“Indigo Girls” Documentary a Rollicking, Revelatory Look at Signature Duo

Pop music stardom is an uneasy fit for the idiosyncratic women of one of the State of Georgia’s most popular exports, but this steely duo’s combination of vulnerability and authenticity expresses a profound harmony powerful enough to heal an aching world. Director Alexandria Bombach’s joy-balm of a career chronicle Indigo Girls: It’s Only Life After All (A) derives its title from a verse of the duo’s hit song, “Closer to Fine,” recently featured on the dream car radio airwaves of the Barbie movie as characters trek between fantasy and the real world. This documentary similarly exists in a realm of crafty contradictions and sly serendipity as amplified acoustic troubadours Amy Ray and Emily Saliers reveal their starkly divergent pathways to achieve both their iconic sound and inner peace against a backdrop of changing times and minds. These two couldn’t be more different! Amy constantly tames tempestuousness, all grit and ache simmering on the surface while unleashing her inner rocker, as Emily belts lovely ballads and a bright blend of poetic melancholy while privately battling her own doubts and demons. The sound they make together is singular and sublime, and the respect they have for one another is apparent in every revealing frame. Both women are raw in their confessions, wry in their self-effacing observations and clearly having a wonderful time curating a career unlike any before or after them. The film showcases two lifelong friends coming of age without a roadmap, united in music-making as a mutual coping mechanism and antidote to growing up gay in the south, to being unconventional women in the entertainment business and to not always being particularly prepared for the role model activists they’ve become. While showcasing the origins of their welcoming brand of lyrical and sonic composition forged in the otherworldly necessity of their friendship, the movie also traces the womens’ journey to an even more pronounced consciousness about environmental and justice issues they hold so dear, outside opinions be damned. Archival footage captured on every conceivable form of media, testimonials from true believers who would follow the band anywhere and a keen directorial eye on the lovely details which define a relationship for the ages are among the poignant ways the film showcases its subjects so lovingly. For both devoted fans and newbies discovering these pioneering women in action, bearing witness to their stories both in conversation and song will be nothing short of inspiring. The film is a highly recommended glimpse at two people who by their very existence, and their talent on top of that, are changing the world and saving lives. Go, go, go!

Note: the film runs at Atlanta’s Tara theatre before appearing elsewhere.

2024 Oscars Viewing Party at Enzo in the Town at Trilith Spotlights Great Year for Films

The inaugural Oscars Viewing Party at Enzo in the Town at Trilith was a success! Photo credit: Chucky Kahng @Chuckyfoto

The March 10, 2024 Academy Awards ceremony brought big wins for major Hollywood prestige pictures Oppenheimer and Poor Things plus a pop cultural celebration of comedy juggernaut Barbie with Oscar-nominated songs including an epic production number starring Ryan Gosling as “Ken.” More than 100 guests gathered for an inaugural Oscars Viewing Party in Georgia’s Town at Trilith at Enzo Steakhouse & Bar Restaurant to enjoy the restaurant’s signature foods ranging from steaks to oysters, beverages including Oscars-themed cocktails, prizes and predictions and the well-reviewed ABC broadcast hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. Enzo party guests predicted the winners in each of 23 competitive categories, and a team of intrepid ballot counters were ready with prizes and movie memorabilia for the best prognosticators, awarded at every commercial break.

Trilith is a place where makers live, create and inspire the world. Its idyllic, walkable community sits next to state-of-the-art filmmaking studios – combining world-class living and amenities with world-class stages and facilities. The town’s central thoroughfare, Trilith Parkway, is lined with bespoke shops, original attractions and one-of-a-kind restaurants including Enzo.

Enzo’s unique approach to cuisine marries Italian culinary traditions with contemporary sensibility, creating a cultural dialog between Northern Italy and the New American South. The restaurant is open seven days a week.

