Stewart and I love the Miami Dade College – MIAMI FILM FESTIVAL. This year, the 35th anniversary of the Festival, with more than 100 foreign films featured, it was tough picking the ones to see. These are some of the standouts.

 

 

Opening night, we saw TULLY – starring Charlize Theron as Marlo, an over-burdened Mom with a daughter, a younger son, and a newborn fussy infant. Add to that, a husband whose job includes traveling out of State frequently so that he is barely there to help at home. So, when Marlo’s brother offers to pay for a “night nanny” to relieve Marlo so that she could get some much-needed sleep and return to the happy, funny, engaging Marlo she once was, Marlo reluctantly, finally, says okay. And the mystery begins. Who is this night nanny named Tully who instinctively knows exactly what Marlo needs to be Marlo again? In keeping with the Miami Film Festival’s mission of showing thought-provoking movies, TULLY is a winner.

 

 

KISS ME NOT, directed by Ahmed Amer was another film we saw. With exaggerated humor, the premise gave insight into contemporary Egypt.  Any number of problems can come up on a film shoot—but what happens when the star of the movie won’t kiss her co-star? This is the issue that film director Tamer is facing on the set of his debut feature. He gave the starring role to sexy Fagr (played by Egyptian star Yasmine Rais) because of her past work in racy roles, but mid-production she suddenly became devout (Muslim) and refuses to kiss her co-star. All the while, for a separate project, a film student is documenting the making of Tamer’s film. With broad humor and satire, KISS ME NOT did a wonderful and timely job to reveal some of the societal issues regarding religion, choice, empowerment, conflict of values and contradictions going on in Egypt today.

 

 

FIRST REFORMED, starring Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Gaston and Van Hansis, is about Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke), a middle-aged, brooding, sad parish pastor at a small Dutch Reform church in upstate New York on the cusp of celebrating its 250th anniversary. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the church is now a tourist attraction catering to a dwindling congregation, eclipsed by its nearby parent church with its state-of-the-art facilities and 5,000-strong flock. When a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks Reverend Toller to counsel her husband, a radical environmentalist who fears bringing a baby into the world, Reverend Toller finds himself deep in his own tormented past (his son was killed in the military while serving the country and Reverend Toller feels guilty for having encouraged his son to join up). Facing an equally bleak future and loss of faith, Reverend Toller finds redemption in an act of unfathomable violence. Shrouded in a black cloak of despair, Reverend Toller’s “deadness” was palpable. FIRST REFORMED was dark and haunting and sure to be a movie-cult “must-see”. (FIRST REFORMED was written and directed by Paul Schrader who wrote the screenplay for Taxi Driver that starred Robert DeNiro) .

 

 

LIFE IS A BITCH – Lonely, frustrated, and unable to do anything that gives meaning to their lives, Vladimir, Clivia, Regina and Primo come up with a farcical plan: they decide to kidnap a millionaire although they have no experience with crime or any clue as to what an operation of this magnitude entails. As they go forward, their fears and ambitions are revealed. Cute and worthwhile viewing, especially because it is streamed online in its entirely and can be viewed at your convenience. https://movienightseries.com/movies/id/149531/Life-Is-a-Bitch-2017.pl

 

So, thank you, once again, Miami Dade College – MIAMI FILM FESTIVAL selection committee, event producers, promoters and energetic volunteers, for bringing to us high quality, thought-provoking, foreign films that in many cases are not shown in local commercial movie theaters. We look forward to the 2019 36th annual MDC – Miami Film Festival.

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