Sunday, January 25, 2015

Natan (2013) New York Jewish Film Festival 2015

Portrait of Bernard Natan a forgotten innovator in film history

Natan was born in Romania and then moved to France where he got any job he could working in the movies. Before WW1 he was arrested for selling erotic films. His record was then expunged after service in the Great War. After which he helped to rebuild Pathe Studios in to a world wide power. However accusation of swindles and that he was making hardcore porn films caused him to fall from grace.

Solid portrait of a man any film lover should know but doesn't seeks to restore Natal's place in history.  The film's genesis seems to have its origin in trying to debunk the legends of Natal's porn career which seems unlikely since several of the films he is alleged to have starred in look very little like him.

As an hour look look at Natal's life this is a really good primer on someone I had never heard of (nor had the film students who attend school in his former studio). Its such an intriguing tale that I really would love to try and find a biography of Natan so that I can get more details on his life and times.

What an absolute gem of a film. This is why I lve going to film festivals, they open doors and show me films and people that under normal circumstances I would never have seen otherwise.

This is a must see for anyone who is interested in the history of film or anyone who wants see the story of an almost forgotten man who needs rediscovery.

The film plays twice on January 28th with How to Break into Yiddish Vaudeville. For more information and tickets go here.

(In the interest of full disclosure there are clips from the antique porn films which while relatively tame might get the film a hard R rating.)

Rest in Peace Joe Franklin

TV talk show host and raconteur Joe Franklin has died. If you've never seen his show you don't know what a loss this is. Below are the five tweets I sent out into the world after I heard of his passing.

Joe Franklin has died. The golden age of TV and film has become less bright in our memories

I need to write about Joe Franklin but words can't explain what he truly was or what he meant to the world- I'm serious here

Joe Franklin was the best and worst in a talk show host, be brought together old and new, never would-bes with has beens and made it work

The best way to know Joe Franklin would be to just sit and watch his show for week. You can only appreciate him by seeing him

Where everyone is claimed to be one of a kind-Joe Franklin really and truly was. There will never be another like him-its just not possible

If you have no clue who Franklin was here's Gilbert Gottfried talking to him.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Angels of the Revolution (2014) New York Jewish FilmFestival 2015

One of a kind film will enthrall some and confuse others as it tells the story of five Avant-gardists who make their way to a new city in the wilderness. They are looking to reconcile the Soviet ideas with those of the native people.

Part absurdist satire, part social commentary this is a look at what happens when very educated people clash with a native culture that wants no part of them. Set during the Kazym Rebellion (The press notes call it the Great Samoyedic War) the film reflects a portion of Soviet history where Communism was spreading outward, in this case into the wilds of Siberia. the natives wanted no part of the change and fought back. They held out for a brief period before Stalin sent in his troops and crushed them.

The film is at times very absurd as we see what the artists are doing and see how that clashes with real life, Its a a very literal representation of how the Soviets took their high minded ideas into the wilderness and forced them on the natives. The result was often rather silly. At first the natives are amused but as time goes things get violent.

This is a very good little film, though I'm not sure it will work for everyone. There is a knowingness to much if it that creates a bit of a distance. also some of the things that the artists do will come off as overly silly. As much as I liked the film I still wish that things had been played a little straighter, a little less formally.

On the other hand this was a welcome palette cleanse. Its a film that is very much not like every other film out there. Its a film that drew me in with its differences and its story of some history I never knew. I think it's a solid little film a definitely worth your time if you don't want the same old thing.

The film plays January 27th at Lincoln Center. For tickets  and more information go here.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Birdcage (1996) New York Jewish Film Festival

I was unsure if I should bother writing up The Birdcage for its run at the New York Jewish Film Festival. The problem was not so much that the film is bad, rather with the passing of Mike Nichols and Robin Williams the film was once more a high profile film as the film was used to highlight the careers of both men. Then again I decided that maybe a small piece would be in order and go with that.