The “Me & Enzo” Club celebrates the power of food and its ability to bring together a community of innovators and storytellers. Every month, the Enzo restaurant offers an event in which members can come together in a relaxed setting to enjoy fantastic food and beverages. Events include a holiday bash, music, art exhibitions, theme parties, an annual event, and priority access to the chef table and private dining room.

The Oscars Viewing Party was the brainchild of Enzo Chef Andrea Montobbio, who pulled in the Silver Screen Capture team to help emcee and curate competition prizes and themed cocktails such as the Oppenheimer Old-Fashioned, Barbie and Vodka-Kenough, the Gin Holdovers and Killers of the Flower Moonshine.

The charity Two Sparrows Village is a beneficiary of a portion of proceeds from the event.

Photographer Chucky Kahng chronicled the night in photos, many of which are in this gallery. Check out red carpet looks, competitive activities and of course the scrumptious Enzo food and beverages!

Stephen Michael Brown Shares 2024 Oscars Picks with NPR

Silver Screen Capture weighs in with perspectives ahead of this weekend’s big reveal.

https://www.gpb.org/news/2024/03/07/oscars-preview-which-films-have-georgia-connections

Additionally, here are details about our Oscars viewing party:

“Love Lies Bleeding” is a Trippy Romantic Thriller from 2024 Sundance

Get ready to experience pulp friction of the edgiest order as a mismatched love story collides with a badass crime drama and all-out revenge and cover-up saga in the consistently surprising Love Lies Bleeding (B), directed by Rose Glass. Set in the 1980s, this often unhinged movie chronicles the sexy relationship between a gym manager played by Kristen Stewart and a nomadic bodybuilder portrayed by Katy O’Brian, with a powderkeg or two threatening the serenity of their sapphic world order. Both women are incredible in the roles; their unbridled feral chemistry is a necessary foundation on which the most outlandish episodes can take place. Ed Harris and Dave Franco are also compelling as outrageous and dangerous men; and it’s clear we the audience are settling in for some supernatural splatter when steroids stoke the kindling of the bonfire. After opening sequences ground the story in a very specific world, some of the plot lines admittedly become completely ridiculous. But Glass keeps the story taut and entertaining with a clever eye for detail and noirish nuances. This is a very fun indie walk on the wild side.

“Problemista” is Droll, Deadpan and Delicious

New York City’s most unassuming guy and the world’s most over-assertive woman forge an unlikely relationship at the center of this refreshingly off-kilter satire. Julio Torres writes, directs and stars in the surrealist comedy Problemista (B+). He plays Alejandro, a South American immigrant and aspiring toy designer and who’s struggling to bring his unusual ideas to life in the bustle of the American metropolis. As time on his work visa runs out, a job assisting a brassy art world iconoclast (Tilda Swinton as Elizabeth) becomes his only hope to stay in the country and realize his dreams. Our humble hero’s macabre toy ideas are hilarious (even his snake in a can is humbly apologetic for its jump scare), and his Kafkaesque imagination runs wild as he ruminates through the Rube Goldberg machine of blockades en route to his goal of staying in the U.S. and landing a plum job at Hasbro. The film blends sly parody of the art world and a subplot about cryogenics as wry observational humor unfolds. Torres is quite funny inhabiting the role of meek protagonist, but it’s Swinton as his brazen new boss, rouged and festooned like a Fangoria centerfold, who provides an indelible character for the ages. Her holy terror of a takedown of her brunch waiter eclipses Jack Nicholson’s diner diatribe in Five Easy Pieces. This film is cleverly plotted and paced and offers surprises around many corners. Torres proves to be a comic talent to watch as he delivers commentary in a funny package.

