Film Review http://culturecatch.com/index.php/film en Under-Stated Portrait of Genius and Loneliness http://culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3882 <span>Under-Stated Portrait of Genius and Loneliness</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/mark-weston" lang="" about="/index.php/users/mark-weston" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Mark Weston</a></span> <span>October 6, 2019 - 11:26</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/831" hreflang="en">biopic</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/98t7aXRaA6w?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>It could have been an over-the-top disaster.  Or a cheeky send-up.  It could have been a snooze.  Instead, it is a devastatingly under-stated portrait of genius and loneliness.</p> <p>What stays with you in Renee Zellweger's fearless embodiment of Judy Garland in "Judy" is the eyes - the fire that burns in them when she is on stage in front of an adoring (or at times not-so-adoring audience) and the weariness in them when she is not.  What the film and that performance do is something quite unexpected, they peel away the star trappings and reveal the fragile person inside.  And that is quite unlike most biopics that bounce off the glassy surface of their celebrity.  Here, the camera is unmercifully close to the eyes of its subject, and lingers there.  And we experience the emotional injuries, the terrible loneliness and the harrowing fear of what it is like to be an icon.</p> <p>You will hear a lot about how this is an Oscar worthy performance by Zellweger.  But what most critics won't tell you - focused too much on the horse-race handicapping of the award - is why.  The why is in the bravery of a performance that is so vulnerable as to be an open wound.  Yes there are moments of thrilling triumph in the London stage performances, but they are no match for the pain of  watching Renee/Judy pluckishly trying to overcome a broken life in full view of a tabloid world.</p> <p>Judy Garland was not a great singer, a great dancer, a great actor or a great beauty.  What she had was a great big heart.  And when she sang that big heart of hers was full to bursting with raw emotion -- thrilling and exhausting and completely devoid of artifice. And Zellweger uncannily captures this -- the raw genius  that fueled Judy's stardom.</p> <p>Other parts of the film are not as successful, falling into many of the traps of the celebrity biopic, with incomplete relationships, ancillary characters and too much pop psychology.  But these are quibbles next to Renee Zellweger's career-defining performance.  It's in those gorgeous eyes.  Those haunting, gorgeous eyes.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3882&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="_H0p-dliHM5EYp9nt12Ub8gt6cmG4UpYue7-ZTbsjm4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sun, 06 Oct 2019 15:26:03 +0000 Mark Weston 3882 at http://culturecatch.com 3 Gay Films http://culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3875 <span>3 Gay Films</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>September 12, 2019 - 13:49</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/832" hreflang="en">LGQBT</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ELA_DhBp6qg?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>Three of the Year's Best Films So Far Are Queer</strong></p> <p>Argentina, Brazil, and France over the past several months have served up some rather hard-hitting, astutely directed films, each with a distinguishable personality, each exploring varied aspects of the homosexual in modern times. Although, surprisingly, their plot lines, all situated in the now, wouldn’t feel out of place in several other decades with just a few alterations.</p> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WF0h-HymbY" target="_blank"><i>The Blond One </i>(<i>Un Rubio</i>)</a><i> </i>is Marco Berger's sixth feature, no doubt the reason for its assured unhurriedness and its ability to make the most commonplace conversations (e.g. "Was it you who fixed the bathroom tap?") and actions (e.g. drinking yerba mate) rife with tension.</p> <p>The simple setup has the amber-locked Gabriel (Gaston Re) subletting a room from his co-worker Juan (Alfonso Barón) in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. They, both hard-bodied and in their thirties, are employed in a wood-cutting factory. Gabo, as he's called, is a widower with a young daughter in the second grade. She lives with his parents in the country.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="731" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2019/2019-09/the-blond-one-film-still.png?itok=Bii0LuzT" title="the-blond-one-film-still.png" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1200" /></article><figcaption>Marco Berger’s “Blond One” showcase Love Brazilian Style</figcaption></figure><p>The brunet Juan, an unequaled womanizer, has numerous guy pals popping in regularly for beer chats and to watch soccer games on TV. When not ranting about their machismo conquests, one chap might spout, "I'd kick this dyke's butt so hard she'd be flying over Buenos Aires" or "weak fathers bring up queer sons."</p> <p>How come then, as the days and night swiftly fly by, is Juan adjusting his crotch in front of his new roomie, posing at the door, and walking about nude in the hallway, especially after his female conquests have left?</p> <p>What follows is a half hour of one of the most erotic seductions you have experienced in filmdom. The innocent Gabo is confused but seemingly intrigued. Is he himself gay? He certainly waters plants a lot. But as Juan appears to be moving in for the kill, pouncing to and fro like a boxer ready for the kill, the blond seems to be looking forward to being KO'd.</p> <p>Finally, there's the touch of the crotch with one daring finger, a few more digits go past the waistband, and so forth. A night of passion arrives, but what follows is never quite what you might expect. Was Gabo just a conquest? Can Juan commit?