A cursory glance at the section of this site that is dedicated to Icarus Films releases shows that that distributor of mostly foreign films rocks. The bad news is that this post on the Icarus February 23, 2021 DVD release of the 2020 film "Yiddish" shows that even the best among us have a bad day.
The awesome news is that the aptly titled short "Egg Cream" more than makes up for the failings of the feature presentation. The first amusing aspect of this is that the contrasts between the two films illustrates that dessert often is more tasty than the main course. An entertaining "Freaky Friday" element is that the 15-minute "Egg Cream" warrants the roughly hour length of "Yiddish," which would have made for a delightful and informative 15-minute tidbit.
The fault of "Yiddish" equally lies in the stars and in writer/director Nurith Aviv. A lesser flaw is the style and the substance of this documentary not even trying to reflect either the wit or the wisdom of the language around which it is centered. A more positive element is that "Yiddish" contributes to the important campaign to keep lesser-known languages alive.
The seven 20- and early 30-something interviewees each get roughly 10 minutes to share tidbits as to the titular hybrid of Hebrew and German. These not-ready-for-primetime players also discuss the personal importance of Yiddish in their lives.
The best story before giving up on this film was of a Yiddish scholar whose "conversion" leads to bonding with his grandmother; we also hear from a woman whose linguistic studies result in meeting her future husband.
Your not-so-humble reviewer repeatedly yelling "shut up" at the screen during the third interview and adding a word that warrants gargling with body wash during the next one before stopping the film provides a sense of the monotony of the VERY fast-talking and humorless presenters. Better editing of these segments and providing more variety that is the spice of life would have greatly enhanced this documentary.
Moving on, "Egg Cream" by Nora Miller is EVERYTHING that "Yiddish" is not. This begins with "Cream" achieving the genre ideal of being equally entertaining and informative. As indicated above, this film by Nora Miller leaves the audience wanting MUCH more.
Miller opens the film with a charming anecdote about her childhood love of the titular treat that leads to her adult effort to learn more about that beverage. The most amusing reveal is that this taste sensation does not have eggs or cream. (Personal ignorance as to that is behind never trying this drink; this WILL be remedied once it is safe to go back in the water.)
The (perhaps untrue) origin story of egg creams involving opposites is very apt considering the contrasts between "Cream" and "Yiddish." On a more general (pun intended) level, it is amazing to learn how long ago the purported events occurred.
The true delight of "Cream" commences with a trip to a young-at-heart senior who is an expert egg cream maker. His delighting children with both the treat and the story behind it will bring a smile to your face.
We subsequently meet the Jewish owner of a business that sells the titular item; the humor here goes beyond this man being unable to prepare this classic to the guy who is pro not being one of the chosen people.
The bottom line is that "Cream" and its subject provide the joy that both "Yiddish" and its subject should have delivered.
Icarus Films and Distrib Films take a Spring Break rest from their typical joint releases of "ripped from the headlines" French crime dramas to release the fun-for-all-ages family comedy "10 Days With Dad." The only fault as to this charming and witty movie is that the title translates more closely to "10 Days Without Mom."
The following trailer accurately shows how this joy that all of us badly need during the never ending pandemic combines the stay-at-home Dad theme of "Mr. Mom" with the more specific concept of parents trying to manage a houseful of rambunctious and quirky kids around which the HILARIOUS 2007-14 Britcom "Outnumbered" is centered. This chaos is particularly relatable to Covid-era parents who have not gotten a break from their offspring for a year and counting.
Our story begins with the seemingly mandatory 21st century opening scenes of chaos followed by the beginning of the end that shows how the characters come to experience that series of unfortunate circumstances. In this case, we see temporarily single father Antoine walking away from a scene of mass destruction ala James Bond and just about every other action hero and parody thereof.
The fateful moment occurs roughly two weeks earlier. Stay-at-home mom Isabelle is at the end of a particularly tough day on which she feels especially stressed and old when HR manager Antoine adds the straw that breaks the back of that beast of burden. He soon learns that that is not the time for his pillow talk to include his opinion that Isabelle is living the good life.
The variation of the tried-and-true "trading places" sitcom trope is Mom is taking a solo vacation for the titular time period. The scene in which that warning goes unheeded is one of the best in this movie that literally does not have a dull moment.
Fairly literally turning a deaf ear to his wife results in Antoine having a comparable rude awakening on Isabelle having her bags packed, being ready to go, and the taxi outside blowing its horn. She does know when she is coming back and is very happy to go.
The hilarity commences with the kids making the first in a series of awesome changes to the i-Phone profile name of Dad. This is ahead of Dad leaving to drop the kids off at school only to realize that he and the youngsters do not know how to get to that educational institution.
This relates to the appeal of the everykids in the family. Fourteen year-old Arthur, who is responsible for Isabelle abandoning her career as an attorney, is a nice young man with a healthy interest in his peers of the opposite sex. Roughly 12 year-old Chloe plays soccer.
Rambunctious 10 year-old Maxime is the most entertaining child; his antics include snorkeling in the living-room aquarium and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by being caught playing a video game after convincing Mom that he is too sick to go to school.
The humor that baby-of-the-family Jojo contributes mostly is in the form of babbling that usually refers to the substance that currently is in his diaper. Jojo contributes to a hard truth in that the baby sitter tells Antoine that a good father knows what his two-year old is saying. For the record, your not-so-humble reviewer understands the message behind every utterance of his cat.
Of course, the house soon becomes a shambles and the work of Dad suffers at a time that he up for a promotion and finds himself in competition with a younger and more charming co-worker who also is the cousin of a Hollywood star. This makes the growing pains of our family very apt.
