April 19, 2007
Curtains open on bigger and better Jewish Film Festival
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Adapted by co-director David Gow from his stage play, the film is essentially a two-hander, a superb showcase for electrifying performances from Andrew Walker as the defendant and David Strathairn as the lawyer. A dark film, aided immeasurably by the attention to visual detail by Gow and his co-director Mark Adam, who also shot and edited the film, "Steel Toes" is finally about the power of redemption and the terrible difficulty of standing up as a human being.
In a sense, the same themes could be said to run through "Brother's Shadow," directed and co-written by Todd S. Yellin. This time the troubles are homegrown. Jake (Scott Cohen in a breakout performance) is a parolee who returns to his native Brooklyn to close the book on his relationship with his brother and father (Judd Hirsch). But his brother is dead, leaving behind a wife (Susan Lloyd) who he once courted, and his father is still deeply bitter over the violent break in the family some 15 years earlier.
The vehicle that brings the family back together, reluctantly, is the custom furniture shop that all three men created.
Yellin has a nice eye for behavioral grace notes, and he resists the obvious pat endings available to him in favor of something more measured in tone.
Helstein isn't making any predictions for continued growth of the festival. Right now she's just hoping to get through the next week or so. But she is certain of one thing: "Last year taught us that this can be done. We worked with a group of laypeople who had their pulse on the finger of the community and got friends and family excited about the event. And they picked up right where they left off this year.
To order tickets by phone, call The Westside JCC at (323) 938-2531 or The JCC at Milken at (818) 464-3300. For more information, go to www.lajfilmfest.org.
For information and to order tickets for the April 25 program hosted by Jason Reitman and co-sponsored by ATID, go to www.atidla.com.
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