The film is a remake of the semi classic French film La Cage aux Folles which spawned several sequels and a Broadway musical. The plot of the film has a happily entrenched gay couple (Robin Williams and Nathan Lane)in Miami beach getting word that their son is getting married. The trouble is that she is the daughter of an ultra-conservative politician (Gene Hackman) who hates gays. Deciding to make bow to convention for the son they love they decide to pretend to be straight with Nathan Lane pretending to be Williams’ wife. Of course it all goes sideways.

Its broad farce done so as to be very funny and deeply touching. Its so good that as I said it was trundled out in many areas as part of tribute screenings for the late Robin Williams and Mike Nichols. If you’ve never seen it you really should make an effort to do so. If you have seen it why not see it again.

For more information and tickets on the screening go here.

It's Such a Beautiful Day (2012)

Don Hertzfeldt's latest short film, World of Tomorrow, debuted at Sundance last night, and it was recently announced he's working on a new feature film called Antarctica for Snoot Entertainment. Since January's been a month full of shorts here at Unseen, this just seems like an opportune time to look at Hertzfeldt's ambitious masterpiece It's Such a Beautiful Day.

The 62-minute film is comprised of three shorts: Everything Will Be OK (2006), I Am So Proud of You (2008), and It's Such a Beautiful Day (2011). Each short chronicles the life of Bill, a man suffering from a degenerative mental condition that changes his view of reality and causes lapses in memory. During I Am So Proud of You, we see a family history of mental illness on Bill's mother's side, which bounces between morbidity, sadness, absurdity, and such vulnerable human beauty. And it's funny too. What helps so much with this blend of tones is Hertzfeldt's narration, which is filled with a soothing and even-keeled care for Bill. It's a kind voice rather than a mocking one, and while there are hints of a smile in some lines, none of it is ever cruel.

But the narration is just a part of the whole. What makes the films that comprise It's Such a Beautiful Day so noteworthy is how Hertzfeldt fragments his imagery. Rather than fill the whole screen, Hertzfeldt uses sections of the screen to tell the story, with images and ideas played in irises and quarters and eighths of the frame. Moments in time occur simultaneously, and the sound design accounts for the jumble of visual information to create a kind of aural soup. It's a fascinating experiment in simulating Bill's mental state. Occasionally images will take up the whole screen when they are of special significance, or there will be a kind of focal stillness in which a single point in the frame--often one occupied by Bill--allows viewers to observe other points in the frame relative to the other. It's a game of seeing and noticing and appreciating what's happening between images and in images.

Hertzfeldt works predominantly with stick figures, and yet he captures so much human emotion in these little guys. Sure, there are animated photos and some video involved in much of the film and used to startling effect--more fascinating is that many of these multi-media effects were achieved in camera--but the strength of Hertzfeldt's art is finding the little details that say so much. The shape of the eyes and the angle/position of a mouth take on such an uncanny humanness. The ovular eyes and the little tilt up of a mouth is a pleasantly surprised smile, no need for the obvious parenthetical mouths in an emoticon. Similarly, Hertzfeldt identifies an odd sadness in just a few choice strands of hair or a little curve under an eye or the slope and posture of one of his characters. He'll marry the image to a line in narration--an observation, an idea, an aside--and both get anchored in the brain and cause a little catch in the throat and tug at the heart.

In Hertzfeldt's landmark short Rejected (2000), the writing was off-the-wall absurd and quotable. Lines from Rejected still jump out at me (most notably "My anus is bleeding!", and yes, it's hilarious). In It's Such a Beautiful Day, there are still quotable lines, though what's said and what a viewer reads off the screen has more of a devastating effect. If Rejected embodied the glorious oddness of artistic frustration, It's Such a Beautiful Day finds ways to express how wonderful life is and how unfortunate it is to lose it, especially when slowly, and especially when unstoppably.

It can hurt to be alive, and getting older really drives that pain home. Bill's days are so mundane and so lonely, and things can seem so plain sometimes. But life is also wonderful, and it's a shame that it has to end and that we spend so long worrying about how it will end. At a certain point, Bill, his mind going, takes a walk. He takes plenty, actually. but during one walk in particular, he suddenly notices what he's missing out on. All those splendors. He wants others to notice them, but they don't because they have the privilege of inattentiveness. It's one of many times during It's Such a Beautiful Day where Hertzfeldt is so earnest in what he's attempting to say. In lesser hands the whole idea would be saccharine, but in his, it's so achingly human.

