Monday, November 28, 2022

DOC NYC with Abe: Louis Armstrong's Black and Blues

Now streaming on Apple TV+, the comprehensive documentary “Louis Armstrong's Black and Blues” is also on the DOC NYC Short List. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Movie with Abe: Everything Everywhere All at Once

I'm very late to the party, but “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is one of the best movies of the year. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Movie with Abe: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

I'm so happy to have finally seen “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” which is a pure delight. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases in theaters, on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, White Noise
New to DVD: Bros, Hold Me Tight, The Good House
New to Netflix: The Swimmers, The Boxtrolls
New to Prime Video: Good Night Oppy, Cyrano
New to Hulu: Dual

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Movie with Abe: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

While it's not quite as good as the original film, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” now playing in theaters, is a sequel that still delivers. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

DOC NYC with Abe: Closed Circuit

The DOC NYC entry “Closed Circuit” presents a powerful look back at a terrorist attack captured on surveillance cameras. I reviewed the film for ShockYa - head over there to read my review.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Movie with Abe: Disenchanted

Disenchanted,” now streaming on Disney+, is a fun sequel to 2007's “Enchanted.” I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Interview with Abe: Women Talking

I had a superb conversation with cinematographer Luc Montpellier about one of the best movies of the year, “Women Talking,” opening December 2nd. Check out the interview at Below the Line.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Movie with Abe: The People We Hate at the Wedding

The People We Hate at the Wedding,” now streaming on Prime Video, is a light but enjoyable dysfunctional family comedy. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases in theaters, on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: The Inspection, The Menu, She Said, 200 Meters, Bones and All
New to Theaters and VOD: There There
New to DVD and VOD: Three Thousand Years of Longing
New to DVD: Sharp Stick, Jerry and Marge Go Large, Queen of Glory
New to Netflix: The Wonder
New to Prime Video: The People We Hate at the Wedding
New to Hulu: Catch the Fair One, My Old School, The Forgiven
New to Disney+: Disenchanted

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Movie with Abe: Argentina, 1985

Argentina, 1985,” streaming on Prime Video, is Argentina's official Oscar entry this year. I reviewed the film for The Film Experience - head over there to read my review.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

DOC NYC with Abe: January 6th

January 6th,” screening at DOC NYC and coming to discovery+ on January 5th, is a very worthwhile and informative look at a horrifying day. I reviewed the film for AwardsWatch - head over there to read my review.

Monday, November 14, 2022

DOC NYC with Abe: The Return of Tanya Tucker - Featuring Brandi Carlile

In addition to currently playing in theaters, “The Return of Tanya Tucker - Featuring Brandi Carlile” is also on the DOC NYC Short List. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Interview with Abe: The Estate

I had a great conversation with cinematographer Darin Marin about his work on “The Estate,” which is now playing in theaters. Check out the interview at Below the Line.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

DOC NYC with Abe: Maya and the Wave

This year's opening night film at DOC NYC is “Maya and the Wave,” about surfer Maya Gabeira. I reviewed the film for CinemaDailyUS.com - head over there to read my review.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

Every Friday, I'll be uploading a Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition, surveying new releases in theaters, on DVD, and on streaming services. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!


New to Theaters: The Fabelmans, The Swimmers, The Son, Homebody
New to DVD: I Love My Dad, The Power of the Dog
New to Netflix: Captain Phillips
New to Prime Video and Hulu: Warm Bodies
New to Disney+: Fire of Love


Thursday, November 10, 2022

Other Israel Film Festival Spotlight: Lady Amar

I’m delighted to be returning for the eighth time to cover the Other Israel Film Festival, which features a diverse crop of thought-provoking and often difficult, complex, Israeli and Palestinian cinema and is hosted by the JCC Manhattan. The 16th Annual Other Israel Film Festival runs virtually and in-person November 3rd-10th, 2022.

Lady Amar
Directed by Yigael Sachs and Noam Gil
Ticket Information

The loss of mental capacity typically comes at a point that it’s no longer possible to recognize that change for the person in question. They may believe that they are lucid and aware of what is happening around them, yet the way in which they communicate their perception of reality indicates that’s not the case. Memory loss and confusion can often set in and lead to someone mistaking others for figures from their past and, at times, believing themselves to be someone else. “Lady Amar” explores one woman’s disassociation from her identity and how that affects her three adult children.

