Page 3 of 3 FirstFirst 123
Results 31 to 35 of 35

Thread: New York Film Festival 2019

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    14,287

    CENSOR (Prano Bailey-Bond 2021)

    PRANO BAILEY-BOND: CENSOR (2021)


    NIAMH ALGAR IN CENSOR

    Saving UK auds from icky horror extremes, but not herself

    Previous viewers of Peter Strickland's 2012 Berberian Sound Studio will feel themselves on familiar ground with Prano Bailey-Bond's Censor. Again this is a precise and self-conscious picture of the world of period horror film, though this one takes the familiar swing of breaking down the fourth wall toward the end when the female protagonist, a 1980's British censor of video nasty style horror called Enid Baines (Niamh Algar, recently seen in Guy Ritchie's Wrath of Man) loses her grip on "reality" and dives full-on into a personal fantasy world after confusing scenes from a horror film with memories of the traumatic loss of her own sister years ago.

    The genre's different too: Berberian Soind took Toby Jones into Italy for some giallo, and this is in England and concerns the hayday of the video/VHS era when under-the-counter illegal "video nasty" stuff ran off the rails. In both cases, those not into period horror might prefer to stay at home. But the delicate restrained atmosphere and delight in control will delight special tastes. Where Berberian felt as if the plot-line was just an excuse for reveling in period film and tape and sound techniques and accoutrements, with the subtlety of Toby Jones's acting outweighed by the relative crudity of the other performers', Censor is always leading up to a tense, genre-style focus on Enid's trauma and her loss of touch.

    But viewers and critics have wished Baily-Bond had ramped up the violence and vileness more. When there is discussion of decapitations and face-eating (alleged to have inspired a real life murder), some feel Censor should not have censored but let rip. In truth, both of these films are constipated and distractingly obsessed with their own arcane trappings. And the sense of confinement: Gilderoy's (Toby Jones) impression of being trapped in an unpleasant job he's not getting adequately paid for; Enid's general uptightness, her prim blouses buttoned up to the neck - and the whole absurdity of considering displays of cruelty, torture, violence, and murder as matters to nitpick about. Is genital mutilation onscreen too much, but a decapitation okay because it's so patently absurd? Enid thinks so.

    The interest is that Enid, and perhaps anybody who spends long hours watching ultra-violence staged to entertain a special audience, may either be lastingly traumatized by such activity, unconsciously develop a strong taste for it, or both. But Censor doesn't develop this theme as fully or clearly as it might have done. It also doesn't go as far as could have worked into the full-on horror show finale, some feel. Others have suggested the social commentary about conservative Thatcher-era repression using film violence as a pretext was another thing that could have been developed further. These are two divergent aspects of the film that, if expanded, might have made Censor feel solider and more memorable.

    What often attracts in a "sophisticated" horror film like this one is its striking sound and visuals, the sensory stimuli. Censor has a distinctive restrained look at first, rather like that of Berberian Sound Studio. Totally changing gears in its final segment, it works hard to mimic grainy, ugly videotape used in "nasty" VCR material such as Enid has been constantly studying, and now imaginatively merges into. Restraint of color and style and precision of mise-en-scene are at a high level in both these films. But Censor's climax is a little underwhelming, and you're warned that if,l like me, you're not an enthusiast for the genres referenced, the return diminishes as the reels play out. The best "horror" in film goes beyond convention into something truly personal and original, as in the disturbing fantasies of Cronenberg and David Lynch.

    Let's not make unfair comparisons, though, but simply conclude, as Jessica Kiang does in her Variety review, that Censor is "a stylish calling card for all involved."

    Censor, 84 mins., debuted at Sundance Jan. 28, 2021, showing also at Berlin, Amsterdam, Seattle, San Francisco and Jeonju. Metascore 69% (Berberian: 80%) Scheduled for US release Jun. 11, 2021.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-10-2021 at 04:04 PM.

