Reviews

52 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
10/10
Truly Moving Picture
8 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film in early March, of 2010 in Indianapolis. I am one of the judges for the Heartland Truly Moving Picture Award. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life." Heartland gave that award to this film.

It's in 3-D and it's gorgeous animation. But what really matters is the story. And it's a good one. At first it seems the main story is about a Viking colony equally distant from nowhere, which is being constantly attacked by a wide variety of marauding dragons. It's a full time job trying to keep the dragons at bay and the Viking warriors are often out on their boats hunting their wily and ferocious opponents.

But really the story is about a father and chief of the Vikings who has a young son, Hiccup, who is small and who is a slick, sarcastic talker and who doesn't take orders well, but still seeks respect from his impressive father. At first, his Father will not let his son be a warrior Viking, but later relents to have Hiccup train with the other youngsters. But the young boy gets sidetracked and instead of wanting to kill dragons, the boy befriends them and seeks to understand them.

A young and inexperienced son seeking approval of a strong father is an often-told tale. Sons often act foolishly trying to impress their fathers. And fathers often ignore the strivings of their sons. In this case, there is honor and courage on all sides and it is inspiring to watch the father and son wrestle with their relationship.

And yes, about the dragons – they ARE ferocious and talented and aggressive warriors. But their motivations are a mystery that unfolds slowly. And that's the fun of this film.

FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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10/10
Truly Moving Picture
5 January 2010
I saw this film in December, of 2009 in Indianapolis. I am one of the judges for the Heartland Truly Moving Picture Award. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life." Heartland gave that award to this film.

Tomas is a young boy that is bullied and unhappy at an orphanage. He is suddenly and mysteriously adopted by a childless couple, who live simply and modestly on a very remote Irish island. The Mother, although in ill health, is a woman of astounding positive energy and beauty and sets herself to healing the mental and physical scars of the boy's unfortunate upbringing. The Father meanwhile loves his wife dearly, but is far less excited by the recovering, damaged boy.

Intertwined with this awkward triangle relationship is light fantasy and legend and mystery of the gorgeous Irish coast. The Irish coast is so beautifully rendered that it is like a fourth character.

There is suddenly a great change in circumstances and two parts of the triangle have to come to terms with this tragedy. It takes courage and resolve and change and love.

The three actors of the triangle are vivid and hold your attention and each ultimately moves you emotionally in three different ways.

FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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Welcome (I) (2009)
10/10
Heartland Truly moving Picture
22 October 2009
I am a judge for the Indianapolis-based Heartland Film Festival. This feature film is a Crystal Heart Award Winner and is eligible to be the Grand Prize Winner in October of 2009. The Heartland Film Festival is a non-profit that honors Truly Moving Pictures. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life."

Bilal is a 17 year-old Kurdish boy from Iraq, who has just taken an arduous, three-month journey to Calais in France desperately trying to get to his girlfriend/fiancée in London. But in Calais he becomes stuck with many other clan-destines or illegal immigrants. These are people without a country. The French won't send them back to the Mid-East because there is a war going on. But they are not welcomed in France because they are clearly illegals. Even the local French people will violate French law if they help these clan-destines.

With this backdrop, Bilal comes up with the idea that he can swim the English Channel to get to his girlfriend. There is only one problem. He can't swim. He goes to a middle-aged French swim instructor, Simon, who not only teaches him how to swim, but also befriends him. Simon has his own problems. He is divorcing his wife and is terribly lonely. Bilal and Simon need each other and form a strangely beautiful symbiotic relationship.

This is a quiet and powerful statement on the individual courage and sacrifice of normal human beings. Bilal and Simon are single-minded in trying to do the right thing and will not be put off their objective. This is a very moving film that haunts you afterwords. It does not take a stand on legal or illegal immigration. It merely shows that these clan-destines are human like the rest of us and have their own stories.

FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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Entre nos (2009)
10/10
Heartland Truly Moving Picture
22 October 2009
I am a judge for the Indianapolis-based Heartland Film Festival. This feature film is a Crystal Heart Award Winner and is eligible to be the Grand Prize Winner in October of 2009. The Heartland Film Festival is a non-profit that honors Truly Moving Pictures. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life."

A Latino mother and her two children are stranded in Queens when their philandering, irresponsible father deserts them. There English is almost nil and now they must support themselves asap. First the wife tries selling homemade Espanadas on the street. Then she tries getting day labor by standing on Latino labor street corners. And finally ends up collecting cans for their deposits with her young son and daughter beside her. They are barely making it when they get evicted from their apartment. And then they become homeless and have to sleep outdoors.

What keeps them going under these awful circumstances? Their closeness and love for each other sees them through these difficult times. Also,they are helped by sympathetic strangers who see their heart-wrenching plight.

Through it all they never lose their dignity or morality. They always act honorably and treat others with respect. Their sacrifices and courage and desperate situation make them more appealing as time goes on. The viewer is filled with admiration for what the human spirit can endure and still not be broken.

The story is wonderfully told. It is realistic and understated and believable. You are often moved deeply as the story unfolds.

FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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Heartland Truly Moving Picture
22 October 2009
I am a judge for the Indianapolis-based Heartland Film Festival. This feature film is a Crystal Heart Award Winner and is eligible to be the Grand Prize Winner in October of 2009. The Heartland Film Festival is a non-profit that honors Truly Moving Pictures. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life."

Galia is a young woman who was a victim of a terrorist attack on a bus one year ago. Her boyfriend, Oren, was on the bus also and was in a coma and then died. Galia is suffering from painful burns on her back, but even worse, is suffering psychological trauma and guilt and hallucinations. And she doesn't know why she is getting hallucinations.

This is a quiet story of her trying to start up her life again with the help of a mysterious and almost-saintly stranger named Boaz. Why is he helping her? What is in it for him? Is she being stalked or is she being merely hit on or has she met an incredible altruistic human being?

This is a quiet movie that progresses inexorably to answer these questions. It is a story of nuances. The subtle facial expressions of the two main characters reveal much.

Galia is a woman with great honesty and wants to know the truth no matter where that leads her. She shows grace and spirit on her difficult journey.

FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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10/10
Heartland Truly Moving Picture
22 October 2009
I am a judge for the Indianapolis-based Heartland Film Festival. This feature film is a Crystal Heart Award Winner and is eligible to be the Grand Prize Winner in October of 2009. The Heartland Film Festival is a non-profit that honors Truly Moving Pictures. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life."

Tarek is an enigmatic and brooding young Arab man who has chosen to be a suicide bomber attacking Tel Aviv. But there has been a malfunction of his explosive equipment and he has to spend a weekend in Tel Aviv waiting until his problem is fixed.

While trying to fix his deadly gear, he makes Jewish people connections. They include an elder couple who welcome him to their home and feed him and confide in him. Tarek also meets a young attractive Jewish shopkeeper who is harassed by young conservative Jews who dislike her modern and stylish ways.

Now Tarek has a dilemma. It was easier to randomly kill via a terrorism act when you don't know your enemy well. It is another matter to know the type of people you are about to kill or injure or psychologically scar. What will Tarek ultimately decide to do?

This is a taut and compelling tale rolling to its inexorable ending that is both anticipated and unanticipated. The Jewish friends show their humanity to their enemy (?) by giving up their prejudices and acting kindly to Tarek. Tarek shows his humanity in an unusual but altruistic and compassionate and courageous way. You begin to understand why the Arab-Israeli conflict is so hard to unravel and negotiate.

FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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Amal (2007)
10/10
Truly Moving Picture
4 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I am a judge for the Indianapolis-based Heartland Film Festival. This feature film is a Crystal Heart Award Winner and is eligible to be the Grand Prize Winner in October of 2008. The Heartland Film Festival is a non-profit that honors Truly Moving Pictures. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life."

Amal is a 30ish autorickshawdriver in New Delhi. He appears to be simple and quiet and even naïve. He dutifully lives with and supports his Mother, and works long hours to make ends meet.

He is so out of place with the rest of the huge city of New Delhi. His fellow autorickshawdrivers seem to be hustlers and cheats. And his passengers and Delhi citizens are even worse. They include conniving lawyers, loan sharks, thieves, bribers, and spoiled adult children.

One day Amal chases a little girl who has stolen a purse from a regular passenger. Amal accidentally causes her to be hit by a car and seriously hurt. Amal, out of the goodness of his heart, takes on the welfare of the child in a hospital. We begin to see Amal's incredibly generous and giving nature.

Amal also has another chance, life-altering encounter when he picks up a surly old man who hates the world and tries to negotiate hard. Amal won't play his game, and cheerfully acquiesces to the old man's wishes. Unbeknownst to Amal, the man is rich and is so moved by their brief encounter that he leaves Amal in his will.

There is a painful irony between Amal needing money to help the hospitalized girl and almost being wealthy by a kindness of a curmudgeon. This irony drives the story, and keeps your interest high.

Amal is unaffected by worldly matters that consume everyone else. He is centered by his goodness and honesty and integrity. Sacrifice is all he knows – except for his rich life in the help of others.

FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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10/10
Truly Moving Picture
4 October 2008
I am a judge for the Indianapolis-based Heartland Film Festival. This feature film is a Crystal Heart Award Winner and is eligible to be the Grand Prize Winner in October of 2008. The Heartland Film Festival is a non-profit that honors Truly Moving Pictures. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life."

Jill Rose is both at the same time a middle-age wonderful mother and wife and an awkward embarrassment. The latter is due to her penchant for continuously going to garage sales and second hand shops looking for bargains and then bringing them home and never giving them up. The house is filled with these bargains that her husband tolerates and her daughter Cheryl abhors.

Cheryl becomes engaged and is so afraid that her mother will take over and arrange a used or bargain or second hand wedding that she can't bring herself to tell her the good news. Unfortunately, everyone else knows including Cheryl's father. Jill finds out from an unfriendly co-worker and the mother and daughter and husband become estranged.

In all other aspects of her life, Jill is normal and useful. She is the Assistant Superintendent of her local New Zeeland school and is respected and has lots of friends. And her obsessive collecting and bargain hunting is funny. She can laugh at herself and at her hobby and can make others laugh along with her.

This is a story of how a faithful and loving and tolerant family handles an important situation in their lives. Their core values are more important than their quirks and peculiarities.

This appears to be a low budget film, but it looks good on the screen with the beautiful New Zeeland coastline as a backdrop. And the actors, while unfamiliar to me, uniformly were believable from the main actors to the townspeople actors.

FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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10/10
Truly Moving Picture
4 October 2008
I am a judge for the Indianapolis-based Heartland Film Festival. This feature film is a Crystal Heart Award Winner and is eligible to be the Grand Prize Winner in October of 2008. The Heartland Film Festival is a non-profit that honors Truly Moving Pictures. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life." Raed is an elderly, Jordanian man who seems to be a simple janitor at an airport. But things change for him when he finds a discarded Captain's hat that he wears home. The neighborhood children promote him to a world savy pilot and he promotes himself to being an excellent and imaginative storyteller.

But Raed is not a simple man. We slowly find out that he is wise and well read. And, he has suffered tragedies in his life that would break most men and make them bitter. Raed resists being morose and adds positively to the world around him. He is kind to strangers, he mentors children with exploitive parents, and he makes other's lives easier and more fun.

But this wouldn't be much of a story if there weren't a strong conflict. Next door to Raed there is a family dominated by a husband and father who is a wife-beater, child-beater, and drunk. What can an old man do to help? It reminds one of the quote – "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Raed is a good man of courage and sacrifice. He does something.

FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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Karlas kabale (2007)
10/10
Truly Moving Picture
4 October 2008
I am a judge for the Indianapolis-based Heartland Film Festival. This feature film is a Crystal Heart Award Winner and is eligible to be the Grand Prize Winner in October of 2008. The Heartland Film Festival is a non-profit that honors Truly Moving Pictures. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life."

Karla is a 10 year-old Danish girl that faces an all too common problem around Christmas-time. She wants to have a traditional, old-fashioned holiday season, but is part of an extended family. She has a father with a drinking problem who lives alone. She lives with her Mother and Stepfather and brother and step-brother. The logistics are hard and everybody is so busy.

She finally concludes, "…grown-ups don't care about Christmas." And this will be "… (her) worst Christmas ever."

Karla finds a respite with an eccentric older man called Buster. It's hard to tell whether Karla is watching over Buster or Buster is watching over Karla. But at least they have each other.

Karla's despair and quest for holiday joy might make her family re-examine their lives … or maybe it won't. Karla has a lot to teach all of us if we will only stop being busy and listen and watch.

FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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