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Reviews for November 11th, 2016

Documentary Round-Up

      In the warm, funny and enormously entertaining doc Asperger's Are Us, four friends with Asperger's Syndrome, namely, Noah Britton, Ethan Finlan, "New Michael" Ingemi, and Jack Hanke, come together to form a comedy troupe called Asperger's Are Us. Director Alexandre Lehmann includes footage of them preparing for their show and also footage that allows you to get to know each one of them and even their family members. The more you spend time with them, the more you realize how witty, smart, talented and big-hearted these individuals are. It's quite inspiring and moving to learn that they managed to triumph over their struggles with Asperger's through comedy. Lehmann does a great job of putting a human face on a mental disorder. Don't be surprised if you'll be able to relate to Noah, Ethan, "New Michael," and Jack because they, like all human beings, have dreams, feelings, hopes and a desire to connect with other human beings. Asperger's Are Us, which opens at Village East Cinema before streaming on Netflix later this year, would make a great double feature with the equally moving and captivating doc Life, Animated. The Anthropologist is not like any of the previous docs about climate change that you've seen because it's not dry nor does it bombard you with information or statistics that try to scare you. Directors Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy Newberger and Seth Kramer follow Susie Crate, an anthropologist, as she travels with her teenage daughter, Katie, to indigenous communities around the world to study the effects of climate change. The mother-daughter team is compared to the mother-daughter team of anthropologist Margeret Meade and her daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson. As they travel from one location to another, Susie and Katie witness first-hand and, most importantly, document the negative impact of climate change on the environment, and how it affects the people's day-to-day lives. Images, after all, speak louder than words. Between those scenes, there are interviews with Margaret Meade's daughter who adds plenty of her own kernels of wisdom as she recalls travelling with her mother. Given the fact that The Anthropologist includes the experiences of a teenager who studies the effects climate change with her mother, it might serve as a cataylist for other teenagers to at least consider to follow in Katie's footsteps and to help to make a difference in the world. Or perhaps a mother or father will see this doc and consider to take their son or daughter along with them for an expedition. It's one of the most easily accessible, engaging and inspiring docs about climate change for everyone, young and old. Argot Pictures opens The Anthropoligist at Cinema Village.

Almost Christmas

Directed by David E. Talbert


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


Directed by Denis Villeneuve


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Paramount Pictures.
Opens nationwide.

Come and Find Me

Directed by Zack Whedon


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Saban Films.
Opens at AMC Empire and Cinema Village.


Directed by Paul Verhoeven

      Isabelle Huppert stars as Michèle Leblanc, a divorced woman who runs a video game company with her best friend, Anna (Anne Consigny). After she gets brutally raped at home, she decides to take matters into her own hands and try to catch her rapist instead of seeking help from the police. Her familial relationships are quite dysfunctional. She's jealous of ex-husband, Richard Leblanc (Charles Berling), when she learns that he has found a much younger lover, Hélène (Vimala Pons), and she dislikes Josie (Alice Isaaz), the fiancee of her son, Vincent's (Jonas Bloquet). She has no shame when it comes to having an affair with her best friend's husband, Robert (Christian Berkel).

      Based on the novel by Philippe Djian, Elle is a character-driven psychological thriller that goes into unexpectedly twisted directions more often than not. Michèle may not be particularly likable as a character because of some of the choices that she makes and her personality, but it's precisely those flaws that make her all the more interesting as a character. She's given a backstory involving something traumatic from her childhood which won't be spoiled here. That trauma has shaped her current mental state and makes her a complex human being---she's not exactly an easy nut to crack. The darker that Elle becomes, the more captivating and even somewhat gripping it becomes.

      Director Paul Verhoeven ought to feel very lucky to have Isabbelle Huppert as his lead because she's just the right actress for the role. This is her best role since The Piano Teacher. She tackles Michèle's strength as well as her innate fragility concurrently. Perceptive audience members will be able to grasp the battles with her mental scars which are far more traumatic than physical scars. in other words, Huppert's impeccable acting skills help to provide a window, albeit a small one, into Michèle's head. Although you probably would not want to spend time around Michèle in person, she's nonetheless a truly fascinating character that's complex enough to be open to interpretation. Bravo to Verhoeven and screenwriter David for trusting the audience's intelligence and thereby turning Elle into a smart, sophisticated and riveting psychological thriller for adults.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Sony Pictures Classics.
Opens at Angelika Film Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.

The Monster

Directed by Bryan Bertino


Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by A24 Fukns.
Opens at Village East Cinema.
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