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’12 Years A Slave,’ ‘The Human Scale,’ ‘Tasting Menu’ Highlite Last Day of Hamptons Film Festival Oct. 14 2013

Day 5 October 14 2013  Hamptons International Film Festival

The last day has come.  Three full-length feature shows await us, and one shorts program; starting with ‘Tasting Menu,’ preceded by the short ‘The Brunchers.’  Tom Burke stars in the 19 minute English short, providing plenty of intense humorous dialogue with Natalie Dormer ( from ‘Game Of Thrones’) as they drive around London trying to find a restaurant where they can have brunch.  They talk about dogs always trying to please you; versus cats, who don’t give a durn about you.  Amongst other topics. 

‘Tasting Menu’ is an elegant film about a world-class Catalan (Spain) restaurant with a fantastic chef, that is about to serve its last meal for thirty special people, after being open for twelve years.  The personalities of the chef (Vincenta N’Dongo) and the manager (Andrew Tarbet) are played with deep insight, the duo each having complementary attributes and short-falls.  All the diners are interesting, especially the trio of a divorced couple who are coming to the restaurant because they don’t want to miss this precious night, and a very egotistical bearded rockjawed suitor of the long-legged lovely Claudia Bassols.  Other romantic interactions occur, borne from this center of the story.  I definitely recommend seeing this film, especially if you appreciate good food and fine dining.  Excellent cinematography of the gastronomic images are provided for you, the audience.  Fionnula Flanagan is especially resplendent, playing the beautiful elderly widowed Countess, who attends the dinner with a large urn containing her dear late husband’s ashes.  There is plenty of comic relief in this excellent film.

Then we had the ‘New York Women In Film And Television: Women Calling The Shots’ SHORTS, five all together. First deserving mention in this review:  ‘Diner En Blanc: The World’s Largest Dinner Party’ – – which is now something I want to attend afore I die.  Every year for the past fifteen or so years, a dinner where everyone is to dress in white, is held in Paris at a different unique location.  No one (except the arrangers of the dinner) knows where it will be held, until the day of the dinner, as sometimes the chosen venue might reject the inflow of thousands of people, bringing their chairs and tables and food and joy for an evening.  The logistics are interesting, as attendance has risen to about 13,000 people all arriving at about the same time, to one place, where parking would be a problem, so most people are bused into the place where the romantic event occurs.  The music in this 40 minute film is great; and the discovery that this event is spreading to other cities in the world, including London and New York, is heartening.

#SlutwalkNYC is a five minute short about the ‘slut walk,’ that like the ‘Diner En Blanc’ movement has spread about the globe, to ‘marches now being held all over the world, from Delhi to Capetown, Seoul to Mexico City, and in cities all across the US.’  The Slutwalk NYC’s mission has been poetically described as:

‘No matter who you are
No matter where you work
No matter how you identify
No matter how you flirt
No matter what you wear
No matter who you choose to love
No matter what you said before:

NO ONE has the right to touch you without your consent.’

As one of the women’s movies from a female consciousness, this film especially is a reaction to women being assaulted and raped and blamed for their sexual/misogynistic misfortune and being labelled as ‘sluts.’  Lively cinematography, diverse participants, pulsing music by the Harem ‘Feel The Rhythm.’

‘One Last Hug (…And A Few Smooches) – – Three Days At Grief Camp’ won the Audience Award for best short.  Sponsored by long-enduring baseball pitcher Jamie Moyer (who pitched in the major leagues until he was 46) and his wife, Camp Erin invites children who lost loved ones to attend and share their grief, in an apparently non-denominational way, expressing their love and goodbyes for their loved one(s), to be shared now with the filmgoer.  Heart warming film.

‘Ben: In The Mind’s Eye’ is about a schizophrenic who is functioning rather well in our world, probably thanks to the latest medications available.  13 minutes long.

‘Eva’ is a ten minute world premier, described as ‘What would your ten year old self think of you now?’

