After the Cup: The Sons of Sakhnin United
Hey, Hey It's Esther Blueburger
Based on a true story. Sam Gold (Jesse Eisenberg), an Orthodox Jew, lives with his mother, Elka (Elizabeth Marvel), father, Mendel (Mark Ivanir), and younger sister, Ruth (Hallie Kate Eisenberg), in Brooklyn. His parents want him to continue his rabbinical studies so that he can become a rabbi instead of working with his father at his fabric store. They’re also in the process of arranging a marriage between him and a girl who comes from a wealthy family. Yosef (Justin Bartha), the older brother of Sam’s best friend, Leon (Jason Fuchs), recruits Sam as a smuggler of “medicine” from Europe into the Unites States. Little does gullible Sam know that the “medicine” happens to be ecstasy pills until he’s already on his trek through Europe. He successfully goes through airport security with the hidden drugs and makes a lot of money which pleases his boss, the drug dealer Jackie Solomon (Danny Abeckaser), but, soon enough, his secret dangerous lifestyle has a detrimental effect on his familial and religious life because he questions his Orthodox faith—he even goes to the extent of cutting of his payot at one point. Not surprisingly, the girl whom he was supposed to get married to lost interest in him. Through his journeys as a drug smuggler, he flirts with Jackie’s girlfriend, Rachel (Ari Graynor), and believes that she will somehow will run off with him to start a serious relationship while giving up her wild lifestyle of boozing and taking drugs. The screenplay by Antonio Macia paints Sam to be a rather soft-spoken young man who’s very naïve, gullible and not particularly bright either. Despite the intriguing premise that tackles the issue of a Hassidic Jew at a turning point in his relationship with God, Macia doesn’t take it far enough and plays it safe more often than not. How many scenes of Sam partying does he need to show that Sam has now changed his lifestyle? He could have fleshed out Sam’s relationship with his father a bit more or at least allowed you to tap into his thoughts and feelings so that you would care about him as a complex, fragile human being. Sam’s experiences transpire in a pedestrian fashion, and, on top of that, he and Rachel lack chemistry. For a much more organic and haunting drama about Hassidic life, please check out My Father, My Lord and Eyes Wide Open. At a running time of 1 hour and 89 minutes, Holy Rollers tackles an intriguing premise, but squanders its opportunity to be brave and powerful because of its lazy, pedestrian screenplay that fails to breath any life into its characters and to profoundly explore its provocative issues about faith.
Michael McCrea (Cillian Murphy) owes one thousand euros to Dublin mob boss/loan shark Darren Perrier (Brendan Gleeson). When Perrier’s men, Ivan (Michael McElhatton) and Orlando (Don Wycherly), arrive at Michael’s apartment building to collect the money, they beat Michael up when, and all-of-a-sudden, Brenda (Jodie Whittaker), Michael’s best friend and next door neighbor, arrives to shoot Orlando to death. Brenda has the gun in the first place because she was in the process of trying to commit suicide over a recent break-up with her boyfriend. Just as Orlando dies, Michael’s father, Jim (Jim Broadbent), shows up and now all three of them are on the run from Perrier who, not surprisingly, has placed a large bounty on Michael’s head. Jim goes through his own issues as he struggles to remain awake because he believes that the Grim Reaper (voice of Gabriel Byrne) will come to take him away if he were to fall asleep. The screenplay by Mark O'Rowe provides an amalgamation of different genres that makes the film feel somewhat uneven and meandering as it progresses. One second it’s a dark comedy, the next it’s a gritty action/crime thriller and then it veers toward drama/romance when Michael and Brenda develop feelings for one another along the way. There’s also a brief subplot where Perrier discovers that Ivan and Orlando were gay lovers. A smarter, more imaginative and focused screenplay would have made Michael’s adventures on the lam much more fun and surprising. Why not include more dark comedy instead of all the tedious violent action scenes? Comparisons to Guy Ritchie films, Quentin Tarantino’s and even the Coen Brother’s films are inevitable, but they’re not the only directors capable of combining action, comedy and drama so deftly: Harold Ramis accomplished that in the consistently hilarious and suspenseful crime comedy Analyze This. Perrier’s Bounty lacks sparkling dialogue or memorable scenes for that matter. The performances, together with the interesting, well-developed characters, keep you mostly entertained and, admittedly, there aren’t any flat-out boring moments that will put you to sleep, but you’ll still feel somewhat underwhelmed by the time the end credits roll. At a running time of 1 hour and 28 minutes, Perrier’s Bounty is a moderately engaging, but uneven hodgepodge of comedy, action, drama and romance that lacks surprises, imagination and palpable thrills which is barely saved by its lively characters and all-around solid performances.
Shrek Forever After
Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) lives peacefully with his beloved wife, Fiona (voice of Cameron Diaz), in a cottage with their baby triplets while still good friends with Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (voice of Antonio Banderas). He’s tired of his mundane life of fame and years for the old days when he used to be an ogre that scared all the townspeople. Rumpelstiltskin (voice of Walter Dohrn) gives him an offer that he can’t seem to refuse: spend an entire day as a scary ogre in exchange for one day from his past. Little does Shrek know that the Rumpelstiltskin (voice of Walt Dohrn) has chosen to take away the day that Shrek was born. He enters an alternate kingdom where Rumpelstiltskin reigns as the dictator of Far, Far Away and where Fiona, Donkey and Puss in Boots no longer recognize him. In fact, Puss-in-Boots is too obese to fit into boots, so he’s just plain Puss. Shrek must kiss his true love, Fiona, before the next sunrise to restore the kingdom back to the way it was before. Although funnier and more engaging than the painfully inane and juvenile Shrek the Third,this fourth installment of the franchise doesn’t have any particularly memorable or gutbustingly hilarious scenes offered for adults. Little kids, on the other hands, will find themselves amused at times, but they might be scared by the kind of life-threatening dangers that Shrek encounters. The nods to The Wizard of Oz are clever along with the satiric qualities of Rumpelstiltskin. Mike Mitchel keeps the pace moving along briskly and includes a well-chosen soundtrack and nifty CGI effects filled with vibrant colors with lots of attention to detail in the foreground and background. You’ll find a few heartfelt moments here because, inevitably, based on the screenplay’s standard formula, Shrek must go through the adventures to learn valuable life lessons, thus becoming a changed ogre. At an ideal running time of 1 hour and 33 minutes, Shrek Forever After is somewhat clever, heartfelt and much darker than its predecessors, but it’s ultimately forgettable and not nearly as diverting as it could have been for kids and adults simultaneously.