BLACK WOMEN IN MEDICINE

Opens Friday 8/26/16 in NYC. Review coming soon 🙂

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FATIMA

Opens Friday 8/26/16 in NYC. Review coming soon 🙂

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MECHANIC: RESURRECTION

Opens Friday 8/26/16 in NYC. Review coming soon 🙂

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MIA MADRE

Opens Friday 8/26/16 in NYC. Review coming soon 🙂

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THE INTERVENTION

The-Intervention-Movie-Poster

Under the leadership of child-fearing, type A, borderline alcoholic, “Annie” (Melanie Lynskey), four couples return to a sprawling childhood summer home for a weekend away. But the weekend getaway is actually an artful guise for a marital intervention the group has planned for one of the couples. As tensions run high, friendships are tested and relationships are turned on their heads. Written and directed by actress and first time director, Clea DuVall, The Intervention delivers laugh out loud moments, and attempts an honest look into many stages of both functional and dysfunctional relationships. (JEP: 4/5)

Review by Associate Editor Jessica E. Perry

Four couples meet for a weekend away at a beautiful family lake house just outside of Savannah, Georgia. However, the retreat’s true purpose is a planned marital intervention for one of the couples—“Ruby” (Cobie Smulders) and “Peter” (Vincent Piazza).

The charge is lead by “Annie” (Melanie Lynskey), who always has a drink in her hand—possible grounds for an intervention of her own—and an opinion about how others should live their lives at the forefront of her mind. But her fiancé “Matt” (Jason Ritter) stands steadfast by her side, even when Annie has postponed their wedding four times, and her drunken behavior is a growing concern for the other parties at the lake house.

“Jack” (Ben Schwartz) brings along his uninvited, and much younger, new girlfriend “Lola” (Alia Shawkat). Lola’s presence is not only a concern of the couples on Ben’s behalf, but it also throws a wrench in “Jessie” (Clea DuVall) and “Sarah’s” (Nmaxresdefaultatasha Lyonne) relationship. When Ruby offhandedly mentions that Lola is the epitome of Jessie’s type, aka young and fun, Sarah grows increasingly paranoid about Jessie’s possible feelings for Lola.

The four couples each have their own relationship dynamic, are each in different stages of their relationships—newly coupled, dating for years, engaged, and married—and all judge one another on their choices. Their concern comes from a place of love, but subconsciously, their judgement of one another’s relationships reflects upon their own, causing tensions to run high.

With a strong ensemble cast, whose credits you will know mostly from television, The Intervention succeeds in building multiple relationships all at different stages. Where it fails, is defining the broader interpersonal relationship that the friends all share. Are the eight 30-somethings all just longtime friends, or is there a familial relation between some of them. We get a few lines, here or there, hinting at a more intimate relationship between certain characters, but audiences are forced to put the pieces together for a plot point that could be easily defined.

However, easily compared to, and deemed by some as the modern-day The Big Chill for 30-somethings, writer/director Clea DuVall delivers an promising first feature in The Intervention. Agreeable to a wide range of audiences for its honest look inside the most familiar human interactions: friendship, relationships, and love in all forms.

©Jessica E. Perry FF2 Media (8/27/16)

the-intervention-movie

Top Photo: The Intervention poster outlining the four couples.

Middle Photo: “Jack” (Ben Schwartz) and “Lola” (Alia Shawkat) sit comfortably in the puppy dog love/honeymoon phase of their relationship.

Bottom Photo: “Jessie” (Clea DuVall) and “Annie” (Melanie Lynskey) prepare to confront their friends during the intervention.

Photo Credits: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Q: Does The Intervention pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?GreenA2016

Yes!

The women discuss plans for “Annie’s” (Melanie Lynskey) impending nuptials. Additionally, “Sarah” (Natasha Lyonne) and longtime girlfriend “Jessie” (Clea DuVall) discuss the ups and downs of their own relationship.

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A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS

Tale-TOP-320As much as one might want to love A Tale of Love and Darkness, it is difficult to do so. Natalie Portman’s directorial debut was meant to inspire others by sharing the life story of Amos Oz, a famous Israeli storyteller; but it gets dragged down in dreary sidestory ultimately fails to invigorate the audience in the way it was intended. Still, for those who already share in Portman’s passions for Israel and Amos Oz’s stories, A Tale of Love and Darkness is an enjoyable watch and a sign of good things to come from Portman in the future. (RAK: 3/5)

Review by FF2 Intern Rachel A. Kastner

 A Tale of Love and Darkness conveys the story of Amos Oz’ youth growing up in Palestine in a post Holocaust-world. It is supposedly told from his perspective, as it begins featuring an elder Amos Oz recalling his younger years, but it is actually a film that focuses on his mother, “Fania Oz” (Natalie Portman) and her experience raising “Amos Oz” (Amir Tessler). Amos Oz lives in a state of flux for most of his childhood, waiting for the day that a Jewish state will be announced. He lives with his mother, Fania, and his father, “Arieh Oz” (Gilad Kahana), and he grows up struggling to understand their flaws and loveless marriage. These experiences are what eventually shape the young Amos Oz into the inspiring storyteller he becomes.

