Opening this week
THE CIVIL WAR Santa Fe Opera presents a free screening of Ken Burns’ entire miniseries (1990) as part of its Echoes of Cold Mountain: The Legacy of the American Civil War series. Editor Paul Barnes appears at the screening of episode 9 at 12:30 p.m. Friday, May 15. Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe. (Not reviewed)
GROWING CITIES Urban agriculture is on the rise. This documentary takes a look at the many ways in which people are farming within cities. Screens as part of the Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute’s Movies That Matter film series. The screening at 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20, is followed by a panel discussion and Q & A. Not rated. 97 minutes. Violet Crown, Santa Fe. (Not reviewed)
I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY Not rated. 90 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe. See review, Page 39.
IMITATION OF LIFE Not rated. 124 minutes. The Screen, Santa Fe. See Screen Gems, Page 36. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Director George Miller returns to the film series that first made him famous, putting Max Rockatansky — some say he’s mad — into the driver’s seat of a militarized vehicle on a violent romp through the post-apocalyptic Australian outback. Tom Hardy plays the title role, which was once embodied by Mel Gibson. Charlize Theron also stars. Rated R. 120 minutes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe; Violet Crown, Santa Fe; DreamCatcher, Española. Screens in 2-D only at Jean Cocteau Cinema, Santa Fe. (Not reviewed)
MISERY LOVES COMEDY Kevin Pollak’s tribute to stand-up comics is hard to quantify; it’s not much of a movie — really a succession of talking heads — but if you’re fascinated by what makes comedians tick, you’ll learn something, and enjoy the moments as they tick slowly by. You’ll see the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Christopher Guest, Martin Short, and dozens more reflect on their origins (weird kid, misfit) and inspirations. Again and again, you’ll hear the words “kill” (make ’em laugh) and “die” (face an unmoved crowd.) You’ll wonder about the talents who aren’t here, like Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld, and the ones who are, half of whom I’ll bet you’ve never heard of. You’ll feel their pain and have a few laughs. Not rated. 95 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe. ( Jonathan Richards) PERFORMANCE AT THE SCREEN The series of high-definition screenings continues with a showing of Ivan the Terrible from Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet. The music is by Sergei Prokofiev (from the 1944 Sergei Eisenstein film), and the choreography is by Yuri Grigorovich. 11:15 a.m. Sunday, May 17, only. Not rated. 135 minutes. The Screen, Santa Fe. (Not reviewed)
PITCH PERFECT 2 In 2012, the first Pitch Perfect film, about a women’s a cappella group whose members bond and find success against all odds, opened as a small comedy with modest expectations. The movie had an underdog arc similar to that of its protagonists, grossing a lot of money and growing a passionate audience. The whole gang — including Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and Brittany Snow — returns for the sequel. Regal Stadium 14; Santa Fe; Violet Crown, Santa Fe; DreamCatcher, Española. (Not reviewed)
ZERO MOTIVATION Not rated. 97 minutes. In Hebrew with subtitles. The Screen, Santa Fe. ( Jennifer Levin)
Zero Motivation, comedy, not rated, in Hebrew with subtitles, The Screen, 3 chiles
In an office setting, there are always workers who would rather be anywhere else. For some, the problem seems to be that all tasks exhaust and demean them, while others believe that a new job in a new setting will fix their problems, when the truth is that they will just find fresh versions of their personal misery. Employees who don’t seem to mind the monotony can drive an unsatisfied toiler up the wall, and anyone who actively enjoys herself is the enemy, especially if she’s in charge. These basic office roles and politics form the structure of the satire Zero
Motivation, which skewers the daily grind in the administrative office of a remote Israeli military base. In Israel, all citizens without valid exemptions are conscripted after they turn 18. Women must serve two years, and unless they go to officer-training school, their time tends to be spent as support staff — fetching the mail, shredding documents, and keeping records in triplicate, as well as serving coffee at meetings.
Zero Motivation is a trio of stories connected by setting and characters. We get to know the caustic but sensitive Zohar (Dana Ivgy), who grew up on a kibbutz, and her best friend Daffi (Nelly Tagar), who believes she is allergic to sand and sunlight and is desperate to be transferred to a base in Tel Aviv. Their commanding officer is the officious Rama (Shani Klein), who picks and nags but doesn’t know how to lead or manage. The other women in the office sing pop songs to one another all day, to Zohar’s great annoyance. In the first story, “The Replacement,” Daffi becomes convinced that the powers that be have heard her pleas and have sent someone for her to train before shipping her off to a new assignment. In “The Virgin,” we follow Zohar’s mortifying foray into sex. In “The Commander,” we discover that dedication and loyalty do not guarantee a secure military life. A tone of tragic absurdity and elements of magical realism pervade the film and keep it from getting too serious, even when the situations are legitimately dramatic or harrowing.
The specifics of the war these young women are ostensibly conscripted to support aren’t mentioned in the film, but “zero motivation” is a term for those who do not want to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. Some of these conscientious objectors, known in Hebrew as sarvanim, do not report for duty, while others purposely fail various entrance tests. Doing poorly at one’s service after conscription is another form of refusal. Zero Motivation is a charming dark comedy and possibly a subversive one as well.
Nelly Tagar and Dana Ivgy