Naked City (1948) New York Jewish Film Festival

Running as part of the new York Jewish Film Festival’s side bar Noir and the City, The Naked City is one of the first large budget Hollywood films to shoot almost entirely on location since the film industry moved out west.

The film is structured as a portrait of New York City with the through line being the investigation of a murder. A young woman is found dead in bath tub and the case grips the city. Meanwhile detective Berry Fitzgerald and his partners try to run down what happened and why. All along the way we are treated to wonderful shots of New York not long after the second world war.

Full confession-until I sat down to watch the film for inclusion in the NYJFF coverage  I had never seen the film from start to finish. I thought I had but I was wrong.

How is it?

It’s a good film that is ultimately more of interest for what it spawned rather than for what it is. As a film unto itself it’s a good and reasonably gripping film. In a weird way I understand why the film wasn’t a big hit either critically or financially. It’s not

The film itself, a police procedural of the sort that has been a staple of TV for decades is a good little drama, but it’s nothing special. Any uniqueness has worn away thanks to the decades of being copied. The mere fact that the film feels been there and done that speaks volumes about its influence. Everyone copied the film.

The film was also influential in its location shooting. Pretty much every scenes was filmed on location and it shows. The film feels real. Even now some 65 years later some of the stores and landmarks are still there. Even when you go to new stores now the old signs are there as well. Watching the film I kept going “I know where that is” simply because of the store fronts. Its very cool for an old New York junkie like me.

The on location shooting opened things up for filmmakers. People really could shoot on the streets. While its clear from some of the crowds that they didn’t lick the on looker problem the film did show it could be done. And yes it had been done on smaller scale previously, a shot here or there or by independents (say the film C Man).

If you want to see New York as it was or a good film that was wildly influential in any number of ways get down the Lincoln Center when the film Plays at the New York Jewish Film Festival.

The film runs on the 24th. For tickets and more information go here.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Let's Go! (2014) New York Jewish Film Festival

Michael Verhoeven adapts Laura Waco's autobiographical novel set in 1968 about a young woman returning to her parents home in the wake of her father's death and sister's catastrophic injury in an accident. She is forced by the tragedies around her to come to terms with her Jewish heritage and ponder how it was that her parents survived the Second World War and why they remained in Germany after the war.

Prickly film is going to beloved by some and hated by others.The trouble is not to do with the subject matter, which is deftly handled and extremely thought provoking,the problem is that many of the characters are not easy to like,  Laura is a bit too closed up to truly connect to and her mother can be a bitch on wheels completely unable to show affection and keeping those who lover and, and whom she loves as well distant. As Laura says her mother never hugged her.

The prickliness of the characters while realistic, makes it hard to get a foothold into the film. I spent a great deal of time on the outside looking in. While I liked the look at post war Germany I really wished I had more likable tour guides.

Don't get me wrong I like the film, intellectually I think it's very good, I just never connected to it emotionally. Despite my reservations I think its a film that you should try if you find the subject of interest.

For more information and tickets go to the film's festival web page.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Forbidden Films (2014) New York Jewish Film Festival

Felix Moeller's look at the largely still banned films from Nazi Germany is a film I'm very mixed about. While I applaud his making a film that will start discussions, I am bothered by how much he leaves out, worse I intensely dislike that the film largely is operating in a kind of vacuum where the films discussed have no connection or no counterparts anywhere or any when else.

Broken into sections  as to the type of films  Moeller's film looks at some of the 40 films (once 300) banned after the Second World War in Germany (though that isn't made clear the film simply says the films are banned). The film mixes talking heads of scholars, film historians and a Neo Nazi recruiter with clips and discussions of the films following screenings to ponder whether these films should be banned and what effect releasing them on the public would have.

While the subject is intriguing  the film is deeply deeply flawed in it's execution. The problems begin early on when the film throws up stats to show the power and popularity of the the films by comparing movie viewership numbers from the war years to modern day viewer ship. There were ten times more viewers for a film such as THE GREAT LOVE as opposed to AVATAR the film trumpets,but fails to explain the film going habits of Germans (there was no TV or internet), or what THE GREAT LOVE is.

