September 30, 2016
“Memory is a mirror that scandalously lies.” –Julio Cortázar
Tapping into generalized trauma resulting from the armed conflict in Peru between the army and the Shining Path, a militant group, Magellanes delivers a powerful experience that will resonate with those unfamiliar with the complex and violent history it depicts. The film delivers strong performances and heightened, suspenseful moments that build as the film progresses.
September 27, 2016
What better way to poke fun at gun-ownership issues than to use laughs for criticism. This is the well-intentioned journey that writer-director Matt Cooper embarks on with Is That A Gun in Your Pocket? Set in Rockford, Texas, the film presents a small family, with Jenna (Andrea Anders) as the mother and wife who, after a shooting incident with her son, decides to start a movement to get rid of guns. However, her husband Glenn (Matt Passmore) happens to be a hunting aficionado. His hobby is “his only outlet.” It is in these early scenes that the film establishes that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, in the most unsubtle way possible.
September 23, 2016
Memory is a funny thing, it ebbs and flows with one’s mood and circumstances and so does perspective. In Max Rose, we meet a recent widower (played by Jerry Lewis), who finds reason to believe that his wife of 65 years, Eva (Claire Bloom) was in love with another man. He declares at her funeral that the marriage “was a lie.” Max, who is already a cantankerous old man, becomes even more recalcitrant after his loss and engaging in a revisionist journey wherein he lets his own demons pollute his mind. Lewis, in his first feature role in more than 20 years, does well in presenting the depression and anger that Max suffers, and it is perhaps the most redeeming quality of the film because something else is still missing.
Our earth is a delicate, sensitive, living, breathing organism that needs the care and attention we have not given it. Taking it for granted and wishing to control nature have been the markers of modern life. However, ancestral knowledge always recognized the importance of maintenance of that ecosystem that supports our life. In Seed: The Untold Story, Directors Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz take us back to rethink that important relationship of communing with the earth that feeds us.
The latest documentary by director Jeff Feuerzeig, The JT Leroy Story, explores the making of the character of JT Leroy, an author who rose to fame in the early 2000s as a literary sensation by writing about his life, which included sexual abuse, homelessness and coping with HIV. A publisher recalls the work as a novelty, a new voice. However, the story of JT Leroy was a fantasy, a made-up story concocted by Laura Albert, a 40-year-old San Francisco woman originally from New York. She started using characters since early on in her life as she felt uncomfortable in her own skin. She used these personas partly to escape her life, which was full of trauma and abuse but also, seemingly, to get attention. She even attended therapy sessions as her character, melding fantasy and her life into different personas.
The People vs. Fritz Bauer presents the story of Attorney General Fritz Bauer, a Jew on a quest to prosecute the crimes of the Third Reich, as he was also briefly in a concentration camp, at one point. The action is set in motion when he learns that Adolf Eichmann, a lieutenant colonel responsible for mass deportations, is not only alive but living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. To be sure, Eichmann is one of the worst Nazi officials, and in today’s political climate it would be hard to imagine that his prosecution would be riddled with difficulties, yet as this film shows, even in the late 1950s the political climate in Germany was not as progressive as it is today.
September 14, 2016
Director Ron Howard takes advantage of the wealth of archival photos and videos of the Beatles to recreate their touring years in his most recent film, Eight Days A Week. The documentary captures that sense of wonder that fans of the Beatles once had as this new phenomenon emerged and became a cultural icon. The style of the documentary is straightforward, as is the narrative, which follows a chronological, linear direction. The talking heads in the documentary are interspersed with stills and abundant video footage of the Beatles in action, some of it never seen until now.