Cine-World Film Voting

If you find you can not leave a vote or comment, please email me at irun2eatpizza@hotmail.com
I welcome your opinions and will publish the results by week’s end.

Here is the list of movies shown at The Cine-World Film Fest at Burns Court Theater in Sarasota part of The Sarasota Film Society:

Narrative Films:
A Faithful Man Saint Frances VHYes!
Age Out Second Date Sex
Boy Genius The Chambermaid
Chained For Life The Infiltrators
Cosmos The Kill Team
Don’t Be a Dick The Report
Olympic Dreams The Song of Names
Premature Three Peaks

Docs:
Autonomy
Deconstructing the Beatles Abbey Road: Side 1
Deconstructing the Beatles Abbey Road: Side 2
Ferrante Fever
For Sama
Leaving Home, Come Home
Loopers
Midight Traveler
Scandalous
Screwball
Slay the Dragon
Vision Portraits

“Leaving Home, Coming Home” Doc: Tribute to Robert Frank

Another find at the Cine-World Film Fest at the Sarasota Film Society’s Burns Court Theater was the rare gem (as far as big screen showings) from 2004 “Leaving Home, Coming Home”. While the doc seemed on the home made side, cinema verite the fancier terminology, the depth of the doc really shone in its second half.

And this makes perfect sense, since like a stereotypical artist, Robert Frank is a bit guarded and quite eccentric demanding a film maker, in this case Gerald Fox, do his time to build trust. In at least two instances in the doc, Frank lectures the vidoegraphers that he is not going to perform and that he must be allowed to be natural. Only for his sweet second wife June, is he cajoled into ‘performing his scream’.

I loved the way Fox played with black and white vs. color. In some of the ‘current’ 2004 scenes, Fox chose black and white, proving that people, in a general sense, do not change with time. On Coney Island, Robert explains his original photographs were done with ordinary people in a natural environment and that the same photos could be taken now. People as a subject matter, remain fascinating, a status quo we have over our burgeoning android competition.

His stories about horrible 1950’s and 60’s racism experienced secondhand (in one case Robert was reprimanded for giving a ride to a black man) and then firsthand in Arkansas, when he was thrown in jail merely because the police found him suspicious, details how mean spirited our former years in the U. S. really were.

In another scene, Robert seems to get upset in modern day Coney Island at first, trying to ask people where the setting of one of his past photos was since the landscape had changed so. A few folks blow him off and you see him start to wilt, until he speaks to a black man in his 40’s who takes interest in Robert’s pursuit and helps his fellow man locate a former train station pictured in the print. As they say goodbye, Robert shakes the black man’s hand and the former, hugs his arm in a beautiful humanizing moment.

Frank’s home in Nova Scotia where the second half of the film takes place, was a refuge away from the busy streets of NYC. Here we discover life facts about his son’s schizophrenia diagnosis in the 70’s and 80’s leading to his ultimate early death and equally tragic, his daughter dying in a plane crash.

The doc is saved from being too sad due to his gorgeous marriage to his wife June, also an eccentric artist (her medium is metal figurines). I’m just guessing, but without this bond, I wonder if Frank could have made it through the death of his children.

My main disappointment was that the doc did not bother to update and put a card at the end explaining that Robert passed away in September 2019. I had to look that information up, not a hardship, but ti would have given the audience pertinent information. And if Robert was somewhat miserable in ‘old age’ already in 2004, I can’t imagine what he was like in 2019. While he seemed ok with aging (is anyone a fan really?), you could tell he was not pleased with the physical setbacks.

A secondary quibble is my preference to front loaded the doc Robert made with Mick Jagger called “Cocksucker Blues” rather than tacking that on at the end. It seemed to be more fitting with the Jack Kerouac parts, celebrity with celebrity as it were.

In the end the doc is a peaceful piece on aging and a message that you need to find solace where you can. For Robert Frank, that home was ultimately in his art.

A Faithful Man, More Passivity Proof

I’m wringing my hands together like Columbo did when he was on the brink of cracking a case, because if A Faithful Man does not prove my theory* that men stay too long in dysfunctional relationships, then I’ll eat my NFL hat (see the Columbo NFL hat trivia at https://m.imdb.com/review/rw4400766/). *I’ve written an essay detailing my theory called “High Time for a Male Self-Contentment Revival”, ask me I’ll share it with you. Request the essay pitch at my email: irun2eatpizza@hotmial.com

While a bit uneven in mood, A Faithful Man was entertaining and surprising. Concerned by the movie poster’s depiction of two women kissing one man, basically the story of my second marriage (well, he had about 5 others after him), would memories I’d like to keep in the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind category bubble to the surface? Mais non, c’est not what happened…sorry slipped back into English.