The second problem with the film is that it never really explains what any of the films we are seeing are. It simply cherry picks moments from the films to illustrate the point that they are propaganda but they don't tell us anything beyond that. Much talk is made about Emil Jennings UNCLE KRUGER project and how it's propaganda but what exactly is it? We're not told. This is especially troubling since the project was supposed to have been following the actor around as viable subject going back to Hollywood days.

While it's understandable that the Neo Nazi recruiter is in shadow his sequences kind of become laughable  with his talk bout using the films to turn kids into Nazi's. While what he says is probably right on (he warns that banning the films make them seductive to kids who think there must be truth in them if they are hidden) but the presentation had me chuckling the more he was shown.

The most damning thing against the film is that the film largely operates in a vacuum, There is no effort connect the films similar portrayals of ideas in Hollywood or elsewhere. The rah rah pro-Nazi/antisemitic stance of some of the films is troubling but there is no effort try and explain why parallels with some Hollywood propaganda is okay or at least less troubling.

What bothers me is the film makes an effort to show one guy after after JUDE SUSS screening say that the stereotypes in the film are used elsewhere even today against Arabs who are portrayed as terrorists and then does no follow up. Why raise the issue if you're going to do nothing about it? There in lies my problem with the film, we are looking at the dangers of Nazi propaganda but what of our own? Its never addressed-and it should have been.

I'm at a loss to fully comprehend what the point of the film is. That these films exist? Okay. That they are banned? And what? I don't know.

I do understand the fear that a handful of the films, THE ETERNAL JEW, JUDE SUSS and one or two others could pose if they are not given context, but some of the entertainment films covered have me scratching my head, I've seen a number of them and others and other then the settings and or references from the time  and place when they were made I see nothing wrong with them. There is nothing really wrong with them other especially if you take a look at them in context to some of the films coming out of Hollywood.

I'm disappointed. This could have been a film that really put it all into context, but its too myopic to really amount to much. While it got me ranting and raving, which is something, I still feel as though I've wasted my time and that therehave to better explorations of the subject out there.

For more information and tickets fo to the film's festival page here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Manny (2014)

This look at champion boxer Manny Paquiao is a solid film

The film nicely tells the story of Manny from days growing up in poverty to the climbing to the top of the boxing world and a congressman. The film has interviews with all of the right people who tell all the right stories. We are nicely drawn into Manny's life and world

I am a big boxing fan. I will watch a match where and when I can find it. While I am not the best with names- I'm best if I've seen some one on HBO, Showtime or ESPN, I am well aware of the prowess of the great Manny Paquiao. To be perfectly honest I have been a fan of Manny's since I first saw him back however many years ago. To that end I was aware of a good chunk of his story however MANNY filled in some of the holes I had in my knowledge of things Paquiao.  Its a film that provides a lot of details that even a serious fan may not know. I for example didn't know a great deal about his early days boxing by saying he was an older fighter.

Filled with lots of fight footage as well as interviews the film mostly keeps the balance between the talk and the action.

If the film has any flaws its that the film some times cross the line from fair documentary into hagiography with the narration and the occasion image making Manny seem like he's too perfect a guy.

Recommended for anyone interested in Manny or the sport of boxing.

The film opens Friday inn select theaters and on VOD

Battle of Algiers (1966) New York Jewish Film Festival

Banned off and on since it's release by a variety of governments The Battle of Algiers is one of the great treasures of cinema that you'll end up watching over and over again simply because its a great thriller.  That the New York Jewish Film Festival is running it as part of their War Against War sidebar is a treat since it's a chance to see the film on the big screen the way it should be seen.

The film is the story of the Algerian uprising  in the late 1950's that eventually led to the countries freedom from France. the focuses on a group of freedom fighters over the course of several years.

I don't know how much I should say abut the film.  I don't know how much needs to be said. For me the film is just a great thriller/war film.The fact that the film pissed off the French and is feared by some people in various governments who see it as a blueprint for revolution only adds to the films mystique.

