Review: ‘Disclosure’ is an emotional nail biter that warrants discussion.

From writer/director Michael Bentham, a film that hammers home the notion that “there are two sides to every story, and then there is the truth.” DISCLOSURE follows two couples who go to war over an allegation of child-on-child abuse. Australian documentary maker Emily, and her journalist husband, Danny, are reeling from an allegation of abuse their 4-year-old daughter Natasha has made against a local politician’s 9-year-old son, Ethan. Ethan’s parents, Joel and Bek, arrive unannounced at Emily and Danny’s house intent on convincing the couple that Natasha’s allegation is a fabrication. Accusations, arguments, and the ultimate search for leverage turn their civil conversation into a vicious confrontation.

Couple Vs couple tangling over abuse allegations between their children is one of the most visceral watches of the year, especially as a parent and former teacher myself. Disclosure boasts glorious performances and incredibly effective editing. Geraldine Hakewill, Mark Leonard Winter, Tom Wren, and Matilda Ridgway are simply outstanding and the use of a stationary camera allows the focus to remain on the nuanced beats within each scene. Long takes add to the tension and push a voyeuristic, “How long have you been standing there?” type of position for the audience. The dialogue is so weighty that you cannot separate your feelings from the characters. That’s great storytelling. We also explore the dynamics of gender roles, political fallout, past trauma, and marriage. One of the most intriguing is the way men communicate and the way women do. The avoidance, passive-aggressiveness, versus directness, is fascinating. At one point all bets are off and these couples will do anything to protect both their children and their own self-interest. Whose side will you be on? The fact that this is based upon a true story makes the entire thing all the more horrific. This is a lose-lose scenario no one wants to be a part of, but it does beg a larger discussion in the #MeeToo era: believing victims, victim shaming, trauma treatment, and all that comes with it. Writer-Director Michael Bentham gives us a bold film that deserves your attention. The film makes its North American debut tomorrow. Take a look at the trailer for a peek at what the audience is in store for.

DISCLOSURE arrives on VOD on 6/30 and DVD  7/7

Review: ‘I SMILE BACK’ is Sarah Silverman’s game changer.

Presents
i smile back posterSarah Silverman has been making us laugh for ages now. Her raunchy comedy style is beyond funny. Though, we’ve never seen her in a role like the one she plays in I SMILE BACK. As a mother of two children, insurance salesman husband, massive house in the burbs, Silverman plays a woman on the edge of a cliff. This film is not funny. Sarah Silverman I Smile Back still So many mothers try their damnedest to attain a facade of perfection. Doing it all, every day, can take its toll. Even more so  if underlying issues bubble to the surface and collide head on with mental illness and addiction. Silverman‘s character, Laney, has a routine. Hubby wakes her up as he is heading out the door. She rises, makes her kids their personalized lunches, breakfast, gets them to school… then all hell breaks loose in her world. Faking it through the moments has become the bane of her existence so pills, alcohol and sex become her destructive outlet. When the cracks begin to show and the fun wears off, Laney’s sporadic outbursts among the masses, and worse, the ones she knows intimately are simply the beginning of all the walls imploding around her. The film tackles so many touchy subjects unapologetically. Based on Amy Koppleman‘s novel (which she adapted for the screen along with Paige Dylan) I SMILE BACK pulls no punches in parading Laney’s self destructive behavior for the audience to cringe along with. Whether or not we’ve experienced addiction first hand, we all know someone who has. Depression doesn’t have a magical cure. Bruce, Janey, son, Josh Charles, I smile Back stillSarah Silverman should, hands down, get an award for this performance. Do not for one minute think that was an easy performance to pull off. It is raw, dirty, unglamorous, and very real. If this doesn’t open up an entire new avenue for her career, then shame on Hollywood. Sharp tongued and effortlessly pointed, Silverman owns this film from minute one. Josh Charles as supportive husband Bruce is no throw away character. Endlessly in love with his wife, knowing full well what she is capable, there are moments real truth is revealed. Through brief remarks, side glances,even if he tolerates her behavior, he does not condone it. His portrayal is incredibly realistic in each moment. He never asks too much of her but strives for her happiness even if it means making unpleasant family decisions. It is an unafraid performance. Laney and dad Sarah Silverman still from I smile Back
I Smile Back not only tackles addiction, depression,  mental illness, but breaking the patterns that have been, and are being, passed down generation to generation. The film is brave. The script is bold. It will leave you with a sense of reality some may not be ready to accept. Audiences will be lucky to dive into this film head first. We’re very proud to recommend I SMILE BACK.

I SMILE BACK open tomorrow, October 23rd in NY at the Angelika! Available On Demand November 6th.
Laney is an attractive, intelligent suburban wife and devoted mother of two adorable children. She has the perfect husband who plays basketball with the kids in the driveway, a pristine house, and a shiny SUV for carting the children to their next activity. However, just beneath the façade lie depression and disillusionment that send her careening into a secret world of reckless compulsion. Only very real danger will force her to face the painful root of her destructiveness and its crumbling effect on those she loves.
Starring: Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles, Tom Sadoski and Mia Barron
Directed by: Adam Salky
Written by: Amy Koppelman (based on her novel) and Paige Dylan
Running Time: 85 minutes
Rating: R
#ISmileBack

Tribeca Film Festival interview: ‘CROCODILE GENNADIY’ is a modern-day superhero story.

Crocdile Gennadiy poster Gennadiy Mokhnenko is a pastor in Mariupol, Ukraine. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, hundreds, if not thousands of children have become homeless and addicted to a deadly mixture of cold medicine and alcohol that they are injecting like herion. Gennadiy has taken it upon himself to rescue these children, small groups at a time and bring them to his rehabilitation center called Pilgrim Republic. An accomplished and eloquent orator, this strong headed and passionate pastor, sometimes forcibly removes children from sewers, or other filth ridden settings, to set them on the straight and narrow. His aim is to improve their alcohol recovery timeline, get these kids healthy and make them want to be functioning members of society. Confronting abusive parents and taking on the government, Gennadiy is a saint. He has 11 children, most of them adopted from the lot that he has saved over the years. He has a wit and charm that make him one of the most approachable men, and yet he has a tenacity that is also threatening when it needs to be.Crocodile Gennadiy image

This documentary from Steve Hooper is beautifully inter-cut with a Soviet animated TV show, Crocodile Gennadiy from which our pastor gets his nickname. The parrallels between Gennadiy and the cartoon are almost unbelievable. The methods this man uses are far from what would be acceptable for any church in the United States, and as far as I am concerned, we should be taking a page from his playbook when fighting for good. Croc Genn cartoon

I was able to sit down with Steve Hoover and producer Danny Yourd. Find out some of the crazy story behind the making of this film.

 

Crocodile Gennadiy Teaser from Crocodile Gennadiy Documentary on Vimeo.

You can still catch CROCODILE GENNADIY at this year’s festival:

8:00 PM – FRI 4/24  REGAL CINEMAS BATTERY PARK 11-3   –RUSH

‘The Sublime and Beautiful’- Liz’s interview with writer/director/star Blake Robbins

SUBLIMEBEAUTIFUL

Grief is a very personal experience. Some of us cry, some lash out at loved ones, some shut down. A few even look at a loss as an excuse to reassess their lives. Either way, it is a loss. Five years ago yesterday, I lost someone very special to me. I had experienced the loss of family members before, but this, this was something altogether different. Tyler was a beloved friend. I guess I never actually knew how close we were until after he was ripped from my life without real explanation. The hole gets smaller each day but just barely. There are moments, songs, pictures, that still take the wind out of me. It’s the most horrible feeling. Grief owns me at times. It’s still a process. In Blake Robbins new film, The SUBLIME and BEAUTIFUL, all those feelings rush back into my brain and heart. Read More →

Liz’s Review: ‘THE KING AND THE MOCKINGBIRD’ is a classic brought back to life

The King and the Mockingbird Poster_Rialto

When I was a child I revelled in my mother and father reading bedtime stories.  I grew up on classic Disney fairytales and Tom & Jerry reruns. As an adult, nothing makes me happier than reliving those moments and sharing that joy with the next generation. At this year’s New York Film Festival, I was treated to a film that has been around for ages, but for me was a brand new tale to pass down. Read More →