Antarctica: A Year On Ice

Posted to Facebook on November 17, 2014 ·

Tonight’s movie screening with the Arthouse Film Festival was ANTARCTICA: A YEAR ON ICE. It’s a documentary about spending a year on the continent, as told by New Zealander Anthony Powell. He repairs satellite dishes at and around McMurdo Station. Anthony shot the footage for this movie over the course of 10 years, using self-made camera mounts and many cameras over the years. What you see are time lapse movies of the area, you also get to see the sky, stars, and Southern Lights.

While the majority of this movie shows amazing visuals of what it’s like to live down there, there’s a focus on the lives of the people who spend their time there year-round. The stations there are heavily populated during the Summer, and more or less go into maintenance mode for the rest of the year. Naturally, their Winter is our Summer, and this base has 4 months without sunlight.

If you are interested at all in Antarctica, see this movie, and see it in a theater, sit close to the screen. It’s unbelievable. It’s definitely my favourite documentary from this season of the AFF, so far.

The movie opens November 28th. Don’t miss it!

Check out the link below, it contains clips from the film, but they don’t compare to seeing it on the big screen.

http://frozensouth.weebly.com/

St. Vincent

Originally posted to Facebook on November 16, 2014

Saw St. Vincent tonight. The trailer is cut to imply the movie is a comedy, and while there are comedic elements, it’s more of a drama. After separating from her husband, a woman (Melissa McCarthy) and her son move into a home next to the one occupied by the titular character, Vincent, a cranky, down on his luck, older man, nicely played by Bill Murray. She is forced to hire him as an afternoon babysitter, which leads to several misadventures in Vincent’s life. He’s not entirely the horrible person he turns out to be, and we get to discover many things about him that have made him the ‘bawdy misanthrope’ (as one reviewer described him) that he’s become.

The son, Oliver, is played by apparent newcomer Jaeden Lieberher. IMO, he’s a little too eloquent for the child he plays. Naomi Watts plays Daka, the pregnant Russian exotic dancer with the heart of gold (yes, exactly) really saves this from becoming a much sadder movie.

I did enjoy this film, and do recommend it if you’re in the right mood. Do not be fooled by the idea it might be a comedy.

Wild

Originally posted to Facebook on November 11, 2014 ·

Tonight’s movie at the Arthouse Film Festival was Wild, the story of a woman who goes on walkabout along the Pacific Crest Trail, after enduring some personal loss. She underestimates the trip, but learns to adjust. This movie is the adaptation of the best-selling book. Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed, who wrote the book about her real-life adventures. As she walks the trail, there are frequent flashbacks to what got her there, and it’s all pretty engaging. At the forefront of those is Laura Dern, who plays Reese’s mother. She was really good in her role. Along the way, music is half-remembered, and there’s a lot of it, but it never overpowers the story.

I was pleasantly surprised by the movie. I was expecting the bubbly Reese, but there’s no trace of it here. She’s a far better actress that I’ve given her credit for in the past. This movie was shot on location, perhaps 90% that way, and the scenery is incredible. The personal interplay is interesting and engaging.

At the screening, Urs Hirschbiegel, the associate director, was present to tell us tales of things behind the scenes. He said that the story was shot in linear order, which isn’t usually done,, mainly to give the actors the flow to evolve with their characters as the story progresses. He’s worked with the director, Jean-Marc Vallée, on several movies, including Dallas Buyer’s Club. The two are currently shooting their next movie, Demolition, in NYC.

Wild opens generally on December 5th.

Big Hero 6

Originally posted to Facebook on November 8, 2014.

Saw Big Hero 6 last night. The film is based on a comic book, and revolves around a boy named Hiro, who teams up with his brother’s fellow students (and the balloon-y robot his brother created) to stop the person who stole one of his inventions and killed his brother. Good interplay between the characters, and a story that holds together. I saw it in 3D, which was not my choice, and it’s definitely not necessary for you to enjoy the film. Worth seeing.

BTW, Scott Adsit (Yes, Hornberger!) voices the robot Baymax.