</p> <p>As John Lennon, among others, have noted:</p> <blockquote> <p>"Life is what happens to us while you're busy making other plans."</p> </blockquote> <article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2019/2019-09/blond_one_film_still_2.png?itok=n8DrD0UY" width="1200" height="1001" alt="Thumbnail" title="blond_one_film_still_2.png" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>Differentiating this tale of two guys searching for completeness within each other, besides its several unexpected twists and its Argentinian take on homophobia, is the stellar acting by Re, Barón, and the rest of the cast, plus the finesse of the production.</p> <p>Clearly, these last few years have been a robust time for imposing LGBTQI moviemaking, and writer/director/editor Berger, with his deliberately observant scenes that are often unafraid to be dialogue free and that are all beautifully shot by Nahuel Berger, has extended this blissful run. His message? A subtle take on "Come out, come out, wherever you are."</p> <p class="text-align-center">----------------------------------------------------------</p> <p>Alexandre Moratto's feature debut, <i>Socrates</i>, which was created in conjunction with the UNICEF-supported Querô Institute in Brazil, a non-profit that aids teens from low-income communities through filmmaking. With a crew of 16 to 20 year olds, which includes the co-writer Thayná Mantesso, you're not surprised then by the overpowering vistas of the slums of Sao Paolo as depicted and the aching emotions they provoke.</p> <p>The film, which made an impressive showing at this year's Indie Spirit Awards, including nominations for Best Male Lead and the John Cassavetes Award, immediately opens with the death of the mother of 15-year-old Socrates (Christian Malheioros). From that moment on, we can only hope the young man’s tale will avoid high tragedy, causing him to follow in the steps of his namesake.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hikXt_qVLlE?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>But how can Socrates earn a living when the minimum age for hiring is 18? Will he be evicted? How can he avoid being sent to a home? Where is his next meal coming from? Will the young man he falls in love with respond in same? Why is Socrates avoiding contact with father? What is it to be young and gay in a religious, heteronormative society with absolutely no one trustworthy to lend a helping hand?</p> <p>To reveal more is to ruin your "Socratic" experience. This brave little film, a tale of an uncomprehending hero whose every step seemingly is a misstep, is not unlike the best offerings of Italian neorealism of the post-war years. <i>Socrates</i> rubs all of your senses raw. Malheioros and Tales Ordakji, who plays his love interest, are quite extraordinary as is Moratto's helming.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="712" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2019/2019-09/socrates-film-still.png?itok=ZjodZkTz" title="socrates-film-still.png" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1200" /></article><figcaption>SOCRATES (CHRISTIAN MALHEIOROS) MOMENTARILY FORGETS HIS HUNGER PANGS WITH THE ENIGMATIC MACON (TALES ORDAKJI).</figcaption></figure><p class="text-align-center">----------------------------------------------------------</p> <p>There's been quite a few memorable films about male prostitution. John Schlesinger's <i>Midnight Cowboy </i>(1969), Paul Morrisey's<i> Trash</i> (1970), and Greg Araki's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Lp5v4oQZRw" target="_blank"><i>Mysterious Skin</i></a><i> </i>are prime examples. Joining their ranks is writer/director Camille Vidal-Naquet's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kU8dwjRsO4g" target="_blank"><i>Sauvage</i></a><i>.</i></p> <p>Félix Maritaud, who was last seen on these shores as a French AIDS activist in <i>BPM</i> <i>(Beat Per Minute)</i> (2017), plays Leo, a 22-year-old hapless street prostitute, who's looking for love in all the wrong places. Basically illiterate, a habitual drug user, often homeless, he's surprised when a doctor says he should change his ways. "Why would I?" he wonders aloud.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wcV7Hk-OqsE?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>As Leo wanders the streets, with his winsome looks, like a battered kitten left to fend for himself, we meet the young man's clientele, a cornucopia of gents showcasing the fact that some homosexuals can be bastards like anyone else, while others can give St. Francis of Assisi a run for his money. Or didn't we know that already?</p> <p>The film is erotic, shocking, tender, brutal, funny, and bears repeated viewings. Four times so far for me. Just watch Leo cuddle up with a septuagenarian widower while a photo of the man's wife looks on kindly. Then there's the barbaric gay couple trying to stiff our hero of his wages after violating him brutally. And so forth. Sex for survival. Sex for bliss.</p> <p class="text-align-center">----------------------------------------------------------</p> <p>After screening all three, you can't but wonder whether Leo's back story is Socrates' future, or whether either of these young men will ever meet a Gabriel, who will cherish them, hopefully before they are too broken to love him back.</p> <p>(<i>The Blond One </i>is ended a week's run in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall on September 12th. <i>Socrates </i>is now on DVD and VOD. <i>Sauvage/Wild </i>has also made it onto DVD.)</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3875&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="ed5-kSW7IDljXEuoLmadH3s-VOZ6sQ7kRS-WAKNNgJY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 12 Sep 2019 17:49:44 +0000 Brandon Judell 3875 at http://culturecatch.com Coming Attractions! http://culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3871 <span>Coming Attractions!</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/index.php/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>August 28, 2019 - 11:32</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ve-dkztGutk?