At The Movies Cannes on the Sound
Our little corner of the world is about to become an internationally known movie haven.
By Noah Gittell
Our little corner of the world is about to become an internationally known movie haven. The second annual Greenwich International Film Festival runs June 9-12, and its diverse slate offers a cinematic flavor for every taste. There are political documentaries, dystopian sci-fi, dark comedies, and even a full program of shorts from filmmakers such as Neil Labute and Matthew Modine. Movies stars and independent directors will be in attendance, and cash awards will be given out, with a special focus on those films that aim for a social impact. You can find the full slate at greenwichfilm.org, but here are the ones that caught this critic’s eye:
“The Fundamentals of Caring”
Former writer for “The Late Show with David Letterman,” Rob Burnett directs this indie dramedy about a teen with muscular dystrophy (Craig Roberts) and his jaded caregiver (Paul Rudd) who embark on a road trip through the Pacific Northwest. Early reviews from Sundance peg the film as a little too predictable but ultimately satisfying. If nothing else, it’ll be nice to see Rudd out of the Ant-Man suit and doing something real again.
“My Blind Brother”
Rye Country Day alumnus Nick Kroll stars in this relationship comedy about a young man, Bill, who lives in the shadow of his popular, blind older brother (Adam Scott). When the brothers both fall for the same girl (Jenny Slate), the rivalry gives Bill an opportunity to finally become his own man. It’s a romantic comedy with a dark edge, poking fun at both the disabled and able-bodied with an equal-opportunity sense of humor.
International star Kristen Stewart teams up with X-Man Nicholas Hoult in this highly anticipated dystopian fable. In the future world of “Equals,” crime and conflict have been quashed through the elimination of human emotion. In a loveless world, lovers are criminals, so when Nia (Stewart) and Silas (Hoult) feel a growing attraction, they are forced to choose between a safe, emotionless existence or living together as outlaws.
Ira Sachs, who scored an indie hit with 2014’s “Love is Strange,” is back with another New York story. “Little Men” is a tale about a wealthy, couple (Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Ehle) who inherit a building and grapple with the decision to raise the rent on the single mom who lives on the first floor. Meanwhile, their children form an immediate bond with the tenant, complicating the matter further. “Little Men” is a story about New York, gentrification, and the human impact of uncomfortable economic realities.
This one hits close to home. Filmed over the course of three years, “Newtown” documents the Connecticut community’s emotional trauma after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and its heroic effort to rebuild in the wake of tragedy. When the lights come up, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.
This film takes viewers where the news cameras fear to tread: Zataari, the largest refugee camp in Syria. “After Spring” follows a pair of refugee families who have been living in the camp for years, as well as aid workers who struggle to keep the camp running.
“Hit it Hard”
Golf lovers will be lining up for this documentary about the legendary, polarizing John Daly, who burst onto the scene in the 1990s and then struggled to stay afloat – both personally and professionally – due to temper and struggles with addiction. “Hit it Hard” tracks the ups and down of his career and checks in on a more peaceful Daly today.
The danger is real for filmmaker Nanfu Wang, as she travels to China with activist Ye Haiyan to get involved in the lives of six elementary school girls who accused their teacher of sexual abuse. The government turns on the victims, subjecting the children to harassment, interrogation, and imprisonment. Meanwhile, Wang and Haiyan become targets themselves. After the government destroys their cameras, they continue shooting with hidden cameras and guerilla-style tactics. This one is not to be missed.
“Robert Klein: Still Can’t Stop His Leg”
Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin have all been embraced by today’s young comics, but, for some reason, Robert Klein’s more subtle brand of revolutionary comedy has never quite gotten its due. That changes now, with a brand-new documentary that checks in on Klein, still performing at 74, and puts his unique comedic voice into historical context.