Through the wars of the past and the present to the wars that we battle in our own bodies, this year’s Academy Award nominees in the Documentary Short Film category all tackle remarkable subject matter that reflect the power and courage of the human spirit. They show that human connection and caring for one another is one of the greatest gifts we can give or receive. All these films center on the theme of hope. 4.1 Miles (director Daphne Matziraki, USA, 26 minutes) This documentary follows Kyriakos Papadopoulos, a captain in the Greek Coast Guard who is caught in the
Recently by Darcy Staniforth
The rundown on the five nominees for the documentary short subject category.
An uplifting and magical story of a little girl and her unlikely friend.
The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is based on the book by beloved children’s author Roald Dahl. It is the story of Sophie, who, after the death of her parents, is forced to live in a London orphanage. While the other orphans have no trouble sleeping, Sophie suffers from insomnia and spends her nights roaming the orphanage. One night while Sophie is awake and looking out onto the empty streets of London, she encounters the BFG at work. His job is to deliver dreams to people while they sleep. Since Sophie sees the BFG, he decides that he needs to take
This film not only deals with the themes of grief and loss but with the themes of recapturing youth and spontaneity.
A few months after his fiancé Rachel (Alison Brie) commits suicide on his birthday, Joshy (Thomas Middleditch) decides he still wants to go away with his friends for the weekend that was supposed to be his bachelor party. Not all of Joshy’s friends are as keen on the idea as he is, and many of the friends abandon the plans. Not wanting Joshy to be alone, Ari (Adam Pally), Adam (Alex Ross Perry), Eric (Nick Kroll), and Eric’s friend Greg (Brett Gelman), all decide to join Joshy out at the weekend house in Ojai. Once the group comes together, it
It will be interesting to see how it evolves and grows over the next few years.
Disclaimer: I’m a podcaster and a podcast fan. I was one fourth of the amazing team of the now-retired Scorebored. I have worked with a lot of the podcasters whose podcasts I listen to regularly. I listen to podcasts daily. I attend live podcast performances. I have attended the Los Angeles Podcast Festival four out of the five years it has been going. So I am writing this article as a member of the press, but also as a member the podcast community. Last weekend marked the inaugural Now Hear This Podcast Festival (NHT). The festival was held October 28th-30th
A hilarious movie that delivers laugh after laugh.
After a series of unfortunate events at important family events, Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave’s (Zac Efron) parents (Stephen Root and Stephanie Faracy), along with their sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) and her fiancé Eric (Sam Richardson), hold and intervention to convince Mike and Dave that they cannot attend Jeanie’s destination wedding, stag. The group gives the brother’s an ultimatum that they either bring dates to the wedding or stay home. And not only do they need to bring dates, but the dates need to be nice girls. Since Mike and Dave love their sister so much, they agree to
"I never even thought about actually taking part in one of his movies. It's your wildest dream, but even beyond your wildest dream." - Sarah Baker
In case you missed it, Christopher Guest has given the world a new movie, Mascots. I had the chance to sit down with two of the film’s stars, Susan Yeagley and Sarah Baker. The other day, I brought you my interview with Susan Yeagley. This is my interview with the amazingly talented, smart, and beautiful Sarah Baker. I loved Mascots. I am so excited about this film. It is so good. Oh good. I’m so glad. How did you get involved in Mascots? About a year ago David Ruben the casting director called. He and his associate Melissa Pryor were
Yeagley reveals what it was like joining the dinner party that is a Guest production.
It has been 10 years since Christopher Guest has treated the world to a film. It is not that Guest has been dormant. He has been busy with television and commercial work as a director, writer, and actor. But the wait is over as his new comedy, Mascots premieres on Thursday, October 13th in select theaters and on Netflix. Mascots follows the stories of different people who “mascot” as these individuals ready themselves to compete in the World Mascot Association’s annual competition known as the “Fluffies.” The chosen twenty who are asked to compete are all hoping to take home
From its humble beginning in a drug store in Northern California to its grim demise.
When I started buying music as a teen, The Wherehouse, Sam Goody, and Licorice Pizza could never compare to the joy of spending hours in a Tower Records looking for and listening to music. I had two Tower Records that I would frequent, the one in Costa Mesa near what was once Rock 'N' Java, and the Tustin Marketplace store. As an adult who spent and spends a lot of time in Los Angeles, the Tower on Sunset became a required stop during trips to Hollywood. Tower Records became a bastion of hope when after four days on the road
Maybe this show can make the audience care about it as much as some of Christine's clients care about her.
The Girlfriend Experience is a show about Christine Reade (Riley Keough), a law student and law intern in Chicago who finds out that one of her classmates Avery is an escort who provides the "Girlfriend Experience." An escort who provides the "Girlfriend Experience" also known as a "GFE" not only provides sex to her client, but also goes on dates, attends events, and provides the emotional support of an actual girlfriend. Intrigued by Avery's secret life, Christine gets involved and provides the GFE to clients while balancing law school and her internship at a high-profile Chicago law firm at the
How my favorite television show became my port in a storm.
