AJFF What to Watch in August

08/3/2020

Political thrillers, book-to-screen adaptations, satires, classics, and more make up this month's picks. Film titles are linked with information on where to watch or purchase.

Video on Demand

All the President’s Men 
With a gripping screenplay by notable Jewish screenwriter William Goldman, the film is based on the true-life story of the two reporters, Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), who wouldn't give up on the story of the Watergate break-in. 

City Slickers 
The Western comedy stars Billy Crystal, Jack Palance, Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby. Crystal plays Mitch Robbins who, on the verge of turning 40, is roped into joining his two friends on a cattle drive in the southwest. Jack Palance, for his role as Curly, won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the only Oscar nomination the film received. 

The First Wives Club 
Bette Midler stars, alongside Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton, as one of three women who reunite, newly bonded and motivated when their husbands leave them for younger women. Brenda's (Midler) suffering hits a high point when her ex-husband brings, to their son's bar mitzvah, his new girlfriend, played by a pre-Sex and the City Sarah Jessica Parker who plays her arm candy role with comedic zeal. 

Jojo Rabbit 
This black comedy, the latest from writer and director Taika Waititi, brings his signature style of humor and pathos that follows a lonely German boy whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo confronts his blind nationalism.

The Painted Bird
Recently featured at the 2020 AJFF, this narrative follows a nameless boy, who wanders the countryside in the frenzied final days of Nazi occupation. Met with unthinkable depravity by ignorant peasants and brutal soldiers, only the smallest acts of grace offer any hope of catharsis. Anchored by newcomer Petr Kotlár's astonishing performance, cameos include Harvey Keitel, Stellan Skarsgard, Udo Kier and Barry Pepper. Not for the faint-hearted, this uncompromising depiction of evil is based on Jerzy Kosiński’s controversial novel.

Blu-Ray & DVD

Abe 
Recently featured at the 2020 AJFF, Noah Schnapp (of Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things) is a Brooklyn kid with an identity crisis hoping to unify his mixed-heritage family through food. Learning his way around a professional kitchen as an unpaid intern, Abe uses his newfound cooking skills to prepare a Thanksgiving feast, hoping to finally bridge his family’s differences.

The City Without Jews 
An eerily prophetic 1920s satire depicting economic and cultural ruin following Vienna's exile of its Jewish population, based on Jewish writer and journalist Hugo Bettauer's novel. The story is set in the mythic Republic of Utopia, where hordes of unemployed workers protest daily. An oily anti-Semitic chancellor proposes a law to expel and scapegoat all Jews for the impoverished nation's problems. After the Jews depart, Utopia declines further, prompting the government to confront the consequences of its actions. Missing for decades, one of Austria's last surviving Expressionist films was only recently found by chance at a Paris flea market in 2015, then painstakingly restored to its complete, authentic version. Featured as a classic for its 95th Anniversary at the 2019 AJFF.

The Tobacconist
Seventeen-year old Franz Huchel (Simon Morzé) lives a sheltered life in a small lakeside cottage, until financial circumstances force him to work in a tobacconist shop in 1937 Vienna. Initially reluctant, the boy strikes a rapport with one of the regular customers, cigar enthusiast Sigmund Freud (Bruno Ganz). When Franz falls in love with cabaret dancer Anezka (Emma Drogunova), he seeks the advice of the world-famous psychoanalyst in matters of love and sex. With the Nazi party gaining more of a foothold in Austria, and political and social conditions worsening, the three main characters are swept into the maelstrom of events. Based on the eponymous international bestseller by Robert Seethaler.