence and music and humanity.

When you see ECHOES OF THE INVISIBLE don't think about it. Just let it wash over you. I say this because going in I simply started it and let it go. I didn't think about what it was or where it was going. I just let it go. While early on there were moments when I wanted know how it was going to tie it all together after a while I just fell into the film. I stopped caring about the end. I simply let it be and my mind and heart  opened.

Both pretentious and profound, as well as bumpy and perfect ECHOES has placed me somewhere beyond words. It is a film I can not intellectually explain to you since my reaction to it was purely emotional and spiritual. It is very much a film that is going to effect and affect every one who sees it differently. As the film frequently points out we all have out own perspectives. It is a film that touched me deeply, making real many notions of how I see the world. Its final section about how certain monks throw the books away and simply pray by gazing on the world makes perfect sense to me. There is much more that meant a great deal to me.

If you need to know how deeply the film affected me consider that half way in I stopped the film to tell a couple of friends that they should see it, and that was before the ending utterly wrecked me in the best possible way.

I got nothing beyond that. That was one of the most profound  things I've seen. Right now it is dancing in my heart and head making me feel things but not giving me the word to express the emotion. What I feel are things no words could ever adequately express. You will just have to see the film and travel to that place inside your own heart.

See this film for in a time of uncertainty and fear it puts it all into perspective. It may not make it better but it puts the world into a place where things are a little less dark.

I have no idea if the lightning will strike you too but if you want to see a film of stunning beauty (oh hell I forgot to mention how great the film looks) and rampant  and  unbridled humanity then see ECHOES OF THE INVISIBLE  when it plays at a festival or theater near you

One of the tip top best films I've seen in 2020

And now Nate Hood's take:
 

In the Ethiopian desert, Eastern Orthodox monks live alone in caves, eschewing all human contact. Their churches are hewn from the stony cliffs and can only be reached by pulling oneself up the side of the vertical chasm with a rope. There they live silent lives of prayer practicing a 1,700 year old form of Christian meditation known as Hesychia which seeks to still and silence the soul and mind, shutting out all the mental and emotional pollution of the outside world so they can commune with God. Elsewhere in Tibet, Buddhist monks make mandalas of sand that mimic the fractal patterns of the cosmos which echo down throughout creation from the warp of galactic clusters to the shape of river deltas and down, down to the twistings of neural pathways in the brain. Elsewhere still, journalist Paul Salopek sets out to walk the 21,000 miles from the cradle of humanity in Africa to the southern tip of South America, mimicking our prehistoric ancestors’ migration across the globe, dodging tribal warfare and corrupt police states, all the while reconnecting with our genetic memory of ceaseless migration before our species invented the concept of Home.

Look across the world and there are still more wanderers and explorers of the extreme and inexplicable: photographer Rachel Sussman takes pictures of the oldest surviving organisms in the world like a half million year old Siberian actinobacteria; a group of theoretical physicists live in a city-sized machine underground seeking to literally create matter out of almost nothing; a blind endurance runner who’s trained his whole life to run through Death Valley tries not to die while running through one of the most inhospitable places in the world.

All of these stories weave together in Steve Elkins’ stunning documentary Echoes of the Invisible. What do they have in common? They all focus on humans desperately pushing against the boundaries of what can be known about ourselves, our universe, and our places within in. It’s a document of feeble mankind forcing itself to the brink of extremes and finding beauty, peace, solitude, and perhaps even salvation.

Watching it, one is reminded of the outsider eccentrics populating the documentaries of Werner Herzog and Errol Morris and the experimental films of Godfrey Reggio. But whereas Herzog and Morris are largely content with letting their bizarre subjects exist within their own cloistered environments, Elkins seeks to connect all these disparate stories into a singular saga of human struggle and endeavor—and incredibly, he succeeds. And whereas Reggio’s films are largely stoic aesthetic tone poems about alienation and societal decay, Elkins favors bold, immediate emotions intended to sooth, comfort, and inspire.