Concern as the extent to which Isabelle will go Greek while trying to get her groove back further drives the story.
The build-up to the aforementioned fireworks begin with the baby sitter dramatically quitting amping up the resentment of the kids at a time that Dad needs them to be good team players at a corporate event. Personal relatability this time is considering corporate spouse duty as channeling Samantha Stephens of "Bewitched" without the fun of being able to turn clients into monkeys.
All of this leads to a near-Hollywood ending in which the family does not fully live happily ever after but the kids are alright. The even bigger is that the audience is left desperately wanting more.
The latest in a long. ongoing series of joint DVD releases from Icarus Films and Distrib Films provides a twofer in the form of character studies with strong social commentary. The February 2, 2021 release of the French drama "Night Shift" provides insight into the hearts, minds, and souls of the titular cops who learn that a tough moral dilemma is the price for breaking the cardinal rule against volunteering for anything.
The following trailer perfectly conveys the tone and the style of this tale about the human side of boys (and girls) in blue whose jobs require following orders without question.
Roughly the first half of "Shift" depicts the trauma and the drama that leads to the more intense central angst of the film. Showing the same events from different perspectives helps sets the stage for the main event,
Virginie is a not-so-happily married cop, who has a not-so-pleasant "morning after" medical procedure scheduled for when her shift ends. The role of fellow law-enforcement officer Aristide as to that influences much of the action throughout the film.
Erik is the hardened veteran of the group; his backstory includes his own marital woes and his struggles with his "conceal, don't feel" approach to his job. He additionally clearly is the most by-the-book member of the group.
The nightly "be careful out there" meeting for our unlikely bedfellows includes an announcement that a fire at a prison requires requesting volunteers to escort illegal immigrant Asomidin to a flight back to his native land. As previously mentioned, the three aforementioned cops are the saps who offer to give this guy who may be a terrorist or a refugee a ride to the airport.
"Shift" takes on a particularly strong live-stage vibe when the cops begin their Uber duty. Virginie is the first one to get insight that makes her want to let their passenger take a powder. Of course, Erik is fully on the other side of that Kinsey Scale.
Further discussion wears down Erik, who seems to be more interested in getting Virginie to shut up then to do the right thing. It seems that Aristide is willing to abide by the decision of the group; the aforementioned character study shows that this "keep calm and carry on" 'tude is very consistent as to this man literally and figuratively in the middle on a few levels.
One of the best scenes also is the most insightful; Asomidin having excellent reason to not trust mankind jeopardizes taking advantage of a get-out-of-jail free card.
The true genius of the film comes near the end when it is shown that it ain't over until the blonde lady sings. This leads to "morning-after" events for all concerned; the most symbolic of these in a highly thoughtful films comes at the end.
The big picture this time is interesting but not especially insightful; we show how the range of experiences of cops is behind the roulette wheel as to (as personal experience has shown) whether a guy who does not do threatening at all will be cornered and aggressively grilled after proving beyond any doubt whatsoever that he merely was walking down the street or will be treated in a reasonable manner.
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 recent news reports of The Galactic Federation makes the Icarus Films Dec. 1, 2020 DVD release of the 2019 documentary "Space Dogs" especially apt. It make one Siriusly wonder both if those brothers from another planet are natives of the dog star and if they offer the astromutts treats and walkies. The only criticism of "Dogs" is that it is not titled "Far Out Space Mutts" as an homage to the Krofft '70s-era Saturday morning series "Far Out Space Nuts."
A warning as to the latter is that you never will be able to resist saying "I said lunch, not launch!" when referring to your midday meal after watching the show.
One also must wonder if the seven festival awards for the documentary equal 49 trophies from the perspective of a dog. These accolades include two wins at the 2019 Locarno International Film Festival and an especially well-deserved cinematography award at the 2020 Diagonale Austria event.
The following trailer easily achieves its objective of creating interest in the film while keeping spoilers to a minimum. The inclusion of the opening exposition of "Dogs" on the fate of the fate of pioneer astromutt a street dog named Laika provides a good sense of the bittersweet tone of this sad-but-true tale.
A primary context in this film that documents the activities of the stray canines that freely roam throughout Moscow is the legend that Laika, who makes the ultimate sacrifice in the name in science, haunts those streets and joins her peers in their adventures. Watching these semi-feral cuties engage in friendly and not-so-friendly activity alone would make a good film. A tragic spoiler is that at least one kitty is killed in the making of the film.
Filmmakers Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter use the story of Laika as the starting point for the history of the expanded use of street dogs in the Russian space program. The black-and-white archival footage of the tortures that these victims endure provides an intentional stark contrast to the color scenes of their peers on the outside. The inhumane experiments evoke thoughts of the Borg of "Trek" lore transforming formerly free-thinking pure organic beings into cyborg drones. This is not to mention the lab dogs involuntarily being strapped into centrifuges and other training equipment that their human counterparts willingly use to prepare for their space travel.
Kremser and Peter additionally document the story of the monkey, who comes to be only known as "Number 65," who is the first primate to go into space. The ensuing reasonable PTSD is just as heartbreaking as the experience of the titular captives.
It is imagined that the two turtles that also go into space do not fare much better than Number 65 and the dogs. Aside from those heroes on the half shell not being as well equipped as the others to communicate their pain and distress, the mythological aspect of choosing that species for that research is interesting.
Icarus augments this with a "behind-the-scenes" video.
Icarus Films and Distrib Films once more joining forces by releasing the French film "My Dog Stupid" (2019) on DVD on December 8, 2020 is the latest example of those cinephiles' gods showing North American what they are missing. Stating that "Stupid" hits EVERY right note as to a film is not an understatement. The strongest endorsement is eliciting chuckles and "aws" from a not-so-humble reviewer who almost always remains totally silent during a movie.
On a broader level, "Stupid" achieves the film ideal of being highly entertaining while provoking thoughts. It additionally has the live-stage vibe that is a hallmark of a film worth savoring and pulling off the shelf every few years. This one also meets the Icarus/Distrib standard of being a foreign film that easily could be remade shot-for-short and line-for-line in the U.S.
This mid-brow version of "Marley and Me" further evokes thought of a review by another site about another film. The writer of that piece notes that an inability to determine if that movie is a comedy or a drama makes it like real life. That quality evokes thoughts of the novels (and awesome film adaptations of those works) of literary god John Irving, who is a lighter version of his peer John Updike. The element of once (and future?) literary giant Henri Mohen ("Stupid" director Yvan Attal) experiencing a parallel midlife crisis and chronic writer's block brings "Wonder Boys" by demigod novelist Michael Chabon to mind.
The following Distrib "Stupid" trailer validates all of the above.
The aptly novel approach, which divides the film into chapters, of "Stupid" begins with voice-over exposition of Henri as he drives home through a deluge after one in a long series of distressing meetings about a new writing projects. This narration tells the viewer more about our lead, who aches for a Roman holiday, in a few minutes than he or she learns about a real or reel person in a year.
The plot thickens on Henri dreading entering Chez Mohen only to find the titular soaking wet bullmastiff lurking in the bushes. This not-so-gentle giant making himself at home allows the hilarity (and trauma-and-drama) to ensue. The overall big picture as to this is that all four adult (or soon-to-be-adult) offspring live at home with Henri and unhappy spouse Cecile (Charlotte Gainsbourg), whose marital history includes an affair to remember.
The not-so-fantastic four siblings consist of stoner/horndog Raph, Pauline who is dating "quirky" combat vet/scene stealer Hugues, surfer/below-c level student Gaspard, and rebel with a chip on his shoulder Noe. One of best chuckle-inducing exchanges has an ungrateful child remind Henri that he has not written anything of quality for 25 years and Dad commenting that that coincides with his having his first kid.
An equally symbolic scene during this portion of the film has Stupid clearly show Hugues both who is the boss and who is his daddy. This common theme includes an incident with potential to test the limits of the right of an employee to be free from unwanted sexual activity in the workplace. The apt message here is that the literature major/lackey is the office bitch in a few senses of that term.
The morning after involves the rude awakening that one of the boys harbored the fugitive canine the night before. This leads to Henri adopting Stupid to assert the place of Henri in the home in which he is the sole means of support of every inhabitant.
The subsequent events are highly relatable both to the "kids" that experience them and the parents that endure them. The only difference is the perfect storm in the form of all four dependents (not to mention Mom) having concurrent extreme turmoil in their lives.
The strongest societal message is the sad-because-it-is-true undue sense of entitlement of the parasitic Millennials. They demand, rather than request, money from their personal ATM while not giving him the respect that he would receive from a stranger on the street.
"Stupid" further stays true to life by having some of the kids turn out alright, some not so much, and every member of the Mohen family live a life of quiet desperation to one degree or another. Sharing that all this provides Henri the material for his second great French novel is not much of a spoiler.
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.
The recent Icarus Films DVD release of the 2019 Distrib Films documentary "Maguy Marin: Time to Act" wonderfully honors the Icarus roots of a catalog limited to thought-provoking documentaries. This one achieves the genre ideal of being equally entertaining and educational.
The "its personal" aspect this time is that the titular avant-garde choreographer is the mother of writer/director David Mambaugh. His numerous talking heads include Mom, who offers charming insight into her several decades' worth of work that ain't your granddaddy's ballet.
The following "Marin" trailer highlights the wit and wisdom of both the woman and her art.
Much of the documentary focuses on the Marin 1981 opus "May B." This artistically bizarre piece proves that not everything is beautiful at the ballet. It also shows that "Dance 10, Looks 3" does not always result in still being on unemployment and dancing for your own enjoyment. This work purposefully portraying the ugly truth being inspired by Samuel Beckett (the playwright, rather than the time-traveling physicist) awesomely leads to an amusing "Waiting for Beckett" story by Marin.
Vintage footage from the personal and the professional lives of Marin provides a portrait of the artist as a young woman and mother. The latter aspect includes home movies of David and younger sister Louise.
"May B' and the other featured works (as well as the words straight from la bouche de la cheval) shows how Marin consistently incorporates her political views into her work. As indicated above, the bigger picture as to this is that Marin is committed to art reflecting the real world.
Mambough saves the best for last by documenting how a dancer taking the expression "break a leg" a little too close to heart results in a production of "May B" becoming a family affair, This also confirms that Mambough is a triple threat.
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 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 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.
Expert purveyors of thought-provoking documentaries Icarus Films and Bullfrog Films continue their long-standing beautiful friendship with the April 21, 2020 DVD release of the 2018 non-fiction movie "The Sequel." This one is a study of the life of futurist David Fleming. The Fleming opus "Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It" is sadly relevant in this era in which it seems that COVID-19 ain't ever goin' nowhere.
The message of "Sequel" is similar to (reviewed) fellow recent Icraus Film "System Error." "Error" both studies capitalism and provides reason to think that the good run for that model is reaching its end.
Like all good documentaries, "Sequel" stars strong; crystal-clear images of earth from space soon lead to a group of students in an Ewok-caliber forest (sans redwoods) getting an awesome ecology lesson. A measuring tape is used to represent the history of the earth from its beginnings to the present; major events get a 25-words-or-less explanation, and our highly industrialized society is seen at the end of the tape (i.e., rope).
