The Blanchett sequence borrows generously from Fellini, specifically Otto e’ Mezza (8 1/2), and in there might lay my chief problem with I’m Not There. I adore Fellini. He’s one of my favorite auteurs. Fellini (along with Bergman) was able to concoct his own personal vision hatched from his lunatic/genius head, put it onscreen and, somehow, it was miraculously accessible--most of the time. Haynes’ film is most definitely personal, almost too personal—somewhat impossible to penetrate. He has distilled his own Dylan from all his research and all his love. So it feels like it’s exclusively Haynes’ Dylan—and not one we can embrace or even understand. Yet, perhaps that is the point. Perhaps it’s okay for this film to be a trip into the mind of Haynes via Dylan (instead of vice versa). I’m truly not certain. Perhaps after repeated viewings I will come to totally embrace the pic…or loathe it.
What does work, works supremely well. Heath Ledger is quite powerful and his scenes with Charlotte Gainsbourg are wonderful to watch. And there are many sequences that astound (specifically one that involves Allen Ginsberg and Jesus Christ—I will say no more). The Gere scenes are less enthralling and that has less to do with the actor than with the fact that those moments never meld with the rest of the film.
But as soon as Cate Blanchett blasts onto the screen as the freaky, androgynous Dylan the movie takes off to tremendously joyous heights. Blanchett has proven that there isn’t much she can’t do. From Elizabeth onward, she has shown her versatility and her bravery in making choices. No one else in her peer group (with the possible exception of Kate Winslet) can come close to her remarkable body of work these last ten years.
Her Jude isn’t so much an impersonation—although she is the closest to a real Dylan that we get (whatever that means), it’s an exhilarating immersion into Haynes’ most richly written ‘subject.’ Blanchett’s scenes are what one remembers most after the credits roll and the lights come up.
I love the film’s theme of identity, certainly something that all artists (all people probably) struggle with. Haynes puts forth the notion that ultimate freedom is escaping the pigeonholing and being able to reinvent yourself as you go through different life cycles. (Jane Fonda is a great example of an artist who has metamorphosed more than most and has always fascinated with her next incarnation.) And why not? Isn’t that what a realized life should be? Constantly searching for answers to that eternal ‘why am I here’ question?
I came to this film as someone who appreciates Dylan--the power of his music. I wouldn’t call myself a fan. The film made me crave more. So I went right out and picked up the four-hour Scorsese documentary and I bought a few Dylan CDs. I am very happy I did. If the film does the same for others, then maybe we’ll all develop our own visions/notions of Bob Dylan and who he is…who he needs to be…to us--individually.
Opens December 25, 2007
Reviewed by Corey Shtasel-Gottlieb
There is a movie each year, it seems, that emerges quietly and suddenly to touch audiences with its unassuming charm. Such a film works by repackaging the depressing and the mundane into a product that allows us to laugh at ourselves—to find humor where sadness typically lives. In 2007, that movie is Juno. Witty, ballsy writing and an endearing cast allow Juno to function successfully as both biting and adorable. A story of real substance emerges from behind the curtain of the prototypical dark comedy, producing a final product that is raw and hilarious and true to life. It may not be the year’s best picture, but Juno will be remembered as the sleeper film that took 2007 by surprise.
Set on a definitively Minnesotan middle class landscape, Juno tells the story of Juno Macguff (Ellen Page), a high school sophomore who finds herself pregnant after a one-night romp with best friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). Spooked by a less than comforting trip to the abortion clinic, Juno decides to give her baby up for adoption. Her awkwardly evolving relationship with the adoptive parents-to-be (played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) is painfully humorous, as she belly-flops gracelessly into their white-bread lifestyle. Such is the way in which she approaches each of pregnancy’s seemingly fragile obstacles, trampling over maternity outfits and ultrasounds like a bull in a china shop. At face value, Juno may be the picture of inelegance, but in truth she is just the opposite: super witty and free-spirited, she exudes a depth of confidence that is admirable, even shocking, for a person in her situation. She embraces her role as the elephant-in-the-room with a self-deprecating sincerity that renders her deeply lovable. The core of the film’s success resides in screenwriter Diablo Cody’s development of such a character.
