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King Jack (2015)
One Trick Pony or ... NOT?
This movie features the kid (Charlie Plummer) from "Granite Flats" (TV Series), where he did a brilliant job as a nerdy very polite kid. - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2624370/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_6
But, as fantastic as he was in Granite Flats, I couldn't help but wonder if this kid was a One Trick Pony. That is, is the nerdy kid all he can play.
After watching "King Jack", I can assure you this kid is NO One Trick Pony. His performance in King Jack was brilliant. I expect very good things from him in the future.
The movie itself, which I found very enjoyable, was short of perfect. But I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves Indie Film.
A dark story about a kid trapped in poverty, in a less than desirable neighborhood, with a family which I will generously describe as dysfunction, and his struggle to simply endure.
Charlie Plummer is an actor to keep an eye on as I expect very good things for him in the future.
The Boy Who Smells Like Fish (2013)
A Fish of a Different Color
This is a wonderfully quirky romantic comedy, but far from the generic fair that tumbles out of Hollywood on a regular basis. The story of a boy who smells like fish and overcoming the adversities of life. I saw this movie three times on consecutive days, and enjoyed it every time. Not your typically Hollywood fair, rather unique and charming with excellent performances by Douglas Smith and Zoe Kravits. So, wonderfully endearing. I say the following in many of my reviews; if you are into standard Hollywood Blockbuster formula movies, then perhaps this is not the movie for you. However, if you love independent film, and you like new ideas, then you will most certainly like this movie. I personally loved it, which is why I watched three times in a row.
Happiness Runs (2010)
Utopia becomes Dystopia
Utopia becomes Dystrophy.
Free love becomes sex without meaning or commitment.
Drugs become a means of not insight and enlightenment, but of dulling the daily grind of meaninglessness.
The Commune, the group, becomes isolated loneliness. You all say you are together, but without meaning, commitment, or attachment, you are alone in a crowd.
Reality becomes someone else reality, and your own disconnect from reality.
This is not a comedy. This is not an action movie. This is not a Hollywood blockbuster. This is a dark gritty drama, and if you like that sort of thing, which I do on occasion, then you will like this movie. But ...no... it is not for everyone, and absolute not for the 'blockbuster' crowd.
This is grim cold reality. The movie does not have a lot of highs and lows, though there are certainly moments of drama. I guess one could call it a "Slice of Life", but as mentioned, it is a grim empty life wearing the cloak of Utopia.
Excellent job by the lead character - Mark L. Young as Victor. He conveys the desperateness and detachment of Victor very convincingly. And very good jobs by the supporting characters. On acting alone this movie is worth a look. I expect powerful things from Mark Young in the future.
So, whether this movie is for you, only you can tell. If you like the dark and gritty, and something off the mainstream, then you will be satisfied. But if you are locked into 'blockbusters' and 'teen sex romp comedies', I feel this movie will be a bit too grim for you.
Wild Tigers I Have Known (2006)
Wild Tigers on a shoe string budget.
Keep in mind, this film had a budget of about $50,000. That is peanuts relative to movie making. Consider how many names are in the end credits, then film processing, assuming it wasn't shot in digital, then distribution cost. I'm sure there are 50 people listed in the end credits, that's about $1,000 apiece, except given permits, insurance, cameras, sound equipment, lighting, and countless other details, it is probably more like $250 apiece. How do you hire people to make a movie for only $250, if even that? Plus, yes, the movie was 'stylized'. It was intended to be haunting and mysterious. I thought some of the Subplots could have held together better, and I though the editing could have been smoother, and more clear relative to the story, but for the minuscule budget they had, they did a pretty good job.
The movie was made in 2006 and we are still talking about it. I watched in last night on Netflix, it did what it was intended to do within its tiny budget. That is, I could see the Directors underlying intent, even if he didn't have the budget to do the best possible job. Many of these low budget films are really film exercises for young directors, writers, actors, etc.... They all need a starting point. They all need to do some low budget 'concept' films to prove their worth for larger films.
Because I love Independent Film, I can excuse some imperfections and take the budget into consideration when I judge a film. I judge this film to be pretty good within the proper context.
The above is a copy of a post I made in the "Wild Tigers I Have Known" IMDb discussion, but I think it serves as a worthy review. This movie is worth watching to see actors and directors trying to make a movie out of a starvation budget, and I think they did a pretty good job given what they had to work with. I say it is worth seeing.