Actually I think the key point about the film is that it really is a good film. Its a film that once you see it, once you get past all of the  pretentious bullshit about the film being a classic... being one of the greatest films of all time... basically once you kick the pedestal out from under it you realize that its a good film. Its actually one of the few films on the supposed all time great films that I'd just put it on for the hell of it. I watch it because I want to munch popcorn while watching a ripping good yarn not because I want a "great" film.

If you've never seen it go see it

If you've only seen it on the small screen go see it big

If you've seen it big go see it again

This film kicks butt

For tickets and more information go to the film's festival page.

Monday, January 19, 2015

By The Gun (2014)

This is just a small little review in passing. I had been given a chance to review BY THE GUN by the PR people but took a pass. It didn’t really interest me. However I ended up seeing it anyway and because the film comes out tomorrow on DVD I thought I’d say something.

The film is the story of an up and coming mafia soldier who begins to get in over his head. When his cousin has a run in with the daughter of a big fish Mafioso at a bar the situation escalates quickly. Stepping into help his cousin, Nick, our hero finds he has to make amends all around, a situation made worse when he realizes just how big a dick the big fish is (granted no one likes him, but he makes money so he gets deference)

Well-acted, well-made mafia story isn’t bad as these things go but it suffers in two areas, first this really isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. This is the sort of story that we’ve seen before which is going to make it a tough sell to the only audience who is going to be interested in it, hardcore crime film fans. Why watch something that plays out like something we’ve seen before.

The other problem is the film is paced a tad too slow. There are some good character building scenes in the first half hour, but outside of the scene where Nick tries to apologize to the dicky gangster in a speedo there isn’t much here and I started to surf the web. (and frankly the bad guy is too clearly drawn as a bad guy). I did make to the end of the movie but I’ll be damned if I can tell you what happened.

If you are a hardcore mafia movie fan give it a shot, otherwise wait until it hits cable

Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People (1963) Dark Side of the Sun John Zorn on Japanese Cinema

I owe an apology to the Japan Society.

We had been planning on covering the entire run of the John Zorn residency called Dark Side of the Sun John Zorn on Japanese Cinema but things got away from us after the initial screening. I even had a spy at the screenings of Crossroads,and Top Stripper but the pieces that I had hoped for ended up getting dissipated in long conversations about the film and differing versions.

However I’m going to try and rectify the problem by reporting on the final two selections Matango or Attack of the Mushroom People this month and a collection of Osamu Tezuka short films next month.

If you’ve never seen Matango  people you have to. Seriously no lover of film should go through their life without having seen it. It’s a singular work of cinematic art made by Ishiro Honda who probably had no clue what he was doing or how it was going to seem fifty years on.

The plot has a bunch of peopl shipwrecked on an island. Struggling to survive they run into problems with the mushrooms on island which seem to turn anyone who eats them into a giant walking fungus.

Trust me it gets even weirder

Based on Story by William Hope Hodgeson, the greatest horror writer you’ve never heard of, this is a bleak black story that can be read any of a number of ways. I have read any number of pieces on the film and everyone has mentioned the various ways the film can be read, and each threw in their own twist. The two reads of the film that most people take is as either n anti-drug film or as a look at the outsider’s place in society. I have no idea which is right or wrong.

I’m equally unsure if the film is a satire or a straight on horror/science fiction film. Admittedly uncertainty is due to the dubbing that the film was saddled with for its US release (according to Wikipedia the film may never played US theaters only TV-except perhaps Japanese language theaters on the west coast). It the typical job that most Godzilla films got and resulted in the films instantly being seen a crap by a lot of people. Seeing the film in the original Japanese the film is decidedly creepier than it plays dubbed but there are some moments where you can’t help but chuckle even as you’re wincing at the horror of it all.

I’m a huge fan of the film. Not because it’s a great film, I don’t know what I really think of the film itself, rather because the film forces you to react to it. Watching it you feel something. You aren’t passive, the film doesn’t wash over you, it kicks you in the shins and makes you consider it not only what it’s doing but also how you feel about it. Few films ever force you to engage with it the way this film does.(hell few films force to to engage at all). Good bad or indifferent odds are once you get to the end you’ll be like “what the hell was that?”

