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Reviews for May 6th, 2016

Documentary Round-Up

      Rabin in His Own Words might be the most insightful documentary about Yitzhak Rabin, the former Israeli Prime Minister, as of yet. Director Erez Laufer blends archival footage of Rabin along with Rabin's home movies, interviews, memoirs and letters. Just the fact that Laufer gained access to all of this archival material and assembled it in a coherent, engaging way that allows for Rabin's brilliant mind to shine so brightly is a feat in and of itself. Rabin makes it clear that he's not involved in politics just to sit around idly; he wants to take action and actually make progress for Israel. His opposition towards the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza was met with a lot of disagreement from Israelis, but he held onto his belief firmly. One of the many wise and honest statements he made as Prime Minister was that although terrorism can be reduced, terrorist attacks cannot be prevented. Unlike Amos Gitai's Rabin: The Last Day, the assassination of Rabin isn't its focal point. You will learn a lot about Rabin straight from the horse's mouth: Rabin himself. He comes across as articulate, intelligent, blunt, eloquent and sincere. If only Donald Trump (or any of our current Presidential candidates for that matter) were to have half the intellect and sincerity that Rabin had! Even though Rabin in His Own Words enlightens you with a plethora of information onscreen, it's not one of those dry, exhausting docs that make you feel like asking "When is the exam??" once the end credits roll. It's a thoroughly fascinating, captivating, well-edited and provocative documentary that should be mandatory viewing for anyone even remotely interested in politics and history. Full disclosure: Yitzhak Rabin read the eulogy at the funeral of my grandfather, Avraham Ofer, who was the Minister of Housing in Israel between 1973 and his suicide in 1977. Menemsha Films opens Rabin in His Own Words at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.

Captain America: Civil War

Directed by Joseph Graham


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Ariztical Entertainment.
Opens at Cinema Village.

Captain America: Civil War

Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo

      After Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), a.k.a. Winter Soldier, gets falsely blamed of causing a terrorist attack, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a.k.a. Captain America, believes that he's innocent and takes his side in spite of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Iron Man, disagreeing with him. The superpowers of Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) get out of hand when she causes collateral damage, so Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) proposes the Sokovia Accords which regulate the Avengers' behavior. Meanwhile, Vision (Paul Bettany), a robot, holds Scarlet Witch captive so that she doesn't cause more collateral damage. To explain the plot any further would be to spoil the surprises and twists for avid Captain America fans (you know who you are!).

      Compared to the first and second films in the Captain America franchise, Captain America: Civil War isn't quite as fun or thrilling unless impressive CGI and loud action sequences are enough to whet your appetite. Captain America: The First Avenger had a riveting plot that kept you at the edge of your seat. This one lacks suspense and is jam-packed with so many superheroes that, unless you're already very familiar with the franchise, you'll forget why you should be caring about these cardboard characters and their relations to begin with. Attempts to generate poignancy fall flat and come across as clunky while the wafer-thin plot feels stretched too thinly. Yes, there's a little tongue-in-cheek humor thrown in every now and then, and Robert Downey Jr. adds some panache to the film just like he always does, but that's as close as it gets to true entertainment.

      Whenever Captain America: Civil War begins to tap into provocative topics like collateral damage and to deal with issues like morals, it barely scratches the surface and then chickens out before moving onto yet another action sequence. Perhaps co-writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were afraid to make the film too smart or perhaps producers and/or the director thought that it would be best to dumb the film down to please average American audiences. Either way, there's not enough of anything to keep you thoroughly engaged beyond the film's technical achievements, the stunning visuals and sound design. At a bloated running time of 2 hours and 26 minutes, Captain America: Civil War is dull, overlong, exhausting and only mildly entertaining without rising to the heights of the first Captain America's palpable thrills, suspense and intrigue. At least it's more entertaining than Batman V Superman, but not by much.

Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by Walt Disney Pictures.
Opens nationwide.

MBA Partners

Directed by Chang TaeYou


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Magnum Films.
Opens at AMC Empire.