Heart-breaking film stars an Israeli teenager (Ivgy) in a symbiotic relationship with her mother, a depressed prostitute. Or (Hebrew for “Treasure”) is desperate to help her mother (Elkabetz) escape from “the oldest profession,” but Ruthie’s trajectory is too strong, & eventually overwhelms Or’s best intentions. Stunning debut by director Yedaya. More on OR.
Nice Jewish girl (Aguilera) falls in love with nice Palestinian boy (Toledo), & hillarious consequences ensue when she brings him home to meet her family. Because it”s set in Madrid, film can play out itself out as a screwball comedy without risk of bloodshed. Ugly words pop like exploding balloons & their venom dissipates. More…
2004 Indie Spirit Award candidate follows 3 NJ girls who meet in a juvenile detention center. Once they”re released, they each try to stay straight, but the streets are mean & prospects grim. Excellent performances; heart-breaking intensity. More on ON THE OUTS.
First-person narrative in the style of Terrence Malick. A girl on the edge of adulthood tells a story she only half understands, with expert cinematography & a spare, eloquent score filling in the emotional gaps. Allen & Elliot are her parents. True-Frost plays the stranger who completes their offbeat family. More on OFF THE MAP.
German lawyer from a prosperous Jewish family flees to rural Kenya in the late ‘30s. The story’s limited by the perspective of his daughter, five when she arrives & begins her narration. Resonance depends on audience knowledge of the Holocaust, including things the family itself wouldn’t know until year later. More on NOWHERE IN AFRICA
Disappointing depiction of gap between porn purveyors & their consumers. Bettie (Mol) is a wholesome innocent; her attempts to become a “serious actress” are doomed so she throws all her creativity into her “scenes.” None of it arouses her, but what does? Beautiful surfaces, but Harron captures no inner light. More on THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE…
Story told here is so important we wanted this film to be perfect; it isn’t but it’s damn good! Superlative cast provides an intimate depiction of a small community under the stress of fundamental change, but the courtroom scenes, when Josie (Theron) finally sues for sexual harassment, are too canned. (***FOR MORE FROM JAN SEE…
Warm-hearted, family-friendly RomCom Americanizes beloved German indie MOSTLY MARTHA. Source focuses mostly on “Martha,” but here Breslin steals the show as orphaned niece Zoe, while Clarkson adds a soupçon of skinny-chic menace as restaurateur “Paula.” Philip Glass score supplemented by Italian arias (!) plus tracks from Mark Isham soundtracks (?). More on NO RESERVATIONS.
While Rich wanted more “symbolic content,” Jan was deeply moved by the universality of Hardwicke’s naturalistic approach, presenting Castle-Hughes (“Mary”) & Isaac (“Joseph”) as two good-hearted young people who must learn to trust one another so they can succeed as parents. Jan also loved score by Mychael Danna. More on THE NATIVITY STORY.
Humiliated by her husband’s infidelities, a woman hires a prostitute to seduce/torment him. What begins with exploitation quickly becomes symbiotic as the two women become more interested in each other than in him. Intense, erotic psychodrama. Ardant’s icy cold, Beart’s burning hot, & Depardieu’s baffled by both of them. More on NATHALIE.