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    14,287

    LES NÔTRES (Jeanne Leblanc 2020)

    JEANNE LEBLANC: LES NÔTRES/OUR OWN (2020)


    ÉMILIE BIERRE IN LES NÔTRES

    A self-healing society closes around an illicit teen pregnancy

    Les nôtres/Our Own, a French Canadian movie about an unwanted pregnancy, ends with a sort of ironic inconsequence. There was much ado. The thirteen-year-old high school sophomore Magalie (Emilie Bierre) is the daughter of a locally important man who tragically died a year ago. The mayor, Jean-Marc Ricard (Paul Doucet) has dedicated a project in the man's honor, a park, Saint Germaine. His hushed voice doing so dominates the opening scene. This same mayor is the father of Magalie's baby, which she decides to keep. There's a lot of fuss about finding out who the father is. It's never made clear why this should matter so much, exactly, but of course Mayor Ricard is very intent on the secret's not coming out, and everyone, including her classmates, is scandalized by, and disapproving of, Magalie's pregnancy. This is a repressed, constipated film, as perhaps befits the portrait of a small, closely bound community, the quiet Quebecois town of Sainte-Adeline. Everyone here wants to know secrets, or to share in hiding them. It's also a subtle, atmospheric film that shows how this society closes around and protects its own, reducing the tempests to teacups in the end.

    in this hushed and atmospheric film the accomplished director, Jeanne Leblanc, doesn't carry everything off entirely successfully: there are gaps in the story and hiccups in the narrative. It's not so evident, as blurbs claim and reviews parrot, that we are seeing a "carefully maintained social varnish eventually crack" here. I see the society, but not so much the varnish. Nonetheless the atmosphere of lush greenery, high hedges, thick curtains and a tight, muted society is well conveyed. There is a photo image of Magalie seen from the back nude on a disheveled bed in a golden light that's lovely and haunting as an Italian renaissance pointing - or perhaps dp Tobie Marier-Robitaille had Ingres in mind. Emilie Bierre's stubborn silences are eloquent in her many scenes.

    The comparisons that have been made with Eliza Hittman's celebrated Never Rarely Sometimes Always seem pretty wide of the mark. The difference is between the portrait of an isolated individual and the portrait of a society. Hittman's film is a straightforward, lonely, courageous, almost numbingly realistic real-time narrative of the struggle of a pregnant teenage girl in an increasingly women's-health-unfriendly America to get an abortion on her own, without local social services. Les Nôtres is an intentionally dodgy, and ambiguous film. Its young pregnant girl rejects abortion, and it's about a community. The society is a very collective one. What its attitude toward abortion is, we never learn.

    Magalie faints in dance class, and a hospital checkup reveals she's pregnant past the first trimester, and didn't know it. The film is cagey with us, not revealing her special relationship with the mayor, who calls her "princess," till half an hour in. In fact there is more fuss about the unknown father than about the unwed, very underage mother. That is what her mother, the alternately inquisitorial/hysterical and loving Isabelle (Marianne Farley), is most concerned about. This is also a lot about Isabelle's drama. Magalie stonewalls with everyone for several reasons. It's the only way she can maintain some independence. But she's also trying to figure things out.

    She will have nothing to do with the social services officer, Patrice (Guillaume CYr). And he's not ultimately sympathetic. A big, overweight young man, he claims he and his girlfriend had the same problem once and he "understands." But he keeps popping up all the time and seems like a detective trying to get to the identity of the dad. In particular, there is questioning of Manu (Léon Diconca Pelletier), a boy who Magalie insists is not her boyfriend, but to whom she is close. Too close, the mayor says. Manu and the younger, darker, more Latino-looking Felipe (Santiago de la Cortina) are two Mexican boys adopted by the mayor and his wife Chantal (Judith Baribeau).

    The two Mexican boys' residence in the mayor's house doesn't prevent everyone from referring to them in a racist manner, and a boy at school attacks Manu and calls him a "taco." However Manu is tall and has a ponytail and looks like a posh private school boy to me. At a game at school, there is only one person of color visible in the crowd, and that is Felipe. There is nothing integrated or multi-cultural about this world. There is a lot going on - everyone is busy doing things - except maybe breathing. Sometimes this seems a stifling world.

    The final sequence shows a blasé understanding, culturally French, perhaps, that all the fuss has been much ado about nothing. Nobody gets caught - yet: the cop car that comes to pick up Magalie when she's standing with the middle aged authority figure who has knocked her up, is not for him, and only there because she has been missing. She says she just wants to go home.

    Jump forward in time, with Magalie self-consciously shown to be big-breasted but flat-stomached now, to a busy, cozy scene of familiar adults, notably Magalie's mother and the mayor and his wife. They're taking care of the baby boy. It's positively a crowd, a comforting mass. "Won't you stay?" asks the mayor's wife. "No thanks," says Magalie. "My friends are waiting for me." Jump to the final scene: Magalie in the back of a car next to Manu. Of course: she's young. She needs to hang out with her friends. The baby will be alright. There are lots of adults to take care of him.