Embedded within the story of Juno’s pregnancy is her relationship with Paulie Bleeker, the film’s ultimate boy-next-door. Bleeker is Juno’s soft spot. A goofy gold headband and tiny track shorts uniform his innocent dorkiness; his quiet sensitivity clashes with typical depictions of teenage fathers. Like Juno, he appears to appreciate his own awkwardness for what it is, though his admission at the film’s end that “Actually, I try really hard” makes clear that he is a bit less secure. Nevertheless, his lack of cynicism is disarming, and melds almost seamlessly with Juno’s no-bullshit approach. The love story into which the film ultimately evolves is a product of this dynamic—it is untraditional, perhaps unrealistic, but mostly just, well, sweet.
The strength of Juno’s storyline is complemented by first-rate acting on all cylinders. Ellen Page makes the movie. She is so fully entrenched in this role, so believable, that I find it difficult to believe that she is not Juno Macguff in real life. This is, without question, her coming out party, a performance that should be awarded with her first Oscar nomination. Cera is good, too. Although he doesn’t deviate much from his soft-spoken Superbad shtick, he is perfect for the part. It is the supporting acting, though, that elevates Juno to next-level quality. J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney are excellent as Juno’s father and stepmother, and not merely from a comedic perspective; both portray a depth of emotion that gives credence to the notion of parents as actual people. The same is true of Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner, whose stereotypical yuppyness melts to reveal a real, struggling couple at movie’s end. These are the types of performances that will provide Juno the same warm reception that made Little Miss Sunshine a hit in 2006.
In one of the strongest years for film in recent memory, Juno stands out among 2007’s brightest. Smart, funny, and original, it infuses something dark and taboo with genuine warmth. It is a must-see.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Opens Friday, March 7, 2008
Starring: Amy Adams as Delysia Lafosse; Shirley Henderson as Edythe Dubarry; Ciarán Hinds as Joe; Frances McDormand as Miss Pettigrew; Lee Pace as Michael; Tom Payne as Phil Goldman; Mark Strong as Nick.
Reviewed by Wendy R. Williams
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a frothy confection of a film; farcical and fun, it is the perfect chick flick. The film is advertised as a fairy tale for grown ups and it certaunly fulfills its advertised promise.
Here is a quote from the press release: “In 1939 London, Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) is a middle-aged governess who finds herself once again unfairly dismissed from her job. Without so much as severance pay, Miss Pettigrew realizes that she must – for the first time in two decades – seize the day. This she does, by intercepting an employment assignment outside of her comfort level – as “social secretary.” Arriving at a penthouse apartment for the interview, Miss Pettigrew is catapulted into the glamorous world and dizzying social whirl of an American actress and singer, Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams).”
Delysia has a complicated love life, three love lifes to be precise. When Miss Pettigrew arrives at Delysia’s stunning penthouse apartment, one of the love lifes is still asleep upstairs, Phil Goldman (Tom Payne). Phil is the son of a theatrical producer and has the power (maybe) to cast Delysia in his father’s new musical. But career benefits aside, he must get out of bed because Delysia is late for a lingerie show. And as a further complication, Delysia's boss at the nightclub where she sings, Nick (Mark Strong), is about to arrive and Nick would also like to spend some time in the presently occupied upstairs bed.
So Delysia is
desperately in need of the services of a sensible
English governess. And Miss Pettigrew, in all
her frumpy glory, jumps right in. She removes
lingerie from the chandelier, stuffs clothing
under the bear skin rug and dispenses sensible
advice. And advice is needed for it seems that
Delysia has yet another love interest, Nick (Lee
Pace), the piano player at the nightclubs where
Delysia works. Delysia truly loves Nick, but of
all three men, Nick can do the least for her career.
Miss Pettigrew quickly dispenses with all three men and Delysia and Miss Pettirgrew leave for the lingerie show.
The lingerie show is a frothy delight, a pink bonbon for the eyes. At the lingerie show, Miss Pettigrew is introduced to Delysia’s friend, Edythe (Shirley Henderson), a brittle and sophisticated shop owner. Miss Pettigrew also meets Edythe cuckolded fiancée, Joe (Ciarán Hinds), an honest wholesome sort of man who was drawn into the smart set when he left the sock business to become a lingerie designer. Miss Pettigrew is attracted to Joe because she can see beneath his worldly exterior to view the decent man Joe really is.
So the die is
cast, the players are on the stage. Just who will
Delysia choose? Will Edythe be able to draw Joe
back into her web? Will Miss Pettigrew ever get
something to eat and will someone please do something
about her hair?
