San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 2012: “The Exchange”, “The Law In These Parts” and “Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir” Reviews and Trailers

The Exchange

The Exchange is a surprise, and is impossible to classify. We follow a university PhD student as he seems to slowly become more isolated from the world, and especially from his wife, who is following suit in turn. The pacing is very subdued, and the acting is realistic and down-tempo. We begin to mistrust the world as he does, and the atmosphere takes on a rather mysterious air, as very little makes logical sense in the film – and almost nothing is explained.

The cinematography is fantastic, and takes advantage of one of the abilities unique to cinema as an art – the ability to watch the world as an isolated observer from afar. Everything about this film is soft-spoken and strange, but with a vast amount of consideration resulting from the material. Highly recommended.

The Law In These Parts


If anyone has discussed documentary filmmaking with me, or has followed my writing about the subject and the specific films that I adore, you will notice that the documentary films that do not pretend to be objective, but rather allow their subjectivity to be visible, rather than subtly obscured (as there is no objectivity behind the controller of the camera – it is only the camera which is objective), are those which I am often enamoured with.

The Law In These Parts discusses very heavily the constructs of the legal framework of the military occupation of the Palestinian territories by the Israeli government. Those living in the Palestinian territories are subject to a different system of laws than the Israelis, decided by regional military commanders rather than a parliament. Through showing how the orders grew, and how military court decisions changed over time, we are given an understanding of how the present occupation has come to fruition.

But we are also shown that this is the filmmaker’s opinion, and he points out that he is cutting and editing the interviews as he feels is necessary, or, at times, to emulate the logical reasoning of those whom he interviewed. Every technical aspect of the documentary is willingly self-referential and points out that this is a film, created by a person with an opinion, and one whose opinions are not solid fact, but rather one who is investigating something and presenting an argument for us to decide. In this way, it is all the more intriguing.

An absolute must-see.

Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir

I can only recommend this movie to those who know little to nothing about the personal life of Roman Polanski.  I’m sure they’ll find this interesting and should definitely go see this.  But to those of you who are already familiar with his work, and personal struggles and accomplishments, I’m afraid you’ll more than likely be disappointed with this supposed ‘Film Memoir’, especially if you have already seen Marina Zenovich‘s 2008 documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.

My main point of contention with this movie is in the movie’s grossly misleading title; “A Film Memoir”.  It hints that this documentary is going to contain insightfulness worthy of a meaty Criterion Collection supplementary disc.  In actuality, what we have here are interesting Cliffnotes into the life of this world famous/infamous talented director.  Films such as What?, Oliver Twist, Bitter Moon, Death and The Maiden and many others don’t even get one full minute’s worth of examining.  How is that “Film Memoir“?

Those who already know about his troubled upbringing and scandalous career may find one or two extra tidbits regarding Polanski, but other than that, there’s really nothing worthwhile to be seen.


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