Note to readers: I currently am not willing to risk my health (I’m 62 and an asthmatic) by visiting a theatre. All films that I have seen for review have been screened in my home. I am not going to tell you whether or not to attend a theatre. Just be aware of the risks, do your research, and please, if you do, follow all the safety procedures to the letter.
Indiefest: All In: The Fight for Democracy (2020) PG-13 The documentary takes a look at the history and current activism against voter suppression in this country, putting a spotlight on a threat to the fundamental rights of citizens of the United States. This is a must-watch film about what we all take for granted, the right to vote, and how, if you look at America's history, just how hard that right is to achieve. The film does a superlative job of giving us an insight into how fragile the idea of voting by everyone is. The film centers on Stacy Abrams, who ran a hard-fought race for Georgia's governorship, losing by an incredibly narrow margin, even though the odds had been stacked against her. All In is a film that will piss you off at all the injustices which have occurred to keep the status quo in power and how important your vote and voice are in a world determined to stack the deck against democracy. My Rating: Full Price All In: The Fight for Democracy Website Currently in select theatres and available on the Amazon platform starting Sept. 18th.
Indiefest: Rent-a-Pal (2020) Set in 1990, David (Brian Landis Folkins) is a lonely bachelor who is stuck caring for his aging mother (Kathleen Brady). While seeking a partner through a dating service, he discovers a VHS tape call Rent-A-Pal. Hosted by Andy (Wil Wheaton), the service seems to fit David’s needs for company and friendship until David realizes that Andy’s friendship comes at a price, a price that David might not be able to afford. Rent-A-Pal is a strange, creepy film that takes a few steps in the right direction but ultimately falls apart by the third act. Some of the film is interesting as David slowly becomes under the spell of the idea that the only person in the world that understands him is on a pre-recorded videotape. I never felt fully engaged with the film, though at times I did enjoy the performance of Brian Landis Folkins, a sort of sad-sack everyman who can’t seem to get a break. The film’s final third doesn’t work as it becomes an attempt to become a horror film. The ending feels forced and predictable, taking away some of the enjoyment that I had during the film's early portions. My Rating: Cable Rent-A-Pal Website The film is available in select theatres and available for rent on participating on-demand services.
Indiefest: Red White & Wasted (2019) The film follows a family as Florida’s redneck culture is threatened as Orlando's last mud-hole is being shut down. This documentary follows a divorced dad, Matthew, who is raising two teenage daughters as he laments his glory days as a video hound who documented the pastime of mudding (big trucks running around in the mud). The film is a look into the world of the redneck, racist Trump supporters whose life revolves around guns, trucks, and the confederate flag. The film follows Matthew as he struggles to make a living finding metals for recycling, often going into trash containers behind warehouses and businesses. Matthew’s biggest concern seems to be not his older daughter that gets pregnant or his younger daughter, who has epilepsy but the fact that he can’t find a place in Orlando anymore to go mudding. I got tired of watching Matthew digging through trash while complaining about how Trump would get rid of all the ‘illegals’ that take jobs away from ‘us taxpayers.’ Red, White & Wasted is a depressing look at an ugly side of America, with no sign of ever changing. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Red, White & Wasted Website Available for rent on participating on-demand services
Indiefest: The Social Dilemma (2020) PG-13 Documentary on how a handful of tech designers control the way we think, act, and live. After watching this film, you may never look at your smartphone the same way again. A genuinely fascinating film about how Internet companies like Facebook and Twitter use data to custom your experience on the Internet, whether you want it or not. This is a film that has quite a bit of alarming information on just how influential these companies are, including the incredible rise of things like suicides by teens (especially girls) and how some of the platforms may have started as a way to reach out to people but have become increasingly a way that isolates us. The film is packed full of information, some of it jaw-dropping, but never seems dull or slow. Not everything works in this film, and I did not enjoy the attempt to create drama by having us follow a fictional family as they go down the Internet rabbit hole, concentrating on the teenage boy of the family who becomes obsessed with some things he finds on the Internet. The film does a great job explaining the science of the Internet, as told to us by some of the very people who worked for the companies that now fill up your online life. My Rating: Full Price The Social Dilemma Website The film is available on the Netflix platform.
Indiefest: Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President (2020) Documentary about how Jimmy Carter, a little known governor from the state of Georgia, used a tight bond with musicians to fund his campaign and give him a crucial boost in the Democratic primaries. No matter your political leaning, you have to admit that Jimmy Carter is a kind and spiritual man. Knowing of his vast history of humanitarian work, that didn’t surprise me. What blew me away was how cool Carter was and is when it comes to music. Carter’s love and appreciation for music came from his time in Southern churches during his childhood. The film does an incredible job letting us into Carter’s time as a governor of Georgia and his unexpected rise to become the President. Carter used his connections with Southern musicians, like Charlie Daniels or Greg Allman, to get people to his political rallies. The film gives us insight into just how close Carter was to musicians like Allman or Willie Nelson, and when some of them got into trouble that Carter would stand by them. The film is full of extraordinary archival footage of concerts and rallies and interviews with Dylan, Allman, and Nelson. One of my favorite parts throughout the film is when some of these great, iconic musicians read poems that Jimmy Carter has written, punctuating the man and his beliefs. Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President is the feel-good, joyful film we need during this time or heck, anytime. Rock on Jimmy! My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President Website In select theatres and available for rent on participating on-demand services.
Forgotten Film: Feeling Minnesota (1996) R Freddie (Cameron Diaz) is a former stripper who is forced to marry Sam (Vincent D’Onofrio) to pay off a gambling debt by a local drug kingpin named Red (Delroy Lindo). Things get complicated when Freddie meets Sam’s brother, Jjaks (Keanu Reeves), and they instantly fall in love with each other. Freddie and Jjaks go on the lam together, with Sam and Red hot on their heels. This is a fun and peculiar romantic comedy that has murder, shoot-outs, and a ton of twists and turns that keep this film moving at an almost breathtaking speed. The reason to see this film is just how good an actress Cameron Diaz was. There are very few actors who could pull off this role, making you fall in love with Freddie and hope that she and Jjaks somehow get out of the mess they have gotten themselves into. Feeling Minnesota is a blast to watch and has an awesome scene-stealing cameo by Dan Ackroyd that you have to see. My Rating: Full Price Feeling Minnesota Info
Weird Credits: From the credits of The Broken Hearts Gallery: Executive Producer Selena Gomez
Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: The Secrets We Keep (2020) R Maja (Noomi Rapace), after suffering horribly in Europe during World War II, has relocated to America and is living happily in the suburbs with her husband (Chris Messina). One afternoon Maja encounters a man she believes attacked her and her family during the war. On impulse, Maja kidnaps the man and seeks vengeance for the heinous war crimes she thinks he committed. I have been a big fan of Noomi Rapace since her groundbreaking role as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Swedish film series (so much better than the Hollywood version). I won’t miss this one. The Secrets We Keep Info