6 posts categorized "New York Film Festival"

September 20, 2017

MRS. HYDE — NYFF 55

ColeSmithey.comNot even Isabelle Huppert’s ever-reliable craftwork can elevate this overwrought and underachieving pro-education, sci-fi drama. The film’s unbalanced (linear) three-act story crumbles during a last gasp act that falls horribly flat.

Third act failure is one thing, but to have a narrative with such rich, if ghastly, possibilities reduced to a muted, half-hearted, satire just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The black comedy needed to skew closer to the tone of  "An American Werewolf In London" rather than its current François Ozon knock-off qualities. 

Director/co-writer Serge Bozon's movie is presented as a "comedic thriller" but ends up neither funny nor sufficiently exciting. The screenwriting isn't up to par. 

Mrs-hyde-real

Huppert plays Mme Géquil, a newly hired French engineering school teacher constantly humiliated and challenged by a classroom full of misfits led by Malik, a crippled Arab student. Mme Géquil has a lovely home life with her caring husband whose teaching advice she doesn’t grasp. A shock of electricity alters Mme Géquil into a super-teacher, capable of setting objects, animals, and people on fire.  

Colesmithey.com

The mannered story never shifts gears after establishing a dramatically loaded line where we await Huppert’s transformation into the monster of the film’s implied title.

Although the film fails to pay off, Isabelle Huppert is fascinating as ever. Ignore the oh-so-precious subtext about education, and focus on every dramatic beat that Huppert plays as a master drummer of emotion, thought, and intent.

Mrshyde1

Not Rated. 95 mins.

2 Stars

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

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July 06, 2017

THE B-SIDE: ELSA DORFMAN'S PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY — NYFF 54

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Your generosity helps keep the reviews coming!

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The B-SideDocumentarian extraordinaire Errol Morris has crafted his sweetest film to date. Morris’s filmic love letter to his longtime friend, photographer Elsa Dorfman, is a deceptively straight-forward telling of Dorfman's progress as a portrait photographer in the early ‘80s.

Dorfman’s chosen photographic format, a Polaroid Land 20x24 camera provides a topical conversation piece for the documentary to contextualize a social landscape that includes Beat poets, musicians, and families who sat before Elsa Dorfman in her Cambridge, Massachusetts studio. Poloroid's eventual collapse plays heavily into the narrative. 

The-B-Side

Elsa’s [oversized] photos give the film its “B-Side” title; she always took two shots for her clients to choose from. Naturally, many of the rejected images are better than the chosen versions. Part character study and part social expose, “The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography” examines the artistic process of a woman whose divinely quirky personality informs her formerly overlooked career.

Elsa Dorfman may never have received the accolades she deserved from the art world, but Errol Morris’s delightful documentary does her, and her lush photographs of icons such as Jonathan Richman, Alan Ginsberg, and Jorge Luis Borges, justice.

Rated R. 78 mins. 

4 Stars

September 27, 2015

DE PALMA — NYFF53

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Your generosity keeps the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

Cole smithey.comMore edited than directed, “De Palma” is rightfully content to let the director of such classics as “Carrie” and “Scarface” tell the story of his career. Seated comfortably in front of a fireplace, Brian De Palma retraces his steps over the past 50 years that put him in the “New Hollywood” company of Steven Spielberg, Geroge Lucas, and Martin Scorsese. De Palma forcefully maintains that for all of the adoration poured on Alfred Hitchcock, that he [De Palma] was the only filmmaker to embrace Hitchcock’s techniques and style. Sure he’s leaving out Claude Chabrol, but so what; he’s making a point.

Screen Shot 2022-04-16 at 2.17.32 PM

From a cinephile’s perspective, hearing De Palma go on at length about nearly all of his movies in chronological order they were made is about as good as it gets. Co-directors Jake Paltrow and Noah Baumbach fulfill their role as documentarians by virtue of their congenial relationship with De Palma that allows him to be candid, funny, and insightful about a career filled with highs and lows.

It may be a no-brainer to attach appropriate clips from films like “Sisters” and “Blow-Out” under De Palma’s fascinating descriptions of making the films, but this is exactly what the film demands, and what the audience expects and deserves.

Casualties-of-war

Seeing a young Robert De Niro acting in a couple of De Palma’s early student films while studying filmmaking at Sarah Lawrence is a pure kick. Hearing the filmmaker discuss his use of split-screen imagery on “Sisters,” while watching the effect achieve his desired result of increasing suspense, is better than anything you’ll learn in film school. Indeed, “De Palma” serves as a multi-facetted lesson in filmmaking, directing, and the joys of making movies during the ‘70s golden era when anything seemed possible.

Especially enjoyable are De Palma’s anecdotes about such things as the way Sean Penn taunted Michael J. Fox on the set of his 1989 film “Casualties of War” in order to get the desired result from his co-star. “Television actor” never sounded so insulting.

Not Rated. 107 mins.

4 Stars

Cozy Cole

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