We next hear from friends, colleagues, and devotees of textbook academic Fleming. The Great Man himself also enlightens us about the entertaining story that leads to the writing of "Logic." There is no doubt that Fleming pours his heart into that tome.
The basic idea is that we need a sea change in an effort to stop the polar ice caps from flooding us and/or to prevent another plague-level disaster from making humans either extinct or an endangered species. Another way of stating this is it is the end of the world as we know it, and it is up to us as to whether we feel fine.
A segment on the failure of Greece to rebound from its massive economic downfall is a particularly impactful example. The images of modern-day poverty and the dismal statistics as to the lack of wealth of the nature seem to be what will soon be the case in America.
The bottom line is that modern events show that the guy who literally wrote the book on the subject is right; whether we heed is message may well be a matter of life or death.
The Icarus Films April 28, 2020 DVD release of the 2018 Florian Optiz documentary "System Error" provides an inadvertently timely look at the limits of capitalism at a time that a majority of Americans either have massive income insecurity or are on the verge of doing so. The most inadvertently amusing segment features massively failed White House Director of Communications Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci. One of the best things about the movie is that achieves the genre ideal of being equally entertaining and educational.
This film, which features numerous intertitles of quotes from Karl Marx, has talking heads from several countries weigh on whether the growth potential for capitalism is infinite. One of the most effective topics is the wide-scale development of the Rain Forest; a soybean producer who is doing more than his share to force monkeys out of their habitats is the ideal face for this.
One spoiler is that the film shows us that nothing is unlimited; a good example of this is the Flash Crash and the markets since that time.
The bottom line this time is that bad times traditionally do lead to good times, but all parties must end.
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 Icarus Films March 10, 2020 DVD of the 2018 documentary "Time Thieves" (not to be confused with the 1981 Terry Gilliam film "Time Bandits") aptly is a good investment of 85 minutes and will leave you wanting more.
Writer/director Cosima Dannoritzer shows a mastery of her subject in the manner in which she presents her theme on the role of time in the context of business. Each segment is the perfect length, and the overall pace is brick but far from overwhelming.
An early topic in "Thieves" inarguably is the most entertaining in a film full of highlights and lacking a single dull moment. The viewers are introduced to a Amsterdam restaurant in which the diners do all the work to put the food on their tables. The true payoff is the statement of the method behind that madness.
Another highly amusing segment centers around a married couple that were efficiency expert pioneers. Those parents manipulating their unwitting offspring into doing their literal and figurative dirty work is hilarious.
We also learn early on that rail fatalities play a big role in America fully going on the clock in the 1880s; Dannoritzer deserves minute (pun intended) criticism for not addressing how the proliferation of digital clocks and watches in the 1970s escalates the general American obsession with time.
A large focus is on the well-known Japanese work ethic. Learning about the negative economic impact of Japanese people not using all of their vacation time is amusing; the tale of employees at a Japanese electronics firm playing cat-and-mouse with their employer in order to double-down on overtime is bittersweet; learning about the karoshi, which describes overworking being a primary factor in a death is tragic.
Dannoritzer introduces us to the highly sympathetic widow of a chef/karoshi victim. We also learn of the extensive support system for folks who are in imminent danger of the same fate as the chef.
The timely lesson of all this is that the per-unit labor cost often is the most controllable expense in producing a good or service; naming the department that oversees this human RESOURCES fully reflects that.
The secondary lesson is that the general public being agreeable to (and even enjoying) self-check-out at the grocery store or checking themselves in for a flight or a hotel stay proves that there is a sucker born every minute. Anyone in the Boston area who would like a free aerobic workout is invited to do the seasonal clean-up and preparation of a 6,000 square-foot yard.
Icarus Films continues a long history of making (mostly foreign) "provocative" films available in North America with the release of the 2017 Chinese film "Angels Wear White." The 26 wins and additional 41 nominations for this film about a public official sexually assaulting two middle-school girls verify that this is a special addition to the incredible Icarus catalog.
The aforementioned accolades include Best Film and other top honors at the 2018 Asian Film Awards. Closer to home, "Angels" receives similar love at the 2018 Nashville Film Festival and the RiverRun International Film Festival.
Our story begins with middle-school girls Wen and Xin arriving late at school; their positive and less-than-positive interactions with classmates indicates that things are the same everywhere.
The plot thickens on school authorities and the 'rents getting involved. It quickly is learned that the girls are the victim of a sexual assault at the motel where they spent the night. The perpetrator being a local government official complicates matters.
Director/writer Vivian Qu divides the action between the investigation and the two older teen girls who live and work at the scene of the crime. Similar to the dynamic between Wen and Xin, Lily is a lazy party girl who spends a great deal of time with smooth criminal boyfriend Jian; Mia is the country mouse who wants to do the right thing but is vulnerable because she lacks the documentation that legal status requires.
Attorney Hao is the conduit between the two narratives. She wants to protect the victims against police coercion and also is persuading Mia to tell the truth,
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Commissioner is using every weapon in his arsenal in an effort to try to protect his freedom and his reputation. This includes exerting pressure on a man with unclean hands regarding the attack.
We also get a highly cynical negotiating session; this harsh scene includes the highly symbolic message that an iPhone should be of adequately high value to serve as payment for allowing sexual assaults to go unpunished. The significance is that the average Chinese person cannot afford this luxury item that Chinese workers are paid very little to produce.
The conclusion of "Angels" is surprising and provides the last bit of commentary on modern Chinese culture. We see the extent to which the government will go to maintain a facade of an orderly society and to protect the men in power.
The numerous themes in the movie show that it is one to watch; it provides a relatable dilemma and paints what seems to be a realistic picture of China. We additionally get reminded of the perils of hanging out with a bad influence.