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Sir Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror, genre-defining movie masterpiece <em>Alien</em> gets a long overdue documentary about all of the gory details that went into making it. <em>Memory:  The Origins of Alien</em> unearths the largely untold origin story behind Scott's cinematic masterpiece, and reveals a treasure trove of never-before-seen materials from the archives of <em>Alien </em>creators Dan O'Bannon and H.R. Giger -- including original story notes, rejected designs and storyboards, exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, and O'Bannon's original 29 page script from 1971, titled <em>Memory</em>. The documentary also takes fans on an exploration of the mythical underpinnings of <em>Alien</em> and dedicates focus on the film's iconic “Chestburster” scene.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3871&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="mvemyNT2By40LsT51KCPH_Baa9bUKEDSrN_onkBwa3E"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 28 Aug 2019 15:32:12 +0000 Dusty Wright 3871 at http://culturecatch.com Cinema’s Thoreau Is Begging You Not to Make a Movie or Write a Book http://culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3868 <span>Cinema’s Thoreau Is Begging You Not to Make a Movie or Write a Book</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>August 23, 2019 - 22:54</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/500" hreflang="en">celebrity interview</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2019/2019-08/aquarela_2_photo.jpg?itok=NJVHUw1K" width="1200" height="800" alt="Thumbnail" title="aquarela_2_photo.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>Victor Kossakovsky has no time for fools, especially when it comes to directors and cinema. He's even came up with ten rules for would-be helmers, the main one being: "Don't film if you can live without filming."</p> <p>He nods. It's 10:30 AM, and the no-frills Russian filmmaker, with his graying beard, disheveled silver locks, and bohemian charm joins me in a Mondrian Park Avenue Hotel suite. A publicist monitors the door as the director/screenwriter/editor/cinematographer and winner of 100 worldwide awards for his past work, chars up his critically acclaimed paean to tumultuous water, <i>Aquarela</i>. <i>Variety </i>describes this current effort as a "grandiose, sense-pummeling documentary ride." The <i>British Film Institute </i>settles for "poetic and multi-sensorial . . .  a thundering technical achievement."</p> <p>Back to his rule: "I guess I steal it from Tolstoy," Kossakovsky laughs, which he does a lot. </p> <blockquote> <p>"I believe Tolstoy wrote something somewhere in his diaries or somewhere. . . . This my way. I believe we live in a time when there are too many products, too many films, too many books, too many music . . . and it's actually pollution, intellectual pollution. . . . Every piece of crap has someone who likes it. With every piece of shitty music or crap film, someone will go, 'Ohhh! What a good film!' … So I say to everyone, you should not make good films, only incredible films, only unique. . . .  That's why [filmmaking] must be necessity. Must be like you cannot live without it. You wake up with necessity to grab up camera and show something to people. Otherwise, why? Otherwise, why?"</p> </blockquote> <p>Why, indeed!</p> <p>"You know people always say good films contain story, good characters, and an original way of doing it. This is cinema language. Character, story, and language, right? I would say it's always missing something else. Magic! Magic! For me, it's not enough to have these three components. I need magic."</p> <p><i>Aquarela</i> -- which boasts few words and no framing devices to inform you whether the frozen lakes, pounding seas, death-defying floods and hurricane winds are in Greenland, Russia, or Mexico — wants to showcase a nature untamed. With its numerous international crews and its unexpected scenarios, Kossakovsky woke up each morning thankful that no one had died the day before. Well, almost no one.</p> <p>An exception is in the opening segment on Lake Baikal. The footage was not supposed to record a death. First there is the beauty of white upon white upon white. Then we see two men scraping away at the ice on the frozen water. A car has sunk. There is a body under that ice. How did this shot come about?</p> <p>In his earlier film, the never-less-than-stunning <i>¡Vivan las antípodas!</i>, a young 11-year-old girl exclaims if she could be reborn, she would come back as water.</p> <p>"And I put camera in exactly the same spot where she said it," recalls Kossakovsky. "The first shot in <i>Aquarela </i>after the credits was exactly there. The same place. So actually I came to Baikal to see beautiful ice, the cracks on the ice, and all this, but suddenly on the first shooting date appears this car, and then a person dies just accidentally in my frame, and I realize I cannot continue the film in the same way as I was planning so I just forgot the script and I start [anew]."</p> <p>However, before the viewer can realize what's happening, before the camera comes upon the tragedy caused by the folly of men driving an auto over ice, there is some comic music on the soundtrack.</p> <p>"You know why? Because it's actually . . . in  the patterns of our lives," he explains. The men who live there are so confident that when I said, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t go there, they say, 'Come on. You don’t teach me. I was born in Baikal. I know ice like the lines on my palm. I can see on ice. I can see the cracks, and I know if I should go or if I shouldn’t. You don't teach me, boy.'"</p> <p>"This is overconfidence. This is what we are doing in the world, right? We are all overconfident. We know everything," Kossakovsky chuckles. "We think we can do whatever we want. That's what happened to us but unfortunately. That’s why after this moment, of course, I was not able to continue with my plans."</p> <p>"My original idea was this one," he notes, "to show at least one thousand powers of water. . . .  