Main Page
Alphabetical Menu
Chronological Menu

Reviews for November 24th, 2017

Documentary Round-Up

      Al Di Qua, directed by Corrado Franco, is a sobering and heartbreaking doc about the homeless in Turin, Italy. The black-and-white cinematography effectively compliments and even enriches its dark themes and melancholic atmosphere. Franco films many homeless people some of whom speak to the camera at times to tell their backstory of how they ended up homeless. To learn how little help social services for them is quite alarming and horrifying. Although Al Di Qua puts a human face on the complex, universal human rights issue of homelessness, it's limited in scope because it only focuses on the homeless population without interviewing anyone from any social services who'd be able shed light on the issue and provide more perspective. More focus on substance and less on visual style---or pretentious scenes like the homeless marching slowly toward a hospital's chapel---would have made this doc far more insightful rather than just deeply moving. That said, the quieter moments showing the homeless' daily lives feel the most potent because images often speak louder than words. At an ideal running time of 82 minutes, Al Di Qua opens at Cinema Village. It would make for an interesting double feature with The Florida Project, On the Bowery, and the under-seen 1940s doc The Forgotten Village.

Call Me By Your Name

Directed by Luca Guadagnino

      Timothée Chalamet provides a breakthrough performance as Elio, a 17-year old who spends the summer of 1983 at a villa in Italy with his mother (Amira Casar) and father (Michael Stuhlbarg). He flirts with a girl, Marzia (Esther Garrel), but sets his eyes on Oliver (Armie Hammer), a grad student who visits the villa to assist Elio's father.

      Call Me By Your Name is one of the best films of the year because it's profoundly moving, provocative, intelligent and understated. Director Luca Guadagnino and screenwriter James Ivory clearly trust the audience's emotions, patience, intelligence and imagination as the story unfolds at a leisurely pace. To label the film as a gay coming-of-age drama would be innacurate, although its protagonist does indeed undergo a sexual identity crisis. The filmmakers don't rely on sex or violence as a means of entertainment or moving the plot forward. Call Me By Your Name is, fundamentally, about the evolution and complexity of human emotions. Don't be surprised if it will put Timothée Chalamet on the map.

      Just like with I Am Love, Guadagnino has a knack for making the most out of the poetry of nature. Every scene has visual meaning without overbearing style. The same cane be said about the musical score which doesn't hit you over the head. Even a lengthy monologue with the father talking to Elio toward the end never becomes preachy or exhausting because it feels drenched in warmth and words of wisdom. If you're tired of fast-paced superhero films that are plaguing multiplexes these days, Call Me By Your Name makes for a great antidote. It's a movie that will make you relate, think and feel without insulting your intelligence. Moreover, it's the rare film that has a large, beating heart beneath its surface and a beautiful soul to boot. The fact that the audience stayed through the end credits with their teary eyes still glued to the screen is a testament to the film's emotional resonance and power.

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Released by Sony Pictures Classics.
Opens at The Paris Theatre and Regal Union Square 14.
Questions? Comments? Please click here.

Main Page
Alphabetical Menu
Chronological Menu

Avi Offer
The NYC Movie Guru
Privacy Policy