I don’t know, and I’ve seen it at least a dozen times over the years.

The film plays Friday the 23rd at the Japan Society. Go see it. For tickets and more information go here.

The Zionist Idea (2014) New York Jewish Film Festival 2015

Because the film is world premiering at the New York Jewish Film festival I went into THE ZIONIST IDEA unsure of what I was going to get. Here was 160 minute examination of Zionism,  what was the track that the film going to take? Would it be a true examination of the subject with a look at all sides or would it be a purely one-sided take on a very complex subject? The thought of a one sided affair scared me, Zionism is too complex a subject with too many related issues for an honest film not to take them head on.

I needn't have worried. THE ZIONIST IDEA deals with all of the issues making it one of the first great films of 2015.

The film is a thought provoking at the history of Zionism from the it's creation through today. It wonderfully lays out where the idea of Zionism came from and how it evolved,  While the exiled Jews were always looked down upon the notion of re-founding Israel seemed out of reach since it was thought that it couldn't be done until the Messiah came. The trouble was that in the late 19th century as many people began to think nationalistically, a move that would ultimately break up the  massive empires of Europe, the Jews were with out a country, they had no where to go. Worse even when they tried to assimilate things didn't always work out. It wasn't until Theodore Herzel began to argue that a return to Israel was possible that idea really took hold.

THE ZIONIST IDEA deals with all of the history as well as the very real problem of Palestine and the Palestinians who live and lived in the land where Israel was and is. The problem of Palestine being the home people other than Jews was raised all the way back to one of the first Zionist Congresses which sent a delegation to see if a country of several million Jews would be possible, They found it would be possible but unfortunately the land was already occupied. That the issue is dealt with and the debate with in and without the Jewish and Israeli community is addressed gives this film lots of points in my book.

This film knocked my socks off and I went in not expecting to like it, to knowing that I was going to have to make time to see the film a second or third time to really be able to digest and discuss it with a modicum intelligence.

This film is a must see. Not only for Jews, but for non-Jews and even those who have issues with the existence of Israel. While I'm sure you all know the history of the country and the ideas that lead to its founding, but at the same time you haven't seen it laid out like this.  This is really cool and will get you thinking.

Highly recommended when the film plays on the 22nd and 26th. For tickets and more information go here.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Nightcap 1/18/15 Hubert on the SELMA controversy, random awards thoughts, Patrick Stewart in MATCH and Randi's links

Before I get into anything tonight if you have any interest in the SELMA and the Oscar controversy you MUST go read Hubert's piece at Ruby Hornet on what really happened and why the charges of racism are misplaced (Its the result of bad timing by their PR people). The piece  can be found here and is vital reading.

And if you want to know my thoughts on the film my review went up last night and can be found here.
The awards season is upon us once more and I don’t really care.

Forgive me most of the awards really don’t matter much. The films and performances aren’t really the best of the best, but more the best tht can be agreed upon, or more to the point the best of the lot that the studios have pushed in front of us. They really aren’t the best.

Even the acting awards aren’t the best because if they were Seizô Fukumoto in UZUMASA LIMELIGHT would be competing with Eddie Rouse in RAT PACK RAT for best actor and all of the nominees that are front and center (short of JK Simmons in WHIPLASH) wouldn’t be in any real discussion.

Most of the awards exist for parties to happen and for the studios to be able to flog their wares by saying the films won this or that award.

A case in point is the Golden Globes, why does anyone care. Its hand full of people picking films so they can have a party. Some where a decade or two or three back someone latched on to the Golden Globes as an award and used it as promotion and suddenly the floodgate opened as if that award mattered. What the public never knew was that for years the award was a joke where winners were not picked on the merits of the film but who would show up to the party. Hell the award could be bought, as happened with Pia Zadora and BUTTERFLY in 1980. Yes they cleaned up their act , but the award doesn’t mean much really-except to the PR people.

I have little real use for the Golden Globes since they frequently turn out a WTF moment like HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 for best animated film. (Really?)