    Both images, the house interior and the car interior, are social scenes, cozy with supportive people. But we're left with queasy memories of Magalie and the mayor; of the movie's most uncomfortable scene, of the mayor having abortive, humiliating sex with his wife Chantal; and all the nosiness, the repression, the prejudice of this provincial world. Quebec is a province, whose French sounds stranger than the French of Africa. Montreal is somewhere else. It's not even mentioned, nor are books, or the world outside. This movie made me uncomfortable.

    Les nôtres/Our Own, 105 mins., debuted at the Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québecois (RVCQ) Feb. 26, 2020, and showed also at Nashville Oct. 2020, and Raindance Nov. 2020. Virtual US release by Oscilloscope Jun. 18, 2021.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-09-2021 at 01:51 PM.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    14,287

    TAKE ME SOMEWHERE NICE (Ena Sendijarević 2019)

    TAKE ME SOMEWHERE NICE (Ena Sendijarević 2019)


    SARA LUNA ZORIC, LAZAR DRAGOJEVIC IN TAKE ME SOMEWHERE NICE

    A bright journey through an unfamiliar homeland

    There's a certain charming naiveté to saying your debut feature is inspired by Jim Jarmusch's 1984 Stranger Than Paradise. Perhaps one should be kind about this. There aren't very many Bosnian features, out of Holland or otherwise. But - here's the big but - Jarmusch's film is a classic, one of a handful of truly iconic American indie films of the past forty years. Take Me Somewhere Nice is a beautiful, confident first film. But - Stranger in Paradise it's not, not by a mile.

    Take Me Somewhere Nice, which won the top prize at Sarajevo, of course isn't a terrible film at all. It just lacks the brilliantly original structure - the signature "fade in, fade out, fade in, fade out" scene framing Ebert praises in his original review. It lacks the brilliant writing that makes Stranger so jawdroppingly absorbing toward the end. It lacks the uniquely quirky and confident main characters. And it lacks the humanity. Jarmusch makes you love his pseudo-hipster goofballs. Sendijarević gives us youthful freshness. Her lead trio are more appealing than complex.

    The Jarmusch influence does not run deep, but it is there in the basic way the characters are moved around. This too is a dry, ironic road trip involving two young men and a young woman visiting from another country, corresponding to Willie, Eddie, and Eva in Stranger. Alma (Sara Luna Zoric), like the director, is Bosnian born, but grew up and lives in Holland. Alma's cousin in Bosnia, Emir (Ernad Prnjavorac), has no use for her, as Willie has none for his visiting cousin Eva from Hungary, and Alma and Emir wind up traveling with Emir's buddy Denis (Lazar Dragojevic), the way Willie and his sidekick Eddie wound up traveling with Eva.

    Stranger in Paradise is mostly in English, but Eva and her aunt Lotte speak Hungarian sometimes. Willie utterly refuses to speak it, and has spent his ten years in the USA acquiring his deadpan hipster manner, learning to eat TV dinners ("this is how we eat in America") and his authentic New York accent. Is there some playing around with the way Alma speaks Bosnian because she's been living elsewhere? It would be nice if there were and nice to know.

    Denis is borderline cute. Sendijarević has some sexual byplay in store for him and Alma. Probably one reason why Stranger in Paradise is so strong is because its three young people are not lining up to smooch. They're freestanding deadpan originals.

    The plot-line and writing of Somewhere Nice are scattered. Alma has come to see her sick father whom she has never known, but precious little is ever made of this. There is all this stuff about Alma running off on a bus, being unable to get her suitcase opened - Emir can't open it either - but this somehow winds up being more memorable than it should be. Emir and Denis "kidnap" Alma. Why is this such a trivial event? Why does the bit with the cop and the coffin in the trunk seem like something we've seen before?

    In Take Me Somewhere Nice, what happens, sadly, doesn't feel significant, whereas as Ebert puts it, Stranger in Paradise is absolutely brilliant at creating "a constant, almost kaleidoscopic experience of discovery," and entertainingly "making a mountain out of a molehill" over and over. Take Me Somewhere Nice all more or less reduces to Alma showing off and having sex with someone she shouldn't. Sendijarević loses her way at the end. The final scenes are confusing and certainly don't either resolve anything - or leave things ironically unresolved either. They just leave one puzzled.