Miss Pettigrew is set in a world that is about to drastically change. Indeed, we see the outlines of the first German bombers flying over the English sky. And in the world, all is not exactly as it seems for Miss Pettigrew and Delysia have one secret in common – what they do in any one day can truly throw them into the poor house the next day.
The cast in Miss Pettigrew all give wonderful performances: Amy Adams is utterly "Enchanting" as Delysia; Frances McDormand embodies goodness under extreme stress; Shirley Henderson delights as Edythe Dubarry, the evil witch of this fairy tale; Ciarán Hinds as Joe delivers the same rock-solid performance that has made him Ciarán Hinds. And the male love interests are all delightful in their own ways: Tom Payne plays an adorably vain Phil; Mark Strong is sexually exciting as the venal and menacing Nick; and Lee Pace, with his soulful eyes, makes the audience totally forget what our mothers told us about not dating musicians.
Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi's
Opens Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Reviewed by Julia Sirmons
A film about angst and rebellion under the thumb of an oppressive Islamist regime may, at first glance, seem like unlikely holiday movie-going fare. Nevertheless, tales of the resiliency of the human spirit and the triumph of rebellion and dignity in the most of trying of political circumstances are very much in keeping with the greatest story every told. With that in mind, there's no better way to keep the seasonal joie de vivre going than by checking out Persepolis, the visually arresting, earthy and affecting animated film adapted form Iranian author Marjane Satrapi's intensely personal graphic novels.
The film's narrative spans the course of both books; beginning with the young Marjane witnessing the fall of the Shah and the rise of the Islamist revolution, following her to school in Vienna then back home to Tehran and finally off to Paris to begin a new life as an artist.
As graphically striking as Satrapi's print illustrations are, the live animation gives the story a new vitality and depth. Shaded entirely in blacks, whites, and greys, the illustrations and images manage to convey a wide variety of emotions: the warm and homey feel of Marjane's close-knit family, the eerie and magical depictions of young Marjane's fantasy world, the traditional Persian aesthetic of the segments that explain Iranian history, the neo-noir punk feel of Marjane's sojourn in Vienna, and the bleak, ominous look of the scenes of political protest and rebellion. The visual complexity of Persepolis is truly dazzling; it looks unlike any film you've ever seen.
As much as the narrative of Persepolis is inexorably entwined with the history of modern Iran, it really is a much more universal story – that of a smart, tough, rebellious girl struggling to come into her own when all the weight of circumstance and society are fighting against her. One of the great delights of seeing the story on celluloid is that the character of Marjane (voiced by Gabrielle Lopes Benites as a girl and by Chiara Mastroianni as a teenager and adult) really comes to life. To see the character develop from a fearless kung-fu-loving young badass to a moody and an outraged teen and finally a defiant, self-confident woman is heartrendingly real. The superb cast of powerful, memorable characters is rounded off by Marjane's formidable and supportive parents (voiced Simon Akbarian and Mastroianni's real-life mother, Catherine Deneuve), and her doting but gutsy grandma (the incomparable Danielle Darrieux).
In this day and age, when oppressive regimes stamp out personal freedoms across the globe, Persepolis is an empowering call to arms; a strong reminder that the human desire for liberty can thrive under the most difficult circumstances. A more inspiring Christmas message would be difficult to find.
Shine a Light
Opens Friday, April 4, 2008
Reviewed by Frank J. Avella
Are the Rolling Stones the greatest Rock ‘n Roll band in the world? It depends on your definition of great and the criteria you use for deciding such ridiculous, but fun, things. If sheer force, courage, stamina, potency, longevity and true musical talent top your list of evaluation standards, then perhaps they are. If you agree that they happen to be the only group to have had such a massive influence on music and culture decade after decade after decade after decade…after decade, then they certainly are.
Martin Scorsese’s mesmerizing concert film, Shine a Light, does exactly that: capturing the Stones up close, intimately and pretty personal. Scorsese does the job by simply filming them doing what they do best, what they’ve always done best: perform. He also, intermittently, sprinkles old newsreel footage into the movie to great effect.
Scorsese is no stranger to concert films, having shot the extraordinary final performance by The Band, The Last Waltz in 1978, and, just recently, helming the documentary, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan.
Shine a Light began as an idea that Mick Jagger had knowing they were about to play their biggest concert yet in Rio de Janiero, as part of their Bigger Bang tour. He and Richards decided they wanted Scorsese to direct (Mick: “It’s good to start at the top.” Richards: “I have studied every one of his films.”) Scorsese loved the idea, but decided a more intimate venue would best serve his vision. After a little coaxing, he convinced Mick that the Beacon Theatre in New York City was the perfect place.
