We've already written about our excitement over the films at the Miami Jewish Film Festival and interviewed festival director Igor Shteyrenberg, but we haven't had a chance to talk about what we're looking forward to, as well as what we've checked out and loved. With MJFF already underway, it's about time we go over the festival highlights and what screenings are left to check out.
For a film that seemed to simply be a female-led Israeli Office Space of sorts, Zero Motivation surprises in the best ways possible. Talya Lavie's film, which is split into three stories that are smartly woven together, offers a look at the way young Israeli soldiers deal with their time and work at a remote desert base in hilarious ways. It's a comedy, much akin to the aforementioned workplace comedy in its sometimes dark and deadpan sense of humor, but it's so much more than that. The cast delivers some great work -- shifting between light and dark when necessary -- while the writing offers narratives that are wholly unexpected from a film of this type. It's funny, it's emotional, and it's one of the best flicks of the year so far. Don't miss it.
5 to 7
It's tough not to be curious about 5 to 7, with a cast including Anton Yelchin, Frank Langella, Glenn Close, and Olivia Thirlby, especially when they're being led by someone who's written for Mad Men and also adapted the American remake of My Sassy Girl (which is kind of adorable, by the way). The film, about an aspiring writer who has an affair with the sophisticated wife of a French diplomat, may not sound like the freshest narrative on the block, but it's the kind of thing we're willing to bet will offer a good, casual time at the movies.
Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
OK, listen up. You need to watch Gett. While the Golden Globes may not be everyone's high bar of quality in cinema -- although they're growing on us after actually giving a damn about Selma, unlike the Academy Awards -- this Foreign Picture nominee is a must-watch. You don't need to know too much about the movie to be interested, simply that it is an emotionally charged courtroom drama that covers a woman's attempt to apply for divorce from her husband in a rabbinical court system. And though the first screening of the film sold out, there are still two chances to check it out. Believe any hype about the film you hear and Gett in those rush lines (pardon the bad pun).
The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films
A lot of people probably don't care about Cannon Films, but a whole bunch probably remember all the amazing, ridiculous, messy, and often gloriously awful films that the studio has delivered. This documentary, which comes at the same time as another doc about Cannon Films (Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films), covers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, who produced more than 300 films and created one of the most powerful independent film companies in their time. It's hard to imagine a film about two characters who created such a weird bunch of movies could be anything but interesting.
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An Evening With Bill Morrison & Michael Gordon
There's nothing as cool as taking a risk in cinema, especially when it pays off. And experimental filmmakers like Bill Morrison, who create avant-garde works, are the kind of people we're more than happy to praise and show interest in. It's nearly impossible to describe many of his works, but as strange as they are, they can be rather emotionally affecting in the most unimaginable way. Something like Light Is Calling in particular (which is showing at the festival) is reminiscent of a memory you just can't seem to forget but don't actually want to forget. It's weird and in great part as affecting as it is because of Michael Gordon's haunting music for it. But hearing Morrison and Gordon speak about their collaboration on multiple short films that will be shown that evening is the most exciting part of it all and one of the coolest things to happen in Miami all month.