Category Archives: Theatrical Reviews

“The Invisible War” and the Ongoing Subjugation of Women in America

Congratulations to director Kirby Dick and producer Any Ziering for the pickup of their powerful new doc The Invisible War by Cinedigm Entertainment Group and New Video. I saw the film at Sundance and in addition to being a great film, it’s extraordinarily important in these times of increasing violence against and institutionalized subjugation of women. [Trailer and other videos at the bottom.]

In my wrap of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival I wrote of the film: “A heart-breaking and shocking look at rape in the military, Dick’s film details the pain, shame, horror and lasting damage caused by the attacks as well as the shocking hypocrisy and cover-ups endorsed by the military establishment.”

Some stats from the US Department of Defense:
20% of ALL servicewomen have been sexually assaulted while serving.
Women who have been raped in the military have a PTSD rate higher than men in combat.
An estimated 500,000 women have been sexually assaulted in the US military.
In 2010, according to the Department of Defense, there were 3,158 case of sexual assault within the U.S. military. It is estimated that more than 80% of those who are sexually assaulted don’t report it.

The film presents many more statistics, equally as disturbing.

While the subject matter is grim and at times the film is emotionally tough to watch, I will categorically say that this is a film everyone must see, especially educators. It’s a film that could potentially cause a sea change not only in the halls of Congress but in the high schools of America.

At the Q&A following the Sundance world premiere, a 17 year-old young woman in the audience stood up and said that while she had never been physically assaulted, verbal abuse was the norm in her school and she felt that every high school student needed to see the film because boys were not being raised to respect women. It was another poignant moment in the most emotional Q&A I have ever witnessed.

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My latest CNN.com review: We Bought a Zoo

My most recent review for CNN.com: We Bought a Zoo. It’s really a very good film and the rare films that both kids and adults can enjoy together. Yes, there are some heavy themes (the death of a parent and a nice, old Bengal tiger) but overall, it’s an adult film that kids can enjoy and a kids film that doesn’t talk down to adults.

 

Matt Damon and one of his many animal co-stars in Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo

And the trailer:

Theatrical Review: Summer Hours

Summer Hours
Director: Olivier Assayas
Screenwriter: Olivier Assayas
Producers: Marin Karmitz, Nathanaël Karmitz, Charles Gillibert
Cinematography: Eric Gautier A.F.C.
Editor: Luc Barnier
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling, Jérémie Renier, Edith Scod
IFC Films
102 Minutes, not rated
Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas’ latest film, opens with children running free through gardens and woods around a typically beautiful French summer home. Filled with antiques and objets d’art, the house belongs to the Berthier family, whose matriarch is the 75 year old but still stunning Hélène (Edith Scob). Hélène owns the art collection that was handed down to her by a deceased uncle, a famous artist himself, with whom she may have had an intimate relationship years earlier. Now, at the end of her life, Edith is beginning to make the practical preparations of passing along the collection and the house to her three grown children, Adrienne (Juliette Binoche with blond tresses), Frédéric (Charles Berling) and Jérémie (Jeremie Renier). Only Frédéric, himself the single father of a tempestuous daughter, is the only one of the siblings who wants to keep the beautiful house and leave it to the next generation. Both Adrienne and Jérémie have jobs and lives that keep them both physically and emotionally distant from France. It is emotional distance that is at the heart of Assayas’ beautiful story.
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Theatrical Review: Hunger

Hunger
Director: Steve McQueen
Screenwriters: Enda Walsh and Steve McQueen
Producer: Laura Hastings-Smith and Robin Gutch
Cinematography: 
Sean Bobbitt BSC
Editor: Joe Walker
Music: David Holmes with Leo Abrahams
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham, Stuart Graham, Brian Milligan, Liam McMahon 
UK-Ireland, 2008, 96 minutes
The double meaning in this astonishing film’s title refers to both the hunger for food as well as for freedom. The prisoners in this factually-based and brutally realistic film are starved for both.
In 1981, during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the UK government was imprisoning IRA members but refusing to give them political prisoner status. As a result a group detained at the HM Prison Maze (aka Long Kesh), led by Bobby Sands, went on “blanket protest” which basically meant refusing prison uniforms. This led to them being exposed to almost unimaginably horrendous conditions and as well as to a series of violent repercussions.
The film, the first directed by British multi-media artist Steve McQueen, opens with a middle aged man beginning his day. Much of his initial behavior seems mundane; getting dressed and being served toast & tea by his wife. But then we see him soaking his bloodied and swollen knuckles in the bathroom sink; and, just before he drives off to work, he kneels down to look under his car for a bomb. This man turns out to be prison guard, Raymond Lohan (Stuart Graham). The film’s narrative is confusing at first; we assume that the story will be about this wounded individual. We also assume that he is carrying around fear, guilt and grief since he works in such a brutal environment. Surely he must feel ambivalent about his job.
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