Conceptualized at first as a six-part television series for British television, director Michael Winterbottom’s “The Trip,” starring English comics Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, is a strange, delightfully bittersweet mid-life crisis film of sorts, which leaves you somehow feeling as if you’ve witnessed an actual epiphany happening as it is unfolding. Coogan plays himself, ostensibly, and the premise is that he is invited to do a driving restaurant tour of the gorgeous Northern English […]
REVIEWS: One Lucky Elephant and Queen of the Sun:What are the Bees Telling Us– Two essential new docs
This week two documentaries open in New York that examine relationships between humans and animals. Though two very different kinds of animals are presented in these two films, and their stories told in very different styles, the overall ideas explored in both films, about humans and animals coexisting, are quite similar. A realistic examination of wild animals living in captivity through the unique story of an elephant and a circus director, One Lucky Elephant is […]
REVIEW: Mike Mills Wonderful New Film “Beginners” stars Ewan MacGregor, Christopher Plummer and Melanie Laurent-and must be seen immediately!
There are a certain few films that you know from the first few frames that something essential and true is being conjure. Mike Mills wonderful new film “Beginners,” starring Ewan MacGregor, Christopher Plummer, and Melanie Laurent, opens this week. Ewan MacGregor plays Oliver Fields, a sweet illustrator in his late thirties who quickly and quietly falls head over heels for French actress Anna (Melanie Laurent of “Inglorious Basterds”) while she is shacked up at the […]
There have been some important documentaries about Hurricane Katrina, including Spike Lee’s epic When the Levees Broke, and the very personal Trouble the Water, but Harry Shearer’s The Big Uneasy is worth seeing for a whole new perspective on the disaster, one that was far from “natural.” Shearer (an actor and comedian, as well as New Orleans resident) presents a wealth of data and evidence proving undoubtedly that it was the many engineering and design […]
The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls is a new documentary directed by New Zealand filmmaker Leanne Pooley on two fascinating subjects—the performing duo Lynda and Jools Topp, twins who have become cultural and national icons in New Zealand over the past 25 years. As one interviewee says, a pair of yodeling lesbian twins doesn’t sound all that impressive on paper, but their act, which includes country music, comedy, and interaction with audience members, succeeds in entertaining […]
The themes of bullying, being bullied, and the horrific effects it can have on a child were displayed in full force at this year’s 2011 Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
Director Lee Hirsch, who was himself bullied as a child, helms this poignant, thorough and very topical “Bully Project,” which takes you not only into the lives of children being ridiculed and teased at school, but, literally, onto the school bus right along with both the weak and the tormented. He also highlights two families who both suffered a devastating loss when their child killed themselves. (One middle-school age child, and one teen-ager).
Octubre is a lauded new Peruvian film that was recently at New Directors/New Films and has been at multiple other international festivals; it is the first feature of a team of brothers—writers/directors Daniel and Diego Vega Vidal. It’s a film of few words, so to speak, simple, with not too much fuss made. The film begins with Clemente (Bruno Odar), a moneylender who’s trusted and known in Lima as the pawnbroker’s son. He lives alone, […]
REVIEW: Underwater Love; ..the most obscurely sweet and original soft-core porn musical I have ever seen
“Underwater Love,” a Japanese film directed by Shinji Imaoka, is the most obscurely sweet and original soft-core porn musical I have ever seen. Actually, come to think of it, this would be my first soft-core porn musical, and for what it was intended to be, I appreciated this film from beginning to end. The story itself merges Japanese fantasy with reality. It centers around Asuka, who is a thirty-something fish factory worker in a small Japanese village outside of Tokyo. She is engaged to her boss Taki, and seems to live a more than ordinary lifestyle with little variance or excitement. One day she sees a Kappa, a mythological water creature that is part human. It is her friend Aoki, who long ago drowned at the age of 17. He has mysteriously come back into her life as a tortoiseshell, beak faced creature. It is amusing to see this Kappa so accepted and integrated into normal human life. We also travel with him and Asuka to the fantastical world he inhabits as a mythological Kappa.
Blank City is at once nostalgic, in its look back towards a time and place that was full of raw energy and desperate creativity; eye-opening, with its fantastic clips of experimental films that few people today have probably seen; and very timely, since it speaks directly to our current culture of artists, hipsters and struggling indie filmmakers scraping by in contemporary New York, a city very different from the one portrayed in this film, but […]
Elektra Luxx is Sebastian Guiterrez’s sequel to a previous film, Women In Trouble. Picking up a month after the events of the first film, the plot centers on the porn star Elektra, played by Carla Gugino, and her struggle to change her lifestyle after discovering she is pregnant. One act of good will Elektra provides for society is teaching a sexual education class for women. A flight attendant Cora, played by Marley Shelton, confronts Elektra […]
Queen To Play (Joueuse) is the first feature from filmmaker Caroline Bottaro, which stars Kevin Kline and the incandescent Sandrine Bonnaire. The film is set in Corsica, and opens as a maid in a small hotel Helene (Sandrine Bonnaire) is cleaning up the elegant but messy room of an American Couple, who sits playing chess, still woozy and lounging from the night before; the woman (a radiant Jennifer Beals) sitting in her night gown, lovingly […]
The Desert of Forbidden Art is a fascinating documentary by Tchavdar Georgiev and Amanda Pope, exploring an unknown art world made up of amazing artists whose work was condemned in their lifetimes largely because of Stalin’s regime, and consequently not recognized until recently. The film centers on the story of how one man, Igor Savitsky (whose narration is voiced by Sir Ben Kinglsey), made it his life’s goal to collect the work of Russian artists […]
Sherry Hormann’s film Desert Flower is the true story of the life of supermodel Waris Dirie, and a very important one to be told. The film is based on her autobiography and brings us through the amazing journey from her life in Somalia as a child to her shift into modeling stardom in London and eventual women’s rights activism. The execution of this story, however, is less than impressive. It follows pretty conventional modes of […]