“Shiva Baby”: While at a Jewish funeral service with her parents, a college student has an awkward encounter with her sugar daddy and her ex-girlfriend. It was different from many other films we have watched. It was primarily a “real time” film, based on an event rather than a story. Apart from the first scene, all the action took place in or around the house where the Shiva (Jewish mourning period) was taking place. The main characters are Danielle, her mother (Debbie), her sugar daddy (Max), Max’s Wife (Kim) and Danielle’s ex-girlfriend (Maya). The film explores the relationships between these key people, but also Danielle’s relationship with the Jewish culture and money. It was the first film for director Emma Seligmann who also wrote the script. The film was promoted as a comedy, but we did not find it particularly humorous. Some of the characters were not very likable, and Max was certainly not seen as a very nice person. There was a degree of stereotyping the Jewish culture but this was consistent with experiences some have had with Jewish friends. The cinematography used lots of close ups, but I am not sure whether this was a good or a bad thing. Overall perhaps a well-directed film, but the film itself was frustrating and unenlightening. We rated it as 2.5/5.
“Red Notice”: When an Interpol-issued Red Notice (the highest-level warrant to hunt and capture the world's most wanted) goes out, the FBI's top profiler John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) is on the case. His global pursuit finds him in the middle of a daring heist where he is forced to partner with the world's greatest art thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) in order to catch the world's most wanted art thief, "The Bishop" (Gal Gadot). The high-flying adventure that ensues takes the trio around the world, across the dance floor, trapped in a secluded prison, into the jungle and, worst of all for them, constantly into each other's company. It is full of twists and turns, and you can never be sure who were the “goodies” and who are the “baddies”. It is totally implausible, but a piece of enjoyable escapism with references to James Bond, Indiana Jones etc. Rated as 3.5/5.
“Eiffel”: The story behind the building of the Eiffel Tower. The government is asking Eiffel to design something spectacular for the 1889 Paris World Fair, but Eiffel simply wants to design the subway. Suddenly, everything changes when Eiffel crosses paths with a mysterious woman from his past. It is in French, with subtitles, needing a lot of concentration to keep across all that was happening. Intriguing, informative and stimulating, rated as 3.5/5.
“Respect”: the story of Aretha Franklin’s life. An interesting film, with a sound focus on her music. Perhaps a little long, but this could be because they include large excerpts of her songs, not just a few lines which is often the case with documentaries. An inspiring film rated as 4/5.
“The Rose Maker”: another sub-titled French film. A gentle film, light and easy to watch. It included some magnificent roses, fostering talents and with a message that the process of growth (people or plants) is more about the nurturing than the actual steps. Light and easy to watch rated as 3.5/5.
For our December class discussion, we have a choice of two films – “No Time to Die”, the new James Bond film, and “The Last Duel”, an historical drama based on the final judiciary duel in France in the 14th century.