Three years ago today, my family and friends gathered at my parent's house to celebrate the life of my father Alan Staniforth, who had died the month before. Two weeks ago today, Marc Maron's television show, Maron, aired its final episodes on IFC. If you are wondering how these two are related, I'm about to tell you. Two weeks ago, on Monday morning, I started my morning commute as I do every morning with Marc Maron and his WTF podcast. A few minutes into episode #723, Marc started talking about the Maron season 4 finale. Then he said it. He
While the unrated version had some extra scenes and funny moments, the theatrical version is tighter.
Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy) is an orphan, rejected by numerous families, who bucks the ideals of traditional family in order to become the celebrity tycoon of her own financial life-coaching empire. After she tells her former-lover-turned-arch-enemy Renault (Peter Dinklage) about her recent insider trading deal, he turns her into the FCC causing Darnell's assets to be frozen, her properties seized, and a prison sentence. After Darnell is released, she ends up on the doorstep of her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell), who lives in a small apartment with her young daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson). While Claire is in a hurry
What is Art? And if you are an artist, what do you sacrifice for your art?
Performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang use public disruption to create their art. Once they become parents they include their children "A" (for Annie) and "B" (for Baxter) in their antics as well. From pretending they are homeless street children who are jeered by adult onlookers to an elaborate bank-robbery stunt, art becomes the family pastime for all of the Fangs. Their performance art divides the art world but garners devoted fans along the way. Annie grows up to be a talented but troubled actress, and Baxter becomes a best-selling author who self-medicates. However both of them have moved far
A coffee table book about coffee and the stars who drink it.
Author Steven Rea has collected photos of over 200 Hollywood stars enjoying coffee in his book Hollywood Café: Coffee with the Stars. Rea has crafted a very funny and witty introduction to the book where he playfully mocks the modern-day hipster attitude of this timeless beverage. He discusses how he has chosen the photos for the book and the fact that he has done his due diligence in making sure to the best of his knowledge that the stars in the book are indeed enjoying coffee and not another beverage. Rea also explains how he has broken down the book
The film explores the Wegeners' relationship from married heteronormative couple to loving best friends as Einar transitions into Lilli.
The Danish Girl is a complex tale of love and identity. This film tells the story of landscape artist Einar Wegener, who after experiencing an “awakening” of gender identity while posing for a painting of his wife Gerda’s, gradually transforms into Lilli Elbe and becomes one of the first people to ever receive gender-correction surgery. This film explores the complex relationship between Einar, Gerda, and Lilli which occurred during an era when the idea of Transgender people did not exist and for Einar to become Lilli was a sure sign of mental illness to many. The film explores their complex
The run down on the five nominees for the documentary short subject category.
This year the Oscar-nominated short documentary films all address uncomfortable subject matter that most people don’t want to talk about. While each film tackles a different subject, themes of death, the forgotten, and the outsider are present in each one of these works. But these short subject documentaries are not all doom and gloom; hope, perseverance, and the triumph of the human will make their appearances as well. They nominees are: Body Team 12: . Directed by David Darg and produced by David Darg and Bryn Mooser, this film from Liberia is the shortest of all of the nominees in
A young medical resident's perfect life is turned upside down when she becomes a zombie.
The CW series iZombie is loosely based on the DC/Vertigo comic of the same name by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred. It follows Olivia “Liv” Moore, a young, beautiful, and brilliant medical resident who is engaged to the love of her life, Major, and whose successful life is all mapped out. One night she accepts an invitation to go to a party with her fellow residents where other party-goers take a new drug called “Utopium,” which turns them into ravenous flesh-eating zombies. Liv awakes the morning after the attack in a body bag on the shore and finds that she
Call Me Lucky Director Bobcat Goldthwait Talks about Barry Crimmins, the Loss of His Best Friend, and the State of Comedy Today
"This movie is just a weird combination of my love for Barry and the courageousness Barry has and the byproduct ended up being this thing that sometimes helps other people." - Bobcat Goldthwait
Call Me Lucky is Bobcat Goldthwait’s funny and powerful documentary about comedian, political satirist, and activist Barry Crimmins. The film not only documents Crimmins' life and career as a comedian and political force, but the horrific rapes that he experienced as a child. While the film does address dark subject matter, Goldthwait does not just hand over his audience into the darkness of sexual abuse. He paces the film perfectly by introducing us to Barry Crimmins and allowing us to get to know him, his family, his comedic talent, and his passion for fighting injustice. Goldthwait weaves together footage of
"It was just the most amazing atmosphere to creatively be in." - Alexander Skarsgard
The Diary of a Teenage Girl opened this past Friday in select theaters. It is the directorial debut for Marielle Heller and stars Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard, Kristen Wiig, and Christopher Meloni. The film is the story of Minnie, a young girl who is growing up in San Francisco during the late 1970s. While trying to figure out life and love, she begins a sexual relationship with her mother’s boyfriend Monroe. I wrote a review of this incredible film for the site. The character of Monroe is played by the talented and charming Alexander Skarsgard. Monroe is a complex character
The Diary of a Teenage Girl Movie Review: A Refreshing and Honest Look at Female Adolescence and Sexuality
A stunning debut for Marielle Heller as a director.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl is based on Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel of the same name. It tells story of Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley), a teenage girl growing up in 1976 San Francisco. She wants to be an artist and a cartoonist, but like most teenage girls also wants to be loved and wanted. After a night of drinking and flirting at a local bar, Minnie begins a sexual relationship with her mother Charlotte’s (Kristen Wiig) boyfriend Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard). What follows is an unflinching tale of female adolescence told through the eyes of a young girl who is
Nothing prepares one for the first time you see Jeff Goldblum as a LEGO mini-fig.
