From the roaring 1920s to the ruinous Spanish Civil War and Adolf Hitler's rise into power, the lives of an Irish schoolteacher, a provocative heiress and her Spanish muse are intricately interlaced, sharing the same destiny and passion.
A fictionalized account of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States, Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines, where a woman who endured a range of abuse while working as a miner filed and won the landmark 1984 lawsuit.
Libby Day was only eight years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Almost thirty years later, she reluctantly agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night.
James "Speedy" Reedy is anything but. He's a twenty-something slacker sleepwalking through life in a Midwestern town. His older sister, Joleen calls him in the middle of the night after the police have arrested her boyfriend and tossed her and her 12-year-old daughter Tara on the street. James takes them in, then Joleen, who claims to have a plan, leaves with a trucker and a stash of drug money. James tries to cope, but soon he's lost his job, and child protective services places Tara in foster care. She's miserable. Can James wake up and find a way to be more than just a nice guy? A road trip to his childhood may hold a key, or it may be another bad dream.Written by
The working title for this production was "Ferris Wheel". See more »
[after she sees him staring at her]
Uncle James, you're creeping me out.
Hey, you be nice to Uncle James. James, where do you keep the hangers?
[to herself as she goes into James' room]
God, this place is such a mess. I should have brought some of my own furniture.
And we're going to need another pillow for Tara, by the way.
I'm not sleeping in the same bed as you, Mom!
[coming back out of the room]
You know, you could really start unpacking your own shit instead of ...
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"Sleepwalking" starts off a bit like "Frozen River," focused on a single mother struggling to make ends meet in rural America (though it was actually filmed in Saskatchewan). But the movie quickly veers off in another direction, shifting that focus onto her 13-year-old daughter, Tara, and her younger brother, James (the girl's uncle), who are suddenly forced to rely on one another for comfort and support when Joleen temporarily bows out of the picture.
When her boyfriend is arrested for growing marijuana, Jolene (Carlize Theron) and Tara (AnnaSophia Robb) are forced to move in with James (Nick Stahl), a soft-spoken, good-hearted fellow in his 20s who is two months behind in his rent and who barely scrapes by on what he makes at his low-paying construction job. Soon, Joleen has split the scene, James has lost his job, and social services has taken Tara to live in a foster-care facility. So James and Tara decide to head out onto the open highway, stopping off at roadside diners and motels, and staying one step ahead of the authorities who are in pursuit of them.
"Sleepwalking" is one of those gritty, slice-of-life dramas that sympathetically and accurately depicts what life is like for the working poor. It is rife with authentic details and rich in small town atmosphere. Director William Mahr and cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchia really know how to extract the essence of a locale for mood and effect, making the bleak landscape and stark setting integral elements in the drama - an effect greatly enhanced by Christopher Young's rich and evocative acoustic-flavored score. Superb, naturalistic performances by the three lead actors make us truly care about the people they are portraying and the things that are happening to them.
"Sleepwalking" is not without its flaws, however. For one thing, the movie undercuts some of its carefully crafted verisimilitude with its casting of "name" actors in a few of the key secondary roles - primarily, Woody Harrelson as James' friend and work buddy, and an over-reaching Dennis Hopper as Joleen and James' abusive dad. These parts would have been more effective had they been played by less-familiar actors (though I do realize that, without such star power attached to the project, a movie like "Sleepwalking" might never have gotten made in the first place). More seriously, the otherwise excellent screenplay by Zac Stanford falls apart a bit in the final third, resorting to stereotyping and hokey melodrama when it most needs to stay true to its characters and their situations.
Still, despite the patness, "Sleepwalking" is a quietly powerful, richly atmospheric tale of a group of troubled but essentially decent people struggling, despite their all-too-human weaknesses, to make their way in the world.
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