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This stunning new film uses familiar images from prior Kampmeier films (e.g., the naked women in the lake in VIRGIN, the snakes in HOUNDDOG, etc) to go in daring new directions that are even deeper, darker & more rewarding.
Amy Ferguson is very good as "Inanna" (an actress piecing together a career in New York's Indie Theatre scene), but Morgan Spector is a revelation as "Derek" (a tormented artist who makes brilliant theatrical masks which seem to have been born in Julie Taymor's worst nightmares).
SPLIT is not for the faint of heart & I have no doubt it will prove to be just as controversial as VIRGIN and HOUNDDOG. But remember this: no one knew Elizabeth Moss before Kampmeier cast her as the lead in VIRGIN, and Dakota Fanning had only played kid roles before Kampmeier cast her as the lead in HOUNDDOG. She also cast Robin Wright in key supporting roles in both films. So if actresses of this stature have put their trust in Deborah Kampmeier, then so should you!
SPOILER ALERT: "Our goal was to investigate how a creator creates."
What fascinated me most about "The Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer" was the filmmakers' deep examination of the process of translation itself.
Singer was extremely hands-on. Again and again in "The Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer," a young woman spends hours and hours alone in a room with Singer while they transform a source text from Yiddish into English word-by-word, sentence-by sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph, and page-by-page until Singer decides they are done. As a writer myself, I was mesmerized...
Only one woman seems to have escaped Singer's controlling grasp and that woman was Barbra Streisand. Although Galay and Betser do devote a couple of minutes to Streisand's film "Yentl," this is the one subject on which "The Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer" falls short. Hopefully the filmmakers will tackle this next!
Zohi Sdom (2010)
Chgo POV: Knee-Slapping Fun
To Harry: Maybe it was funnier for me, stuck here in the Chicago diaspora without knowing anything about the TV version. I truly enjoyed all the silly stuff for its own sake, & for the rest of the day, every time I snuggled up to hubby & sang the sugar-sweet "Ha Echad," we both cracked up.
Dov Navon and Tal Friedman (who were so funny together in "The Schwartz Dynasty") have wonderful chemistry again as "Mr and Mrs Lot;" sad-sack Navon providing the perfect counter-weight as Friedman flies ever-higher over the top. You're probably right in suggesting that I missed some of the "local jokes," but I think anyone with a Jewish funny-bone will know more than enough.
Sita Sings the Blues (2008)
I saw 32 films in just under 2 weeks at this year's Chicago International Film Festival & SITA SINGS THE BLUES was one of the very best on the entire schedule (& believe me, there were lots of contenders). Paley uses great technique (including four diverse styles of animation) to tell a poignant story that every woman who has ever been in love will certainly understand.
This is a great artistic accomplishment: creatively distilling intense personal pain into great art! BRAVO, Nina!!!
For more on this year's CIFF, see my blog: http://www.thehotpinkpen.com/?p=725
Paradise Lost (2003)
PARADISE LOST is an excellent addition to a set of recent films by women dealing with exile & the search for home. The difference is that PARADISE LOST is an extremely personal doc told entirely in the first person, whereas these films are more typically narrative features that allow filmmaker to hide her own emotions within the story (e.g., BRICK LANE, FRAULEIN, THE NAMESAKE, etc).
Furthermore, primary location is a Palestinian village that is located somewhere along the Israeli coast (within the Haifa/Tel Aviv corridor), so emotions are very raw. Contrast this to the characters in FRAULEIN who meet in Zurich after the Bosnian War is long over.
Highly recommended film is available on VHS from Manhattan distributor Women Make Movies (www.wmm.com).
Signed: Jan Lisa Huttner
Novia que te vea (1994)
Coming Back to Chgo on 9/17/08
As part of Cinema/Chgo's annual Summer Screening Series @ the Chgo Cultural Center. Also available from Amazon. Note that characters in this film speak FOUR different languages (depending on content): Hebrew, Ladino, Spanish & Yiddish. Rifke (one of the 2 leads) is also studying indigenous languages in college.
Info provided in prior comment is correct: Oshi is from a Sephardic family that immigrated to Mexico from Turkey right after WWI. Her "family language" is Ladino. Rifke is from an Ashkenazi family that moved to Mexico from Poland right before WWII (altho her uncle survives the Holocaust & joins them after WWII). Her "family language" is Yiddish. Most of the time though, with each other, with school friends, etc, the girls speak Spanish, but there's also lots of Hebrew too -- in the synagogue, Hashomer Hatzair (the Zionist youth group), etc.
For more on this topic, see A KISS TO THIS LAND.
Sallah Shabati (1964)
Errors in Prior Comments
One comment above refers to "Eastern-European Arabs," & I'm not sure what part of the world such folks are thought to come from, but the main characters in "Sallah Shabati" are Mizrachim (in the English subtitles, that's translated as "Oriental"). The author of the IMDb summary says family is from Yemen, so I'll go with that unless/until I learn more... but European? No, not at all! Also, Gila Almagor plays "Batsheva," one of the young kibbutzniks. She does NOT play Topol's wife! Amazing film with extremely important role to play in current Middle East dialogue!
Jan Lisa Huttner aka "Second City Tzivi" Arts & Culture Critic for JUF News in Chicago
Der Tunnel (2001)
I think this is an important story & I wanted to like the film, but I found it excessively melodramatic. While I know a film can never deal with the full range of historical details, this was just too unbelievable, & all the convenient coincidences kept intruding as I watched, keeping me from becoming fully engrossed in the story. By the end, I was hunkered down in my seat muttering "yeah, sure!" to myself.
If you are interested in this theme, I recommend Margarethe von Trotta's Das Versprechen (The Promise) from 1995. Das Versprechen had me completely engrossed in the plight of families separated by the Berlin Wall, & by the end, I was crying like a baby!
La spettatrice (2004)
Quietly Surprising Film
We saw La Spettatrice last night @ the Chicago International Film Festival & we were both immensely moved by it. This is a haunting tale of loneliness & missed connection in which the longing for intimacy conflicts with our fear of revealing too much about ourselves to another. The three leads (Barbora Bobulova as Valeria, Brigitte Catillon as Flavia, Andrea Renzi as Massimo) are all excellent and the dynamic between them is very surprising.
After all the movies which devalue older women, it's wonderful to see Flavia (who is a law professor at a university in Rome) presented as beautiful & sensual as well as seductive & powerful. We're conditioned to believe that when a younger woman enters 'the mix,' the older woman will become jealous of the younger woman, the man will leave the older woman for the younger woman, etc, etc. In this film, however, emotional truth is considerably more complex. Highly recommended.
Lena Does NOT Sleep with Goebbels!!!
Here is the explanation screenwriter Pamela Katz gave me for why MvT introduced JG as a specific character in the film:
"...the historical record is very clear: Joseph Goebbels was directly responsible for the release of the Rosenstrasse prisoners, so we needed a way to get Goebbels himself into our film... For a woman like Lena, a woman from an aristocratic family with connections, it wasn't unthinkable that she would make an attempt to go to the top. The idea of getting to Goebbels wasn't impossible for her, so that became our hook."
Those of you who insist on seeing an actual sex act here can read my new thread below & then fire away.
Jan Lisa Huttner FILMS FOR TWO