LEGO continues its video-game franchise with the new LEGO Jurassic World from Warner Brothers Games and TT Games. If gamers are a fan of the Jurassic Park franchise as well as the LEGO franchise, they will be a fan of this game. Even if gamers are not familiar with either franchise, it is a fun game. LEGO Jurassic World draws on moments from all four films in the Jurassic Park franchise and uses LEGO-fied cut-aways that make the player feel like they are watching the LEGO versions of the films. And nothing prepares one for the first time you see
The friends and family of Elliot Smith create a beautifully intimate film about his life and music.
I wanted to watch and review Heaven Adores You, the new documentary about Elliot Smith, because I am a huge Elliot Smith fan. Though I cannot claim to have discovered Smith’s music off of a mixtape out of the Portland music scene, my connection to his music is still a deeply personal one. I believe that such a personal connection is a common thread among Elliot Smith fans, regardless how or when they discovered his music. When I heard the news that Elliot Smith had died, I was riding shotgun in my manager’s car. We were on our way to
Two amazing Stray Cats concerts from 1981 and 1983 recorded live in Germany.
The American Rockabilly scene would not be what it is today without the influential music of the Stray Cats. Their rocking sound introduced a new generation to the sounds of the 1950s while helping change the 1980's music scene with their original sounds and songs. Stray Cats: Live at Rockpalast features two early Stray Cats concerts, both recorded in Germany in the early 1980s. The earlier concert footage is from Satrory-Sale Cologne on July 16th, 1981, and the later concert is from Open Air Loreley on August 20th,1983. This is the first time in over 30 years this concert footage
How historical fiction can counter the dominant narrative of history.
As a genre, historical fiction when adapted well for film or television, can teach people about important parts of history. These parts of history may be an expansion of what they have already learned or it may teach about stories from history that have been silenced. However, if the studio producing the adaptation strays too far away from the original manuscript, the important message being taught through the historical fiction can often be lost. Historical fiction is also a genre that when adapted for the screen can be either beneficial or detrimental to history. What effect it has depends on
A documentary that does not leave a lasting legacy for Ed Pincus.
From an early age most people are taught not to speak ill of the dead, but is it okay to speak ill of the work of the dead? One Cut, One Life is the final collaboration between filmmakers Ed Pincus and Lucia Small before Ed’s death in November 2013. Known for his documentary films Diaries, Black Natchez, and Life and Other Anxieties, he was also the co-author of The Filmmaker’s Handbook which almost every film student I know has read and used in both the classroom and the field. Pincus had left filmmaking behind and taken up wholesale flower farming
A film about how grief stalls our lives and how we can learn to get unstuck
Cake is the story of Claire Bennett (Jennifer Aniston), a woman living with chronic pain after a tragic accident. She is in the midst of a divorce from her husband Jason (Chris Messina), addicted to pain pills, and often suicidal. After Nina (Anna Kendrick), a member of her pain support group commits suicide, Claire begins to see her as a drug- and pain-induced hallucination. Although Claire and Nina were not close or involved with one another’s lives, Claire begins to learn what she can about Nina’s life and death. With the help of her housekeeper turned caretaker Silvana (Adriana Barraza),
"I fought for rehearsal time with these two and it brought such huge dividends."
Cas & Dylan is a film about two people at the opposite ends of life who are thrown together on a cross-country adventure. Dr. Cas Pepper (Richard Dreyfuss) and Dylan Morgan (Tatiana Maslany) meet in a hospital where Cas works and Dylan is observing patients. After Cas learns he has a malignant brain tumor, he decides to drive from Winnipeg to Vancouver to end his life. As Cas is trying to leave to begin his final journey, Dylan convinces him to give her a ride home and a series of unfortunate events sends them off on Cas’s final journey together.
A simple man asking simple questions with complex answers that he cannot understand.
What happens when a simple man asks simple questions that require complex answers that he cannot understand? This is what Errol Morris explores in his 1999 documentary Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. During his childhood, Leuchter’s father worked in the Massachusetts correctional system as a transportation supervisor. Leuchter, Jr. would often go to work with his father and grew up seeing the humanity of the prisoners his father worked with and not just their criminality. He learned illegal skills from them like lock-picking and safe-cracking as well as other things he said helped him
Denny Tedesco's loving tribute to his father and the talented musicians who made up The Wrecking Crew.
A few months back Marc Maron released an episode of his podcast, WTF, where he sat down with Denny Tedesco to talk about his project The Wrecking Crew. I listened to him talk to Maron about this documentary and I was intrigued and excited to see this film when it came out. I am happy to say I was not let down. The Wrecking Crew is not just a film about the group of ultra-talented musicians whose work you have heard over and over on some the biggest albums of all time, but it is Denny’s loving tribute to his
Bruce Sinofsky has passed away at 58, but the work he did for the West Memphis Three lives on.
