Icarus Films and Distrib Films once again team up to bring compelling French courtroom drama into North American living rooms. The recent "ripped-from-the-headlines" DVD release of the 2019 film "Conviction" nicely follows on the heels of the Icarus/Distrib (reviewed) DVD of "The Girl With a Bracelet."
The alleged crime du century this time is law professor Jacques Viguier committing femmecide. It is known that Mme, Viguier still is missing after vanishing on the night in question; there also is no doubt as to the essential estrangement of the not-so-happily married couple,
The circumstantial smoking guns are Jacques admitting to tossing the mattress of his wife soon after her unexplained absence and his allegedly telling his future ambulance chasers before that event that he could commit the perfect murder, An element of this is your not-so-humble reviewer being one of millions of Americans whose fondness for Hitchcock films potentially earning him a seat on Old Sparky.
Our story commences a short period ahead of Jacques facing a second trial after being acquitted in the first judicial proceeding in which he faces a lifetime as a guest of the state,
The primary twist this time is that the film revolves around single mother/chef/crusader Nora, whose persistence results in convincing celebrity defense attorney Eric Dupond-Moretti to defend Jacques. The stated intertest of Nora is the daughter of Jacques and his absent wife being the tutor of the son of Nora. The price of the representation includes Nora agreeing to listen to and summarize hundreds of hours of recorded evidence, The synopsis on the DVD back cover reveals another big twist.
Much of "Conviction" centers around the retrial; the behind-the-scenes drama being as intriguing as what occurs in court is a large part of what makes this story worthy of a feature film.
Much of the social commentary revolves around elements that contribute to a reasonable mistrust of general justice-system principles, In this case, the prosecution is trying to hold Jacque liable for the death of a woman whos is just as likely to be enjoying a new life as she is to be anchored on the bottom of the Seine. We also are reminded of the extent to which trials are personal to everyone with a cheval in the race,
Other social commentary relates to the prevalence of people in France simply disappearing without a trace. This reflects law school students learning early in the education that the answer to what are the consequences of a certain event always is "it depends." "Conviction" shows the potential for that to lead to what some consider a proper result and that others view as a miscarriage of justice,
The Film Movements Classics division of Film Movement pristine Blu-ray release of the 1993 slice-of-of-life comedy "Caro Diario" is the latest example of introducing audiences to one of the greatest movies that many of us never knew existed. The awesome Classic (reviewed) release of the Salma Hayek film "Midaq Alley" also perfectly illustrates this aspect of Classic titles.
The 13 wins for "Diario" include writer/director/star Nanni Moretti scoring the 1994 Cannes Best Director award.
The following "Diario" trailer highlights the three-chapter format of the film and the quirky charm of Moretti.
"Diario" follows the apparent dual tradition of introspective Euro films of having much of the exposition come in the form of an ongoing inner-monologue of the central character in blocks. In this case, we get the wit and wisdom of real-life filmmaker Moretti in three distinct chapters of the titular journal. The manner in which this all ties together at the end of the movie validates the theory that Hollywood (and Portland) has a great deal to learn from the film capitals across the pond.
The first chapter finds Moretti having a "Roman Holiday" by cruising around his home turf on his scooter. His adventures include watching matinees at movie theaters, pontificating about film locations, and expressing his "oh what a feeling" exuberance as to the '80s mainstream hit "Flashdance." This relatively youthful exuberance includes an amusing encounter with a principal as to that no-reason-to-feel guilty pleasure.
The next chapter easily is the most amusing; Moretti goes island hopping in the context of meeting with a collaborator. The highlights include "Trip To" style teasing regarding a (presumably real) pan of a film.
We also see our (presumably childless) lead endure a visit to an island on which toddlers and tweens call all the shots. A few segments in which adults must try to make their way past prepubescent gatekeepers in order to speak to a 'rent on the telephone ring very true. Many of us who are old enough to remember landlines being the only option have had to endure the "little angel" who answers then puts down the receiver before going about his or her overheard business without telling Mommy or Daddy about the call.
The apt final chapter finds Moretti very frustrated as to getting medical professionals to adequately focus on a health problem to actually do him some good; the analogy of giving a patient a Tylenol for a brain tumor sadly is not very far off.
As indicated above, this (presumably directly consecutive) several weeks in the life of Moretti comes down to his finding comfort in a variation of the talking cure. By that time, the audience likes him as much as the "professional friend" who directly has the being Nanni Moretti experience.
As usual, the Classics extras prove that that distributor more than holds its own as to a company that has self-proclaimed itself as setting the criterion for these types of releases. These bonus features include a making-of featurette, a deleted scene, and a written essay on the film.
The recent Film Movement DVD release of the 2018 Czech film "Winter Flies" proves that the theme of "Tom Sawyer" is both timeless and international. In this case, the coming-of-age occurs during a road trip in a stolen Audi.
The accolades for "Flies" include 4 major wins at the 2019 Czech Lions awards.
Fourteen year-old stud Miara is commencing his odyssey when "quirky" armed and not-so-dangerous peer Hedus pops out and comes along for the ride. It does not take long for the Lennie and George dynamic to become apparent.
An early adventure has the lads rescue a dog from a highly abusive owner; Things get more interesting when "Becky" in the form of Bara, who lacks any physical baggage but has plenty of the emotional variety, joins the group, This leads to the predictable development of Hedus making an awkward play and Mara being the one to get some action.
The inarguably best dynamic in the film is between Mara and Officer Freiwaldova, who serves as a cool mother figure. The narrative in "Flies" regularly shifts between Freiwaldova trying to piece together the relevant events and those actual incidents. She greatly succeeds in getting that kid to understand.
All of this culminates in a climax that proves that there really is no getting through to teenage boys. Mara and Hedus remove any doubt regarding these guys being young, dumb, and full of "spunk."
The well-matched bonus short film "Jackie" deals with the same theme of strained parental relations as "Winter Flies."
Icarus Films and Distrib Films adding the October 6, 2020 DVD release of the 2019 light romdram "Someone Somewhere" to the ongoing extensive list of their collaborations shows North American audiences the potential for this genre. This tale of two young Parisians who constantly miss it by that much as to making a love connection rings far more true than any dreck starring Katherine Heigl.
The highly relatable overall theme of "Someone" is that potential spouse material can be under our highly oblivious noses. A secondary theme is that those around us often deal with the same "stuff" that plagues us even aside from a global pandemic that is greatly hindering meeting anyone for any purpose.
Our likable leads are Amabot warehouse worker Remy, who is "promoted" to answering customer service calls, and research assistant Melanie. The paths of these leads who live in abutting apartments constantly cross on the subway and in the neighborhood market where everyone knows their name. The parallels extend to going to the same pharmacy at the same time to get drugs for comparable sleep disorders that drive each of them into therapy.
