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.
Inequality For All is a documentary, but it feels more like a college lecture. A lecture well worth sitting through! Do you remember back in college when you would have one professor whose lectures you looked forward to? A professor that would not only enlighten you, but empower you? Well if politics, labor, and the economy are of interest to you, then Robert Reich, may be your favorite professor. Continue reading
You know the old saying, “There are three sides to every story. Yours, theirs, and the truth.” Well, we may need to add one. Yours, theirs, the truth, and the Hollywood version. There has been a lot of controversy over the portrayal of Captain Richard Phillips as a hero. Many of his actual crewmembers heavily dispute the depiction of Captain Phillips’ actions during the pirate take over of their vessel. Sadly, all the variations of the story by the crew, or in the book by Phillips and Stephan Talty, ‘A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea’, take away from an otherwise brilliantly acted, action thriller, that has you glued to your seat, after the first few minutes.
The action starts early on in this film, which I appreciated. The pirates are approaching and there is little the crew can do once they board the ship. Now it is on the Captain and his crew to keep the situation from getting any worse. Captain Phillips has his radio on, so the crew can hear what is going on when the pirates enter the bridge. This allows the crew to hide and to disable the ship. Phillips keeps calm while the pirates are trigger happy and full of adrenaline, but the lead pirate (Barkhad Abdi) remains calculating and clear in his objective. He doesn’t want the mere $30,000 Phillips offers him from the safe. He wants the bigger fish…$10 million ransom.
Tom Hanks is stellar in this role, and his acting abilities are taken to an even higher level during his final scene in the film. Another stand out performance comes from Abdi, who makes his first film debut as Abduwali Muse, the pirate leader. Abdi’s gives the “bad guy” character such depth. We are able to understand why he does what he does. We see his desperation as well as his logic. Abdi’s performance blew me away and I believe it took Hanks’s acting to that next level.
Captain Phillips is full of action and suspense. The film gives you a hero you cheer for as well as the unpredictable villain you fear. So, if you can put all the truth controversy on the back burner and see this film as the action thriller it is, you will greatly appreciate this film.
This documentary shares the love and life of an unusual artistic couple, Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko. They first met in 1969. Ushio was a 41-year-old avant-garde artist in New York City. Noriko was a 19-year-old art student who idolized Ushio’s art and passion for his work. Ushio’s work often gained notoriety, appearing in numerous prestigious institutions, but rarely sold. Noriko was content assisting him in the studio, being his wife and raising their son, Alex. Noriko’s art was never the focus until recently when she finally felt free of the assistant role and once again began creating her own works. They’re life together has not been easy. Ushio’s life, much like his art, is bold, messy, impactful, exciting, and loving. Ushio is an eccentric character who for a period of time, struggled with alcoholism and partied as much as he painted. Noriko was the one who struggled to maintain a sense of stability in their household and raised their son. Clearly in the past Ushio was the dominant one, the teacher, but before our eyes we see Noriko finding her self, and her passion.
If you know the art world, you may enjoy this movie on that level, but if not, you can enjoy it for the love story it is. The very real struggles for both art and love. In a moment when Ushio is relaxing in a pool, he reflects saying, “Art is a demon…a demon that drags you along. It’s not something you can stop, even if you should. Maybe you go insane. Your wife leaves, your kid runs away. You throw yourself away to be an artist.”
An interesting, beautiful true story about two very artistic souls.
Rating- 4 stars
Most would call this a coming of age drama, but Mud is much more than that!
Matthew McConaughey stars as Mud, a fugitive who is hiding out on a small island in the Mississippi river. Mud is hopelessly in love with Juniper, played by Reese Witherspoon, and bounty hunters have made it impossible for the two to be together.
In a very Stand by Me sort of way, two young boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), discover Mud on the island, befriend him, and help him out—but not without putting themselves in danger as well.
I’m a huge McConaughey fan, and when he lets that southern drawl flow, I’m on board, but Sheridan is the stand out!
Mud is full of suspense, drama, love, friendship, action, with a little coming of age story thrown in.
Rating 4 stars!
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.
Cut to crazy spring break montage. Continue reading
Enough Said is a romantic comedy that centers on some very normal, everyday, middle-aged people coping with things like divorce and the fast approaching empty-nest syndrome. Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as Eva, a massage therapist who has adjusted to being divorced, but a bit uneasy about her only daughter going off to college. The late James Gandolfini is Albert, who hasn’t adjusted so well to his divorce. Continue reading
Matthew McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof in this biographical drama set in the mid 80’s. Ron is a rodeo bull riding, hellraising, hustler, who thrives in a high-risk world. He takes his chances in with the bulls, the girls, the drugs, and the gambling, and manages to stay ahead of the consequences, until he goes to the hospital for a work injury, only to find out he is HIV positive and given just 30 days to live. Continue reading
The Act of Killing is as bizarre as it is gripping. This documentary, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, takes a very unconventional approach at getting the truth behind the mass killings made by Indonesian gangsters against those who were believed to be communists living in Indonesia. Continue reading
Believe it or not, Chris Hemsworth’s outrageously chiseled bod wasn’t my favorite part of Thor: The Dark World. While our titular hero was gorgeous and entertaining, this second entry in the stand-alone Thor movies (those of the non-Avengers variety) was dominated by none other than Tom Hiddleston as Thor’s charmingly villainous brother, Loki. Continue reading