Film Review

The Last Summer Tour or The French Rock On

Bus-PalladiumAre you ready for what some are calling the very first worldwide, all-French Internet movie gala, My French Film Festival?

Yes, from January 14 until January 29th, for less than $20, you'll be able to screen and vote on the merits of twenty brand new Gallic features and shorts on your iPad or what have you. Here's a dream come true for Roger-Ebert wannabes and the more cultured among us. If you fit the bill, get your thumbs in shape and your Brie room temperature.

Romeo & Juliet in Yiddish: "Oy Vey! Thy Lips Are Warm."

romeo-and-juliet-yiddishG-d bless. It's that time of year again. Yes, The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center are presenting, for the 20th time in fact, The New York Jewish Film Festival. Features and shorts, 36 of them, from 14 countries, Mexico included, will spotlight every aspect of Judaism you can think of. From a composer's problems with his wife (Mahler on the Couch), to comprehending love (The Matchmaker), to the Holocaust and the artistic impulse (Vera Klement: Blunt Edge), and even teenage friendships between Israelis and Palestinians (My So-called Enemy), all will be showcased.

Kaboom: Araki Explodes with a Pfffft!

kaboom-filmIn 2004, Gregg Araki stunned his fans and international critics with a brilliant little film, Mysterious Skin, a searing adaptation of Scott Heim's cult novel concerning child abuse, cow abuse, being gay, hustling, and grasping for affection.

Before achieving this cinematic feat, Araki helped kick off the New Queer Cinema movement with The Living End (1992), a poorly acted, technically uneven, yet audaciously brave feature about two hotties with AIDS who decide to become Bonnie and Clyde.

Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures or "Blow Job" Meets Harry Potter

warhol-film"An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have," Andy Warhol once noted. But after viewing the superb new presentation of Andy's early films at MOMA, you might reword that to: "Art is something people don't need to have but are better off having." Sublimely organized by Klaus Biesenbach, MoMA's acclaimed Chief Curator at Large, the films, each situated in a black frame, some measuring seven feet high and nine feet wide, are almost reminiscent of the paintings hanging at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, except these won't scream at you, which is a bit of a shame. Who wouldn't like to be vocally abused by Nico or Dennis Hopper?

Chance: The Discreet Charm of the Proletariat

chance_filmAbner Benaim's Chance was beating out James Cameron's Avatar at the box office in its third week of release in its native Panama . . . and deservedly. This hard-hitting, anti-bourgeois comedy opens with the dapper Fernando González-Dubois (Francisco Gattorno) running for political office. Interviewed on a TV news show, he avers, "I am a man of the people. My job is to work for the well-being of my country." His "heartfelt" words start ringing empty when the camera starts exploring his home life. His wife Gloria (Isabella Santodomingo) splits her time between getting breast implants, taking classes, and shopping. His twin teen daughters are into group sex and demeaning the help.

Knight and Day: DVD Innocuousness

knight_day_dvdKnight and Day (20th Century Fox, Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Holiday Gift Set)

Fresh off his film- stealing part as Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder (not to mention his performance at the MTV Movie Awards with J.Lo), Tom Cruise ventures back to the big screen as leading man in Knight and Day co-starring Cameron Diaz. He plays rogue agent Roy Miller on a mission to save the world. Cameron Diaz's June is the all-too-willing beautiful bystander who gets caught up in his world of espionage and intrigue.

Catching Up: Gross-Out Fun plus Death à la Eastwood

due_dateDue Date Over a decade ago, Todd Phillips co-created the New York Underground Film Festival. Those were the days when this event was really, really underground and almost too scary to attend. (Try sitting through Roadkill.) He went on to direct the highly entertaining Frat House for HBO, a "documentary" never to be released for the masses. Then he surprised everyone by becoming one of the most commercially profitable directors in America, with Road Trip, Old School, and The Hangover -- the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time -- under his belt.

Shorties: Brassieres on Strike, Uncle Boonmee, and Primroses

dagenham-filmMade in Dagenham

Norma Rae goes Brit in this fact-based tale of exploited women working for the Ford Motor Company in Dagenham, England, in the Sixties.

Ford already has one of the more dreadful histories in American business. Henry Ford helped spread anti-Semitism around the world, and thanks to the recycling of his original publications today, these very same writings are continuing to advocate hatred of the Jews to newbie neo-Nazis. If this weren't enough, according to one source, "Ford sent Hitler 50,000 Deutsche Marks every year on the Führer's birthday."

Shorties: Assassins and Diaper Changing

life-as-we-know-itThe Ghost Writer

Now on DVD, Roman Polanski's clever adaptation of Robert Harris' thiller bows down to Alfred Hitchcock, especially with its superb Bernard Herrmann-like score by Alexandre Desplat (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Fantastic Mr. Fox).

The plot starts off simply enough. A nameless writer (Ewan McGregor), unambiguously known as "The Ghost" in the production notes, is hired to rewrite the memoirs of Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), a former British Prime Minister (based upon Tony Blair). The previous ghost who had penned the rather boring first draft had recently fallen off a local ferry dead drunk and drowned. Or did he? Could it have been murder and if so, why?