Film Reviews

TEENAGE: Matt Wolf’s Documentary Brings the History of Growing Up to Life

TEENAGE: Matt Wolf’s Documentary Brings the History of Growing Up to Life

teenage matt-wolf

 TEENAGE, the new documentary film written and directed by Matt Wolf (Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell) is based on the book Teenager, by Jon Savage, and uses both found footage and lush, fake Super 8 recreations to illustrate how adolescents came into being, as both a social and actualized concept, in the early-to-mid twentieth century.

The Naked Emotions are more Raw than the Rampant Sex Scenes in Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac-Vol 1

The Naked Emotions are more Raw than the Rampant Sex Scenes in Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac-Vol 1

By Francesca McCaffery

nymphomaniac shia

With his latest film NYMPHOMANIAC, bad boy and cinematic provocateur Lars von Trier has found a way to communicate through film that is rarely felt, even in literature: Whether you agree with what is being portrayed onscreen, or not, you still have the feeling of being spoken to in the most profound of ways- both cerebrally and viscerally- the sheer ride that only  the most dazzling, life-changing novel can offer.

NYMPHOMANIAC, VOL 1, is one of two films, (Vol 2 being released in the US in April ) both released in their uncut, European versions. The film stars Charlotte Gainsbourg as Joe, who meets lonely bachelor Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) only after he finds her lying, curled up, bloody and beaten, in his courtyard as he goes out to get his daily cup of coffee and rugalach.

Film Review: LENNY COOKE

Film Review: LENNY COOKE

lenny cooke documentary review

Arguably the most disappointing story I can relate to basketball wise, that of Lenny Cooke, is one marred by bad decision, misguidance, and maybe what I would call serendipity.  The fortunate mistake in it all is the example that his experience has and can be for generations to come. A legendary NYC hardcourt story, at one time Lenny Cooke was defined by his talent level and beyond anything else the potential of what he could do for others.  Knowing him personally, I can remember the attention he garnered walking into the room let alone putting the ball in the basket.  Such a charismatic individual, admittedly so his goal was to appease never to self-reflect.

Film Review: GARIFUNA IN PERIL-The Movie

Film Review: GARIFUNA IN PERIL-The Movie

garifuna in peril

GARIFUNA IN PERIL, written, produced and directed by Ali Allie and Ruben Reyes, is a film that chronicles the history of a people.  It explores the culture, language, and history, surrounding an indigenous group of people called the Garifuna.  Who are the Garifuna?

The Garifuna are descendants of Carib, Arawak, and West African people. The British colonizers referred to the Garifunas as Black Caribs.  At first the Garifunas called the island of St.Vincent home, but disease, horrific treatment by their captors and the trip across the seas, claimed the lives of many of the Garifuna people.  Today, an estimated 600,000 Garifuna populate a number of areas; Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua. 

Film Review: CUT TO BLACK

Film Review: CUT TO BLACK

CUT TO BLACK

CUT TO BLACK, the latest film from Brooklyn-based writer/director/star Dan Eberle, is an Audience Award-winning film from this year’s Brooklyn Film Festival that is one of those films that shouldn’t be unnoticed by larger audiences because of its nearly hypnotic, somewhat dream-like imagery and narrative.

Film Review: BETTIE PAGE REVEALS ALL

Film Review: BETTIE PAGE REVEALS ALL

BETTIE PAGE REVEALS ALL A film by Mark Mori

Even if you don’t think you know who Bettie Page is, you know her.  What do I mean by that?  At some point of your life you have seen references to Bettie Page, the most popular pin-up model of the 1950s.  That is because her style and persona has been a constant source of inspiration for decades by nearly every facet of pop culture.  For example, just in the last few months pop star Katy Perry heavily referenced Page’s famed “Jungle Bettie” photo shoot in her artwork and video for her hit single “Roar.”  It’s only one of hundreds of reference to Page’s famed pin-up photography that you probably encounter every year, a phenomenon that continues today (Bettie Page is one of the highest-earning deceased celebrities).  In the new documentary Bettie Page Reveals All, the pin-up legend herself narrates her life story, revealing once and for all what the woman behind those photos was like and what happened to her after disappearing from modeling seemingly overnight in 1957.  It’s an absorbing look at the life of an iconic woman, one many of us know little about beyond her photos.  While this is the first film documentary that Mark Mori has directed since 1991’s Building Bombs (which was nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar in 1991) and writer Doug Miller is film newcomer, the pair have created a loving in-depth portrait of Page with this documentary.