Part of the reason I tend to review a lot of documentaries for Cinema Sentries because I know, on a personal level, how the work of documentary filmmakers can change your life. The film community has lost one of its greats as I found out yesterday when Bruce Sinofsky died at the age of 58 from complications related to diabetes. I cannot say that I knew Bruce Sinofsky well, but his worked changed my life. I only met Bruce once, and it was at the West Memphis Three benefit I put together at the Melrose Improv back in 2004. Both
The run down on the five nominees for the documentary short subject category.
This year's nominated short-subject documentaries include two films from Poland, two films from the United States, and one film from Mexico. Although they all focus on different subject matter, all five focus on aspects of the human journey. The other tie that binds the nominees together is that these are the first Academy Award-nominations for all the filmmakers and producers in this category. The first film out of Poland is "Joanna," which is the story of a young mother dying from cancer. As she faces her illness, she also writes a blog and letters to her young son Johnny in
The story of Clark Wang and his journey to have a green burial.
“Honor the dead, heal the living, and invite in the divine.” These are the words of Joe Sehee, founder and program officer for the Green Burial Council. Sehee is one of the people the audience meets in the story of doctor, musician, and folk dancer Clark Wang and his journey to have a green burial in the documentary, A Will for the Woods. I requested to review this documentary not only because it looked interesting, but also for personal reasons. Since my father passed in 2013, I have looked for ways to help those who are entering the end of
Twins are reunited after ten years of estrangement and begin down a road that changes them both forever.
The Skeleton Twins stars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as twin siblings, Milo and Maggie, who have not spoken to one another in 10 years. The two are reunited after Milo attempts suicide and the phone call from the hospital interrupts Maggie's own attempt. She flies from New York to Los Angeles to be by his bedside, but he asks her to return home and tries to downplay the attempt. Sensing that Milo is not being honest with himself or with her, Maggie stays and convinces him to come to New York to stay with her and her husband Lance
I talk with Missy Suicide of SuicideGirls.com to talk about the SuicideGirls Blackheart Burlesque show.
On a rainy afternoon here in Southern California, I had a chance to talk to Missy Suicide, founder of SuicideGirls.com. SuicideGirls is the online community that was started over thirteen years ago as a way to celebrate alternative forms of beauty while embracing pin-up aesthetics. The interview is an easy conversation as we chat about the current SuicideGirls Blackheart Burlesque tour. I tell Missy I am excited to hear about the SG burlesque show since I hosted a burlesque show for two years. Missy’s sweet and supportive response makes it easy to understand why so many women have trusted her
Planes: Fire & Rescue may be a spin-off from Cars but it lacks the Pixar magic.
Planes: Fire & Rescue is the second of three movies planned for the Planes trilogy which is a spin-off from Pixar's Cars. After becoming a success on the racing circuit, Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) is getting ready for his biggest race to date. During a flight, his gear box gives out and he is told that it cannot be replaced. Not understanding his own limits, Dusty ends up causing damage to a local business and gets pushed in the world of Aerial Firefighting where he learns that being a real hero means checking your ego at the door.
What we project onto our relationships can become a reality.
Films about couples on the brink of losing their relationship are nothing new. We go to the theater to see if they will make it out alive and stay together because we hope in turn our own relationships will make it out alive. But if you are looking for a film to reinvigorate your relationship with your signifigant other, The One I Love is not that film. The One I Love starts as a film about Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elizabeth Moss), a couple trying to save what is left of their marriage after Ethan has an affair. Their
The story of entertainment manager, Shep Gordon, who does business a little differently.
Most stories you hear about managers in the entertainment business are tales of cutthroat men and women who only care about money. The people they represent are only a means to that money, and if it isn’t about money, they aren’t interested. But Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon is not such a story. Director Mike Myers (yes, that Mike Myers) documents the life of this accidental Hollywood insider whose career as a manager was based on compassion and not greed. Through historical footage, interviews with Shep’s clients (who he considers family), and fun reenactments, Myers has put together an
Although this could be thought of as a series for boys, it is just as accessible to girls as well.
LEGO has brought back Ninjago for a third season to the Cartoon Network. It begins with the Ninjas as teachers in a school outside of New Ninjago City. Since they belive they have defeated the Overlord, their powers are not needed, and Lloyd, the Golden Ninja, is off receiving awards and accolades all around the world. So while the rest of the Ninjas (Zane, Kai, Jay, and Cole) are helping shape the minds of the youth, they are also bored out of their minds because they aren't getting to be Ninjas. Nya is teaching with them and still falling for
Two guys, one bus, and the road trip they never expected to take.
The term, "circle the wagons" come from the period of pioneer expansion in America. If one wagon in a wagon train was in distress, the other wagons would form a circle around to protect them from attacks. This type of helpful community is the idea behind the documentary, Circle the Wagen. In Circle the Wagen, Dave Torstenson fullfills his long held dream to purchase a Volkswagen bus and to hit the road with it. The dream sounds simple enough, except Dave doesn't know the first thing about cars. The bus, a 1972 Deluxe Transporter named "The Croc," Dave purchases from
It is important to focus on his life and the whole picture of who he was, not how he died.
“Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you” - Preacher Roe That quote is what has been running through my head as I write this piece. I first read it when I was reading about Spalding Gray after he took his life in 2004. I thought about that same quote a lot when my friend Andrew took his life in 2010. And I am thinking about it now as I am still reeling from the news about Robin Williams' suicide. I read headline after headline hoping that each one would be followed by the news that it
A&E's new show about Area 51 Tattoo and its artists who specialize in all things nerd, geek, and pop culture.
Tattoos and tattoo parlors have not always been part of mainstream American culture; however, the times have changed and more now than ever, people are making the choice to get permanent artwork put on their body. Once a person decides to take that step, it is always good to research your artist before you let them go to town on your skin. By no means should every tattoo artist be doing every type of tattoo. To add to that, not every tattoo artist specializes in specific subject matter. This in where the artists on A&E's new show Epic Ink come
Jeremy Seifert informs but also manipulates in this documentary
Filmmaker Jeremy Seifert has returned to teach the world about food again, but this time he is not talking about dumpster diving. (Dive! 2010) This time Seifert is taking us on his journey as he learns about GMOs in his new documentary GMO OMG. Like his previous film, Seifert has a lot of good investigative and eye-opening information in this documentary. He and his team travel the within America, Haiti, France, and Norway to discover what GMOs really are and what damage these products are to the Earth and to its population. Seifert visits a well-rounded group of people on
I tell you who did it better.
When I get a movie to review, I really try not to compare it with other films that cover the same subject matter. However I find it impossible not to review A Brony Tale without discussing the film Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony. (For the most part, I will refer to this movie as just Bronies.) I have now seen both of these documentaries and the similarities are hard to ignore. It was as if a professor assigned the topic of Bronies to a filmmaking class and each doc had to include the same sub-topics
The fun-loving duo who rose to fame on The Ellen DeGeneres Show start in their first movie!
If you've watched Ellen, you have more than likely seen these YouTube sensations who have become tiny stars. (If you haven't, they are cute, funny, and talented, so you should probably watch some of their videos.) These two adorable Brits have won the hearts of people all around the country and they have just starred in their first film. In Sophia Grace & Rosie's Royal Adventure, the two princess-loving girls are sent by the Ellen show to Switzelvania to be correspondents for the crowning of the country's new queen. On the way, a series of missteps separates them from their
A repackaging of old DVDs complete with all the old material!
Author Nicholas Sparks writes tales of love and loss. The movies that have been generated out of his books can be summed up as a story where two people fall in love against all odds then somebody dies. Although his films are formulaic, I thought perhaps the Nicholas Sparks Limited Edition DVD Collection might take the formulaic feeling out of his films and become a sweeping collection of love and loss that keeps its audience emotionally involved at every turn. It does not. This "Limited Edition" collection of movies is just a repackaging of seven films based on Sparks novels.
From Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon comes the best horror movie spoof in a long time
I'm biased. I'm a comedy nerd. I loved and still do love The State and Reno 911. I think that Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon are two of the best comedians and comedic writers out there. These two know what they are doing. Hell Baby is no exception. This movie is the co-directing debut for the pair. Hell Baby is a movie about Jack (Rob Corddry) and Vanessa (Leslie Bibb), an expectant couple who move into a dilapidated house in post-Katrina New Orleans. One they start to settle in, unsettling events start taking place. Their neighbor F'resnel (Keegan-Michael Key)
The Rifftrax crew once again helps Santa Claus conquer the Martians
If you are not familiar with Fathom Events, the company does one-night-only events of films, operas, and other special events that give audiences a wider access to things they may not be able to see on television or the big screen. They also give audiences a chance to participate in one-night only events that may be far away from them. This was the case with the Rifftrax crew taking on the short Santa Claus and the Fairy Snow Queen and the feature Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. This event was broadcast to almost 600 theaters across the country while formers
Skip Loberace and just watch Liberace.
Oh, Ceelo. I had such high hopes when your disc arrived in the mail. I am a fan of the Goodie Mob, Gnarls Barkley, and your zany ways on The Voice. (Your assortment of different pets is just amazing). I don't know if something was lost in translation from the Las Vegas stage to the screen in my living room, but this show just fell flat. While I appreciate an homage to Liberace, or Lee as many of his fans refer to him, your choice of songs and acts felt like a rehash of old Vegas acts for an audience
It gave me a chance to laugh all over again at the jokes I found so funny the first time.
New Girl is one of the best shows on television today. To just refer to it as sitcom is to sell the show short of its sheer greatness. Part of what makes this show so great is its rewatchability in reruns and on DVD. It was a ton of fun to get to review this new 3-DVD set. The complete second season has been released by 20th Century Fox and it gave me a chance to laugh all over again at the jokes I found so funny the first time. It also gave me a chance to catch the jokes
A new volume of episodes that has its hits and misses.
I love Family Guy and watch both the new episodes as well as those in syndication. However Volume Eleven of this series started off on way too dark a note for me. Now I know some of you are out there saying, "But Miss Darcy, that's what so great about Family Guy. It's a darkly funny show. There are supposed to be dark moments." And while I agree with that, I want the funny along with the dark, not just the dark. The first episode on Disc One started off the new volume as I expected but both "Seahorse
A reluctant son's story about his father whose life was eclipsed by a legend.
