Category: Movies

Krzystof Penderecki: 1933-2020 | Balder and Dash

by Scout Tafoya March 29, 2020   |   Print Page Tweet Dębica, Poland sits only a few hours from the Ukrainian border, which meant it was in a precarious position in the early 1930s. When the Germans invaded, some of the sizable Jewish population fled for the Soviet controlled territories rather than wait for the Nazi rule to reshape the town. Many stayed behind and had their freedoms restricted a little at a time until finally they were forced into a ghetto constructed in 1942 and liquidated in 1943. The 1600 or so captives housed in the Dębica ghettos were sent ... Read more

Netflix’s Unorthodox Depicts a Melancholic Escape from Faith | Demanders

by Nick Allen March 27, 2020   |   Print Page Tweet Based on the memoir by Deborah Feldman, Netflix’s “Unorthodox” presents viewers with a rare women’s perspective from inside a Hasidic community in Williamsburg, an aspect that’s a large part of this miniseries’ intrigue. While it features a lot of specific Hasidic rituals and parts of lifestyle, its attitude takes after great deal from the book’s subtitle: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots. This is a melancholic story, told with a touch as sensitive as it is respectful, but with the same overwhelming feeling as an observer: “Get out of there!”. And yet ... Read more

Fascinated by Temporary Love: Writer/Actress Hannah Marks on Banana Split | Reviews

by Nell Minow March 27, 2020   |   Print Page Tweet We expect friends to have a common interest, but it’s unusual when that common interest is a boy who is one girl’s ex, and the other’s current boyfriend. In “Banana Split,” co-writer Hannah Marks stars as April, who broke up with her boyfriend Nick (Dylan Sprouse) and then gets jealous when he almost-immediately starts dating the new girl in town, Clara (Liana Liberato). But her best intentions to hate her new rival are thwarted when Clara turns out to be pretty wonderful. So, they decide not to let Nick know they ... Read more

There’s Something in the Water movie review (2020)

The celebrity-driven documentary is a tricky one. It’s obvious that these famous faces want to talk about something they’re passionate about—they may even have talked about their cause célèbre on a talk show or shared countless links on social media. But when they take the extra step of making a movie about this issue, the challenge for them is not to steal the spotlight from the subject.  That’s the tension that plays out throughout “There’s Something in the Water,” an environmental documentary from Ellen Page and her “Gaycation” collaborator Ian Daniel. The movie is inextricable from Page, who uses her ... Read more

Uncorked movie review & film summary (2020)

Whether it’s a major character like in “Book Club” or a passion to be followed like in “Good Year” or “Sideways,” wine isn’t often portrayed in American cinema as an integral part of the black experience. In his good-natured feature debut “Uncorked,” writer/director Prentice Penny (“Insecure,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) sets out to challenge and change these optics, braiding a formulaic father-and-son tale with a gifted African-American sommelier-to-be’s pursuit of his advanced palette. That scheme alone sets “Uncorked” apart from the typical “wine movie,” admittedly in short supply already. The filmmaker doesn’t really steer clear of box-ticking clichés—a tendency that often dents ... Read more

Banana Split movie review & film summary (2020)

There’s something about the summer in between high school and college. Friendships break up or become super clingy, due to all that impending separation anxiety. Romances break up. People get way too drunk and hug it out. Tears are shed. Things get a little … intense. “Banana Split” takes place during such a summer, complete with brightly-colored chapter markers: “89 Days Until Orientation,” and etc. Even with the clock running down, there’s an in-between feeling, a “this is forever and yet it’s also ending” feeling, nicely captured by director Benjamin Kasulke, with poignant and sometimes funny needle drops, and two ... Read more

Vivarium movie review & film summary (2020)

There’s more hand-me-down genre movie tropes than recognizable human behavior in the new sci-fi/horror hybrid “Vivarium,” about a young couple (Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots) who is abducted and forced to raise a creepy pod person child. Which wouldn’t be so bad if “Vivarium” wasn’t about the suffocating nature of marriage and parenting in the 21st century. “Vivarium” isn’t a fun watch, and not just because it’s generally claustrophobic and insistently bleak. Even less fun: watching a pair of talented actors go through the motions of an exhausted scenario that’s based almost entirely on pat assumptions about how pre-fabricated and ... Read more

The Scheme movie review & film summary (2020)

There may be no March Madness this year but there’s something truly insane related to college basketball this Tuesday. Airing on HBO after its canceled SXSW premiere, “The Scheme” tells the story of Christian Dawkins, a man whose ambition and business savvy became the focus of a major federal operation to bring down corruption in the NCAA. You may remember the fallout in 2017 that led to the resignation of Rick Pitino at Louisville, but the truth is that not much seemed to change in the NCAA. Personally, I remembered Sean Miller of Arizona’s angry press conference and a few ... Read more

Resistance movie review & film summary (2020)

Everybody hates mimes, we have been led to believe. But this is not true, or at least, not quite true. In the training of actors, mime is an important learned skill. And I am told that every young actor, after a period of thorough training, will long carry with them a secret yearning to be cast in a role that will somehow allow them to really show their learned mime skills, despite the fact that everybody hates mimes. It is a curious position. When we first see Jesse Eisenberg (now in his mid-thirties, incidentally) in “Resistance,” he is wearing a ... Read more

Early Shorts by Great Filmmakers Pt 2: Jenkins, Wang, Waititi, Diop | Balder and Dash

by Michael Frank March 27, 2020   |   Print Page Tweet After previously discussing the short films of Bong Joon-Ho, Alma Har’el, Céline Sciamma, and the Safdies, this new batch of early shorts comes from the minds of new Oscar winners and should-be nominees. These directors have burst onto the scene in the last five years with feature debuts or follow-ups that were adored audiences and critics alike. Barry Jenkins and Taika Waititi won Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Moonlight” and “Jojo Rabbit,” respectively, while Lulu Wang“s “The Farewell” and Mati Diop‘s “Atlantics” put the directors firmly into people’s minds with their own ... Read more