Louis Garrel wrote, directed and starred in this short movie (hour and fifteen) and was impressive as the lead. Louis does a fine job with a story that I can’t say much about without spoilers. I will say while I worried it was a film about silly men dependent on women, it may actually be a film about silly men dependent on women…AND it didn’t incense me, meaning the writing and acting were pleasant enough to make the sadness of men who stay with manipulative women not seem quite so tragic.

And speaking of women, the two leads were a mixed bag: Laetitia Casta, drop dead gorgeous (may I have her chest? instead of my pancakes?) was terrific. Lily Rose-Depp (Johnny’s daughter) seemed a bit transparent and cloying as the other woman.

Garrel’s story telling shone in his depction of the young boy (Joseph Engel) who to tie back to my Columbo reference is a bit of a sleuth himself. Engel was fantastic and probably has a big film future ahead of him.

A Faithful Man was a nice kick off for my first film in the Cine-World Film Fest.

“Where’s My Roy Cohn?”, Just like MJ, he’s dead and gone

Ok, I saw Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” last night at Sarasota Film Society’s (https://filmsociety.org/) Burns Court on it last night.

There have simply been too many fantastic docs out this year for this to land as a ‘must see’, though it certainly was enlightening. I didn’t mind that it was an advertisement for the Democratic 2020 campaign by showing Roy’s legal prowess helping to acquit Trump in a racial bias suit decades ago.

But let’s face facts though…as I read the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” in preparation for the “The Irishman”, JFK, a respected Democrat, had mafia help to gain his election win.

Politicians are under such money pressure (see the NPR News I heard as I rode home from Joker:(http://www.getroxy.xyz/promise-no-spoilers-jokers-wild/) it’s no wonder they all smell of the swamp. I’m not sure if we’ll ever drain it, at least not in my lifetime. But let’s just try to remain civil to one another.

And speaking of civil, while Cohn was a morally corrupt person, I did find offensive the fact that narrators repeatedly called his mother ‘ugly’ and unwanted, and then also depicted Roy with the same adjectives. The lawyer who was basically paid to marry Dora (Roy’s mom) was no looker either, but yet none of the narrator’s mentioned his ‘Facebook’ rating. I saw that as very mean spirited narration. Let’s recognize people’s worth based on what they did in life. Surely their behavior was ugly, but let’s leave looks out of it. There’s plenty of pretty people who are just as ugly on the inside, Ted Bundy, just to name an infamous one.

Also, let’s recognize the shame Roy underwent being called out as a fairy back when homosexuals were disparaged, as well as the fact that once disbarred, his ‘true friends’ were no where to be found.

Again, let’s make 2020 a year of balanced perspective and stick to an individual’s current (meaning past two decades) behavior as what’s fair game for judgment.

I Don’t Know Why You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello…The Farewell

Lulu Wang’s first major film, “The Farewell”, which she both wrote and directed, should be a tutorial for American film makers. Sure, we have our rare Damien Chazelle folks (rent “First Man”, for instance, which definitely didn’t get enough box office love), but if you want truly poignant pensive artistic moments on film, these days you need to see foreign films like Ms. Wang’s.

But first, promise me you won’t look into the film’s subject matter or talk to blabber mouths who have seen it, as there are two major plot point spoilers that are much more impactful as surprises.

Without spilling the aforementioned, I do want to mention my favorite moments, the first of which has to do with another reason I like foreign films: barring meeting a man of whom I have confidence in planning over seas travel, I’m probably never visiting China or Japan. Thus, going to a film like The Farewell (or the incredible Oscar nominated “Shoplifters”) is my way of vicarious world travel. To that end, “The Farewell” fascinated me by the cemetery ritual as the family goes to the patriarch’s grave seeking the deceased’s blessing for an engaged couple. The simultaneous, but out of sync, reverential bowing of the family was pure cinematic craft.

For a second ‘moment’, I’ll cheat with a montage of clips of ingenious beauty: 1. staring out her hotel window pre slumber, the granddaughter (played by the rapper/comedian Akwafina who is so good, I didn’t remember that she wasn’t just an actress while watching) watches cigarette smoke gather and dissipate, 2. the close ups on the groom’s face as he goes from understated nervousness to inebriation to room spins to grief, 3. the pink conference room decorated in balloons as the family searches for the bride to be’s earring as she gets a facial, and 4. the various shots of looming high rises in China.

Last, the instrumental and vocal music, both classical and modern, added to the rich evocative tone of the film. In fact, at the film’s finale, a Chinese version of “Without You”(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Without_You_(Badfinger_song) could almost incite an ‘I’ll be your Bill Munson’ confession.

