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5/10
Normal teenage girls in the Midwest? Let's hope not...
7 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Artfully mixing the video medium with feature film, "Stay the Same, Never Change" tests the boundaries of what the viewer thinks they know about film and as such, is listed in the New Frontiers category of films at Sundance. "Stay the Same, Never Change" follows the lives of several teenage girls in the Midwest and shows their propensity for self-absorbedly putting themselves in precarious, unsafe situations. Watching this film was a long, uncomfortable ride, much like the teenage years. In speaking with the Director, Laurel Nakadate, after the film, she indicated that her goal in making the film was to make the viewer feel uncomfortable in watching these girls, the decisions that they make and the levels of self-absorption apparent in the lives of teenage girls, not just those in the Midwest. The music in this film is excellent and helps provide some framework and feeling for the disjointed scenes.
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Amreeka (2009)
8/10
Hard Choices...
7 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This story follows a Middle-Eastern woman as she struggles living in an military-occupied West Bank. When she receives notice that she has been chosen in a lottery for a U.S. Green Card, she has to make the decision whether or not to uproot herself and her son for greener pastures. After making the decision to go, leaving her mother and brother behind, she realizes that life in Amreeka (America) is not all that she had dreamed it would be. Facing prejudice everywhere she turns, she makes other hard choices in trying to support her family...the son she brought to America with her and the relatives that she is staying with in the Midwest who are facing prejudice and struggling to make ends meet. In the end, this film reminds the viewer of the importance of family and the sacrifices we make for those we love.
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9/10
Isn't it romantic?
7 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Arlen Faber's life is decidedly unromantic despite his fame and fortune. The person who "changed the face of spirituality for a generation" doesn't have a clue about God or how to connect with Him. Arlen is crawling physically in the movie because of a back injury, but he is also crawling spiritually...and for that matter, emotionally and relationally. The nuggets of truth that I gleaned from this film are as follows: the more we claim to have God figured out, the farther we are from the truth; sometimes we find God in the face of other people; and, God can work through broken people to touch other broken people. After all, aren't we all crawling toward the Truth in one way or another?
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Paper Heart (2009)
8/10
a Sundance fave...
7 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Does love exist? This charming film's goal is to find out. "Chuck" professes to not believe in love but after the first few minutes of the film, the viewer starts to get the idea that perhaps she just hasn't found the "right one". She sets out to film a documentary about love and interviews those who have found it, those who have lost it and those who haven't quite gotten there yet. And then, Michael (Cera) comes into the picture, and Chuck starts to drop the veil she's kept over her heart. At some points moving and other points laugh-out-loud funny, the viewer finds herself cheering these two on and hoping they find love.
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Taking Chance (2009 TV Movie)
10/10
a profoundly moving story...
7 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
As a person who has lost someone in the war, this picture was especially meaningful to me. My cousin was also killed in the line of duty in the spring of 2004. Because I could relate so personally to the story, the events portrayed somehow comforted me and gave me peace knowing that my cousin has also been treated respectfully and carefully, even after his death. My other appreciation for the story came from how non-political this film was. Except for one comment that the driver of the taxi made to the Colonel, the film was completely void of political statements of any kind. It was refreshing to be caught up in the story without being bombarded with political propaganda.
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Adam (I) (2009)
8/10
simply charming...
7 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is your typical love story but with a decidedly interesting twist. Adam and Rose meet and start to fall in love, working through normal relationship struggles but some of their struggles are magnified because of Adam having Asperger's Syndrome. When they reach a breaking point, Rose receives some poignant advice from her mother that succinctly sums up the theme of the film and reverberates into the viewer's life as well. "To feel love is important, but to love, my dear, that is essential." This was one of my favorite Sundance films this year, and I was excited to hear that it was picked up by Fox Searchlight. Look for it in a theater near you; you won't be disappointed!
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Precious (II) (2009)
9/10
Powerful, heartbreaking film...
7 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"The longest journey begins with a single step". This Lao-tzu quote seems to provide the framework for the theme of this Sundance Grand Jury prize and Audience Award winning film about a young woman in an impossible situation and her determination to push through it all, breaking free from the stereotypes that plague her, the past that haunts her and her mother's abusive control over her. Only two of the 18 feature-length films that I viewed at Sundance received a standing ovation, and this was one of them. With a breakout, award-winning performance by Mo'Nique and an outstanding performance by newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, this film is a must-see.
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