I watched Wild Tigers again today (May 12, 2013). This is probably the 3rd or 4th time I have watched it, and it still holds together as a look into the haunting mind-scape of a 13 year old boy coming to grips with who he is. Malcolm Stumpf (Logan) is truly haunting in this role, and given how little he had to work with, I think he did an outstanding job. This is a highly stylized movie with journeys into the dreams and fantasies of this boy. But I think it is a movie anyone who tries can relate to. I repeat, if you love indy film, then you will like this movie.
I watch Wild Tigers again (2015) and it still stands up. In fact, I'm thinking of watching it again (still 2015). But admittedly anyone looking for standard Hollywood Blockbuster fair is not going to get this movie. That's OK, not everyone is required to like every movie.
In another review someone (Sammy) quoted Roger Ebert, and I think that quote best characterizes this film - "You instinctively understand that a film is not about WHAT it is about, but HOW it is about it." This is not a linear PLOT movie. Character A doesn't go to Place B and say thing C. This is a journey through the internal Dreamscapes and Emotions of an isolated and alienated 13 year old boy. It is an abstract film. I think my total viewing has now reach about 5 or 6 times, and I have the urge to watch it again.
You have to take this movie for what it is, not for what you want it to be. But ... if you simply don't get it ... that's OK, not everybody has to get everything.
Safe Journey (2000)
A very touching film.
Indeed this is a very touching film with very little dialog, yet the emotions are captured very clearly. The narrative is smooth and consistent from beginning to end. It shows the craft of someone who will have the skill do make very fine feature films one day.
Others have given you the outline of the story, so no need to repeat that. But the anguish, frustration, and disillusionment of both main characters is substantial and gripping, perhaps might even make you a bit misty at points.
It always impressive when a film maker can tell a complete story in such a short amount time.
Well, worth seeing, you can find several copies of it on YouTube and likely on other Video Archive sights.
The Wise Kids (2011)
Not what you would expect.
The plot should be pretty clear by now, so I won't re-hash that.
First, the meaning of the title becomes apparent before the opening credits even roll. That was something of a surprise. Once I knew what it was, it seem perfectly obvious, but none the less caught me as a delightful surprise.
Now, one would think this plot would virtually write itself. Gay boy, deep south, highly religious setting, it seem crystal clear where this movie is heading. But oddly, it never goes there. Instead, we get a unique script that approaches the events from a whole new direction.
I'll not spoil it with details, but this story does not follow the seeming obvious path. Yet, it is a very charming coming of age film that is as much about the supporting characters as it is about the Gay Boy.
Excellent performances by the entire cast. Tyler Ross is absolutely charismatic in every performance he is in. And the supporting cast plays out their role with equal presence and skill. A very captivating movie if you like unique independent films. Well worth watching.
It is available on Amazon Instant video for streaming. If you have an Amazon account all ready, then it is just a matter of initiating the Instant Movie streaming part. Simply enter a pin number, which will be given you during the registration process, and it will be billed to the credit card you already have on file.
The movie really surprised me in that it does not follow the cliché plot line of a gay teen in the south. Engaging movie with very engaging characters. If you get a chance to see Tyler Ross in "Nate & Margaret" that is also a very charming movie. I expect to see a lot more good work from Tyler Ross in the future, a very talented actor.
Struck by Lightning (2012)
Tremdous First Wrting Effort By Chris Colfer
This really was a tremendous first writing effort by Chris Colfer. If this sample is representative of his writing talent then I sure we can look forward to many first rate scripts and stories in the future.
I can relate to the story setting, having grown up in a small town, small minded people living small minded lives seemingly in the Midwest. They are absolute stunned when a BIG MIND comes along. They don't know what to do with it, so they do their best to stomp it down. But this is one big mind that refused to be stomped.
I think the central character, Carson Phillips, touches the lives of all those around him in a positive way. I think their long term lives are enriched by it. But, small minds can only grow just so big. In the end, small minds remain small, and the one Big Mind that touched them all is gone. It's kind of a sad story.
I really enjoyed this movie and was captivated by it from beginning to end. Excellent performances by the full supporting cast.
Again, I think this is a sign that we can expect great things from Chris Colfer in the future. In my opinion, he is NO one trick pony. In this movie, I think he catches the outcast teenager's mind from fresh new perspective.
The movie is available on Amazon for Instant Streaming, and well worth a look by anyone who is not locked into standard generic Hollywood blockbuster fare.
Style and Finesse!
If I had to use one word to describe this show it would be Finesse. This is a Lawyer show written in a way that no USA Lawyer show could be written. Nothing blows up, no long courtroom drama speeches, just good solid stories, brilliant characters, and solid writing. I found the story lines brilliant, and the series completely captivating, and I found myself laughing out loud in every episode.
The Series is currently available on both NetFlix and Hulu (free), and well worth a look.