    Watching this movie without Jarmusch's black fade-outs, I felt lost. Instead there is a free-flowing, meandering structure, really not a structure at all. There is one compensation: the bright, candy-colored cinematography by Emo Weemhoff, and the way it's made more striking by the use of Academy ratio. There's a sense the square image wants to contain things but keeps failing. The film is a succession of beautifully composed images: you can see them lined up on the trailer. [Scroll through a lot of available stills here.] The handsome visual style is what one remembers - not so much the events it's used to depict. The black and white stock used for Tom DiCillo's cinematography in Stranger Than Paradise isn't pretty this way. DiCillo more selflessly serves the characters, and depicts Jarmusch's sense of America as an urban industrial wasteland, a place memorably off-putting and strange.

    But Sendijarević clearly has talent and ambition, who with the international attention her first film has gotten, will probably be able to go on to more substantial work.

    Take Me Somewhere Nice debuted in Jan. 2019 at Rotterdam and was part of the ACID program at Cannes in May; it was featured also at Buenos Aires (Al Este), Espinho NDDF (Portugal), Taipei, Guanajuato, Wrocław, Utrecht, and Cologne, all in the summer and fall of 2019. UK internet release was May 21, 2021, and French theatrical release is coming Jul. 7. US release by Dekanalog in theatres and virtual cinemas on June 11, 2021.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; Yesterday at 09:10 AM.

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    14,287

    TRUMAN & TENNESSEE: AN INTIMATE CONVERSATION (Lisa Immordino Vreeland 2020)

    LISA IMMORDINO VREELAND:TRUMAN &TENNESSEE: AN TNTIMATE CONVERSATION (2020)


    TRUMAN CAPOTE; TENNESSEE WILLIAMS IN THE 1950S

    A gossipy, entertaining compare-and-contrast. Not really a "conversation"

    I'm very sorry (as I can hear Truman "&" Tennessee saying, themselves), but this isn't an "intimate conversation." It's not a "conversation" at all. It's lines from each of the two men, both gay American writers from the South who became famous in the fifties, in case you don't know, talking to themselves. Or they are talking to interviewers like David Frost or Dick Cavett. And the lines in some cases are read by actors imitating their voices (Jim Parsons as Capote - not very good; Zachary Quinto - a little better ).

    Two monologues don't make a conversation - at least I hope not! Nowadays, one wonders. This is a time when you think the art of conversation couldn't be more in decline and then it gets worse. That a fabricated collage like this could be called a "conversation," and even an "intimate" one, is one more sign of the decline of conversation and the lack of understanding of what it entails.

    Truman "says" that when they first met, he being 16 and Tennessee 29, Tennessee wanted it to be an "intellectual friendship," meaning no sex, and apparently it was. Though it had serious ups and downs, this friendship lasted till the end. Tennessee died at 71 from an overdose of barbiturates; Truman, 18 months later at 59 from complications of alcoholism.

    Capote's first published works, very precocious, were a story collection, the novel Other Voices, Other Rooms, and a slim book of exquisite travel essays, Local Color. I read them when I was a young teenager. (I was a precocious reader.) Williams' first two great successes were the two plays, A Streetcar Name Desire and The Glass Menagerie. Back in the day one heard about them all the time and they are still living theatrical classics.

    That these two gay southern men became icons of American writing in the Fifties must be important. What does it mean? Can this breezy, somewhat contrived film tell us? Probably not; but it can keep us entertained for an hour and twenty-five minutes.

    The conceit of the "conversation" between two man we almost never see together is the organizing principle. But like so many modern documentaries this one drew on many sources - and frustratingly, flashes on numerous articles about its subjects to allude to them without revealing their contents. A juicy example is James Wolcott's 1976 Village Voice piece about Capote, "Truman Capote Sups on the Flesh of the Famous." That one I glimpsed, freeze-framed, looked up, and found reissued online; but unlike biographical material in print, films like this don't provide the information that would allow one to follow up and read these numerous snapshotted articles. They're like teasers. Does it ever occur to anyone that this makes little sense?

    What we get inTruman and Tennessee in lieu of "intimate conversation," are parallel portraits. And they do have things in common besides being gay writers from the South. They both drank and smoked a lot. They both went to "Doctor Feelgood" - Max Jacobson, the name not mentioned here - the celebrity pill and injection dispenser (who reportedly caused President Kennedy, under the power of his injections, to go almost to the brink of nuclear war). Incidentally they both had a femme side, and both are cited saying they felt they had a little girl lurking within from childhood.

