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BEST OF 2019: “Tel Aviv On Fire,” “This Must Be Heaven” and others make this film critic’s year

Last Updated: December 29, 2019By Tags:

“Tel Aviv on Fire” (directed by Sameh Zoabi)
(featured image) This Israeli film by Sameh Zoabi, an Arab Israeli, comes to us boasting a number of awards but that doesn’t prepare us for the treat of this thoroughly enjoyable and unpretentious story […] (full review)

“Pain and Glory” (directed by Pedro Almodovar)
Antonio Banderas, in one of his most attaching roles ever (Banderas’s American career sucked the marrow out of his artistic potential with one stupid commercial film after another) plays Salvador Mallo, a (hypochondriac?) filmmaker who struggles so badly with back pains, ringing in the ears, cluster headaches, migraine and depression that he’s been in a weird, medicated autopilot sort of state for years […] (full review)

Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel in “Can you ever forgive me?”

“Can you ever forgive me?” (directed by Marielle Heller)
Melissa McCarthy brilliantly plays Lee Israel, a failed writer who in 1990s New York forges autograph letters by famous (dead) writers such as Dorothy Parker or Noel Coward before the FBI catches up with her.

“This Must Be Heaven” (directed by Elia Suleiman)
Palestinian Elia Suleiman is both director of and actor in this sharp deadpan observation of the world around him, from Nazareth to Paris to New York, as he seeks funding for his new film.

“An officer and a spy” (directed by Roman Polanski)
A precise documentation of the famous Dreyfus affair which tore end of nineteenth-century France apart when an upright officer was wrongfully accused of treason by violently anti-semitic colleagues determined on his fall. He was fully rehabilitated with the help of vigorous campaigning by George Clemenceau at the time editor of the Aurore newspaper, at first convinced of Dreyfus’ guilt, then of his innocence, and a scathing front-page article by novelist Emile Zola.

“Apollo 11” (directed by Todd Douglas Miller)
“Apollo 11” is not so much a documentary as cinema vérité of the purest order. There is no narration; technicians, scientists, engineers and the astronauts themselves are seen going about their million tasks in amazing footage that has been so sparklingly restored that, but for the telltale late-sixties clothes and cars, could have been made last year.

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