And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing the "Indie" tag.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: Money Monster; A Bigger Splash; High-Rise

Money Monster is a satisfying crowd-pleaser that definitely benefits from the established rapport between lead actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts and the solid direction of Jodie Foster. Clooney plays an outlandish, self-centered, Jim-Cramer-Mad-Money-type financial TV host named Lee Gates who shares stock tips with what he thinks is an adoring public. Roberts plays his producer/director Patty. She’s the one who keeps Gates and the show on track from her seat in the Control Room. Their usual routine is disrupted on live television when a disgruntled investor named Kyle (British actor Jack O’Connell looking and sounding as American as apple pie) gets into the studio, straps an explosive vest on Lee, and demands to know the source of a so-called ‘glitch’ that caused a particular stock – and his investment- to implode. The result is a tense conspiracy thriller with enough light moments peppered throughout (including some funky dance moves from Clooney) to boost the overall entertainment factor. Money Monster doesn’t really need to be seen on the big screen, but it’s the best of the week’s new offerings for anyone just looking for a solid, well-paced drama with star power.

Grandma

Grandma is a bare-bones indie that will likely appeal to those in the artier crowd who like a simple, dialogue-driven movie and the acerbic wit of Lily Tomlin. The veteran actress and comedian plays a lesbian Grandma named Elle Reid whose granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) shows up on her doorstep requesting about $600 to have an abortion that is scheduled for later that day. Elle doesn’t have the cash — but she’s willing to help Sage get it. The two spend the next few hours cruising around town in Grandma’s vintage automobile in search of friends, and others, who may be willing to float them a loan or give them the money outright. Their unannounced visits rattle a few cages and stir up old memories, especially when they drop in on one of Grandma’s old male flames (Sam Elliott). Needless to say, there’s an interesting dynamic at play here – and it results in one of the more surprising moments the film has to offer.

Song One

Song One feels like one of those low-budget indie flicks that a bunch of college friends got together to shoot in the middle of the night, with the theater class’s star pupil lending her talents to the endeavor. The narrative is (more than) a bit contrived, but you can’t help but root for the film and its characters. Song One is a romantic drama set against the backdrop of Brooklyn’s indie music scene, so it’s sort of like a less gritty, more contemporary Inside Llewyn Davis with a chick-flickier edge.

Midnight’s Children

I knew I was in trouble when a friend of mine described the book “Midnight’s Children” as a “classic – but emotionally draining.” I generally don’t do very well with emotionally-draining classics – in literature, or on the big screen. And sure enough, I had a tough time with this film version of Salman Rushdie’s novel about two babies switched at birth in a Bombay hospital as India was declaring its independence from Great Britain in August, 1947.

Beautiful Boy

Beautiful Boy is about as far as you can get from the “feel good movies” of summer. But to be fair, it’s hard to imagine a good time of year for this type of indie drama. It’s a bit reminiscent of last year’s Rabbit Hole (Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhardt) which came out during the winter holiday season (that seemed like bad timing too). Both movies revolve around married couples dealing with grief and confusion in the aftermath of losing their only child. Beautiful Boy, however, is darker and more complex.

The Beaver

Mel Gibson is his own worst enemy these days. It’s hard to watch him play a depressed, mentally-unstable guy without thinking about his real-life antics (and let’s face it – they’ve been off the charts). And that’s a real shame. Because The Beaver happens to be a pretty good movie – and Gibson is very good in it, as is director/co-star Jodie Foster and the rest of the supporting cast.

Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine is hard to watch and riveting all at once. It’s real, it’s raw and it’s probably way more relatable to the masses than the equally hard to watch and riveting all at once Black Swan. That’s not to say that I personally loved the movie. It’s not exactly what you’d call entertaining. But it is a strong, honest and moving (albeit arty) flick.

Princess Kaiulani

What?? You’ve never even heard of the Hawaiian princess Victoria Kaʻiulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiu i Lunalilo Cleghorn? Well, frankly, neither had I. But she does have an interesting life story that is told – and acted- fairly well in this arty indie flick, though it takes a half-hour or so to really get into it. It’s a rather strange hybrid of a movie – part biopic, part epic romance, and part docudrama with some scenes that are reminiscent of those cheesy historical reenactments found in documentaries we all watched in grade school (or at the museum). It also features some gorgeous cinematography showcasing the natural beauty of Hawaii.

A Single Man

A Single Man is a good movie, but not an entertaining one. Colin Firth delivers a quietly stunning performance as George Falconer, a middle-aged college professor struggling to get through life after the accidental death of his longtime partner, Jim. The movie is set in 1962 Los Angeles against a backdrop of fear involving the Cuban Missile Crisis and an undercurrent of anti-gay sentiment. The story revolves around a single day in George’s life – a day in which he goes about his usual routine while also preparing to commit suicide. Brief, intermittent flashbacks provide a glimpse of his 16-year love affair with Jim, whose funeral George could not attend because it was for “family only”. George’s overwhelming sense of grief and isolation upon hearing of his partner’s death is palpable… It’s a scene that could probably do more for the current crusade to legalize same-sex marriage than any petition or referendum.