Icarus Films once more shows the immense value of world cinema as to the DVD release of the 2017 Indonesian feminist drama "Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts." This compelling movie with a strong live-stage vibe shows that Quentin Tarantino does not have the monopoly on Amazon warrior revenge films.
The 17 wins and 25 additional nominations for "Marlina" show that director Mouly Surya has all the right stuff; these accolades include numerous honors at the 2018 Film Festival Indonesia and Best Cinematography at the 2018 Asia-Pacific Film Festival.
The following Icarus trailer for "Marlina" clearly shows the Tarantino and classic Western influences on this must-see film.
The titular felon is a relatively recent widow living in relative isolation on her farm; as is typical for good storytelling, the extent of her woes is revealed throughout the film.
The nightmare begins within the first moments of "Marlina." Bad hombre Markus shows at her door and immediately plays cat-and-mouse. The horrible truth is soon shared when the interloper matter-of-factly tells his hostess that his gang is on their way to steal all of her livestock and to rape her if they have time after that theft. He adds insult to those imminent injuries by ordering her to start cooking dinner for the group.
As the film title indicates, things do not go as planned. This leads to the second act that centers around Marlina taking the long journey to the nearest town to report the crimes and her response with extreme prejudice. This trip involves both "persuading" a bus driver to co-operate and an overdue pregnant woman with her own man troubles to join the crusade.
The response of the police is true to factual and fictional patterns; any viewer with a soul will want to smash the typewriter of the cop who takes the statement of Marlina over his head.
The long arm of the law coming up short leads to showing that you sometimes must send a woman to do the job of a man. The even more sad truth as to this is that it demonstrates the limited extent to which the phrase "you've come a long way, Baby" applies.
All of this leads to a climax that brings the action back full circle to the beginning of the film; the sad messages as to this are that things never change and that you often much take matters into your own hands.
The bonus features include behind-the-scenes coverage and an interview with Surya.
Icarus Films provides a sadly timeless lesson in survival as to its double-feature DVD release of the Anne Georget documentaries "Imaginary Feasts" and "Mina's Recipe Book, Terezin 1944." This message is that mentally escaping a harsh reality is an effective tool for surviving seemingly fatal horrific hardship.
"Feasts" provides a truly in-depth look at prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, Soviet Gulags, and Japanese prison camps discussing their favorite meals in order to survive near starvation and other atrocities as to their confinement. These include an American soldier and a woman who pays a heavy price for her unwarranted reliance on the principle of diplomatic immunity.
The main focus is on female prisoners in a concentration camp who take thinking about their favorite foods to the next level; they risk heavy retribution to steal scraps of papers to write down the recipes for those treats. This extends to the contribution of each woman representing the cuisine of her region of her country. It is highly predictable that the French woman are the stars of this project.
A survivor, the ancestors of survivors. a historian, and a chef are among the talking heads who put everything in perspective. In addition to learning about these books, it is surprising to hear even more general information about concentration camps than many of us have known for decades. The relationship between the foods and their native regions is equally interesting.
"Book" tells about the pre-war life and the imprisonment of the author of that tome; we also learn of the post-war path of the book and the importance of it to the persons into whose hands it travels.
As indicated above, the larger impact of these films is how the prisoners used the books to survive when most of us would have chosen a run for the barbed wire as a relatively easy out as to a seemingly unsurvivable situation. It also provides perspective the next time that we endure an hour or so of hunger until our next meal, which likely will be exactly what we are craving at the moment. Even more importantly, fussing because a promised 30-minute wait at Olive Garden is at the 45-minute mark should be shame inducing,
The Icarus Films DVD of the 2017 Chinese drama "The Widowed Witch" helps bring one of the most stylized and bizarre (not to mention honestly cynical) films in the past few years to North American audiences. Whether "Witch" casts its spell on you partially depends on whether you believe in magic (i.e., whether you believe that you believe that you do.) A related note is that if your mission is magic,your love will shine through.
The accolades for this bizarre comically tragic mash-up of the '60scoms "Bewitched" and "The Andy Griffith Show" include director/writer Cai Chengjie winning the coveted Tiger Award at the 2018 Rotterdam International Film Festival. Star Tian Tian equally deserves the Best New Actress trophy that she brings home from the 2018 Chinese Young Generation Film Forum.
The visually artistic elements of "Witch" extend beyond the very sharp cinematography to the shifts between color and black-and-white with some scenes having elements of both. The symbolical use of this technique expands on the use of it in the 1998 Tobey Maguire film "Pleasantville," which also has a strong connection with "TV Land" series.
The real action begins after a prologue. The camera is from the POV of the titular sorceress Er Hao, who newly is a three-time loser regarding husbands. She is paralyzed and initially silently witnesses the conclusion of the ritual that is credited with saving her life.
Er Hao soon learns of Husband Number Three dying in an explosion at his fireworks factory that also is the home of the couple. The ensuing violation is almost as sickening to the viewer as it is to Er Hao.
The rest of the story is that young Er Hao having buried three husbands is a major factor regarding the superstitious rubes in her rural village both believing that she is a witch and shunning her based on that conclusion.
A homeless Er Hao soon discovers that her only options for shelter involve requiring that she allow men who hold the keys to have their way with her, This is the first of many instances in "Witch" in which someone with something to gain does not mind consorting with a bride of Satan if that association involves a benefit.
These desperate times drive (pun intended) Er Hao and her deaf 10 year-old brother-in-law to take up residence in a panel van. It soon becomes clear that that downfall does not satisfy some angry villagers. An early confrontation indicates that Cai Chenjie is a fan of "Back to the Future III."
