“Lola” and “Sorry We’re Closed” Now Streaming

    Lola” is a remarkable Irish-British science fiction film directed by Andrew Legge. Emma Appleton and Stefanie Martini give dazzling performances as two sisters (Thomasina and Martha) who, in 1941 England invent a machine that lets them view radio and television broadcasts from the future. At first they focus on previews of the music from forthcoming decades–they become big Dylan and Bowie fans and even put on a thrilling performance of the Kinks song “Lola” with a musical re-arrangement more suitable to their era. Eventually they decide to use their time-travel apparatus to help with the Allied war effort. This gets them huge praise from the British military at first but, as always when you toy with the future, the outcome can also be surprising or disastrous.

    Legge used vintage cameras for many of the scenes and the film has a fascinatingly scrappy and inventive production design despite its low budget. The soundtrack by The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon is brilliant as well. The only thing I can compare the film to is maybe the work of Canadian film director Guy Maddin (“My Winnipeg”) but even that observation won’t prepare you for the breathtaking originality of this film, which is now streaming on all the usual services.

    Also streaming now is “Sorry, We’re Closed” which documents the painful experience many restaurant workers and owners endured during the pandemic. Chef Elizabeth Falkner traveled the U.S. during the time of COVID-19 to find out how her colleagues in the food industry were coping with the new demands on restaurants. She interviewed chefs Dominique Crenn, Nancy Silverton, Ann Kim, Gerald Sombright, Maneet Chauhan and Alice Waters about the strategies (new take-out menus, delivery options) they have employed to stay in business and to speculate: do small restaurants even have a future? There are a few holdouts but too often it has been a story of employees laid off and businesses closed, dreams delayed or abandoned. Most infuriating of all, much of the governmental PPP loan money went to large chains instead of small restaurants. This colorful and engaging documentary is directed by Peter Ferriero, who also helmed the 2021 doc “Her Name is Chef,” a portrait of six remarkable female chefs. 

    The French-Spanish co-production “The Beasts” (now showing at NYC’s Film Forum) won multiple major awards at last year’s Goyas, Spain’s equivalent of our Oscars. Directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen, it tells the story (inspired by real events) of Antoine and Olga, a middle-aged couple (played by Denis Ménochet and Marina Foïs) who have settled on a farm in the Galician countryside to live their life-long dream of being organic farmers. When a corporation offers to buy the land of all the nearby villagers and replace their farms with wind turbines, Antoine and Olga go against the wishes of their neighbors and block the deal. Two brothers, Xan (Luis Zahera) and Lorenzo, are infuriated by that and begin a campaign of terrorizing the organic farmers in hopes of changing their mind.

    The tension in this amazing and beautiful film is almost unbearable at times as the brothers stalk and threaten Antoine. The acting is incredible, especially in two long dialogue scenes. In the first, Antoine tries to reason with the brothers while offering them drinks but the argument keeps getting more and more fevered. Later Olga defends her decision to stay on the land as her daughter (Marie Colomb) threatens to never visit her again in an attempt to make her change her mind. Go here for ticket information.

    Winter Kills,” an outlandishly kooky paranoid thriller from 1977 has been restored and a new 35mm print will begin screening at NYC’s Film Forum beginning August 11. The cult film, with a dream cast of Jeff Bridges, John Huston, Anthony Perkins, Eli Wallach, Sterling Hayden, Dorothy Malone, Ralph Meeker, Richard Boone, Toshirō Mifune and Elizabeth Taylor, has been celebrated by many over the years, including Quentin Tarantino who is presenting the film. It was a critical hit when first released but the distributor killed it, perhaps because of its echoes of the Kennedy assassination. (The company reportedly had interests with the Kennedy family.) I’ve only ever seen a bad print of it so it will be fun to see full glory of the great director of photography Vilmos Zsigmond’s work. Go here for ticket information.

    Film at Lincoln Center is presenting a festival of “Korean Cinema of the 1960s” running from September 01-17. Calling it the “Golden Decade” of Korean film will surprise many who consider the more recent work of directors like Bong Joon Ho, Hong Sangsoo, and Park Chan-wook to represent the maturation of Korean movie-making. 24 rarely seen films will be presented. I’m especially excited to see Kim Kee-duk’s Yongary, Monster from the Deep, the first Korean monster film. Will it rival Japan’s Gozilla? Go here for schedule and ticket information.

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