Thursday, March 31, 2022

CANDIDATO 34 (2022) Cleveland International Flm Festival

 


This is the story of Bryan Russel the first person with Down’s Syndrome to run for public office. Russel mades a run in the January 2020 elections for congress in Peru,

Uplifting portrait of a young man who is following his heart and opening every door that is revealed to him along the way. There is a moment early on when Bryan is being interviewed by a young woman who also has Down’s Syndrome and he talks about how the world opened up when he learned to take a bus. It’s clear from that moment nothing was going to stop him because his disability wasn’t going to stop him. It’s counterpointed by a moment a short time later when he is walking into a government building and talking about how he was tired because of his disability and the young woman he is with reminds him that he has to push on and not make an issue of it because it will be held against him.

This is a lovely film that is a reminder that people really can do anything, despite some people thinking they can’t. I smiled at the film from start to finish.

Recommended.

See You Then (2021) opens Friday


Pooya Mohseni and Lynn Chen are excellent as the former lovers who looking for different things in Mari Walker's thought provoking "two" hander.

Years after  abandoning Naomi and after she transitioned Kris reaches out to her her old girlfriend to try to talk about what happened between them. What follows is a night of more and more intimate discussions.

This is an evening of uneasy travel for everyone as the conversation of the shared past gives way to revelations of real pain. Along the way there is plenty of discussion regarding being trans, being male versus being female, relationships, art, family as well as many other things. Its a heady mix that makes you think while it moves your emotions. 

This isn't an easy film. A great deal of this film clearly comes from a real place. There is a sense that some of the conversations aren't made up, but transcriptions of things that happened. You know things are going to be tough from the outset as we see things are awkward to start. Neither of the women has seen each other in years and ty aren't sure how to start. Things get occasionally difficult as long ago events are brought up as a means of trying to find a better connection but they are revealed to be a sore spot. And then things get worse as long buried emotions and secrets come to light. I felt rocked.

Despite running a seemingly brief 75 minutes I came out of SEE YOU THEN feeling as if I'd been with the two women the whole evening. There is a great deal here and to be honest I know I need to go through the film another time or two to catch it all. This is a film that is a full meal.

While I really like the film a great deal and I love the sense that we are watching series of moments in time, I would like to quibble with one thing and that is the film tries a little too hard to get every possible revelation into the film before the end credits. I think my quibbling is not so much with what happens but how it happens  with the final pieces seemingly more  stage managed into happening just then.

Quibble aside SEE YOU THEN will rock you. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

SFFILM announces the full line up of the San Francisco International Film Festival


SFFILM ANNOUNCES FULL LINEUP FOR 2022 SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

MICHELLE YEOH TO BE HONORED WITH SPECIAL TRIBUTE AND IN-PERSON CONVERSATION WITH SANDRA OH

More than 130 films from 56 countries to be shown at landmark venues including the Castro Theatre, the Vogue Theater, the Roxie Theater, the Victoria Theatre and BAMPFA in Berkeley
San Francisco, CA – March 30, 2022 – Today, SFFILM announced the full lineup for the 65th annual San Francisco International Film Festival, the longest running film festival in the Americas. This year the Festival will make its return to theaters in person, featuring more than 130 films from 56 countries, including 16 World and 10 North American premieres, along with many SFFILM-supported titles. Of the films selected for the Festival, 56% are helmed by female or non-binary filmmakers and 52% are directed by BIPOC filmmakers. The Festival will also celebrate cinematic icon Michelle Yeoh with a special tribute to be presented by critically acclaimed actor Sandra Oh. The 2022 Festival will run April 21–May 1, with tickets on sale now at sffilm.org.
Michelle Yeoh was recently hailed by New York Times film critic A.O. Scott as “one of the great international movie stars of the past quarter-century.” Her tribute will be an intimate conversation with Emmy Award-nominated actress Sandra Oh, about her prestigious and extensive career that will take place at the Castro Theatre on Friday, April 29 at 6:00 pm. The Tribute to Michelle is preceded by a special screening of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 35 mm at the Castro on Monday, April 25.

“Michelle Yeoh is a global icon, an indelible screen presence who grounds every frame she inhabits with authenticity and explosive talent,” says SFFILM Director of Programming Jessie Fairbanks. “We are thrilled the extraordinary Sandra Oh will host Michelle in conversation to discuss Michelle’s creative body of work, shifting gears between genres and storytelling mediums, and much, much more.” The Tribute to Michelle Yeoh joins the previously announced Tribute to Jenny Slate, both highlights at the 2022 Festival. Previous festival tributes include Jackie Chan, Claire Denis, Clint Eastwood, Akira Kurosawa, and Charlize Theron.
The 65th SFFILM Festival celebrates the global art and craft of film in San Francisco and the East Bay. “This year's SFFILM Festival program synchronizes the star power of international cinema with the depth and breadth of work from around the world. Our belief in this intrinsic power of film, as well as its ability to bring us closer with each other and our own humanity, fuels both the Festival and our year-round education and filmmaker residency programs,” says SFFILM Executive Director Anne Lai. “I am delighted to return to theaters with our audiences to watch wildly imaginative films that reignite the wonder of movies.” 

Curated by a collective of festival programmers, the lineup includes Spotlights and jury competitions including Bay Area Voices, Cine Latino, Global Visions, SFFILM Supported, and the Golden Gate Awards with cash prizes. There are 14 Bay Area specific stories, with seven films receiving financial and professional support through SFFILM Makers, the artist development program of SFFILM. The full lineup is below. 

SFFILM appreciates the support of returning and continued sponsors, Apple Original Films, First Republic Bank, Dolby Laboratories Inc., Prime Group, Square, VMG Parters, National Geographic and Showtime. We also welcome new sponsors JP Morgan Chase, Disney+, Kbean, and Fandor.

“We are elated to announce the full lineup for the 65th iteration of our flagship festival. The program starts with the North American premiere of an SFFILM-supported project, is anchored in vibrant international and independent content, showcases innovative Latinx films and ambitious local stories, features can’t-miss Shorts and Mid-Length programs, and culminates with a day of encore awards screenings,” says Fairbanks. “We look forward to 11 days of bold, imaginative, and unexpected films, industry meetings, conferences, festival talks, virtual events, and parties across the beautiful Bay Area.”

The 2022 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) announces film lineup for 20th edition (April 28-May 1)

 Pan Nalin’s LAST FILM SHOW is a Gala presentation 

Anmol Sidhu’s JAGGI makes its World Premiere,  Faraz Ali’s SHOEBOX and Natesh Hegde’s PEDRO

will both make their North American Premieres

IFFLA introduces new Spotlight on South Asia Opening with Abdullah Mohammad Saad’s Bangladeshi standout REHANA

Los Angeles, CA (March 29, 2022) – The 2022 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) announced the lineup of official selections for the 20th annual edition of the internationally acclaimed film festival, which will mark a return to in-person screenings and events this year. Including a Gala presentation of Pan Nalin’s Last Film Show, IFFLA will showcase 26 films (10 features, 16 shorts), including the world premiere of Anmol Sidhu’s Jaggi, and the North American premieres of Faraz Ali’s Shoebox and Natesh Hegde’s Pedro.

The landmark 20th Anniversary edition of IFFLA will:

Inaugurate a Spotlight on South Asia section

Feature a 20th Anniversary Shorts special program celebrating the festival’s history, with a pre-festival screening of IFFLA alumni shorts highlighting films representing each year of the festival’s history with an in-theater co-presentation with NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA)

Present a live script read previewing an IFFLA alumnus’ next feature project, and 

Include the announcement of a filmmaker mentorship initiative to further support emerging South Asian filmmakers. 

Screenings will take place at the Regal LA Live (1000 W. Olympic Blvd.), Harmony Gold (7655 Sunset Blvd.), and UCLA’s James Bridges Theater (235 Charles E Young Dr. E).