It's a kind of film that changes you, right? I became a different person because of this film. I realized that we are not the most important creatures. So what do we say say? We say we can live without water for five days. That’s abstract. But when you make film like this and being in an extreme situation, you really measure yourself [against water’s] power, and you really understand that we are really tiny."</p> <p>As for Kossakovsky’s next film, <i>Krogufant</i>, with which he is currently in final edit, "it's about pig, chicken, and cow."</p> <p>Pig, chicken, and cow?</p> <p>"No people," he insists. "No slaughtery. No concentration camps. Nothing like this. Only chicken, pig, and cow. How they are. How they really are. No voice over. Nothing."</p> <p>This animal epic was shot around the globe. "Pig I film in Norway, I film chicken in Whales, and cows I film in Spain."</p> <p>Why no imagery of animals being slaughtered?</p> <p>"I understand that people are filming such stuff, and it doesn’t help," Kossakovsky insists. "It doesn't help anything. It's like people still don't think. They just ignore and they don’t want to know. That's why I decided to do it this way. People like to worship the dolphin or the elephant or chimpanzee, and I say, "No! No! No! I will show who is cow. Who is the other kind. You think chickens cannot teach you. Chickens can teach you how to survive, and cows can teach you to survive, and pigs can teach you to survive." And Kossakovsky can teach you if you will only watch.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3868&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="j42MeOX3nB47-9bRzMPM12vVK-H9C-JzmkCWEtY3xmQ"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 24 Aug 2019 02:54:41 +0000 Brandon Judell 3868 at http://culturecatch.com If We Could Find Woodstock Again http://culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3867 <span>If We Could Find Woodstock Again</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/index.php/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>August 16, 2019 - 09:56</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ln9dtQ8tuKk?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Croz was just in New York City, full of joy, bigger than life. The 77-year old David Crosby played a spectacular set of music mixing in CSN&amp;Y, solo, and new material at Lincoln Center's Guggenheim Bandshell at Damrosch Park on Sunday night, August 11th, with his new band Sky Trails -- lead guitarist Jeff Pevar (Steely Dan, Phil Lesh, Marc Cohn, et al.), drummer David DiStanislao (David Gilmour, Don Felder), Mai Leisz (Greg Leisz' wife ), keyboardist/vocalist Michelle Willis,  and musical director/keyboardist/son James Raymond. Historic in the fact that it was 50 years prior that he and CSNY debuted at Woodstock. As I sat there I couldn't believe how amazing his voice sounded, how tight the vocal harmonies were, how hard he and his band rocked  "Ohio" (encore) and "Wooden Ships." His passion for sharing his music is infectious and defies his tumultuous personal life -- addictions, love lost, prison, broken friendships. Even his failing health can't keep him down.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/e4T1nNxoJEE?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Wandering around the VIP section at the outdoor venue was writer/producer/filmmaker Cameron Crowe, producer of David's new heart-wrenching documentary <em>Remember My Name</em> (Sony Pictures Classic). I mentioned to him that we share a friend in common and I was planning on seeing his documentary soon.  </p> <p>Well, I saw it on Thursday afternoon, day one of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. It is not a perfect documentary, but then no documentary on David Crosby could be. Our heroes are not perfect. None of us are perfect. Yes, he's left in his wake too many broken relationships; his own insecurities fueling his drug addictions and self-sabotage. There are no interviews with any of six children or current interviews with Neil Young, Graham Nash, or Stephen Stills. He torched those bridges with his musical comrades and has yet to rebuild them. And yet he's very contrite and honest in sharing his reckless regard of those very precious friendships. The doc most certainly functions as a massive mea culpa to anyone he has wronged, both living and dead. </p> <p>Regardless of his own personal demons, one can't deny his influence on seminal rock acts The Byrds and Crosby, Stills &amp; Nash/Crosby, Stills, Nash &amp; Young/Crosby &amp; Nash. His first solo album <em>If Only I Could Remember My Name </em>(1971), written in the wake of the tragic loss of his true love Christine Hinton, remains a timeless and <em>difficult-to-categorize</em> classic. Graham Nash has gone on record stating that the loss of Christine was massive: "I watched a part of David die that day." And so did a piece of David's heart and his ability to process fame and stardom.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TeZS3gpk2aI?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Born and raised in Hollywood, his father Floyd was an Academy Award winning American cinematographer for the movie <i><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabu:_A_Story_of_the_South_Seas" target="_blank" title="Tabu: A Story of the South Seas">Tabu: A Story of the South Seas</a> </i>and shot the movie <em>High Noon</em>, et al. He claims in the doc that his father never told him or his brother that he loved them. Perhaps that fueled his "anger" and his anti-authoritarian and impetuous behavior throughout most of his career. And yet as David's life winds down and he deals with his health -- liver transplant, heart attacks and stents, diabetes -- his need for music and playing it live remain front and center, even if it means he might not make it back home to his wife Jan and his dogs.</p> <p>When pressed by Cameron Crowe in the documentary:</p> <blockquote> <p>"If I were to say, no music but you get <em>extreme</em> joy in your home life... do you make that trade?"</p> </blockquote> <p>Without hesitation, David replies:</p> <blockquote> <p>"No music? No, not interested. It's the only thing I've got to offer, really."