Scorsese gathered some of the best cinematographers working today. Under the supervision of Academy Award winning genius Robert Richardson (JFK), the group included a slew of other Oscar winners: John Toll (Braveheart); Robert Elswit (There Will Be Blood); Andrew Lesnie (Lord of the Rings Trilogy) as well as Albert Maysles, who shot the now infamous Gimme Shelter in 1969.
The endeavor has resulted in a hypnotic and captivating film that stands as a terrific concert as well as a stunning motion picture. Scorsese captures the group’s vitality and energy (Jagger is still more dynamic than most 18 year olds!), yet we see glimpses of the aging process taking it’s toll (Keith Richards ravaged face is forever sexy, but also scary). What we also experience is a band devoted to their passion. The songs and the performances rule the day.
The set includes most of their best work. (I did miss “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “Out of Time” but you can’t have everything). Mick’s attitudinal strut is on display with a vengeance as is his powerful bluesy vocals on the best of the best, specifically: “Shattered;” “Far Away Eyes;” “Tumbling Dice,” “Brown Sugar,” “Satisfaction” and, the classic rocker, “Sympathy for the Devil.”
One of the first songs Jagger and Richards wrote together is the haunting “As Tears Go By” and they perform it with a poignancy and intensity that sent chills down my spine. A dynamic and underrated cut, ‘She Was Hot’ provided a major high in an evening filled with highs.
I was a bit disappointed that political correctness took over on the “Some Girls” vocal and a certain highly-controversial lyric went unsung, but such are the censorial times we’re all living in.
Special guests include: Jack White; Christina Aguilera and Presidential rock star Bill Clinton, who introduces the band.
One of the wonders of Shine a Light is how Scorsese (as well as the Stones) never tries to tell us that we are seeing genius at work (and play). The film does not reek of self-importance. In fact, Scorsese takes a very self-reflexive tone pre-concert which results in some moments of genuine hilarity. And once the concert begins, the director is all but out of the picture.
Near the beginning of the film, Scorsese is told by a technician that Jagger cannot stand in front of a specific light for more than 18 seconds or he will burn. Scorsese incredulously asks: “You mean go up in flames?” The reply is yes, to which Scorsese seriously states: “We cannot burn Mick Jagger.” He then has a chuckle about it. As do we. And, we are soon hyper-grateful that Jagger does not go up in flames, otherwise we would not have been transcendently transported for two hours by a master director and, well, the greatest Rock ‘n Roll band in the world!
New Directors New Films
March 26–April 6
Starring: Leonor Varela; Jacob Vargas; Luis Fernando Peña; and Giovanna Zacarías.
by Corey Ann Haydu
Alex Rivera’s first film, Sleep Dealer, is a science fiction adventure film that is both entertaining and smart, a rare combination, and a particularly unique intellectual experience for the sci-fi genre. The film follows its protagonist, Memo, a young Mexican man living in a remote village, and his journey to the big city. In this archetypal storyline, Memo is a quintessentially flawed hero. He is obsessed with technology, and dreams of bigger things than his current life. This becomes his downfall, however. Memo ends up in a futuristic factory that outsources Mexican employees and to the US- through technological advances. These employees work from a virtual reality type station in Mexico, to accomplish menial, low wage jobs in the US, without ever having to cross the border.
It is with this futuristic construction that Rivera transcends the genre and delves into an exploration of immigration and technology and their relationships with society as a whole. The film asks real questions, and stuns the audience with a future that seems entirely plausible and completely terrifying. Not only are low wage jobs outsourced, remote soldiers also control detonating machines from afar, blowing up villages from a world away, disconnected entirely from life and death. In fact, these soldiers resemble teenaged boys playing video games, instead of men making real decisions between life and death.
Sleep Dealer is also a solid love story, between troubled Memo, and “writer” Luz. Luz takes advantage of Memo’s compelling life story, and shares his memories online, profiting from their relationship. Their relationship is beautifully written, and wonderfully acted. It is an honest look at the complexities of love, and a reminder that the world is not black and white.
In fact, Sleep Dealer as a whole resides in a deep truth, even if its context is an imagined, unreal future. Regardless, Rivera’s film manages impressive honesty, complexity, and fullness. His actors are subtle and true, their lives are rich and regular, and the world they inhabit is strange… but also somehow strangely familiar. It is a movie worth seeing whether or not you are a science fiction fan. Freshman filmmaker Rivera demands immense respect for accomplishing what so few can… a film that is watchable and enjoyable, but also leads you to see the world in a new way… or at the very least question where it is we might be going.