‘The Human Scale’ is a terrific documentary about urban planning in the 21st century, taking us to several cities, pictured and mapped out for the film goer.  These include the fastest growing city on Earth right now Chongqing, China; Dhaka, Bangla Desh;  Christchurch, New Zealand (post the 2011 massively destructive earthquake); New York City; Copenhagen, Denmark.  One of the main messages of this excellent movie is that cities have been developed during the 20th century to accommodate the car, but now it is time to accommodate people, for a city to be more functional.  Quote re China: “The number of cars in China will double five fold” in the years ahead (well, the director Andreas Dalsgaard, is Danish).  Quote re NYC and America: “America is like a big machine.” – – as NYC is now out of date, conforming even today, too much toward the car.  Closing streets and making them walking areas, even for a day, are displayed in the film, to display the possibilities of doing things differently.  Relative to Christchurch, on the south island of New Zealand, 1500 buildings have yet to be torn down, due to the unstable damage caused by the horrendous earthquake of 2011.  Bike paths and walking routes are being erected to rebuild the city in a more people-friendly fashion.  Dhaka, the capital city of Bangla Desh, population 160 million, also existing in an earthquake zone, tried to outlaw rickshaws because they caused traffic jams, it was claimed.  But this did not result in improvement of automobile movement in a city rising up around highways and new roads and the city-car model.  Half a million people per year are moving into Dhaka from the surrounding countryside; while 37% of people travel in non-internal-combustion-engined rickshaws, as opposed to only 5% travelling in Dhaka via car.  The Danish architect Jan Gehl, who has been working on the integrating of people and cities in conceiving how to improve our existence, is oft quoted in this movie.

One of the greatest facets of such a film festival and cultural event like the Hamptons International Film Festival is the ability to see how life is currently in different places in the world, that you cannot see in most venues of communication, from viewpoints that have intelligence, compassion and depth.  ‘The Human Scale’ is one of those special movies, that brings us multiple places in the world, to appreciate their state right now, and how they approach the future, and how their people look and are, dealing with the problems of life today.

Our final movie of the festival was the relentless brutal 134 minute long ’12 Years A Slave’ about Solomon Northup and his adventures as a black man, starting in Saratoga, N.Y., back in 1841.  The movie is agonizingly graphic, violent, and exhausting to watch, though very well done, putting our historical racial hate of the non-white human front and center for all to experience.  This in a time of the USA government shutdown, when we have a black president who our white reactionaries hate, preferring not to accept him and anything he does for us and those ‘inferior’ beings who are not white (though we ALL come from African DNA, from the first known human, found upon African soil), sabotaging our government and economy to this blind emotional bent.  The terrific Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup.  You may remember him from ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ from about a decade ago, which was a film pertaining to the trade in human bodily organs.  Big things were promised for him then, and in this movie they and he have arrived, to be projected to mass audiences about the globe.  To the embarrassment of our backward-moving country, that needs some sobering fireworks of exposure of its infamies like this movie to shake up our collective destructive idiocy and immaturity, though we imagine we are so smart and ahead of the rest of the world.  Producer and cameo-appearance from Brad Pitt.

Additional Notes on movies:  There are several movies I did not see that others have told me were excellent: ‘The Notebook’ kept coming up, as did ‘Walking With The Enemy’ – – two World War II movies.  ‘Philomena’ was the Audience Favorite, an Irish movie about ‘fallen women’ shamed by the Catholic church into giving up their children for adoption in the 1950’s, starring Judi Dench.  ‘The Invisible Woman’  is about Charles Dickens’ outside woman and muse. ‘Like Father, Like Son,’ is a Japanese movie about the families of two now-six year old sons switched at birth, that won the Jury Prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The Maid’s Room’ is also supposed to be a good one, shot on Long Island, about a Columbian immigrant hired as a live-in maid in East Hampton.

‘Code Black’ won the Jury Award for Best Documentary – – about a busy Emergency Room in southern California.

‘Emptying the Skies’ is about the trade in endangered species.

In retrospect:  Best movie was ‘The Rocket,’ shot in Laos.  Excellent.  Great cinematography of the landscape of Laos, with superb Laotian actors.  Enthralling classic movie to be seen again and again and again.  2nd best: ‘Oh Boy’ – German movie about a young man, a bit adrift in life, getting slammed in all directions as he deliberately contemplates his next step, but too often gets stepped on.  Great characters, acting, humor.  ‘The Human Scale’ as noted above.  ‘Tasting Menu’ also noted above.  ‘A Fragile Trust’ about the newspaper world and the unfortunate ill and ill-fated Jayson Blair.

Best short for me: ‘The Blue Umbrella;’ but it is in 3D – is available on Vimeo, rumor has it.  Can we see it in 3D via Vimeo?  7 minutes long.

‘Chimeras’ about China and two artists and the portrayal of modern day China and the art world.  See review/blog for day one of the festival, Oct. 10, 2013.

See you next year as more great movies will grace our screens at our wonderful International Film Festival, abbreviated HIFF (the ‘H’ is for Hamptons).

©  2013  Conrad Miller M.D.   October 14, 2013




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