Movie Reviews

Film Review – Once More Time with Feeling

Noy Maram Once More Time with FeelingWriter/director Farah Jabir has created a both a topical and powerful piece centering on female empowerment. Once More Time with Feeling explores an abusive relationship between a Man (played by Patrick Ittleman) and a Woman (portrayed by Noy Marom). Through superb artistry Jabir allows the Woman to find her inner strength and liberate herself from his domination.

Once More Time with Feeling contains no dialog. Perhaps in homage to silent film, music plays throughout the movie. Ms. Jabir limits her performers’ storytelling methods to gestures and facial expressions. This artistic choice enhances the tension. A gripping and at times disturbing piece of cinema results.

Beginning in media res, Noy Marom’s character opens the story by making an effort to mask herself, as it were. The audience is introduced to Ms. Marom’s “Woman” as she puts on her makeup. As she does so, memories the man’s denigration flash through her mind.

As the scene shifts through images of past and present, Ms. Marom shows both the Woman’s turmoil and indomitability. Through her non-verbal skills, the performer expresses that the Man cannot destroy her spirit. Ms. Marom projects firm resolve as she stares at her reflection in the mirror.

The director shows the contrast between the Man and Woman’s relationship to that of their friends (played by Tiffany Peach and Laval Alsbrooks). These two performers along with Mr. Ittleman smile, hug and display a fondness for being together. Ms. Marom looks down and expresses sadness. Her heartbreaking countenance aids in amplifying the audience’s empathy for her.

Ms. Marom allows the woman’s intensity to manifest itself through dance. The joy on her face contrasts with both her earlier representations of sadness and Mr. Ittleman’s present countenance of defeat. Ms. Marom shows superb execution during this powerful scene. Mr. Alsbrook maintains a blank look while Ms. Peach smiles; the contrast between the male and female characters’ reactions is telling. The warmth of Ms. Marom’s smile concretizes her character’s victory.

Ms. Jabir has the following thoughts on Ms. Marom’s professionalism.

The moment I met Noy, I knew she was the perfect choice for Lou (The Woman). As a director this is rather rare to feel but Noy possessed such a unique sense of direction and honesty in her performance and this attitude was brought to set at all times. She was both uplifting and understanding, which is surprising given the nature of material that we were working with. Truthfully, she was an absolute joy to work with. *

Ms. Marom’s cites a Joseph Campbell quote as her inspiration. It explains her commitment to her craft.

“Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.

When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. And when you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”

Noy concludes: “I believe in that, and that’s what I intend to keep doing. To follow my bliss and to enjoy the ride.” **

Once More Time with Feeling is produced by Farah Jabir and Amanda H. Miller. Ms. Miller also plays the Waitres in the film. Jenny Wang is the production’s Cinematographer and Editor. Angie Urrea is the film’s Gaffer / Grip.

Fans of arthouse films will be delighted by Once More Time with Feeling. Its theme of female empowerment will hold a strong appeal for modern audiences.

*Press release from Thompson Communications

** Retrieved from http://www.cinemanewswire.com/noy-marom-virago.html on 02/22/20.

Movie Review – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It’s good that Obi-Wan, Yoda and Vader didn’t live to see this. This seventh installment of the Star Wars saga once again proved that the Force is no longer with George Lucas. The Force Awakens failed to live up the standards of the original series.

Let’s begin with the overall story. The bad guys, called “the First Order” this time, are after secret data. (Sound familiar?) The information they’re seeking has been hidden in a droid. (Sound familiar again?) A guy who gets dragged into this situation (John Boyega) and a woman tired of her life on a remote planet (Daisy Ridley) end up with the droid. (Is John Williams’ soundtrack running through your head at this point?) And, here’s the big surprise: they need to get this material to a remote rebel base!

But wait! There’s a problem! The Galactic Empire, I mean, the First Order have designed a weapon powerful enough to destroy a planet! Actually, this one’s so powerful: it can destroy multiple planets at once! (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.)

To make matters even worse for the Rebellion, the bad guys have a really bad guy on their side. This one dresses all in black (real original) and wears a mask! (Adam Driver) Brace yourself for this one: he’s studying the…wait for it…Dark Side of the Force!

Is it really any wonder that R2-D2 battled the robot version of manic depression during the film?

The Force Awakens did have one original plot point. The story began with the quest to find Luke Skywalker. (Mark Hamill) I wondered if he disappeared after reading an advance copy of the script. It turned out that Luke encountered difficulties with one of his student Jedis and decided to throw up his hands, give up and disappear. Apparently, the Jedi are going through a rebuilding phase.

Then there was the “Rebellion.” After three movies of “rebelling” against the Gallactic Empire, they’re “rebelling” again. That’s all they ever do. Do they know how to do anything else? The way this is going, they should change their name to the Conservatives.

And what’s with the rebel army? It seems like everyone in it becomes a general. Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) received her stars prior to the movie’s beginning. About the only person in the organization who’s not a general is Admiral Akbar. I’m wondering if he’s going to fill out his transfer papers in the next movie.

And then we have the First Order. Their talent pool isn’t much deeper than the rebellion’s. Kylo Ren had the maturity of a two year old. That’s not a good trait in someone supposed to instill terror into the hearts of his enemies. Numerous times he lost his temper and smashed things with his light saber. In addition, he didn’t have “daddy issues”, he had “granddaddy issues.”

I found Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac) The most interesting character in this film. Unfortunately, he only appeared on screen for about five minutes. He crash landed a TIE Fighter after escaping the First Order. As quicksand absorbed the craft I presumed him dead. Then with no explanation he showed up with the Rebel fighters to attack the enemy. It would’ve been nice to know how he escaped that harrowing situation.

I also couldn’t stand the soundtrack. It’s not that I didn’t like the music, though. To my ears it sounded identical to the one in the original 1977 film; and I mean note-for-note. Just a thought, but maybe it’s time to give John Williams a rest and bring in some new talent. How about asking Danny Elfman to score the next picture?

To be fair, the movie did have some excellent action sequences. I liked how Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) stole the Millenium Falcon and led TIE Fighters on a wild chase through the desert. The scene on Han Solo’s (Harrison Ford) freighter where they had to fight bounty hunters while corralling monsters was well done, too.

For some reason while watching The Force Awakens I kept thinking back to the first film. The original Star Wars contained excellent action along with a compelling story and memorable protagonist. I found every facet of this movie a weak carbon copy of it. No amount of adventure can compensate for a banal script.

If someone asks me to watch this flick again, I’ll make the Kessel Run at five parceps to avoid it.