Posts tagged independent film
MOVIE REVIEW: Liquid Truth

The discolored and dingy tile grout at the bottom of a swimming pool and the imagery effect of rippling water seen under the surface bending the images above perspective starkly symbolize the many warped dimensions of Liquid Truth.  The truth in the title is as slippery as the water in director Caroline Jabor’s simmering social commentary.  The film may be foreign from Brazil, but it typifies all too many social media ills that would explode in a parallel fashion here in this country.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Chasing the Blues

Chasing the Blues is a dark comedy through and through.  Director Scott Smith and his co-writer Kevin Guifoile crafted an engaging yarn of hijinks and hilarity.  Their narrative might feel like something out of a Coen brothers rough draft, but this film sides with a far less gonzo approach that suits its shrewder stature.  Like the musical genre at its core, patient storytelling is at the forefront.  Could it use a stiffer punch or two?  Maybe, but then it wouldn’t be the blue and not everything has to be shock cinema.  Waiting for the payoff in this tidy 77-minute film is an easy and worthwhile short hike to climb.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Our Souls at Night

Even from a different generation than the present day, you can’t get more Hollywood than Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.  Both are emeritus stars of Tinseltown royalty on multiple levels, respected and celebrated as award-winning performers, icons of style, sex symbols, and vigilant political personas off-screen.  To see the two of them together again, for the fifth time and the first time in 38 years in Our Souls at Night, is a revitalizing treat unto itself, but to see their shared film be staunchly non-Hollywood in stature is even more refreshing.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Te Ata

Not all actors and actresses are motivated by fame and profit.  Some are in it for the performance and chance to share culture through an artistic medium.  Before the hey-day of cinema, one such actress captured the fascination of an audience higher than any Hollywood premiere and did so as an ostracized minority.  Better yourself with a slice of history to learn about Mary Frances Thompson, or, as she was called on stage, Te Ata.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Young Offenders

The banter and B.S. traded back and forth between Alex Murphy and Chris Walley is as hysterical as it is pleasurably uncouth.  It’s an absolute wonder to realize that The Young Offenders is mutually their first on-camera film roles.  Alex and Chris’s chemistry through sarcasm and shared shenanigans feels and looks effortless.  Flabbergasted energy blasts out of both of them and it’s a hoot to watch.  Seeing the two young actors operate these over-the-top losers with reckless abandon while still injecting a little coming-of-age heart for good measure, makes the film highly entertaining.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Emerald City

I know it’s the clickbait haven of Buzzfeed, but this list of jobs well-known celebrities had before they hit it big is pretty humbling and eye-opening at the same time.  Once the millions roll in and we see the red carpets and flash bulbs, we forget the lucky breaks and hard work it took to get there, and that for every one of those matinee idols a thousand never make it.  Upon seeing Emerald City at the 3rd annual Irish American Movie Hooley, I’ll gladly raise my glass in hopes that Colin Broderick’s minimum wage days are over.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Rebel in the Rye

As it has been outlined on this website before on films like Get On Up, biographical films have their formulas and rules.  In addressing the origins and rise to fame of reclusive author J.D. Salinger, Rebel in the Rye faces the familiar dramatization tightrope walk between sugarcoated hero worship and biting character study.  The creative choices made by Danny Strong, in his debut directorial effort, swirl between an engaging warm hug and an indifferent cold shoulder.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: The Other Place

Dashes of kink and horror mix within Lee Amir-Cohen to create moments of shock and heat shared with Amanda Maddox in the short film The Other Place.  The star, who also writes and directs this short, has crafted something creepily captivating in front of and behind the camera.  Contracted properly as a short film that leaves you wanting more, this shot glass of venom is a properly measured jolt.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Wind River

Through every snowflake and gunshot, Taylor Sheridan cuts to the marrow and keeps Wind River firmly on track with its layered stages of discovery.  Tighter than Hell or High Water and more humane than Sicario, this film creates a tone of toughness balanced adroitly by human realities occurring in a dangerous place with a different set of rules.  The end result is a highly engrossing mystery with the edge we have come to appreciate and admire from Sheridan.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Menashe

Weinstein writes and directs what constitutes as a love letter to a culture, a community, and to the essence of fatherhood.  The lead’s personal plight is a compelling one done with grace and admiration for attaching the right layer of empathy.  It’s not overly heavy in any particular way, but Menashe carries enough honesty, enough will, and enough power to break any father’s heart.  There’s strength to be found in that.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Little Hours

The phrase “nuns behaving badly” sounds like a bad porno title or a silly hashtag.  Alas, that’s the low-hanging fruit and chicanery afoot in The Little Hours.  Tracing inspiration to a yarn from one of Giovanni Boccaccio’s collected 14th century novellas in The Decameron, the new ensemble film from Jeff Baena wraps it religious habit up with wit, erotica, and practical jokes from Italian prose translated into a modern vernacular.

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MOVIE REVIEW: A Ghost Story

Welcome to the polarizing gamut of engagement, acceptance, and disquiet of A Ghost Story.  This is a wholly original film that takes preparation, patience, absorption, and reflection that some, or even many, may not be ready for.  Presented in the rounded and claustrophobic corners of a centered 1.33:1 aspect ratio, it is safe to say, you will see nothing like this all year and maybe several more.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Beguiled

The transitive verb “beguile,” as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “to engage the interest of” or “lead by deception.”  Hoodwink and divert are synonyms.  Director Sofia Coppola’s remake of The Beguiled means to charm our corsets and britches off right in line with its title’s root definition.  Methodically and dastardly, the film wishes to seduce us with a heightened intrigue of challenged sexual repression.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Lost in Paris

Lost in Paris is an exceedingly charming ditty of a comedy from the writing, directing, and starring duo of Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon.  Three overlapping character-coded chapters follow a wayward character’s pratfalls and screwups through the course of their fateful intersections.  Lost in Paris weaves its yarn with clever panache.  It’s a surreal jaunt that juggles the cheekily uncouth with the innocently sweet inside its ever-present sense of whimsy.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Book of Henry

Grant Focus Features, director Colin Trevorrow, and debuting feature writer Gregg Hurwitz all the balls in the world for putting out a movie this daringly original during the summer marketplace.  Ambition notwithstanding, the extreme tonal shifts, while effective at keeping you invested in The Book of Henry to see what happens next, only half work in totality.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Hero

The soon-to-be 73-year-old Sam Elliott is a goddamn national treasure and no one can convince me otherwise.  Most folks go straight for the man’s imposing baritone voice or his sweet ‘stache.  I go for his swagger and resolve.  What makes Sam’s signature timbre memorable is the determination behind it, not its sound.  The purpose makes the presence.  Written especially for him by writer-director Brett Haley, The Hero is a sublime epistle to the silver screen specter cast by Sam Elliott.

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MOVIE REVIEW: My Cousin Rachel

Roger Michell stiffens his upper lip from his Love, Actually and Notting Hill fare to tackle a costume drama with My Cousin Rachel.  Oddly enough, this film can stake a serendipitous claim as the second Michell-directed film about “kissing cousins” after Hyde Park on the Hudson.  Unfortunately, more than a little uncomfortable laughter of preposterousness pokes out of this film while trying to portray itself as flowing romantic drama.  That’s not going to sweep anyone.

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MOVIE REVIEW: I, Daniel Blake

I, Daniel Blake is unabashedly a “bleeding heart” film on literal and figurative levels.  If this was a Hollywood film, it would be overrun with shouted speeches and orchestrational swells trying to manufacture emotional peaks.  Fluff like that is unnecessary if you have the right poetic realism,  For Loach, that’s second hand and he picks the right soapbox placement and thickness.

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