One of the wonderful things about attending film festivals is discovering new films you might not have ever gotten the opportunity to see otherwise. Discovering a new film from a first-time director, with lesser-known actors and one somewhat familiar face, is even better. And when that film is pretty damn good? Well, that’s why you get in to a racket like film criticism in the first place.
Once thought to have been a serious contender for 2016 awards consideration, “The Founder” seemingly had everything going for it: a director who had previously lead Sandra Bullock to Oscar glory, a lead actor who had starred in the two previous Best Picture winners, a rogue’s gallery of supporting actors any filmmaker would give their left arm for, and a topic which features (probably) the most famous eatery in the world. Yet, the film never quite equals the sum of its parts, in large part to the singular problem that it’s rather hard to make a compelling film about a complete asshole.
On its surface, Cedya Torun’s wonderful documentary “KEDi” is about several street cats in Istanbul. And on its surface, “KEDi” will surely please those who value slice-of-life glimpses of cats in foreign lands. It is an extremely well crafted work from a first-time filmmaker who knows how to effectually engage audiences.
If that’s all the film was about.
It’s probable your enjoyment of “The Battered Bastards of Baseball,” premiering on Netflix tomorrow, will be dependent on how much you love the game of baseball itself, and that would be a shame. The story about a B-level actor starting an independent minor-league sports team in the mid-1970s is about far more than just baseball, and you’d be depriving yourself of quite a bit of fun.
Steve James’ touching new film about the late Roger Ebert is one of the hardest films to write about. Practically everyone who has been doing this sort of thing for the past thirty years or so owes the man an astonishing duty of appreciation, and many of us may have never considered attempting it had we not seen him and his success.
Dinosaurs have fascinated mankind for millennia. We as a people have a seemingly voracious appetite for all things dinosaur, especially after John Ostrom’s works about the Deinonychus Antirrhopus became public in the mid-1960s. And before we take another journey back to “Jurassic Park” next year, we have the animated anthology movie “Dinotasia” to keep us engaged.