The interpretation of the results of a hilarious oversight by Er Hao in this portion of the film further establishes her cred, as a magical being; other humor relates to the aforementioned shifting sentiments regarding whether our lead is a good witch or a bad witch.
Er Hao fully plays the survival game when charged with ridding a home of a spirit; the rubes readily accept her statement that that ghost busting requires an extended stay in the house,
The best flip-flopping is saved for last; we really see that an irate mob has no shame when the locals come looking for help after inflicting a humiliating punishment on Er Hao related to the same manner in which they essentially asking that she twitch her nose and put right what once went wrong at the hands of the supplicants.
The nature of this film that is made far from California makes it just as likely that it lacks a Hollywood ending as it is that Er Hao marries a loving advertising executive and raises a family with him in the suburbs.
As indicated early in this post and as shown throughout, the primary appeal of "Witch" beyond the exceptional surface elements is the mirror that reflects every society. "Respectable" people are very quick to spit on outcasts until they almost inevitable require assistance from that undesirable.
The Icarus Films DVD release of the 2015 documentary within a documentary "A Quest for Meaning" aptly is off a nature that makes writing about it a challenge for unenlightened souls. Fully appreciating the film that is the latest in a strong Icarus collaboration with Bullfrog Films requires abandoning a cynical view of the world that results from the "stinking thinking" that largely is responsible for most of us not being at peace with the real real world.
The following YouTube clip of the Icarus trailer for "Meaning" creates a strong hunger for more of the abundant food for thought in the film.
The aforementioned cynicism quickly enters the picture on learning about the tellers of the tale; the intent of 20-something narrator Nathanael Coste in sharing that he and his partner-in-filmmaking Marc de la Menardiere are wealthy Manhattan party monsters who are seeking deeper knowledge likely resonates with other Millennials. Gen Xers likely will be as turned off regarding this self-indulgent exercise in the same manner that this demographic responds to the college kid who works at Starbucks providing a greeting of Namaste.
Cynicism remaining regarding the messengers soon takes a backseat to the copious insightful messages that the film contains. The inconvenient truth is that many of us will not take those messages to heart.
These hardy boys begin our journey in India before going off to pick the best brains in France and other countries and then literally and figuratively bringing things home. A highly satisfying aspect of this is that the aforementioned more highly evolved individuals shame the "namaste" poseurs for not practicing what they preach.
A personal highlight is a talking head calling out people who meditate or practice yoga every day only to be nasty to his or her fellow man or woman the rest of the day. We also hear from someone who states that shelling out big bucks for yoga and meditation classes is a huge waste of money.
The valid but incredibly challenging concepts that seek to put right what once went wrong center around a few guiding principles. Achieving the ideal of only using what we need (rather than acquiring wants as well) is very tough in this highly consumer-oriented society.
A truth bomb regarding what we consider happiness and other emotions is especially eye-opening. This makes the strongest case for striving to live a life of peace, love, and understanding. At the same time, some people should avoid peeling back layers of the onion.
We additionally learn that true enlightenment requires a strong connection with both the earth and everything else in our macro and micro universe. Hearing a theory about the actual origin of man brings this home. Another aspect of this is taking recycling to the nth degree.
One of the most thought-provoking aspects of "Meaning" relates to an urban farmer who has incredibly cute and friendly goats. This man notes that his farm is now the envy of the neighborhood. There also are many stories of urbanites (ala attorney Oliver Wendell Douglas) growing vegetables in pots. All of these folks put those of us who do not plant gardens in our large yards to shame.
The big picture shows how we got to our present place. Most Americans grew up in households in which we wanted to show up the Joneses and in which we were not even encouraged to literally or figuratively get our hands dirty. It is hard to persuade us to strain our muscles growing our food when we can go online and get it delivered either for free or for a relatively low price.
The DVD extras include "Ego Not Bad," which is an extension of "Meaning." The narrowed focus this time is enhancing self-awareness.
The bottom line regarding all this is "Meaning" shows that fully embracing the concept of namaste when you say it and the other person being receptive to that message are good first steps toward being truly shiny happy people,
The Icarus Films recent DVD release of the 2017 truly labor of love documentary "The Other Side of Everything" put a very personal face on the decades of turmoil that have plagued Belgrade, Filmmaker Mila Turajlic interviews her mother, who is political activist and retired professor Srbijanka Turajlic.
The accolades for this kinder and gentler version of classic shut-in documentary "Grey Gardens" include a Best Documentary award at the 2017 Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival and a Best Director win at the RiverRun International Film Festival.
The strong historical drama vibe of "Side" begins with opening scenes of Srbijanka trying to open a recently rediscovered interior door in her dated and shadowy (but very clean) Belgrade apartment. This lead to Srbijanka discussing being a child living in that space in the building that her parents owned when the Communists took over.
This woman who has seen Belgrade repeatedly experience massive changes during several decades tells of a party official knocking on the door during the adolescence of Srbijanka to announce that the family now must live in very tight quarters. We also hear the tale of an effort to get the bureaucracy to allow the family to retain a slightly larger portion of their own property,
An especially creepy aspect of this is hearing Srbijanka reminisce about hearing but not seeing the other families that are uninvited residents of her family home.
We also get a sense of the aforementioned activism of Srbijanka, which includes her reaction to Sloboban Milosevic. A heart-rending aspect of the national politics is the story of some voters being denied the option of declaring their nationality.
The climax of the film is the highly symbolic opening of the door to the past; we get a literal view of how the other half lives. For her part, Srbijanka is reminded of long forgotten aspects of her life before everything changes.
The bigger picture is that "Side" shows that life does go on and that it often does not matter who is in charge.