It’s easy to imagine the crowd that turns their noses up at the hopeful cheesiness of Spielberg or the self-absorbed spiritualism of Malick finding this film hopelessly pretentious. Laughable, even. But this film is a prayer, and prayers require the resignation and surrender of the self to something greater.

Go, seek this film, and surrender. Be healed. Amen.

★★★★½

Brief thoughts on I Carry You With Me (2020)


 I fell in love with I Carry You With Me. The story of two men in Mexico who fall in love and then come to the US just connected with me. Say what you will this is beautifully made bittersweet love story.

I blame director Heidi Ewing who shot this film so that it looks like a dream in a documentary style. I fell in love with the images and quickly fell in love with the people inside it.

I don’t know what  to say this film is just a lovely love story I want to revisit repeatedly.

This was one of my favorite films at the New York Film Festival, it is highly recommended.

POV at Tribeca 2021

 


This is a VR experience set in the near future. In the future AI drones follow people around in the hope of keeping them on the straight and narrow. We are tasked with sorting out  what happened in an incident between the police and 2 cops one of which is coder out on parole that a drone was  shadowing. We have to go though the tapes and decide.

I am torn about POV. As an experience, its really cool. I watched it with a headset and side from messing up and getting weak kneed when I walked off a walkway and found myself floating in the air, I had a blast. Its a really good story and experience.

But there is a problem with it. It was a problem I didn't suss out until I was walking home. It was a problem I may not have discovered had I taken the brief interview I was offered with the programs creator. If I had taken the interview I would have focused on the coolness of it all and not the problem with the philosophy of it.

The problem with the film  is that it is very naïve. Its a program that speculates that having AI drones floating around will be a good thing Its a film that says constant supervision will make a better world. In a way its film that seems to be calling for Big Brother. I am deeply bothered by it. I'm so bothered by it that I don't know how to react. 

I  do know that the film made me giggle with the assumption that the police would stand for the drones and that their ability to shoot cops even with no lethal means would be tolerated. Its a disconnect from the real world that made me question everything else.

Honestly I still don't know what I think. Some of what it is suggesting is a good thing but some of it is out of touch....

On the other hand its a fun experience and a beautifully designed world.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Ariela Rubin on THEY'RE TRYING TO KILL US (2021) Tribeca 2021

 


"Poor diets kill more blacks than pistols"

They're Trying to Kill Us is a documentary that explores food injustices in the Black & Native American communities. The leading cause of death among African Americans isn't guns like many might believe, but it's heart disease, cancer, strokes, and diabetes.  They're Trying to Kill Us connects the dots between what we eat, disease, poverty, and racism.

The documentary discusses how poor neighborhoods have different food options. These neighborhoods mostly have corner stores consisting of cheap and unhealthy foods. Some have no grocery stores at all. There are more gun dealerships than grocery stores in the US and they're more distributed in black neighborhoods. Fast food restaurants too are mostly all owned by white people, but they target black neighborhoods.

The film also talks about how many of the foods that black people commonly eat started in slavery and then became a tradition. However, the traditional food in West Africa were whole grains, whole foods, mostly plant foods.

They're Trying to Kill us discusses how much the government is involved in what people eat as well. For instance, they push dairy on people even though most people are lactose intolerant and that's because they get money from the dairy industry. The film also touches on how corrupt the pharmaceutical world is. All of these organizations work together: fast food makes people sick, drug companies keep people sick. Many of the same board members and CEO's etc are in both industries, which was wild to learn.

The documentary uses a lot of statistics and facts. It features many black hip-hop and R&B artists, influencers, politicians, professional athletes, and many doctors giving their input. I hope that having all of these people in the film helps to influence and inspire people to make a change.

The film did feel a little long, but it was very educational. It will make you angry and sad. I think it's an extremely important film that I believe everyone should watch! 

A CHOICE OF WEAPONS: INSPIRED BY GORDON PARKS (2021) Tribeca 2021


A CHOICE OF WEAPONS: INSPIRED BY GORDON PARKS is a masterpiece. It is not only a magnificent portrait of Gordon Parks, a man who changed the world but also a deeply moving portrait of the influence that the man still has on the world today.

