Another year, another Hamptons International Film Festival. Celebrating the fest’s 20th Anniversary, Executive Director Karen Arikien and Programmer David Nugent put together an exceptional line-up of screenings and programs (http://www.hamptonsfilmfest.org). Knowing I would necessarily miss a number of promising films, even with three screenings a day, I managed to shoe-horn in a brunch at the Maidstone Inn with Gotham Chopra who said a few interesting words about his new doc, Decoding Deepak, a portrait of his father Deepak Chopra.
Brunch with Gotham Chopra
So I saved In Your Dreams – Stevie Nicks for another time and honed in on a variety of features, docs, and shorts programs and was duly rewarded with a smorgasbord of entertainment. Among the features, the HBO-produced docudrama The Girl was a stand-out, with an outstanding performance from Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren and Toby Jones proving mostly believable as a sadistic, sexually-frustrated Alfred Hitchcock obsessed with his latest blond actress.
Two notable docs that proved well-worth catching were The Standbys, a look at the trials and triumphs of three Broadway hopefuls who spend most of their would-be stage time in their dressing rooms waiting to see if tonight is the night they will actually go on stage. Was I worried the film might wallow in self-pity? Yes. Did it? Yes, but not over-whelmingly, just enough to remind viewers that these are, after all, people who grew up saying “Look at me!” Rounding out the docs was the excellent BBC-produced Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, tracing the early history of the James Bond franchise, especially revealing in its exploration of the rift between Sean Connery, the original Bond, James Bond, and producer Cuby Broccoli, as well as some fascinating details about author Ian Fleming. Missing, though, was a real discussion of the famous music, opening titles and beautiful women that played such crucial roles in defining the lasting appeal of the spy thriller franchise.
Lastly, I was so glad I decided to catch the one feature-length animated film in the festival, the unusual Zarafa (http://www.patheinternational.com/en/fiche.php?id_film=701), based on the true story of the first giraffe introduced to Paris as a gift from Egypt to France’s King Charles X. This French-Belgium production is co-directed by Jean-Christophe Lie (The Triplets of Belleville, Disney’s Tarzan, Hercules and The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and offers glimpses of Belleville’s quirkiness while avoiding the often crowd-pandering nature of Disney films. A beautiful film of a journey filled with drama and gentle humor, and marked by an engrossing colorful palette. The unfolding nature of the filmmaking here creates a dream-like experience that should appeal to fans of animation and prove rewarding for young viewers. Mike Fishman