IFFLA Executive Director Christina Marouda, said, “Reflecting on IFFLA’s 20 years, we find ourselves overjoyed by the range of incredible talent we have discovered and celebrated, introducing numerous emerging and established voices to Los Angeles. We are also incredibly proud of the sense of family and community we have accomplished over the last 20 years. We are now ramping up our efforts to support the careers of filmmakers by adding to the programs IFFLA has become known for over the past two decades, not just as a touchstone for our filmmakers, but also as a bridge to their next films.” 

IFFLA’s Gala selection, Pan Nalin’s Last Film Show is the filmmaker’s celebration of the love of cinema through the story of a boy who stumbles upon a rundown movie theater and then charms his way into a daily seat in the projection room. However, when the theater upgrades from film to digital, his new wondrous world may be lost unless he and his friends can create their own “theater.” The crowd-pleasing Last Film Show by IFFLA’s beloved alum Pan Nalin, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival and has traveled to film festivals across the world. A second Gala presentation will be announced at a later date.

Three feature film directorial debuts will have major premiere screenings at IFFLA. Making its world premiere, Anmol Sidhu’s Jaggi follows a schoolboy in rural Punjab who faces toxic masculinity and sexual abuse when he’s assumed to be gay. Making its North American premiere is Faraz Ali’s Shoebox. The film tells a coming-of-age story, which centers on a young woman who watches her father struggle to keep the family’s single screen movie theater operating while everything changes around them. Also making its North American premiere is Natesh Hegde’s Pedro. The film focuses on a taciturn electrician who becomes a social outcast in his small Karnataka town after becoming involved in a drunken incident.

Regarding the inspiration for this year’s edition of IFFLA, Co-Director of Programming Thouly Dosios, said, “This year’s festival is about reclaiming the powerful act of physically gathering together in a dark room, and processing a flickering dream as a communal experience. At the same time, it is about mindful evolution; our post-pandemic world forces us to reassess how we connect with each other and share our stories. The limitations we’ve had to deal with have empowered us to forge ahead with an expanded mind and a wilder imagination.”

 Co-Director of Programming Ritesh Mehta, added, “The last few years have seen a dynamite rise in South Asian voices getting global acclaim. This 20th year, we’re beyond thrilled to have corralled some of these groundbreaking visions, and in turn offer some inspiring discoveries back to the culture. Our work is a total privilege, and we can’t wait to screen it with our communities in LA and beyond.”

Additional highlights among the feature film lineup include Irfana Majumdar’s Shankar’s Fairies, a delicate tapestry of a tale set in 1960s Lucknow about the touching bond that develops between the young daughter of a police chief and the family’s head servant, through his fantastical stories. Aditya Sengupta’s sumptuous Bengali drama Once Upon a Time in Calcutta follows an aging actress in games of power with five different men through the dark secrets of a disintegrating city. Nithin Lukose’s critically acclaimed directorial debut, Paka (River of Blood), produced by Anurag Kashyap, is a revenge thriller that pits two rival families against each other over a Romeo and Juliet-type forbidden romance. Rahul Jain’s documentary Invisible Demons, which premiered in Cannes’ Cinema for the Climate section, explores the detrimental effects of India’s growing economy on the environment, in the sprawling city of Delhi. Jain takes the subject matter personally as he reflects on our collective responsibility regarding climate change and protecting our planet. 

Of the 11 short films presented in IFFLA’s main competition lineup, 8 are helmed by women directors. This section boasts four world premieres sure to make waves, including Megha Ramaswamy’s provocative psychological horror Lalanna’s Song, co-produced by Guneet Monga; Ambiecka Pandit’s Under the Waters, a raw coming of age drama produced by Vikramaditya Motwane; the deadpan debut Adventures of Faisal Rehman by Mir Ijlal Shaani; and Varun Chopra’s politically charged documentary Holy Cowboys that infiltrates the terrifying world of youth proselytization and right-wing extremism. The section also includes Student Academy Award winner, Close Ties to Home Country by Akanksha Cruczynski. 

Heading IFFLA’s new Spotlight on South Asia section, which will showcase some of the most groundbreaking new work coming out of the greater South Asian subcontinent and its diasporas, is Abdullah Mohammad Saad’s psychological thriller Rehana (Rehana Maryam Noor) about a professor and single mother, who puts her family and life on the line to bring justice to a male colleague accused of sexually assaulting a student. The film made history for being the first film from Bangladesh to compete at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. The spotlight includes the shorts 1978 (Pakistan) by award-winning director Hamza Bangash, Salar Pashtoonyar’s 2021 Student Academy Award winner Bad Omen (Afghanistan/Canada), Sunil Pandey’s Rotterdam 2022 selection Baghthan (Nepal), Nuhash Humayun’s 2022 SXSW Midnight Shorts Grand Jury Prize winner Moshari (Bangladesh), and Seemab Gul’s Sandstorm (Pakistan), which premiered at the 2021 Biennale’s Orizzonti.

As part of IFFLA’s 20th Anniversary celebration, the festival will showcase a hybrid presentation of 20 short films representing its diverse programming over the past two decades. Highlights include Umesh Kulkarni’s absurdist tale The Fly (Makkhi), the Academy Award nominated The Little Terrorist by Ashvin Kumar, and acclaimed director Nagraj Manjule’s An Essay of the Rain. A selection of this lineup will be presented in the program IFFLA Celebrates 20 Years: Indian Cinema Shorts and will be screened in partnership with NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) on Saturday, April 23 as a part of NFMLA’s annual InFocus: Asian Cinema Program. Following that special presentation, the films will be available to stream online during IFFLA’s dates.

The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles has long been a vital touchstone for filmmakers due to both the platform it provides for their work to be seen in the heart of Hollywood, but also due to the support and networking it has offered the directors, actors, and other film artists who have been a part of the IFFLA “family.” The “filmmaker house” IFFLA traditionally puts together provides a home for those visiting Los Angeles for the film festival and has taken on a near-legendary status over the years. This year, IFFLA builds on its past success and provides even more on behalf of its filmmakers by adding a couple new initiatives to the mix.

 The film festival will stage a live script reading with prominent local acting talent from the South Asian diaspora of the feature length screenplay, Alim Uncle, by IFFLA alum, Kahlil Maskati. Attached to direct the reading is IFFLA alum Fawzia Mirza (The Queen of My Dreams, 2013), and confirmed talent include Rizwan Manji and Kausar Mohammed. Looking ahead to the next evolution of the organization, IFFLA will announce the details and plans for a new mentorship initiative and filmmaker lab. The exciting new project is a natural for a film festival whose legacy has been to discover and nurture emerging talent of South Asian descent. Details will be announced during the film festival.

 IFFLA receives support from NBC Universal, WarnerMedia, Hollywood Vaults, SAGindie and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Cultural support is provided by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

Passes are now on sale. For more information please visit www.indianfilmfestival.org or follow us on Facebook (/indianfilmfestival), Instagram (@indianfilmfestival) and Twitter (@iffla).

2022 IFFLA’s Official Selections

Madelines (2021) opens Friday


Scientists working on time travel make a horrible mistake and make it so a "clone" of Madeline will appear everyday for 9 years if they don't figure out a way to stop them. Unfortunately the short term solution seems to murdering the Madeline as she appears.

This is a good science fiction thriller may not rock the pillars of heaven, but it does entertain.  I wasn't sure what I was going to think of the film going in. I was simply looking for something to act as a palatte cleanse from the recently completed SXSW fest. I ended up falling into the twists and turns and was carried away.

To be honest there are things in the film which don't make sense, on the other hand there is enough going on that you won't care. All you'll want to know is how this all comes out.

Definitely worth a look

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

You Won't Be Alone (2022) opens Friday


Described as a horror film in some Sundance material YOU WON'T BE ALONE isn't. Its a fairy tale about a a young woman who becomes a shapeshifter who takes on the form of a number of dead people. It ends where it begins.  