Video: Stephen Michael Brown’s Oscar Predictions in Top 8 Categories

Epic Sci-Fi Story Widens its Lens for “Dune: Part Two”

Denis Villeneuve brings IMAX-certified cameras to a knife fight and creates a picturesque panorama largely missing the joy of discovery so present in its predecessor as the director continues his interplanetary sci-fi saga in Dune: Part Two (B-). As the protagonist, Timothée Chalamet has grown into a more credible and physically impressive action hero this time around, and he’s paired nicely with Zandaya as he endeavors to be a man of the people on the desert planet known for its valuable spice and menacing sand worms. The first installment included lots of enjoyable palace intrigue and even some moments of sentiment and humor; part two is super-serious, even leaden at times, and it mainly meanders toward a showdown without introducing too many new locales, costumes or bags of tricks into the mix. Despite their pedigree, Christopher Walken and Florence Pugh don’t make much of an impression, but Austin Butler is definitely doing some sort of big swing as the big bad of this sequel; it seemed briefly promising he was going to breathe some new life into the ponderously paced second reel. The film is technically impressive though, with swirling vistas and majestic production design more than worthy of its somewhat underdeveloped themes about destiny and heroism. As a piece of cinema, it’s a wonder to behold with action sequences well blocked and the ante being upped a time or two, even if it just doesn’t land the ship like the first movie did. There were frankly some elements I preferred in the universally derided David Lynch adaptation. Villaneuve’s film is so gorgeously shot, it could have been a great silent movie, with two hours plus of splendid pageantry and Hans Zimmerman’s rousing music swelling before our eyes and ears. See it on the big screen, for sure, but I’m going to bring expectations down just a notch.

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Closes with “Shari and Lamb Chop”

Like Sweeney Todd and his glistening knives or Tom Brady and his spiraling football, famed ventriloquist Shari Lewis was wielding something mighty at the end of her arm. Lisa D’Apolito’s feel-good documentary Shari and Lamb Chop (B+) chronicles the multi-hyphenate singer, dancer, comedienne, educator and puppeteer through a veritable variety show of every major era of television as she showcases astounding work ethic and a charm offensive. The daughter of a vaudeville magician, a young Shari aspires to sing and dance and becomes famous for a sassy sock puppet that no late night talk show or game show host will ever let her forget to bring along. Through intimate found footage including some remarkable on-set sequences from multiple iterations of Shari’s various children’s shows, D’Apolito finds an array of heightened emotions in her subject. Surprising tidbits include both puppet and ventriloquist doing a full show in Japanese as well as Lewis co-writing a Star Trek episode. The film is vibrant and colorful with a wistful nostalgia for an old-fashioned brand of good-natured humor. Through Shari’s myriad talents on display and interviews by the likes of illusionist David Copperfield, SNL’s Sarah Sherman and surviving Lewis family members, it’s a lovely tribute. With so much at arm’s length, this film will make you want to hug someone you love.

Note: This was the closing night film of the 2024 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival with streaming films continuing through March 7. A full line-up of streaming films can be found here: https://ajff.org

Aronofsky’s “Postcard from Earth” a Must-See Nature Film at Vegas Sphere

A new movie built for a special venue is engineered to blow your mind and, despite its gargantuan magnitude, possesses small spellbinding ways to change the way audiences view our world. There hasn’t been an immersive movie before quite like Darren Aronofsky’s Postcard from Earth (A-), developed as an installation for The Sphere in Las Vegas and building on a grand tradition that makes CinemaScope, Cinerama, IMAX and even Disney’s Soarin’ look like tiny canvasses. The sheer technological audacity of 18K resolution images by new Big Sky cameras, a flood of 500,000 gigabytes of data on a 160,000 foot domed video screen 35 stories high featuring 270 degrees of viewing experience, climate control, 4D haptic capabilities for the venue’s seating, and scents to create an immersive environment makes for a cinematic wonder to behold.  Aronofsky’s blend of a sci-fi framing device and majestic imagery of nature and civilizations chronicles the story of life on Earth with both dreamlike plaintiveness and pulse-pounding urgency. On a distant planet, astronauts Byron (Brandon Santana) and Fang (Zaya Ribeiro) land in a state of stasis to be reminded of the earth where they one lived. What follows is a nearly hourlong narrated journey of spectacular footage across seven continents to witness glorious plains and prairies, wondrous oceans and canyons, breathtaking cathedrals and cityscapes and humans and animals in daily rituals paying homage to earth’s glory or harming it. The director wields both a telescope and a microscope to showcase parades of elephants, the panorama of hikers atop the highest mountaintops or revelers celebrating high holy days as well as the smallest creatures in their own habitats. The music is triumphant. 4D effects conjure thunder, wind and rocket propulsion directly to the seats of audience members, as faint scents of nature briefly waft through the auditorium. It’s a picturesque love letter to Mother Earth on a screen four football fields large, with so much epic visual splendor at times, you’ll want to crane your neck to see even more. The “save the planet” message is clear and not nearly as preachy as it could have been given the filmmaker’s proclivity for characters obsessed with creation myths. The film is a must-see; and, in its poetic and transfixing beauty, has the capacity to bring people together in newfound respect for our precious resources and glorious planet home.

