Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"A Lie That Speaks the Truth"

Andre Techiné is quite simply one of the best filmmakers working regularly in the world today. His films are methodical, deliberately paced and highly intelligent. He takes on important issues but doesn’t let them force him to oversimplify or preach.

His latest film, The Girl on the Train, opens Friday and it is a must. I had a brief phone interview with Techiné last week and the article that resulted can be found here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New York Jewish Film Festival, Round Two

My second piece on the NYJFF is already up on the Jewish Week website. This has been a particularly rich festival, and several of my favorite films are opening theatrically very soon. Eyes Wide Open, which I wrote about last week, opens in NYC on February 5 at the Cinema Village. The festival itself is just starting, and I highly recommend a trip to the Walter Reade, the Jewish Museum and the JCC in Manhattan.

Incidentally, one of the most interesting documentaries in the series didn't make the cut in the edited version of my piece, so let me draw your attention to "Gevald!"
Co-directed by Ron Ofer and Yohei Hakak, the 49-minute film is a rare look at the vehemently anti-Zionist Haredim, as exemplified by Shmuel Chaim Pappenhym, a newspaper editor and activist who we see urging Orthodox Jews not to vote in the 2006 Israeli election. The film smartly counterposes Pappenhym, chubby, boyish, earnest, guileless and hopelessly awkward, with the late Rabbi Avraham Ravitz, a Knesset member for 20 years. Ravitz is warm and fatherly (and his American-born wife is a pistol!), but makes no effort to disguise the nature of political horse-trading in a modern parliamentary body. Absolutely riveting and, as far as I can recall, unique.

Also well worth a trip to midtown Manhattan, Amos Gitai's newest film, Carmel, is going to play at MoMA for a week. My review is here, and the film is quite fascinating, particularly if you are a follower of Gitai's work.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

On the Barricades

It is frequently remarked that because it takes a year or so for a feature film to make it from conception to completion that it's not a great medium for addressing the issues in that morning's newspaper. Of course, there is some truth to that, but with the rise of HD video and so on, a filmmaker can be more timely in her responses than was the case in years past. I offer, for your delectation, a piece from the New York Times showing how Iran's filmmakers have taken the point in the march against their fraudulent "elected" leaders. And even though the old year has ended and you can't claim donations on your 2009 taxes, I urge you to contribute to organizations that fight for freedom of expression.