I was so captivated and intrigued by this series that I was up until 4:00 in the morning watching episode after episode.
Definitely fine intelligent heartwarming entertainment.
Stephen Fry is brilliant as Peter Kingdom, the prime character. Celia Imrie is very good as the long suffering office assistant, and Karl Davis is also brilliant as the young (horny) trainee lawyer. Those performances combined the a quirky cast of supporting characters makes this a very enjoyable series. Highly recommended.
The Living Wake (2007)
A Shakesperean Farce Directed by Salvidor Dali
If I had to describe this movie to someone in the fewest words possible, it would be a Shakespearean Farce directed by Salvidor Dali.
Quirky and very strange, yet I loved this film. I've seen it twice so far, and I'm sure I will watch again. Jesse Eisenberg is stunning as the character Mills. At the appropriate times, the anguish weighs heavily on Jesse's/Mill's face.
And Michael O'Connell is deliciously over the top as H. Roth Binew.
If you want more of the same then go to the local cinema, but if you want a unique and funny experience in the surreal and absurd, and if you love independent film, then you are very likely to enjoy this movie.
Highly recommended, but only to those who don't subsist on Hollywood Blockbusters.
Far Exceeded my Expectations
You should have the plot by now, a child piano prodigy who just wants to be a kid.
I typically make allowances for low budget films like this. I don't expect them to meet Hollywood block buster standards. I had been looking at this film in the video store for about a year, and while I was draw to it, I couldn't quite pull the trigger because what I was getting was not clear. Eventually I found the video in a bargain bin at the local store and I bought it. I was not disappointed.
Like I said, I make some allowances for low budget films, but this story and the actors held together exceptionally well from beginning to end. A very enjoyable and engaging story. Well crafted and well told.
I was very pleased with this film, and rate it very highly. A very well told and heart warming story; beautifully crafted.
The Woman in Black (2012)
Life in Perspective
People have complained that this is a horror movie filled with horror movie clichés. But how could it not be? I mean is it suppose to be a horror movie at the local shopping mall? No, of course it is in a haunted house, were else would it be? As much as this movie drew on the horror standards, I found it refreshingly different from most horror movies. Part of what I want from a movie is something different, not more of the same, and I think in that respect, all things considered, this movie delivered.
While it did make use of the standards like jump scares, I really felt the suspense of this movie. I mean, at least for me, this movie was wound very tight. The suspense was ratcheted to the limit.
While I'm still not past Daniel Radcliffe's voice, I still hear Harry or Daniel, his face and body language were spot on, and greatly added to the tension of the movie.
In the end, it is what it is, a suspenseful horror movie that gets the job done. This isn't a genre noted for 'Academy Award' performances. But as suspenseful horror movies go, I was very satisfied with this one, and thought they did have a new approach to an old genre.
School of Comedy (2009)
Brilliant Cast Speaks Well for the Future of Britsh Acting & Comedy.
I think this show as great potential, and the cast is certainly brilliant on all fronts. It makes me feel very good about the future of acting and comedy in the UK.
But, I do agree that the writing got a bit lazy at times. Though there are some characters, like Leonard Lizard, who for me, expressed deep pathos. The man (Will Poulter) for all his wealth, power, and privilege broke my heart every time he was on the screen.
And the 'Two Men in the Van' sketches absolutely cracked me up.
The basic premise is not just kids playing adults, but playing their view of adults, with all the irrationality, banality, and crudeness in tact. Does it go a bit over the top, yes.
But let me remind you that there is also a British comedy in which an adult plays and skews an adult's view of what kids are like. It is equally absurd, and in this case, just painful to watch. Who in their right mind thinks it's a good idea for someone in their 40's to play a kid?
But absurdity is the point, because from the view of a neutral outsider, adults are irrational nut cases who are not fit to be in charge of the world.
So, the underlying point is not that they are playing adults, but that they are playing a kid's view of how completely out of it adults are.
Further, the UK has something of a tradition of quirky, oddball, off center comedy. Think Monty Python, Mr. Bean, and Benny Hill. I think School of Comedy fits very nicely into this off kilter tradition of British Comedy.
Yes, the sketches can be crude, but adults can be crude as well, and frequently it is the seemly respected reputable adults that can be the crudest of all. However, in most sketches, as I've implied, I feel the underlying pathos. And as I've also said, the Will Poulter character Leonard Lizard never failed to break my heart.
Various sketches can be found on Internet video sites, the largest of which shall remain nameless, but they are not complete episodes. None the less, they do demonstrate the tremendous pool of young talent that is being drawn on in these sketches.
