Brief Interlude

Frankie directed by Ira Sachs (France/Portugal) 2019 stars Isabelle Huppert.


A woman invites family and friends to a final time together to a picturesque site on the Portuguese Riviera, just west of the capital.

She seems resigned to what lies ahead for her but most of the others are either engaged in troubled relationships or are disturbed by their lack of romantic involvement.

Frankie moves through the day with calm and dignity observing other members of the extended family.

There is also stunning scenery of the area.

The film begins its theatrical run in the Bay Area 1 November 2019.

copyright © 2019 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Starting Over

Paper Flags directed by Nathan Ambrosioni (France) 2018 explores the challenges of a young man released from penitentiary.


How does he navigate in the world without work skills or sufficient emotional preparation? He’s fortunate to have at least one person willing to help. However there are limits to even this initial situation.

While freedom offers opportunity for some, not everyone is able to achieve their full potential. Despite repeated drawbacks, the future isn’t without hope.

Paper Flags was one of the narrative features of the recently completed 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival.

copyright © 2019 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Middle Brother

The Easy Way Out directed by Brice Cauvin (France) 2014 is a French adaptation of the Stephen McCauley novel by the same name.


This family drama is told from the viewpoint of the gay brother who seems to understand and tries to help both his younger and older brother navigate their difficult love relationships while fending off heavy-handed demands of the parents.

However, he’s less able to deal with the realities of his own love life.

The film screened during the final day of French Cinema Now 2014 at the Vogue Theatre in San Francisco. More info is available at SFFS.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Son And Lover

Gynecologist Fabrizio wants a serious commitment from his photographer boyfriend Diego. Their union will include the planting of a pine tree. While Diego is out to his parents, he hesitates knowing Fabrizio’s father is opposed to their relationship. But before Diego responds he receives word that his teenage son Armando is on the way from Spain to Venezuela.


My Straight Son directed by Miguel Ferrari (Venezuela/Spain) 2012 has all the elements of a telenovela. It includes complex family dynamics, colorful characters, high drama and humor, as well as the tragic consequences of intolerance for those outside the mainstream.

It screened at the recently concluded Frameline 38 film festival.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Double Trouble

Actor Valerio Mastrandrea is the male lead in two narrative features dealing with the current economic crises in Italy. In Garibaldi’s Lovers directed by Silvio Soldini (Italy/Switzerland) 2012 he plays a widowed plumber raising two children as best he can.


Other characters include a small cross section of society: an artist, secretaries, an immigrant worker, an eccentric small-time capitalist, and a high-power attorney. More unusual additions to the cast are several statues, scattered throughout the imaginary Italian city, that periodically comment on the sad state of affairs in the country.

In Balancing Act directed by Ivano De Matteo (Italy) 2012 Mastrandrea portrays a married civil servant who moves out of the apartment he shared with his wife and two children after his brief affair with another woman. Despite his efforts to maintain support of the family he leaves, and his own pursuit of a meager lifestyle, he slips increasingly downward into deep despair.

The fall season 2013 New Italian Cinema Events (NICE) at the Landmark’s Clay Theatre in San Francisco concludes this weekend. For more information see the San Francisco Film Society.

copyright © 2013 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Life Adrift

Alex is a handsome young Parisian who seems lost in the city. While he manages to support himself through illegal means, he’s constantly the target of his unscrupulous, older brother. His former girlfriend is about to marry another man. His mother is dead and he’s estranged from his father.


When his cousin Nathan, who’s visiting from Israel, offers him a partnership in a restaurant he plans to open in Tel Aviv, Alex jumps at the opportunity to escape his present predicament. Aliyah directed by Ellie Wajman (France) 2012 captures a grittier part of the French capital.

Overcoming alienation is a prerequisite for survival. Some people resort to drugs and alcohol. Others chose the conventional path of marriage and domesticity to assuage their loneliness.  Alex is suspended between the two extremes. His decision to emigrate is dispassionate. Israel for him is not the promised land but a place of last resort.

Aiyah screens again at Cinearts in Palo Alto Wednesday 7 August 2013 and the California Theater in Berkeley Thurssday 8 August 2013 during San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 33.

copyright © 2013 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Identity Crises

The Other Son directed by Lorraine Lévy, 2011 (France) was the centerpiece of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 32. The story begins when Joseph, the son of an Israeli couple, who is about to be inducted into military service, is discovered to have a different blood type than his parents.

I was initially amused at the premise but soon became emotionally drawn into the difficult dilemma each character is forced to confront.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that has generated decades of hate and violence, is explored from a more intimate perspective. The situation is beautifully handled by the director without sentimentality, melodrama, or sensationalism. And careful consideration was taken with the ending.

Of course, in real life it would take much longer for each individual to come to terms with the circumstances, and perhaps not all of them would have been able to overcome rigid cultural conditioning.

The Other Son is a wonderfully hopeful work that deserves wide and enthusiastic support both as cinematic art and as a generous affirmation of human possibility.

copyright © 2012  by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved