This week is a busy one for me. I am covering 2 festivals: the Annecy Film Festival for rotoscopers.com and the Tribeca Film Festival here on this blog. I’ve already given my first review for Tribeca but have watched 6 other films. Here are my quick reviews:
This is a pretty basic bio-doc about celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck but as a wanna-be foodie I enjoyed it. It’s interesting to learn Wolfgang had a very abusive stepfather and left his family as a teen and didn’t contact them again for almost 2 years. It was also great they got his first employer Patrick Terrail on the doc with him still upholding the old idea of a restaurateur makes the restaurant not the chef. Again, this doc doesn’t reinvent the wheel but I enjoyed it.
6 out of 10
A-ha: The Movie
This film is very similar to the Sparks doc at Sundance this year or the GoGos documentary last year. This formula follows a forgotten band and goes back through their highs and lows. This time it is the 80s hit band A-ha and just like Sparks they are still together performing music (although they did break up a time to two unlike Sparks).
One of the most interesting parts of this documentary is seeing how much a band like A-ha meant to their homeland of Norway. While we have a number of Swedish bands I don’t think there have been many from Norway.
I could have used more info about their iconic music video but they do weave animation throughout. If you have interest in this band and their music I bet you will like it.
6 out of 10
Dating & New York
On surface Dating & New York should be my jam. I love romantic comedies and there are many great ones set in New York City. I also like indie romances like Sing Street or 500 Days of Summer. Unfortunately this film didn’t come together to make a satisfying romcom.
The biggest problem with this film is its stars Francesca Reale and Jaboukie Young-White didn’t have any chemistry and the script feels aggressively indie: like it is trying to hard to be twee and dare I say hipster.
I honestly found the movie to be quite annoying so you could say the script just didn’t work for me.
4 out of 10
I have a fondness for animator Will Vinton. My friend Stanford and I have reviewed the Puppetoon movies compiled of his films and interviewed Arnold Leibovit about them. We also reviewed his trippy The Many Adventures of Mark Twain for Obscure Animation. This documentary tells us Vinton’s story and how he almost became a mini-Walt Disney (which was his goal).
Then he becomes in bed with Phil Knight of Nike fame and his studio ends up becoming what we now know of as Liaka Studios invested in by Knight for his son Travis. I loved seeing all the old claymation by Vinton and his life was fascinating. This is another documentary that is basic but the subject matter is interesting enough to make it worth a watch
6 out of 10
No Man of God
I have no idea why Hollywood seems so fascinated with Ted Bundy? It seems like practically every day we here of a new movie or docuseries being made about him and his crimes. Maybe because he seemed handsome and charming? But why do we assume handsome and charming people cant be serial killers?
It’s weird and I was hoping this film might shed some light on the fascination but it really doesn’t. Elijah Wood plays Bill Hagmaier, an FBI agent sent to ‘profile’ Ted Bundy. This film is a lot better than the recent version starring Zac Efron (which I hated) but it still left me cold. What are we supposed to take away from this evil man? The script should have given me that insight.
4 out of 10
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain-
Kitchen Confidential is probably the first R rated memoir I’ve ever read. I picked it up at an airport in 2007 and despite the author Anthony Bourdain’s crass style I found the book to be completely mesmerizing. Evidently I wasn’t alone because Bourdain became a huge star on show after show after writing his memoir.
Bourdain, however, wasn’t entirely comfortable with the spotlight and sadly committed suicide in 2018. It’s all too prosaic at the beginning of the film when he says ‘this isn’t a story with a happy ending’. I appreciate this documentary doesn’t make him a squeaky clean character. He’s flawed, rude to his friends, difficult but so many people still loved him.
This film is done by the same people who made Won’t You Be My Neighbor which I adored and even though Bourdain is no Fred Rogers I feel both films get to authentic places about their subjects even if it is much sadder ending here.
8 out of 10