Film Festival

/Film Festival

Itzhak – 7.5

April 17th, 2018|

A delightful bio-documentary about a charming man who wears his musical genius lightly. Itzhak Perlman’s story – overcoming polio to Juilliard to international stardom – is heartwarming, as is his marriage to a lively wife, but what sets this film apart is the music. I don’t know classical music, but even I appreciated the excerpts […]

Ismael’s Ghosts – 6

October 17th, 2017|

At one point we are intrigued by the face-off between two of France’s great actresses, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Marion Cotillard, who are both mysteriously attracted to the Woody Allen type, played by Matthieu Amalric, who is the confusing center of this film. Then the plot, such as it is, goes off the tracks and we […]

Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat – 5

October 10th, 2017|

The artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is the hole at the middle of this documentary: we never hear his voice, don’t see his paintings, learn nothing of his background, and catch only fleeting glimpses of his face. Instead, we get talking heads remembering the days when he emerged on the Lower East Side scene. What the film […]

Zama – 6

October 10th, 2017|

Sort of a cross between Last Year at Marienbad and Aguirre, Wrath of God, this Argentine period drama offered memorable still images – loved that tricorner hat! – but not much continuity or sensible plot. Life was pretty crummy in Spanish South America, and I was happy to have a shower afterward. A bit of […]

Tomorrow (Le Demain) – 7

July 28th, 2017|

A group of French filmmakers sought to counter the despair provoked by climate change and the ongoing Sixth Extinction by finding examples that show how the world could survive in a better, sustainable way – sort of a filmic version of John Lennon’s Imagine. I can’t say it was convincing – more on that in […]

Water & Power – 6.5

July 15th, 2017|

This documentary tackled a fascinating subject – water rights in California – but left me with more questions than answers. It approached the topic from several different angles but never tied them together. The people of East Porterville had no running water for three years. Something called the Monterey Amendments set water allocations behind closed […]

Long Strange Trip – 7

June 7th, 2017|

Totally satisfactory as a tribute to the Grateful Dead, four hours of archival footage and talking heads from the band and fans. Of course, the soundtrack was one happy thrill after another. Seeing it in a full house of Deadheads in Greenwich Village, with director Amir Bar-Lev present, made it more a pilgrimage than a […]

The Hero – 5

April 30th, 2017|

A little Sam Elliot is a delight to watch. An entire movie with nothing but closeups of Sam Elliot is rather too much. The story – an aging cowboy movie star given new life by a young girlfriend and a viral video – is neither deep nor plausible, and the secondary characters don’t do much […]

The Cage Fighter – 4

April 30th, 2017|

A not terribly well made documentary about a not terribly interesting man engaged, not terribly successfully, in mixed martial arts – something I’m not terribly interested in and certainly don’t enjoy watching. The filmmaker took life as he found it – and the access he achieved was remarkable; not every life, however, is worth a […]

The Distinguished Citizen – 8

February 18th, 2017|

Here was a film to think and talk about: how many themes did you detect, and what were they? An Argentine writer, winner of the Nobel in literature, returns to his small home town in the country – why? to bask in his glory, to refresh his imagination, to experience nostalgia? – or does he? […]