This is not to mention parallel job stress and angst about going home for the holidays. Melanie resorting to online dating services provides the best humor in "Someone." For his part, Remy is involved in an "its complicated" relationship with a co-worker.
The only contrived common thread involves a pet project of each urbanite.
Aside from the quarter-life crises of Remy and Melanie, the "will they or won't they" meet drives much of the action in this film in which Icarus and Distrib eschew the typical car accidents of their French films for a series of near-misses involving the main characters. However, the obligatory dance party scene remains.
The big picture this time is that "Someone" shows that the downside of the urban anonymity that is behind Remy moving to Paris can prevent people from living happily ever after.
Leo Tolstoy provides a good perspective for the Indiepix Films DVD of the 2017 drama "Family." Tolstoy observes that all happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
The accolades for this Veronica Kedar famdram joint about 20-something Lily and her highly dysfunctional family include the Best Feature honor at the 2019 Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.
The following Indiepix trailer for "Family" perfectly reflects the desperate times that lead to the desperate measures by Lily.
The action in this film with a strong live-stage centers around Lily making an unscheduled after-hours visit to the home/office of therapist Carmela in the wake of our excitable girl having done a bad bad thing. While waiting for her shrink to return, Lily raps with Carmela daughter Talia; that offspring reflects the irony of the children of a shoemaker going around barefoot.
The Ibsenesque story that comes out via flashbacks in that prolonged discussion provides portraits of each member of the family of Lily. This begins with Dad Avi,, who clearly shows that the kids get their crazy from Mom's side of the family. At the same time, Dad has literally and figuratively distanced himself from this about-to-go-nuclear family.
Mom simply is one of those women not cut out to be a mother and a wife; her level of crazy is low, but she is a toxic carrier of that disease. Her fate involves what can be considered Sarandon wrap in reference to the more comical dysfunctional family film "Igby Goes Down" that shows who in the Culkin family has the real talent.
Elder Sister Smadar, who cannot let it go, divides her time between causing chaos and being locked in her room for her own good and that of her family. Her hanging around provides a catalyst for arguably the most dark element of this deeply black tale.
Brother Adam arguably is the most interesting member of the clan; he has especially creepy incestuous desires that the attempts to satisfy for fun and profit. His ultimate fate proves the adage of like father, like son.
The "B Story" portrayal of the home life of Carmela shows that Lily is far from the only damaged soul under that roof.
The takeaway from all this is that those closest to us are the ones that are most skilled at pushing our buttons. The rest of the story is that we all have our breaking points.
The dynamic duo of Icarus Films and Distrib Films maintain their perfect track record with the September 22, 2020 DVD of the 2019 drama "The Girl With A Bracelet." This French film (complete with obligatory dance party scene but sans vehicular mayhem) depicts the murder trial of titular teen amiecide defendant Lise. The real crime is that this thought-provoking compelling drama did not get any amore de festival du film.
The following Distrib trailer for "Bracelet" highlights the related themes of Lise not being innocent even if she is not a killer and of her parents being the clueless ones in this case.
"Bracelet" bucks the trend of recent films commencing with trauma and drama only to soon shift the action to the onset of the series of unfortunate circumstances that bring us to that point. Wascally wabbit writer/director Stephane Demoustier provides a deceptive cold open in the form of neo-modern everyteen Lise, adorable younger brother Jules, and their 'rents enjoying a seaside idyll. The arrival of les gendarmes to escort Lise away shows that this is no day at the beach,
The action soon shifts to two years later. A typical sheepheaded Gallic teen chien du horn is sniffing around la maison of the family when the father of Lise tells the boy go, Diego, go, This leads to learning that a surprisingly outwardly blase Lise literally is under house arrest (as enforced by the titular ankle bling) and is about to stand trial.
Diego later showing up for a practice congenial visit is highly symbolic on a few levels. The same is true regarding the PERFECT final shot in "Bracelet."
The facts that soon emerge at the aforementioned judicial proceeding are that sleepover guest Lise apparently was the last person to see friend Flora alive before the mother of Flora discovers an especially gruesome murder scene the next afternoon. Although the murder weapon still is missing, the indirect evidence of guilt includes Flora filming and uploading a video of Lise fellating a teen boy simply because Lise is told to do so. The trial of the father of Lise includes having to watch that footage and having both the prosecution and the defense address its significance in open court.
The trial largely runs its course as expected with the exception of Lise not showing much emotion, This extends to it seeming that the death of her friend is a not a significant event even absent Lise being accused of that offense.
All of this culminates in the verdict in the trial; the cynicism as to this is that that outcome does not properly reflect the culpability of Lise as a member of society.
The bigger picture this time is that the fact that "Bracelet" could have been made word-for-word and shot-for-shot in the US shows that parents everywhere really do not know how their teens spend their days and nights. A related message is that most parents always love their kids but do not always like them.
The 8.9 IMDb rating for the 2019 Lithuanian documentary "Delta Zoo," which IndiePix Films has released on DVD in North America, reflects the interesting and creative manner that this film tells the real-life tale of the titular Lithuanian commando squad that contributes to the effort by their country to leave the Soviet Union. The melange of world politics, '90s action movies, low-tech video games, and the macho pride of wannabe super soldiers supports the theory that truth is stranger than fiction.
The following trailer aptly highlights both the retro style of the film and the aspects of the essential militia around whom the film is centered.
Our story begins with Lithuania being a trend setter in that it is the first country to declare independence from the Soviet Union; this leads to recruiting a Cobra Kai (COBRA KAI) style martial-arts expert to recruit and train our post-adolescent squad. Archival footage shows their rigorous and violent training.
Our talking heads who were there share their perspective of this band of brothers bonding over viewings of bootleg VHS copies of films such as "Rambo" and that largely consist of the Kung Fu fighting of Bruce Lee that the boys find so exciting; this portion of the film also demonstrates that our Karate Kids are fast as lightning,
This orientation to the group provides some of the most fun in the film in that heavily pixelated animation accompanies profiles, including the apt animal code names of each fighting boy. Individual ratings on attributes that include craziness and fighting skills are the icing on the cake.
The human perspective continues with the tale of these toy soldiers sharing a rural farmhouse ala a rock band holed up to produce its latest album. A cool aspect of this is mutual willful ignorance as to a group of Russian soldier who are the neighbors of the "Zoo" animals.
Anecdotes from this boot camp include an evening in town that leads to an inevitable bar brawl and accounts of machismo that include essentially walking off a broken leg. Of course, there also is the local woman who essentially becomes a team mascot/den mother.
The video game element continues with the boys going out into the field. The footage of exploring a government building evokes strong feelings of video games. This includes the discovery of secret rooms and the officials and the guests of the state who are left behind.
The message this time is the difference between men and boys is the killing power of their toys.
