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2006 Hamptons Int’l Film Festival Leads With “Emma’s Bliss” & “3 Mothers”

Within the field of 114 films, at first count,
German efforts “Emma’s Bliss” and “The Red Cockatoo” stand out plus “Three Mothers,” and “Avenue Montaigne” set in Paris.

“Emma’s Bliss” – reverberated in my soul, perhaps due to my
current situation with my wife and her metastasized cancer. Emma is a young strong wild thing, a pig farmer, who lives in disarray all by herself on her farm >> that is about to go under financially within six weeks, when the bank debt is due. The electricity is off. She has to supply current with cables and a battery.

Max is being CT scanned on the radiology table, as Emma lovingly and painlessly as possible bloodlets one of her pigs, with a hug. Max discovers he does not have long to live, and has to decide what to do about it medically. Meanwhile, the doctor suggests he go on with his life and job as if nothing has happened.

Things do not turn out that way, as Emma has fate drop a
jaguar upside down ju st outside her house. The story goes
on from there. It is very sensual, unpredictable, and rather
heart-warming. The days are jolly, filled with joy and barf,
but hope and organization too. I give this one an A, and a
thank you to Sven Taddicken for his terrific direction. Another
one of the great German movies they are releasing lately,
from which several of the best films of the class of 2005 also came.


“Three Mothers” – certainly one of the finest films in the festival. In the “family tells the story” genre that is bouncing around the 2006 collection of movies for some apparent co-incidental reason. This one starts in Alexandria, Egypt back in 1942 when three triplet girls are born to the elegant Jewish palace midwife. King Farouk actually is so impressed by the rare birth occurrence
that he comes to bless the children, and becomes enshrined in a photo and the history of the family forever after. But the sisters are more princesses than mothers, as it turns out, and with many twists and turns of the plot, the story repeatedly unsettles what you think you know. An Israeli movie, with dialogue and song lyrics in Hebrew, Arabic
and French.


“The Red Cockatoo” – turns out to be a hang-out bar where 1961 rock n rollers can dance and be merry in Dresden, East Germany. The authorities are very suppressive and violent at times but West Germany had no wall yet, when
the movie begins. There is a romance, a triangle, centered around the bad-hipped beautiful poet Luise, who is a patriotic member of society, but is afraid to have
her poetry published in book form.

Thousands are leaving to West Berlin daily; informers are everywhere; the band at the Red Cockatoo is swingin’ and
quite sharp playing just about anything they choose; but that Berlin wall is coming, and with it the darkening of the future for many East Germans once expecting much more of a brightening better day……Very good.


“Dr. Bronner’s Soapbox” – wings us into the world of “Doctor” Bronner’s soap and Emanuel Bronner’s All-One-God missionarydom. He packs his labels full of his philosophy, up, down, and all around the corners; in different colors and flavors. And he went back a long way into the early twentieth century, to escape Hitler and not be exterminated like his disbelieving father was >> Bronner Sr. thinking that Adolf H would just fade away, in “his” Germany.

From a family of soap makers in Germany, Emanuel comes to America, studies as a chemist, and develops a very successful and righteous business. Though he wants to discuss God and Halley’s Comet for hours, while trying to sell his liquid soap.

We hear testimonials, uniquely framed within a live video box amidst the soap bottle’s blue and white peppermint label, by Director Sarah Lamm. Included is one testimonial
from a young black woman whose mother, she tells us, informed her that she should add a little Dr. Bronner’s soap to her douche mixture, and if it was just enough, she would
begin to TASTE peppermint….

Dr. Bronner, who claims to be related to Albert Einstein, ends up allowing his children to be corralled in orphanages, for not very fine lives. He gets married four
times; receives shock therapy; escapes from a mental institution, and hitchhikes out to California, where he first begins his soap business. On the other hand, as he strives to unite the co-riders of Spaceship Earth, he also tries
to be fair to his employees and pay them well. His son Ralph travels about the country, telling America about his father and his exploits, while also doing the right thing, institutionalizing recycling at the Dr. Bronner plants, and working to set up logical organic standards, amongst his many other activities. See the
website for more information. This movie is definitely worth a revealing watching.


“Voyage in G Major” – – I was really looking forward to this one.
This is how the synopsis was worded in the soft-covered program that comes out before the glossy version: “In this timeless documentary,
91-year-old-Parisian Aime dreams of traveling to Morocco. His grandson decides to take him, and the two embark on a voyage through the exquisite countryside. The beautifully-shot trip soon turns into a life-affirming
journey.” >> Should have expected something funny with all those hyphens…

This movie has to be one of the bone headers of the festival. What was expected was not delivered. Most of the footage is not of Morocco, outside.
Nope, it is of Grandpa in a hotel room. Yeah, he is cute, but basically an old faint-hearted
city guy who never dared. He has all his underwear plastic-bagged and dated for the trip.
He tells us he always WANTED to dare, but never did. His wife hates to travel, and half the film is counterpointed with footage of her talking au negative
about the dangers of the world, and why she would not travel, shot close up in the dark while she snivels back in Paris. What little Morocco there is, is mostly of the
old feller walking into some non-descript motel, maybe a rare shot of a Moroccan wall. Heck, why didn’t he just go to Hoboken? Pitiful movie, with unfaithful hype.

