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A lonely, but talented teacher enjoys a flirtation with her married principal, who returns her affections but is hampered by his high-strung wife. He is also hampered by a deadbeat son, who supposedly is becoming a filmmaker. The teacher also has a clueless daughter, who is an aspiring actress. Filmmaker and actress manage to get together, while the teacher and principal can steal their own fleeting moments and a quick kiss during an eclipse. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
An uneven oddity...talent in abundance, though the film works only intermittently
News of an impending solar eclipse has an irrational affect on the residents of a stifling New York suburb, particularly between parents and their now-grown children. Writer-director Eric Mendelsohn has an undeniable talent for ferreting out quirky human behavior from chance meetings and ordinary interaction. He has assembled a solid cast of actors, though he seems to have allowed his players to self-define their characters and, as a possible result, the picture doesn't have much meat on its bones. Mendelsohn is amusingly cognizant of how people react in uncomfortable or embarrassing situations, yet he sets up ideas for potential scenes that never quite come through (such as having the schoolchildren being told how to view an eclipse--though when the big moment arrives, their reaction is to jump up and down as if a parade were passing by). "Judy Berlin" has some courage, but it's crass; an arty series of vignettes which feels long at 97 minutes. Moments of vitality do stand out, and the black-and-white cinematography by Jeffrey Seckendorf is expressive, if derivative. Michael Nicholas' mandolin-heavy score works to create a quirky mood, and yet intimate conversation and revelations do not a movie make. *1/2 from ****
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