Tag: Brooklyn


July 26th, 2017 — 5:33am



It is not very often that we see a film all about the Hassidic community and completely in Yiddish (with subtitles of course).

Documentary filmmaker Joshua Z. Weinstein jumped into this project with all four hats (or should we say Yamakas) as director/writer/producer and cinematographer. He was able to connect with Hassidic Jews who spoke Yiddish and were interested in acting in this movie. This is a story of Menashe (Menashe Lustig) who is a recent widower and wants to continue taking care of his 10 or 11-year-old son, Rieven (Ruben Niborski) despite the Rabbi’s (Meyer Schwartz) view that the brother-in-law (Yoel Weisshaus) and his wife would be better caretakers. Menashe is also resisting the pressure that he should make an arrangement with the matchmaker and get a new wife.

On one hand, this could be a universal theme that might be set in other cultures but it is a unique accomplishment to pull it off in the ultraorthodox Hassidic community. The real Menashe (the actor) was quite genuine as the on screen Menashe. The child actor was superb equaling his father with facial expressions, which conveyed the complicated feelings that they were portraying.

While this movie was ultimately picked up by A-24 for distribution, it was made with a low budget. However, the story came across as quite authentic and was able to use the streets of Brooklyn and a sufficient number of appropriate extras to convey a genuine realistic atmosphere. This was a special accomplishment since the director/writer was not fluent in Yiddish and this project required numerous translators to assist in all aspects of it.

When a project such as this one is so successful in bringing a unique cultural environment to the screen, it makes us want to see an even more complicated in-depth story than what was delivered. Also missing were depictions of the positive values with mutual support of this group of people especially at times of holidays and the Sabbath. Nevertheless, we believe that many viewers will find this a worthwhile cinematic experience. (2017)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama


April 26th, 2017 — 1:21am

Dean -sp

We learn at the beginning of the story that a father and his grown son have just lost a wife and mother and are about to begin the grieving process. The father is played by two time Oscar winner Kevin Kline who turns in an outstanding performance. Likewise Dean, the son, is played by Demetri Martin in a excellent break through performance. So is the director, screenwriter and producer also in the person of Demetri Martin. An important part of the story are single panel cartoons which are interspersed throughout the film and focuses the mood and irony of various situations in the movie. These drawings are also by Demetri Martin. So who is Demetri Martin? He has been a stand up comic for many years, has worked with Conan O’Brien on TV and has published a book of his own cartoons. He is obviously very talented and was able to draw upon his own experience of having lost a parent at a young age and his understanding of the universal search for love combined with a finely honed sense of humor.

Despite the initial premise of the story, this is really not a sad or tearjerker of a story, except the few times that Dean listens to a saved message on his iPhone of his late mom giving him words of encouragement. This is more a story of exploring different ways of grieving, as well as budding love of both a young and older man. It also uses two great exciting American cities that traditionally have been a backdrop for cinematic romance, New York (Brooklyn) and Los Angeles. The two respective women who have stirred the potential of deep romantic feelings in father and son at a time that they were on opposite coasts were Nicky (Gillian Jacobs) and Carol (Mary Steenburgen). Many of Dean’s buddies in the movie, are played by actors and comics who have captured the beat of his generation.

The net result of this 87 minute film is a feel good experience which reminds us that the connection between loss and new love is natural and inevitable. We highly recommend this movie. It is funny and poignant with surprising depth. (2017)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Drama


November 4th, 2015 — 8:17am

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.37.05 PM****

Brooklyn -sp

This movie set out to describe the immigrant experience of one Irish young woman in the 1950s who leaves her mother and her her sister to come to America. The film seems to do everything right from vintage automobiles, the old country atmosphere in Ireland, the Brooklyn Brownstones, the views of the Manhattan Skyline, Coney Island including the beach with bathing suits of the time, a department store with pneumatic tubes and most of all authentic characters and their moving stories.

Producer Finola Dwyer shared with our preview audience the great efforts that were made to find the right actors for this sensitive independent movie. Although they are not well known, they all seemed perfectly casted. Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) is the young woman who is choosing to leave her mother (Jane Brennan) and sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) to make a new life in America, thanks to some contacts a priest Father Flood (Jim Broadbent), known to the family, is able to make for her. Isn’t it always some contact or connection that often opens the door for the new immigrant? Eilis falls in love with Tony an Italian boy (Emory Cohen). You obviously don’t have to be Italian to play one. There also is the attractive Irish lad in the old country (Domhnall Gleeson). The courtship and love story is so 1950s tender and real.

Of course there is conflict, tension and resolution although done extremely well. Nick Hornby, an accomplished author, wrote the screenplay based on the successful novel by Colm Tóibín. The music by Michael Brook was perfect. The take away from the movie was that your home is where your true love is.

The centerpiece of the movie is young Eilis who makes the trip to the United States not knowing what awaits her. She could have been your mother or your grandmother who made that trip many years ago and built a family from where we come or she could have been one of the young immigrants in the United States or elsewhere in modern times. Each one has a different love story that ultimately will make a home for a new generation. (2015)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Romance

5 Flights Up

May 11th, 2015 — 6:53am

***Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 11.26.48 PM

5 Flights Up – rm

This movie played to a full theater on a Saturday evening at 5:40 PM, with a full crowd lined up to come in for the next showing. Most were senior citizens.. This is not surprising as Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton play a senior couple.

He is an artist and works at home and she is a retired schoolteacher. They have no children but their dog has just been brought to the vet because she couldn’t walk and appeared to be in pain. By coincidence Morgan Freeman’s character is having trouble walking up the five flights of stairs of the couple’s apartment. They decide that it’s time to sell their Brooklyn apartment and find an apartment with an elevator in Manhattan. Going through this experience with their niece (Cynthia Nixon) who is the real estate agent , became an emotional one which allowed flashbacks to earlier courtship years and among other things the reaction of her mother when they decided to marry. We see the trials and tribulations as people view their apartment and they check out possibilities for a future apartment for themselves. There are repetitive bids and counter bids as their anxiety and ambivalence comes to a crescendo.

The storyline is quite contrived and not very realistic . There also is an extremely negative characterization of the real estate agent. But in the end, most of those moviegoers lining up to see this picture will not be disappointed. They will see a loving couple who are facing life’s challenges with continued affection for each other and will walk away having seen a “feel good movie.” (2015)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Romance

Two Lovers

September 6th, 2010 — 2:58am

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Two Lovers
– rm – Joaquin Phoenix channels an early Marlon Brando. Phoenix as he plays a nice but somewhat troubled Jewish young man. Gwenyth Paltrow is the one of his lovers, blond, beautiful and somewhat flakey as compared to his other girlfriend who is lovely and Jewish, just what his family wants for him. His mother is played by none other than Isabella Rossellini. The setting is Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and includes scenes on the NYC subway and Manhattan in the evening. Beautiful photography, excellent acting, but a really bad script and a stereotyped predictable storyline. There were only two other people in the movie theatre when we saw this picture. Phoenix has said that this is his last picture and unless you want to see him or like the familiar plot mentioned above, you can probably pass on this one.

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Romance

Our Song

September 6th, 2010 — 2:11am

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Our Song
– nf – This was an interesting “coming of age” story about three girls living in Brooklyn in difficult circumstances. They belonged to a terrific marching band which held practices which bonded them together and provided some stability in their lives. The dialogue and situations were so real that their confusion, dreams and pain were palpable. 2000

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

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