Promote the general welfare: mask against COVID.
From Laemmle Theatres President Greg Laemmle:
The official blog of Laemmle Theatres
8 hours ago
6 days ago
1 week ago
From Laemmle Theatres President Greg Laemmle:
How to Please a Woman stars the brilliant comic actress Sally Phillips, who was killed as the Finnish prime minister Minna Häkkinen on Veep. A funny, heartwarming liberation story for women who have been afraid to ask for what they want – at home, at work and in the bedroom. Phillips plays Gina, how has lost her job and feels stuck and frustrated in a passionless marriage. She has always lived life on the sidelines – that is, until she is met with a groundbreaking business opportunity of converting a team of well-built moving guys into well-built housecleaners.
“Arriving like a horny bus to a public transport orgy, this is the second comedy in a matter of weeks, after Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, about women hiring sex workers. Be that a happy coincidence or the start of a trend, it’s cheering that both films are so entertaining, body positive and upbeat but still entirely different experiences.” ~ Leslie Felperin, The Guardian
“This is a rare film that makes you feel lighter, fresher, and fully revitalized after watching it.” ~ Andrew F. Peirce, The Curb
Living Wine follows the journeys of natural winemakers in Northern California, during the largest wildfire season on record. Equal parts farmer, winemaker, and artist, they stay true to their ideals of creating exceptional wines made through innovative sustainable and regenerative farming and without chemical additives. Eschewing the industrial agricultural practices of the corporate wine industry – our winemakers are healing the very environment they are surviving, i.e., a changing climate marked by rising temperatures, shorter growing seasons, and more frequent and virulent wildfires.
We delve into farming techniques, philosophies, and spirituality: Darek has developed a unique form of compost which eliminates the need for irrigation and commercial fertilizers, while capturing carbon and increasing crop output. Megan farms and makes wine from lesser-known materials not pushed by the corporate industrial wine complex, and we see Gideon teach and make wine with a group of interns, as he is devoted to passing his knowledge and craft onto the next generation. All three find spiritual meaning through their work – through farming the land and making a product with a greater purpose.
As summer and harvest arrives, conditions take a dangerous turn. Following a damaging heatwave, fire erupts throughout Northern California, the result of record high temperatures and unending drought. All of our winemakers are forced to harvest early under difficult conditions. As they pick grapes from sunrise to sunset, and throughout the night to avoid smoke taint and remove grapes before they “raisin” too early, we feel their exhaustion and determination. After harvesting, they stomp, taste, press, and taste again, and we witness both the joy and heartbreak of making wine the all-natural way.
Living Wine is virtual only starting Friday, but we’ll also screen it at the Monica Film Center July 22-28 with the filmmaker in person for Q&As on the 23rd and 24th.
The New York Times wine critic recently published a piece about the film headlined “In ‘Living Wine’ Documentary, Natural Wine Transcends the Clichés: Forget funkiness. The focus here is farming, culture, the environment, climate change and, yes, great-tasting wine.” Here are the opening paragraphs:
“When the polarizing subject of natural wine arises, the discussion generally spirals to the stereotypes: flawed and funky wines, hippie producers and the debate over definitions. But a new documentary film, Living Wine, hopes to change that trite discussion.
“The film, which opens in selected theaters July 15, focuses on a small group of natural wine producers in California. It examines, with far more nuance than is typical, the myriad reasons they choose to work in natural wine, along with the many rationales for consumers to drink it.
“In this context, natural wine is presented neither as a trend nor a generational emblem. Involvement is a conscious choice. Though their reasons may overlap, each of the producers in the film has a different point of emphasis.
“Gideon Beinstock and Saron Rice of Clos Saron in the Sierra Foothills make wine without additives because they believe that method makes the best wines and offers the best expression of their vineyard.
“’The fact that we don’t add anything is not because it’s natural,’ Mr. Beinstock said. ‘It’s because, why would I add anything? It will not improve the wine.’”
EatDrinkFilms also posted two terrific articles about the film, Living Wine – Land to Bottle by Risa Nye and Deep Diving into Living Wine by Fred Swan.