Made up of then contemporary interviews with Parks where he talks of his life, the film also includes interviews with people who knew him, who study his work and most importantly and most tellingly with everyone who is influenced by his work. It is through the people that he influenced, including a giddy Spike Lee, that we realize that Parks maybe gone but he is still here (one photographer mentions that she knows she has the shot if it looks like a Parks photograph)

And what I love about this film is its all here. From his early days talking photos and selling them to a newspaper, to his time with life, his novels, his movies, his political activism and everything else he did. Parks did so much that it would almost be easier to talk about what he didn’t do.

One of the things I love about the film is it’s clear that even though Parks never overtly was political at the start with what he was doing with his photographs, he was always making a statement. He was always making his subjects human. The result was that, say his photographs of segregation took on another level beyond straight reporting. Through his photographs the world saw the humanity the racists would deny African Americans.

Toward the end of the film I found myself moved. Listening to everyone talk about how they couldn’t do what they were doing were it not for Parks moved me.

While I was always a fan of Parks, this film really made me understand how much the world owes him. I love that we see the context of his life in total and not just his photographs or novels or movies, but the whole package.

One of the best films of 2021. A must see.

Brief thoughts on Death of My Two Fathers (2021) Tribeca 2021


 Filmmaker Sol Guy makes a film about his family for his children using the tapes his father made when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

While I like the idea of what Guy is doing, I never connected with it. This was a film that came across to me as a much too personal journey. It seemed much to specific to Guy and his life. I felt like an outsider. 

Honestly I don't know how much more to say since I this is such a personal film it's hard to be objective. You are either going to connect to it or you won't.

My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To (2020) opens Friday

Dwight and Jesse have to care for their younger brother Thomas who is sickly and must live on blood. With no normal means of getting it the pair are forced to hunt people on the outskirts of society, who won't be missed, in order to feed their brother. Unfortunately the endless cycle is taking it's toll on the family as Dwight wants some other life and Thomas wants to go out and be with people. Jesse meanwhile will do what she has to keep her family together.

MY HEART... is a great looking (receiving a Special Mention for Best Cinematography at this year's Tribeca Film Festival) art house horror film. It is a film where the look sets the mood and the place and it makes you feel claustrophobic. We are trapped in the world of the characters with no way out. It is oppressive and you really don't want to be there, and that is before anything terrible happens.

While the film opens with Dwight looking for some food for his brother the terrible stuff comes a little bit later. After a period of carefully modulated character development, which director Jonathan Cuartas uses to amp everything up, the trio's carefully constructed life begins to fall apart. Things begin to go wrong, occasionally awfully, making an already difficult situation even worse. There is a point where the moody art film turned "grindhouse" and I reacted audibly. While it is never overly gory, what is happening is clearly unpleasant.

And as unpleasant as this film can be, ultimately this is not about blood and gore but about family. In the press notes writer director Cuartas said that the idea for the film came from watching his grandmother slowly die and his observations about how his family reacted.  This is a film about how the hovering presence of death kicks us apart and brings us together.

I really like MY HEART.... While I am not going to lie and say it's perfect. I do think that once the film really begins to move, that once the grindhouse overtakes the art house the film improves and becomes something you can't stop watching.Once the film turns you have to see how this is all going to go down. And while the film has an ending I'm still really curious about how event will play out after the credits roll.

Now a word of warning lest you think that you could magically jump to the second half, you can't. The reason the second half of this film works as well as it does is because Cuartas takes great pains to set up the characters and situations to the point where we understand and like everyone. As much as we are uneasy with what is happening there is a basic goodness to the trio which we respond to, and which makes our reaction to the firestorm that comes down all that more intense. We don't want to see the shit storm even though we know going in it's coming.

Will you like MY HEART...? I don't know. If you want balls to the wall horror with blood and body parts flying from the first frame take a pass. If you don't mind a film that takes it's time, that can be a tad too arty, but which will give you characters you care about and situations that will make you fear for their safety then this is a film for you.

