Posts tagged Directorial debut

When standup comedians come to the big screen, they tend to stay with what works, extending their personas and bits into feature-length material within their comfort zones.  Most lack creativity to make something unique out of their individuality.  That is not the case with Demetri Martin making his impressive feature writing and directing debut with Dean.  In 87 breezy minutes pushing against the grief of its characters, his film squeezes earnest sweetness out of bleak material that would never play on his comedy club stages.   

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MOVIE REVIEW: Coming Through the Rye

2016 Phoenix Film Festival special presentation

With full disclosure, this very writer is an absolute sucker for a satisfying "coming-of-age" film.  Their youthful themes keep us young and sway our sensibilities to reflect on our own lives, no matter our age.  Admirable coming-of-age films are always welcome, but the exceptional ones deserve to get shouted from the mountaintops.  James Sadwith's "Coming Through the Rye" recently won Best Film and Best Screenplay honors at the 2016 Phoenix Film Festival.  This infatuating dramedy earns that special distinction of exceptionality and warrants all of the volume one can muster.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Middle Distance

51st Chicago International Film Festival special presention

There is a tangible and winsome spirit that emerges through this quick 80-minute journey of "The Middle Distance."  First-time director Patrick Underwood rightly sticks to artistic vision and solid storytelling over cheap tricks and the urge to throw monkey wrenches at everything for the sake of standing out.  A easy story such as this doesn't need overindulgence.

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"Before We Go" premiered in the special presentation undercard section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and got a second public look at the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival.  It landed on Video on Demand in July and finally gets a chance to shine in a limited theatrical release starting on September 4.  Borrowing way too much from the "Before..." series works of Richard Linklater to be a flattering mild homage or influence, "Before We Go" is a cute, approachable, yet flawed romantic comedy.  The weak chemistry can't match an innate charm to honor its simple premise.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Water Diviner

"The Water Diviner" arrives as the directorial debut of Oscar-winning Australian actor Russell Crowe.  Released last year in his home country, Crowe's film was the highest grossing film in Australia for 2014 and netted three Australian Academy Awards last year including Best Film.  In an industry where everyone is constantly being compared and measured against their peers, most will to prognosticate Crowe already.  Does he have it in him to be the next Robert De Niro behind the director's chair, the next Kevin Costner, or the next Clint Eastwood?  Let's vote for "none of the above" and give him some time.  Fashioned better than most directorial debuts, "The Water Diviner" isn't perfect, but it's a solid start from Russell Crowe climbing into a new chair.

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