</p> </blockquote> <p>In the spirit of Woodstock, I would implore you to witness David's tour and watch Cameron's must-see documentary. I found myself singing along with so many of the classic tunes and even misting up when David bared his soul. If one must suffer for one's art, then David's life has been fueled by undeniable chaos even while delivering so many memorable and heartfelt musical moments.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3867&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="fx5VkyzeZ_GqSL-lACJ5pal4Dafv7BEZzkEP3sCA0xY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 16 Aug 2019 13:56:10 +0000 Dusty Wright 3867 at http://culturecatch.com When Water Strikes Back http://culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3862 <span>When Water Strikes Back</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>August 11, 2019 - 10:14</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3xAIuDF25kE?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Samuel Coleridge's Ancient Mariner once bemoaned: "Water, water everywhere,/Nor any drop to drink." Likewise, director/writer/cinematographer/editor Victor Kossakovsky isn't shown getting to drink any H2O either in this documentary of sorts, <i>Aquarela</i>. You can be certain, though, he got quite battered, doused, and nearly frozen by his subject matter since the 90 minutes of footage we do get to view is far from a tranquil day on the lake.</p> <p>Across five countries, including Russia, Greenland, and Mexico, plus a hurricane-wrought Miami, Kossakovsky and his various crews scurry about, capturing the dangers of driving a car on icy lakes, the majesty of miles of frozen terrain, the ferocity and sublimity of sailing on the tossing seas, and so forth. As if they knew they were being filmed for posterity, several icebergs do graceful somersaults as if on command, displeased rains pound relentlessly at mankind and flood the avenues, dogs bark, and rivers flow.</p> <p>This is an almost meditative experience. You feel at times that you should be watching <i>Aquarela</i> in lotus position. The overwhelming visuals and the natural sounds of water traveling are blissfully engaging, but then Kossakovsky irrationally pulls you out of his cinematic ode to Nature and her bipolar personality  with the truly grating musical posturings of Finnish composer Eicca Toppinen  and his "cello-metal" band, Apocalyptica. I was not alone with hands on ears whenever Eicca's caterwauling pounced from the speakers. Happily, this was not often.</p> <p>That aural horror aside, please note there is no narration here, no hints to where the film has relocated itself to in each scene, and only a handful of words spoken, but then water knows no boundaries and needs no words.</p> <p>Elsewhere, however, Kossakovsky has shared his intentions:</p> <blockquote> <p>"I wanted to film every possible emotion that can be experienced while interacting with water --beautiful emotions, along with the unsettling emotions of ecstasy and inspiration, as well as destruction and human devastation."</p> </blockquote> <p>The poet Lucy Larcom noted eons ago that "a drop of water, if it could write out its own history, would explain the universe to us." Miss Lucy would no doubt agree that <i>Aquarela </i>takes a few giant steps in that direction.</p> <p>(<i>Sony Pictures Classics will release the film on August 16, 2019, in LA and in NY at the Landmark at 57 West, AMC Empire (at 48 frames per second) and the Angelika Film Center </i><i>(at 48 frames per second). Film was shot at 96 frames per second.)</i></p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3862&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="EvW8Fzv5n650vWZjtYFILmT-56He3tqIXcCeCeqylSc"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sun, 11 Aug 2019 14:14:15 +0000 Brandon Judell 3862 at http://culturecatch.com Fairy Tales Don't Come True http://culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3859 <span>Fairy Tales Don&#039;t Come True</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/index.php/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>July 29, 2019 - 12:11</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/797" hreflang="en">drama</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ELeMaP8EPAA?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>In <em>Once Upon A Time... in Hollywood</em>, Quentin Tarantino takes on 1969 with pop culture precision and aplomb. Audacious, rockin', and funny in spots, this is more an homage to an era that would be transformed by the Manson Family's murder spree in Beverly Hills. If Woodstock created an aura of peace, love and happiness, the Manson murders shattered that hippie idealism instantly.  And Tarantino has decided to shatter that aura yet again in the last 15 minutes of his film. Albeit in a rewrite of history, much like he did in his brilliant fantasy WWII war film <em>Inglourious Basterds</em>. His latest movie lacks any real plot and is more an homage or perhaps a "love letter" to old Hollywood. The struggle of the actors (and stuntmen) that seek to maintain the relevance in a world that would as soon discard them for the next star-in-waiting.</p> <p>Leonardo DiCaprio as fading TV star Rick Dalton (of <em>Bounty Hunt</em>) and Brad Pitt as his longtime stuntman Cliff Booth are terrific in their scenes together, you can feel an authentic chemistry between the two actors. Could they be the perfect pairing for a remake of <em>Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid</em>? Pitt did play him the prequel and there was chatter a few years ago about Pitt and George Clooney in a remake. No coincidence that that film was released in 1969. And Tarantino did state in a press conference during CinemaCon in Vegas back in April that: </p> <blockquote> <p>"Sony and myself will be coming to the theaters with the most exciting star dynamic since Paul Newman and Robert Redford."