Channing Tatum and Ryan Phillippe in Stop-Loss
Opens Friday, March 28, 2008
Starring: Ryan Phillippe; Abbie Cornish; Channing Tatum; Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Victor Rasuk; Linda Emond; and Mamie Gummer.
Reviewed by Frank J. Avella
“With all due respect, sir, fuck the president!”
These audacious yet cathartic words are spoken by battle-scarred Staff Sgt. Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) after he is told by his superior that he’s being ‘stop-lossed’—ordered to return to Iraq for another tour even though his term of service is over. This ‘back door draft’ was first used by George Bush, Sr. during the Gulf War and has been widely used during the Iraq conflict.
Through extensive research and interviews with returning soldiers, director Kimberly Peirce (along with co-writer Mark Richard) have fashioned a powerful and deeply affecting film that examines the effect of war on a trio of soldiers, during combat, and later, at home.
Peirce has not made a film since her 1999 stunner debut, Boys Don’t Cry, which justly won Hilary Swank her first Best Actress Oscar. Stop-Loss more than proves she’s a picturemaking force to be reckoned with. Passionate and ballsy, Peirce has the filmic talents to back up her polemics. And while Stop-Loss brings to mind some of the best Vietnam-themed war films including: Oliver Stone’s Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July; Hal Ashby’s Coming Home; Francis Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter, it is in the vein of homage, not hybridization.
The opening sequence is filled with blood, guts, mayhem…enough carnage to make anyone squeamish (my guest almost had to leave, he was grateful he stayed) and sets the bar pretty high for the events to come. Eventually, the soldiers return home and attempt to re-assimilate into their old lives, which is difficult for some and near-impossible for others.
Phillippe’s Brandon is the hub that holds his buddy-spokes together. They include: his best friend Steve (Channing Tatum), the tortured Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Steve’s fiancée, Michelle (Abbie Cornish).
The film is uncompromising in it’s portrait of these Texans, how their patriotism led to their enlisting, but how the atrocities they witnessed and took part in overseas have forever scarred them.
More often than not, Peirce opts to investigate the grey areas—not just with insights about a soldier’s duty but when it comes to moral and ethical questions as well. There’s a terrific scene involving Brandon chasing a group of thieves that have just broken into his car. We sense his outrage comes from how he has just returned from defending his country FOR these boys and here they are stealing from him. As audience members we are quick to want a certain type of justice from this scene, but immediately find ourselves questioning that vengeful nature in ourselves. Why it’s there. And how far we are willing to take it.
Too many critics have charge Stop-Loss with melodramatic excessiveness. I don’t see it that way. The subject matter demands that the stakes be higher than the norm. And while the film sometimes goes slightly over the edge—especially when depicting Tommy’s anguish (his shooting his wedding gift and his predictable fate)-- much like with the work of Oliver Stone, we can forgive the excesses. They’re almost required.
And Peirce and Richard are savvy enough to avoid most of the Hollywood-by-numbers script trappings. I applaud the filmmakers for never taking the Phillippe/Cornish relationship to that oh-so-predictable level. They also manage to end the film on a strong and true note. I have read a few negative reviews from respected right-wing critics that completely missed the point of the ending. This is not surprising since supporters of Bush and the war usually see ONLY what they want to see anyway--or what they're told they should be seeing.
Ryan Phillippe, so effective in Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers last year, does his best work to date as the beleaguered Brandon, at first content to do his duty, but slowly waking to certain realities. It’s a bracing and complex performance.
Newcomer Channing Tatum makes good on the promise he showed in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. Tatum takes some great acting risks and they pay off resoundingly while Joseph Gordon-Levitt adds another terrific performance to an ever-growing resume’ of impressive turns. Victor Rasuk is heartbreaking as Rico, a wounded soldier who’s spirits have not yet diminished.
Atypical for any type of war-oriented film, women are allowed some great moments as well. Abbie Cornish (who resembles a young Nicole Kidman) is perfectly understated as the confused Michele. Linda Emond embodies everymom with a quiet power that is breathtaking. And Mamie Gummer leaves her mark in a smallish role and proves spookily reminiscent of her mother’s (Meryl Streep) Deer Hunter performance thirty years ago.