I liked YOU WON'T BE ALONE but I didn't love it. The film is the story of a someone learning about life and herself by walking in some eles's shoes, literally. I think it is a solid and very good film.  The cast is great with the multiple actors and actresses playing the same role blending together prefectly. Its a beautiful film to look at and has a great pastorl feel.

The problem for me was it was watching it was kind of like having a friend drive me some place I thought I hadn't been to before only to realize about half way in I knew the destination. Realizing what I was seeing altered how I saw the film. It took the wonder off the trip, despite having a blast taking it.

To me this film feels like a melding of Justin McConnell's LIFECHANGER with one of 2021's most haunting films ALL THE MOONS with a dash of La Ronde sprinkled in by way of Malick (TREE OF LIFE), Tarkovsky (ANDREI RUBLEV) ,Sergei Parajanov (SHADOWS OF FORGOTTEN ANCESTORS) and David Lowrey (A GHOST STORY). 

Its a film that feels it has been made with the best ingredients, it just didn't knock my socks off. 

Worth a look

Monday, March 28, 2022

Bull (2021) Opens Friday

 

Sometimes you don't realize how the stupid things you've done will come back

Neil Maskell is chilling as BULL a former mob hitman. He has returned after 10 years to get vengeance on those who wronged him and to find his son.

This is a mean and ugly film that grabs you by the throat an insists on dragging you along for it's 87 minute run time. It never lets up and never gives you quarter. And while there are bits that don't make sense as we go by the time it ends everything is cleared up.

I've been trying to work out how much to tell you about the plot. I suspect you'll be okay with the blood and severed limbs but there are things going on that I so want to talk about, but I can't, especially since as I write this the film hasn't been in the public eye for less than 24 hours. Let's just say that while I worked some of this out, I didn't work it all out with the result is that the end of the film is deeply moving for reasons that may not be obvious at first.

I think I'm going to leave it there, lest I let details slip that will ruin the reactions as you find things out.

I love this small little gem. Its a great film. And despite the fact that it was shot during the covid restrictions there is no sign anywhere in the film.

One of the great films of 2021.

Highly recommended.

Winter Soldier (1972) hits Ovid March 31

 Even with a recent re-release to select theaters and it being put out on DVD this film appears to have been all but lost to the ages, which is a shame since its a very moving record of what a group of soldiers experienced during their time in Viet Nam.

The film consists of panel testimony before and to an audience of the horrible things that the soldiers saw and did while fighting for truth justice and the American Way. That is inter-cut with one on one interviews with the film makers. Its mostly just talking heads, but its rarely boring since what these men have to say is so interesting it ends up being more like talking to friends over coffee than being lectured.

What comes through is the sincerity of the speakers who pull no punches in telling you what its like to fight a war in a hostile land of no clear cut enemies. (And yes the film echoes frighteningly with events currently transpiring in the Middle East where reports on the news and interviews with soldiers find the same phrases and reasonings being repeated)

This is a haunting film that effects you not so much in the viewing, but rather in the thinking. It is not an easy film to forget and it will play in your mind much more forcefully as you think about it afterward.

If the film has any real flaw is that at 95 minutes its about 20 minutes too long. Its not that the material is bad, rather that its too much to take in and like the vet who's seen too many killings you turn off to the sights before you.

SEE THIS MOVIE. Find it and see it. It is still as vital today as when it was made.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

ReelAbilities Film Festival / April 7-13, 2022

 The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan’s (MMJCCM) ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York announces the full lineup of films and select special events for its 14th annual festival, which returns as a hybrid event in person and virtual from April 7th through April 13th. Tickets are now available and can be purchased at reelabilities.org/newyork.  

The festival’s Opening Night selection will be Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano’s acclaimed film THE SPECIALS, starring Vincent Cassel, Reda Kateb, Helene Vincent, and Brian Mialoundama. It will screen April 7th, at 7 pm at the IAC Screening Room, co-presented by Vimeo and followed by a Q&A with special guests from the film. 

The Closing Night film will be the New York premiere of Brian Malone and Regan Linton’s documentary IMPERFECT, which follows an award-winning theater group consisting of actors who live and perform with the uniqueness of disability as they set out to claim their place in the spotlight with a production of the beloved musical Chicago. Following these actors’ lives inside and outside the theater, curtains are drawn open to overlooked talent and the power of the human condition in its many forms. It will screen on April 13th at 7 pm at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. 

FESTIVAL LINE UP:

AMAZING GRACE

Dir.
Lynn Montgomery

United States | 55 min | Documentary

Talented young musician Gracie Smith, proficient in three instruments, was on her way to the world famous Berklee College of Music. On her 17th birthday, she developed Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM), a rare polio-like disease. Determined to persevere, Gracie set out to find new ways to create art, driven by her philosophy: "My only limitation will be my imagination." Featuring Justin Hurwitz, Academy Award–winning composer of La La Land.

Disabilities Represented: Acute Flaccid Myelitis/Quadriplegia, Guillain-Barre syndrome/Paraplegia

 

ANY GIVEN DAY

Dir. Margaret Byrne

United States | 93 min | Documentary

Filmmaker Margaret Byrne documents the lives of three defendants with mental illness going through a specialized probation program designed to focus on mental health. Byrne’s own mental health condition becomes tied in to the larger picture of family relationships, struggles, and triumphs.

Disabilities Represented: Mental illness

 

HERE. IS. BETTER.

Dir. Jack Youngelson

United States | 95 min | Documentary

In this personal documentary, the intimate lives of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are shared inside hopeful therapy sessions. From men to women, from the Vietnam War to the present day, stories are unlocked that dispel myths about PTSD and place focus on veterans’ journeys to a place of healing. Featuring former presidential hopeful Jason Kander.

Disabilities represented: PTSD

 

IMPERFECT

Dir.  Brian Malone, Regan Linton

United States | 78 min | Documentary

An award-winning theater group consisting of actors who live and perform with the uniqueness of disability sets out to claim their place in the spotlight with a production of the beloved musical Chicago. Following these actors’ lives inside and outside the theater, curtains are drawn open to overlooked talent and the power of the human condition in its many forms.

Disabilities represented: Paralysis, Cerebral Palsy, Blindness, Autism, Multiple Sclerosis, Polio

 

ME TO PLAY

Dir. Jim Bernfield

United States | 72 min | Documentary

When faced with growing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, two professional actors set forth to put on an off-Broadway production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, a play Beckett wrote as a metaphor for living with a disease. Through the artistic process, these actors find humor in struggle and power in the soul.

Disabilities represented: Parkinson’s disease

 

MOVE ME

U.S. DISTRIBUTOR: PBS POV

Dir. Kelsey Peterson, Daniel Klein

United States | 81 min | Documentary

At age 27, dancer Kelsey Peterson dove into Lake Superior and emerged paralyzed. Now, she faces the opportunity to dance again, as she works to redefine who she is and rediscover hope in the body and spirit.

Disabilities represented: Spinal cord injury/disorder

 

NO BONE: SCARS OF SURVIVAL

Dir. Marc Schiller

UK | 90 min | Documentary

Marc Schiller, a communications expert with a long career promoting street art, music, and film, suffers a stroke that leaves him with aphasia and some cognitive deficits. With the help of family, Marc chronicles his career in the NYC art scene, his path toward recovery, and the love that surrounds him.

Disabilities represented: Stroke victim

 

ONLY I CAN HEAR

Dir. Matsui Itaru

Japan | 54 min | Documentary

Synopsis:  In search of a place between two disparate worlds, three teenage Children of Deaf Adults (CODAs), come of age in the vibrant, loud Deaf community. Grappling with issues of prejudice, leading double lives, and familial bonds, this documentary asks what it means to exist between different cultures and how you can define your sense of identity.