</p> </blockquote> <p>Clocking in at 2 hours and 45-minutes, the movie does sag in the middle, an edit of 15-20 minutes would have definitely helped. But like all of his films, Tarantino's recreation of the era is painstakingly accurate. From his black and white early '60's TV shows and sets to the rock and pop music of the era -- always a plus in his movies -- to him recreating blocks of Hollywood Boulevard, the filmmaker lets the audience "feel" the era on the big screen. You almost taste the endless cigarette smoking in cars, bars, movie trailers, and houses in the hills of Beverly. And there are plenty of guest spots with veteran actors like Kurt Russell, Mike Madsen, Al Pacino, <a href="https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0648249/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cl_t6" target="_blank">Timothy Olyphant</a>, Bruce Dern, and Luke Perry (RIP).</p> <p>Sadly the stunning Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate doesn't have a lot to say or do in this movie, her most memorable scene is watching herself in the Dean Martin Matt Helm film <em>The Wrecking Crew.</em> As she sits in a Hollywood Boulevard movie theater she's thrilled to watch the audience's positive reaction to her comedic scenes. Major shoutout to 10-year old actor Julia Butters who plays Trudi on the fictitious TV show <em>Lancer</em>. It's truly a scene stealing moment with DiCaprio. His character Rick Dalton has the epiphany that she's a rising star and his star is nearly extinguished. Her dialogue is so fluid and beautiful with him, it will melt your heart. While this is not the best film from Tarantino, it's certainly a worthwhile way to spend three hours on a hot summer's day. </p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3859&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="y6pkLVOL_MfUBHwwiPk7eco_cwKxnstKgYhO0q7o3HM"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 29 Jul 2019 16:11:05 +0000 Dusty Wright 3859 at http://culturecatch.com The Day Originality Died http://culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3858 <span>The Day Originality Died</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>July 23, 2019 - 18:29</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/672" hreflang="en">comedy</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/j82JXBN3Co0?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>I kept thinking throughout Peter Parlow's cleverly conceived "comedy" that I should be laughing. "I really need a coffee for this!" was my second and third thoughts. Then: "Hey, I bet those indieWire critics and J. Hoberman guffawed into their popcorn when reviewing this."</p> <p>Let me go check what others actually opined.</p> <p><i>Variety'</i>s Jessica Kiang:</p> <blockquote> <p>"An intellectually ticklish, micro-budget, low-grade-video movie with metatextual wit to burn." Not bad.</p> </blockquote> <p><i>Hollywood Reporter</i>:<b> "</b>[I]t's easy to walk away from <i>The Plagiarists </i>thinking nothing of much significance was accomplished. [However,] the film improves upon reflection." True . . . true.</p> <p>This plotless cornucopia of semi-pseudo-intellectual ponderings begins with a car giving up in a bewintered countryside. The very white Anna (Lucy Kaminsky) and Tyler (Eamon Monaghan), lovers and inhabitants of the aforementioned auto, immediately start letting loose on each other. (<i>Rocky Horror'</i>s<i> </i>Brad and Janet had to cope with a similar, yet more musical, mechanical mishap.)</p> <p>The insecure Anna, by the way, a former shoplifter of panties from Victoria's Secret, is in the midst of writing a memoir-based novel while the cocksure Tyler is a would-be director, whose main gig at the moment is as a DP on an Evian ad.</p> <p>"I'm supposed to be back tonight. Philly," he notes.</p> <p>So what is a couple to do but bicker and freeze to death? Thankfully, Clip (the superb Michael "Clip" Payne), a black resident of the area, shows up and invites the duo to his home, including the use of his bathroom down the hall, and his phone to get a mechanic.</p> <p>Uh-oh, is this guy "sketchy?" Anna wonders. Is she stuck in a <i>Get Out </i>scenario in reverse? And why is there a white child playing upstairs in his house? Is this Clip's child, is he a babysitter, or  . . . ?</p> <p>Happily, Clip might just be what he seems, a nice guy who lets the couple dine and sleep over, while he has sex with an unseen, rather orgasmically noisy woman in the room nearby. Earlier in the evening, though, Tyler snoops around the house, coming across highly sophisticated but dated camera equipment while the host beguiles Anna with tales of his youth:</p> <blockquote> <p>"Little did I know then that every detail of this landscape, and every single person living in it, would forever be lodged in my memory with a ring as true as perfect pitch."</p> </blockquote> <p>Anna also cooks dinner:</p> <blockquote> <p>"Look at the sauce. It looks like vomit."</p> </blockquote> <p>The next day, the auto is fixed, and everyone goes back to their everyday routines in their proper locales.</p> <p>Jump ahead to six months. It's summer, and Tyler and Annie are back on the road. They're driving to visit a friend, Allison (the deliciously quirky Emily Davis), heading up to the country again.  While Tyler chats away on varied topics with unearned bravado such as the current disavowal of the Shaken Baby Syndrome and the nonexistence of sex trafficking, Annie is reading Karl Ove Knausgaard's <i>My Struggle</i>,<i> </i>Book 3<i>. </i>Suddenly, a look of disturbance creeps onto her brow. Everything Clip had told her about his life is taken word for word from this acclaimed work. He had plagiarized Knausgaard's life. Why? she wants to know with a fury that knows no end.</p> <p>Even after arriving at Allison's, her anger doesn't abate. But, hey! isn't her own manuscript, which cannibalizes her friends', although pleasantly, plagiarized in a way, too? And what about Tyler's tormenting monologues? He’s no doubt unconsciously based them on half-heard call-in shows, and his delivery is very Seinfeld on crack.</p> <p>Then what about the rest of us? Have any of us ever had an original thought? As Mark Twain noted, "What a good thing Adam had. When he said a good thing, he knew nobody had said it before."