To Dust: Chasidic Jew Has Existential Questions

To Dust seeks to ask some existential questions about death by way of an absurdist comedy about a grieving Chasidic cantor and a divorced biology teacher. The film starts out with a series of quotes including from Kohelet 12:7:  “Then the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to G-d who gave it.”  The film takes a literal approach to these words rather than Rashi’s interpretation.  The debate over…

"To Dust: Chasidic Jew Has Existential Questions"

All These Small Moments: A Coming-Of-Age Story

Led by an impressive cast, All These Small Moments is a coming-of-age story that marks the directorial debut of Melissa Miller Costanzo. Howie Sheffield (Brendan Meyer) doesn’t have the best family life at the moment.  His parents, Tom (Brian d’Arcy James) and Carla (Molly Ringwald), are either headed towards a separation or divorce if they can’t get it together.  The fighting is so bad that Tom has been relegated to sleeping on the couch.  As…

"All These Small Moments: A Coming-Of-Age Story"

Back Roads: Alex Pettyfer’s Debut Shows Promise

Emotions run high but Back Roads shows a promising start for Alex Pettyfer’s directorial career in his first opportunity behind the camera. The film is set two years after Bonnie Altmyer (Juliette Lewis) is sent to prison for killing her husband.  This leaves her son, Harley (Alex Pettyfer), in charge of his three younger sisters.  It’s not easy for this family in rural Pennsylvania. The theme of abuse runs very strongly through the film.  It’s…

"Back Roads: Alex Pettyfer’s Debut Shows Promise"

Songwriter: An Ed Sheeran Documentary

Murray Cumming’s documentary, Songwriter, is able to capture Ed Sheeran as he puts together his third studio album, ÷. With director Murray Cummings also being a cousin of the singer, it makes this documentary extra special.  Because it’s a family affair, Cummings goes behind-the-scenes as Sheeran puts together a new album with producer Benny Blanco.  Sheeran writes whenever he has the time–be it on the bus, a Malibu estate, or even while on a cruise…

"Songwriter: An Ed Sheeran Documentary"

McQueen: Tragedy in Fashion

Drawing on videos and interviews, McQueen tells the story of fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen. The fashion designer was best known as Alexander McQueen.  His story may best personify the rags-to-riches story.  It can be said that his own life wasn’t without his own tragic shortcomings. McQueen grew up in East London’s working-class Stratford neighborhood with five other siblings.  Nobody could have ever predicted that a shy child would go onto become one of the…

"McQueen: Tragedy in Fashion"

Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary is Nostalgic

Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary is the perfect way to offer closure to the series should there never be a reboot.  I said as much on Twitter during the world premiere at Tribeca in April. In just over an hour, Brent Hodge manages to reunite the cast and crew of Freaks and Geeks by way of contemporary interviews while revisiting the set of the 1999-2000 series.  As the series did so on September 25, 1999,…

"Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary is Nostalgic"

Blame: Quinn Shephard is A Revelation

In her feature debut, Blame, Quinn Shephard just about does it all and proves to be a revelation.  Whether it’s directing, writing, acting, editing, or producing, Shephard is a versatile talent.  Not many filmmakers would do this much in their feature debut by Shephard rises to the challenge.  It does not hurt that she has a real knack for storytelling. Abigail Grey (Quinn Shephard) isn’t your typical student.  She’d rather have her nose in a…

"Blame: Quinn Shephard is A Revelation"

Woman Walks Ahead: Poor In Execution

Woman Walks Ahead sounds like a great idea in theory but the film goes poorly in its execution. Catherine Weldon (Jessica Chastain) has an interesting story.  The Swiss immigrant arrived to the United States in 1852, where both she and her mom settled in Brooklyn.  She would later have a marriage to Bernhard Schlatter end in divorce in 1883.  It’s what happened after her marriage ended in which her life would truly begin to get interesting.…

"Woman Walks Ahead: Poor In Execution"

Frameline 2018: Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe’s story is one that’s best told as a documentary as the narrative feature, Mapplethorpe, does not do him justice. It’s unfortunate because Mapplethorpe (Matt Smith) was such an iconic photographer.  Nearly 30 years following his death from AIDS in 1989, his photos are still a big part of cultural history.  The film starts just before Mapplethorpe moves into the Hotel Chelsea in the late 1960s, where he’s living with Patti Smith (Marianne Rendón)…

"Frameline 2018: Mapplethorpe"

Tribeca 2018: Aaron Lieber, Producers talk Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

Following a screening of Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, Solzy at the Movies spoke with director Aaron Lieber along with producers Penny Edmiston and Jane Kelly Kosek. Thanks for joining us.  How much of a thrill was it to premiere the film at Tribeca? Aaron Lieber:  Being here in Tribeca, I’ve never been in a festival and this is my first feature-length documentary.  So to be here in Tribeca, New York,…

"Tribeca 2018: Aaron Lieber, Producers talk Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable"