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5 May 2006
My girlfriend and I stumbled upon this film. A huge storm suddenly came up as we were leaving dinner so we hit up the closest theater to wait it out. The reviews of the film were very good so we were pretty excited to see it.

In the same vein as Spellbound and another recent new flick, this film takes us into the highly competitive ground of spelling bees. In short, this is a heart warming tale of a young black girl that learns not to be afraid of herself. But it is more than that. It takes a look at the racial and monetary education divide. And at the stress parents place on their children to succeed. And at how most children view intelligence. And much more. In conclusion, the story finishes with the feel-good salvation of a family, neighborhood, school, older black man, young black woman, and a young Asian American male.

If, however, you are anything like me and care about film making and good films, you should stop for a second and read the rest of this. This is a horrible, horrible, horrible film. Do you remember The Postman? This is worse. This film is riding in the slipstream of Spellbound. Spellbound is great. This is a farce (yes, I realize the difference of one being a doc and other not being). The entire story, characters, acting, relationships, character development... everything about this film had me lowering my head in shame at several points in the film. This film's target audience are young adolescent children. It doesn't contain anything interesting for anyone over 14 years of age. No joke. From the scene where she comes across a spelling bee on t.v., to her motivation of her dead father (which she continues to address several times in the film), to her horrible horrible exchanges with her brother, to the horrible and extremely weak character that is her mother(insert any of the other characters in the movie here), to the conflict for her teacher consisting of his dead niece... and the conflict between her and the "lead" student that ends in a very cotton candy way (it wasn't an interesting or particularly powerful conflict to begin with...)...

The focus of the film is racial. That the girl is black and comes from a poor neighborhood is its starting premise and what the whole film relies on. That what it uses to try to distinguish itself from the other films. And that's what has people all excited about it. That's primarily the heart and soul of the movie. And that's a very weak basis to build a movie on. Why create something lesser about a subject when greatness in the area has already been accomplished? Are we talking about art or are we talking about making money? And that's my point. This film, primarily, is truly about making money. Its formula film making at its worst.
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Mirrormask (2005)
Leaves much to be desired
17 October 2005
I'm trying to understand what people liked about MirrorMask. I am an avid film viewer and hobbyist film maker. As I was telling friends during my lunch hour, MirrorMask may well be my biggest movie disappointment of the year. Just like the short Moongirl, the film missed its marks. Several times during the movie it made attempts at humor. It sets you up for the laugh. Instead of making you laugh, it leaves you feeling empty. The jokes reminded one of the recent Star Wars films. They weren't funny unless you were five. And the acting felt similarly terrible. I've seen actors actually act in front of a blue screen. And I've believed it. But not in this film. Not for a second.

This film takes a formula and tries to apply it with pretty artwork… And though the script is totally workable and the special effects quite beautiful, it has no heart to it and fails miserably. I left the film shaking my head and considered leaving the theater. I felt hallow and miserable and still haven't gotten the sour taste out of my mouth from it. I love independent film. I encourage people to view independent films to support them. But not this film. This film shouldn't have been made. At least, not like this. Why did the director miss the marks so clearly? They were clearly setup… Not just the humor. But the emotions. The drama. Even the lines were poorly timed and delivered. It was like the film walked on three legs instead of four. Its steps are awkward and miss timed. And it could fall over with the slightest push… Don't see this film. I don't care who you are. It isn't worth your time.
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Moongirl (2005)
7 October 2005
I saw this before a screening of Strings at Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX. Sure, you can create neato animated characters. Sure, you can have a cute little storyline. Sure, you can make it. You can find and pay animators to create it. But, this short has no heart... it just frankly doesn't work. The crowd didn't laugh, smile, clap... nothing... And my heart felt empty after watching it. On a different note, I liked Corpse Bride fairly well though not great. But Moongirl is a huge waste of time and money. It feels like a marketing ploy. Let's throw a bunch of cuteness at the audience. They'll love it. But you don't feel the love of the director or animators. Its totally flat.
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