New Yorker Cartoon Doc

A documentary going behind the scenes of the New Yorker and its Cartoon Department highlight a light week in new art film/indies. Very Semi-Serious, the film in question, will appeal to lovers of such New Yorker cartoon favorites as Roz Chast and Liana Finck.

Otherwise, modern art lovers can check out a biography on legendary patroness of the arts Peggy Guggenheim. Folks who want romantic movies have such choices as a a blockbuster Taiwanese teen romance or an Indian take on The Prisoner Of Zenda released in time for Diwali.

A Journey Through Time With Anthony

Noted actress Zhao Xun produced this adaptation of Anthony Ma’s novel. The titular Anthony is a student studying abroad. The story, told as a series of diary entries, recounts the adventures and misadventures that befall him after he meets his dream girl (Bai Baihe of Go Away Mr. Tumor).

Now at the AMC Metreon 16

Our Times

The blockbuster Taiwanese teen romance arrives on America’s shores. Truly Lin reminisces about her high school years when she had self-esteem issues about her “plain” look. But she also remembers her crush on the handsome Ouyang and her growing attraction to campus hoodlum Taiyu. Philosophical question: Is it still a plot twist if you guess early on that Truly’s not as plain as she thinks and Taiyu’s not as bad as you thought?

Now at the AMC Metreon 16

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict

Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s documentary is a portrait of the colorful heiress who helped shepherd in the Modern Art movement. Guggenheim collected modern art throughout the 20th century’s cultural upheavals to build one of the world’s most important art collections. But the rich art collector also made the acquaintance and more of many important artists of the time, including future husband Max Ernst and mobile maker Alexander Calder among others.

Now at the Clay Theatre, the Shattuck Cinemas, and the Smith Rafael Film Center

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (Receive A Treasure Called Love)

Hit Indian director Sooraj Barjatya’s new film is loosely inspired by The Prisoner Of Zenda. Bollywood superstar Salman Khan takes on a dual role: Vijay, a mule-headed prince who’s heir to the throne of Pritampur, and Prem, a happy-go-lucky stage actor who falls in love with the altruistic Princess Maithili (aka Vijay’s fiancee). When Vijay is seriously injured in an assassination attempt orchestrated by his step-brother Ajay and his sinister manager Chirag, Prem is recruited to impersonate the prince while he recuperates. What’s not expected is seeing Prem repair the personal relationships Vijay has been recklessly trashing.

Opens November 20 at the Century San Francisco Centre 9

Very Semi-Serious

Go behind the cartoon section of The New Yorker with director Leah Wolchok. New Yorker Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff acts as the viewer’s guide. Wolchok’s film takes us through the magazine’s role in supporting single-panel humor as well as pitch sessions with both established and aspiring cartoonists. Interviews with some of these cartoonists, including Roz Chast and Bruce Eric Kaplan, liven up the film. Samples of New Yorker cartoons also help too.

(Editorial disclosure: This writer contributed to the Kickstarter that got Wolchok’s film completed.)

Opens November 20 at the Roxie Theatre


Bob Mankoff of The New Yorker checks out some proposed cartoons in “Very Semi-Serious.” Still courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.

About the Author

I'm a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film...but don't tell anyone.

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