‘The Jungle Book’
Disney’s new bag is remaking their animated classics as live action romps. So far, so good, even if they’ve been a bit pointless; last year’s “Cinderella” was perfectly fine if a little too close to the original, coming far short of a bold new vision. Jon Favreau’s lavish redo of “The Jungle Book,” meanwhile, has the perk of tackling a title that’s not one of their best (even if it was the last feature Walt Disney oversaw before his death). Part of Favreau’s job involves fixing some bugs in the original, smoothing out a source that's a bit too episodic. He’s still perhaps not quite the visionary a movie of this scale requires, but maybe that’s a good thing: His talents aren’t in spectacle but in people, and even a movie with 95 percent critters has a lived-in, character-driven feel. What he’s made isn’t exactly essential, but it is charming.
In 1978, Woody Allen shocked the world: He made his first serious movie. “Annie Hall” was partly serious, at least compared to the silly comedies he’d made before. But “Interiors” was heavy. There were no jokes — just nods to Ingmar Bergman that weren’t supposed to be funny, as they were just three years earlier in “Love and Death.” It’s been fashionable to poo-poo Woodys occasional straight-faced dramas as ripoffs of more masterful filmmakers, which they partly were. But the four that just popped up on FilmStruck — under the banner “Serious Woody Allen” — are worthy of reconsideration. Of these (which also includes “Stardust Memories” and “September”), we’re the most into “Another Woman,” his 1988 drama about a professor (Gena Rowlands) whose stuffy NYC existence is shaken to the core. It contains some of his most lyrical and heartbreaking passages — and, thanks to Gene Hackman, even a joke or two.
Her name is Leah (played by Morgan Saylor), and she is indeed white (and privileged). She drops into slowly gentrifying Ridgewood, Queens with a week before school starts, and doesn’t waste time Hoovering up drinks and drugs, letting her boss (Justin Bartha) do her on his desk and getting involved in local low-rent crime. Sounds like the sequel to “Kids,” no? But Elizabeth Wood’s semi-autobiographical drama is more observational than alarmist. Leah can always be counted on to make bad decisions, but you won’t walk away simply worrying about the kids these days. It’s more complex and more empathetic than the title lets on.