Disabilities represented: Children of Deaf Adults

 

POPPY

Dir. Linda Niccol

New Zealand | 98 min | Narrative

Poppy, a young woman with Down syndrome, is set on becoming a motor mechanic. Unfortunately, her overly protective brother keeps jamming the wheel of that ambition. When an opportunity arises for Poppy, she sets out to prove her independence and achieve her dream.

Disabilities represented: Down syndrome

 

THE BLIND MAN WHO DID NOT WANT TO SEE TITANIC

SXSW 2022

Dir. Teemu Nikki

Finland | 81 min | Narrative

Jaako, a blind wheelchair user with multiple sclerosis, forges an active long-distance relationship with Sirpa over the phone, without ever meeting in person. When Sirpa reveals shocking news, Jaako decides to undergo a real-life odyssey to meet her. Jaako travels through five different locations, encountering strangers both helpful and harmful, on his way to the one he loves.

Disabilities represented: Multiple sclerosis, Blindness

 

THE OTHER TOM

DISTRIBUTOR: OUTSIDER PICTURES

Dir. Rodrigo Pla, Laura Santullo

Mexico | 111 min | Narrative

Elena is a single mother attempting to manage her son Tom’s behavioral issues. When Tom is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Elena becomes aware of the possible side effects of his medication. With Social Services threatening to remove him from her custody, Elena fights for the well-being of the only person she has. 

Disabilities represented: ADHD

 

THE SPECIALS | OPENING NIGHT

Dir. Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano

France, Belgium | 114 min | Narrative

Close friends Bruno and Malik have combined their nonprofits to train youth in underprivileged areas to be caregivers for autistic children and teens. However, the program lacks official certification and is under the watchful eye of the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs. Despite this looming threat and internal conflicts, the power of unity, compassion, and acceptance within the program prove exceptional.

Disabilities represented: Autism

 

SHORT FILMS


6,000 WAITING

Dir. Michael Joseph McDonald

United States | 29 min | Documentary

Synopsis: Three Georgians with cerebral palsy fight to live life on their own terms. But as their families bond, state policy tries to tear them apart.

Disability represented: Cerebral palsy

 

A CRITTER FABLE

Dir. Grace Fisher

United States | 8 min | Animation

A caterpillar who can’t become a butterfly discovers he can still add color to the world in his own special way. Featuring music and artwork by Amazing Grace star Grace Fisher, with critters created by children with disabilities in Santa Barbara.

Disability represented: Down syndrome, Autism

 

A MORNING WITH AROHA

Dir. Nicholas Riini

New Zealand | 11 min | Narrative

Aroha, an imaginative young girl with Down syndrome, sets out to share her creativity with her neighbors.

Type of disability: Down syndrome

 

HOLD ON TO ME

Dir. Luca Arcidiacono

Italy | 20 min | Narrative

Filippo did not expect to have to spend the day with Alice, a charming young girl with Down syndrome he meets on a train. On their journey, an unexpected bond forms between the two.

Disability represented: Down syndrome

 

AIMEE VICTORIA

Dir. Chrystee Pharris

United States | 11 min

On the day of their anniversary, a couple separated by lockdown finds their relationship tested. A story about the power of love in the toughest of times.

Disability represented: Deafness

 

BEAT LINGO

Dir. Jose Navas

United States | 16 min | Narrative

Marcus, a reserved teenager with mutism, attends public school for the first time in his life. Pushing through trials and prejudices of the past and present, Marcus uncovers a special gift he’s been hiding from the world.

Disability represented: Mutism

 

BEAUTIFUL

Dir. Mulan Fu

United States | 6 min | Animation

A teenage girl undergoes transformative growth as she witnesses her mother's fight against breast cancer.

Disability represented: Breast cancer

 

BORDERLINE COFFEE

Dir. Jeff Ayars

United States | 10 min | Short

A young woman overtaken by anxiety battles through her inner thoughts when she sets out to accomplish what would seem to be a simple task: buying a cup of coffee.

Disability represented: Borderline personality disorder

 

DAVEY’S LULLABY

Dir. Adam Douglas Deyoe

United States | 9 min | Animation

Davey, a cheerful and loving man with Down syndrome, finds his future thrown into uncertainty when his eldery mother passes away.

Disability represented: Down syndrome

 

DAWN

Dir. Timon Birkhofer

United States | 5 min | Documentary

Five unique individuals take us on a journey where their achievements shine beyond preconceived ideas of what is possible.

Disabilities represented: Five different physical disabilities

 

DWARFO-PSYCHOSIS

Dir. Maria DiDomenico

United States | 5 min | Narrative Short

As fraternal twins Peter and Pat celebrate their 40th birthday, a huge twist is revealed.

Disability represented: Dwarfism

 

FREEBIRD

Dir. Michael Joseph McDonald, Joe Bluhm

Canada | 5 min | Animation

A boy with Down syndrome learns to navigate the world with a loving mother, an absent father, a classroom bully, and a lifelong crush.

Disability represented: Down syndrome

 

ILLUSTRATING SAM NEWTON

Dir. Lily Drummond

United States | 28 min | Narrative short

A viral online photographer wants to remain anonymous in order to hide parts of their identity. When a fan from the other side of the world makes a connection, they learn to accept themselves by sharing the universal language of art.

Disability represented: Deafness

 

LOUIS’ SHOES

Dir. Théo Jamin, Kayu Leung, Marion Philippe, Jean-Géraud Blanc

France | 5 min | Animation

Louis, an 8-year-old autistic boy, introduces himself at his new school in this imaginative tale about difference and acceptance.

Disability represented: Autism

 

LOCKDOWN TALE

Dir. Cameron Carr, Marie Trudolubova

United Kingdom | 6 min | Animation

A behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of Wawel Dragon. When the pandemic forces his university’s studios to shut down, animation student Cameron Carr sets to work creating his very own studio in his bedroom.

Disability represented: Autism

 

MY OWN LANDSCAPES

Dir. Antoine Chapon

United States | 19 min | Documentary

Taking the technology used for Virtual Reality military simulation, a veteran transforms the originally violent landscape into a space of nature and healing.

Disability represented: PTSD

 

NICK LIGHTNING

Dir. Pat Taggart

United States | 27 min | Documentary

At a young age, Nick Fergus found joy in creating rock star alter ego “Nick Lightning.” Now diagnosed in a world of rising Autism awareness, Nick Lightning challenges ideas of what it means to live a happy, fulfilling life.

Disability represented: Autism, ADHD

 

PROSOPAGNOSIA

Dir. Steven Fraser

United Kingdom | 10 min | Animation, Documentary

Unraveling sketchbooks, photographs, and diaries with unique animation, Prosopagnosia explores what it means to live with face blindness and Autism, and investigates concepts of intimacy, communication, and memory.

Disability represented: Face blindness, Autism

 

SEE THROUGH

Dir. Eyal Resh

United States | 9 min | Narrative Short

Tensions rise between a young deaf couple discovering they are about to become parents. Featuring 2018 Tony nominee and Eternals star Lauren Ridloff.

Disability represented: Deafness

 

SIGNS AND GESTURES

Dir. Itandehui Jansen

United Kingdom | 12 min | Narrative Short

Clara, a blind florist, has been chatting with Simon through a dating app. They arrange to meet in person. However, during their first date, an unexpected misunderstanding arises.

Disability represented: Blindness, hearing impairment

 

SILENT WORLD

Dir. Charlie Dennis

United Kingdom | 10 min | Narrative Short

When threatened by a deadly gas, humanity is forced to live underground. While everyone else adjusts to their new way of life, deaf rapper Signkid struggles with loss and isolation in an increasingly inaccessible world.

Disability represented: Deafness

 

THE BODY IS A HOUSE OF FAMILIAR ROOMS

Dir. Eloise Sherrid, Lauryn Welch

United States | 10 min | Animation, Documentary

A magical-realist exploration of the life of a man with chronic illness through footage and paintings.  