The Film Movement DVD of the quirky 2018 French film "Ulysses & Mona" perfectly highlights the charm of Gallic art house movies and the Movement love of all things international. The awesomeness of this one extends beyond the strong live-stage vibe to being a film that literally and figuratively is easily transferable to North America word-for-word and shot-for-shot,
The following Movement trailer for "Ulysses" provides a good sense of the odd sensibility that makes it so endearing.
Writer-director Sebastien Betbeder immediately catches our attention with an opening scene that has 20 year-old art student Mona and her adorable sheep-headed classmate in a nude-drawing class that clearly is not using this year's model. These future baristas who paint on the weekends have a highly amusing exchange about Mona not using the proper proportions as to her seemingly generous portrayal of the male subject du jour.
Meanwhile back at the estate, 55 year-old former darling of the art world/current recluse Ulysses Borrelli is spending most of his days hitting tennis balls flung at him from an automated machine. We quickly learn that the demise of his marriage is tied to his retirement from highly regarded career.
The worlds of our leads collide when the younger searches out the elder. The journey into the woods initially introduces Mona to misfit child Arthur, whose eccentricities include calling Ulysses Dracula.
Although initially rebuffed, things dramatically change on Mona taking another bite at the apple. She returns to find her idol in dire straits. This ultimately leads to an epic journey of Ulysses accompanied by Mona.
The purpose of the trip is for Ulysses to mend strained relationships in his life; the purpose of Mona accompanying him is to guarantee that he will go through with it.
The first stop is at the McJob workplace of 20-something Nicolas; suffice it to say that the reunion is not a happy one. Mona does help smooth the waters.
Our pair next drops in on ex-wife Alice, who clearly has moved on.
A relatively raucous night before returning home creates more excitement before coming home to find that Ulysses is a person-of-interest in not a good way. This, in turn, leads to another trip into the woods that leads to closure for all.
As always is the case as to Film of the Month Club selections, Movement pairs "Ulysses" with an apt short film. "Wolf Carver" has the titular grumpy middle-aged artist take his Mona on a road trip through Finland; in this case, the unpacking of copious baggage is highly symbolic.
The Icarus Films DVD of the 2106 "ripped-from-the-headlines" French film "Down By Love" is a perfect example of the beautiful friendship between Icarus and Distrib Films from which North American audiences benefit. Like most Icarus/Distrib Films, this tale of the illicit affair between post-adolescent inmate Anna Amari and married middle-aged prison director Jean Firmino could be made word-for-word and shot-for-shot in the US.
The following Distrib trailer for "Love" offers a good sense of the apt level of drama that conveys the tale of this unusual triangle.
Our story begins with Anna en route to the facility run by Jean as the next stage of her unfortunate incarceration ahead of her trial for the offense of this young offender. She soon catches the eye of Jean, and they experience a form of love that dare not speak its name if they know what is good for them, An especially precious moment has Anna creating a fantasy world in which she and her "teacher" essentially move to Westchester together. The ambiguity as to the extent to which Anna looks to Jean for the forms of escape that should be higher priorities is part of what makes "Love" special.,
In true fashion as to this type of story. the truth comes out roughly halfway through the film. The surprising twist is the extent to which Jean risks his career and his family life to be with "the other woman."
One of the mot memorable scenes begins with Jean providing a form of wish fulfillment by taking Anna away during a weekend furlough; the ensuing awkwardness and tension illustrate the principle of being careful for what you wish.
All of this culminates in a not-so-grande finale with a neo-modern twist on a Golden Age trope. If nothing else, it shows that equality has been achieved.
The Indiepix Films DVD of the 2018 Mexican drama "Hypnosis to Be Happy" aptly centers around a standoff between the central characters, who equally aptly figuratively are the last two people on earth. As almost always is the case, the live-stage vibe of "Hypnosis" contributes to the enjoyment of the film. Dividing the scenes into chapters is apt as to protagonist Felipe being a rare-book dealer.
The following Indiepix trailer for "Hypnosis" highlights the aforementioned "You Are There" feeling. It also conveys the nature of the relationship that dominates the film.
The opening scenes of "Hypnosis" are very reminiscent of traditional Calvin Klein ads in that they are stylistic black-and-white images of Felipe and his object of adequate affection Pilar touring an art museum as voice-over narration tells of both of them seeking someone with whom to spend the rest of their lives.
Things become even more personal and philosophical when the action shifts to a restaurant where Felipe proposes after four dates. This predictably triggers a conversation about how well each of the not-so-significant others know each other and what makes them happy.
Felipe demonstrates his surprising power of persuasion in convincing Pilar to accompany him to the warehouse-like building from which he operates his business. The apprehension that Pilar feels on Felipe locking her is a valid reaction. This leads to inarguably the best segment of the film in that Felipe increasingly bares his soul to his intended and she softens regarding her arguable captor. This also involves a notable line as to no book being in the store that does not want to be there.
The action then shifts to a modified walk-of-shame. Despite looking a little shell shocked and still not being engaged, Pilar agrees to drive in the country with Felipe. The ride and a related discovery of a relic prompts Felipe to open up about his childhood and his relationship with his parents in a way that further thaws the heart of Pilar. This includes exposition as to the meaning of the title of the film.
All this lead to the tale of Felipe and Pilar ending on an ambiguous note that reinforces the modern sense that "happily ever after" is as much of a fiction in the real world as it is on the silver screen.
The Film Movement Classics division of Film Movement Blu-ray of the 1995 Salma Hayek film "Midaq Alley" has EVERY element that makes it a perfect film. This begins with a young attractive cast that has someone for everyone, a telenovela vibe that provides no-reason-to-feel-guilty pleasure, and high-concept in the form of being based on a novel by Nobel laurete Naguib Mahfouz. The IDEAL blend of humor and drama of both the melo and regular varieties is the topping on the fried ice cream. There truly is not a dull moment.
The crystal-clear images and audio (not to mention a behind-the-scenes feature and a written essay) in this restoration further make this one well worthy adding to your video library.
The impressive 27 festival wins for "Midaq" include several awards at the 1995 Ariel Awards in Mexico.
The below Movement trailer for Midaq Alley highlights the exceptional quality of every aspect of the film.
In addition to an awesome live-stage vibe, "Midaq" evokes strong thoughts of the similarly themed 2006-09 BBC serial series "The Street" that tells the inter-connected stories of the residents of a London neighborhood. Both productions do an excellent job keeping all the players in play and showing how their lives overlap.
"Midaq" centers around the neighborhood bar that Don Ru owns and operates. This watering hole truly is a place where everyone knows your name (and your business).
A brief glimpse of the life of Ru and of his 20-something son Chava is the tip of the iceberg that provides a good sense of the "Midaq" style. The blatant Freudian aspects of that relationship begin with Ru being disappointed with the poor work ethic of Chava, who obsessively dreams of moving El Norte.
The disappointment of Ru regarding his offspring is an element as to developing a friendship with benefits with a young clothing store clerk whom is closer to what Ru considers an ideal son. The extent to which Ru and this post-adolescent express their mutual affection contributes an ick factor on a couple of levels.
