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Reviews for October 31st, 2014

Documentary Round-Up

      Every great documentary needs a compelling true story to tell, and God the Father has that in spades. During the 1980's and 90's, Michael Franzese became a mobster Colombo Crime family following in his father's footsteps. The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree, as the saying goes. He helped to rake in millions for the mafia while putting his life in jeopardy every day. Everything changed once he picked up a bible in prison and discovered the road to salvation as a devout Christian. Franzese explains via candid talking-head interviews how that pivotal moment led him to escape the mob once and for all as well as what his experiences in the mob were actually like. Director Simon Fellows invigorates the film thereby elevating it from your average, cookie-cutter doc by incorporating animated sequences and dramatic re-enactments to bring to life Franzese's captivating story. Even if you're not of the Christian faith, you'll still be profoundly moved by Franzese's spiritual/religious journey to ameliorate his life. Much of this well-edited suspenseful film is filled with surprising twists and turns much like a first-rate crime thriller with an inspirational, emotionally-charged payoff at the end. It's the rare kind of doc that has both style and substance. Rocky Mountain Pictures opens God the Father at AMC Empire 25. According to the doc Plot for Peace, Jean-Yves Ollivier, a French-Algerian diplomat, had secretly used his connections to end the apartheid in South Africa resulting in Nelson Mandel's release from imprisonment. Ollivier, a.k.a. Monsieur Jacques, explains how disgusted he was with the injustices of the apartheid and how his ties with spies, politicians, generals and other key individuals helped to end the apartheid---it was like a domino effect, he says. Plot for Peace covers a lot of historical ground with so many different subjects, some of whom are interviewed. Co-directors Mandy Jacobson and Carlos Agullo include archival footage, but primarely the doc consists of talking heads who do indeed talk a lot and provide you with some illuminating facts. It feels as exhausting and as dry as the spy thriller Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy, and it even makes you tempted to ask "When's the exam?" every now and then because you're bombarded with a wealth of information without enough time to process it. Ultimately, Plot for Peace is like a steak that's much too dry for consumption. It opens at City Cinemas Village East via Trinity Films.

Hit By Lightning

Directed by Ricky Blitt


Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Gravitas Ventures.
Opens at the Quad Cinema.


Directed by Dan Gilroy


Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Released by OpenMagnolia Pictures.
Opens nationwide.


Directed by Anthony DiBlasi


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Freestyle Releasing.
Opens at select theaters.
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