By Anne Brodie
Helen Mirren is somewhere behind the ageing, puffy physicality of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in a time of great crisis, in Guy Nattiv’s political fact-based thriller Golda. While the film isn’t the finest of its genre, it does shine a spotlight on a woman in power in the 70s when few women had it. Meir was head of state of one of the most sensitive countries, politically speaking, in the world at a decisive time in its turbulent history. Israel had won the war against a coalition of Arab countries in 1967 and lingering hostilities and angered Palestinians forced to leave their homeland, were evident. in 1973, the Yom Kippur War took Israel by surprise. Seems officials hadn’t acted on information – and gut instinct – to prepare against invasion by Syria and Eygpt. Meir had 12 hours to prepare for the attacks. She was a tough cookie, undergoing cancer treatment while faced with this extraordinary challenge; she fired military icon General Moshe Dayan (Rami Heuberger) for major strategic failures in favour of David Elazar (Lior Ashkenazi) and retained Dayan’s partnership. Mirren’s Golda is taut, commanding, and businesslike; she has the men’s respect, but she and her female assistants are the heart of her work. Meir handled herself brilliantly meeting with world leaders and bonding with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (Liev Schreiber) who apparently delayed sending weapons. An extremely interesting feminist history lesson. In theaters.
The fact-based Dreamin’ Wild is a fly-on-the-wall portrait of two young brothers with unrealised dreams that forty years later, may finally become real. Casey Affleck and Walton Goggins paint finely detailed, quietly persuasive portraits of Don and Joe Emerson who as teens recorded a compilation of their songs, called Dreamin’ Wild. Their adoring father (Beau Bridges in a strong, subtle, and amiable performance) bankrolled them, recognising talent, and putting himself in serious financial trouble; the family farm is chopped up and sold off except for their small portion. Donnie’s guilt colours him because nothing came of Dad’s investment. In 2011, a music promoter (Chris Messina) shows up to invite them to remaster the album; a groundswell of fans rediscovered it and demand a tour. The brothers are blindsided – they don’t have internet, and begin work. Donnie seems traumatised by the memories that surface around that creative time so long ago. Performances under the direction of Bill Pohlad, are finely tuned, authentic, and intimate. We are right there in the cabin recording studio trying to figure out Donnie’s reluctance in the magical analog world of these brothers, and their loving family. Its sweet, simmering and sometimes withholding nature provides intimacy, strangely. In theatres.
And a whale of a tale from the automotive industry. One of the most powerful and respected car movers and shakers, Lebanese-born Carlos Ghosn had a sterling reputation. He was called in to create a “dream alliance” between France’ Renault manufacturers and Japan’s Nissan. The four-part doc Wanted: The Escape of Carlos Ghosn, follows the CEO’s adventures and misadventures which truly beggar the imagination. Known to rescue car companies from bankruptcy, he undertook massive cost-cutting and closing factories (resulting in riots in Belgium) and successfully turned them from the brink to gain billions in record time. A remarkable achievement. He had the “Midas touch” and ranked with Bill Gates in terms of power, but his colleagues were reportedly frightened of him. Michelin told Nissan not to leave him alone, to phone him every week. The Golden Boy then changed his appearance through surgery and a good tailor, married up, and remained in the driver’s seat – “unremovable”. Hubris soon caught up to him, of course, and he was arrested on allegations of under-reporting his salary and gross misuse of company assets. He was sentenced and fled Japan in the most extraordinary fashion. The astonishing story continues, including revelations of a chequered family history, on AppleTV+.
Chris Foggin’s sweet small-town tale Bank Of Dave has a big heart. It’s the true story of Dave Fishwick played by Rory Kinnear, a popular truck salesman and karaoke fan in Burnley, UK, a grown-up embodiment of Little Engine That Could story. Fishwick was a self-made millionaire and often loaned money at low rates to villagers and it struck him – why couldn’t he open his own bank to help them and other local communities by providing low-cost financial assistance? He was rigidly opposed by British financial institutions; there hadn’t been a new bank licensed in 150 years. They bore down hard on him, had him, and needlessly charged him with loansharking. But Hugh, (Joel Fry ), a young lawyer who’d written Dave off, spends time in Burnley, ostensibly to get rid of him but becomes impressed by Fishwick’s philanthropy and financial wisdom and begins to work with, not against him. In all the years Dave had been lending money to locals, not a single debtor failed to repay him. It was all about that faith and trust that the financial institutions did not share. Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor plays the local doctor and Fishwick’s niece who finds a kindred spirit in fellow Dave cheerleader in Hugh. Sweet encouraging stuff, and true-ish. And of all things, Def Leppard puts on a show. In select theatres.
You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah a YA-oriented Netflix movie, produced by and starring Adam Sandler as the good-natured father of a 13-year-old girl about to celebrate her traditional Jewish coming of age hits a lot of notes. Sammi Cohen directs, exploring the friendship dynamics of Stacy, played by Sandler’s RL daughter Sunny, and her lifelong friend Lydia (Samantha Lorraine) as they fall out over a boy. Also featured are Sandler’s wife Jackie and his other daughter Sadie. Andy Goldfarb (Dylan Hoffman) sparks Stacy’s interest and things seem to be on an upward trajectory when she spats with Lydia and Andy suddenly turns his attention to her. All as Stacy frantically prepares for her Big Day, organising fireworks, bands, Twizzler stations, DJs, and food – money’s no object. (The story’s set in a wealthy white neighbourhood where Grade Sevens appear to use lip fillers.) In the days ahead of the ceremony, the gang goes to a lake and dares Stacy to jump off a cliff. She does but there’s an embarrassing outcome and she gains nicknames that don’t help her anxieties. Jewish school, run by the energetically comic and engaging Rabbi Rebecca (Sarah Sherman) brings the social set together providing room for more complications and misunderstandings, ditto causal home parties, and gal facial afternoons. All the while Stacy hasn’t done her required “mitzvah” or service. Can any of this be fixed in time? It’s a bouncy, fun, and relatable story that takes us back to our 13-year-old insecure, life-loving, learning, optimistic, and loyal selves. But it raises, intentionally and unintentionally, image issues that need to be addressed. Based on Fiona Rosenbloom’s book,
Abby (Virginia Gardner) a young woman whose controlling father raised her to become a top poker player finally gets out of the house in the Prime Video romcomdram A Beautiful Disaster. And then she walks right into a potentially controlling relationship with student/fight clubber Travis (Dylan Sprouse), an attractive manipulator and narcissist who gets into her life and stays despite her repeated admonishments to leave her alone. He stares at her in a kind of animalistic predatory manner and refuses to take a hint. She’s just not interested, she likes another fella, but he makes himself impossible to ignore. She stays with a friend unaware he rooms there and they must share a bed – innocently. They’re both playing games, she’s not sure whether she should go for it and he is a bit too sure, and we are not sure about him, he’s cocky and a womaniser. Will she be able to resist his alleged charms? Her college pals soon discover Abby is a renowned child poker prodigy. Gritty, and tough with a character we care about and one we wish would go away.
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