A woman (Orly Tabaly) is picked up off the street at night and brought into a house. She insists to her apparent abductors that she is Pauline Weiss, a high-powered woman who does not belong in a place like this and should be freed immediately. Those around her attempt to persuade her that they are her children: Israel (Itzik Golan), Yarden (Liz Rabian), and Levanon (Victor Sabag), and all she needs to do to remember them is to take her medicine. She appreciates that they think she is their mother but continues to repeat what she believes is the truth, that she is not the woman that they think she is.

As the sole narrative selection at this year’s Other Israel Film Festival, “Lady Amar” represents a different kind of journey. Pauline, whose children tell her she is Jacqueline Amar, comments multiple times that she has nothing against Moroccan immigrants, as if her position is one that makes her evolved and compassionate. But instead it reveals a buried self-hatred and embarrassment of her own heritage that manifests itself when she takes on a new identity, newly able to comment on how she sees herself since she, in that moment, isn’t Moroccan and enjoys a different kind of existence within Israeli society.

The way in which Jacqueline, as Pauline, talks down to and invalidates her children who are pleading with her to do what they say she most needs is painful to watch, and those who have experienced relatives suffering through dementia and other degenerative diseases will surely find this film even more difficult and honest. It’s amplified by the fact that Pauline appears perfectly healthy and competent, with her affliction affecting only her perception of who she is and not her physical health. Understanding that she is suffering from something else is a rollercoaster process enhanced by strong performances from all four cast members. This portrait of lost identity is stirring and haunting, effectively channeling the often miserable process of degenerative aging.

B+

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Other Israel Film Festival Spotlight: The Forgotten Ones

I’m delighted to be returning for the eighth time to cover the Other Israel Film Festival, which features a diverse crop of thought-provoking and often difficult, complex, Israeli and Palestinian cinema and is hosted by the JCC Manhattan. The 16th Annual Other Israel Film Festival runs virtually and in-person November 3rd-10th, 2022.

The Forgotten Ones
Directed by Michale Boganim
Ticket Information

It’s dispiriting but sadly not surprising to learn that discrimination is a universal concept that isn’t unique to any one country or situation. The establishment of Israel as a haven for the Jewish people in the aftermath of the Holocaust should have been a welcome call for Jews from all over the world, particularly places in which they still faced persecution, to come to somewhere that would accept them as they are. Yet the experience of Mizrahi Jews coming from North Africa and the Middle East was considerably colder and dominated by a condescending division from their European counterparts.

Filmmaker Michale Boganim looks at her own family as a key instance of this reality, charting her father’s arrival to Israel from Morocco and the treatment he faced. The founding of the Israeli Black Panthers and their perception of a similar situation within the United States at the same moment is central to his legacy, along with the response of the Israeli government to what they saw as an undesirable and potentially dangerous community not worthy of their attention, and certainly not of the respect for which they were advocating.

It’s interesting to see how, in many cases, the Mizrahi Jews who have come from predominantly Arab countries find themselves living peacefully alongside their Arab neighbors since that’s something they were all used to back home. Seeing a common ally, some advocate that Arabic should be taught just like English in school, while others seek to distance themselves from Arabs since they believe that makes them stand out even more, eager instead to be accepted and perceived as just as Jewish or Israeli as those of European descent.

Among the themes explored in this documentary is the idea that there are devoutly religious Mizrahi Jews who are still not seen as equal to those with lighter skin, and the discrimination they experience is often veiled as something less toxic and covered up with excuses. It’s a disturbing and compelling subject that was also dramatized in “The Unorthodox” and is very much worthy of a spotlight, and Boganim strongly surveys the ways in which this has come to permeate and define Israeli society. Tracing this phenomenon from its roots to how it continues to manifest in today’s world is often unpleasant but clearly important and worthwhile. It’s both a specific case study and one that audiences from anywhere should have no trouble finding a way to comprehend and find relatable.

B+

Other Israel Film Festival Spotlight: The Last Chapter of A.B. Yehoshua

I’m delighted to be returning for the eighth time to cover the Other Israel Film Festival, which features a diverse crop of thought-provoking and often difficult, complex, Israeli and Palestinian cinema and is hosted by the JCC Manhattan. The 16th Annual Other Israel Film Festival runs virtually and in-person November 3rd-10th, 2022.