The truth is, as refugees from Eastern Europe, Fania and Arieh both struggle deeply with hope about the future. Fania simply cannot move past the horrors of the past, and falls into a deep depression. She loses hope in everything. Everything, that is, except Amos. She spends nights lying in bed with him, telling and creating fantastical and mystical sttaleofloveanddarkness2-xlargeories with him that appear on the screen in beautiful vignettes. We dive into Amos’ imagination as he imagines saving his mother from the deep depression that is ravaging her mind. The film beautifully captures their strong bond and love.

As sweet as the story is, for those viewers who don’t feel any particular affinity for Israel, Jerusalem stone or the history in the backdrop of the film, A Tale of Love and Darkness interesting. It’s slow, dark and dreary. It is unclear whether the film is meant to be a portrait of Fania, a historical drama about Israel, and the story of Amos’ life.

Additionally, it is strange having a protagonist who doesn’t speak: Amos’ character rarely speaks any lines, which is puzzling considering that this is his story. The film would have benefitted from allowing Amos to speak. It seems that Portman was trying too hard to do too many things at once.. That being said, it is definitely a visually beautiful film to watch, and it is clear that Portman has an eye – so hopefully we will have the chance to see other films she directs that might have wider audience appeal or better structure.

© Rachel A. Kastner FF2 Media (8/2/16)ATOLAD Bottom

Top Photo: "Fania" (Natalie Portman) struggles to give her son "Amos" (Amir Tessler) a normal life.

Middle Photo: Jerusalem residents gathering to listen to the radio to hear the UN announce Israel as a state.

Bottom Photo: Natalie Portman as "Fania" standing in line to collect food for her family in Israel.

Photo Credits: Ran Mendelson

Q: Does A Tale of Love and Darkness pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?GreenA2016

Yes.

When Fania is really struggling with her depression, she goes to live with her sisters. They attempt to entertain and heal her.

 

Check out FF2 Editor-in-Chief Jan Lisa Huttner's review of A Tale of Love and Darkness here!

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WHEN TWO WORLDS COLLIDE

Opens Friday 8/19/16 in NYC. Review coming soon 🙂

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ABORTION: STORIES WOMEN TELL

Opens Friday 8/12/16 in NYC. Review coming soon 🙂

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DISORDER

Disorder Top CroppedWritten and directed by Alice Winocour, Disorder follows a soldier back from Afghanistan as he struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and coping with hallucinations and hearing loss. Through the help of some friends, “Vincent” (Matthais Schoenaerts) secures a job as a member of a security team to earn some extra cash. The job seems simple: make sure Imad Whalid’s (Percy Kemp) party goes off without a hitch. But when Vincent is asked to stay on as security for Whalid’s family, his paranoia begins creeping in, affecting his better judgment.

Disorienting and unsettling, Winocour does an excellent job of keeping us on our toes in this dramatic thriller as we begin to discover that Vincent’s paranoia may be anything but. (LMB: 3.5/5)

Review by FF2 Associate Lindsy M. Bissonnette

“Vincent” (Matthais Schoenaerts) has just returned from a rigorous tour in Afghanistan and is hired to work security for Lebanese businessman, “Imad Whalid” (Percy Kemp) for a party at his massive villa in France, called “Maryland”. After the party, Whalid is called away on business and Vincent is asked to stay on as security for Whalid’s family. During his time at Maryland, Vincent develops a fascination with Whalid’s wife “Jessie” (Diane Kruger), watching her from a distance. As Vincent acts as chauffer, security guard, and peace of mind for Jessie and her son “Ali” (Zaïd Errougui-Demonsant), he struggles to maintain his grasp on reality.

Throughout the film Vincent finds himself questioning what is real and what is a hallucination. The audience experiences this paranoia through magnificent sound design and interesting camera angles, viewing the world through Vincent’s eyes and ears.Disorder Middle

During filming Schoenaert limited his sleep to only two hours a night to better understand and relate to his character, which helps create his authentic, paranoid, on-edge performance as Vincent. But while the sound design and performances are wonderful, as a whole, the film is lacking. Plot holes make it difficult to connect the dots and leave us wondering what is happening and why.