Disability represented: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

 

THE MULTI

Dir. Storm Smith, Natasha Ofili

United States | 18 min | Narrative Short

An isolated deaf woman fights to maintain control when past demons threaten to destroy the world of order she has built.

Disability represented: Deafness

 

TRYING

Dir. Juan Manuel Montilla "Langui"

Spain | 15 min | Narrative Short

Every day, Santiago walks with his son Diego to and from school. But today is different. Diego is no longer a boy, walking is difficult for Santiago, and father and son will need to have a truthful discussion that both hurts and heals.

Disability represented: Physical disability

 

WAWEL DRAGON

Dir. Cameron Carr

United Kingdom | 6 min | Animation

An animated retelling of the classic Polish folktale by Cameron Carr (Strange), Wawel Dragon features a dragon, knights, and the unexpected heroism of a simple shoemaker.

Disability represented: Autism

 

WHEELS

Dir. Smari Gunn

Iceland | 6 min | Narrative Short

When a homeowner and master burglar become aware they are in separate parts of the house, a frantic game of cat-and-mouse ensues.

Disability represented: Muscular Dystrophy/Wheelchair user

 

 

About ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York

ReelAbilities Film Festival is the largest film festival in the world dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with disabilities. Founded in New York in 2007 by the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, the festival presents award-winning films by and about people with disabilities in multiple locations throughout the city. Post-screening discussions and other engaging programs bring communities together to explore, discuss, embrace, and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.

 

The New York festival is the launching pad for an international program and its selections run satellite ReelAbilities festivals in over 20 cities worldwide. Learn more at ny.reelabilities.org.

ReelAbilities encourages inclusive language that acknowledges people's personal preferences.


We support:

- Person-first language (a person with a disability, not a disabled person).

- Asking people for their preferences and if they require assistance.

- Creating an inclusive environment welcoming to people with and without disabilities.

 

ACCESSIBILITY NOTICE:

ReelAbilities strives for inclusion of all people. All films are screened with open captions and all venues are wheelchair accessible. ASL interpretation, CART, Audio Description, and information in Braille are available upon advance request. Individuals needing accommodations to participate should contact the screening venue directly at least two weeks in advance of the event. 

 

About the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Together with its community, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan creates opportunities for people to connect, grow, and learn within an ever-changing Jewish landscape. Located on 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, the JCC is a vibrant non-profit community center on the Upper West Side. It also presents a robust slate of virtual programming, serving an even wider community. The JCC serves over 55,000 people annually through 1,200 programs each season that educate, inspire, and transform participants' minds, bodies, and spirits. Throughout COVID-19, the JCC has pivoted to meet the community online, exceeding 102,000 registrations to over 3,000 virtual classes and programs in the earliest part of the pandemic. Since its inception, the JCC has been committed to serving the community by offering programs, classes, and events that extend beyond neighborhood boundaries, reaching people at all stages of their lives. Learn more at mmjccm.org

Schemers (2020) hits VOD March 29


Writer director Dave McLean's memory play about the days when he fumbled around and fell into music promotion in Dundee in Scotland- eventually promoting the likes of Iron Maiden on pulled together concerts.

Moving like the wind SCHEMERS is full of a sense and time and place. We can pretty much smell Dundee in the early 1980's thanks to McLean's eye and the thick accent and seeming period appropriate slang. It is a big warm hug to the directors hometown.

As to whether you will love or hate the film will depend on whether you click with it. To be certain the accents may be difficult for some, but the real problem is going to be the stylistic choices which make this a film very close to a Guy Ritchie film but a bit less tightly pulled together. Things seem to be scattershot and random at times as if McLean didn't quite know how to bind it all together- sometimes what should be important details are left kind of hanging.

Personally I really liked the film and it's sense of urgency and life. I fell into it  and it's sense of nostalgia. I won't lie and say it's even close to perfect, but I will say I was entertained which in this case was absolutely enough.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Thoughts on two from 2021: F9 and West Side Story

 


F9
Ninth film in the never ending franchise is the first one in probably five entries that left me feeling like the series has outworn it’s welcome.

The plot has Dom and his crew chasing down a stolen spy item taken by his “evil brother”. It’s a tale that takes the crew around the world and into space and brings back all sorts of familiar faces, including some previously dead characters. It’s a badly plotted film full of animated sequences where nothing is real and all the fun has been sucked out of it.

This is an artificially constructed film that exists just to take as much money from the public while  giving everyone involved a paycheck.

A complete waste.


WEST SIDE STORY
Steve Spielberg remakes a Hollywood classic and makes it better than it has any right to be. Freshened up by Tony Kushner the film is a bit closer to reality than the previous film.  This is a Hollywood film of the sort that they don’t make any more.

Hurt by wildly uneven performances, ranging from Ansel Elgort invisibility as Tony to Ariana DeBose Oscar Nominated role as Anita and Rita Moreno as Doc’s widow who are both glorious. This is a film a begrudgingly enjoyed.

Now if we could only get the estates controlling the material to allow a version that isn’t tied to the choreography and other bits then the material could move into the current century.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Reid Ramsey weighs in on Richard Linklater's APOLLO 10 1/2 (2022) NYICFF 2022 SXSW2021

 


Richard Linklater has made his career off memories. Whether it’s allowing a certain subset of viewers to grow up alongside Jessie and Celine in the Before Trilogy, capturing 12 years of a boy growing up in the suburbs of Texas in the 2000s with Boyhood, or flashing back to the teen-aged 70s in Dazed and Confused, Linklater’s films are always specific and unflinchingly sincere. It’s this exact, highly-attractive quality, though, can make them alienating to certain viewers. His latest, the animated Apollo 10 ½, is no exception.

Set in the height of the space race and right at its geographic epicenter, the film takes viewers to Houston, 1969, and it puts Linklater’s memories front-and-center. The plot is rather simple: NASA recruits a young boy, Stan, to train and venture into space due to the fact that they built the cockpit on their latest rocket too small for an adult to travel in it. Stan’s training and journey are interwoven with his own adult’s memoir-esque narration of his life in Houston at the time. Filled with highly-specific and long-winded detours into different foods, TV shows, games, and everything you may imagine about the Houston suburbs at the time. 

Clearly highly-researched and diligently remembered, Linklater pours as much of himself and his childhood into this as he can, making the detail remarkable and often fascinating – at least until he has dragged it on too long. His remembrances grow rather tedious for viewers who delight a little less in the treasures of a different generation’s past, and it is clear his indulgences have gotten the better of him with this film. 

I had, in viewing, the reaction I can only imagine many others have had when approaching different films of his like Boyhood, School of Rock, or Dazed and Confused: this isn’t for me. Linklater’s passion for the period helps ease some of the pains, and the animation is often a marvel, especially the space sequences and when Stan is home with his family. There are enough pieces to enjoy in here, even for those who find the unceasing attention-to-detail rather boring. 

Drive my Car (2021)

 


I did not particularly care for the award winning Drive My Car. Don’t get me wrong I really like the films of director Ryusuke Hamaguchi but this was just a tough slog.

I have several issues with the film.

The first is the ponderous pacing. This is a small scale film inflated to twice the size it should be. I suspect that there is some reason that the film is sloggy three hours but I will be hard pressed to know why.

The other problem is the whole thing is so deliberately structured and forcibly literary that that there is no actual life anywhere in it. This is like the Beckett or Chekov plays referenced in the film where every thing has a deep meaning  and things are not so much life but an intellectuals idea of life.  This is the sort of art film that in the 1960’s and 70’s  was lampooned.  There are long monologues where everything is laid out. Everything has a meaning beyond what it is. There are no messy edges just perfect construction. It feels pretentious like the Shakespearean productions where everyone steps forward to annunciate each word and idea. You can feel the director Hamaguchi behind it all telling us what to think and at what point. You can feel, nay, you can see the all of the clock work moving all of the pieces  to where they have to go.  And since its so obvious what its trying to do with all the references you know where its going because it’s been telegraphed from the start.

