Friday, August 16, 2019

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

I'm excited to present a revamped version of Saturday Night Movie Recommendations with Abe! The Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition will premiere on YouTube each Friday and be reposted here during the day as well. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Movie with Abe: Socrates


Socrates
Directed by Alexandre Moratto
Released August 16, 2019

There are certain general narratives found in film, and the strength of each individual iteration depends on the approach taken and the authenticity conveyed by both the script and the performers. Those living on the margins of society are frequently portrayed in independent film, especially youth forced to become mature as a result of their circumstances. Utilizing first-time actors who have actually lived experiences similar to those depicted on screen is the surest method of ensuring a genuine representation, tapping into personal anguish and giving a voice to those who aren’t often given a fair shot.

Socrates (Christian Malheiros) is a fifteen-year-old boy living in Sao Paulo. When his mother dies, he does his best to maintain his independence, showing up for her cleaning shifts and trying to find work wherever he can to come up with the rent money that he desperately needs. Told that he may be put into the foster care system, Socrates lies about his age and hides from the abusive father he fears. A connection with another young man, Maicon (Tales Ordakji), offers him some hope for a more lasting personal relationship that isn’t just about surviving to the next moment.

The genesis of this film is notable and speaks to the success it achieves in utilizing real people to tremendous effect. Twenty-nine-year-old Brazilian-American Alexandre Moratto makes an astounding debut behind the camera, honing in on the loneliness and emotion that Socrates expresses as he tries his hardest to stay in charge of his life when everything seems to be working against him. Using at-risk teenagers from low-income communities is a true boon to this film, which marks the first feature from the QuerĂ´ Institute in Brazil and was also funded by UNICEF.

There is not much about this film that will surprise audiences with regard to its plot, and the film runs just seventy minutes. Yet there’s an urgency and vitality to this story due in large part to Mahleiros’ raw, human performance. He conveys the fact that he needs whatever random job he is hopelessly inquiring about with his eyes and with a dedication that transmits a knowledge that what he does matters since he risks losing control and independence. This film, which won the Someone to Watch Award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards for Moratto and earned a nomination for Malheiros’ turn, is well worth watching, demonstrating that a fresh turn at this narrative brings with it wondrous benefits.

B+

Friday, August 9, 2019

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

I'm excited to present a revamped version of Saturday Night Movie Recommendations with Abe! The Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition will premiere on YouTube each Friday and be reposted here during the day as well. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Movie with Abe: After the Wedding


I covered this film when I saw it at the Sundance Film Festival way back in January for The Film Experience but never posted it here! The American remake of "After the Wedding," a fantastic 2006 Danish film, arrives in theatres this Friday. Check out my take on Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams in the lead roles over at The Film Experience.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Weekend Movie Recommendations with Abe

I'm excited to present a revamped version of Saturday Night Movie Recommendations with Abe! The Minute with Abe: Weekend Movie Recommendations Edition will premiere on YouTube each Friday and be reposted here during the day as well. Check it out, and subscribe to the movieswithabe channel!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Movie with Abe: Tel Aviv on Fire


Tel Aviv on Fire
Directed by Sameh Zoabi
Released August 2, 2019

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a simple matter, with plenty of passion to be found from nearly anyone asked about the situation. It has made its way into cinema quite frequently over the years, usually in the form of forbidden romances, military dramas, or investigative documentaries that try to reframe the narrative from a particular point of view. Those approaches are valid, but it’s hard to fully connect with any one effort due to perspectives and preconceived notions brought in when accessing a film. This clever comedy takes a different approach, one that proves to be as universal as possible given its material.

Salem (Kais Nashef) begins working on his uncle’s soap opera, “Tel Aviv on Fire” in Ramallah, helping with the Hebrew dialogue spoken by the Israeli commander and the Palestinian spy charged to get close to him. After he is stopped at an Israeli checkpoint one day, Salem meets Assi (Yaniv Biton), an Israeli officer whose wife loves the show. When Salem finds himself promoted to become a writer on the show, he’s in way over his head. An unexpected – and unconventional – relationship forms as Salem secretly consults with Assi for his help coming up with ideas for the show, which adds a distinctly Israeli flavor to the storylines that the series’ backers don’t like.

There is romance to be found in this film, though it’s a subplot. As he gets close to the lead actress (Lubna Azabal), who is French and tries to lure him away to what she describes as a better place, Salem throws in lines of dialogue that he hopes his ex-girlfriend (Maisa Abd Alhady) will notice. But the more central relationship is the one between Salem and Assi. It’s enormously complicated, since Assi wields a great deal of power over Salem, who for his part unwisely ends up at their initial meeting after he asks a female soldier if calling a woman “explosive” is a bad thing. But it’s sweet to see how they begin to enjoy spending time together, as Salem arrives each day with prized Palestinian hummus and Assi delves into what he believes can be a happy multicultural ending for a show that he can’t understand quite why his wife loves so much.

Nashef won a Best Actor prize at last year’s Venice Film Festival for a relatively muted performance, one that allows others around him to shine. Biton is entertaining, as is Azabal, and it’s fun to see Yousef Sweid from “The Bubble” hamming it up as the actor playing the Israeli soldier. This film’s message, that television, and by extension film, has a power to unite us in a way that isn’t quite as possible in the real world, is endearing. This film manages to provide a compelling and enthralling story that doesn’t seek to change everything, merely to suggest one lighthearted opportunity to find commonality.

B+