Daily Archives: September 13, 2016

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, Director – Joseph Cedar


I am not yet sure how to review this film. It tells the story of Norman Oppenheimer, a Jewish middle man or fixer in NYC. The character also called a macher in Yiddish is not an uncommon character in the city. He is a person who connects people with money and sets up deals of which he will take a cut. In this film Norman gets out of his comfort zone when he tries to set up deals with visiting Israeli politicians and local businessmen. The problem with the film is that pretty much everyone sees Norman as a bit of a con man and clearly have little or no respect for him. His lawyer nephew and his rabbi give him a bit of a break but otherwise he appears pretty pathetic. The film and the plot are in my opinion completely unbelievable. The moderate rise is about him making friends with a deputy minister from the Israeli government who later manages to become prime minister. Norman has a real connection with the man but the difference between their worlds means that nothing Norman tries to set up will ever work and in fact he becomes a threat to the PM by his machinations. Again all this seems totally unbelievable for a penny ante operator like Norman. Richard Gere is very good in the role and in introducing the film the director warned us the character of Norman will stay with us long after the film is over. Sadly, Norman is already fading from my memory and I am grateful. A film that I thought had great potential when I got my ticket but is now the weakest film of the week and really a very disappointing experience.

La La Land, Director – Damien Chazelle


So I will start this review with a confession. I really am not a fan of musicals. Some, like An American in Paris or West Side Story get past my prejudices but most do not. I chose this film because there is lots of buzz about it and to be fair it is very well done. The other reason I chose this one is that the director also did Whiplash last year which is a very powerful film and not a musical. It was tough and polished and so I thought I would give this a chance. My verdict is that this is a very good movie, if you like musicals and romantic stories. If either or both of these are not your game stay very far away. Still, again to be fair, the two leads, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone turn in great performances. But… the somewhat twist ending really made me gag which, if you like romantic twists, will endear the film to you and have you leaving with a smile and wee tear in your eye. Yes its like that. I will say one thing. The film has some very good jazz in it and is built around the lead’s love of jazz to some extent just not nearly enough for me. Attend at your own risk unless, like I say, you love that sort of thing. Okay one more kick at the can. The film has great cinematography and set design. Use of colour is great as well and it is a real homage to the Hollywood musical of the past but moved into the 21st century film technology. The music and dancing (and it’s a musical after all) I found to be forgettable but its all about the story right?