</p> <p>So, admittedly, the greater the distance in time I'm away from having watched <i>The Plagiarists</i>, the more I enjoy it. (I mean who's still pondering <i>Dark Phoenix </i>five minutes after the credits roll<i>?) </i>Possibly, that's just what the screenwriters, James N. Kienitz and Robin Schavoir, and the film's hipsterish, Woody-Allenesque director desired.</p> <p>Filmed in a week over 6 months, Parlow describes his effort as "a contemporary story that happens to be captured on old videotape which still exists as new videotape ('deadstock' or 'new-old stock' as it is called on E-Bay)." I’m sure that means a whole lot to some folks, otherwise why put it in the press notes? Consequently or not, I will be running to view Parlow's next offering, which hopefully I'll relish simultaneously as I view it.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3858&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="MVX3PhSuGkA5rMqKoE0Ja1G96KMo2A1MqvR8M9Ue87Q"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 23 Jul 2019 22:29:31 +0000 Brandon Judell 3858 at http://culturecatch.com What's That Sound? http://culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3853 <span>What&#039;s That Sound?</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/index.php/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>June 13, 2019 - 13:52</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/QRVFBQHBUls?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Singer-songwriter &amp; executive producer Jakob Dylan (The Wallflowers) and director &amp; former label man Andrew Slater have crafted a loving homage to one of my favorite era's of music. The physical area of Los Angeles known as Laurel Canyon became the epicenter of folk-rock aka the "California Sound" and was home to some of the best and biggest recording acts of the mid-'60s. The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas &amp; The Papas, Arthur Lee's Love (conspicuously missing from the film), it was quite the scene. In fact, many point to Roger McGuinn and The Byrds for ushering in the genre, though The Beatles (George Harrison) used 12-string guitars on the mid-'60s tunes. Regardless, McGuinn took Bob Dylan's epic folk tale "Mr. Tamborine Man" and with his trusty 3-pickup Rickenbacker electric 12-string guitar out front and center there was no looking back. That clean jingle jangle sound would become a cornerstone of folk-rock forever. According to Slater:</p> <blockquote> <p>"The thread for the film is really more about the echo than it is about the Canyon -- the echo of these artists' ideas, and how their own creativity reverberated between the houses in the Canyon, and ultimately across to England where it changes the course of the Beatles."</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="https://www.echointhecanyon.com" target="_blank"><em>Echo in the Canyon</em></a> contains candid conversations and performances with Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, David Crosby, John Sebastian, Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Michelle Phillips, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, and Roger McGuinn as well as contemporary musicians they influenced such as Tom Petty (in his very last film interview), Cat Power, Beck, Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, and Regina Spektor. Framed by an <em>Echo</em> concert that Jakob organized in 2015 with many of the contemporary musicians mentioned above, much of the performance footage from that concert is interspersed throughout the doc. While offering proof of the timeless staying power of those tunes -- though I prefer the originals -- Laurel Canyon's musical heritage continues to reverberate today! You can sort out movie tickets <a href="https://www.echointhecanyon.com" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3853&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="AMeu2sBpP5dvQB81Pbg_zlhPaEGOIaObcq4weFDFbxk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 13 Jun 2019 17:52:17 +0000 Dusty Wright 3853 at http://culturecatch.com Kosher Lesbians, Sad Hasidim, and Ethiopians in Love http://culturecatch.com/index.php/node/3852 <span>Kosher Lesbians, Sad Hasidim, and Ethiopians in Love</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>June 11, 2019 - 16:20</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/801" hreflang="en">Film Festival</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> </p> <p>You might not know it but you've just missed out on the seventh year of the Israel Film Center Festival. The Center's goal obviously is to promote Israeli films year-round, showcasing offerings both new and some not so new. Based at the Marlene Meyerson JCC on Manhattan's Upper West Side, there's also a streaming site, so even if you're living in Omaha, you don't have to lack in <i>gefiltered </i>culture.</p> <p>(And if you <i>are</i> in Omaha, immediately catch up on Haim Tabakman's tale of Orthodox men in love, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwBaS6m3q5c" target="_blank"><i>Eyes Wide Open</i></a><i> </i>(2008); the wry comedy TV series<a href="https://vimeo.com/49752186" target="_blank"> <i>Arab Labor</i></a>; and Amos Gitai’s riveting look at the plight of Orthodox Jewish women forced into and out of marriage, <a href="https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x32fuqe" target="_blank"><i>Kadosh</i></a><i> </i>(1999).)</p> <p>As for the IFC screenings this year, imploding universes with engaging dramatis personae, most of whom were bathed in a sort of existentialist miserabilism, were showcased.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="782" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2019/2019-06/red_cow_photo_1.jpeg?itok=r4vduII9" title="red_cow_photo_1.jpeg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1200" /></article><figcaption>Avigayil Koevary as Benny in Tisivia Barkai Yacov's Red Cow.