The desired traveling buddy of Chava is Abel, who is a local barber obsessed with local beauty Alma (Hayek). Of course, Alma drives plenty of drama herself.
The ripples extend from there to the opportunistic bartender, the horny spinster, the tarot card reader, etc.
The big picture this time it that "Midaq" is both compelling and funny because it is true.
Breaking Glass Pictures takes a break from international queer cinema DVD releases that range from the flirty to the filthy to offer the highly compelling stylized 2013 Italian drama "Naples in Veils." This sophisticated sibling of Lifetime fare centers around coroner Adriana being a donna on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Some of the numerous accolades for "Veils" include a "Best Cinematography" win at the 2018 David di Donatello awards and "Best Actress" at the 2018 Moscow International Film Festival.
The following Breaking trailer for "Veils" tantalizes with glimpse of the intrigue and the award-winning cinematography. You also see that Breaking gives a breeder boy a chance to show that he more than qualifies to flaunt it.
Early Euro drama commences with a flashback in which we see (presumably) Adriana as a child see (presumably) her mother (presumably) commit a (presumably) heinous act. This memory haunts Adriana as she watches a symbolism-dripping live sacrilegious performance of a bizarre variation on the Joan Rivers-Billy Crystal pregnant man '70s comedy film "Rabbit Test."
In true Lifetime fashion. Adriana invites fellow audience member Andrea back to her place without any pretense as to showing him her etchings. This beginning of a beautiful friendship with benefits turns into a one-night stand when Andrea stands up Adriana. His (presumably) showing up on her slab the next provides a (presumably) good excuse for ghosting (pun intended) her.
The first element of twin (pun intended) hysteria ensues on Adriana learning that the guy with whom she shares genuine intimacy after a brief conversation is not the guy whom she thought that he was. The follow-up is being convinced that she repeatedly thinks that she sees her short-time companion walking about after he shows up at her workplace.
The latter is soon explained by the object of the obsession of Adriana identifying himself as Luca, the essentially separated-at-birth identical twin brother of Andrea. Two spoilers are that Luca lacks both a goatee and an eye patch.
Adriana harbors the brother from the same mother while seeking answers as to the alleged nefarious activity of Andrea and the reason for his (presumed) murder. The indications that Adriana may have possession of either a coveted possession or information further keep her embroiled in the plot.
The highly symbolic Euro drama continues as Adriana and Luca pursue their "its highly complicated" relationship while Adriana seeks closure as to her relationship with Luca. The fact that insanity does not run, it gallops, in the family of Adriana does not help matters.
The strong quality of every aspect of "Veils" unambiguously is why it meets the high standards of Breaking; the incredible ambiguity and layers of meaning make it even more special.
This is not to mention the uncertainty as to both the cause and the effect of virtually every event; this begins with Adriana possibly scoring with Andrea solely based on his believing that she is the girl with something extra.
Breaking supplements this with deleted scenes and a "Backstage with Cast & Crew" special feature.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2018 drama "Drive Me Home" expands on a common theme in Breaking films. Many of the World Cinema indie flicks in the Breaking catalog are about gay teen boys or post-adolescents reuniting between 10 and 20 years after parting ways in a manner typically involving trauma and drama.
The following Breaking trailer for "Drive" showcases the edgy energy and the stylistic look of the film.
Early scenes center around Sicilian teens Antonio and Agostino dreaming of creating a Utopia (complete with a crocodile-laden moat) on the family farm of the former. Their paradise is lost when Agostino abruptly leaves literally without so much as a ciao to his BFF.
The fast-forward this time is roughly 15 years. Antonio tracks down Agostino in his big rig at a truck stop. Whether Antonio provides some combination of ass, gas, or grass for the subsequent journey (including a night at a bathhouse) remains to be seen.
The pattern of the main part of the film remains largely true to form. The chums catch up, obtain closure, and gain a deeper understanding of the other person. Agostino being able to fully express himself to his friend is a highlight.
Seeing Agostino play a (frequently exasperated) older brother role adds good charm to the film. This additionally verifies that he is the "adult" in the relationship.
The rest of the story is that the motives of Antonio extend beyond wanting to reconnect with arguably the most stable influence in his life. His now-abandoned homestead is about to go on the auction block to pay back taxes, and he is hoping that Agostino will buy the farm. This is akin to high-school boys who jointly run a summer business dreaming of that becoming their vocation.
The joy of this and the rest of "Drive" is that it keeps the realistic twists coming to the end, We further see how everything is connected and that life is a series of comprises.
The DVD extras include deleted scenes and a Sky TV interview with the director and the cast.
The Icarus Films and Distrib Films collaboration as to the June 23, 2020 DVD release of the 2019 French based-on-a-true story drama "The Perfect Nanny" (nee "Chanson deuce") once again proves that Euro cinema far outshines Hollywood (and U.S. indie) fare across the board. This story of a governess with a dark passenger is a high-quality production that likely would have been a Lifetime-caliber movie if made here.
The following trailer for "Nanny" PERFECTLY captures the world-class work by director/writer Lucie Borleteau and the equally strong portrayal of titular caregiver Louise by Karin Viard.
The social commentary alone makes "Nanny" worthy of study in either a sociology or film class. This begins with voice-over narration by mother/attorney Myriam discussing adding infant Adam to her family that includes musician husband Paul and young daughter Mila. Speaking as the once parent of two littermate kittens after losing an "only child" cat, it is easy to understand Myriam feeling overhwhelmed after voluntarily becoming outnumbered. (Challenges includes one "kid" getting wise and hiding after my capturing the other to go to the vet and that same sibling constantly eating both his food and that of his brother.)
The next commentary comes in the form of Paul noting in response to Myriam expressing a desire to return to work that having a nanny would eat up the entire amount that Myriam would earn as a litigator, That is a more of a statement as to the value that yuppie couples place on delegating their childcare responsibilities than it is on the perceived worth of a legal advocate.
The next segment consists of the trope of comically toxic applicants, including a quirky college student, for the caretaker job until perfect candidate Louise shows up. One spoiler is that this is not a case that she is there to sell make-up but the father sees more.
The subtle manner in which Louise (with more than a little help from her friends) subsequently descends into madness is much of what sets "Nanny" apart from a basic-cable movie starring Tracey Gold. This starts out with things such as overreacting to an playground incident and arguing with Myriam as to giving the children yogurt that is past its expiration date. That debate alone is particularly apt in this era in which food is becoming more expensive and harder to find.
The creep factor really sets in when Louise increasingly treats older child Mila in a very adult manner; making up that five year-old in a grotesquely whorish manner is the tip of the iceberg as to that particular practice. Louise passing that off as a harmless game on being confronted amps up the creepiness factor.
