THE BOOKSELLERS and PROMISE AT DAWN are Perfect Movies for Late Summer Reading

Whether you’ve burned through your summer book list or couldn’t even be bothered to start, Kino Lorber has you covered as the season comes to an end.

As the summer of 2020 limps to its sad end, I for one can’t say I’m sorry to see it go. Like many, Covid totally took away most of the pleasures this time of year typically brings, including BBQs, vacations and days by the lake. If there’s one thing it didn’t take away however, it’s the opportunity to indulge in the hot summer reads of the last 3 months. The opportunity was there, but whether or not you picked up many of the summer recommendations, is questionable. If you did, good for you. If you didn’t, well then I must admit that I am judging you just a tad.

Regardless of whether you’ve blown through all your desired summer reads, or would rather watch a movie than pick up a book, the good folks over at Kino Lorber recently released a pair of films, both linked through the power of the written word, yet as different as can be. The best way to spend the upcoming Labor Day weekend is not to mourn the end of summer, but instead to immerse yourself in two films which cannot help but bring on that special literary mood.

The Booksellers

Parker Posey serves as executive producer for this documentary, which examines the world of rare bookselling that has been a staple of the New York cultural landscape for centuries. Featuring commentary from Annie Liebowitz as well as experts in the field, including sellers and collectors, The Booksellers traces the history of antique books as both a business and a passion while looking ahead towards its uncertain future.

The Booksellers offers what documentaries of its kind should; an insight into a world the audience has seen from a distance, but never really explored. This exploration into the world of antique book collecting and selling may sound dry, but it’s never anything but eye-opening when it comes to all the areas it covers. What kind of person wants to get into this business? How does a person get into this business? Can a person make it in this business? Both the history and the future of the industry is covered in The Booksellers as different generations of buyers and sellers offer their own takes on the place of books in today’s rapidly-evolving world. The ever-acerbic Leibovitz provides her own colorful opinions (each one makes the documentary worth viewing in its own right) proving once again why she’s a staple of the city. But it’s the sense of history and the passion for books as shown here by the people who have devoted their lives to them which makes The Booksellers a wholly sublime experience.

Promise at Dawn

Eric Barbier directs this sprawling French tale from the novel by Romain Gary. Largely based on Gary’s own life, Promise at Dawn tells the story of Roman (Pierre Niney), who grows up the only child of his formidable, strong-willed Polish mother Nina (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who emigrates to France with her young son determined that he should become a success in ways which will astound and change the world.

For those with an appetite for foreign films which transport to another place and time to tell a compelling story, Promise at Dawn does not disappoint in the slightest. Gary may have based the novel on which this film originates on his own life, but its many twists and turns echo the kind of fiction which instantly hypnotizes. Promise at Dawn is beautiful to look at with sumptuous set designs, costumes, camera angles and impressive effects, while the performances remain at top level. Gainsbourg, naturally, gives another career-defining performance as a woman who wears both her sacrifices and her determination on her sleeve. It’s this grand, yet somehow intimate, story which makes Promise at Dawn an intoxicating piece of international filmmaking. We watch the unshakable bond between Roman and Nina develop over time with mother pinning one hope after another on her only child and her son’s will to make her proud of him, leading to a career as one of France’s most highly-acclaimed authors. Simultaneously joyful as it is heartbreaking, Promise at Dawn is French literary cinema at its best.

The Booksellers and Promise at Dawn are both available on DVD from Kino Lorber.

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