Reviews by Bob Greene
The New York Shakespeare Exchange’s Sonnet Project NYC presented a clever contradiction of terms in The Statue of Liberty, directed by Jack Utrata from a narrative by Nathaniel P. Claridad with – of course – words by William Shakespeare.
The brief film opens with a serene image of the Statue of Liberty setting a mood of pride and peace. Until … we read what a Cleveland newspaper really thought of the beacon of equality in 1886 – the year of the statue’s dedication. Without a change of music or camera work, we are now in another world – one where equality may not be the case. Flashes of protest cut the line that is occupied by lady liberty. We also meet a cacophony of faces there watching the statue. None of these faces are customary “white.” We meet big, small, young, mature … and lots of brown.
This clever dance of film edits dancing with Shakespeare’s prose uttered – by implication of one face – a brown man. Trace of accent, almond eyes, smile.
Jack Utrata opened the door for us to consider who Lady Liberty really is. Is it the statue in the harbor or is it the valiant women along the shore who fight for their right to … simply be. A stark shot of one man – an African American man – brings this point home.
Utrata should not only submit such cinematic meditations to festivals but also to art galleries. It is the simplicity of his camera’s brush stroke that a thousand thoughts appeared.
The horror film does not need blood or gore, no screaming or death. It simply needs to scare us. Eli Sundler’s “If I Had Time” truly did.
Serlingesque in plot, it concerns a man (well played by Yiannis Photinos) who – like all of us, is busy, busy, busy. Flashes of a calendar and insinuations of his exhaustion (he worked on his birthday, to really bring the point home), allow us to identify with him, then suddenly everything stops. Time especially. He now has – to be more Serling – all the time in the world. An infectious sound effect of a student repetitiously practicing the piano served as the only recording of time, thus its sudden end was all we needed to know what was happening. Either Pablo Sorribes Bernard is a deficient pianist or brilliant at creating a rhythm to stick to our bones.
What made it chilling was a bucket list – omnipresent but neglected – that set the stage for a gasp of an ending that – again had no blood or guts but scared us into deep thinking. Sundler’s clever edits, timed perfectly with the hypnotic piano recital, even when it wasn’t playing, were a perfect garnish to this parable about how we use time.
Sundler’s keen observations, deep insight, and sense of humor created a cautionary tale worthy of a Night Gallery episode.