That incident and many others introduce commentary in the form of the debate regarding whether to keep a clearly bad (and potentially dangerous) individual on the payroll and realizing that outwardly good help is hard to find. In other words, Paul and Myriam must balance endangering their children with the desire of Mom to feel fulfilled.
The seemingly innocent ways that Paul and Myriam inadvertently push Louise to the inevitable edge include confronting her about an embarrassing legal matter and a last-minute temporary substitution of caregiver. This leads to both disturbing scenes of the home life of Louise and the equivalent of a "boiled bunny" moment at the home of her employer. An amazing aspect of the latter is that even that does not prompt the couple to toss the nanny out on her fanny.
All of this leads to an exceptionally well-executed climax that really shows the chops of both Borleteau and Viard. You WILL avert your eyes.
The fact that "Nanny" is ripped-from-the-headlines shows that the story of Louise is sad but true; the fact that such incidents occur in many countries shows the almost universal aspect of the film. The final piece of this trifecta is that "Nanny" easily can be made line-for-line and shot-for-shot in the U.S.
The recent Film Movement DVD release of the 2019 drama "Temblores" is the perfect Pride Month movie for anyone over the age of 13 who is anywhere along the Kinsey Scale. Writer/director Jayro Bustamante not sugarcoating anything and opting out of a Hollywood ending alone make the film one to watch.
The 13 festival wins for "Temblores" further speak to the quality of this film that IMDb describes as follows. "The coming out of an evangelical father shatters his family, his community and uncovers a profoundly repressive society."
The below Movement trailer for "Temblores" highlights the live-stage vibe of this compelling story about upper-middle class middle-aged Pablo choosing a relationship with working-class Francisco over his life with well-heeled and well-bred wife Isa and their two children.
Our story begins on a highly melodramatic note; a clearly frantic Pablo rushes home and ignores the intervention-style gathering of relatives to lock himself in his bedroom. This, of course, prompts great concern by the assembled group. Many who are familiar with real or reel gay trauma and drama can predict that the cause of death-of-a-beloved level angst relates to a gay issue. Blatant symbolism as to this includes a literal tremor literally threatening to bring down the house as Pablo and his family contend with his new normal.
The resulting bedside confrontations range from heart-felt sympathy to not-so-righteous indignation as to Pablo being a fallen man in this particular sense of that term. The fact that that Pablo remains stricken and distraught without overdoing it is a primary example of Bustamante keeping it real.
The action then shifts to somewhat grungy bar where Francisco simultaneously introduces his new significant other into both his life and "the life." Although Pablo does not seem to have buyer's remorse, it is clear that he is experiencing an especially rude awakening. This relates to the frequent "Temblores" theme of many gay men not having it easy.
All this leads to Isa prohibiting Pablo from having any contact with his children; this coincides with a wolf in sheep's clothing not-so-subtly moving toward filling the Pablo-sized void in the life of Isa; truly no double-entendres are intended.
A relative calm in the middle of the film leads to a rebuilding of drama as the true sexual orientation of Pablo increasingly is seen as an addiction by his family. Intense distress as to all that he has given up prompts our family man to enter conversion therapy that ironically seems as if it would result in even the most straight man in the world to lose all interest in women.
This leads to the aforementioned not-so-happy ending in which Pablo decides the extent to which he will sacrifice the needs of the few to satisfy the needs of the many.
Movement supplements "Temblores" with the short "Black Hat," which is the Film Movement Award winner at the 2019 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. This less dramatic look at a family man on the gay end of the Kinsey Scale uses the titular head covering as highly symbolic as a religious item and the public persona of the man. The hat coming off allows him to be more true to himself.
The TLA Releasing DVD release of the 2017 Mexican drama "Seeds" (nee "Cuernavaca") shows both that everything is relative and that relatable growing pains can be traumatic. The accolades for this Dickensian coming-of-age tale include the Best International Feature Award at the 2018 Borderlands Film Festival and three honors at the 2018 Films Infest.
The following YouTube clip of a "Seeds" trailer provides a sense of the angst of central character Andy; the glimpse of the wonderful cinematography reinforces the hope of a future Releasing Blu-ray of the film.
Tween Andy is a Dickens stereotype in that he is small, quiet, pale, and classically blond. Sadly, nothing about him even early in the film supports the theory that people with that hair color have more fun.
Andy literally is clinging to a connection with his absent father in the opening scenes; his early interaction with his essentially single mother is very reminiscent of the parent-child relationship in "The Sixth Sense." This is down to Mom picking up a despondent Andy after a typically depressing day at school.
Rare mutual joy in the lives of Andy and his mother is short lived. Their grand afternoon out is continuing with ice cream when a "sliding doors" moment leads to Mom, rather than Andy, becoming the victim of a violent crime. This contributes to especially strong survivor's guilt.
The Dickens vibe initially picks up on the authorities being unable to locate the father of Andy to care for him during the hospitalization of his mother. This leads to the boy travelling to the titular rural suburb for a temporary relocation to the guava orchard of his firm but fair (functioning alcoholic) grandmother Carmen. The DVD liner notes state that Carmen portrayor Carmen Maura has a history of collaborating with Pedro Almodovar.
The eccentric members of the household include an aunt with Down's Syndrome, who provides a herd of cats with unnecessary ongoing medical care. There also is young fieldworker/kitchen helper Esmeralda, who essentially is child labor.
The guava of the eye of Andy is teen gardener Charley. Part of the artistry of "Seeds" is ambiguity regarding whether the younger boy sees the older one as a cool guy, a brother figure, a substitute father, or an object of carnal affection. Similarly, the feelings of Charley toward the boy are not very clear for much of the film.
One clear aspect of the Andy/Charley relationship is the latter taking advantage of the other. The boy being relatively wealthy, lonely, smitten, and otherwise vulnerable paves the way for Charley to con him. The aforementioned susceptibility to being taken includes Andy being desperate to reach his father to rescue him from his unfortunate circumstances. This includes the very Dickensian threat of boarding school.
Charley also provides context for the form of class divide that is common in Mexico and not unheard of El Norte. His modest home in his working-class neighborhood is just beyond a symbolic gate in an equally symbolic wall on the estate of Carmen. Further, Carmen heads an unofficial group of "respectable" members of the community that is seeking to run Charley and his kind out of town.
Twin drama ensues as Charley persuades Andy to fully betray his grandmother at a time that the prodigal son at least is back for a short visit. The two lessons here are to not invite the beast into the parlor and that a leopard never changes his spots.
The impact of all this on caring and trusting Andy is adequately heartbreaking to set "Seeds' apart from more cookie-cutter coming-of-age stories. Those films typically have the boy with at least strong gay tendencies end up with the right person and come out the other end of a traumatic experience wiser but not permanently sadder.
The first difference here is the nature and nurture combine to make Andy much more delicate than the typical emo twink boy next door who is starting to look at either his childhood friend or the new guy in school in "that way." Our lead seems destined either to spend his teen years locked in his room reading or shooting up the cafeteria at lunchtime. Either way, you cannot help feeling very sorry for him and hoping for the best.