Is The Farewell perfect? No, but the only element keeping it from that were possibly one too many cliched moments at the wedding and a bit of a random piano playing segment that could easily have been left on the cutting room floor. No matter, The Farewell is definitely worth seeing.

Confessions of a 55 Year Old (Classic Movie) Virgin

Ok Ok, I confess. I had never seen Citizen Kane before last night’s showing at Sarasota Film Society’s Cinematheque.

(A quick aside, why the heck isn’t Sarasota Cinematheque packed with Ringling College Film Majors? You’re missing out! Giant screen, great sound, hipster vibe, talk back op…Get over to 500 Tallevast Road on Saturday nights!)

Ok, back to my confession…Much like my virginal metaphor, I had seen the Citizen Kane trailer plenty of times and only noticed some old guy ranting…and hence thought, won’t this be painful? Isn’t it overrated?

But alas, the movie truly is an orgasmic masterpiece. Like my English teacher literary equivalent I tout almost weekly (Ray Bradbury‘s 1959 prescient Fahrenheit 451), Citizen Kane for 1941 is the gold standard for universal storytelling; hoarding to fill emotional needs, the replay of familial cyclical dysfunction (CK’s dad abused him, he then neglects his own son), man’s weakness to infidelity and subsequent political downfalls, the corruption of wealth and power. It’s all there in under 2 hours.

Besides my awe of having missed this for more than half my life, my main takeaways were: Orson Welles (genius, of course, both acting and in storytelling), Joseph Cotton (funniest in the film, especially the nursing home scene where he was trying to remember the name of a place and said a long list ending with Sloppy Joe’s) and the cinematography of doors and windows, shadow, smoke, and in the end, fire. The women in the film, notably three: mother (Agnes Moorehead) and two wives (Ruth Warrick-wow I watched All My Children for years and never knew, and Dorothy Comingore) were all extremely well performed, both due to the writing (strong women for their day) and in believable portraits of women in angst of different varieties.

I couldn’t help notice a strong resemblance of Orson Welles and Leonardo DeCaprio and also how The Wolf on Wall Street seemed to copy Citizen Kane in its mania of wealth gone wild. This is especially seen in the scene where CK acquires the writers from a competing newspaper and gets up to do a number with dancing girls. Make no mistake, I’m not saying that The Wolf on Wall Street or Leonardo is better than CK, just that there is a strong physical and timing resemblance. Surely Scorsese had to have Citizen Kane dreams while filming Wolf.

So, I’m glad I pulled a Tim Tebow and waited because now I know why the film Citizen Kane has been rated the number one movie in American Film history and is far better than Gone With the Wind and Vertigo due to its universal themes and artistic quality.

A Solid Second Serve, Borg vs. McEnroe

So right off the bat I have to say Mea Culpa in being THE most biased reviewer when it comes to a film about John McEnroe (Borg vs. McEnroe directed by Janus Metz). See I’ve been in love with him since I was 17, had my bedroom wall plastered with his photos as a senior in high school, met him for an autograph in 1983, even loved his short lived interview show, and am still to this day, downright giddy when I see him commentating. I LOVE THIS MAN.

On the other hand, I may be the most biased against a film that stars Shia LaBeouf as John McEnroe. HOWEVER, Shia LaBeouf actually did a very good job portraying him. And I mean, very, very believable. My only nitpick is that McEnroe is a rocker (meaning in the physical self-soothing way) and in a scene where he’s on an interview Tonight Show like show, he sat perfectly still. That’s not Mac. But beyond that, excellent. And talk about kindred spirits…it’s no secret that Shia has been arrested a few times due to reckless behavior. I’d actually read Shia’s book about his obviously tortured past. I’d even help him edit (HINT, HINT).

The man who plays Borg could have easily been Borg’s son, or an identical clone that was cryogenically defrosted, Sverrir Gudnason. Not much acting involved besides pensive looks, but still, well done. And the man who’s in every Lars Von Trier film, Stellan Skarsgard, was also good as ‘the coach’.

The screenplay by Ronnie Sandahl (who won accolades for a foreign film called Under Dog) told each player’s back stories enough for us to understand their tremendous drive to be victor. And extra congrats to the man who did the musical score, Jonas Struck who not only saved, but refreshed re-watching a condensed 5 hour tennis match.

Definitely worth seeing on the big screen, especially if you’re a tennis fan. And thank you very much to my comedy editor and com padre, Bob, for treating me to this film, the finale of the Cineworld Film Fest sponsored by the Sarasota film Society.