Cinema Clash podcast: Radioactive; Yes, God, Yes; The Rental

Currently browsing the "Drama" category.

Review: The Burnt Orange Heresy

The Burnt Orange Heresy is an ‘arty’ film, in more than ways than one. It drew me in early on, meandered ever so slowly in the middle, then came back around to end with an artistic, cerebral flourish. The best part about the film is that it absolutely grants permission to regurgitate some lofty-sounding critique replete with praise and consternation for the way it uses art as a backdrop for exploring themes of manipulation, greed, romance, mystery, addiction and mental illness. That – and it’s got a darned good cast.

Review: Summerland

Set mostly during World War II, Summerland takes place on the beautiful and remote southern coast of England. Misanthropic writer Alice (Gemma Arterton, Vita & Virginia, Tamara Drewe) lives in a small village where the kids think she’s a witch, and the rest of the villagers leave her a wide berth. She’s fine with that since she’s hard at work writing while pining away for the loss of her one great love. Then one day she opens her door and a young boy named Frank (Lucas Bond) is there – an evacuee from London who expects to live with her. To say she’s reluctant to take him in would be a gross understatement. But of course she does and little by little they grow to care about one other. It’s a pretty familiar story, and it feels a bit like an episode of one of your favorite BBC series. But it’s also a pleasant, heart-warming diversion we can lose ourselves in for a time during this virus obsessed period.

Review: The Secret: Dare to Dream

I vaguely remember getting caught up in “The Secret” craze circa 2006. One of my more spiritual-minded friends passed along a copy of the popular self-help book by Rhonda Byrne. Visualize your goals and dreams, it implored (ever so gently), and – voila! – they will surely come true. No comment.

Cynical and jaded as I may be, I do understand ‘The Secret’ appeal – especially in these crazy times. And that’s why the rather lame movie, The Secret: Dare to Dream, gets a ‘kumbaya’ pass. Embrace what it’s going for; forgive the rest.

Review: The Cuban

The Cuban started life as a short film script. But when they couldn’t get the money to shoot it they expanded it to a feature and crowdfunded to get started. Then they found out that Oscar winner Lou Gossett Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman) had already read the script and they were off and running. It’s the story of the relationship between Luis (Gossett), an elderly Cuban musician suffering from Alzheimer’s who’s languishing in a nursing home, and Mina (Ana Golja), a young, headstrong pre-med student, who brings him back to life though the power of music. It’s a fairly predictable story, but well-done and ultimately heart-warming.

Review: Radioactive

Who coined the term “radioactivity”? Who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize? Who was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes? What husband and wife duo shared a Nobel Prize in chemistry? Who are the first mother and daughter Nobel Laureates? The answers have one common denominator: Marie Curie.

Review: The Painted Bird

Based on Jerzy Kosiński’s novel, The Painted Bird is a brutal tale of a young nameless boy’s fight to survive on his own during World War II in the wilds of Eastern Europe. He’s beaten and abused wherever he turns, and all he wants to do is find home, though he doesn’t really know where that is. And as he makes his way towards that imagined home, he grows more and more hardened and more like the people he meets, scared and mistrustful of the world at large. Though it takes place during the war, the conflict is distant even if the effects are all around The Boy. While it’s beautifully shot in black and white, it’s also 169 minutes long and essentially a litany of horrors. It’s not a film for the masses.

Mini-Review: Dirt Music

Good actors in gorgeous settings without a cohesive story does not add up to a great movie. In this rom-dram from down under, Georgie (Kelly Macdonald – No Country for Old Men, Puzzle) is living in an insular small town in Western Australia with its most powerful resident Jim (David Wenham – Lord of the Rings, 300) who she’s not really that fond of any longer. One early morning while swimming nude she meets a hunk named Lu Fox (Garrett Hedlund – Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Mudbound) who’s out lobster fishing where he isn’t supposed to. But one thing leads to another and soon they’re romantically entangled. A tragedy haunts Lu and though Georgie is prepared to give everything up for him, her partner Jim doesn’t want to let her go. But when Lu leaves town to get away from Jim’s thugs, Georgie follows him to the ends of the earth.

Quickie review: The Tobacconist

In this coming-of-age story, set mostly in Vienna just as the Nazis are rising, 17-year-old Franz (Simon Morzé) arrives from the countryside to work at a tobacco shop owned by his mother’s old flame Otto Trsnjek (Johannes Krisch). He’s a kind man and takes to Franz immediately, teaching him the ropes of the place. And who should walk through the doors but one of his regular customers, Sigmund Freud (Bruno Ganz, Wings of Desire, Downfall) who also takes to Franz and gives him advice on finding love.

Quickie Review: Guest of Honour

Somewhere in this movie from director Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) is a decent story, but you really have to work to find it. It’s a father-daughter melodrama about Jim (David Thewlis – The Harry Potter series) and Veronica (Laysla De Oliveira) that cuts back and forth in time as she tells a priest (Luke Wilson- Legally Blonde, Rushmore) the story of their lives so he can deliver Jim’s eulogy. Jim is a lonely food inspector who spends his days testing the temperature of meat and hunting under kitchen cabinets for rat droppings. Veronica is a music teacher who willingly goes to jail for a crime she didn’t commit out of a sense of guilt for something she did do. He visits her in jail and tries to understand why. She can’t forgive him for a transgression she misunderstood in childhood. Ultimately, it’s a bleak and not very coherent story buoyed ever so slightly by David Thewlis’s nuanced performance.

Review: The Old Guard

In the mood for a superhero action movie? Historical fiction? A supernatural flick? A war drama? Sci-fi/fantasy? A message movie? A hint of romance? A high-octane, double-dose of girl power? The Old Guard is all of the above. It stars Charlize Theron as Andy (aka Andromache of Scythia), the leader of a small army of immortal, centuries-old mercenaries who land in the present-day crosshairs of an ex-CIA operative and a cartoonishly evil big pharma CEO motivated by profits.