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Entries in film (27)

Monday
Apr272015

Gemma Bovery

Gemma Bovery
Director: Anne Fontaine
Screening: April 2015 at COLCOA Film Festival
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Rather than another adaptation of Madame Bovary, co-writer and director Anne Fontaine's Gemma Bovery is a light lit-crit cinematic reinterpretation of Gustave Flaubert's great novel. 

After years in the publishing business, Martin Joubert (Fabrice Lucchini) has returned to the Northern France town of Normandy (the name of which works better as a play on words in English than in French). Martin may still be a voracious reader, but he now runs his deceased father's bakery. Martin is a natural at baking and seems happiest at work. At home, he has a nice wife, Valérie (Isabelle Candelier), plus a teenage son, Julien (Kacey Mottet Klein) who does not share his father's love of reading.

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Monday
Apr272015

True Story

True Story
Director: Rupert Gold
Released on: April 17th, 2015
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Micheal Finkel (Jonah Hill) is in a bad way. He has just embellished and contrived a story for the New York Times and NYT has found out. Now a journalistic pariah (whose lack of integrity nowhere reaches the lows of Bill O'Reilly), Finkel has retreated to Montana with his girlfriend, Jill Barker (Felicity Jones), where he suffers rejection after rejection to write another piece. 
 
If things were not bad enough for Finkel — at his own fingers, mind you — an accused killer out an Oregon has been using his name as an alias. Who needs publicity like that? Well, Finkel might. 

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Monday
Apr062015

An Honest Liar

An Honest Liar
Directors: Tyler Measom & Justin Weinstein
Released: March 6th, 2015 [LIMITED]/DVD TBA
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Last year writer-director Woody Allen released the feature film, Magic in the Moonlight. The film tells the story of Stanley (Colin Firth), a master illusionist who sets out to debunk the psychic powers of Sophie (Emma Stone), only to become duped himself in the process — yet fall in love with the considerably younger woman (typical), and presumably live happily ever after.

While the film has its moments, Magic in the Moonlight is ultimately predictable, reactionary and incredulous. And, like every single Allen film since his 1992 Husbands and Wives (one of his five masterpieces — along with Annie Hall, Manhattan, Zelig, and Crimes and Misdemeanors), does not merit a second viewing. (Some of the recent films by Allen — once one of America's greatest "auteurs" — do not even merit a first viewing.)

Considerably more liberating, engaging, entertaining and less predictable (unless you already know the film's subject well), yet similar in content, comes Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein's documentary, An Honest Liar.

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Monday
Feb232015

Things of the Aimless Wanderer

Things of the Aimless Wanderer
Director: Kivu Ruhorahoza
Released on: January 2015 [Sundance Film Festival] / TBA 2015
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

It does not take long to realize Kivu Ruhorahoza's Things of the Aimless Wanderer is something special. Well, different at least.

Set in North Rwanda, Things of the Aimless Wanderer begins with somewhat of a prologue where an Rwandan warrior (Ramadhan Bizimana) stalks a lonely white dude (Justin Mulliken) wandering the jungle. While wandering the jungle, whitey encounters a young, topless Rwandan woman (Grace Nikuze). There is a gaze off between the three characters.

Cut to early 21st century and "A girl has disappeared."

Told in three different yet related stories Ruhorahoza calls "a working hypothesis," the disappearance of the girl (or, rather, a young woman) offers up three scenarios involving sex, murder and shame. Using the same actors — plus a narrator (Matt Ray Brown) who speaks for the white journalist — the smaller stories are rather about bigger issues about the culture of Rwanda changing and expanding and how Rwandans are adapting to it (an allegory of sorts some may say). Except we are not getting a direct viewpoint from Rwandans but vis-a-vis what Ruhorahoza imagines what an American (or perhaps any white westerner) would see if he or she lived among the anxious Rwandans.

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Monday
Feb232015

Cronies

Cronies
Director: Michael Larnell
Released on: Janury 25th, 2015 [Sundance Film Festival] / TBA 2015
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther 

Louis (George Sample III) and Jack (Zurich Bucker) go way back. Childhood friends, these two share the kind of special bond that no two kids should ever have to share. But the years have gone by, and while Louis seems to have matured — at least a little — Jack is as angry and edgy as ever.