    The fun side and the dark side are evinced by Truman and Tennessee respectively. Tennessee had his boisterous laugh. But Truman comes off lighter in the clips from interviews, where you can see he was quite funny. He must have been good company - wonder he got to have so many friends and could put on his Black and White Ball at the Plaza Hotel, the celebrity party to end all parties. Tennessee on the other hand we keep seeing in nasty, probing moments of patent absurdity when the British interviewer David Frost, once cock of the walk, asks him more and more intimate, embarrassing questions that he answers genially and politely but increasingly uneasily. Here Dick Cavett, shown more briefly, shines forth as a great deal more intelligent. Why did Frost enjoy such fame? Because of his boldness. For Tennessee, the issue of persistent depression, alcoholism, and preoccupation with horrible things like lobotomies and cannibalism come up.

    But the clips from movies based on Tennessee Williams plays, featuring the most glamorous and talented actors of the day, Paul Newman, Richard Burton, and Elizabeth Taylor, present the playwright in a very favorable light and show how central he was in the popular imagination as a poet of glamorous decadence. Truman says he wanted Marilyn Monroe to play Holly Golightly in the movie of Breakfast at Tiffany's (more clips), not the harder, more polished Aubrey Hepburn. This book seemed (to me) one of Capote's weakest efforts and the movie uninteresting, a cheapening of something already cheap. But movie clips are used here only illustratively, not evaluated.

    The account here of Capote moves on to the magnm opus that both made and destroyed Capote, his meticulous "nonfiction novel" of the Clutter family massacre in Kansas, and again film clips show well, because the movie version of this book sill look very good now, and very close to the real murderers and victims glimpsed in still photos here.

    Next we move on to the decline and fall of these two high profile artists, but it seems Capote was a more visible public figure, growing chubbier and more numbed-out all the time, spoiled, pampered, but going under. Gossip becomes the the big theme in Truman's declining years as he causes gleeful outrage with the four successively more scandalous excerpts from his never-finished novel Answered Prayers, which we all read with pleasure and excitement. Capote acknowledged that it was a "roman à clef" (mispronounced by the actor doing his voice) and said every bit of it was "absolutely true," though he also says it was gossip and embroidered. Yet though in a dubious cause, you could appreciate Capote's refined literary craftsmanship raising its head again, which had been neutralized in the masked reportage of In Cold Blood; but the main pleasure for gossip specialists was spotting the famous people - including a very unflattering portrait of Mr. Williams as "Mr. Wallace," client of a call boy service - thinly veiled in these tasty snippets. Capote is heard saying that all fiction is gossip, including Anna Karenina or War and Peace or Madame Bovary "or Proust."

    One is surprised to hear Capote, who became a denizen of the short-lived Studio 54, saying that it was too bad "people like Toulouse Lautrec, or Baudelaire, or Oscar Wilde" couldn't have enjoyed it and "Cole Porter would have loved it" as well as Proust. He seems to have gone a bit overboard. Obviously Capote cheapened himself, sold out to celebrity, including his own, and was so exhausted by self-indulgence and his punishing obsession with the Clutter murders that he lost control of his literary gift. Meanwhile Tennessee Williams is heard announcing that he never got a good review after The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1963) and could never fully recover from the loss of his longtime companion Frank Merlo, who died of lung cancer in 1963. But this film doesn't fully represent Tennessee Williams' success and productivity during his period of hot play production from 1944 to 1963. He loses here in the celebrity contest. There's moe gossipy material about Truman Capote, even though Capote spent a lot of time not really writing anything.

    This movie is like a child distracted by pretty baubles. It's distracted by whatever colorful quotes or clips it finds, and so it provides a confusing picture distracting us from the fact that, alas, Truman Capote, despite his exquisite precocious beginnings, doesn't life up to comparison with other Southern writers, Harper Lee, Carson McCullers, and, yes, Tennessee Williams, as the catty gem by James Wolcott cited above will tell you.

    This film despite its contrived format will be an introduction to the two important writers that may inspire younger viewers to read their work. Tennessee's plays of course must be seen, not just read. But the questions about why these two writers are important and what their fame means are not answered, and it feels as though Capote's somewhat greater gossip and celebrity value makes the film give him a greater importance as a literary figure whereas that may properly belong to his elder, Tennessee. I enjoyed all the review of Capote's story, but suspect I'd have been better served by less about him and more about Tennessee Williams.

    (Lisa Immordino Vreeland has previously made documentary portraits of fashion maven Diana Vreeland (her husband's grandmother), art collector Peggy Guggenheim, and royal photographer Cecil Beaton.)

    Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation,86 mins., opens in New York at Film Forum and Los Angeles at The Nuart and Laemmle Playhouse & Town Center 5 movie theaters, and is available in virtual theaters throughout the US through KinoMarquee.com starting June 18, 2021.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-10-2021 at 01:36 PM.

