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End of the Spear (2005)
I was pleasantly surprised
Now before I begin my review, I just want to say that the genre of this movie was not one that I was heavily passionate about, if at all. I had decided that I would watch this movie, because I had enjoyed other projects that Chad Allen had been involved in, as well as his personal activism. I wanted to support his work and in an interview, he said that this film was one that he was very passionate about and that he was very proud of it. Going into it, I must repeat that I had no expectations. To my surprise, this story was both touching and inspiring. Between the selflessness of the five missionaries and the manner in which relationships build between the two different cultures, I really felt that this story was of great importance. Now onto the acting; There have been many threads dedicated to criticizing the casting choices, mainly Chad Allen, as well as the performances. I couldn't disagree more. I thought that Chad was perfect for the dual role and brought layers and realism to the storyline. Another standout was Louis (the man who played Minoyani). I truly believed his performance and found myself sympathizing with this murderer as some points, although I knew I shouldn't. All in all, i thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend this film.
Save Me (2007)
not what i expected...different but better
In this genre of film, the flops far outweigh the quality movies. Usually, there is more camp and unnecessary nudity, stereotypes and sex scenes to fill the time. I'm not sure if this is suppose to be related to the audiences the films are produced for, because if so, they are undermining these moviegoers. Now about Save Me. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I enjoyed the fact that its central theme was more about finding one's self than about depending on someone else. After all, the best relationship one has is with him/her self. I thought the performances were excellent. Judith Light did carry the movie with her incredibly realistic and heart-wrenching performance. However, I also believe that both Chad Allen and the actor that played Lester were great as well. Over the last little while, I have been catching up with Mr. Allen's work, both on and off-screen and he not only seems to be an impressive actor, but an amazing human being. Being a future filmmaker, I do hope to work with him one day. In retrospect, although the summary explains that it about a powerful love between two men at an ex-gay ministry, the title really exemplifies the message. One must find themselves before one can give him/her self in any relationship, be it gay or straight. We must all remember that love doesn't discriminate and that one must live life to its fullest and in a way that makes him/her happiest. They say it was a struggle to get this movie made and to advertise it. I believe it, but I am happy that they persevered and got it produced. It is a movie of fine quality and an important one for anyone to see. Yes it is a movie about sexuality and religion, but it's mostly about choices and healing.
Ten Inch Hero (2007)
feel good movie!
I was given the opportunity to see this film and I am very happy about it. The storyline isn't anything new, but its execution was refreshing and effective. The characters were fleshed out enough to care about them and the performers were great in bringing their characters to life. You will laugh, cry and cheer during this movie and at the end, you feel better than you had before. It is great and very interesting to see that independent films like this can strike such emotional chords. The cinematography and direction were executed well and each character was likable.
Highlights: Clea Duvall as Jen- i really empathized with her character as I have been in that situation and felt her performance was great. As well, Jensen Ackles and Jon Doe were great!
Birds of America (2008)
a nice independent
I was a little apprehensive going into this movie as Matthew Perry has not had much luck choosing successful films. While his television career has been critically successful with friends and studio 60, he is usually a victim of poor writing. In truth, although he will always be "Chandler Bing" as will the rest of the Friends crew, he does have talent for the dramatic. This is shown in "Birds of America" Being a future independent filmmaker, I chose to enter this movie with loosening my predisposed judgements and this helped me find the depth in the film. When watching independent cinema, you must always expect the unexpected and allow yourself to think outside the box.
This film was significant as it dealt with the importance of family connection and being true to oneself. As well, it brings out the question "Is honesty always right". This has been a topic that has been debated for years. Honesty has always been thought of as a necessity, but what happens when it takes precedence to kindness? This is all dealt with during the film.
In terms of the performances, I believe that the two strongest links in this film were Ginnifer Goodwin and Ben Foster as the "problem" siblings. Ginnifer Goodwin's mannerisms and subtle facial expressions really captivate the screen and for me, although Matthew Perry's character is considered the father figure in the story, she really is the central link of the sibling connection. Ben Foster was great as well. It's refreshing to see that some people in Hollywood are not encapsulated by money and fame and are just in acting for the material. Matthew Perry was very good as the older brother /father figure, but I found my attention drifting to the other characters performances when he was sharing scenes. Finally, Lauren Graham, who is also very talented and needs to make wiser choices than "Evan Almighty", was great as the desperate wife trying to get her husband to have a baby with her. In one scene, she makes washing clothes seem like such a luxury and with her subtle nuances, makes the audience truly feel for her.
I thought the film was very good, but there were some slip ups. First off, Hilary Swank was wasted playing a stepford-wife type, which truth be told, could have been played by anyone. She is far better than that role. As well, although somewhat important to the theme of the film, I found the feces aspect of the film rather distracting and with exception to one humorous scene, took away from the storyline.
It sometime amazes me that cinematography can be far superior in films with independent budgets. I really appreciate the "nature aspect that the cinematographer incorporated into the setting and I found that it really highlighted the themes of kindness and connection. The only complaint I have about the cinematography and lighting is that some scenes were very dark and it was difficult to truly connect with those scenes.
All in all, it was a very good movie and I recommend it as a "lazy Sunday afternoon" type movie
Special Ed (2005)
I really liked this movie. The idea is not super original by any means, but I think the performances made it seem refreshing. I thought that all of the actors played their parts well, especially DW Moffett. He made me cringe with annoyance and feel bad for him, which is no easy feat.
I thought the storyline moved at a nice pace, but I feel that this film would have been improved by fleshing out more the relationship between Sonny and his son. I think that Trevor Wright is a great actor and that his talents were a little wasted in his small part.
For a first time feature for Mr. Phelps, I say congratulations as this film was very good and he really directed the performers well and wrote a script that is true to life. Well Done!
This film far surpassed any film in this genre that I have seen. The acting was amazing, the cinematography was impressive for the lack of budget and the chemistry between the two leads was palpable. Trevor Wright has more acting ability in his eyes than most of his "young Hollywood" peers. I really felt that the characters were true to life and that most of the actors played their parts impressively, except the sister and her "boyfriend". The kid that played Cody was great and Brad Rowe continues to impress. It is a shame that he and Trevor are not more sought out in films, considering the lack of talent of people their ages in Hollywood. The writing and directing was enjoyable and I think Mr. Markowitz has a bright future as a filmmaker. My only criticism is that the film went a little too fast and an extra 10-15 minutes to flesh out the story would have made this movie even better. I really hope this film, and its lead actor, get recognized for next year's independent spirit awards.