Accordingly, Louis currently prefers the company of Andrew (Brian Kowalski), a kid from the other side of the 'hood but no less slothful and youthful than Louis or Jack. "Andy," however, is a lot more mellow than Jack.

Until the day of the (mostly) black and white "Cronies" takes place, Jack had never heard or met Andrew. This is in part due to the fact that if Louis had mentioned Andrew, the mistrustful Jack would have annoyed Louis with questions fueled by insecurity and masked by anger.

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Monday
Feb232015

Chorus

Chorus
Director: François Delisle
Released on: January 23rd, 2015 [Sundance Film Festival] / March 2015 [Canada]
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Shot in black and white and mostly during Canadian winter months, the look of Chorus is as dreary as its tale of woe.

A man named Jean-Pierre (Luc Senay) walks into an interrogation room and sits down across from a police official named Hervé (Didier Lucien). He does not want a lawyer. The overweight, slouching (toward Gomorrah) criminal is there to admit to another crime he committed. It happened ten years ago and it involves an 8-year-old boy who was not very good at sports, had lost his bike key and broke the cardinal rule about getting into a car with strangers.

As Jean-Pierre continues his story, a sense of dread seeps in. This is a story which cannot end well. But, before Jean-Pierre is done telling his story, writer-director-cinematographer-editor Francois Delisle's film cuts away to the film's two protagonists, a couple filled with existential dread. Except the couple are no longer together.

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Monday
Feb232015

Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher
Director: Kim Longinotto
Released on: January 2015 [Sundance Film Festival] / TBA 2015
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Brenda Myers-Powell is not the kind of person you want to meet at night. It is not that she is a bad or dangerous person or that she is straight up annoying or anything like that. If you run into Mrs. Myers-Powell at night it is most likely because you are living a very troubled life.

Born in 1962, Myers-Powell started getting molested before the age of five. Abused and confused, she had two children by the age of fifteen. At that time, she and her daughters were living with her grandmother and grandmother had bills to pay.

To help grandma out, Myers-Powell did what the ladies across the street from her grandmother’s house did: prostitution. Turning tricks at the age of fifteen, Myers-Powell would remain a prostitute on the streets of Westside Chicago for 25 years. Over those years, “Breezy” was beaten, stabbed, addicted to narcotics and not very present for her two daughters. It took a near-death experience shortly before her 40th birthday to get Myers-Powell to reevaluate her life and get off the streets.

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Friday
Nov212014

Little Hope Was Arson

Little Hope Was Arson
Director: Theo Love
Released on: November 18th, 2014 [Limited/VOD]
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

For East Texas and the rest of the Bible Belt, God is an important part of people’s lives. Some churches have stood over a century and have served as a meeting place for families going back many generations. People have been baptized, married and eulogized within the walls of these buildings.

And just as the people of East Texas believe in a powerful, righteous God, so too is their belief in an evil, malevolent Devil. In 2010, ten churches were set ablaze across three East Texas counties. Families and congregations in the area became fearful — some even believing Satan himself was destroying the churches. The crimes and the ensuing investigation are the subject of Little Hope Was Arson, an engaging, true-life crime story that shows that community bonds strengthen in the face of sinister transgressions.

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Thursday
Nov202014

Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher
Directed by: Bennett Miller
Released on: November 14th, 2014
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

In 1996 recluse millionaire madman John du Pont assassinated a man who was arguably the greatest American wrestler ever. It was not supposed to happen. After all, du Pont invited the wrestling extraordinaire brothers Dave and Mark Schultz to come to du Point’s Foxcatcher estate to create a great American wrestling team. Great things were supposed to be accomplished, and sometimes they were. But wrestling on the mat and wrestling with one’s own and another’s psyche are two different phenomena — yet not necessarily distinct.

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Thursday
Nov202014

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything
Directed by: James Marsh
Released on: November 14th, 2014
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

Behind every great man there’s a great woman, so says the outdated cliché. In this case, that woman would be Jane Hawking, portrayed by Felicity Jones (Like Crazy), in the delightful The Theory of Everything. Adapted from Jane’s memoir Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, the film tells the story of her relationship with her husband, physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) from their time as students at the University of Cambridge until the publication of A Brief History of Time, Stephen’s bestselling book that explained black holes to the masses.

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