Costa Brava, Lebanon is the directorial debut of Lebanese actress and filmmaker Mounia Akl, starring Nadine Labaki (Capernaum) and Saleh Bakri (The Band’s Visit). A keen and darkly comic commentary on Lebanon’s waste crisis and unsettled political landscape, Costa Brava, Lebanon won the prestigious NETPAC Prize at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Audience Award at the BFI London Film Festival. We open the film July 22 at the Monica Film Center.
The film captures the joys and frustrations of a close-knit family with an intimacy that feels startlingly natural, and sets them against a sharply drawn backdrop of environmental crisis. In the not-so-distant future, the free-spirited Badri family have escaped the toxic pollution and social unrest of Beirut by seeking refuge in an idyllic mountain home. Without warning, the government starts to build a garbage landfill right outside their fence, intruding on their domestic utopia and bringing the trash and corruption of a whole country to their doorstep. As the landfill rises, so does tension in the household, revealing a long-simmering division between those family members who wish to defend or abandon the mountain oasis they have built.
“A heartfelt charmer. The gentle wisdom it contains is attuned to country, family and lifestyle choices as abstract concepts, as all the things we mean by the word “home,” which is where Akl’s heart is.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety
“A stellar near-future family drama. Mounia Akl’s feature debut comfortably occupies a space between Beasts of the Southern Wild and Honeyland. Her film is partly magical, partly real, but total fiction, because fiction is the best way to capture the tragicomic clown show that unfolds throughout.” – Andrew Crump, The Playlist
“Something uniquely special and a perfect, alluring example of all that is wrong with the world we’re living in.” – Hanna B., Film Threat
“A terrific feature debut… works both as a compelling domestic drama and an elegant political allegory.” – Wendy Ide, Screen Daily
From Greg Laemmle:
The movies are back! Or at least, Hollywood blockbusters are back. But if you pay attention to the pundits (always with a grain of salt), you’ll see story after story about how the arthouse audience still hasn’t returned. And to a large degree, this is true. But why? Is the older audience still staying away because of Covid fears? Did they discover streaming during the 13-month shutdown of moviegoing, and they are slow (or never) to come back. Or is there something else contributing to the situation?
Our theatres have been open for over a year since the 13-month shutdown, and every week we present an array of smaller foreign-language films, documentaries, and indie features. Distributors aren’t advertising in print like they did pre-pandemic. But if you look in the LA Times every day, you’ll see our Laemmle Theatres directory ad listing all these titles. But beyond the ads, there is something missing in the paper. Something of vital importance to creating awareness of smaller films. That thing …REVIEWS.
I’m prompted to write this because last week, on Friday, June 10, there was not a single film review in the print edition of the L.A. Times Calendar section. Among other films, the paper completely ignored the French literary adaptation LOST ILLUSIONS, a huge, award-winning hit in France and a critical success here. (The New York Times, which did review it, called the film “sensational.”). Some weeks, the Times has run reviews, but published them days after a film’s opening. And for films that might only end up playing for a week in LA, running a review after the weekend is not particularly helpful, either for the film or for an interested viewer.
Compare this to the pre-pandemic period when a reader could expect to find multiple reviews in the Friday paper, and then plan their weekend (or weekly) moviegoing accordingly.
We know that the newspaper industry has its challenges. We at Laemmle Theatres are pushing our partners in distribution to return as advertisers because we understand that we work in an ecosystem made up of press, advertising, and programming. But having the programming without the press badly depresses turnout. And without ticket sales, distributors are loath to advertise.
It is a sad state of affairs when the paper of record in the movie capital of the world has a film section that is a shadow of its former self, reviewing one or two films per week. The L.A. Times once employed two lead film critics at a time, notably such heavyweights as Charles Champlin, Sheila Benson, Kevin Thomas, Kenneth Turan, and Manohla Dargis. Those writers were backed up by a stable of talented freelancers to cover the plethora of cinema Angelenos are fortunate enough to have access to. Current lead film critic Justin Chang is just as gifted a writer but he’s only one person and can’t cover all the big studio releases in addition to foreign and American indie films too.
We’re going to continue doing what we do, working with filmmakers and distributors to bring the world of cinema to Los Angeles.