Ultimately MY HEART CAN'T BEAT UNLESS YOU TELL IT TO is a small gem of horror film that is worth a look. Sadly being forced into a virtual festival may keep word of mouth a bit muted but if you can put this on your list of films to see when it plays near you, this film will find the audience it deseves.

Brief thoughts on Primera (2021) Tribeca 2021


 A look at the student protests that rocked Chile beginning in 2019. It is a frightening reminder that things never change  as much of the film echoes not only what happened in the early 1970's when Pinochet seized control of the country (see the masterpiece THE BATTLE FOR CHILE) but also what is happening in other Latin American countries and in Hong Kong. Its a reminder that people around the world are truly pissed off.

This is a really good film that gives us a ground level view of what is happening and why.  Its a film that will open your eyes and make you angry and want to get involved so it doesn't happen where you live.

Recommended.



Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tribeca 2021 Shorts: BLONDIE HAVANA, COCKTAIL PARTY, GIRL WITH A THEMAL GUN and LAST MARRIAGE


BLONDIE VIVIR EN LA HABANA
This  is a look at Blondie's trip to Havana in 2019 as part of cultural exchange. Its a good little film though it should be noted that while there is music, the focus is on the band and their reaction to the trip.


THE COCKTAIL PARTY
Wickedly wonderful short film that starts out as a film about a woman serving drinks at a party and morphs into a kickass martial arts battle
Highly Recommended


GIRL WITH A THERMAL GUN
One of my favorite films of 2021 is about a delivery guy who falls in love with the girl who takes his temperature. Its a glorious little romance that is one of the great dance films in many many years. You will love this with all of your heart


THE LAST MARRIAGE
The daily routine of what could be the last married couple as the deal with zombie apocalypse.
This is a sweet little confection proving that the course of love dosn't change

Brief thoughts on AGAINST THE CURRENT (2021) opens Friday in NYC and LA

 


AGAINST THE CURRENT is the story  of  Veiga Grétarsdóttir who decided to circumnavigate Iceland.  While doing it clockwise is dangerous enough, going counterclockwise, or against the current is even more dangerous. Its as dangerous as climbing K2

Full of great images that are going to be lost on the home screen, AGAINST THE CURRENT scores best when it is focusing on the trip itself. There are some great sequences there and a sense of real danger that keep us on the edge of our seat. While the segments focusing on her life and transition are good, they aren’t as exciting as the round Iceland stuff and I kind of wish that this was two films, on Grétarsdóttir's whole life and one just on the amazing journey. 

On the other hand this is a great story with some spectacular images which makes it a recommended film, more so if you are jonesing for something atypical and off Hollywood.

Chasing Childhood (2020) Opens Friday


A look at the changing nature of parenting and being a child. It examines the old ways of child rearing where kids were let out to play after school and contrasts it with the modern era of helicoptering parents who regulate every moment of their children’s day.

An intriguing and thought provoking film forces us to wonder what the future holds when many parents are so controlling of their kids lives. What happens when you push kids and don’t let them play and explore on their own? As someone who has watched friends overly regulate their children’s lives I’m glad that someone has taken a serious look at where we are headed and what it all means. I say this because the helicopter parents I know have become bewildered at their children’s inability to do anything for themselves since the parents spent so much time telling them what to do. It is damaging to the kids as well as society in general.

A needed look at a subject that is effecting our future. Recommended

The excellent Unquiet Grave (2020) Hits Shudder June 24

 


A year after his wife was killed in a car accident a man and his sister's twin go to the location where she died and try to bring her back...bad idea.

This low key film is essentially a two hander with all Christin Nyland and Jacob A Ware pretty much being the only ones on screen. That is not a bad thing since the pair manage to sell the creepy stuff with almost no blood, gore or jump scares anywhere in sight. This is a film that is all about the performances and the performances are excellent.

If I am not forth coming with details that is because the film works because it is a slowly building march to the end. My saying anything more than I've said runs the risk of giving something away, which I don't want to do. This is a film you will want to see and experience the first time through with no clue because its power comes in not knowing what it is going to do- which is wondrous and atypical things.