Production values are excellent throughout with the great Chris Mendes doing stunning camerawork. John Powell’s score is potent and appropriately haunting.
At one point Peirce uses a song by country superstar and resident war-monger, Toby Keith to highlight just how misguided so many of our young men were post-September 11th. The ditty, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),” was written to inspire our boys to want to seek revenge for that tragedy. The problem was it also asked us to blindly trust a President with his own agenda. And while Keith never had to take responsibility for the blood on his hands, true Americans like the Dixie Chicks were vilified and demonized for speaking out against an unjust war and a horrific President.
If you haven’t guessed, I do not support the evil that is George W. Bush. And I do not understand how so many Americans were blinded into believing he was invading Iraq because of 9/11 when one thing had NOTHING to do with the other. Finally, I will never understand the mindset that says we are not allowed to be critical of our President—especially when he blunders big time. I state all this so all my biases are up front.
Stop-Loss has the guts to say certain things that desperately need to be said. It is not only the best film of 2008 to date, it happens to be the first relevant film to deal with the Iraq War.
It was recently reported that, in the five years since we invaded Iraq, over 4,000 Americans are now dead. And, as far as Bush is concerned, we are staying put. Even the promise of a new President may not make a withdrawal possible for a while to come since there are many political factors to take into account. Leaving, at this stage, might be more detrimental for us. It’s all terribly frightening and no one seems to care as much any more. Call it Iraq War-fatigue, but Americans seem disinterested.
Stop-Loss is an important reminder that our boys are still dying AND is an accurate account of just one of the legion of ways the Bush Administration has turned our country into a borderline fascist regime where the Commander-in-Chief can ride roughshot over laws that have existed for over two hundred years—laws that are supposed to protect us as a democracy.
I urge everyone to see this remarkable film; it has something important to say and does so in a damned entertaining and inspiring way.
Tia Lessin and
Trouble the Water
New Directors New Films
March 26–April 6
Kim Roberts and Scott Roberts
Reviewed by Marguerite Daniels
Documentary film can be a tricky genre to navigate. Often documentary directors insert so much of their own images and ideas into the film that it become’s about the director and the subject can be lost. This is far from the case in Tia Lessin and Carl Dean’s Trouble the Water where the documentary-makers give free-range to the subjects, and what results is a film of sheer brilliance.
The film follows
aspiring rap artist Kim Roberts and her husband
Scott Roberts who endure Hurricane Katrina and
the horrific after effects of the storm. A week
before the storm, Kim fortuitously purchased a
camcorder on the street for $20, and begins using
the camera the day before Katrina hits landfall.
Kim quickly proves an expert camerawoman with
deft instincts: she is a natural storyteller,
and she provides narration while she captures
the lives of people who attempt to escape the
storms wrath. Though Kim and her husband cannot
leave their home because they don’t have
transportation, they make provisions and invite
friends and neighbors to their house to wait out
the storm. Lessin and Dean use Kim’s footage
and intertwine it with news reports their own
to give the film vastly different perspectives.
As the storm worsens, more neighbors arrive, and
it becomes clear that the storm will be far worse
than anyone anticipated. Kim continues to film
as the levees near her home in the 9th Ward break,
and flood her house so completely that the inhabitants
are forced to crouch in an attic to await an emergency
rescue that will never come.
When all hope fades Kim bravely asks the 911 dispatcher, “So we’re going to die?” and the dispatcher timidly answers back, “Yes.”
But Kim and Scott and the others don’t die. They form their own rescue party, and search for a drier residence. Though Kim and Scott have lost everything including family members and loved ones, they continue to work and find lodging for neighbors. Ultimately this film is not about what Kim and Scott loose to Katrina, but what they gained in spite of the storm. It’s humbling to see what Kim and Scott are able to accomplish through Kim’s remarkable optimism. She is awe-inspiring. She is not only a tremendously talented rapper (under the name of the Black Kold Madina), she provides strong and steady shoulder for all to lean on. Here, Lessin and Dean capture a woman who is not only street-wise but fiercely independent, honest and truthful. Her will to >
Opens in Select Theaters Friday April 11th 2008
Reviewed by Alejandra Serret
The Visitor, directed by Tom McCarthy, tells the story of a lonely, discontent, middle-aged widower whose life is transformed by a weekend trip to New York City. Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under and There’s Something About Mary) plays Walter Vale, a respected professor, who takes little pleasure in the class he teaches. He is a familiar character, weighted by boredom, but disinterested in change. He fumbles through