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Reviews for June 3rd, 2016

      The God Cells, directed by Eric Merola, presents the argument that stem cell therapy is effective when it comes to treating a wide variety of illness ranging from cystic fibrosis, MS, Parkinson's, Lupus and more. The FDA has ensured that the treatment remains illegal in America although it's legal in other countries, i.e. Mexico. Merola includes testimonies from patients of Stem Cell of America all of whom have a lot of positive things to say about their stem cell treatments. One of them even claims to feel better immediately after the treatment. There's no denying that each of these testimonies is heartfelt, but what's missing is balance which other enraging docs about the medical industry, i.e. Vaxxed, had. There has to be at least some patients or some expert not paid by Big Pharma who could give a different perspective on stem cell therapy. Yes, it's easy to grasp what the big picture looks like, and to conclude a priori why the FDA deems the treatment to be illegal given that stem cell treatments can't be patented, so they not as profitable as pharmaceutical drugs are----after all, the FDA is essentially whoring itself to its Big Pharma, its pimp, instead of to public welfare. It seems as though The God Cells arrives to its conclusion at the very beginning of the film, though, without examining the big picture enough. Without more balance and perspective, it eventually becomes slightly repetitive and ultimately preaches to the choir. Merola Productions opens The God Cells at Cinema Village.

Chasing Yesterday

Directed by Joseph Pernice

      Junior (Eric Nelsen), once a promising track in his high school days, lacks motivation and still lives with his mother (Blanche Baker) and father (Adam LeFevre) while working as a delivery boy for his father's Chinese restaurant. When he accidentally injures Jenny (Courtney Baxter), a former schoolmate, after backing his car into her, she can no longer compete in an upcoming marathon to win a scholarship because of her leg injury. She gives him an ultimatum: either give the scholarship money to her by competing in and winning the race or she'll get him into trouble. She trains him and builds his motivation while they develop romantic feelings for one another concurrently.

      The screenplay by writer/director Joseph Pernice does follow a familiar formula, but there's nothing inherently wrong with a film being predictable; it's more about the how than the what. So what if there are cliches being used? After all, there are some truths to cliches. Fortunately, Pernice tells Junior's comeback story with warmth, wit and tenderness (a.k.a. truly special effects, unlike CGI which should re-labeled as "standard effects"). He establishes the film's balance of tones from the very first scene, so even though there's a blend of comedy, drama and romance, it never becomes atonal. Pernice should also be commended for avoiding the use of flashbacks and steering clear of schmaltz or melodrama which the other dramas opening this weekend, Me Before You and Honeyglue suffer from---the writers/directors of those 2 films, unlike Pernice, squeezed the audience's hands very tightly from start to finish. Not only do you not feel any hand-squeezing throughout Chasing Yesterday, but you also barely feel the wheels of the screenplay turning.

      Moreover, Chasing Yesterday is grounded in just enough humanism and realism to make you convinced that these characters are real human beings and for you to care about them throughout the ideal running time of 90 minutes. Junior is a flawed character which makes him all the more interesting. If he were 100% decent and flawless, he'd be boring and super-human for matter. His character arc feels believable by the time the end credits roll, and the uplifting sensations that the audience experience in third act are both genuine and well-earned. Those feats alone make the film a triumph.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Opens at Cinema Village.


Directed by James Bird


Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Opens at Village East Cinema.

Me Before You

Directed by Thea Sharrock


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Warner Bros. Pictires.
Opens nationwide.

The President

Directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Corinth Films.
Opens at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.