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    14,287

    12 MIGHTY ORPHANS (Ty Roberts 2021)

    TY ROBERTS: 12 MIGHTY ORPHANS (2021)



    A period come-from-behind sports tale

    A Texas orphanage in the dust bowl era (when Roosevelt's New Deal is starting up) is the site of this period sports drama, which offers nothing unconventional or unexpected but has some familiar faces in the cast for those in search of nostalgia and uplift. On hand are Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Luke Wilson and Treat Williams.

    The main characters are the new math teacher and football coach, Rusty Russell ((Wilson), who has volunteered for this job at the Masonic Home orphanage as a charitable gesture, and who comes with his wife Juanita (Vanessa Hall) - not much heard from; and the alcoholic elder statesman, school doctor, seen mostly as manager of the team and cohort of Russell,Doc Hall (Martin Sheen, now 80), who loves the boys and believes in them. His voiceover comments make the film's uplifting points. These are mellow and appealing characters and actors, and they better be, since we see a lot of them. Russell is a war hero with the flashbacks to prove it, though if that's from World War I those flashbacks go pretty far back. He seems to have unstoppable optimism and a can-do attitude. Boys without shoes and a single deflated football can't deflate his spirit. Doc Hall seems a great optimist too, though the fact that he's half drunk much of the time makes one dubious.

    To counteract this wave of goodness there are the omnipresent bad guys, notably the school director Frank Wynn (Wayne Knight), a crudely depicted meanie whose main desire is the make money with the boy's work, though the screenplay doesn't show us much about what that work is. And Winn has various bad sport allies who appear from time to time. Officials are crooked and coaches of other teams are unsportsmanlike, sadistic cheaters who make the world of thirties Texas high school football seem a dangerous and unsavory place.

    Among the boys, who come to seem a bright-eyed bunch - though most of them can't divide 4 into 16 when Rusty arrives and have no knowledge of football and little enthusiasm at first for playing, are not delineated in more than the sketchiest details. One key boy, a late arrival, Hardy Brown (Jake Austin Walker), is the designated come-from-behind character. He has been pulled away from hugging his father's bloody corpse, whatever that means (we learn later), and he's full of anger and pessimism, but knows how to divide 4 into 16, and his combativeness foreshadows a ferocious footballer. We know these hill-billy-looking boys with no training or knowledge are going to become surprise champions and Hardy Brown will lead them to success - if he doesn't kill anybody on the field, as seems iffy at first, or if the teams bigoted,sadistic opponents don't destroy them. Luckily, the publicity is great and before long the Mighty Mites have none other than FDR (Wes Anderson actor Larry Pine) as an influential fan.

    This action is based on the eponymous novel by Jim Dent about the real-life 1930s-1940s Mighty Mites team from the Masonic Home and School of Texas. A competently pedestrian review of this movie by Carlos Aguilar for RoberEbert.com calls the adaptation of the novel "competently pedestrian." What he probably means to say is this story is cliché-ridden and thin, and the writing is pretty terrible and the directing not much better. What the phrase doesn't cover is the tried and true underdogs-win content, the mellow, engaging veteran actors, the energetic, sometimes edgy newcomers, and the fun of boys running around pummeling each other for points and reluctant accolades and frustrating the standard-issue bad guys who try to stop them. The football field action is enlivened by coach Russell developing a revolutionary new spread-defense formation to maximize his 12-man team's light weight and speed, putting it into action. Luke Wilson still has his authentic Texas voice that sounds good as a motivator.

    A couple of hours seems like a somewhat long time for a story like this, but not if passing the time is what you're watching this for, lying around at home video-watching some evening or afternoon. For that it can serve a purpose. And some of you may just get the uplift this film means to deliver and it might even seem worth braving post-pandemic movie theaters where it is showing now. For winning critical accolades, no, even "competently pedestrian" seems too generous a description to describe the reviewers' opinions if the Metacritic rating of 36% can be trusted.

    Robert Duvall, who is now 90, makes only a ceremonial appearance as a (semi-retired?) state high school official. He adds to the film's venerable feel.

    12 Mighty Orphans, 118 mins., opens theatrically in New York City and Texas June 11, 2012, and will be featured at Tribeca June 18. Watched at home for this review on a screener provided by Sony. Also now showing at Metreon, San Francisco; Century 25, Union City, and Maya Pittsburg, Pittsbugh, California.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; Yesterday at 11:20 PM.

Page 3 of 3 FirstFirst 123

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •