Just a four pack of reviews ala the indie scene this week, but as usual the cinema spectrum covered runs a wide genre gamut for the film fan looking for more. Deeply dramatic docs that shed light on life changing events, a culinary legend who accepts nothing less than the best, a kid who learns to wield the bible like a psychotic dons a murder weapon and a film inspired by the work of iconic Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan make up the subjects via the Encapsulated Movie Reviews below. To get the critical skinny on Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992, Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent, The Student and Somewhere Beautiful read on.
LET IT FALL: LOS ANGELES 1982-1992
(Lincoln Square Productions)
Sporting a similar bold bravado and eye opening quality that O.J.: Made In America so effective, Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 paints an equally stunning picture of the events leading up to the 1992 uprising after the Rodney King verdicts and does so surprisingly by remaining objective. Not that there aren’t obvious foes (former Police Chief Daryl Gates is brought down by his fellow officers and his own archival words here), scary people involved who have no remorse (the interviews with Reginald Denny attacker Henry “Kiki” Watson is seriously disturbing) and folks who frankly haven’t got a clue (the reaction to the not guilty verdict by the accused Rodney King police attackers is stomach turning), but Oscar winning screener writer John Ridley making his doc directing debut let’s the events and people do the talking without an agenda and the result is a fuller picture that paints a story that’s sickeningly raw and real. But the best stuff comes in the form of learning of lessor known folks, both black and white, who risked their own lives to help strangers getting beaten down in broad daylight – humanity even in the face of injustice and chaos thankfully still rules the day.
JEREMIAH TOWER: THE LAST MAGNIFICENT
Seems when most in the culinary know how think Jeremiah Tower both genius and ego come to mind. But for those like myself unfamiliar with his life and work the doc Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent enlightens well beyond any public façade, notably delving into the famed chef’s background and childhood which has some very dark elements that lead to one iconic career. But his love, passion and dedication for the art of food and all it encompasses, running from his time at Chex Panisse to his bold turn at Tavern on the Green, is what takes center stage here and it’s these qualities that make both Tower and his work utterly original.
(Under The Milky Way)
A unique film if ever there was one, Russian import The Student feels like a horror film where the deranged psychopath wields the word of god in place of a sharp knife. For seemingly unknown but obviously malicious reasons young Venya decides in his rebellious teenage state to fight the powers that be – his mom, fellow classmates, teachers – by using the bible and it has an unnerving effect on everyone – involved including the audience. So unnerving, so disturbing and so creepy is this one at every turn that it gives the boys at Blumhouse a run for their money – prayer packs a powerful punch.
Described as a ‘metatextual homage” to filmmaker Atom Egoyan’s wonderful 1993 film Calendar, Somewhere Beautiful surprisingly has little but some story elements that link it to the Canadian auteur’s former flick. In fact the film feels much more modern day even in it’s desire to be a throwback, matching two stories involving love and loss that never quite go past surface level. Though where filmmaker Albert Kodagolian does delve into Egoyan territory here is in the few wondrous long, quiet, effective moments of visual character contemplation where little is said but much is said – silence speaks volumes.