This film is a gem. I was not really planning on covering the film but I got an email from someone whose opinion I truly trust who told me I really needed to see this. Yes, Ted I did. This is a wonderful little gem of a film that is so good that I can recommend it to people who hate loud blood soaked films.

Highly recommended.

9/11: One Day in America (2021) Tribeca 2021


 I don't like to revisit 9/11.  I tend to avoid the films because I was so deep into it for a while that I don't want to go into the blackness. Basically once I wrote my piece I put it all aside. Despite that I still end up watching the films accidently. As with all the other accidental films I've seen I ended up watching this latest recounting of the events from two decades ago. Sadly I was disappointed.

This is yet another recounting of the events of September 2001. Based on what I've seen of this series the problem is that other being a new assemblage there isn't a lot we haven't seen before. While not bad, and while it puts everything in one place, this is the least necessary recounting of events that I've seen

Monday, June 21, 2021

Dating and New York (2021) Tribeca 2021


I went into DATING & NEW YORK not knowing what to expect. One friend absolutely loved it and another friend absolutely loathed it. Curious as to what the story was I waded in.

The film follows a couple who meet on a dating app and become friends. They are friends with benefits however as they both try to navigate to find the one they find their own friendly relationship complicated.

Cutesy to the point of pain, DATING & NEW YORK is a film you either go with and love or you hate to the point of googling the director and rude notes. Its clearly trying way too hard to win the audience over with a sweetness that had me shooting myself full of insulin in order not to have my blood sugar to spike.

I am decidedly mixed on the film. I found it very well written with (way too) frequent one liners that make you laugh. At the same time I loathed the way the film forces the sweetness on you. Everyone is a character to the point I couldn't relate to anyone. To be honest I've seen this sort of thing work, but it requires a lighter touch than we have here.

My reaction was to laugh at the jokes and wonder why a romantic comedy was making me hate all of humanity.

Clearly your mileage will vary.

Ariela Rubin on Marvelous And the Black Hole (2021) Tribeca 2021


 Marvelous and the Black Hole is about 13 year old Sammy, who is trying to deal with her mom's passing. She has anger issues and gets in trouble at school. The fact that her dad is dating someone new doesn't help.  Her dad makes her go to a community college to take some sort of career class. (This part didn't make sense, he was sending her to a community college as punishment?  Just seemed like a odd choice for a 13 year old).

Sammy walks out of the classroom on the first day to go to the bathroom where she gives herself a  homemade tattoo (this is how she often sadly deals with her anger).  In the bathroom she meets Margot, who points out her tattoo is bleeding. Margot then forces her to come to a classroom with her as her assistant where she's putting on a magic show.

This begins the start of their friendship and Sammy getting to learn all about magic.

This movie isn't one that's very unique. We've all seen this story before: troubled teen finds help in an older adult, but I really enjoyed it. I loved Margot's character and unique set of friends. I loved that it was magic focused.  The film had both dark, sad and funny moments. It was a very sweet and charming movie, and made me cry on more than one occasion. 

Definitely recommended!

Trying to explain why Paper and Glue (2021) is one of the best films of the year Tribeca 2021


 PAPER AND GLUE reduced me to a sobbing mess. This film, a portrait of the artist JR, singularly and perfectly shows us the power of  art to change the world. As a result it is one of the most hopeful films you will see all year.

The film is seemingly a portrait of various projects under takes across the globe. We watch as he makes a mural in a high security prison, makes art involving the fence between America and Mexico, We see the early days, before JR was pasting his art up and we see what happened in Brazil. Other than having JR the projects seem separate...until they aren't and you suddenly see how all the pieces together, and how the world can be changed for the better because art alters how we see the world.

And the summation of it all welled up inside me and I was moved on a visceral level. Tears flowed and for the first time in a very long time I felt hope for the world. In watching the changes that JR was making I saw a better world.

Frankly this film has me somewhere beyond words. I am floating above my life and feeling alive.

PAPER AND GLUE is the best sort of film, the best sort of art- one that changes the way you feel and makes you see the possibilities of the world.

One of the very best films of 2021. One of the best films on art I've ever seen. An absolute must.

Rebel Hearts hits theaters starting Friday

 With REBEL HEARTS hitting theaters and Discovery + here is a repost of my Sundance review

The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Is an order of nuns in Southern California. In the second half  of the 20th century many of their number joined partly out of a love of the church, but also because a patriarchal society was not the way to go. They thought that going into the church would be a rewarding life. Many found it wasn’t. But over time the nuns began to work at the catholic college and schools and engage with the community. They began to form their own ideas of what Christ’s work was. This brought them into conflict with the church and society since the women realized that they could not simply be silent or inactive in the face of sweeping social change.


The simplest review I can give Rebel Hearts is expect it to be nominated for an Oscar next year. This is a kick ass documentary about some great women who did what they had to do and simply changed the world in the process. This is a film that will touch your heart and your head in a way that few recent films have.

The story of the nuns is an important one these days because it highlights the fact that all of the things that people are in the streets fighting for are were being fought for five decades ago. That women who were nominally of the establishment, ie. The Church,  were trying to make changes says a great deal about how bad things were.

I love this film. It’s a film that adds a great deal of color to the normally beige Catholic Church. It’s the sort of film I wish I could have shown my mom, a wandering Catholic, to show her that her thoughts and feelings were not as atypical as she might of thought. It also would have delighted her to see a whole bunch of wickedly cool nuns instead of the beasts that abused her and her fellow classmates in grammar school.

This film is a stunner and one of the best of Sundance for this year. Highly recommended.

Ariela Rubin on Queen of Glory (2021) Tribeca 2021

 


Queen of Glory is a movie about a woman named Sarah (played by Nana Mensah who also wrote and directed it!) who's studying to get her PhD at Columbia University to be a scientist. She's planning to move to Ohio in a few weeks with her boyfriend, who happens to be married with children. She gets a call that her mother has suddenly passed away.  Suddenly Sarah has to deal with planning a funeral (her family wants to have a traditional Ghanan funeral), dealing with her father who she hasn't seen in who knows how long being back in the picture, and finding out that her mother left her, her Christian bookstore in the Bronx.  

I liked the story. However, it's labeled as a comedy, and I barely laughed. Maybe the humor is more subtle than I realized? I'm not sure. The movie is also quite slow. It's only 75 minutes, but it felt longer. It's a quiet film. One part I enjoyed in the film is the relationship between Sarah and the one worker of the store, an ex-con covered in tattoos, who she's initially afraid of. I also appreciated getting to see a glimpse into the New York Ghanian American community, which I had never been exposed to before.

Not a must see, but I enjoyed it.

KENNY SCHARF: WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE (2020) opens Friday



Good portrait of Kenny Scarf one of the big band of graffiti artists who rocked the world at the same time a such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. While one of the more interesting artists working then and today he was largely overshadowed by the superstars who burned bright and then passed away.

A mix of old and new footage the film goes a long way to bringing Scharf into the spotlight. Its a film that really lets us see the full gamut of Scharf's art and fall deeply in love with it. How good is his art? While watching the film I had my brother wander past me and stop because he was intrigued by  the art. He stayed watching for a while before wandering off to look up Scharf on the internet.

Recommended

Ferguson Rises (2021) and Building a Bridge (2021)Tribeca 2021 Capsules

FERGUSON RISES
Portrait of the city that became the epicenter of protests when Michael Brown, an unarmed black man was shot dead by the police. It is a look at what happened and how the city try to fix the problem and rebuild.

This is a very good film, that unfortunately may end up getting lost among the similar films that are coming out on the never ending  police misconduct incidents . That said if you want a film that focuses just on Ferguson this is the one to see.


BUILDING  A BRIDGE
Portrait of Father James Martin who wrote the book Building a Bridge about how the Catholic Church needs to connect to the LGBT community.

This is a very good film on it's own terms but it's nothing special