The Film Movement DVD release of the 2017 drama "Outrage Coda" wraps up the underworld crime series of movies by Takeshi Kitano. Based merely on this one, it is clear that Quentin Tarantino lacks a monopoly on over-the-top bloody "mob" movies. In this case, the yakuza system is front-and-center. The fault as to not fully following every twist in this fast-paced chess game of a film lies within your not-so-humble reviewer, not with Kitano.
The following Movement trailer for "Coda" showcases the aforementioned wonderfully perverse violence that far exceeds the expectations of the 12 year-old boy in many of us. Another way of thinking about this is that it brings the spirit of "Itchy and Scratchy" into the live-action realm.
Our story begins on a typically deceptive low-key note; South Korean made-man Chang is chatting with a younger guy about fishing; this scene sets the stage for a more violent depiction of the middle-aged man and the sea.
The story fully gets underway when Chang is called in to after yakuza middle-manager Hakuna is caught with his pants down during a tryst with a couple of prostitutes who do not want to play rough. Chang fully puts this blowhard in his place and sends him packing.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, the yakuza boss sees the absence of Hakuna at an all-hands meeting as verification of his "I don't get no respect" attitude. Part of the basis for this is that this CEO has never been a guest of the Emperor or otherwise gotten his hands dirty.
The subsequent intertwined plots revolve around a desire for a management change and an effort to obtain maximum profit as to compensating Team Chang for the offense of Hakuna. The negotiations as to the latter are hilarious in a manner that proves that made men have a great sense of humor.
The better fun comes in the form of mob violence that often is staged to not be as it seems. Such attacks including one in a restaurant and another in a car show that the classics never go out of style.
All of this leads to a highly satisfying climax that provides a perfect conclusion to the film and the "Outrage" series. Hakuna learns a trifecta of lessons in the form of being doomed to repeat history when you do not learn from it, being careful about for what you wish, and the consequences of shooting off you mouth. Meanwhile, the fate of the yakuza boss depicts a fantasy for anyone who ever has had a toxic employer. One easily can say that his team is driven to this extreme.
Movement supplements this with a "making of" documentary and trailers of Takeshi films that Movement has released on DVD and Blu-ray.
Icarus Films comes close to boldly taking cinephiles where no man has gone before regarding the DVD release of the 2017 politically oriented supernatural-thriller "Jupiter's Moon." This tale of a Syrian refugee becoming the boy with something extra has something for everyone and must be seen to be believed.
The numerous accolades for this Palme d'Or-nominated film include a very apt Fantastic Features win at the 2017 Austin Fantastic Fest. The Best Film award at the 2017 L'Etrnage Festival is equally appropriate.
The opening scenes of aforementioned young man Aryan Dashni riding a bus in an effort to illegally enter Hungary strike a good balance between exposition and getting down to the action. A police raid leads to Aryan getting shot and left for dead in one of several visually stunning "Moon" sequences. He soon discovers that his rebirth includes an ability to levitate at will.
In traditional movie-narrative style, we also soon meet Dr. Gabor Stern. He is engaged in a rather shady ongoing money-based scheme with his colleague Vera. It is clear that money is not a factor regarding their romantic relationship.
World-weary police official Laszlo brings this marginally God and Jesus pair together in the aftermath of the raid. He and Gabor have an uneasy friendship with limited benefits. Laszlo looks the other way much of the time as Gabor facilitates patients at a refugee camp being set free in Hungary.
Aryan soon comes out to Gabor on their meeting at the camp; this leads to the pair beginning a beautiful friendship based on mutual profit. Gabor will exploit the talent of Aryan, and the boy will obtain limited freedom.
Much of the conflict relates to Laszlo proving that his Momma did not raise no fool. He accurately concludes that Gabor has absconded with Aryan but has great difficulty taking the stranger in a strange land back into custody. Gabor additionally plays the Gladys Kravitz role in the film by knowing that Aryan can fly but being unable to get anyone to believe him.
The plot further thickens on Aryan confiding in Gabor regarding a plan to reconnect with his father, who is a suspected terrorist. This leads to an exceptional sequence in which the Chosen One finds himself in the middle of a terrorist plot.
We additionally learn why Gabor needs a large amount of money. This relates to his effort to rebuild his life after a tragedy that can be considered punishment for his sins. The extent to which Aryan is sent from above to facilitate this salvation is ambiguous.
The expected grand-scale mayhem at the end of "Moon" ends on a note that is very surprising beyond the actual partial resolution that it provides. The positive and strongly religious final images leave one with much more of a sense of serenity than the entire film suggests would lead to the closing credits.
The bigger successful trick of "Moon" is presenting heavy political commentary in the form of a religious-oriented fable in a compelling manner without being preachy.
The Film Movement DVD release of the 2016 Dutch erotic drama "Out of Love" adds to the mountain of proof that Movement provides regarding many themes being universal. A simplistic way of looking at this movie is that it a dark intense version of the Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner comedy "The War of the Roses."
The wider perspective is that "Love" supports the theory that many relationships fail because neither person reveals his or her crazy until after exchanging vows. Another aspect of this is the cliche that opposites attract, This is from the perspective of someone who loves "I Dream of Jeannie" living with someone who prefers "Bewitched."
"Love" opens on a charmingly flirtatious note as chef Nikolai and customer/manicurist Varya exchange increasingly intimate glances during her visit to his restaurant., This leads to a witty initial conversation that furthers enhances the live-stage vibe that runs throughout the film. The talents of our leads, who comprise most of the cast, further make you feel as if you are enjoying a night at the theater.
Our love birds still are enjoying their honeymoon phase when they move in together. A hilarious scene in which Varya has a bad reaction to a meal by Nikolai is an early indication of trouble in paradise. A (confirmed) early sense that Varya is a bit unstable comes when she massively overreacts to an innocent observation by Nikolai.
In fairness to Varya, Nikolai being assertively (rather than aggressively) persistent when told not now is a valid basis for complaint.
A less relatable aspect of "Love" is the profession of Nikolai being a factor. Although many of us fantasize about having a partner who equally passionate (and skilled) in the kitchen and the bedroom as well as being very easy on the eyes, the reality apparently is not-so-great.
The starting point of dissension is the long and the late hours of NIkolai. This leads to disappointments that include being left alone much of the time, Further, the inconvenience of eating dinner fashionably late is a legitimate gripe; the same goes for being served food that creates digestion issues.
Varya cracks first; the heat-of-the-moment reaction by Nikolai makes a bad situation even worse; the ensuing events nicely show that residual love often exists even when it is time to seek a restraining order. We also get a telling moment in which Varya expresses an odd form of sorrow,
The truth continues to the conclusion of the film. Our story ends on a note that does not fully resolve whether this couple determines they are happier being apart than they would be together. Folks who have reached that stage know that that answer can change even a few times a day.