This might have worked if the film wasn’t shot so as to be real life or if the dialog wasn’t so over ripe with meaning, but that’s not the case and it just is a bore

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema Festival Streams March 25-31

 New York, March 17, 2022 — Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema is proud to present the extended online showcase of the 16th edition of Making Waves, available to stream nationally in the U.S. from March 25-31. A compact showcase of the series premiered in-person in December at the Jacob Burns Film Center. 

The series will include two of its critically-acclaimed programmed films, Poppy Field by Eugen Jebeleanu and Unidentified by Bogdan George Apetri, while adding various fiction features, documentaries and shorts, including several U.S. premieres. 

Three narrative features newly included in the program share a similar story-telling device — the death of a key character, that threatens to disrupt an already fragile balance: the familial comfort zone. This theme is present in Mikado by Emanuel Pârvu and Otto the Barbarian by Ruxandra Ghițescu, and in the form of a lifelong friendship in No Rest for the Old Lady by Andrei Gruzsniczki. Two of the four documentaries, Holy Father by Andrei Dăscălescu and Us Against Us by Andra Tarara, are extremely intimate works, mirroring each other as both directors face their fathers on camera in search of reconciliation. The remaining documentaries cover both ends of the spectrum, ranging from the experimental in You Are Ceaușescu to Me by Sebastian Mihăilescu to the nature documentary approach in Wild Romania by Dan Dinu and Cosmin Dumitrache, each surprising in their own way. A selection of Romanian shorts highlight the genre’s most recent standouts, from striking animations and zany musicals, to sharp social critiques and sympathetic stories about couples and families in crisis.

Mihai Chirilov, Artistic Director of Making Waves, says, “These are turbulent times. Watching films can be a refuge, a therapy. Not that the films we are presenting this year are escapist; the program is by no means a light proposal. It is a mix of political and personal, with violence—either physical or, in most cases, emotional—as a common thread, and a quest of finding peace and harmony. Do not expect blood on the walls or heavy gestures, but a more repressed kind of violence.”

A series of exclusive pre-recorded interviews with filmmakers and actors will also be made available to ticket holders, along with a live conversation with Variety film critic Jay Weissberg on this year’s lineup and the recent evolution of Romanian cinema will stream live on Facebook on March 26 at 9:00am EST at https://www.facebook.com/MakingWavesRO.

All film programs will be available to stream for the entire length of the series.

Admission to the series will be sold either as an all-access pass or à la carte, available in the JBFC Virtual Marquee. Pricing is $75 (JBFC members), $90 (nonmembers) for the all-access pass, or $10 (JBFC members), $12 (nonmembers) per film. Series passes are now on sale, while individual tickets will go on sale March 25.

For access to streaming and program details visit https://burnsfilmcenter.org/series/new-romanian-cinema/ and https://makingwaves.filmetc.org/festival/mw16-films/ 

Below is the full list of titles available to stream throughout March 25-31:

Holy Father

Directed by Andrei Dăscălescu

2020, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 85 min.

The director and his girlfriend are faced with becoming parents. What may be the next logical step in a couple’s life here becomes the trigger for an extremely personal, much-delayed quest, as the soon-to-be father must come to terms with his long-lost father, who abandoned him when he was a kid and is now a monk on Mount Athos in Greece. Reluctant to talk at first, the ‘holy father’ slowly opens up and the dynamics between the two men take center stage, underlining the director’s fear that he’s going to turn into a bad father for lack of a first-hand role model. The road to reconciliation is long and not without resentment, but a late revelation turns what begins as a story about shattered families into one about faith and hope for a better future.


Mikado

U.S. Premiere

Directed by Emanuel Pârvu

2021, Romania/Czech Republic, Romanian with subtitles, 96 min.

*Streaming in New York State only

Remember the childhood game of pick up sticks? The screenplay of this highly intricate and engrossing drama (directed by Emanuel Pârvu, whose acting turn in the upcoming Miracle is a standout) follows the same principle, with one small incident leading to a bigger one, further setting in motion an unpredictable string of events with irreversible consequences: one day, a teenager offers her expensive necklace to a sick child in the hospital where she volunteers. Her father is certain she is lying, but by the time she proves her innocence, the damage is done and the guilt trip begins. If you enjoyed Asghar Faradi’s A Separation, you should dig Mikado.


No Rest for the Old Lady

Directed by Andrei Gruzsniczki

2021, Romania, Romanian with subtitles. 99 min.

The unconditional bond between Emil and Titi, two old men living in a remote hamlet, is put to the test when Emil’s wife dies. Emil keeps himself busy, wanders around in his motorbike, cooks and cares for his wheelchair-bound friend, and clumsily prepares the 40-day memorial service for his late partner. His belief that God does not exist is challenged by Titi’s unwavering faith and reaches the boiling point when Titi confesses that the old lady’s ghost moved into his house. Complete with a cathartic confrontation, this crepuscular drama with comic touches is a bittersweet ode to a lifelong friendship and a deeply humane story about love and loss, fueled by two great performances.

Otto the Barbarian

Directed by Ruxandra Ghițescu

2020, Romania/Belgium. Romanian with subtitles, 110 min.

The second Romanian film featuring ‘barbarians’ in the title after Radu Jude’s follows a seventeen-year old punker who runs amok after his lover dies. Caught up in a vicious circle created by his parents who cannot understand him, his mute and demented grandpa and his girlfriend’s grieving mother, he gets further annoyed by the social worker investigating the tragedy. Unable to articulate his sorrow, he finds refuge in editing old videos of his girlfriend, in what feels like a desperate attempt to resurrect her—and maybe this is where the key to finally accept his guilt and move on lies. It’s an edgy film and one of the very few local productions dealing with teenage angst, brilliantly capturing that moment when, for a young person, the world seems to have ended.


Poppy Field

Directed by Eugen Jebeleanu

2020, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 82 min.

Just as his long-distance boyfriend comes to visit, Cristi (Conrad Mericoffer), a young police officer, is called in for an intervention at a movie theatre, where a homophobic group has interrupted the screening of a queer-themed film. This is the starting point for a piercing portrait of a man at odds with his sexuality, trying to find a balance between his job in a macho, hierarchical environment and his personal life as a closeted gay person. The situation worsens when one of the protesters threatens to out Cristi, triggering a complex domino effect related to his identity. First-time director Jebeleanu creates, almost in real time, a tense huis-clos drama about censorship and self-censorship in a world that makes it hard to be free if you are different.


Unidentified

Directed by Bogdan George Apetri

2020, Romania/Latvia/Czech Republic, Romanian with subtitles, 123 min.

Despite mounting debts and a troubled personal life, a hot-headed police detective becomes obsessed with a hard case no one seems to care about. Ordered to put down the file, the cop goes rogue and comes up with a suspiciously convoluted plan designed to frame the apparent suspect, a security guard of Roma descent. There’s more than meets the eye in this slick and bleak neo-noir that tackles power abuse, corruption, and prejudice while slowly building up to a dark, staggering finale. Simultaneously shot by New York-based Apetri in his native town in Northern Romania, Unidentified and the upcoming U.S. release Miracle belong to a yet-to-be-concluded trilogy and share several key characters, but each works as a standalone piece, too.


Us Against Us

U.S. Premiere

Directed by Andra Tarara

2020, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 74 min.

A common passion and a debilitating mental disorder bring the director and her father together and apart, in front of each other’s camera. It’s an ingenious—albeit confrontational—set-up that seems to have finally triggered a frank conversation between the two about their wounded past. As the relationship unfolds, the dialogues touch upon the inability to communicate, transmission of generational traumas, their conceptions of happiness, and the stigma of mental illness. Alternating the mutual interviewing with daily life scenes, this highly emotional film becomes a personal statement from two people affected by or marked by mental disorder—a father forced to live with it and a daughter who had to grow up with a sick and often absent father.