I think the entire cast is brilliantly talented, even if lazy, too obvious writing sometime doesn't bring out their best. Given their ages, I see bright futures for all of them in both comedy and drama.
Far more than being a brilliantly funny sketch show, School of Comedy is a showcase for brilliant young talent.
The Beaver (2011)
Mel Gibson is very sympathetic in this Movie.
I won't summarize as that has surely been done by now. I found Mel Gibson (Walter Black) to be a very sympathetic character in this movies, though there were times early in the movie when I wanted to soundly slap the Mother and Son. Though they eventually came around.
It is movies like this that remind me what a stunning actor Mel Gibson can be. As to his personal life, I feel we have only gotten one side of a highly biased story on that. All of which has been amped up by media too lazy to dig out the real objective story, so they just feed the masses with scandal.
I don't care about his personal life, as long as he can deliver on the screen, and in this movie he delivers. Though I make some allowances for the relatively low budget by Hollywood standards.
Anton Yelchin, as always, does an impressive job, and while I found his character annoying, I also had some sympathy for him. His dad is going nuts, his mother is distracted, and he is, more or less, left to deal with life on his own. And as with all teenagers, at least in his eyes, his 'life' that is going on is important, and his family is a distraction from the important milestones of first love and all the goes with it.
I'm somewhat easy to satisfy when it comes to movies. If the movie engages me, tells a unique story in a unique way, instills certain feelings about the characters, and make me think about their lives, then it has enough of a life to satisfy me. I found that in this movie; I became engrossed in and concerned about their lives and in how things were going to turn out. Because I was pulled into the story, I give the movie a pretty high rating, and give Mel Gibson high praise for his ability to create the character Walter Black.
A story like this walks a very fine line, given the subject matter, and I think they walked that line very well.
Angels in the Outfield, or at least in the House.
There was zero chance that this movie would ever play near me, so I bought it on BluRay.
Here is what this movie is about - ANGELS.
That's right ... angels.
We mistakenly assume angels enter our lives as beings of bright white light. Like Michael Landon, all big hair and white teeth. But, no my friends, angels are found in the dark and shadows. They don't come to save, but rather open the door to saving ourselves. They are the nerd bullied on the playground, the homeless man on the street, the car stranded beside the road. Angels come to us as darkness in the hope that we response with light.
Hesher enters the lives of the main characters, all brilliantly acted, like a tornado, all noise and destruction. But he offers opportunities. He offers the chance for the characters to look in the mirror and actually see themselves.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and am very glad I bought it. Brilliantly acted with a stunning performance by the kid T.J. (Devin Brochu). A story well told.
Also, this isn't your typical Hollywood fair, this story is powerful, unique, and harsh but a story that needs to be told none the less. Movies like this are why I love independent film.
In another sense, this is not Hollywood fair, in that it is more slice of life/window in time. It isn't so nice and neatly wrapped up into perfect happy endings.
A captivating and engaging story, and certainly time well spent. If you love independent film then I say you will enjoy "Hesher".
Now you may take my implication that this is a movie about angels as a bunch of pretentious bull-crap. Think what you will but that is how I see it.
Real Steel (2011)
What you expect is what you get.
I remember reading a review of the Movie "Speed Racer" but the reviewer acted like he was expecting to see "Citizen Cane". Get real people, this movie is boxing robots. If you go expecting boxing robots, you'll have a great time. If you go expecting "Citizen Cane", then you are in idiot.
Some critic implied that it was too predictable, but aren't all movies pretty predictable? I mean, did you go to "Rocky" expecting Rocky to lose? Did you go to "Titanic" and not know the boat was going down? Did you see "Harry Potter" and not realize that Voldemort would get his butt handed to him on a stick?
This was a very engaging and emotionally compelling movie, one that I thoroughly enjoyed even for the considerable theater ticket price. Well acted, funny, and touching, and when the climactic scene finally comes, I was as emotionally invested in the outcome as I was when Rocky stepped into the ring.
If you want a good time at the movies, then this movie is well worth seeing, just don't go expecting a remake of "Citizen Cane". Though I can't imagine who would be foolish enough to remake that movie.
Brothers of the Head (2005)
This is what I would call a Ficumentary - a fictional documentary. This is a very believable and engrossing story with stunning performances by Luke and Harry Treadaway. Their performance is both extreme and very subtle. I've never seen or felt so much from a simple glance. And the movie is so believable I went and looked the main characters - Tom and Barry Howe - up on the Internet convinced that they were real.
As the movie progresses, and thank to the main actors Luke and Harry Treadaway, you can see the characters self-destructing before your eyes. The weigh of their lives bares down on them with ...well... unbearable weight.