Cinema Libre provides an awesome twofer regarding the April 7, 2020 DVD of the wonderfully edgy 2019 Icelandic drama "From Iceland to Eden." This film shows that quality cinema still exists and that home-video more than compensates for arthouses and cineplexes facing the wrath of COVID-19.
The opening scenes strike the desired balance between exposition and starting the action. Nearly naked 20-something Oliver finds himself in a bathroom with equally compromised peer Loa. He is there on the run from the law, which is in the midst of raiding his supply of assorted illegal drugs; she is there sleeping off a wild night with her host, whom our near-future young lovers find dead from an overdose.
One of several film highlights courtesy of Oliver portaayor Hansel Eagle, whose credits include "Shirtless Dancer" on an episode of "Black Mirror," comes soon after this initial meeting. Oliver casually reciting the increasingly hardcore list of drugs in his inventory triggers Loa remembering him as a well-known drug dealer on the club circuit. An even better moment comes when Oliver expresses displeasure as to having imminently facing a hammer attack at one end and a "cock up my ass" at the other. The performance of the actor playing second-generation drug dealer/"Little Mermaid" fanatic Tumi adds great entertainment value as to that dual threat.
Oliver and Loa soon demonstrate the dual follies of youth and heavy drug use by scheming and dreaming of life in the titular paradise, which is Cuba in this case. This caper commences a development that is relatable to virtually anyone who has had a post-college roommate. Loa convinces her friend to harbor her and Mr. Not Right in the Head for one night despite the opposition of the other guy who shares the place. Of course, this turns into an extended stay.
The daring deeds of our dynamic duo, which including putting Loa at risk of losing what is left of her virtue, quickly escalate, This includes a not-so-bold grab of a stash and cash to a "one last job" plot to be armed and dangerous party crashers at Chez Tumi. Needless to say, things do not go as planned.
All of this culminates in a very surreal ending that both brings things back to the beginning of the film and offers proof that everyone has a soulmate.
The big picture this time is that all of us want a better life, and some of us must work a little harder toward enjoying that desired Utopia.
Omnibus Entertainment (which is a division of foreign-movie god Film Movement) wonderfully goes old school with the DVD release of the highly stylized 2013 black-and-white drama "She Wolf." This work of art visually and thematically evokes thoughts of French New Wave Cinema. The copious extreme physical and sexual violence against our damsel (who may not have a name) in distress alone surely precludes any Hollywood version of this story
This film opens with Damsel being the sub. in a relatively intense S&M sex session. The real climax of this encounter involves her poisoning Mr. Right Now; it soon becomes clear that this is far from her first trip to the rodeo.
Subsequently watching this predator in action proves that man is his own worst enemy. She merely throws out the bait by looking flirtatious; the chum always approaches her completely unaware of their fate.
The plot thickens on a neighbor confronting this praying mantis; he essentially tells her that he knows who she does all summer and that he is going to ensure that she is held accountable for her sins. Young and small relatively innocent Leo becomes the unlikely savior/buddy of Damsel.
Scenes in which the relative heights of Leo and his new girl shift provide some of the heavy symbolism in the film. The manner in which we effectively see the three faces of Eve is even more telling, As indicated above, "Wolf" is a far cry (pun intended) from "Basic Instinct." This dynamic extends to Damsel becoming a protector of Leo.
Damsel fully becomes the prey when an undercover cop gets on her scent; his inept partner provides needed comic relief. A scene in which the cop stalks his prey in her hunting ground of the subway system provides some of the best moments of the film.
Of course, this leads to the noose tightening; the question remains whether the beast will break loose in this film that holds absolutely no allegiance to the Hays Code.
The bottom line this time is that writer/director Tamae Garateguy aptly puts a neo spin on one of the most artistic film styles ever. This modern approach awesomely includes the statement that women are equally whore and Madonna and that having their reproductive organs on the inside does not prevent them from being as brutal as men.
Breaking Glass Pictures timely gave the viewing public a New Year's gift by releasing the 2017 Israeli drama "Scaffolding" on January 1, 2019. The delay in sharing thoughts about this coming-of-age film is attributable to Breaking Glass and other indie-film studios keeping this site very busy with the regular awesome additions to their catalogs.
The numerous accolades for "Scaffolding" include a well-deserved Israeli Film Academy Best Supporting Actor award for the man who portrays high-school literature teacher Rami. He represents the cultured side of the art versus commerce conflict with which excitable boy Asher is dealing. Tough and gruff dad Milo represents the other side.
The following YouTube clip of a "Scaffolding" trailer introduces the theme of the film and provides a strong sense of the characters.
Seventeen year-old Asher is the good son when "Scaffolding" opens; he is a strong and obedient offspring who happily is devoted to the titular company of his self-made man father, High school is a mutual nuisance regarding this highly disruptive presence and that educational institution.
The scales begin to tip in favor of book learning when Rami reaches Asher at a time that the boy also is facing his final finals. The conflict that is at the center of all films of this nature relates to Milo literally needing the help of his son more than ever. Milo directly stating that school is not very important creates more emotional turmoil.
The plot thickens on Asher experiencing the type of angst related to Rami that many of us feel when we view a high-school teacher as a parental figure. A blow to that relationship always hurts, and it is worse when we do not fully understand the cause.
The search for answers causes Asher to fully go out of bounds; of course, this merely worsens his situation.
The artistry of the "Scaffolding" relates to the understated manner in which this universal story unfolds. The actors who portray the three sides of the triangle all play their roles well. We are spared violently frenetic dancing in an empty warehouse and any other excessive demonstrations of teen angst.
We also do not get any extreme displays of adult frustration or other strong feelings. This makes the pivotal act of desperation by Rami especially surprising.
The international vibe of "Scaffolding" continues with the special features. A 20-minute making-of short is in Hebrew without subtitles; the five-minute version has subtitles.
The striking images and related spectacular cinematography in the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2018 drama "Holiday" alone justify adding this film to your home-video collection. It also makes one wonder why Breaking does not spring for a Blu-ray release.
The festival love for this entertaining tale of the trophy girlfriend of an abusive drug lord includes numerous top honors. These accolades include Best Picture at the 2018 Austin Fantastic Fest and Best Director at the 2018 Nordic International Film Festival,
The following YouTube clip of a "Holiday" trailer does not do the style of the film justice but does provide a strong sense of the misogynistic elements and the counter-balancing theme of material girls with blonde ambition considering the boy with the cold hard cash to always be Mr. Right despite the cost of the relationship.
Early scenes have our heroine (pun intended) Sascha getting called out on a damsel-in-distress routine on the cusp of the extended titular vacation with aforementioned pusher Michael, This trip is to pimped-out villa in Bodrum on the Turkish Riviera, Their travel companions are the business associates of Michael and the significant others and children of those legitimate businessmen.