The Icarus Films September 3, 2019 DVD release of the 2001 documentary "Ghosts of Attica" does the Icarus history of releasing thought-provoking documentaries proud. Every DVD in this portion of the Icarus catalog achieves the genre ideal of being equally entertaining and educational.
In this case, narrator Susan Sarandon has the guards and the prisoners who were there tell the story of the September 1971 Attica uprising. We also learn of the decades-long effort of the prisoners to receive compensation for the harm that they sustained during that event.
Much of the film revolves around self-described Frank "Big Black" Smith, who is drafted into being a leader of the prisoners when (still highly relevant) demands for things such as religious freedom and being paid minimum wage escalates into the inmates temporarily taking over the asylum. The vintage photos and film footage of the prisoners when order is being restored perfectly illustrates why they are pursuing monetary damages.
We also meet Smith employer Liz Frank, who is the lead attorney for the prisoners. This stems from intense empathy for those guests of the state dating to the aftermath of the aforementioned events.
On the surface, a $12 million award to the prisoners seems to be a major victory. One-third of that going to the attorneys is an accurately cynical example of the United States legal system. On top of that, this award understandably prompts resentment among the guards who endured "troubles" during the uprising. A talking head properly notes that asserting that the workers' compensation system provides the guards an adequate remedy is absurd.
This is not to mention the inevitable appeal by New York.
The rest of the story that makes this incident documentary-worthy is that the then-Governor Rockefeller ordering the retaking of the prison with extreme prejudice comes back to bite him as to his bid for the vice-presidency. Suffice it to say that a cover-up is at least attempted.
These inter-related elements are intriguing in that they start with one of many cases in which the disenfranchised aggressively act to become enfranchised, the powers-that-be come down hard, both sides try to win the hearts and minds of the American public, and all feel that they have a right to compensation.
The underlying theme is the highly adversarial tone of interactions between the "haves" and the "have nots" that is becoming deafening during what may be an even more divisive era that the Civil War and the highly contentious late '60s. Clearly, we cannot all just get along and cannot rely on the folks who control the message to tell it like it is.
The DVD bonus features are and audio recording of Frank and more archival images from the uprising.
The Icarus Films August 6, 2019 DVD release of the 2017 mystery thriller "The Girl in the Fog" adds to the mountain of proof that Euro cinema greatly outshines Hollywood fare. This tale of a 16 year-old gone girl is based on the novel of the same name by Donato Carrisi, who writes the screenplay and directs the film.
The formal accolades for "Girl" include a 2018 Italian Golden Globe for Carrisi for his screenplay and an even more deserved Best Actor Golden Globe for Toni Servillo for his perfect portrayal of police Detective Vogel.
Carrisi achieves an ideal balance of action, exposition, and tone by having the opening scene portray the title of the film. We see a shadowy village teen walk out of her Avechot home in the Italian ALps and disappear into the night. This little wander is outwardly good-girl Anna Lou Kastner, who never makes it to her stated destination of her fundamentalist church.
The quality of this film with frequent narrative time shifts is reinforced by following a variation of the modern movie staple of immediately moving us to the beginning of the end of the story without insulting our intelligence by including an intertitle that explains that jump,
This leap begins with a literal rude awakening for town shrink Dr. Augusto Flores (Jean Reno). He is called into his hospital office in the middle of the night due to an emergency related to a car accident.
On arriving, Flores is dually (and duly) surprised to see that his patient is unscathed physically (and seemingly mentally intact) and is Vogel, who is a local celebrity due to both the Kastner case and an earlier (and even more bizarre) crime spree known as "The Mutilator Case." The latter involves a mad bomber hiding explosives in containers for everyday items and putting them on grocery-store shelves.
This discussion between these two weary veterans of their professions provides exposition for the rest of the film, which mostly shifts among the events following the disappearance and the "whodunit" scene at the end of "Girl." These men further talk about the theme of connectivity that is a major element of the film.
All of this relates to Vogel being more interested in media relations and providing a resolution that satisfies the masses, rather than bringing the actual killer to justice. Ambiguity exists regarding the extent to which Vogel will go to achieve his objective. This is not to mention a television reporter showing that she can play the game as well as the boys.
New high-school teacher Prof. Loris Martini is at the center of much of the primary action. One lesson here is that just because you find yourself in a Kafkaesque nightmare does not necessarily mean that your are innocent; the second-part of this moral is that the guilty and the innocent alike face intense media persecution.
An "incident" has prompted Loris to move his (now unemployed) attorney wife and his (now sullen) teen daughter to the village. A media-whore girl does not help matters when she first persuades Loris to give her acting lessons and then distorts the nature of their extra-curricular relationship when he becomes the prime suspect in the Kastner case.
Circumstantial evidence of varying degrees of credibility creates a strong possibility that Loris will spend the rest of his life as a guest of the state regardless of his guilt. The important thing for some with a horse in the race is that Loris is an attractive suspect.
This initially culminates in revealing the full story behind the"accident" of Vogel and then what becomes of Anna Lou, who is a pet with her own secret life.
All of this amounts to "Girl" proving that quality intelligent thrillers still are out there and just require a little investigating to find,
An "Eureka" moment perfectly reflects the movie-going public service that Olive Films, which fully embraces its 'Cinema Lives Here' motto, provides. Frequent distress regarding the lack of any desirable options at the multiplex led to thoughts that well-produced thrillers were a dead art form.
Lamenting the loss of quality mysteries coincided with the arrival of the Olive Blu-ray of the 1987 John Schlesinger (MUST-SEE "Marathon Man") thriller "The Believers," which is being released on June 25.
