Category Archives: Film

In Theatres & On VOD: TELL ME WHO I AM

Coming to theatres and to Netflix today, Friday, October 18:
TELL ME WHO I AM

Director:
Ed Perkins

World Premiere:
Telluride 2019

Select Festivals:
London, Hamptons

About:
After a teenager loses his memory following a motorcycle accident, his twin brother selectively retells their past.

In 1982, 18-year-old Alex Lewis woke from his motorcycle crash with his memory wiped, only recognizing his identical twin, Marcus. He remembered nothing else – not his strange parents, girlfriend, or any details of the past. Returning to their unsettling, sprawling home, Alex depended on Marcus to fill in the blanks. Soon, Marcus realized this presented an opportunity to edit their shared history, to benefit them both. In Ed Perkins’ film – which follows a 2013 book by the same name – Alex and Marcus speak directly to the camera, separately for the first two sections, then together for the emotionally cathartic third, relating this singular situation. Very well constructed as a mystery, and in some ways mirroring Alex’s own experiences of having to reconstruct the past based on only partial information, the film contains extremely disturbing surprises that are best experienced with no foreknowledge.

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In Theatres: SERENDIPITY

Coming to theatres today, Friday, October 18:
SERENDIPITY

Director:
Prune Nourry

World Premiere:
Berlin 2019

Select Festivals:
Tribeca, Doc Fortnight, Mill Valley

About:
A personal reflection of the filmmaker/artist’s work after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Prune Nourry is a multidisciplinary French artist, based in NYC, whose work in sculpture, performance, and photography has focused on gender, women’s rights, reproduction, and their intersection with science. Her feature film debut is part of a multiplatform project that included a Paris solo show and book, and is informed by a breast cancer diagnosis. Before beginning chemotherapy, she has her eggs harvested and frozen for potential future use. This eerily echoes projects she has completed in the past following other women going through the same procedure, and serves as the lead-in to a meditation on other past work, as well as her artistic response in the present, going hand-in-hand with activities related to her treatment. It’s a precarious balance between artistic survey and personal chronicle of a life-threatening disease, and, to Nourry’s credit, she manage this for the most part.

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In Theatres: THE CAVE

Coming to theatres today, Friday, October 18:
THE CAVE

Director:
Feras Fayyad

World Premiere:
Toronto 2019

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, London, Hamptons, Camden, Double Exposure, Mill Valley, Heartland, Tallgrass, Virginia

About:
A female doctor defies patriarchal expectations to lead an underground hospital in Syria.

The film screens as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
THE CAVE takes us to a subterranean landscape that feels akin to the post-apocalyptic world of MAD MAX. Warlords have made the earth’s surface uninhabitable in Syria, so medical workers led by Dr Amani Ballor, a female pediatrician, have created a hospital underground the city of Ghouta, near Damascus. Oscar®-nominated Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad spent two years capturing the resilience, dedication, and love that keeps them going.

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In Theatres: #FEMALE PLEASURE

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, October 18:
#FEMALE PLEASURE

Director:
Barbara Miller

World Premiere:
Locarno 2018

Select Festivals:
IDFA, Hot Docs, Docs Against Gravity, Seattle, Vilnius, Visions du Reel, Thessaloniki Doc, DOK Leipzig

About:
A profile of women working towards female sexual liberation on their own terms.

In this global survey, filmmaker Barbara Miller spotlights five women from five different cultures as they confront unfortunately universal resistance to female self-determination and patriarchal limits upon the exploration and embrace of female desire and sexual pleasure. Covered here are such disparate topics and regions as NYC’s Hasidic community, taboos around sex and gender rights in India, Somalian female genital mutilation, sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and a Japanese manga artist charged for obscenity for representing the vagina in her work. While the topic is a vital one, the film’s episodic approach feels scattered, with some stories far stronger and more developed than others, and a general repetitiveness that undermines the project as a whole. Still, it remains a worthwhile film that can serve to raise awareness and start deeper conversations.

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On TV: SID & JUDY

Coming to Showtime tomorrow, Friday, October 18:
SID & JUDY

Director:
Stephen Kijak

World Premiere:
Frameline 2019

Select Festivals:
Outfest, London, LGBT fests in Seattle, Chicago, Austin

About:
A look at the legendary Judy Garland through the eyes of her husband and manager, Sid Luft.

Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Garland’s death, Stephen Kijak’s biopic is a well-paced look back at the beloved performer, focused largely on the comeback that cemented her as an icon. Based on Luft’s recently released memoir, the film traces Garland’s career after her split from MGM, which had controlled her career for her entire adult life, as he helped shepherd her through a remake of A STAR IS BORN, nabbing an Oscar nomination in the process, and a series of wildly popular concerts. While their marriage was not to last, Luft offers a unique perspective on Garland, bringing a deeply personal touch to this dramatic period in her life, and also offering commentary on how her demons claimed her after they parted ways.

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In Theatres: THE ELEPHANT QUEEN

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, October 18:
THE ELEPHANT QUEEN

Directors:
Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble

World Premiere:
Toronto 2018

Select Festivals:
Sundance, DOC NYC, Sydney, Montclair

About:
A pachyderm matriarch leads her family through the African savannah.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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On VOD: BETHANY HAMILTON: UNSTOPPABLE

New to VOD this week:
BETHANY HAMILTON: UNSTOPPABLE

Directors:
Aaron Lieber

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2018

Select Festival:
Los Angeles, Hot Springs Doc, Palm Springs, Martha’s Vineyard, Hawaii, Newport Beach

About:
A portrait of the professional surfer, best known for losing an arm to a shark attack as a teenager.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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