Wild Romania

Directed by Dan Dinu, Cosmin Dumitrache

2021, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 123 min.

It may be that some of the Romanian films you know and cherish—with their gritty and unflattering stories about social unrest and endemic corruption—made you think of a wild east that is unlikely to become your next travel destination. Think again! If there’s anything truly wild about Romania, it’s the savage beauty of its nature and wildlife as captured in this stunning documentary ten years in the making, including the long waits to get the right shot of an elusive animal. The resulting two hours (out of a hundred hours of raw footage) offers never-before-seen images from spectacular areas, as well as singular stories about the country’s biodiversity, narrated by the playful voice of Adrian Titieni (of Graduation fame). Book your flight now!


You Are Ceaușescu to Me

U.S. Premiere

Directed by Sebastian Mihăilescu

2021, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 100 min. 

This is one of the most unusual offerings in Making Waves’ recent history: a bold cinematic work somewhere in the experimental space between fiction and documentary. Surprisingly, this intriguing oddity is less about the titular dictator and his criminal ruling and more about his early years as an aspiring communist, as reenacted by a bunch of non-professional millennials who were picked for the cast in a vacant warehouse. The ‘actors’ enter the game bearing no preconceived ideas of the dictatorship, and the more they get in character, the more they reveal about themselves during the breaks. Shot in striking black and white, this meta-film creates a collective portrait of a young generation that seems lost in the shades of grey of an ever-changing world.

New Romanian Shorts

31 Hours

Directed by Claudiu Mitcu

2021, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 21 min.

An overworked surgeon who has just come out of a 31-hour shift takes on a last minute emergency, but things end badly in this tense drama about guilt, deontological ethics and the endemic corruption of the public health system.


Cradle

Directed by Paul Mureșan

2020, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 4 min.

The classic lullaby song performed by legendary Maria Tănase gets an unofficial yet powerful music video with this dark and intriguing black and white animation about the damaging effects of domestic abuse and alcoholism.


I Am Dorin

Directed by Valeriu Andriuță

2020, Romania/Moldova, Romanian with subtitles, 23 min.

In this wild and humorous tale, a young man from the countryside accepts a sum of money in exchange for taking a bachelor's degree exam in someone else’s stead, and has one night—and what a night it is!—to get in character. 


Intermission for Autonomous Vacuum and the End of the World

Directed by Eugen Dediu

2020, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 16 min.

Outside, the world is ending, more or less like in Don’t Look Up! Inside a house, the cleaning lady and a stranger in a bathrobe spend their last moments sharing a common passion in what feels like the perfect happy ending.


The Mouse B

Directed by Ioachim Stroe

2021, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 18 min.

Seeking to overturn Darwin’s theory, a psychology professor is about to prove that mice are capable of empathy. But the miracle doesn’t last long, bringing down the scientist’s belief in the utopia of equality.


No Singing After 8

Directed by Alex Pintică

2021, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 20 min.

What happens when your heartbeats are no longer in harmony? You invite another couple over for dinner and let yourself go with the song’s flow, ignoring the rule in the title. What you get is a delightful musical about love and marriage. 


Still

Directed by Miruna Minculescu

2020, Romania. No dialogue, 29 min.

Two young parents are emotionally stuck and grow more distant by the day after their four-year-old son dies. You can literally feel the grief in the air in this impressive one-shot that quietly suggests that only time can heal wounds.


Summer Planning

Directed by Alexandru Mironescu

2021, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 26 min.

A young boy’s dream of going to a summer camp with his friends after the school year ends is threatened by his parents’ imminent divorce in this touching study of a couple in crisis and adults’ responsibilities.


Together

Directed by Alma Buhagiar

2020, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 23 min.

A boy who lives with his father prepares to go on a holiday with his mother. It’s a deceptively simple story whose microscopic details speak volumes about broken families and the impossibility of bringing them back together. 

Wood and Water (2021) Starts today at MOMA


 A German woman decides to travel to see her children, and her son in Hong Kong who said he has been unable to come home because of the Pro Democracy Protests

This is beautiful film with a glorious sense of place. Frankly I've rarely felt Hong Kong as a real a place as it does here. The forests of Germany are  the sort of thing that we can reach out and touch. It is a film that is alive and full of the  life.   I would  love to see what director Jonas Bak would do if he was allowed to create a mythical world.

How you react to the film as a whole is going to be determined by how you react to the films meditative style. The film is not one full of hills and valleys but a it's a steady straight line. It moves like life, there are no grand moments, however there are small revelations that work together to create a real emotional punch. When the film ended I was forced to consider the film more than if director Bak had put a bow on anything. Days passed and it was still haunting me.

While probably not for all audiences for those who want a quiet film that will haunt them this is very  recommended.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Pompo The CInephile (2021) NYICFF 2022


The great producer Pompo tasks he harried assistant with turning her deeply meaningful movie script into an award winning film.

While named for Pompo and while her presence hangs over the film, the reality is she is a secondary character to Gene, the assistant who is tasked with directing the film. This is Gene's story about getting to do the think you always wanting to do and following it to the end.

This is a really good film. For those that love the movies it is full of movie references from start to finish. Everything is seems to refer to some other film. I spent half of my time watching the film and half the time scanning for some film reference. For those who are less knowledgeable this film is still a blast, with the crazy happenings and compelling story line.

While I really liked the film a great deal I'm not going to pretend there aren't problems. The structure of the film feels odd at times as it throws down a lot of plot threads and seeming leaves them alone until picking them up at the end in order to get the perfect ending. On some level there is too much going on with the result that there are things that could have been cut out. Its not fatal it just makes the film feel less tight than it probably should.

This is a good film and definitely worth a look when it hits theaters in late April

The Batman (2022)

 


Just noting that I have seen The Batman and I really liked it.

I won’t say that I love the film. I have issues with the narrative  which is a bit bumpy. For example I don’t think the Riddler really is fully formed as a character, the move to the epic with the destruction of the sea wall feels like it’s a narrative reach and the fact that Riddler hid his intention under an old rug tacked in place under old wood is a bit much. I also wish there was a bit more interaction between Bruce and Alfred, while we can infer the bond, and touching moments in the second half there is a bit too much unsaid.

On the other hand the action set pieces kick ass, the movie moves like the wind and it looks right.

Robert Pattinson may also be the best Batman ever put on screen. He is not just a bad ass crime fighter but one with the city. When Selina talks about Bruce not being able to leave because he is attached to the city we know it’s true.  This the first live action film where Batman is part of the city and among the people. Yes we see him with the cops, but we also see him helping real people. He is not aloof (ala Adam West-who is the only one who dealt with citizens) but a  regular guy.

The reality is that this is the first film that, to me, feels like it’s the 80 year old character and not just a mythic figure  fighting far off crime, The moment when he leaps on the live wire that is going to electrocute everyone, cuts it and falls is the moment he becomes not a crime a crime fighter or vigilante  and becomes true hero. Rising from the water and striking the flare becomes the man leading Gotham out of darkness. For this life long Batman fan  it was the moment where the onscreen character become the figure that lives in my soul.

I got misty.

Over all The Batman is a winner and worth a look,

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Master (2022) SXSW 2022


Three African American women have unpleasant experiences at a predominately white college.

I don't know what I think of this film. Its one part social commentary and, occasionally, a horror film. Its a film that sets up the story of a ghost who haunts a certain college dorm room who takes a victim every year at a certain time. The film also seeks to address the racism, overt and "unconscious", that one finds in academia. 

The main problem is that the film doesn't blend the genres. I mean it doesn't really blend them at all. Some scenes are supernatural tinged,  but in those minutes there is no social commentary. In the social commentary moments there is no hint of the supernatural. The result is there never is any tension because the film never gets traction. Every time it begins to build to something it shifts gears...nay flips a switch.  The result of it is a lack of engagement.

