New York Film Festival Opens With Two Thumbs Up


George Harrison/grove street pictures
Carnage/Sbs Productions
Miss Bala/Canana Films











For kids, playgrounds and basketball courts were the battlegrounds for those verbal confrontations that were blown way out of proportion. But as things go, you fought, called each other names, and got on with your day with your crayons and Elmer’s glue. But what happens when the parents get involved?

Director Roman Polanski shows movie goers that kids may actually be the more mature of the two in his film adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s Broadway comedy “God of Carnage” in which the quirky, intellectual parents of the victim (Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly) invite the snobbish parents of the bully (Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet) over to their Brooklyn apartment to discuss what actually happened on the playground between their two sons. Shot in one location throughout the movie, Polanski takes the audience on a whirlwind ride that explores a dysfunctional world of seemingly normal relationships, comedic personality changes, idealists vs. realists, and vomit…lots and lots of vomit.

Each individual performance by all four actors is superb, with each one hitting the nail on the head as far as individual mannerisms, back stories and careers go. What is even better is the fact that the stereotypes for the modern parent are spot on. John C. Reilly erupts with so much humorous frustration that, at some points, he matches or even surpasses some of his greatest moments in “Stepbrothers.” Kate Winslet is brilliantly neurotic, where her companionship with Blackberry-wielding Christoph Waltz may be one of the funniest movie marriages in recent memory.  However, it is Jodie Foster who steals the show playing the uptight, hyperbole-using mother whose outrageous outbursts about what’s fair for her son actually makes you realize that your own mother might not be that bad. The arguing that ensues examines the commitment of marriage in a whole new light, pointing out occurrences that husbands and wives only keep to themselves behind locked doors, occurrences that force you to come to the conclusion that shit happens, get over it.


“Miss Bala”

This Mexican film by Gerardo Naranjo is based on a true story that deals with a sensitive topic in the country today— drug wars. This thrilling film is expected to earn a nomination for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars, tells the story of a drug lord and a beauty queen, but never once shows a drug on the screen. However, there are dozens of scenes with an understandably terrified and sobbing Laura, who must carry and drive drugs into the United States, dodge gunfire and seduce a government official in an assassination attempt.

Set in Baja, the film tells the story of Laura (Stephanie Sigman), an aspiring beauty queen who is in the wrong place at the wrong time during a gunfight at a nightclub. After escaping from Lino (Noe Hernandez), the man responsible for the shooting, Laura searches for her friend but winds up being handed over to the man she escaped from just hours earlier.

Lino decides to hold Laura hostage and use her as a driver for his cartel in exchange for helping her win Miss Baja. After Laura escapes and returns home briefly, the cartel finds her and uses her home as a center for their operations. In order to keep her little brother and father safe, she agrees to become a mule for the gang and the object of Lino’s sexual desire.

Sigman gives a fantastic performance as a traumatized young girl whose dreams of becoming Miss Baja slowly disappear as she becomes involved with a Mexican cartel. There were a few  exciting scenes of gunfire but for a Mexican drug movie, I wish there was more of a “Scarface” element and a little less of  relationship forming between Laura and Lino. Hopefully no real Mexican drug lord watching the film will find too many similarities with himself, for the director’s sake.


“George Harrison: Living in the Material World”

When one thinks of the Beatles they usually think of Paul or John but George may be the most fascinating of all. In this three-hour-long biopic, Martin Scorsese takes the audience on a musical, spiritual and emotional journey through the life of George Harrison. From his first band practice with the Beatles at the tender age of 17, to his death from lung cancer at the age of 58, Scorsese keeps the audience engaged with never before seen pictures, videos and interviews with Harrison’s family and closest friends.

One of the most telling parts of the film are the interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector, and dozens more. They give the audience an inside look into Harrison’s humor, strength, kindness and overall genius.

After Beatlemania ended, Harrison had a spiritual awakening and became a firm believer in the teachings of the Hari Krishna. This awakening prompted his travels through India, his sitar work with Ravi Shankar and what would be his musical inspiration until his death in 2001.

After five years of sorting through thousands of hours of footage, photographs and interviews, the dedication put into the film is clear as you watch a slideshow of breathtaking photos from his Beatle years, his journey through East Asia, his life with son Dhani and wife Olivia and his performances with dozens of musicians from Eric Clapton to Bob Dylan.

The film is a moving and masterful portrayal of one of the most enigmatic Beatles. The rare home videos of Harrison and lost interviews give the audience an insight into a musical virtuoso, and the soundtrack isn’t bad, either. John Lennon, with possibly the best descriptive quote, says of Harrison, “George himself is no mystery. But the mystery inside George is immense. It’s watching him uncover it all little by little that’s so damn interesting.”