ROUND-UP December 21-24, 2018

Happy Christmas and end-of-year! Enjoy some new pieces from me.
"Fresh off the heels of RBG, the smart, revealing documentary directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West that had a crew nearly entirely composed of women, we now have On the Basis of Sex, a more clumsily-titled (and ultimately, less elegantly-wrought) biographical effort directed by Mimi Leder. Natalie Portman was set to star when the film was being developed in 2015 from a Black List screenplay; in hindsight, she was perhaps a more obvious choice to play the role, given how she was able to conjure up a stirring, haunting take on Jackie Kennedy despite not really resembling her physically. Yet, after having seen both Jackie and On the Basis of Sex, it’s clear that Mimi Leder is no Pablo LarraĆ­n in terms of creative approaches to the material. It’s tempting to imagine that when On the Basis of Sex switched directors from Portman’s first choice of Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl) to Leder, perhaps Portman saw which way the wind was blowing, and opted to let Jackie be her big biopic role."
"Ruth Beckermann’s The Waldheim Waltz, released in October in Austria and slowly arriving at select American theaters, tells the infuriating, disheartening, and ultimately far-too-prescient story of Kurt Waldheim’s ascension to the presidency of Austria in 1986, only forty-odd years after the end of the war—the inevitable result of Austria’s whitewashing of its own complicity in Nazi atrocities and what Beckermann calls 'Austrian elasticity.'"