Vincent’s troubled past is never discussed, leaving us wanting more backstory on the specific ways he was affected by his time in Afghanistan. Though we see his house, which he shares with his mother, we never meet her and crave more information about his humble life at home. We get small glimpses into Jessie’s past, but only enough to leave us wanting more, and we never quite learn enough about Whalid to understand the trouble that he and Jessie are in.

That being said, Disorder’s uniqueness in style and subtlety are definitely still worth the watch. With the help of an incredible soundtrack, which incorporates gunshot-esque bangs and mysterious whispers, director Alice Winocour creates an intriguing film that will leave you with a little paranoia of your own.

© Lindsy M. Bissonnette FF2 Media (8/12/16)Disorder Bottom copy

Top Photo: Jessie with her son Ali walking back from the beach as Vincent follows behind.

Middle Photo: Jessie and Vincent share a tender moment amidst the chaos.

Bottom Photo: Vincent nervously checks his rear view mirror.

Photo Credits: Gil Lesage

Q: Does Disorder pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?

NO.

This film absolutely does not. Jessie, the only female character, interacts solely with men, talking about men. Our only female lead plays the stereotypical damsel in distress.

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THE LOST ARCADE

Player-by-Jesse-Garrison-1540x866Kurt Vincent’s The Lost Arcade (written by Irene Chin) is a nostalgic documentary on a fading industry that some claim as home but most won’t know. The film has its ups and downs with its best almost carrying the weight of the less glamorous part of New York. It, however, is a bore. Aimless and cluttered, the film has a tendency to lose track of its characters or what it wants to say. (PS: 3/5)

Review by FF2 Intern Peier Shen

The film traces the glory of the grimy arcades with a loving gaze. The history of the glistening box, poorly constructed with a limited amount of footage, lacks clarity. All we know is that before teenagers discovered their Xboxes and PlayStations, they used to meet up and hang out in these underground sanctuaries, where parents were absent and quarters were lying around. But one thing is clear: this is more than just a game, as the narrator repeatedly tells us throughout the film. It is a family, and around which, the filmmakers finally build their narrative.

And such a family did they find. Focused on the Chinatown Fair in Manhattan, the film struggles to navigate the relationships among the family members like earnest gamers Anthony Cali, Akum Hokoru, Henry Cen, ex-Chinatown Fair owner, Sam Palmer, and current owner Lonnie Sobel. Each, carrying his love story with the arcade, declares their passion for video games and the difficulty to maintain the business with the exception of the last (Lonnie Sobel). Much to the dismay of hardcore fighter players, Mr. Sobel decided to take Chinatown Fair into a more family-friendly direction.maxresdefault

However, to audience who are not familiar with that world, The Lost Arcade fails to be accessible. The players sing praises for games and the underground culture that came out of them, but the filmmakers fall short of extracting the humanity out of such obsession. Why is the arcade important? The reason that it is more social than playing alone at home is certainly not good enough as the gamers on screen seem to only have superficial relationships. Taking turns to beat each other on PAC-MAN does not equate friendship. And anecdotes like the previous owner Mr. Palmer opening late for addicted teenage players (when they are supposed to rest for school) are not exactly heartwarming.

Yet within its slim running time, the film does reveal some moments of clarity: Mr. Hokoru talks about his escape from foster homes that led him to stumble across an arcade in Times Square; Mr. Cen attributes his initial attraction to the arcade to his often absent parents. It would be more honest to see how Chinatown Fair, served as a haven for outcasts, gives the underprivileged kids an outlet to release their frustrations in daily life. But these rare episodes of sincerity, often interrupted by unilateral accolades and the more dramatic line of the arcade’s finances, become ineffective. In the end, The Lost Arcade still feels much like a compilation of footage with a string of forced fadeouts and an edgy soundtrack.

There are, of course, other familiar questions left untouched in The Lost Arcade. How to address the violence in the video game industry? Why does the game over sexualize women? How to deal with addiction? And most importantly, if a group of us feels more connected and safer facing a screen, what should the rest of us do when we take that away?

© Peier Shen FF2 Media (08/16/16)THELOSTARCADE-KEY-01

Top Photo: The Player in the arcade

Middle Photo: Players in front of an arcade game

Bottom Photo: Players in Chinatown Fair

Photo Credit: Jesse Garrison

Q: Does The Lost Arcade pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?

No.

Even though musical games such as Dance Dance Revolution (welcoming more girls) tend to do well, the video games industry (with its voluptuous female characters) is still tailored for boys, as is this film.

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