I’m kind of like that with the Oscars as well. Yes they mean more than the Globes but much of it is still PR. Its not truly the best of the year but which films/performances got the most hype. It’s so bad with the hype that more often than not things are pretty much set way in advance with the winners being the ones that the PR people have positioned to take the gold. (See Hubert's piece mentioned above about the importance of PR)

The real problem with the awards is that most people who pick don’t see that many films. I recently saw a piece on a UK film site which had one of their critics trumpeting that they had seen 150 films that year and how they managed to do it.

150? Really?

I saw 150 films between Tribeca, NYFF and The New York International Film festival last year. Most film fans I know see what averages out to be at least a film a day and more frequently more. Most of the film writers I follow or consider friends do at least the film a day thing. Most regular people I know don’t see even a fraction of that. What they do see tends to be the big films and the films with the PR push- they don't see the small films or the imports or the stuff the busier film fans see (hence no UZAMASA LIMELIGHT.)

Ultimately the awards are just waiting to see who had the better PR people.
Okay- full disclosure- I wrote all of that the day before the Oscar nominations for this year were announced- and despite the Oscar Nominations shaking me out of my complacency I still believe all of that. However occasionally the Oscars get it right and wrong and shake things up.

THE DAM KEEPER got a best animated short nom and I’m bouncing. It was on my best of the best 2014 list and it remains a stunning piece of storytelling.

I’m thrilled GKIDS PRINCESS KAGUYA and SONG OF THE SEA got nominated. I expected one to make the cut (Princess actually) but I never expected both. I’m also shocked that THE LEGO MOVIE missed the cut. WHile I liked the film I know many people who loved it and it seemd that it was a lock. I have no idea what’s going to win this category

The Documentary Features has me gob smacked- While I’m thrilled LIFE ITSELF missed the cut (its good but not that good) the other choices are a mix of yea and are you kidding. I do love SALT OF THE EARTH and I still think VIRUNGA is a mess. I think CITIZEN FOUR will get the Oscar, more for what Snowden did than for it being any sort of great film.
I saw the film MATCH earlier today. The film stars Patrick Stewart as dance teacher who is interviewed by a young couple. The interview is a cover, the couple has another reason to be there.

Stagey and stage-bound soap opera looks clunky as a movie. This is a play not a film, and a weak play at that. To be honest the only reason the film should be seen is Stewart's excellent performance. A disappointment.

To be honest the film isn't strong enough either good or bad to really be mentioned here at Unseen But I'm mentioning it because this was one of the films I really wanted to see at Tribeca last year and I would have reviewed it then had I managed to schedule it in.
And as always we're ending with Randi's links:

Patton Oswalt and Wil Wheaton talk
Child extras used to create forced perspective
Questions on SELMA'saccuracy
Stunning Libraries
Animated QI trivia GIFs
How WATERSHIP DOWN came to be
North Korea's film stars
Production stills from 2001
2001 on Howard Johnson's Menu's
Mark Hamill Changed My Life
Eyeball Tattoos
Free thinking on the Oscar Noms
New York 1935-8

King of Nerac (2015) New York Jewish Film Festival 2015

Portrait of David Breurer-Weil an art dealer who turned into an artist is a stunning look at art and the creative process. Directors Guy Natanel and Annie Sulzberger follow Breuer-Weil over two years as he paints, installs sculpture and contemplates life and art.

I think the best way to describe this film is WOW.

This is a fantastic look at an artist and creativity. Its a glorious film that over whelms the eye, the heart and the mind. Its a film that is a work of art in it's own right.

One of the real joys of the film is the craft of filmmaking. Beautifully marrying image, with Bruer-Weil's words, with music with the art this film creates a marvelous head space and soul space where art and creativity filters off the screen and into the viewer. The gulf between  film and filmmaker  disappears as the large than life images created by Bruer-Weil fill the screen and forces us to become one with the art and the artist.

I don't know what to say Words kind of fail me.  This is one of the best films on art and creation that I've seen. And while I could probably pick portions of the film apart, the magic the film creates over the course of it's 80 minutes is so great that it wipes away anything that I could say about the flaws.

A must see film that may end up on my end of year lists

The filmplays January 20 and 21st at Lincoln Center. For tickets and more information go to the films festival page.