Wonderful Documentary Shows Why Women “Still Working 9 to 5” and Beyond for Equal Rights

In months since the release of a Barbie movie celebrated for giving voice to the plight of women but derided by detractors for being pedantic, it’s clear we are witnessing history repeating. Camille Hardman and Gary Lane’s compelling documentary Still Working 9 to 5 (B+) explores the past decades of the women’s rights movement with the 1980 film comedy 9 to 5 as a pop cultural anchor. The co-directors congregate the film’s funny trio Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton for fond reminiscences as the popular movie made them unofficial spokeswomen of an equal rights movement picking up steam. Interlaced in the documentary are participants in pop culture with workplace pioneers such as Lilly Ledbetter, each sharing their personal anecdotes across the continuum. The movie also does an elegant  job linking the early exposure of topics such as fair pay and sexual harassment with later movements such as #MeToo. Fans of the classic workplace satire will find themselves enjoying the behind the scenes footage and back stories while learning important lessons of modern American history too. Hardman and Lane deliver a touching and timely look at vital issues affecting us all. They tell their story with nifty nostalgia and utmost urgency.

Food and Romance are on Display in “The Taste of Things”

The central couple of Trần Anh Hùng’s The Taste of Things (aka La Passion de Dodin Bouffant) (B-) finds their best way of communicating to one another is through gourmet cooking, and this French film is a series of gastronomic love letters between Benoît Magimel and Juliette Binoche. Call it Culinary Paradiso. The film is notable for its gorgeously lensed sequences of creation in the kitchen, as the lovers make sumptuous entrees, soups and desserts for one another. You may leave craving quail or Baked Alaska. The central characters are a bit elusive, but it’s nonetheless a joy to see them cooking. Ensemble characters seen at dinner parties or sampling dishes before they are served are undercooked in the screenplay, with much of the film a two-hander. Ironically the film doesn’t always set the table stakes for the payoff it purports to conjure up; it’s sometimes an empty soufflé. Go for the gorgeous stovetop stylings and stay for a few nice insights about feeding a relationship.

Despite Inspirational Story, “One Life” is “One-Note”

A case of a miraculously story told too conventionally, One Life (C), directed by John Hawes, splits its time between 1939 and 1987 with Johnny Flynn and Anthony Hopkins both portraying British humanitarian Nicholas Winton, who helped save hundreds of predominantly Jewish children from the Nazis on the eve of World War II. Hopkins is strong as always, channeling melancholy, but Flynn makes little impression playing what’s supposed to be a meticulous mastermind in the underwritten backstory. The most riveting parts of the plot about how Winton saved the children are only partially dramatized, leaving much of the history safely shared in overly talky sequences. The final act swells with emotion, but the overall film is simply not specific or gripping enough. The triumph of history doesn’t translate to a triumph of a movie.

Note: This screening was part of the 2024 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. The festival’s theatrical movies run through February 26 with streaming films also available through March 7. Full line-up of offerings can be found here: https://ajff.org