‘Keep Your Fire Up’
A good companion to Stanley Nelson’s Oscar-nominated documentary ‘Attica’ last year, director Stefan Forbes’ ‘Hold Your Fire’ tells the story of an explosive hostage situation in the early 1970s that ended relatively peaceful, due to lessons learned from past clashes. Forbes uses a gripping oral history of a Brooklyn sporting goods store siege in 1973 to argue that a skilled negotiator can save more lives than dozens of armed cops.
The negotiator in this case was Harvey Schlossberg, who pioneered many of the techniques adopted by police forces after years of high-profile disasters like the Attica prison riot. Schlossberg first made his reputation when four men attempted to steal guns from a Williamsburg store and ended up killing a police officer and getting locked up by the NYPD. Using techniques such as “dynamic inactivity” – persuading hostage takers to put aside their plans for a while and just talk – Schlossberg defused a situation that threatened to turn even more violent.
Forbes was able to interview Schlossberg before the police psychologist’s death last year and also spoke to two of the robbers and some police officers – the latter still unsure it is better to listen to criminals than to crush them. Taken together and combined with thrilling vintage footage from the Williamsburg incident, the multiple perspectives of “Hold Your Fire” add up to a fascinating look at an ever-raging debate about the true purpose of the police.
‘Keep your fire going.’ Unclassified. 1h33. Begins May 20, Laemmle Royal, West Los Angeles; also aavailable on VOD
Like Donny and Marie Osmond, psychological thriller “Torn Hearts” is a little country and a little… well, not rock ‘n’ roll, exactly. Call it a throwback to the 60s and 70s, when Hollywood legends like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford played creepy old women haunting creaky houses. In “Torn Hearts,” that dangerous grande dame is a legendary and influential country music singer-songwriter named Harper Dutch, played by the ever-overbearing Katey Sagal in a performance between pathos and sociopathy.
Harper torments an up-and-coming American duo, Leigh (Alexxis Lemire) and Jordan (Abby Quinn), who knock on the door of her ramshackle pink mansion asking for her advice – and perhaps to get her to agree to a career-building collaboration. Harper has been a recluse since the death of her sister and musical partner, Hope, but as she plays little mind games with the girls, gets them drunk and encourages them to self-criticize, they begin to wonder if years of mourning led their idol. to insanity.
Director Brea Grant and screenwriter Rachel Koller Croft don’t treat their country music background as a gimmick. The film’s songs are good, its references to the real world of Nashville are on point, and “Torn Hearts” has something to say about how the music industry encourages women to crush their peers on their way to the top. The dark twists and bloody mayhem of the film’s final third are disappointingly abrupt after all the thoughtful set-up, but the picture still works, thanks to an energetic cast, Croft’s sharp dialogue, and Grant’s hard-hitting style. “Torn Hearts” takes a risk, blending behind-the-scenes melodrama and gothic horror in a way that’s both heartfelt and clever.
“Torn Hearts”. Unclassified. 1 hour 37 minutes. Available on VOD
The first few minutes of the psychodrama “Machination” may seem uncomfortably familiar after the last few years. A woman named Maria (Steffi Thake) comes home, removes her mask and gloves, strips down to her underwear, and performs an elaborate ritual to cleanse herself of any stray particles that might infect her with the plague. floating outside. The next day, she starts again. Then she stops going out altogether but continues to obsessively scrub herself and clean up her surroundings – until the viewer begins to wonder if the real problem is with Maria and not the pandemic.
Co-directed by Ivan Malekin and Sarah Jayne – with story and dialogue developed through extensive rehearsal and improvisation – “Machination” is a very short film built around a simple idea. He’s using the recent global health crisis as the impetus for an extremely intimate character study about a woman whose past traumas have been salvaged by her pandemic-era obsession with cleanliness. It’s not an easy film to watch, but it’s admirably unwavering in the way it observes Maria’s tics and phobias, showing how even something as benign and beneficial as handwashing can become emblematic of life. deeper self-loathing.
‘Machination.’ Unclassified. 1 hour, 2 minutes. Available on VOD
Culture-shock romance “Toscana” is like an EU-certified version of a Hallmark Channel Original Movie — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing to be. Anders Matthesen plays Theo, a demanding Danish chef who inherits his father’s estate in Tuscany and travels there with the intention of selling it. Then he becomes fascinated with both the area and the soon-to-be-married property caretaker, Sophia (Cristiana Dell’Anna). She teaches him to slow down and relax, while he shows her how to turn the natural resources around him into culinary art. Their story goes more or less as planned. But the scenery in “Toscana” is stunning, the stars are likeable, and – as is usually the case with movies like these – there’s genuine satisfaction in seeing how all the dots are connected.
‘Tuscany.’ In Danish and Italian with English subtitles. Rated TV-MA for language. 1h30. Available now on Netflix
Also on VOD
“Outbreak” has terrified audiences since its Sundance premiere earlier this year, with its story of a seemingly picture-perfect Finnish family that goes through strange times when their gymnast daughter, Tinja (Siiri Solalinna), becomes something of a one-egg “mother” giant… then to the creature that will eventually emerge. Available on VOD
“The valet” is an English-language remake of a popular French film about a superstar (played in this version by Samara Weaving) who hires a parking lot attendant (Eugenio Derbez) to pretend to be her boyfriend to cover up an affair. As these two very different people discover each other’s very different lives, they are inevitably brought together for real. Hulu
Available now on DVD and Blu-ray
“Licorice Pizza” is writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s hirsuteest film to date: a low-stakes, episodic comedy about a couple of young Hollywood neighbors (played by Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman) concocting schemes to make money circa 1973. The film is funny, weird and sometimes inappropriate – quite a vibe, as the kids say. Universal
“Beautiful” is the latest visionary animated feature from writer-director Mamoru Hosoda, which tells a twisty, inspirational story about a shy schoolgirl who becomes an international superstar in a virtual reality space, then gets drawn into the sometimes dangerous drama of rivals. and online enemies. The DVD and Blu-ray edition contains several behind-the-scenes featurettes. Yell! Factory / GKIDS