The First Basket
This mildly fascinating documentary tackles the importance of Jewish basketball players who had been famous during the early days of the NBA. Ossie Schectman scored the first basket in the NBA for the New York Knickerbockers back when the NBA was called the BAA in 1946. Director David Vyorst interviews Schectman along with other Jewish basketball players, namely, Sonny Hertzberg, Stan Stutz, Hank Rosenstein, Ralph Kaplowitz, Jake Weber, and Leo "Ace" Gottlieb, who describe their experiences rising the world of basketball. They came from poor, inner city neighborhoods and eventually were faced to deal with issues such as anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, Vyorst merely scratches the surface of that issue and others without exploring them thoroughly enough through analysis. It also would have helped had he asked meatier questions during the current interviews to get a stronger sense of what basketball truly means to those players. Would they have continued to play basketball had they not excelled so much in it? Itís somewhat interesting to watch the old footage of them playing basketball and how they ended up playing professionally for the NBA. However thereís not enough insight to make you feel enlightened or moved. On a positive note, the editing and cinematography along with the soundtrack does add some invigorate the film a bit, though, but that doesnít compensate for the lack of synthesis and analysis that ultimately leaves you with more questions than answers. Number of times I checked my watch: 3. Released by Laemmle/Zeller Films. Opens at the Village East Cinemas.
Nosferatu the Vampyre
Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz), a real estate agent, travels to Transylvania to negotiate the purchase of a house with Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski). When Harker shoes him a photo of his wife (Isabelle Adjani), Dracula becomes enamored by her and immediately agrees to by the house adjacent to Harkerís. Writer/director Werner Herzog uses set design, lighting and an eerie musical score to achieve a creepy atmosphere, particularly inside Draculaís castle. At the center of the creepiness, though, is Klaus Kinskiís convincing performance as Dracula, showing a deep sorrow and suffering in his eyes in a way that makes you pity him. With his pasty skin, sharp teeth and pointy ears, Kinski truly sinks his teeth into the role, no pun intended. In between the many creepy scenes, Herzog includes lush scenery and cinematography that feels both awe-inspiring and hypnotic, such as a sequence involving clouds rapidly moving over tundra. There are also a few moments of dark and offbeat comedy as the tension builds to a climax in the third act thatís both riveting and absorbing to watch. As a remake of F.W. Murnauís silent film Nosferatu: Phantom of the Nightfrom 1922, Nosferatu the Vampyre, originally released by 20th Century Fox on October 5th, 1979 , succeeds as an intelligent, psychological horror film that doesnít rely on blood and guts as a means to frighten the audience. Number of times I checked my watch: 0. Released by 517 Media, Inc. Opens at the IFC Center.