My Father and the Man in Black is the beautifully moving documentary by Jonathan Holiff about his father Saul Holiff. Saul was not just Jonathan's father, but also Johnny Cash's manager and friend for many years. Jonathan grew up with the idea that Saul had not wanted to be a father and that he had chosen Cash over him, his brother Joshua, and his mother Barbara. In Jonathan's later life, he followed in his father's show-business footsteps by becoming a talent agent to some of Hollywood's most well-known names. For most of his adult life and up until Saul's death,
A documentary about one of the greatest living artists today.
Where to begin writing about this documentary is like asking where to begin when you look at one of Robert Williams' paintings. The answer to both of those questions is that you can start in a lot of places. If you don't know what I am referencing, open a new tab, google "Robert Williams", and then come back to this review. Or if you own a copy of Guns 'N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction, go and get it and look at the artwork on the inside cover. The painting that the record company had to move from the original
A documentary about the lives of American escorts.
American Courtesans is a documentary by Kristen DiAngelo and James Johnson about the world of women who work as escorts in America. This documentary chronicles the lives of eleven women who have been or currently are working in the adult sex industry as escorts. The film fell flat for me, but not because of the women or their stories. American Courtesans had a hard time holding my attention because it was mostly a "talking heads" doc without any extra narrative to help direct the stories, struggle, and triumphs of these women. Diangelo and Johnson could have done more with this
I'm sure a pitch meeting happened where somebody said, "It's a film about an unlikely friendship that forms between two men who are forced to travel together."
I will start this review by stating that I am a huge Hank Williams Sr. fan and I like old-school country music. So please know these two facts as you read on. The film, The Last Ride, is the partly truthful story of Hank Williams Sr.'s last trip before he died on January 1, 1953. The film stars Henry Thomas as Hank Williams, although in the film, that is only alluded to. For the entire picture no one speaks the name of Hank Williams and he is only referred to as Mr. Wells, one of a few aliases that Williams
A beautiful film about loss and rediscovering life and love.
Yossi is the beautiful sequel to Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox’s 2002 film, Yossi & Jagger. The films is set 10 years after the first and looks to find out what has happened to Yossi (Ohad Knoller) after the death of his lover Lior. Yossi has become a cardiologist and uses his work as a way to escape from his life and truly dealing with tragedy. As a closeted gay man, he spends most nights at home cruising dating sites and eating leftovers. Moti (Lior Ashkenazi), a fellow doctor and recent divorcee, tries to pull Yossi into a world of loose
A beautifully shot film that is too slow for its exciting subject matter.
I was excited to check out this movie because I liked the soundtrack so much and I love Gerard Butler. Unfortunately, I ended up watching a beautifully shot film that is too slow for its exciting subject matter and that left me knowing what was coming next. This movie is based on the real life of Jay Moriarity and his mentor Frosty. It stars Jonny Weston, Gerard Butler, and Elizabeth Shue. The "Mavericks" are the waves that break off the shore near Half Moon Bay in Northern California. Jay (Weston) is the child of a single, alcoholic mother (Shue) who
John Hawkes plays Mark O'Brien so well that you forget you are not actually watching a disabled actor on the screen.
The Sessions is based on the true-life experiences of poet and journalist Mark O'Brien, who has spent most of his life in an iron lung due to the crippling effects of contracting polio at age six. Although his body failed him in several ways, his mind and spirit remained intact. At the age of 38, while writing some articles about the disabled and sexuality, O'Brien (John Hawkes) embarks on a quest to lose his virginity. With the support of his priest Father Brendan (William H. Macy), he finds Cheryl Cohen Greene (Helen Hunt) a sex surrogate who agrees to embark
A documentary that shows how theater can help heal the pains of war.
The war in Northern Uganda has been getting a lot of attention in the media as of late. It probably should have gotten a lot more attention sooner than it did. It is one of the greatest emergencies the world has ever faced, yet until recently, very little had been done to bring Joseph Kony to justice. Through orgaizations like "Invisible Children" and films like Machine Gun Preacher, this crisis has been brought to the attention of more and more people here is the United States. The documentary, After Kony: Staging Hope, follows Melissa Fitzgerald and members of her theater
A documentary that should have gotten its own TV series.
This documentary follows three friends, Mark Dixon and husband and wife, Ben and Julie Evans, who decide to go on a year-long ecological road trip. Their goal is to discover the people, places, and organizations that are working to make America and the rest of the world more environmentally friendly. They travel in a hybrid car and also decide to see how little trash that can accumulate and how little of a footprint they themselves can leave over the year. They do track down and find many cool environmental companies and people looking to save the planet. From people who
A book about the ladies we love to watch just misses the mark.
Lately I just keep on reviewing books around here. What can I say, I love to read about the films I love to watch. I also love to read about the people both in front of the camera and behind it. So as a person who performs stand-up and improv comedy myself, I was excited to be offered this book; however, by the end of it, I was a bit disappointed. Comediennes: Laugh Be A Lady is written by husband and wife Darryl and Tuezdae Littleton. Darryl is a stand-up comedian himself as well as a comedy writer and producer.