The other problem is that the film can be incredibly low key, especially in-regard with the supernatural. The result is that when we reach the ending, the revelations are more like, "wait what?" instead of "oh my god". I should have been shattered instead of waiting to see if that was all there was.

While I know some people who liked this film, it really didn't work for me.

We Feed People (2022) SXSW 2022


This is the story of chef Jose Andres who began feeding people in need in 2010 when an earthquake hit Haiti. As a result he ended up starting World Central Kitchen which travels the world and wades in to disaster areas and feeds the people in need.  He is a man who takes his company where ever people need to be fed.

And while this is very much the story of Andres this film is also the story of a lot of people doing good. Its the story of World Central Kitchen and the people who go out of their way to make sure people can eat. It is a story of hope and humanity in a world of darkness. In a world of pain they will make you feel good.

I was moved to tears. I was rocked by Andres attitude of we have to help anyway we can- and then his just wading in to do it anyway he can. He went in in the early days with no plan and made it up as he goes. Its the way he runs its business and it has allowed him to make a difference when officialdom won't move fast enough. I love that he takes what he learns and changes as as he goes along and as each situation presents itself. You get a sense that he really wants to help and not feed his ego. This is the way we should all be. We should look to see what is really possible, not what we think is possible.

This is a magnificent film.

I don't know what to say except see this film. One of SXSW's best and one of 2022's most important

Apollo 1/2 (2022) NYICFF 2022 SXSW 2022


Richard Linklater remembers his childhood growing up near NASA in Huston and blurs it with his own dream of going to the moon.

This is the story of Stan ,who when he was kid was recruited by NASA to fly a secret mission to the moon in the days before Apollo 11. In and around that story Stan remembers what life was like being a kid.

How you react to this film is going to be determined by how you react to this pure shot of nostalgia. If you are of a certain age, Particularly if you came of age  during the late 1960's and early 1970's this film is going to be a waking dream of what your life was long ago when it was okay to paddle kids, ride in the back of pick up trucks and do all sorts of crazy things that would get you or your parents locked up today.

My experience watching the film was purely talking to the screen and saying "yes, yes exactly" while smiling with utter delight. A form of this film was my childhood and as a result I ate it up and I was five or six years old again.

On the other hand if you are far removed from the days depicted you may not have any connection to what is happening on screen and the fragmented nature of the (shaggy dog) story you may like it less. I completely understand not liking the film because without the nostalgia factor the film doesn't add up to much. I mean there is no grand payoff. This is just several weeks in the life of a kid in 1969 with no real arc.

Is it a bad film?

Oh hell no. Even the people who had no nostalgic connection to the film liked the film, they just didn't love it.

Worth a look when it hits Netflix April 1

Superior (2021) Opens Friday


 Superior feels like a film that would have been a low budget film from 1987 when the film is set. It looks and moves like many of the slightly more ambitious films of the period that were trying to do more than be a by the numbers thriller. Its and interesting throwback that is well done but strangely not as clever as it thinks it is.

The plot has sisters Ani and Alessandra Messa playing sisters. They haven’t seen each other in 6 years when one of them shows up at the house of the other needing a place to crash. She is on the run from an abusive boyfriend. As time goes on the pair rekindle their closeness and eventually begin to merge and swap personalities to the point that the people around them can’t tell them apart.

Superior is a film I admire more than I like. It is a meticulously designed film where every image is perfectly presented. I suspect that if there had been enough money the whole film would have been shot on artificial sets instead of actual locations.  This is a film where writer director Erin Vassilopoulos is doing everything within her power to tell us the exact story she wants. The results in a film that looks splendid and feels like it was 35 years old (that’s a compliment)

The trouble is the plot isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. There have been variations of it going back to the early days of cinema with notable stops at PERFORMANCE and the works of David Lynch. We’ve been here before enough that the plot doesn’t have any surprises. While it isn’t fatal, its kind of disappointing since so much work went into the design and making sure that by the end of the film we can’t tell Messa sister's apart. The result is a film that is not good but great.

Mickey: The Story of a Mouse (2022) SXSW 2022



The life, times and influence of Mickey Mouse.

All hail Mickey Mouse the mouse who changed the world.

Overly loving, near religiously orgasmic history of Mickey Mouse is going to be a treat for those who are in the cult and for those that are not it will be a film to make you talk to the screen. This is in no way an objective look at the mouse, but a grand 95 minute commercial from the Walt Disney corporation aimed at making people fall more in love with the mouse and buy lots of crap.

How you react to the film will be determined by whether you're in the mood for another rehashing of Mickey's history or not. I didn't find anything new here so I got bored rather early.

I should say as much as I am bitching, this isn't a bad film, just an unremarkable one. It is a 95 minute commercial disguised as a documentary. As I said there is nothing new here and it all is calculated to get you to buy more Disney stuff (the film is fetishistic in regard to memorabilia). If you need to have a reason to give more of your cash to Disney feel free to watch this when it plays Disney+

7 Days (2021) opens Friday


While 7 DAYS was on my Tribeca dance card, all their films are, I was not expecting to see it until a later point in putting my coverage together. It arrived in my inbox marked as another film. Knowing I was going to see it anyway I put it on and found I was utterly charmed

Ravi (Karan Soni) and Rita (Geraldine Viswanathan) are set up on a date by their parents. It kind of goes okay but circumstances of the covid lockdown  force Ravi to spend the night. That stretches into a week. What was a mismatched pairing turns into something else.

This is a sweet little romance. Buoyed by the performances of two great actors this is a film that becomes a romance where the audience falls for the two characters on screen just as hard as the couple at the center. To be certain that the film hits some of the cliched notes you find in a  mismatched romance, and yes Krn Soni's neurotic Ravi can be a bit much, but it really doesn't matter because the pair are so likable, so much a reflection of how we view ourselves. that we kind of forgive any small flaw.

I unexpectedly and unashamedly loved this film. I loved it so much that I really wish I had a significant other to share it with.

7 DAYS is recommended, and just may be the date film that just may seal the deal on your romance.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Cha Cha Real Smooth (2022) SXSW 2022 (spoilers)


My feeling toward Cooper Raiff's CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH is summed up by the warning one learns very early when going to or following news out of film festivals which is beware anything anyone tells you because it is invariably wrong. More times than not writer, myself included, are caught up in the moment and something you see produces a reaction that over sells the film. Such is the case with CHA CHA, a film many of my friends over sold when it played at Sundance.

Director Cooper Raiff plays a young man, just out of college who is stuck working at Meat Stick and acting as a guy who can get people to have a good time at various parties. He meets Dakota Johnson and her daughter at one and is smitten. They bond despite her having a fiance in Barcelona. What will happen?

How you feel about the film will be determined by how you feel about Raiff as a leading man and his technique behind the camera. Looking like a younger David Tennant but with 50% less charm and zero weight, Raiff wanders through the film in a part that makes him seem like a gee whiz sweet guy that everyone likes. Gosh darn it why can't he get his life together. Its a saccharine part of the sort that only exists in "you can't be serious" romantic comedies. This results in moments that had they been played by any other actor or written by any other writer might have seemed remotely real instead of artificial.

And it's a shame be because Dakota Johnson and Vanessa Burghardt as her daughter are magnificent. They take roles that shouldn't work as written and turn them into something special. They are what make the film work as well as it does.

Yes, despite my bitching the film works as disposable romance. But is should have been better. It also should have had a different ending which seems to be there just to give the proceedings weight. Forgive me, while it may be slightly logical, Johnson is engaged after all, it feels out of place. Yes I know it's the result of the film being from Raiff's character's POV, but it seems wrong and out of left field like many serious works of literature that go serious in the final pages/minutes. But what annoys me is the whole thing outside of Johnson and Burghardt are not far removed from a sitcom so it didn't have to end real. (Yes know it's foreshadowed in conversations but it still seems wrong to me) 

Worth a look for Dakota Johnson fans or those want to have their socks knocked off by new comer Vanessa Burghhardt. Everyone else you're on your own.