Both Luke and Harry Treadaway have gone on to do other separate movies. Harry Treadaway, as an example, was the lead in the movie "City of Ember".
A fastinating and unique movie experience, and especially so for music fanatics.
Wild Target (2010)
You Get What You Pay For
I won't bother to summarize the story as everyone has done that already.
There are a few things you need to be able to enjoy this movie -
1.) A love of Independent Film. 2.) A dark and twisted sense of humor. 3.) The ability to suspend logic and reason.
This is a dark comedy, a twisted dark comedy, you simply can't hold it up to the light of real life. You just have to let yourself be swept along in the fantasy.
I like the fact that we see the more real side of what it means to be a hit man, especially a highly paid, high class hit man. Trust me, he does not, nor should he, live a James Bond lifestyle. It is a dark lonely and miserable life.
Which bring in our female character, Emily Blunt as Rose, she is a breath of fresh air, an immoral corrupt crooked con-artist breath of fresh air; at least to our main character. In her, I think he sees a kindred spirit. Something he has never found before in his miserable empty life.
Rupert Grint/Tony is simple in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, some said he seemed out of place. Yet, if we knew the back story, wouldn't 'out of place' be the story of Tony's life? Always standing on the outside looking in. In Bill Nigh/Victor, Tony has simply found a place where being an outsider is to his advantage.
I believe Rupert showed potential as an actor beyond Harry Potter. I don't think he is quite realized, for better or worse, but I think he shows potential. Though a few voice lessons wouldn't hurt him. He tends to draw his word inward instead of projecting. I'm eager to see him in a dramatic role in 'Comrade', a Norwegian WWII film that is in post-production right now.
If you want to see an role where Rupert completely disappears, watch him in the childish fart move "Thunder Pants" as Alen A. Alen. I see no hint of Ron or Rupert in this character. He becomes a completely unique human being/character.
The movie is low budget, but I think that adds to it. Instead of escaping in a BMW or Mercedes, they escape in a beat up second hand MINI. And a fun escape it is.
There are a couple of spots that I would say are continuity errors. For example, how does a woman in a wheelchair get into the loft of a barn?
How can someone like Rose not have better survival instincts. Though I think the intended explanation is that she is a free spirit.
But overall a fun enjoyable movie ...if... you appreciate independent film. If Hollywood blockbuster are more your fare, then this likely isn't the movie for you.
Next, "suspension of logic', this is a dark comedy, terrible things happen that will make you laugh, then feel guilty about laughing. In one scene, in a open air market (Camden Street?), where an incident occurs, a mistake is made, and it made me laugh. But I've always felt horribly guilty for laughing. Yet, in the context of the movie, it was funny. I won't spoil it. If you've seen the film you know what I mean.
Movies like this aren't for everyone, but I have to believe that anyone who is a fan of independent film will find this movie satisfying.
One note on the ending, this is what I call the 'easy ending' that is typical of British media. Think the end of the UK Queer as Folks, just a little too easy. The end of the second season of SKINS, a little too easy. The British might made good movies, but the are weak on ending. I think it comes from watch too much French cinema. Always symbolic, but never quite satisfying.
Still, I enjoyed the movie. And though it really had the quirky sense of story and flow, combined with dark twisted humor that only comes from the British. A movie like this simply could not be made in the USA.
30 Minutes or Less (2011)
You Get What You Pay For
I won't leave a long detailed review, that's already been done. I do find myself somewhat dismayed at some of the reviews I read though. This in not Macbeth or Citizen Cane, and can't be viewed in that light, and you shouldn't have expected it to be.
I'm a big fan of Jesse Eisenberg, and I was not disappointed by his performance in this movie. Would I say that I was blown away by this movie? No. But I was satisfied and sufficiently entertained to make it worth the admission price.
You need to look at things in context. Take the Slacker characters Dwayne and Travis, and their liking for penis, vagina, and generally filthy talk. Well, did you expect them to recite Shakespeare? That's who these characters are, brainless slackers with on thing on their tiny minds, the one thing they they never get. I found them true to character. More so, I actually know those guys.
You can complain that this is a loser movie, but to be fair, it is a movie about people who are all complete losers. So, right on target.
Are there some spots that don't quite work as well as they should, probably, but there are other spots that are generally entertaining. But I have to blame the director for whatever failing there might be, he gets what he asks for from the actors, and if that is not the right thing, then logically he asked for the wrong thing.
Again, I wouldn't rave about this movie, but I certainly enjoyed it.
You get what you pay for, I paid for an entertaining Saturday afternoon, and I got it. Not in my top 10, but still entertaining.