</figcaption></figure><p>In Tisivia Barkai Yacov’s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAwwes0Tank&amp;feature=youtu.be" target="_blank"><i>Red Cow</i></a><i>, </i>17-year-old Benny (Avigayil Koevary) with her ginger locks is not unlike the holier-than-holy calf that her devout, widowed father, Yehoshua (Gal Toren), has recently discovered. This is a special find because a rare red heifer is used for sacrifices in a ritual that is believed to usher in a new age for Jews. (Check out the Book of Numbers.)</p> <p>While the calf is isolated within a wire fence  --  it’ll be slaughtered in two years  -- Benny is penned in by her right-wing, pro-settler dad's extreme religiosity and by his involvement in the politics of East Jerusalem. Yehoshua and his followers clearly have no qualms about killing a few souls, whether Muslim or pro-peace Israeli, if it comes to that:</p> <blockquote> <p>"We need to get up on the rooftops with guns and refuse to be evacuated. . . . Israel is a Jewish state."</p> </blockquote> <p>In response, Benny admits, "Sometimes I feel like a complete gentile." She's not a happy camper, not until the lovely Yael enters her life and sets her body on "fire." They kiss . . .  they make love . . .  they are discovered by Dad. "You disgust me," he notes.</p> <p>What are Benny’s options? Not many.</p> <p>Well acted and helmed, the power of this troubled coming-out story stems mainly from its setting and its contemporariness. <i>Red Calf'</i>s a fine addition to the growing genre of kosher lesbianism that includes Avi Nesher's <i>The Secrets </i>(2007) and Sebastián Lelio’s <i>Disobedience </i>(2017).</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="442" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2019/2019-06/redemption_photo_3.png?itok=zzA4gZER" title="redemption_photo_3.png" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1200" /></article><figcaption>The men in the band reunite in Redemption.</figcaption></figure><p>Co-directed and co-written by Joseph Madmony and Boaz Yehonatan Yacov, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-H09i0IFqCo&amp;feature=youtu.be" target="_blank"><i>Redemption </i></a>could also have been titled <i>The Book of Job</i>. Yet another devoutly religious dad with a daughter to raise holds center stage here.</p> <p>Fifteen years ago, Menachem (Moshe Folkenflik) was a singer of a semi-well-known band, but he gave up music to study the Torah. That didn't work out too well so now he works in a small grocery store, sticking the prices on you name it. No wonder he's walks about depressed. To top matters off, his wife has died from cancer and his 6-year-old child, Geula (a terrific Emily Granin), is now suffering from the Big C and needs experimental, costly treatments that he can't afford.</p> <p>What's a guy to do? Why not go to a matchmaker to get a wife and then talk his former band members to reunite and play at weddings so he can make a living? The matchmaking doesn't exactly go so well because such a catch Menachem isn't, but the band does get together and surprisingly they are quite good. Only at these musical moments do you see how charismatic this man once was; otherwise, you might mistake him for a basset hound. Even his best friend Avi calls him "a regular stick in the mud."</p> <p>Happily, not to spoil it for you, Menachem winds up better off than Job, but still <i>Redemption</i> and <i>Red Cow</i> are not exactly advertisements for becoming a highly religious Jew. This might be one suspects because very few Israeli directors or screenwriters are of the Orthodox persuasion. Now if God had only given Moses a camera and some film, who knows?</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="639" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2019/2019-06/fig_tree_photo_2.png?itok=61JDoMbc" title="fig_tree_photo_2.png" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1200" /></article><figcaption>Trying to keep love alive in Aalam-Warqe Davidian's Fig Tree.</figcaption></figure><p>The best feature though, and possibly one of the better films of the year, is Aalam-Warqe Davidian's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjJdxqUO7O4&amp;feature=youtu.be" target="_blank"><i>Fig Tree</i></a><i>. </i>Here Betalehem Asmamawe, as a 16-year-old Mina, a young Jewish, impoverished Ethiopian girl stuck in the war-torn Ethiopia of 1989, gives a startling, vulnerable performance. She rummages through her soul to unearth a Juliet who must guard her Romeo, Eli (Yohanes Muse), from being torn away from her.</p> <p>As the film instructs during its opening footage, "In the midst of the civil war, young men are hunted down and forced to join the army of tyrant Mengistu Haile Mariam." Mina sees her male peers pulled out of classrooms and kidnapped off the unpaved streets of Addis Ababa. Her own brother has already lost his arm in this conflict.</p> <p>One mother notes of her son: "I wish I could put him back in my womb."</p> <p>To survive, Eli hides in a fig tree. Mina visits him daily, supplying food and company, and although they have not yet made love, the couple’s dancing hormones have found more childish outlets to express themselves.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Mina's grandmother is going black market to get the proper papers for the family to emigrate to Israel. If she succeeds, will Eli get to go, too? Or will he be lost to quirks of his country's history?</p> <blockquote> <p>"Life is hell, but we have to beat hell, don't we?" it is stated.</p> </blockquote> <p>Masterful cinematography by Daniel Miller and a sterling cast help recreate Davidian's childhood memories, having emigrated at age eleven near the end of the war herself. So with an unforgettable finale and all that has come before, one can only pray that <i>Fig Tree </i>garners the international attention it richly deserves.</p> <p>For more information on Israeli film and the Center's offerings. Check out: <a href="http://www.israelfilmcenter.org/" target="_blank">http://www.israelfilmcenter.org/</a></p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3852&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="VwYQmc_K20K58YCruqb7JFnEXTpR41qCMbSPxjp2EC4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 11 Jun 2019 20:20:53 +0000 Brandon Judell 3852 at http://culturecatch.com