Fill The Void
Tel Aviv’s ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Community is the setting for this nuanced story of a young 18-year old being pressured into marrying the widower of her recently deceased sister.
On the plus side, first time writer/director Rama Burshtein, along with cinematographer Asaf Surdi, both do an incredibly beautiful job of maintaining an intimacy and sense of intrigue. Left in the hands of less competent filmmakers surely these matters of the heart and of religious community would have made for a drowsily-induced and visually dull affair.
My only nitpick is that for a character driven drama is that I never felt an iota of empathy for any of these characters, even when the camera remained set on a crying bride. Either I’m a robot or the film failed in its attempt to elicit any desired emotion from me. Oh my god, I hope I’m not a robot!
Showtimes for Fill The Void: Wed, May 1st – 6:30pm (Kabuki)
Thu, May 2nd – 4:00pm (Kabuki)
The Patience Stone
Why should jump scares be reserved to films within the horror genre? Why can’t a drama set in an unstable war-torn Afghanistan centered on one woman’s desire to find her voice of liberation through self imposing confessional sessions with her comatose husband conjure up the same internal fright one feels when watching, say George A. Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead? Don’t misunderstand me; Atiq Rahimi‘s film adaptation of his eponymous titled best-selling novel is very much grounded in the dramatic and would most likely disappoint any horror fanboy/girl going to see this for the sake being scared, yet it also has the quiet underpinnings reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman‘s Hour of the Wolf.
Rahimi’s film could be seen as a slow burning dramatic cousin to the horror movie, which only makes sense when considering the commonality in subject matter found at the heart of this story and the heart of many horror films as well; gaining freedom from what binds us.
Showtimes fo The Patience Stone: Mon, Apr 29th – 6:30pm (Kabuki)
Tue, Apr 30th – 8:45pm (Kabuki)
What Maisie Knew
Judging from the desired serious tone set by directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel this story of 7-year-old Maisie (Onata Aprile) being tossed from one selfish parent (Julianne Moore reprising her role from Boogie Nights) to the other (Steve Coogan in his recurring jerk role) should have been a heart wrenching undertaking. It wasn’t.
The longer you stick with this film the more far-fetched the plot becomes. Suspending disbelief here would be akin to thinking OJ Simpson was innocent. And even if you do go along with the fairytale storyline there’s still the uneven point-of-view approach that seems like it was put together more by a 7-year-old with Legos than a professional filmmaker with big boy toys.
So, why two stars and not one? 2 reasons:
1. I kept waiting for Steve Coogan to do a Michael Caine impression. Spoiler alert: He never does! 2. Newcomer Joanna Vanderham. Ain’t she a peach?
Showtimes for What Maisie Knew: Thu, Apr 25th – 7:00pm (Castro)