It’s that odd time of year when the film industry fumbles around like a sleeping giant with a bad hangover. Fortunately, there have been some new releases (ahead of schedule) worthy of our attention and admission tickets. Here are three from this week.
This is a movie about real people and real events that challenged the norms and changed immigration law for legions of asylum seekers. It’s the story about Judy Wood, now 72 years young , still practicing immigration law in downtown Los Angeles.
Not surprising, Ms. Woods was the author of the screenplay about a 39 year old teacher from Afghanistan, imprisoned by the Taliban, kidnapped, beaten, and tortured before finally reaching asylum in the US. It’s set in 1980’s Los Angeles.
The acting is essential to the story. Michelle Monaghan is perfect playing attorney Judy Wood. Leem Lubany, an Arab-Israeli actress of Palestinian descent, is brilliant as Asefa. American rapper Common played the ICE lawyer. Alfre Woodard is perfect as Judge Benton. Another dozen actors fill the rest of the cast.
The film is rated PG-13 for thematic material and language. Its genre is drama. It’s sometimes difficult to watch but it is such a powerful film about the real world, it should not be missed.
This film is one part throw back to the B movies of yesteryear, BUT, it does it so well, it’s hard not to get drawn into its madness. One critic called it ‘bonkers’, another critic called it ‘vacuous and unpleasant’. (How often do you get to use ‘vacuous’ in a sentence?!)
Written and Directed by Neil Jordan and starring Isabelle Huppert in a great role as a psychopath spinster, Chloe Grace Moretz who recently lost her mom and Maika Monroe as her best friend and roommate round out the key cast.
This film defaults to a psychological warfare between the characters that is both intriguing and creepy at the same time. It is sure to become a cult classic.
It’s rated R for violence and disturbing images. It is absolutely not appropriate for children (unless you want to damage them for life). The run time is 98 minutes.
Birds of Passage
Arguably the most intriguing and visually stunning film release in a while. Set in Northern Columbia between 1960 to 1980 the film is divided into “5 songs” (cantos). The director Ciro Guerra and co-director Cristina Gallego characterize this film as part ethnographic documentary, part Godfather. It’s also a look into the life and culture of the native Wayuu people of Northern Columbia and Venezuela.
The result is a fascinating peek at a people and their way of life unknown to most of us. This makes it challenging for the viewer. The “what just happened?” moments are plentiful. The cinematography is stunning. The story is sometimes confusing but ultimately comes together.
This film is not rated, nonetheless, we do not feel this film is appropriate for children. Only a dozen actors are credited but no bios were noted. The film is not rated but is listed as a Drama running 125 minutes. Wayuu and Spanish with English subtitles.