Birth of the Living Dead
You don’t need to be a fan of zombie movies to appreciate this documentary that pays tribute to Night of the Living Dead, the low-budget horror flick from the 1960s that turned into an unlikely pioneer in the genre. Through interviews with film historians and director George Romero, it traces the film’s influence on contemporary filmmaking and pop culture, the backstory behind its production and initial release, and its sociopolitical subtext. The film is meant to pay tribute to its subject more than anything else, but its modest level of insight is amusing thanks in large part to Romero, who is quite a character. (Not rated, 76 minutes).
Good intentions abound in this documentary from director Steve Hoover, who wants to show the world the greatness of his best friend. And it’s hard to argue when that friend is Rocky Braat, who took an impulsive trip to India a few years ago and wound up donating all of his time to helping at an HIV orphanage. The film follows Rocky’s attempts to turn his new passion into his life’s work. The result is poignant and inspirational, to be sure, yet too often it places Rocky’s need for approval in the spotlight instead of the children whose lives are at risk every day. (Not rated, 92 minutes).
Blue is the Warmest Color
Physically and emotionally raw, this epic French romance chronicles young love with an authenticity and an intimacy that is rarely seen on film. It follows Adele (Adele Exarchpoulos), a teenager whose relationship with an older art student (Lea Seydoux) spans more than a decade worth of ups and downs. The latest from Tunisian auteur Abdellatif Kechiche is not for all tastes, but the audacious performances and the rich atmosphere combine to create an experience that is both dramatically and aesthetically pleasing. The film has become noteworthy for its extended graphic sex sequences, but it shows depth in its exploration of sexual identity and socioeconomic class. (Rated NC-17, 179 minutes).
What it lacks in context and insight, this thriller set in the world of contemporary high finance compensates with some juicy twists and slimy characters getting their deserved comeuppance. The multilingual story follows Marc (Gad Elmaleh), an executive who becomes the head of a global bank based in Paris, where he must navigate a high-stakes collection of greedy shareholders, duplicitous board members, alluring supermodels and a hedge-fund manager (Gabriel Byrne) attempting a hostile takeover. Veteran director Costa-Gavras (Missing) whips the material into a slick and somewhat complex procedural that shows an appropriate contempt for the global financial climate without turning its characters into one-dimensional villains. (Rated R, 114 minutes).
When I Walk
This documentary in which director Jason DaSilva turns the camera on himself is anything but self-indulgent. In fact, it’s an even-handed portrait of a man whose physical limitations don’t affect his mind or his heart is neither depressing nor manipulative. DaSilva intimately chronicles his own life after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his 20s, while he learns to cope through art and finds a support system as the neurological disease gradually takes its toll on his body. Credit the filmmaker for his honesty and sense of humor, which makes his story more emotionally powerful than any sort of pity or forced poignancy from an outsider. (Not rated, 84 minutes).