Indiewood/Hollywoodn’t film critic Jake Kring-Schreifels is keeping a regular diary over the course of a week at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. He’s giving our IndieNYC website a Sundance first-look, writing about the movies he’s seeing, his observations around Park City and the excitement surrounding another year of new independent cinema. Check back to IndieNYC throughout the festival for his latest entries from Park City. Today’s report includes the new Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana, Luxor from director Zeina Durr, La Llorona by Jayro Bustamente and Ironbark by Dominic Cooper.
This review, originally written in May 2019 has been reposted in Jan 2020 for the screening of the “Slay the Dragon” documentary at the NYC CineMatters Social Justice Film Festival. Please pardon the dated TV references, but the gerrymandering issue is more urgent than ever as we approach the 2020 elections.
Helen Highly Recommends “Once Were Brothers,” a documentary that was the opening-night film for DOC NYC 2019 and opens in theaters February 21st, based on the story of The Band (Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson). For those who don’t know: the Band originally formed as The Hawk, a backing band for rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins but came to prominence during its time backing Bob Dylan on tour and later grew into a legend in its own right, widely credited with being on the forefront of three different musical revolutions. Impressively, the Band was one of the first rock groups to appear on the cover of Time.
America is the country that invented the concept of Baby Boomers, and now that they’re aging and so often becoming a problem for their adult children faced with the challenges of elder care or even elder understanding, it should be surprising but is not that other countries are the ones best at addressing the issue in their artistic expression. “The Disappearance of My Mother” is in theaters now and Helen Highly Recommends you see it, whatever gen-letter happens to define you. It’s an Italian documentary by Beniamino Barrese, a young-adult photographer, about his relationship with his aging, ex-supermodel mother, Benedetta Barzini. This film is as full of contradictions as real life – incongruities rarely acknowledged much less captured with the candor of this cinematic memoir that is both shocking and soft.
Movie Gift Guide: Where to get the goods to make your classic Christmas-movie memories come alive. The unforgettable hat, the shining toy train, the pair of ice skates, as depicted by cinematic magic – these items have come to represent Christmas Joy itself. Don’t just watch them on television, bring them home for the holidays (or get them online and have them delivered while you stay home and watch the old movies that made them iconic). This guide points you to the websites that sell the items that our cherished old movies made symbolic of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men. The stuff that dreams are made of.
You have two choices. You’re very unlikely to watch two documentaries about elephants in the next few months. There is The Elephant Queen, which features “magnificent images of majestic animals” and follows a herd of elephants across the Kenyan savanna. By all accounts, that film is gorgeously shot, poignantly narrated and is an inspiring tribute to the power of motherhood. OR, if you want more from your movie than pretty shots of elephants at sunset as they run in slow motion across the plains, you could watch When Lambs Become Lions by Jon Kasbe, a brilliant documentary centered around African elephant poaching, which Helen Highly Recommends – what every documentary aspires to be.