I’ve worked for a film commission, for a film society, and for a film festival, so I have seen my fair share of independent films. Typically indies fall into two categories: the undiscovered gems, and the oh-my-god-your-poor-family-mortgaged-their-house-for-this variety. Thankfully, Jason Momoa’s Road to Paloma falls into the first category with spectacular visuals, an emotional storyline, and subtle, realistic performances from the cast.
All Is Lost is a survival story of one man, played by Robert Redford, who encounters some big trouble on the Indian Ocean and must struggle to survive. The premise may be interesting, a la Cast Away, but I was lost and unimpressed with All Is Lost.
There is a good reason why feature-length films have dialogue. Dialogue not only moves the story along, but also tells us perhaps a backstory, allowing us to assess the character’s motivation. I would have loved a backstory on Redford’s character. I would have even settled for a dialogue-free montage, just to let me know why he is in the ocean and why he has any desire to live. I am left with only questions by the time the story ends. Continue reading →
Written, directed and staring Lake Bell, In a World… is a comedy about a struggling vocal coach named Carol who aspires to make it big in the cutthroat world of movie-trailer voiceovers.
Carol has got the talent and the desire, but is there any room for her at the top? Her biggest competition is her arrogant father Sam, played by Fred Melamed and the playboy rock star of voice-overs, Gustav, played by Ken Marino. Marino nails the role, and our leading lady, which adds some comedic moments, but the pacing stalls more than a few times.
The most laughable moments happen in the first 20 minutes, but after that it loses its way with typical rom-com cliché moments and Carol’s over use of her signature funny line: “In a world, where one women teaches another women not to sound retarded.”
This film is listed as a comedy and drama, but the only comedy to Spring Breakers is how bad it is. The premise: a bunch of barely legal girls (Venessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine) desperately want to go on spring break, but they can’t afford it, so they rob a restaurant with toy guns and get away clean
. Cut to spring break montage.
One good time leads to another and—oops!—the girls end up in the pokey. What should they do now? No, don’t call mom, or anything normal like that, instead get bailed out by a total stranger, “Alien” (James Franco) a local rapper/gangster/hoodrat/loser who they are instantly attracted to for his money, guns, and painfully awful rapping skills.
Most indie movies involve quirky, slightly off center, lovable weirdos who are outcasts from society, down on their luck, or just generally awkward. Safety Not Guaranteed is no different. Its lovable weirdo is a self-professed time traveler who believes he’s under surveillance by the government and utilizes a classified ad to seek out a companion for a time jump. He’s paired up with an equally weird cast of characters and a perfectly awkward love story in this indie tale. Continue reading →
Andrew Bird is described as an American musician, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He has a bachelor’s degree in violin performance and has made tons of music in the genres of folk, jazz, swing and blues. He’s been on albums with multiple bands but failed to get viable commercial success. He was later asked to open for a band in his hometown, but his band mates were unable to make it to the opening. So he did what any levelheaded person might do and played the gig solo. It went extremely well for the young musician! Because of the success of his solo show Bird went on to gain success by wrapping himself in his music with a solo career. Continue reading →
Cinqué Lee, despite the unique name he has, is probably someone who has a body of work more recognizable to you than his name. Lee, brother of acclaimed director Spike Lee, has worked in the film industry since the late 80′s wearing a wide variety of hats. From director to producer to actor and even wardrobe, the man has done it all.
Lee’s most notable works include co-writing the screenplay for Crooklyn and acting roles in Mystery Train and Coffee & Cigarettes, both films from director Jim Jarmusch. Lee’s most recent film is a sci-fi fantasy piece entitled Window On Your Present. The film was actually Lee’s first, being shot in the late 80′s and just released on DVD from BrinkDVD. Continue reading →
Window On Your Present is the new film from writer/director Cinqué Lee. By new I must clarify newly released on DVD by BrinkDVD, as the actual film itself was the first from Lee which he shot in 1988.
The fantasy film follows Europa, played by Maria Pineres, as she makes her way through a crumbling world stripped of color; imagine Snake Pliskin’s New York in black and white. In this world both color and love are things of the past. In this lackluster world with nothing to live for, people often resort to suicide.
This is an interesting and different take on a post-apocalyptic universe than we typically see in modern cinema. Two lovers meet and discover something special exists beyond the treacherous world they know. Continue reading →
The Phoenix Film Festival returns to the desert for the 11th straight year from March 31-April 7, 2011 at the Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theatre.
The Phoenix Film Festival has rapidly been growing over the past decade, quickly becoming a favorite of many filmmakers. In past years the festival has showcased films from all over the world from Do It For Uncle Manny in 2002 to (500) Days of Summer in 2009to Cyrus and Middle Men headlining last year. Continue reading →
Who would have thought there was a seedy underbelly in the world of insurance salesmen? The new comedy Cedar Rapids, starring Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche and Isiah Whitlock Jr., takes a small town guy and throws him into the wild world of an insurance convention in the “big city” of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Continue reading →
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