Currently browsing the "Indie" category.

Review: The Independents

There are no big stars in this musical dramedy. It’s a total indie flick. And it’s a lot of fun. It tells the tale of three singer/songwriters all struggling to find a way forward, who bump into one another by chance and team up for one last stab at making it in the music world. It’s no A Star is Born take though. It’s a heart-felt buddy movie with some fine three part harmonies and well-drawn characters.

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 9

Week Nine of films that I remember fondly. It’s amazing how many great films come to mind when I go down my cinematic memory lane. A lot of this week’s picks are from the 80s. The oldest is from 1979. And the newest from 2003. So it’s a fairly modern bunch. No black and white. No foreign films this time. We’ve got comedy, war, feminism, even a Western in the mix. Big films and indies. But all of them are highly recommended.

 

The films are: Crimes and Misdemeanors, The Thin Red Line, Silverado, Broadcast News, Ordinary People, The Station Agent, My Brilliant Career

 

Review: Saint Frances

Written by and starring Kelly O’Sullivan Saint Frances is a small dark comedy that centers on the expectations women live with and one young woman’s choices. Bridget (O’Sullivan) is in her 30s and constantly reminded that everyone around her is having kids, succeeding in their careers, and generally being a better grown-up than she is. She’s a server in a restaurant, even though she was a rising star at Northwestern before she dropped out. But things start looking better when she lands a summer job as a nanny to Frances (aka Frannie), a six-year-old in the upper middle class Chicago suburbs whose Moms are expecting another baby.

Cinema Clash Podcast Reviews: Holidate, Come Play, The True Adventures of Wolfboy

Happy Halloween and Pre-Election Day Weekend! On this quaranstream edition of the Cinema Clash, I chat about Holidate, the bawdy holiday romcom now on Netflix, Charlie talks about the horror movie Come Play (which I opted to skip ’cause it’s really not my genre of choice), and we both weigh in on a quirky coming of age indie called The True Adventures of Wolfboy.  Tune in!

Quickie Review: Synchronic

Synchronic is the type of film (a horror sci-fi drama) that I would have likely skipped if not for the appeal of its two stars Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan. I’d never heard of the filmmaking team of “Moorhead & Benson” (aka Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead) who apparently made a name for themselves with films described as “quietly mythic.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, until now. Synchronic certainly fits that bill. And, to my surprise, I rather liked it – especially the second half, which is dominated by Mackie’s performance. He plays Steve, a terminally-ill paramedic who takes a mysterious hallucinogenic drug in the hopes it will help him find/rescue the missing daughter of his partner and longtime best friend Dennis (Dornan). It’s a high-concept mindbender shot with a total independent film vibe, brimming with atmosphere.

Quickie Review: S#!%HOUSE

Okay, so maybe the title piqued my curiosity more than it deserved to. But I simply had to know if a little indie called Sh*thouse might be worth a sh*t. Fortunately, the film is not as crappy as its title. And it obviously struck a chord with judges of the (COVID-canceled) SXSW film festival, where it won the 2020 Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Film, probably for its ‘Before Sunset on a college campus’ vibe. The film skews arty and didn’t really float my mainstream boat, but I can see how it might appeal to up-and-coming auteurs who relate to young filmmaker Cooper Raiff who wrote, directed, produced and stars in Sh*thouse (aka S#!%HOUSE).

Review: The Glorias

There is a line near the end of The Glorias about going in circles – as women, as a society, as a nation. A reminder, underscored in recent days by the death of liberal stalwart RBG and the nomination of a conservative to take her place on the Supreme Court. There’s an inherent, bitter irony in Ruth Bader Ginsburg having helped pave the way for an Amy Coney Barrett to take a seat at the Court and potentially unravel much of what RBG stood for. So perhaps the time is ripe for a movie like The Glorias, imperfect as it may be. The film reflects on the journey of journalist, feminist icon and social political activist Gloria Steinem as she helped build and guide the women’s movement from the 1960s until… well, at the age of 86, she is still alive and very much in the game.

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: Babyteeth

In this wonderfully dark dramedy from down under, Milla (Eliza Scanlen – Little Women) is a cancer stricken 16-year-old who falls for free spirited drug dealer Moses (Toby Wallace) much to the horror of her parents who only want to shield her from everything bad for whatever time she has left. But it is that relationship that keeps her going and ultimately brings them all to a place of acceptance. It’s a funny and touching and surprising film full of great performances.

Review: Military Wives

Military Wives is a fairly straightforward feel-good film that offers up a bittersweet salute to military families and their sacrifice, just in time for the long Memorial Day weekend. It’s a dramedy that takes place primarily on a British Army base and focuses on a diverse group of women whose partners are deployed to war-torn Afghanistan for six months. To help pass the time, and keep themselves distracted from the daily stresses of juggling family and fear, the women form a singing group that leapfrogs from a small practice room on base to the glaring spotlight of a globally-televised event at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall. The film is inspired by true events surrounding the formation of the very first Military Wives choir that started a decade ago and led to a popular BBC docuseries and dozens of other Military Wives choirs around the world. The characters and much of the story is fictionalized – which likely accounts for the formulaic rhythm of conflict, humor, tragedy and triumph – but the spirit of the film is authentic, and a lot of real military families were used as extras in an emotional send-off scene that sets the stage for the drama to unfold.