My View: Race (2016) PG-13 Jesse Owens (Stephan James) is the fastest man on the planet and earns a place on the U.S. Olympic team. He now has to decide if he should compete in Adolf Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympic Games or should he stay home to protest Hitler’s treatment of minorities in Germany. I enjoyed this feel good movie about a remarkable athlete and, even more, an exceptional man. James fills the shoes of Owens with a quiet resolve and charisma that shines on the screen. Jason Sudeikis is phenomenal as Owens College coach who has to adapt his “my way or the highway” approach to much more of a mentor relationship to keep Owens on track. I especially liked the scenes in Germany, as I felt the film did an excellent job in portraying the pageantry and the excitement of those Olympic games. This is a film worth watching about a man who did the impossible and made it seem easy, under some of the direst and conflicting circumstances. My Rating: Full Price Race Website
My View: Risen (2016) PG-13 Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), an influential Roman Military Tribune, and his aide, Lucius (Tom Felton), are asked to solve the mystery of what happened to the body of Jesus after he was crucified. Rumors are racing that Jesus has risen as the Messiah, and a revolution is about to happen. I liked Risen for two reasons: it tells the resurrection of Christ from a different perspective as we are presented what it was like for the Roman side of the event, and it doesn’t hit you over the head with the religious angle. As the story progresses, Clavius is continually confronted with things he cannot easily explain away. By the time the movie ends, he may not be a believer in Jesus as the Messiah, but he is convinced that Jesus and his followers believe in what they preach. A lot of the faith-based films are cast with what looks to be the local Baptist church repertory players, but this movie has an excellent cast with Fiennes, Felton and especially Peter Firth, who plays Pontus Pilate, and Stewart Scudamore, who plays the apostle Peter. I liked this film and the way it presented this often told story of Jesus. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Risen Facebook Page
Indiefest: Touched with Fire (2016) R Two manic depressives (Katie Holmes, Luke Kirby) meet in a psychiatric hospital. Who knew that love would bloom from such an unexpected place? Writer/director Paul Dalio brings us an unusual love story based on his real-life experiences that give us a realistic insight into the world of the manic personality and how it not only impacts lives but loved ones as well. The two leads, especially Holmes, are impressive in their ability to convey such deep emotions and meaning through their many mood swings, some of which are painful to watch. Kirby and Holmes play off each other well, with Holmes’ character more reserved and moodier than the always talkative Marco whom Kirby portrays. While the supporting casts are acceptable in their performances, I did find that their characters were a little shallow, which made it too easy for producers to use the characters as pawns to progress the story. Though not a perfect movie, “Touched with Fire” feels real, giving us insight into a world of mental illness that we rarely get to explore to this extent. My Rating: Full Price Touched with Fire Website
Indiefest: The Witch (2015) R In 17th century New England, a Puritan family lives alone on the edge of a thick, dark forest. Their newborn son disappears, crops start dying, and the chickens quit laying eggs. All signs point to witchcraft. Could their oldest daughter be the witch? While I did not find this film very scary, I did find it creepy, and the film did give me nightmares. The tension builds from almost the opening shot and just keeps growing until the very end of the movie. The film impressively gives you what it was like in 1630s Puritan New England, where witches and the devil were always thought to be just on the other side of the forest, and it explores how quickly paranoia and fearfulness can spread in a situation that is isolated. This is a spooky and eerie film that proves what can’t be seen can be much more horrific than what you see with your own eyes. This is a film that will haunt your dreams for a long time. My Rating: Full Price The Witch Website
Indiefest: Son of Saul (2015) R Saul (Geza Rohrig) is a prisoner in the Auschwitz death camp. He is forced to burn the corpses of his own people. One day he finds a young boy who has survived the gas chamber. Could this be his son? This is a tough film to watch as it pulls no punches to show just how hard and horrific life was in Auschwitz. The film does a fantastic job of keeping most of the ugliest of pictures out of our line of sight, either by keeping the background out of focus or keeping our attention on the face of Saul when bad things happen. The camera centers on Saul throughout the film as we spend time with him when he attempts to find a Rabbi who is willing to do a funeral for his son and then Saul’s quest to find anywhere to bury his son while the camp has ramped up killings due to the impending Russian army. Rohrig gives a gripping and convincing performance as the father who is determined to bury his son in a proper grave. It’s a compelling, impressive film that will stay with you long after its final scene plays out, worthy of not only the Foreign Language Film Oscar that it will probably win, but a Best Picture nomination that it should have received. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again Son of Saul Facebook Page
Indiefest: A War (2015) R Company Commander Clause Pedersen (Pilou Asbaek) is trying to keep his troops alive while patrolling the Afghan province. His wife, Maria (Tuva Novotny), is back in Denmark trying to keep everything normal for their two children. Clause is about to make a command decision that he will have to live with for the rest of his life. This is a film about the horrors of modern warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq, where you can’t tell the good civilians from the bad ones, and where an attack can come in quick and hard. It also has a fact that modern warfare has become where some want to hold soldiers accountable for actions that they make in a moment’s notice under fire. This film explores the modern life of a soldier and his family, where they stay in contact through Skype, and paints a sympatric portrait of the company commander as he goes through his job trying to get his men to perform in the field while still getting everybody home. The film asks a number of questions about modern warfare, that, to its credit lets the audience figure out their own answers to those questions. While not hitting hard on as many topics as you want it to, A War goes a long way toward showing us life in the modern army of today with all its many challenges. My Rating: Full Price A War Facebook Page
Forgotten Film: Prince of the City (1981) R New York City cop Daniel (Treat Williams) is in over his head. He has been doing some illegal things as a cop and is now being questioned by internal affairs. To get a plea deal, he agrees to give information as long as he doesn’t have to name names. This is a gritty tale about how someone can get themselves into situations where there will be no happy ending. Williams is as brilliant in the role as he is on-camera throughout the film. His is a convincing performance where, on one hand, we don’t like Daniel, and then suddenly we feel for the guy and want him to win, though we know there will be no winners in this film. My Rating: Full Price Prince of the City Info
Weird Credits: From the credits of Risen: Drapes Assistant
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) I have no idea what this film is about other than it happens after the 2008 film Cloverfield. The trailer with John Goodman hanging out in a fallout bunker with Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. is fascinating. 10 Cloverfield Lane Website
Until Next Time!
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