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Reviews for March 8th, 2013
Documentary Round-Up

      From Cheremoya Films comes the documentary The Bitter Buddha about podcaster/actor/stand-up comedian Eddie Pepitone. Director Steven Feinartz follows him as he prepares for an big, important gig as the opening act at the Gotham Comedy Club in New York City. He also includes candid interviews that offer a glimpse of what Pepitone is thinking and feeling backstage, so-to-speak. Pepitone, now in his 50's, discusses his battles with alcohol addiction and his relationship with his father who wasn't--and still isn't--easy to get along with. His sense of humor, honesty, boldness and humility rise to the surface throughout the doc, and help to make it a equally engaging, revealing and even a bit moving. It opens at the Cinema Village. Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey, directed by Ramona S. Diaz, could have used more intimate interviews with its subject to be more insightful rather than merely entertaining and shallow. The doc focuses Arnel Pineda, a Filipino from Manila who was discovered singing on YouTube and soon received an email inviting him to fly to America to join the band Journey. His rise-to-fame story and how he deals with the fame is interesting, but Diaz barely scratches the surface. It's a well-edited doc and features some of Journey's great songs, so if you're a fan of the music group, you'll at least have that to look forward to. Cinedigm Entertainment opens the film at the Quad Cinema. For those of you who are interest in environmental docs, there's director Craig Scott Rosebraugh's doc Greedy Lying Bastards opening at the AMC Empire 25 and Angelika Film Center via One Earth Productions. Rosebraugh goes further than An Inconvenient Truth and the recent doc Chasing Ice by showing more than just the statistics and images that point to the existence of global warming, but also investigates the reasons why our government and corporations such as Exxon repeatedly deny its existence and even go to the extent of fudging the data. Not surprisingly, these greedy, lying bastards have conflicts of interest and use the power lobbyists in Washington, DC as well as propaganda to give the public the illusion that global warming isn't occurring. Any increase in global temperatures, they claim, should be blamed on the sun, not on pollution. Greedy Lying Bastards is ultimetely enraging and vital. It would make a provocative double feature with the doc An Inconsistent Truth which tackled the issue of global warming from the perspective of those who deny it. Both docs should be watched and then debated via critical thinking, a task much easier said than done for average Americans who are just as simple-minded and easily manipulated as the "good Germans."

Language of a Broken Heart

Directed by Rocky Powell

      Nick (Juddy Talt), a best-selling author who wrote a book about love, discovers that his girlfriend, Violet (Lara Pulver), is cheating on him. She soon breaks up with him, and he consults his therapist, Adam (Oscar Nuņez) who takes him out to hit on women at a bar without any success. He decides to leave the hustle-and-bustle of New York City to visit his mother, Mimi (Julie White), in Rockford, Illinois. There, he reunites with his best friend, Cubbie (Ethan Cohn), and meets a sexy young woman, Emma (Kate French), after they accidentally switched their identical-looking bags at the airport. Emma not only happens to own a used book store not far away from where he's staying, but she also happens to be single and interested in him.

      You've seen this romantic comedy formula before: Girl dumps guy, guy meets new girl and then must choose between her and his ex-girlfriend. There's nothing inherently wrong with following a formula. 500 Days of Summer followed one and so did When Harry Met Sally.... What are the basic elements that turned those two romcoms into a classic? Besides being funny, witty, sophisticated and insightful, they were also heavily grounded in realism. Their characters felt like living, breathing, complex human beings rather than mere caricatures. Language of a Broken Heart, unfortunately, lacks complexity, realism, wit and sophistication. What transpires to Nick comes across as sitcomish rather than true-to-life. Nick, more often than not, behaves selfishly and isn't particularly likable as a character. He appears to have issues with his mother that might be the cause of his troubled relationships with women in the past, but the film fails to explore the mother-son dynamic profoundly enough. What does Emma see in him to begin with? Why does she continue to pursue him? Screenwriter Juddy Talt provides little to no background info about Emma, so she's merely a sweet, sexy young woman with cute glasses. Moreover, the third act, which won't be spoiled here, feels very contrived, unearned and tacked-on too neatly.

      Fortunately, what saves Language of a Broken Heart from being a total mess is Julie White who radiates with much-needed panache as Nick's mother. Perhaps she should have been the protagonist instead of Nick. Also, director Rocky Powell moves the film along at an appropriately brisk pace and fine cinematography/editing. If only the script were as top-notch as the production values.

Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by House Lights Media.
Opens at Regal Union Square 14.

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