PRAYING WITH LIOR

Kid born with Down’s Syndrome loses Mom to cancer in early childhood, but it’s OK because everyone loves him. Filmmakers ask NO hard questions (e.g., does anyone in this family work for a living?), & all the uplift feels manufactured for the cameras. Impossible not to cry during Bar Mitzvah scenes, but Oy! Rating =…

PERSEPOLIS

Compelling personal story about a young woman coming of age during the Iranian revolution. Wonderfully-expressive animation based on writer/director Satrapi”s first-person graphic novel. Aesthetically elegant with fasciating insights into one of the major cultural upheavals of our lifetimes. Click HERE for FF2 haiku.

PENELOPE

Charming fable about a rich girl burdened by a family curse (Ricci) who finds love despite the demands of her intrusive mother (O’Hara). Dinklage provides perfect counterpoint as a newspaper man also learning that appearances can be deceiving. Kudos also to McAvoy & Witherspoon as well as screenwriter Leslie Caveny. Click HERE for FF2 haiku.

PARALLEL LINES

NYC doc director just happens to be working in LA when the Twin Towers are attacked on 9/11. Afraid of what she will find back home, she decides to drive cross-country to give herself time to “adjust” before facing the reality head-on. Along the way, she converses with countless “average Americans” with varying POVs. Click…

NOODLE

Luminous Mili Avital stars as an El-Al flight attendant struggling to reunite a small Chinese boy with his missing mother. Menahemi creates a ornery role for Waxman, so that some comic relief prevents her poignant dramedy from getting too icky as widow & orphan bond despite cultures, languages & time zones. Click HERE for FF2…

MUERTO DE LA PENA

DEAD FROM THE PAIN–Argentine satire starring Pinto as an aging bureaucratic who becomes a one day news sensation when he has his “I’m mad as Hell & I’m not going to take it anymore” moment. Quick-witted & amusing, we suspect it’s also chockfull of sly local references but universal enough to recommend in any language.…