Unfortunately, this “feature” was preceded by a short
entitled “Intolerable,” which was. 28 minutes that
seemed like an hour of crap. Self-indulgent.
Boring bad acting for the most part. Not worth
another word.


Women’s Shorts, Eight of Them

As with most short programs, you get to see things you will
never see anywhere else. Alas, you will also be set upon
by some agonizing clunkers. This set of eight pieces was
quite like that. “Fish Out of Water” was fantastically colored, cute, and shot mostly in a boat in the bay of Wellington at the bottom of New Zealand’s North Island. Worth eight minutes of seeing this taste of another far away part of the world in the HIFF. Two
short animatied works that were very creative and enjoyable were “Ursa Dream” – – very free form and rather bear-y, and “Yellow Bike.”
“Window” was a tale I have read or heard spoken before, about the immobile patients in the hospital room and only one window, and one wanting to be by it, and the other telling him what he sees out the window, and covetousness, and…you may see it, or read the story, so I
hold my words here. Louis Gossett, Jr. is good as the black
amputee, who desires, to be by that window, he NEEDS
to be right by it….


“Avenue Montaigne” was a delightful romantic French film set in Paris. A young woman arrives and tries to get a job, and does so, as a waitress in a restaurant that had never before hired a woman. She interacts with her customers, sometimes in naive taboo ways, and is entangled with three events that circle around themselves as the essence of the movie: a concert by a pianist who is tired of the pomp and formality of how he has to perform; a new comedy/play about to open on the same night as the
pianist’s concert [with orchestra], the play starring >> I guess it is Suzanne Flon, who was the female lead of “The Visitors,” France’s hilarious most-popular-ever movie
that played at the HIFF when it first came out; and an art auction by a now-wealthy
cabbie who collected art “twig by twig” with his now-deceased wife. The characters interweave. Overall, a charming work that is very hard not to adore.


“What Remains of Us” is a simple documentary about Tibet, with the moviemaker flying into the mountain country that China invaded and began marauding way back in 1950. She smuggles in a five-minute message
of hope from the Dalai Lama that she can play on a little portable video deck with tiny speakers. Many people have never seen the Dalai Lama, or heard him speak before. Monks and herders react, most in extreme sadness to the hopelessness they feel, that only the Dalai Lama can save them. The Chinese, we are told, now
number 10 million people in Tibet, to only 6 million Tibetans.
And 1000 more Chinese are arriving every day. That’s 365,000 per year.
Plus, a new high speed train line will further increase that influx, even though it was constructed on the perma-frost and may shift and kill a good number of the invaders as the accidents begin to happen.

The Chinese are still imprisoning Tibetans just for mentioning the Dalai Lama in a totalitarian state that the Chinese have renamed in Chinese as a state of their Motherland. Schools have been constructed, that only teach in Chinese. The Tibetan culture is being wiped out, one that basks in, and projects peace and compassion. Over 6000 monasteries have been destroyed, and the monks who inhabited them and were considered the most intelligent leaders
of Tibet have been killed or imprisoned. This is one of the greatest travesties that has occurred since World War II
that no one has done anything about, even though the documentation is great, housed and translated at the United Nations in NYC.
According to the movie, 1.2 million Tibetans have been exterminated with torture and disappearance that George Bush and Bill Clinton, and all our presidents back to Eisenhower have ignored political-action wise. And now, with the Olympics to be sited in Beijing in 2008, China may have to smooth over their Tibetan genocide. But big business wants the uranium that has been discovered in Tibet. One of the largest forests has been razed in Eastern Tibet. See what you can do. Go to the


“The Front Line” – one of the most heinous disgusting movies ever created.
Obsessed with needles entering a male genital organ, gang violence, all shot
inside. I walked out when the obsession began to be played out on the screen.
Why subject an audience to such nightmarish garbage?


“Americanese” — very meek twaddle about being Asian-American, and unable
to resolve anything. Lovers try to break up, but they just cannot do it. Mild
nothing. Best character is Brenda, the bitch. At least she has some fire
and personality. Otherwise, you gotta be pretty bored to read this, and bother
to see this movie, made from the book “American Knees.” Oh, and with a try
with a new woman, our protagonist experiences her sybyl-sides approach-avoiding
situations ad nauseum, and then while they are getting it on, or starting to, she
arches back and says “I can’t have an orgasm when I’m having intercourse!” Just
great. Go find a new movie…………

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