Point and Shoot

Originally posted to Facebook on October 28, 2014 ·

Tonight’s movie shown by the Arthouse Film Festival was Point and Shoot, winner of the TriBeCa film festival this year. PaS is a documentary about a guy, Matt VanDyke, who has been living a sheltered sort of life, longing to become a man and do something with his life. He decides to travel to have a “crash course in manhood”, and buys a motorcycle and a video camera, and sets off. His goes many places in North Africa and the Middle East, but his story really takes off after he decides to help out his Libyan friend, a pacifist, who’s joined in the Libyan revolution against Gaddafi. That alone is an interesting story, but this documentary, edited and produced by Marshall Curry, has an interesting take on the concept of documenting one’s life that sets it apart from other coming of age films and documentaries.

Point and Shoot opens this Friday in NYC, at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema, L.A. in November, and later, elsewhere. If you’re interested in documentaries, you need to add this to your list!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irtm_c1UNcY

Laggies

Tonight’s Arthouse Film Festival movie was Laggies, starring Kiera Knightley. Kiera plays Megan, a woman having the ‘what am I going to do with my life’ crisis of her late 20s. Her friends are all growing up, and her boyfriend proposes at her friend Allison’s wedding. Ellie Kemper plays Allison, Jeff Garlin plays Megan’s father, and there are other notable casting choices, as well. It’s all too much for Megan, and she hides with her newfound, underage friend and her father, played by Chloe Grace Moretz and Sam Rockwell, respectively.

Typical RomCom movie that takes place over a week in the Seattle area, which is surprisingly rain-free. Passable movie, and Kiera has an acceptable ‘Murrican accent.

 

Fury

Originally posted to Facebook on October 17, 2014

Fury. Well. It’s a good war film, ranking up there with Saving Private Ryan. It’s a brutal film, with graphic violence, so much so that it’s almost an antiwar movie. Brad Pitt plays the commander of a Sherman Tank, named Fury, in the last days of World War II in Germany. The movie starts with the crew needing a replacement co-driver, played by Logan Lerman. He was a clerk, and is confronted with what war does to men (hint: it ain’t pretty). Somehow, Brad Pitt and his tank crew have survived since Africa, and are determined to see it through. Shia LeBeouf, Michael Peña, and Jon Bernthal round out the tank crew.

Fury is uncompromising, and appears to match accounts I’ve read of U.S. tankers, whose life expectancy is very short. We the audience experience that, close up. The story itself is a good one, and while there’s one scene that goes awry, everything else in the film makes sense for the story. The fight scenes are gripping. I do recommend it, for those that can stomach it.

The Skeleton Twins

Originally posted to Facebook on October 4, 2014 ·

Saw Skeleton Twins last night. Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig play siblings who reunite after 10 years apart, after the brother attempts suicide. The sister’s life is pretty awful, too. Wiig and Hader have great chemistry on screen. You really get a sense of the anguish both of them are feeling. Ty Burrell, Luke Wilson, and Joanna Gleason round out the cast. There’s a lot of snarkiness in this movie, but there’s also really meaningful drama. Great Indy movie.

Definitely recommended!

This Is Where I Leave You

Originally posted to Facebook on September 21, 2014 ·

Saw This is Where I Leave You today. Meh. A father’s last request is to have his wife and four children (and their families) sit shiva upon his death. A stellar cast, that includes Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, and others, cannot overcome the script. Everyone has a story, everyone has an agenda, and there’s just too much to cover in the time allotted. Maybe, with an additional 45 minutes, they might’ve been able to let it play out better, but they didn’t. Most everyone makes “progress” and nothing is resolved, but the implication is that things are improving. I can only imagine it would have been a lot better in the hands of someone like Robert Altman. There are some good moments in the movie, but if you really want to see it, wait for cable, NetFlix, etc.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Originally posted to Facebook on August 17, 2014 ·

Just came back from seeing The Hundred Foot Journey, a film exec produced by Spielberg and Oprah. An Indian family leaves Mumbai, and winds up in a village in France, where they open an Indian restaurant right across the road from a highbrow French restaurant, run by a forceful woman, played by Helen Mirren. The patriarch of the family is played by Om Puri, who is one of those actors you know you’ve seen before, somewhere.

This is a romantic film, with a leaning towards comedy, but the main star of the film is the food. This movie is the latest one to tackle the subject of food porn, in terms of preparation, presentation and consumption. Film critics see parallels to other such movies, but I’m willing to overlook that. It’s well written, and passionate in its own way. I recommend it.