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Natural Selection (2011)
Great idea, execution not quite spot-on
The two main characters made the story, even though I had a tough time understanding a woman of Linda's age having so few basic survival instincts when she first meets the, clearly dangerous, druggie son. I got a huge kick out of the 'slice of devout Christian life' (at least as far as these characters were concerned), the inherent hypocrisy they were living daily, and making good excuses to themselves and others for such inconsistency in how they stood by their beliefs.
There were gaps in the storyline, that if they'd been there, the characters (especially Linda) would have been a bit less hard to understand/empathize with, but overall these gaps did not ruin the movie. The biggest problem I found with the story, and why I didn't rate it even higher, is that the story skipped from the 'dark moment' straight to the ending without US, the audience, getting to see Linda prove that she had grown and changed (by making that stand to her husband, and to her abusive sister, as well). Also: The ending shot, really, (and maybe this is because we didn't get to see her face down the person that had 'done her wrong' and prove that she finally had a spine), didn't really feel like it matched the actual character arc that the screenwriter started out wanting her to have (or wanting us to think she was going to have). The first shot we see of her (and quite a few more as the story progresses) seems to say that she is a woman who needs to empower herself sexually (and by doing so, empower herself in all other areas of her life where she has been a doormat), to overcome the event from her past that sent her into her current life, but, alas, this is not ever resolved on camera. Instead, the resolution takes place off screen, and all we see is where she goes to enjoy her new-found freedom. (Of course, since I didn't get to see her stand up for herself, I can't help but think: okay, here you are, in your current state--what are you going to do now? Are you even capable of taking care of yourself? Since I didn't get to see her take charge of her life, it leaves me wondering if she actually did, or if she'll fail and go back to her old life after her little 'vacation' from it.
Would I watch this film again? Yes, probably--because I found the concept very compelling, and the two main actors played off of each other extremely well.
Great movie--Title Sucks, Synopsis Sucks
I would have given this a 10 out of 10, but I took off a point for the terrible title. The title is so bad, that I almost didn't watch it. I'd seen it coming up in my 'you might also like' list over and over, I'd even added it to my 'to watch' list, but just never could get around the boring title (which tells me NOTHING of what the movie is about), and the synopsis (on Amazon Instant Video), which says something about it being set in Beaumont, TX. (I have to say, this fact alone was the ONLY reason I ended up giving it a try--I'm from Texas).
This movie is about facing your fears head on and stepping off that precipice into the great unknown. In other words, taking that chance, that risk of failing, but doing the thing you fear to do anyway. This is Jude Farney's (played by Wendy English) story of how she came to do just that. ****The title should give us a hint that this is what the movie is about--or at least the synopsis for crissakes!!***** The film does not have any lagging bits (as so many low budget Indies do). Everything that happens on screen moves the plot forward, there are no filler scenes of people walking down the street for a full 5 minutes, or driving in their car for same, while some crappy indie song plays in the background. I will admit, there is a 20-30 second scene at the beginning with her walking down the road, but it ends quickly, and grounds you in the location (as it was meant to do), without becoming filler.
This is what indie story telling should be, but too often isn't. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And in this case, quite satisfying. Definitely worth a couple of hours of your time.
This movie is free to stream on Amazon for Prime Members, and, I think is also available on Netflix.
I highly recommend this movie.
Tiny Furniture (2010)
Funny, but leaves you hanging
4/5 of the movie was entertaining, quirky, and funny...then it just ends with no resolve. I hate movies that do that. Give me the reason why I spent 1.5 hours watching a piece of fiction. Even documentaries about real life incidents have a resolve--sometimes happy, sometimes sad. For my tastes, a piece of fiction needs one, too.
The main character, Aura, comes home from college, pretty much rudderless. So far, so good. Totally empathize with this, and I think many people that age feel that way. The successful artist mother and over-achieving sister are great foils for Aura. The entire story revolves around Aura and her inability to figure out what the heck she wants to do with her life as she maneuvers through some rather amusing relationships, both old and new, but then it just ends. Not one character changes in this story. Not the main character, who we are rooting for, nor any of the people she comes into contact with. So why did you waste my time?
The point of no return towards the end for Aura is priceless. Sad, disgusting, and incredibly realistic, but kind of humorous,too.
Unfortunately, folks, that's it. Even that doesn't get her out of her funk, or make her mother kick her in the butt and push her out of the nest.
It just ends after her mother tells her she's certain that she'll be successful in her life. I say: Prove it to me, because the Aura you left me with is one that I think will still be living off of mama 25 years from now, and still whining about not knowing what direction she should take in her life.
A Christmas Snow (2010)
Cute, but not well written
Am I the only one that thought the boyfriend was out of line charging in *with no notice* to his (clearly not longstanding) girlfriend's house WITH his kid's suitcase and expecting the girlfriend to take care of the kid overnight? And then, later, he has the sheer audacity to get peeved at her for taking in the man who saved her life, because she may be endangering his daughter?
This all happens early on as mostly the setup for the story, but I lost a lot of respect for the main character in those two scenes, because in everything else she's portrayed as tough as nails, and if she'd kept in character she would have told the guy to forget it. This scenario made it easy for the writer to set up the next events, but it made the story less strong. Even a small conversation about why he hadn't phoned her first to ask her if it was all right or even actually phoning and her agreeing to it would have saved both those characters in my eyes.