I think I figured out why first time director Reed Tang’s “A Different Sun” feels so darned disjointed. How else can you describe a drama about a Chinese family who moves to Germany to help their daughter get a better education, which is mostly in English and almost exclusively shot in upstate New York?
Sometimes, a movie that would be little more than a Movie of the Week in America can seem refreshing because it’s from another country. Wei Zhang’s “Destiny” falls in to this category, giving us a little glimpse in to how autism is discussed and dealt with in China.
Prom King, 2010
It is said that neophyte filmmakers should stick to things they know. It is clear that Christopher Schaap, the writer/director/star of the new film “Prom King, 2010” knows a thing or two about the mavericks that came before him. It may be bit premature to put Schaap in the same league as John Cassavetes and John Sayles, but this New York-based filmmaker’s debut should be as exciting to cinephiles as “Shadows” was in 1959 or “Return of the Secaucus 7” was in 1980.
Director Lindsey Copeland’s second feature “Hedgehog” fails one of the most basic tenets of storytelling. If you can’t make your lead character likable, at least make them compelling. And if you can’t make them compelling, at least make them interesting. And if you can’t make them interesting, at least make it worth our while to follow them.
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.