Although lounging in the sun, playing games at the arcade, and clubbing is fun, Sascha soon learns the same lesson as her "sisters" that anyone who "marries" for money pays a high price for enjoying the lifestyles of the rich and loathsome. This includes having to put out on demand and dealing with a man whose temper (and temperament) essentially precludes finding someone to stick around out of love.
One of the best and most telling "Holiday" scenes has a bored Michael sitting in the bitch husband chair at a jewelry store while Sascha shops. This kept woman selecting emerald earrings aptly provides her a sense that she is not in Kansas anymore. Another way of looking at this is that it shows the intersection of her grasping greed and the combination of the lust of Michael and his desire to have a status symbol other than a tattoo on his arm.
More drama enters the picture when Sascha strikes up an unsanctioned relationship with a yachting type. Handsome and kind sailor Thomas shares an intimate moment with Sascha, and both of them want more than a one evening stand. This prompts a jealous Michael to lure Thomas to the villa under false pretenses. The feral aspects of that evening show the true natures of both men.
The climax follows when Sascha plays a booty call gone wrong on Thomas; this leads to her becoming a girl interrupted who truly is dazed and confused. This adds to the morality tale aspect of this beautiful and compelling film.
The Film Movement Classics division of indie-film god Film Movement March 10, 2020 BD double-feature release of "Whiskey Galore" (1949) and "The Maggie" (1954) (aka "High and Dry") once again proves both that funny always is funny and that the Brits kick the arses of Yanks when it comes to comedy. This release also is the third Classics BD of Ealing Studios releases. This site has already covered the Blu-ray of "The Titfield Thunderbolt" (1953) and reviewed the Blu-ray of the 1949 farce "Passport to Pimlico."
These four never-a-dull-moment films make a wonderful home-based classic film festival. The copious in-depth special features that accompany these UK gems aptly give them the royal treatment and are well worth watching.
One of the many common elements of "Whiskey" and "Maggie" is that the are both from Ealing director Alexander Mackendrick, who is better known for "The Ladykillers" and "The Man in the White Suit."
The following SPOILER-LADEN Classics trailer for "Galore" highlights the award-worthy restoration. This promo also provides a strong sense of the so-near and yet-so-far aspect of a small Scottish island that has its supply of the titular libation go dry at the same time that a ship with a large supply of that nectar rounds aground just off shore. Hilarity galore ensues.
Classics does "Maggie" equally proud as to the trailer for that film. The primary "sit" that provides the "com" this time is that wily boat captain McTaggart responds to desperate times by undertaking the desperate measure of deceptively getting the job of transporting cargo that is very precious to American businessman Calvin B. Marshall. Once more, there is copious hilarity.
"Whiskey" is well-acted movie about eccentric antics of quirky residents of a small Scottish island that evokes strong thoughts of similar fare of days of yore such as "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down A Mountain" and "Waking Ned Devine." This is a nice contrast to the modern formula of placing the matinee or teen-boy idol of the week in a film that relies on crude and/or slapstick humor.
The quaint old world setting this time is the small community of Todday. Although the year is 1943, the only impact of the war is the local pub running out of whisky and not having any hope of replenishing its supply any time soon. The lack of a more serious threat is not stopping the "Dad's Army" style local Home Guard officer from maintaining road blocks and otherwise exercising undue diligence. This textbook self-righteous fool is easily frustrated by the "incompetence" of subordinates and the absurd manner in which the military operates.
The daily life of the Sam Druckeresque postmaster/shop keeper is being complicated by his youngest daughter and earnest school teacher George Campbell wanting to get married despite the strong opposition of Mrs. Campbell, who is the mother of all mothers. The engagement of the older daughter to a soldier on leave is free of similar drama.
The conflict between the cold warring factions heats up when a ship that is transporting 50,000 cases of whisky runs aground off the shore of Todday. The locals want to salvage the titular beverage for their own use, and the Home Guard wet blanket wants to obey the letter of the law. This results in highly entertaining mad dashes on the land and on the sea, as well as hilarious scenes of concealing whisky bottles.
The humor and the action in "Whisky" is so well presented throughout that the film does not climax so much as it winds down. Some characters are a little wiser, others emboldened, and most quite a bit drunker.
An especially awesome of "Whiskey" is that it is funny because it is (somewhat) true.
"The Maggie" follows a similar figurative path; McTaggart encounters numerous obstacles in trying to deliver the goods, which is needed to literally keep his business afloat. This involves literal and figurative rocky moments; the real fun commences with Marshall literally (but not figuratively) comes on board after McTaggart evades earlier attempts to get things on the right course. The ending this time literally and figuratively is far from Hollywood.
Film Movement fully celebrates the independent spirit of art-house films with the DVD release of the 2017 drama "I Am Not a Witch." Folks who prefer to download this tale of nine year-old Shula being sent to witch camp can do so through the Movement streaming service.
The sweet 16 accolades for "Witch" begin with the 2018 BAFTA award for "Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer." Many of the other 15 wins similarly honor the film itself and writer/director Rungano Nyoni.
The following YouTube clip of the Movement trailer for "Witch" casts a spell that compels you to want to see more of the guilty-pleasure absurdity and themes that earn the film so much critical love.
The fun begins with wonderful dual commentary on the nature of tourism and the treatment of the disenfranchised in any society. We see tourons (a.ka. tourists + morons) in Zambia traveling to a witch camp. Of course, a group member balks at the price of the experience.
On arriving at their destination, the visitors treat the not-so-beloved sorceresses like zoo animals. For their part, the women who endure that humiliation do so with supernatural stoicism. The education of the day trippers includes the explanation that tethering the women to white ribbons is intended to prevent them from flying away to go on a killing spree. One spoiler is that at least one witch reaches the end of her rope.
The primary commentary then commences in the village where unaccompanied minor Shula resides; our introduction to her shows the incident that leads to her being accused of witchcraft. That judicial proceeding provides a strong sense of the comparable Salem witch trials.
This leads to government official Mr. Banda bringing the girl to the aforementioned camp. A form of tiger repellent logic is used in convincing Shula that she either can consent to be tethered to a white ribbon or be turned into a goat.
Banda subsequently exploits the perception of an unenthusiastic Shula for fun and profit. This includes making her use her alleged power to catch a thief. We also see her sit quietly by as Banta and his partner-in-crime try to get her to play along with a scheme to show that she can literally be a rainmaker.
Meanwhile, the witches also profit from the perception of Shula. They additionally amusingly go about their lives as the bicker and do what is required of them. We additionally get further proof that people from "civilized" nations are clueless.
All of this shows both that every society has the same basic flaws and that all of us should be ashamed, very ashamed.
Movement supplements "Witch" with the Nyoni short-film "Mwansa the Great." We further get an interview in which Nyoni discusses visiting an actual witch camp.