Olive pairing this release with a (reviewed) Blu-ray of the cult-classic '60s beach movie "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" led to recognizing the Olive commitment to keeping discarded subgeenres alive. Those of us familiar with these perfect blends of art and commerce are infinitely grateful to Olive. "Virgins" literally do not know what they are missing,
The exceptional Blu-ray masters of every Olive release are a special treat to "sluts" who have only seen these films in more grainy versions both on the not-so-silver screen and on even HDTVs. You definitely will get immersed like you never have before.
Olive reminds us that the behind-the-scenes cred. of this tale of wonderfully creepy tale of Santeria in the Big Apple extends beyond Schlesinger. Screenwriter Mark Frost is a co-creator of "Twin Peaks." Aptly, a damn-fine cup of coffee is a major plot point in "Believers."
In front of the camera, Martin Sheen delivers a perfect performance as newly widowed and relocated psychologist Cal Jamison.
EVERYTHING about "Believers" screams Hitchcock. This begins with setting the eerie scares in everyday settings and centering the film around an everyman initially thrown into an somewhat unusual circumstance that develops into a terrifying new normal.
Our story begins with a typical morning for Minneapolis residents Cal, his wife, and their young son Chris. A common (and typically minor) household accident leads to a horrific death for the wife that Cal and Chris witness.
The need for change prompts Cal to relocate Chris to New York. The common Hollywood magic as to this is that Cal finds a large, bright, and immaculate two-story apartment on a clean and quiet street. On top of this, pretty and nice landlord Jessica lives across the street. It is difficult to imagine such a place existing and any one that does not costing far more even a psychologist can afford, This is aside from having a landlord so close who also perfectly maintains the place,
The opening scenes also include a very primitive Santeria ritual and a practitioner of that religion playing the Jedi mind-trick on a JFK customs agent.
The worlds first collide when Chris runs off during a Central Park outing. He scurries behind some rocks and stumbles upon the remains of a ritual sacrifice. The subtext of this scene is amusing to viewers who are woke regarding the ritual in which some young men engage in that area of the park.
Cal fully joins the party on police Lieutenant McTaggert consulting him as to the detective investigating a series of murders of boys. That investigator is convinced that the cult committing the crimes has a supernatural hold on him and is out to get him. Stating that the theory that just because you are paranoid does not mean that no one is out to get you applies is not much of a spoiler.
Meanwhile, Cal entering a (perhaps bewitching) relationship with Jessica greatly upsets Chris, who also may be under a spell of his own. Ambiguity regarding both the incident that brings Cal back to New York and as to the reaction of Chris to his father becoming closer to Jessica is part of what makes "Believers" so awesome.
The final piece of the puzzle comes courtesy of the elderly academics who taught the dead wife of Cal; back in the day. ANYONE who has watched the MUST-SEE "Rosemary's Baby" or other similar films knows that any (particularly motherly) New Yorker who seems too good to be true probably is not so nice.
In true Hitchcock style, a perceived threat turns out to be a thwarted savior. We also get the common Hitchcockian element of the all-American boy in the film finding himself in peril and Dad rushing to the rescue. In this case. Chris becomes the chosen one in an unpredictable fashion.
The thrilling extended climax is pure Schlesinger. The unexpected twists galore are a treat in this era in which the conclusion of most movies is obvious in the first 15 minutes. Team Schlesinger goes above and beyond in upsetting the apple cart one more time in the final minutes.
The most important takeaway from "Believers" is that it is scary because it mostly could be true.
The Icarus Films May 14, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 period-piece comedy "Return of the Hero" fills the void left by Hollywood no longer producing amusing and clever (or at least adequately creative) summer movies. Subtitles aside, "Hero" is so good that you will not even want to look at your phone or other devices while watching it.
Another awesome aspect of "Hero" is that it shows that writer/director Laurent Tirard is more than a un trick cheval regarding the even more delightful (reviewed) "Nicholas on Holiday" (nee "Petit Nicholas") about the family summer vacation of the titular French school boy. Other "Hero" cred. relates to Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin delivering another award-worthy performance as the titular soldier who is not at Waterloo when Napoleon did surrender.
This presumably shot-on-location beautiful film begins in 1809 Burgundy. Captaine Charles-Gregoire Neuville seemingly employs his entire personal staff in preparation for froggy goin' a courtin'. The object of his affection is sweet and innocent girl next door Pauline. She lives on a lavish estate with her adoring parents and her less sweet and innocent older sister Elisabeth (Melanie Laurent).
Neuville seals a chaste deal with Pauline just ahead of being called on to defend emperor and country. Like many soldiers before and since, Neuville makes an empty promise to faithfully correspond with Pauline.
A combination of motives prompt Elisabeth to forge letters from Neuville to Pauline; the responses to that correspondence shows Elisabeth that her little sister is all grown up.
In true farce/classic sitcom style, the scheme of Elisabeth gets out of hand. Circumstances and her creativity result in increasing elaborate and contrived fictional adventures of Neuville that enrapture both Pauline and the rest of the local elite.
All goes well until the inevitable titular appearance of a filthy and disgraced Neuville in 1812; Elisabeth being the only one to initially know that that boy is back in town helps move the story forward; this plot thickens on Neuville returning after a brief absence and presenting himself as the man in the aforementioned letters. His objectives include wooing a now-married with children Pauline.
Dujardin and Laurent wonderfully play off each other as she must watch him make fools out of those nearest and dearest to her. Neuville further shows that he is no gentleman in using the vulnerability of Elisabeth for his own fun and profit,
One of many notable moments involves Elisabeth seeming to get the upper-hand on her frienemy. The manner in which Neuville turns that tactic around to his advantage proves that you cannot con a con man.
The aptly surprising climax that begins with a desperate act leads to a final scene that is very true to the spirit of the film and that is one of the best endings in any film ever. This lesson this time is that we all remain true to our nature.