Film Review: MUSICWOOD

Film Review: MUSICWOOD

musicwood documentary film

What makes a Gibson or Martin acoustic guitar a better instrument (and thus more expensive) than a no-name guitar that you could buy for $50?  It’s the wood.  Premium acoustic guitars are made from four types of wood that come from across the world.  For three of the best U.S. guitar makers – Gibson, Martin, and Taylor – the soundboard (i.e., the “top” or front of the guitar) is made from a type of Sitka Spruce from Alaska’ Tongass National Forest via a Native American-owned logging corporation, Sealaska. Until several years ago, as far as the owners of these guitars companies were concerned they would continue to get their spruce from the Tongass National Forest for as long as guitars would be made.

Film Review: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN

Film Review: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN

On paper, the behind the scenes story being pushed about this joint North Korean-U.S. production is extraordinary: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN is a film that took six years to make and was a historical first-ever collaboration between North Korea and a U.S. film company.  The film was actually shot in North Korea with a North Korean cast and crew and was written and produced by Joon Bai, who was born in North Korea but immigrated to the United States in 1959, and starting in the late 1990s has made dozens of humanitarian trips to North Korea.  He decided to make this film to spread his message of the suffering people of North Korea and their hopes for reunification.

Film Review: THE PRIME MINISTERS

Film Review: THE PRIME MINISTERS

THE PRIME MINISTERS, a documentary film by Richard Trank

THE PRIME MINISTERS documentary directed by Richard Trank is based on the eponymous best-selling book, The Prime Minister, written by Ambassador Yehuda Avner.  Yehuda Avner, who served as a chief aide, English language note-taker and speechwriter to former prime ministers Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, and Shimon Peres, takes the audience into this powerful office, with never before seen and heard details on major historical events such as the Six-Day War, the development of Israel’s close strategic relationship with the United States, the fight against terrorism, the Yom Kippur War and its aftermath. 

Review: ZERO CHARISMA

Review: ZERO CHARISMA

 Zero Charisma

So much conflict comes out of the struggle for power, even regarding the smallest stakes possible.  ZERO CHARISMA is a film about struggles regarding what might seem like small stakes to an outside viewer, but to the characters involved it is literally an epic struggle between a “hero” and his nemesis.

REVIEW: BabyGirl

REVIEW: BabyGirl

BabyGirl

Growing pains may easily be one of the things that mostly all human beings can relate to. I can speak for myself assuredly when I say that life’s lessons come in all shape, sizes, and consequence.  For Lead actress Yainis Ynoa, better known as Lena AKA “Babygirl” it seems like they come all too frequently.  Already dealing with. being a 16-year-old latina in the Bronx which comes with many an obstacle economically, and socially there are expectations of her; her complex homelife is a constant theme throughout the film, documenting a relationship that seems like she is the parent most of the time.  Their bond is undying, of course, but their relation to each other is awkward at times, as you witness the responsibilities of the home and in guiding each other too often fall in the lap of Babygirl. 

Review: MUSCLE SHOALS

Review: MUSCLE SHOALS

MUSCLE SHOALS

As a huge music fan who nevertheless can’t play a note, I always enjoy watching documentaries about behind the scenes details about the music business and how the greatest records of all time were recorded.  While there are hundreds of music documentaries, many are fairly pedestrian and focus on household names who have sold millions of records and whose stories are already well-known.  The stars of MUSCLE SHOALS, a documentary about two prolific recording studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, certainly have had that “sold millions of records” part down since the 1960s, but their lives have been anything but open books.