The Last Chapter of A.B. Yehoshua
Directed by Yair Qedar
Ticket Information

It’s always enlightening to watch a film about an author, since the two mediums are inherently different and fans of a writer’s work aren’t necessarily used to seeing the person behind their beloved words as a living and breathing person. In the case of A.B. Yehoshua, an acclaimed Israeli writer who passed away this past June at the age of eighty-five, his cinematic biography provides a wondrous and welcome window into the life of a man who famously didn’t want any identity and enjoyed a remarkably warm relationship with many different communities.

Accomplished filmmaker Yair Qedar has profiled many Israeli authors in the past, and Yehoshua seems perfectly pleased to be his latest - and possibly greatest - subject. Born in 1936 in what was then British Mandatory Palestine, Yehoshua came of age seeing his native-born father enjoy good relations with Arabs as the country of Israel was established. The relationship between his father and his Moroccan immigrant mother is something he returns frequently to as a negative example of old age because they did not love each other, while he is still processing the death of his own wife.

Yehoshua is well aware of his situation and his declining health, commenting that all of his friends are dead and that he feels as if he’s left standing guard with a rifle. Yet that doesn’t stop him from continuing to share his work with eager young minds and prominent leaders. He gets a call from former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, whom he describes as a good friend, and then is enthusiastically welcomed by a Palestinian group that appreciates his call for a productive solution to the current conflict. He’s a rare figure who is seen as an ally to many people and groups with theoretically incongruent goals, yet he rejects any label or attempt to pigeonhole him into an identity that may be applicable but doesn’t serve him any productive purpose.

This film uses animated backdrops to highlight excerpts from Yehoshua’s books that provide a brief glimpse into the themes he returned to and help his words come alive for those unfamiliar with his work. This buoyant and engaging documentary has added poignancy due to Yehoshua’s death ahead of this screening, framing this as a properly-titled last chapter in which Yehoshua himself has the chance to have the final say on what he thinks of his legacy.

B+

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Other Israel Film Festival Spotlight: The Samaritans: A Biblical People

I’m delighted to be returning for the eighth time to cover the Other Israel Film Festival, which features a diverse crop of thought-provoking and often difficult, complex, Israeli and Palestinian cinema and is hosted by the JCC Manhattan. The 16th Annual Other Israel Film Festival runs virtually and in-person November 3rd-10th, 2022.


The Samaritans: A Biblical People
Directed by Moshe Alafi
Ticket Information

It’s easy to think of Israel as a country containing Jews, Muslims, and Christians, but there are still other religions that lay claim to the historical land as a holy and important one. One of the most fascinating are the Samaritans, who describe themselves not as Israeli or Palestinian, but rather as their own religion of 800-something people, still existing after many years and practicing their own customs deeply rooted in tradition and only partially influenced by tensions with modernity.

Filmmaker Moshe Alafi zeroes in on a number of members of the Samaritan religion, who have their own Torah, their own Shabbat, and their own unique rituals, like a physical Passover sacrifice which has deep meaning for all involved. Prominently featured is the cantor, who plans to have his son take over for him in the future and who has his own ideas for how to keep the religion alive, as well as one man who is traveling to Ukraine, a frequent place for men to find wives who are willing to convert into the religion, which has an insular community that does not otherwise typically turn outward to welcome in new adherents.

It’s remarkably interesting to learn about the aspects of the Samaritan faith that may remind many of their own devout religions, and whose members, particularly those who have chosen to join from Ukraine, seem to know might strike an uneducated viewer as unusual. Among the most startling is a custom of unplugging refrigerators and not using air conditioning on Shabbat, something that those interviewed acknowledged is not universally observed due to the incredible heat that can become unbearable.

The honesty and openness with which the interviewees speak is refreshing, particularly because they are not intending to proselytize or to bring anyone else in to the religion. A plan to convert thousands of eager future followers in Brazil involves a caveat that they will remain separate to learn how to be proper Samaritans and not dilute the original, ever-shrinking sect. There is a pride that all featured share about something they consider fulfilling, and like any religion or culture, there are bound to be pieces that aren’t entirely ideal. This is an informative, invigorating look into a faith that has survived for centuries and faces similar challenges to so many other movements, but clearly benefits from a strong bond from its members to its defining tenets.

B+