MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 24, 2021: EL PLANETA

Part Grey Gardens, part Kajillionaire, and part Paper Moon, writer/director Amalia Ulman’s feature directorial debut, El Planeta, is also wholly its own beast. The film is a naturalistic, observational dramedy about a mother and daughter in Gijon, Spain, who find themselves facing impending eviction and doing whatever they need to in order to get by. Filmed in expressive black and white, El Planeta is a thoughtful, slice-of-life character study.

Read more

EL PLANETA – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

El Planeta is a pleasantly quirky amuse bouche of a dark comedy shot in black and white that takes place in post-recession Spain. First-time feature director and writer Amalia Ulman and her real-life mother Ale, star as daughter Leo and matriarch Maria, who are living on borrowed time in a small apartment that they no longer can afford.

Read more

MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 17, 2021: I’M YOUR MAN

If Westworld had been a romcom instead of a gory sci-fi parable, it might have ended up looking something like Maria Schrader‘s winsome I’m Your Man, which follows a skeptical academic who agrees to test a “perfect partner” android in exchange for research funding support. Determined to poke the concept full of holes, she reluctantly finds herself drawn to her manufactured soulmate — and does a fair bit of self-analysis along the way.

Read more

I’M YOUR MAN – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

I’m Your Man, directed by Maria Schrader, revolves around a robotic dreamboat who is part of a study involving companions who are tailored-made for one human’s personality and emotional needs. In the case of middle-aged academic Alma (Maren Eggert) — who just broke up with a co-worker — she signs on to the three-week experiment in order to fund her own research project. That requires her to live with non-human Tom (Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame, the most valuable player in the cast who constantly ups the humor ante with much aplomb. And take a moment to consider that this English actor had to learn German for his role).

Read more

I’M YOUR MAN – Review by Liz Whittemore

I’m Your Man manages to be both feminist and romantic at the same time. Writer-director Maria Shrader has given audiences a think piece about love, trauma, loneliness, and the role of technology. The choice to make Alma a fiercely independent scientist specializing in anthropology is incredibly clever. She studies ancient cuneiform in an attempt to prove the early use of poetry and metaphor. Juxtaposed we have Tom a humanoid supercomputer programmed to be Alma’s ideal mate. For three weeks, Alma must report on Tom’s effectiveness. Is her scientific, skeptical mind standing between her and true love?

Read more

MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 10, 2021: LANGUAGE LESSONS

After the last year and a half, it would be understandable if someone read the quick summary of Natalie Morales’ Language Lessons — two very different people bond through a series of online chats and messages — and thought “A Zoom movie? No way!” But this intimate, heartfelt dramedy is so much more than that. It’s a carefully observed character study about friendship, privilege, and the power of a genuine connection, whether it’s virtual or IRL.

Read more

LANGUAGE LESSONS – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

At a time when so much of our country is filled with divisive politics and ugly, stupid and false rhetoric while selfish anti-vaxers and anti-maskers refuse to do the right thing, here comes along a charming balm of a two-hander in the form of director Natalie Morales’s Language Lessons, which she wrote with her co-star, Mark Duplass. It provides a perfect oasis of sorts from all the pain and agony of the news headlines of late. It also might be the best Zoom meeting you will ever experience as well.

Read more

LANGUAGE LESSONS – Review by Jennifer Merin

Language Lessons is a pandemic-inspired zoom-tech two-character, two- location, two-screen dramedy that’s thoroughly refreshing, emotionally engaging and, ultimately, utterly charming. Directed by Natalie Morales (who also stars and co-wrote the project with co-star Mark Duplass), the film follows the burgeoning understanding and growing friendship between Carino, a for-hire internet Spanish language teacher and her client, Adam, an affluent and bored white guy who has his regular daily routine and some social and emotional issues.

Read more

LANGUAGE LESSONS – Review by Leslie Combemale

There’s a lot of buzz for pandemic indie Language Lessons. Co-starring Mark Duplass, who partnered with director Natalie Morales in writing the script, the film is the latest example of the screenlife film genre, in which all the storytelling takes place via a computer, tablet, or smartphone screen. Given that the world is universally experiencing Zoom fatigue, Language Lessons is a surprisingly poignant, bittersweet, sometimes uncomfortable exploration of platonic love, and it shows the depth and breadth of the talent of these two actors, who are tasked with keeping both forward momentum and building an emotional connection with viewers for 90 minutes. It is entirely worthy of its accolades, but should also come with a trigger warning for those still actively struggling with the pain of loss.

Read more

MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 3, 2021: WHO YOU THINK I AM

The power of love, the need for validation, and the nature of identity are compellingly tangled in Who You Think I Am, director Safy Nebbou’s adaptation of French writer Camille Laurens’ novel. Juliette Binoche stars as Claire Millaud, an accomplished academic who’s drifting and lonely in the wake of a midlife divorce. Her impulsive decision one night to pose as a much younger woman online leads to both joy and heartbreak.

Read more