Mesmerizing drama’s strong plot line is told almost entirely through sensuous music & exquisite visual imagery. Most of the action takes place in Paris, right before & immediately after the Nazi Occupation. Ricci, in the lead role, is a young Russian-Jewish woman searching for her father. Highly erotic. Adults only. More on THE MAN WHO… Continue reading Film Review: THE MAN WHO CRIED
New York City schools compete in a ballroom dancing contest. Starts well, with nice racial/economic/sociologic overviews of each principal competitor, but there are too many “cast members” for the time allotted & soon kids/parents/teachers/neighborhoods blur together into an ultimately unsatisfying “aren’t kids cute” story of poorly-individuated winners & losers. More on MAD HOT BALLROOM.
Lovingly produced doc uses rare photograph, archival materials, & first-person recollections to capture ordinary daily life in the Jewish community of Luboml, Poland in the years between WWI & WWII. Also includes recent scenes filmed in Luboml by Steinman with the “lucky ones” who have returned for post-Cold War visits. More on LUBOML: MY HEART… Continue reading Film Review: LUBOML: MY HEART REMEMBERS
Slice-of-life dramedy about three sisters forced to care for each other while Mom recuperates from a botched liposuction procedure. Two of the daughters are self-absorbed adults. The third is adopted — a young Black girl who’s birth Mom was a crack addict. Interesting set-up but, alas, it’s only intermittently successful. More on LOVELY & AMAZING.
Spike Lee takes the Producer’s Chair in this warm story of 2 Black kids from prosperous families who bond on their upscale neighborhood court. Film spans a dozen years as they mature into young adults. Love & Basketball stars Sanaa Lathan (a real find!) & Omar Epps. With excellent support from all 4 parents (especially… Continue reading LOVE & BASKETBALL
On 2nd view, Rich is willing to concede that the condescending Japanese stereotypes in this film might also be described more benignly as “slapstick comedy.” So we’re giving this a pass, but we both agree that the hype for this mood piece about two alienated Americans abroad far exceeds the accomplishment. More on LOST IN… Continue reading Film Review: LOST IN TRANSLATION
We loved Stacy Peralta’s DOGTOWN & Z BOYS, so why draw from the same well twice? This version explores timeless truths about male bonding as three friends challenge each other, establish their internal pecking order, & learn to play to the crowds. Ledger’s heart-breaking as their mentor, born to be left behind. More on THE… Continue reading Film Review: THE LORDS OF DOGTOWN
Australian drama Look Both Ways is a down-under version of American Oscar-winner Crash, but its polar opposite in every way–subtle where Crash is bombastic, true to the little moments of real people’s lives where Crash manufactures big moments of melodramatic overstatement. Yes, disease and death are the elements around which writer/director Sarah Watt builds her… Continue reading LOOK BOTH WAYS
Sundance crowd-pleaser about an unlikely beauty pageant contestant (Abigail Breslin), a beat-up VW van, & the oddballs who climb aboard to support her dream. Altho there are a few improbable moments, most of the journey”s sublime as this contemporary version of the Joad family (from GRAPES OF WRATH) follows the well-worn trajectory west. More on… Continue reading Film Review: LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Greenberg played for the Detroit Tigers in the 30s, joined the Army pre-Pearl Harbor, then returned to baseball in 1945, hitting innumerable homeruns every year in defiance of his era’s Nazi stereotypes. In this ebullient BioDoc, Greenberg’s forever preserved as a Jewish hero as well as a great American dreamer. (For more, see Jan’s WJD… Continue reading Film Review: THE LIFE & TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG
Laurel Canyon’s an LA neighborhood made famous in the ‘70s by singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell. Director/screenwriter Cholodenko takes a woman right out of Mitchell’s lyrics & breathes new life into her. What would her life be like today? McDormand’s fabulous in the lead, & Bale’s a perfect foil as her son. More on LAUREL CANYON.
Mateu plays an artist slowly succumbing to hereditary blindess. Centeno is the beautiful young woman who becomes the focus of his last clear visual memory. Slow & moody, but visually elegant & ultimately quite haunting. More on THE LAST GAZE.
Stunningly dull & labored version of D. H. Lawrence classic which, amazing to us, swept 2007 Cesar Awards: we thought French films were supposed to be sexy!!! But the nature scenes shot by veteran cinematographer Julien Hirsch are lovely, & Hands is touching in her first lead role. More on LADY CHATTERLEY.
Two smart, attractive, artistic NY women try living together as a couple. But it turns out that all the problems Jessica’s brought to all her heterosexual relationships surface this time too, & Helen finds herself just as frustrated as any man would be. Plot’s thin, but both screenwriter/actresses are charming. More on KISSING JESSICA STEIN.
With eighty more years of film technique at their command (screenwriting, screen acting, etc, as well as special effects), Jackson & his team have transformed a mythopoetic Depression Era classic into not only the best film of 2005, but one of the greatest films ever made. Bring Kleenex? You bet!!! More on KING KONG (2005).
Depression era adventure yarn is tough to watch today — too many racist overtones when the huge black monster falls in love with the buxom blonde — nevertheless it succeeds by simultaneously capturing the mythos of its time as well as pointing the way to the future of motion picture spectaculars. More on KING KONG… Continue reading Film Review: KING KONG (1933)
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! We saw LARS last night @ the Chicago International Film Festival & we were both totally charmed. Jan predicts that Nancy Oliver is now on the 2008 Oscar Fast-Track for a “Best Original Screenplay” nomination. Film opens in NYC & LA today (10/12) & next Friday (10/19) in Chicago & beyond. Click here for FF2… Continue reading Film Review: LARS & THE REAL GIRL
Two French sisters explore their options while their Tunisian-born mother frets. Mathilde (Zylberstein) devotes herself to husband & children, while Laura (Valette) studies philosophy & avoids “appropriate” suitors. Insightful look at Sephardic life in multicultural Paris, with Clement especially fine as the woman who runs the Mikva (Jewish ritual bath). Read FF2 Haiku Click HERE… Continue reading LA PETITE JERUSALEM