FOLLOWING HERBERT (USA 2006)
Trailing sharp 80-year-old New Yorker, CEO and NYU professor (retired) Herbert Engelhard though Chinatown, Greenwich Village and the Old Lower East Side sounds a thin recipe for an hour-plus. But seasoned Hungarian director Gabor Altorjay and his young German lensman Daniel Cramer have created a freewheeling, affectionate and affecting gem, full of surprises.
Herbert himself has a tangy Jewish flavor with the voice and looks of Peter Falk's snowhaired uncle. Tales of survival, by wits or luck are served up in generous portions; of surviving not only WWII's Okinawa assault, but also working for bosses in Vegas. Not only did he survive that too, but he also testified to a federal grand jury and lived to get paid 30 cents in the dollar of what the Las Vegas guys owed him.
We get a syllabus of the unique course in management and business strategy he taught at NYU. He had his class read great literary works like Julius Caesar "He was the boss of one the greatest corporations in world history--the Roman Empire--who got assassinated by just twenty-two of his lieutenants." Herbert fervently believes a good manager has to have a grasp of the nature of tragedy.
As we follow Herbert's roving palate and stories Cramer's camera occasionally takes off; to waltz lyrically over acres of mouth-watering pastries on display in Rocco's patisserie and vistas of appetizer dishes in an Essex Street pickle palace.
Elmer Lang's deft editing keeps the taste-buds of the eye a-tingle (and the ear too; music is ravishing hi-end small-combo swing and Schubert) for a quick hour-plus until the old warrior relaxes, knowing he's fed you good.
Austin John Marshall
Piece submitted to Chelsea Culture
Available for publicity as AJM Journal review