"As a director, [Smith] speaks to the issues that interest me in a way that interests me."
In 1997, Chasing Amy, the third film from writer-director Kevin Smith hit theaters. I had seen his first film Clerks and liked it, but Chasing Amy was different. It was a film that addressed how it felt to be a Gen X-er in the dating world. It showed us that the rules in dating were not so cut and dry anymore. Chasing Amy was a film that felt both very personal and very universal at the same time. It got me even more excited about film and made me a life-long fan of Kevin Smith. Across the country on the
Let's talk some movie music!
Chasing Mavericks is the true story of surfing star and legend Jay Moriarty. At 15 years old, he discovers the surf break known as the Mavericks. These legendary giant waves are just miles from Jay's home in Santa Cruz. Young Jay looks for help and in turn enlists legend Frosty Hesson to teach him how to navigate the these monsters. So that's the movie. Now let's talk about the music from the movie. The film is set in the mid 1990s when Jay was a teenager so the first eight cuts off of the soundtrack are great songs from seminal
David Markey's film about one of L.A.'s most seminal punk bands.
If you know anything about punk rock, you know the Circle Jerks. They were one of L.A.'s most seminal and influential punks bands. Initially comprised of former members of Red Kross and Black Flag, this band helped define the sound the the L.A. punk scene. The Circle Jerks story is a winding and complex one that involves revolving members, addiction, and infighting. Debbie Gibson even shows up at one point, no joke. But would you expect anything less from original punks? I wouldn't. David Markey has put together interviews with members of the band, other seminal punks stars, and some
"In the face of injustice, no one is safe."
On July 16th, 1997, Marijoy and Jackie Chiong went missing on their native island of Cebu in the Phillipines. Shortly after, seven young men who would become known as the Chiong Seven are rounded up by Phillipine police. One of those men is Francisco Larranaga, also known as Paco, who was over 300 miles away on the island of Manila at the time of the Chiong daughters disappearance. Paco had been in culinary school all day and then later went out with and was surrounded by friends and classmates. What seems like a clear-cut case of a young man's innocence
Warner Archive unleashes these mischievous animals from 1980.
The Heathcliff and Dingbat Show came from the brilliant cartoon minds of Hanna-Barbera in 1980. This complete collection released by Warner Archive is 13 episodes long and broken into two discs. Each episode of the show is broken down into the four shorts that make up the full half-hour. Within each episode there are two Heathcliff and two Dingbat and the Creeps cartoons. Heathcliff is a fast-talking alley cat, who is always getting into mischief and running from the authorities or battling his nemesis, a bulldog named Spike. Heathcliff also has a lovely girlfriend named Sonja who keeps him occupied
A film I am glad I didn't save my virginity for.
About Cherry is a film about Angelina (Ashley HinShaw) a pretty girl who likes boys in bands and comes from a broken home. Her mother, Phyllis, (Lili Taylor) is an alcoholic who spends most days lying on the couch drunk while her creepy boyfriend comes and goes as he pleases. Angelina tries to care for her sister JoJo (Maya Donato) when she is not working at the laundrymat or going to school. One night after Andrew (Dev Patel) drops her off to see her boyfriend Bobby's (Jonny Weston) band, Bobby talks to Angelina about taking some pictures. He tells her
Worth a watch, but hard to get involved with on a deeper level.
I think we have a lot to learn from other cultures, especially ancient cultures. That's why my interest was peaked by Nicholas Polizzi's documentary The Sacred Science. This film follows eight people from around the world suffering from varying illnesses. The patients in this story have diseases as severe as cancer and Parkinson's Disease to depression and alcoholism. They choose to leave western medicine and everything else behind for 30 days and live in the Amazon jungles of Peru to try the cures of the indigenous medicine men. The film follows them over the 30 days with both patient interviews
Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles Movie Review: An Intriguing Documentary about a Decades-Long Mystery
Jon Foy uses beautiful artwork and well-placed music to draw you in.
I love documentaries! Or should I say I love good documentaries. However, the more I watch, I feel like the harder they have become to find. Often times, I will start one and end up stopping it a little way in because of things like terrible pacing or poor organization. So last week when I was looking around Netflix I happened upon Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles. After reading the summary, the hubby and I decided to give it a try and we are both so glad we did. Jon Foy directs this documentary that is beautifully
A good true-life story that is worth telling.
Machine Gun Preacher is based on the life of Sam Childers, a real-life missionary living in Southern Sudan carrying the word of God in one hand and an AK47 in the other. In the film, Sam Childers is played by Gerard Butler. He is an ex-convict, biker, and heroin addict whose life is on a downward spiral. After a night of robbery and getting high with his best friend Donnie (Michael Shannon), the two have a run in with a psychotic hitchhiker that ends in a stabbing. Sam reaches his personal bottom and with the help of his wife Lynn
A behind-the-scenes look at one of the greatest music films ever made.
Purple Rain was the first R-rated film I watched as a kid. It was also the first movie I ever got in trouble for watching. My parents didn't really know why I should be in trouble; they had not seen the film. It may have had to to with the fact that I was only six at the time and I was not ready for the purifying waters of Lake Minnetonka. But regardless of age, I knew Purple Rain was a great film, I just didn't know how great it was as the time. Author John Kenneth Muir's new book,
Full of facts but lacking the ability to keep this student engaged.
