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Entries in film (24)

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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Wednesday
Nov192014

Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler
Directed by: Dan Gilroy
Released on: October 31st, 2014
Grade: 4.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

Jake Gyllenhaal gives a creepy, demented and oddly comic performance as Louis Bloom in the sleek thriller Nightcrawler. When we first meet the character, he is down-on-his-luck and eeks out a living stealing from construction sites. After witnessing a car accident and the immediate media response to the wreck, he decides to do better for himself—as an entrepreneur by any means necessary. He’s decides to go into business as a freelance cameraman for the news. He acquires a camera and police scanner, and begins to film the carnage and crime of Los Angeles at night. Paying for his footage is Nina (a marvelous Rene Russo), a seasoned news director who badly needs ratings for her ailing broadcast.

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Monday
Oct132014

Left Behind

Left Behind
Directed by: Vic Armstrong
Released on: October 3rd, 2014
Grade: 1 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

Yep, it’s been 14 years since the incredibly awful, low-budget, end-times thriller Left Behind: The Movie starring Kirk Cameron hit video shelves. As per usual, idea-strapped Hollywood thinks it’s due for a remake. Producer Paul Lalonde returns to familiar Revelation-inspired territory with a bigger budget, more sophisticated productions values and a recognizable cast to retell the story of those left over after the Rapture, the event where the godly are taken instantly to Heaven before Christ returns to Earth, as some Christians believed is prophesied in the Bible. Based on Rev. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’ wildly popular series of novels, this Left Behind remake, despite its Hollywood polish, is just as bad and laughable as the original.

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Tuesday
Sep092014

Locke

Locke
Directed by: Steven Knight
Released on DVD/Blu-Ray: August 12th, 2014
Grade: 4.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

In this age of bloated CGI spectacles, pointless remakes/reboots/reimaginings and two-hour dick jokes, innovation in cinema is very far and very few between. It seems that Hollywood would rather run out of ideas than make smart and challenging films. It’s quite an embarrassment.

On the other hand, you have films like the British import, Locke. Written and directed by Oscar nominee Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises), this captivating film experiment is the antithesis of everything that is wrong with the current state of Hollywood. Shot over a few weeks on a miniscule budget and set entirely in a car in real time, it tells the story of engineer and family man Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy, The Dark Knight Rises) going for one of the most important drives of his life.

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