The streaming service MUBI is the perfect place for film lovers. This curated movie site shares both old and new features within a variety of categories. As part of their January and February collections they have presented a Sundance Takeover, which began in late January. Two of the features that I had already seen and recommend are But I’m a Cheerleader and Winter’s Bone, which are both still available on the site. I wanted to highlight a movie that I had never seen before and chose to check out Little Odessa, which dropped on February 3rd.
This film originally debuted in the 1990’s, but will be showcased for roughly a month on MUBI. Little Odessa follows a man of Russian Jewish descent who has been working for the Russian mob. After an extended time away he is brought back to his home town for a job. What he doesn’t know is that his family is dealing with the sudden illness of his mother. His younger brother is desperate to reclaim some sort of relationship with his brother and to try and make him part of the family again, while their father is adamantly against him even coming into their home.
Directed by James Gray, Little Odessa is full of beautifully shot images of New York and has a gritty earlier feel to it. Joshua Shapira, the lead character, has a dark feel to him and while he cares for his brother, he ultimately is trying to maintain his presence in the mob. An element of the film that I enjoyed was the inclusion of the movie theater experience. Little Odessa actually opens with footage from a western that one of the characters is seeing and then later Joshua and his brother make a plan to go to the movies together. Each time these characters attend the movies there is a level of escapism involved. The brother is trying to avoid issues at home and Joshua is able to hide from his responsibilities and connections in the dark of the theater. Fundamentally Little Odessa is about a family trying to cope with tragedy and what that means for the family dynamic. You can watch Little Odessa on MUBI today.