Sometimes as a human race we can look to a culture to remind us what it is to be sensitive and human. In this film, we follow a hapless grocery store clerk in Queens who is just trying to see his son after he has been separated from him when his wife died.

Menashe (2017)
PG | 1h 22min | Drama | 28 July 2017 (USA)

Within Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community, a widower battles for custody of his son. A tender drama performed entirely in Yiddish, the film intimately explores the nature of faith and the price of parenthood.
Director: Joshua Z Weinstein
Writers: Alex Lipschultz, Musa Syeed | 1 more credit »
Stars: Menashe Lustig, Yoel Falkowitz, Ruben Niborski

I felt among these characters. It watches really like a documentary but I checked and it’s not. These are actors playing from a script and the emotions they evoke are significant. Whether its through watching the father work in the store or spending quality time with his son, the film shows that even this highly traditional culture holds the same bonds that we do as sacred.

Please note the film is entirely in Yiddish so if subtitles aren’t your thing, you should avoid this one. It made remember how special my kids are and how much I would do if asked to stay with them. The traditions of this Hebrew culture are also addressed which I found very interesting as well. This is a great watch for any human. 9/10

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Gay cinema isn’t new but it is few and far between in the mainstream. May gay voices are sharing online they don’t see this as a “gay film” perse but rather a love story between two men that are likely bisexual. The author of the bestselling isn’t gay either. Well, matters of the heart aren’t always as cut and dry. This is a character study/love story.

Call Me by Your Name (2017)
R | 2h 12min | Drama, Romance | 24 November 2017 (USA)

In Northern Italy in 1983, seventeen year-old Elio begins a relationship with visiting Oliver, his father’s research assistant, with whom he bonds over his emerging sexuality, their Jewish heritage, and the beguiling Italian landscape.
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writers: James Ivory (screenplay by), André Aciman (based on the novel by)
Stars: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg

The older of the two in this couple is spending time in the Italian vacation home of his colleague. This would be purely scientific had it not been for the 9 years younger son of his colleague. He becomes entranced by the guest. What ensues is a film set in 1984, mostly noticed by how the Walkmans and slide projector props. They develop a thing that later his father will call “more than friendship” and by any standard it is certainly that.

I marveled at this film’s ability to chronicle the innocent love that develops between two men. It makes no judgements and shows when you love someone, the heart leads the way. I agree it is not heavily into the gay themes so some people who are counting on that will be disappointed. It does however show a touching love story made for lovers of all genders and identifications. I found no fault in this film other than my warning stated above. After all, it is being marketed as a gay film.


The Killing of a Sacred Deer

It’s being compared to the classic film “the Shining.” It’s clearly weird like this director’s other recent film, “The Lobster.” Yorgos Lanthimos directed this and co-wrote it as well. His skills at suspense are right up front but sadly the story is best understood only as metaphor.

The film begins as literally the most antiseptic film you can imagine. We find out that Steven is a charismatic surgeon who is of late quite devoid of animated life. He’s lost his drive with his wife and his kids seem bored with him. What’s most curious is the odd teenage boy who seems to keep showing up at the hospital while Steven is making his rounds. There’s something not right about it. Spoliers may follow!

I wondered if Steven had made an error in a surgery and the boy was bringing that to light. He feels like a fly in the ointment. At this point it really starts to feel like “Cape Fear.” You have the boy as the stalker impinging on Steven’s family. He might as well call Steven “counselor.” That’s a comparison to a real world imagination. This film goes a few layers down into the metaphorical and to be honest, I’m not exactly sure what the metaphors are. The best I can come up with at the moment is that Steven can’t admit his mistakes and reckon with them. He also seems unable to ever ask for help. On that level I can relate. It’s hard to accept one is fallible and accept the consequences of ones actions, and it MUST be done or things, well, things die.

There is a lot to talk about here but I would have liked a little more explained to me. The director leaves too much up to the imagination. All in all, I like films like this (just when I get them more) so I give it a 7/10.

Mayhem (2017)

Zombies walk and they are dead. Glen? He doesn’t walk now he has sex and kills similarly as a result of a virus.

Mayhem (2017)
Unrated | 1h 26min | Action, Horror | 10 November 2017 (USA)

A virus spreads through an office complex causing white collar workers to act out their worst impulses.
Director: Joe Lynch
Writer: Matias Caruso
Stars: Steven Yeun, Samara Weaving, Steven Brand

When you’ve had a gig as long as Steven Yeun did on The Walking Dead, it’s anybody’s guess what your next project will be. I suppose a film like “The Belko Experiment” where employees go berzerk and massacre each other would be fitting. Well it is and that’s exactly what he stars in and produces with “Mayhem.” Unlike “Walking …” There’s saucy sex involved. Other than that it’s the same because there’s a virus that causes mayhem and killing at a frantic pace.

I thought this movie could have gone a few different ways than it did. Most notably the sex scenes were a bit silly in my point of view. If you liked “The Belko Experiment” you may like this one. It’s that bust with a bit of higher octane. The director Joe Lynch shows great promise based on his IMDB bio. At present, it’s scoring well with the mainstream critics. His latest project “Everly” starring Salma Hayek is now streaming on Netflix. Watch for my open-minded review of that soon.

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