What can you do? If you aren’t already a subscriber, subscribe to the Times. Supporting local journalism, even a big city paper like the Times, is important. But as a subscriber, contact the paper and ask for the return of Friday reviews, ideally in the print edition.
They can also look to other local outlets for film coverage. KPCC’s FilmWeek is one excellent resource, with a panel of critics reviewing many of the week’s new attractions. But there are others.
I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but you can pay more attention to our eNewsletter, website, and social channels, where we keep you informed of the hundreds of different films we screen annually, for long and short engagements. And when you see something you like, don’t keep it to yourself. Please share your enthusiasm so that others will be encouraged to find the film in question.
But ultimately, these alternatives cannot fill the void left by a newspaper that has abandoned its leading role. To the publisher and editors of the L.A. Times: to be the paper of record for a megalopolis like Los Angeles means covering the arts, especially film. And we hope that you will return to your pre-pandemic policy of reviewing films that are opening theatrically in Los Angeles on (or before) the date of their theatrical opening. Together, we can rebuild the audience for the world of film in the movie capital of the world.
In the acerbic teen comedy TAHARA, which we’re opening June 17 at our Glendale, Santa Monica and Encino theaters, a funeral becomes a battleground between best friends Carrie Lowstein (Madeline Grey DeFreece) and Hannah Rosen (Rachel Sennott, breakout star of Shiva Baby). When their former Hebrew school classmate commits suicide, the two girls attend her funeral as well as the “Teen Talk-back” session hosted by their synagogue, designed to be an opportunity for them to understand grief through Judaism. Hannah, more interested in impressing her crush Tristan (Daniel Taveras), convinces Carrie to practice kissing with her, unlocking feelings that turn Carrie’s world upside down. Emotions heightened, the scene develops into a biting depiction of unrequited crushes, toxic friendships, and wavering faith, which ComingSoon.net calls “one of the most original films in the coming-of-age subgenre in a long time.”
“TAHARA perfectly captures the mood of the place and the juxtaposition of its efforts to spread wisdom and awareness with the chaotic lives of its young attendees.” ~ Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“Offers a blistering, authentic view of the teen experience in America, with a refreshingly different setting in the Jewish community.” ~ Louisa Moore, Screen Zealots
“Tahara has a personal vision behind it, commanding writing and terrifically layered performances from Madeline Grey DeFreece and Rachel Sennott” ~ Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth
Jess Zeidman, writer and executive producer: “I started this script when I was 19 and terrified of not being a teenager anymore. I had lived my entire life, it seemed, longing to be a teen and the idea that I could no longer claim that identity forced me to reconsider what my identity was. I knew I was Jewish. I knew I was queer. I knew I wanted to make movies. So I immortalized this feeling in a script and convinced person after person to believe in it.
“Once I had convinced a team of people, we did something I really didn’t think we could do: convince the staff at my childhood synagogue, Temple Beth El in Rochester, New York to let us make the movie there. And generously they agreed.
“We filmed around daily services and religious school classes. We put up sound blankets as the temple was under construction the entirety of our shoot and the walls were excavated to remove the decades worth of asbestos. We had $100,000, 15 days, and three lights: two real and one made out of a sheet pan. And despite this (or maybe because of it), we – and an incredible team of determined, young, and endlessly innovative filmmakers – made the movie we wanted to make. We made TAHARA.”
Director’s statement by Olivia Peace: “Working on this film has given me space to begin to unpack some of the bizarre and hilarious, and unique traumas that came with navigating high school. I was lucky enough to make it to the other side, but I see that as no small miracle, especially coming from a time and place that lacked knowledge of queer representation both in real life and in media. This is a film overwhelmingly inspired by the real teens I see on Instagram — those who are not influencers. Its development involved taking a hard look at the occasionally toxic ways that young women are taught to be in community with one another. Bending genres and exploring mediums and style is a big part of what queerness means to me. And this is a very queer film. TAHARA excites me for many reasons, but a big reason I love this film is because it aims to acknowledge the important ties between the communities we exist in and the insidious closets that they force people to operate out of. And then, over the course of one chaotic day, it shows us that it’s possible to speak your truth and break out.”