Before I got a chance to review it, I had heard about the documentry, American Teacher. I was excited by the preview; however, it fell a little short for me when it came to keeping me emotionally engaged. American Teacher is narrated by Matt Damon and follows the lives of four current and former teachers in the American public school system. These four teachers come from different parts of the country and all come from different backgrounds. Athough this documentary provides a lot of facts that most people don't know about teaching, it lacks a real emotional edge. Through interviews
An important documentary about the gay civil rights movement in Louisiana.
The Sons of Tennesee Williams is a documentary about the gay Mardi Gras krewes out of Louisiana. This film not only shows the fun and wild side of gay Mardi Gras but takes a deeper look at the civil rights movement at the heart of the gay krewes. Through present-day interviews and archival footage, The Sons of Tennessee Williams tells the story of the drag movement and the fight for civil rights that predated most other homosexual liberation movments by almost 10 years. For many years in Louisiana it was against the law to be openly homosexual and any homosexual
Not a lot of big laughs, but it had big heart.
When they cast Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson in a movie, I figured it would be full of big laughs. I think most movie-goers were hoping for that when they saw this film. However, this was not the case with The Big Year. Instead, it was a film with great heart and a sweet story. The film revolves around three bird watchers or "birders" who are each going on A Big Year. This is the true life competition that happens every year among bird watchers. The goal is to see who can spot the most species of birds
Krzysztof Kieslowski's beautiful and moving trilogy gets some great bells and whistles.
I fell in love with the beautiful and moving Three Colors (Trios Couleurs) trilogy when it first came to video in the late 1990s. When this set from Criterion arrived, I felt like it was early Christmas. This newly improved collection of the trilogy does not disappoint. Blue (Bleu) is the story of Julie (Juliette Binoche), a woman who loses both her husband and daughter in a horrific car accident. Though Julie tries to isolate herself from her pain and the rest of the world, the door to her emotions and to others cannot remain shut forever. Her story is
The story of a man trying to find himself while lost in love.
Identification of A Woman is the story of Niccolo Farra (Tomas Milian) a middle-aged Italian filmmaker who is searching for himself after his wife has left him. Niccolo is also on the search for the subject of his next film, a woman with the face that will inspire him. This search leads him into relationships with two women who are startlingly different although they look similar. The first relationship is with Mavi (Daniela Silverio), a young socialite who is sexually experiemental and naracisstic. She is a product of the empty world she grew up in and is fascinating to Niccolo
Am almost dynamic documentary about a dynamic couple.
I was very excited to watch a documentry about the late, great Charles and Ray Eames. As someone who gets nerdy about design, I was looking forward to learning more about this powerful and creative couple. However Eames: The Architect and The Painter falls a little short. This documentary follows the lives and and careers of Ray and Charles Eames from their meeting at school through the end of their lives. And although this documentray covers all the aspects of their career, it doesn't really flesh out the main accomplishment they were largely known for, their furniture design. The filmmakers
I came looking for a story and only got parts of one.
I had heard great things about, The Tree Of Life from people. The trailer was beautiful and engaging. So when I sat down with a group of friends to watch it, I expected a film that everyone at the end would refer to as, "The best film of the year!" Instead we were all left scratching our heads. I will now tell you what I think this film is about. I say, I think, because this film has no clear narrative. The plot revolves around Jack as a boy (portrayed by Hunter McCracken) and as an adult (played by Sean
Who needs a good three-act structure when you can have 17?
I had high hopes for this movie. I really did. What I imagined was a film about a group of friends whose lives revolve around their favorite place, Skateland. It's the place where they first fall in love, find their best friends, and take their first punch. A coming-of-age tale where the central conflict becomes about saving their beloved Skateland at the end of the roller-skating era. Again, that is the movie I hoped for. That is not what the writers or director gave me. In reality, Skateland is barely a movie about said place. The film, like its main
The stories of four couples that are anything but erotic
I have a rule about independent films that bill themselves as, "erotic." It is almost a guarantee that those films are actually the furthest thing from erotic. Autoerotic by Joe Swanberg is no exception. Below is how this movie is billed: "Autoerotic follows four interconnected Chicago couples as they explore the boundaries of self-pleasure and sexual exploration. Through a unique blend of outrageous comedy and in-your-face sex, Autoerotic insightfully illuminates the private sexual lives of America's urbanites." Here is the real scoop. This movie is a new subgenre of Mumblecore, which I will call "Mumbleporn." Spoiler alert: This film is
A beautiful film about the fact that we are larger than the roles we have been assigned
WARNING: THIS IS A FOREIGN FILM AND YOU DO HAVE TO READ AND WATCH AT THE SAME TIME! (Unless you are fluent in French.) The Hedgehog (Le Herrison) is inspired by the bestselling novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog (L'Élégance du Hérisson) by Muriel Barbery. This delicate foreign film follows the coming of age of Paloma (Garance Le Guillermic) who has decided that she will end her life on her 12th birthday. Off to a great start, right? Actually, Paloma is not a morose little girl by any means. She is just a product of a mother who worships psychotherapy,