Two Dramas from Echelon Studios
Cold December (May 3/08)
It really is quite remarkable the degree to which filmmaker Brian Wright has padded out Cold December's egregiously overlong running time, as the movie has been suffused with a whole host of needless sequences, interminable long takes, and drawn-out conversations that go absolutely nowhere. Wright's exceedingly low-rent sensibilities - the movie seems to have been shot on a run-of-the-mill home-video camera - only exacerbate the various problems within his hopelessly inauthentic screenplay, and one ultimately can't shake the pervading thought that this counts as a real, bona fide film? Chris Fountain stars as Chris Payton, a successful twentysomething who starts questioning his various accomplishments and choices after finding himself smack-dab in the middle of a quarterlife crisis. While Wright does manage to include one or two admittedly intriguing bits of self-reflection, Cold December is primarily dominated by sequences of a distinctly superfluous nature - with Wright's penchant for eye-rollingly silly instances of comic relief and dialogue that's almost uniformly random and uninteresting certainly contributing heavily to the movie's vibe of unwatchability. The inclusion of an offensively simplistic resolution assures Cold December's place as an entirely dispensable piece of work, although - to be fair - star Fountain does a relatively decent job at stepping into the shoes of the film's floundering central character.
Dear Mr. Waldman
Set in the early '60s, Dear Mr. Waldman follows 10-year-old Hilik (Ido Port) as he attempts to trick his shell-shocked father (Rami Heuberger's Moishe) into believing that his first son didn't die during the Holocaust and is actually working side-by-side with President John F. Kennedy in America. Filmmaker Hanan Peled's efforts at infusing the proceedings with a coming-of-age sort of sensibility generally prove effective, although - as is evident almost immediately - there does reach a point at which the increasingly familiar trajectory of the story becomes awfully difficult to overlook. The heavy emphasis on melodramatic plot elements - coupled with a pace that's painfully deliberate in its execution - ensures that Dear Mr. Waldman is ultimately unable to distinguish itself from its myriad of similarly-themed brethren, despite the seemingly authentic representation of circa 1960s Tel Aviv and a surprisingly compelling performance from Port in the central role.