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Akeelah and the Bee (Showcase)- Directed by Doug Atchinson. An enormously entertaining, beautifully written, deeply moving and uplifting story about an 11-year-old girl who finds the courage to enter the Scripps National Spelling Bee with a strict coach as her only support. ! A real winner! Keke Palmer gives a breakthrough performance as Akeelah. It’s refreshing to watch Laurence Fishburne acting as Akeelah’s tutor in such a heartfelt drama rather than a forgettable action film. You’ll walk out of this film with tears of joy. Entertainment Value: Very high. Spiritual Value: Very high. Opens April 28th, 2006 nationwide. Released by Lionsgate Films. Full Review
Al Franken: God Spoke (Showcase)- Directed by Christine Hegedus and Nick Doob. A documentary about Al Franken, a comedy writer who uses his comedic skills to voice his political opinions. He comes across as annoying, stubborn, but often lively and very funny in his approach—of course, he makes fun of Bill O’Reilly among many others and highlights all the lies in the media. Nothing earth-shattering about this documentary, but at least it's entertaining. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: Low. Released by Balcony Releasing. Opens September 13th, 2006 at the IFC Center.
Another Gay Movie (Midnight)-Directed by Todd Stephens. A group of gay teenage friends try to lose their gay virginities before the end of the summer. This raunchy, wacky and outrageous comedy has more misses than hits when it comes to laughs. Just when you thought that American Pie crossed the line, just wait until you watch more embarrassingly gross sexual scenes here. Even if you don’t take any of this seriously at all, you’ll be barely entertained by the redundant toilet humor and completely grossed-out. Entertainment Value: Low. Spiritual Value: None. Released by TLA Releasing. Opens July 28th, 2006 at the Quad Cinema.
Backstage (NY,NY International Narrative Feature Competition)- Directed by Emmanuelle Bercot. Lucie (Isild Le Besco) obsesses over a popular singer (Emmanuelle Seigner) who befriends her. The script has few surprises with scenes that drag and some that feel like a soap opera. However, both Le Besco and Seigner give decent performances which slightly enliven the film. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low.
Beauty and the Bastard (Tribeca Family Festival)-Directed by Dome Karuski. In Finnish with subtitles. A beautiful singer develops an unlikely romance with a DJ. Predictable, clichéd but genuinely sweet with decent music. Nothing particularly noteworthy or surprising—just light, forgettable entertainment. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low.
The Blood of My Brother (International Documentary Competion)-Directed by Andrew Berands. A boring, redundant and dull documentary about the consequences of war on a grieving Iraqi family. With more insight and more focused interviews, this could have been powerful, moving and engaging. Entertainment Value: Low. Spiritual Value: Low. Released by Life-Size Entertainment and Releasing. Opens June 30th, 2006 (Cinema Village).
Boy Culture (Discovery)-Directed by Q. Allan Brocka. Dereck Magyar stars as X, a gay hustler whose life changes when he meets an older, sophisticated client. A well-directed film with a fine balance of tender moments and humor along with a very witty script. The plot has few surprises, but well-developed, likable characters make this film thoroughly engaging. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: Moderate.Released by TLA Releasing. Opens March 23rd, 2007 at the Quad Cinema.
Brothers of the Head (Showcase)-Directed by Tony Grisoni. A very bizarre mockumentary about conjoined twins who form a punk rock band and lead a life of sex and drugs. It fails as a comedy, drama and even as a musical, but at least the performances are decent enough to take seriously as if this really were a documentary. Entertainment Value: Low. Spiritual Value: Low. Opens July 28th, 2006 (IFC Center). Released by IFC Films.
Burke and Wills (Discovery)-Directed by Matthew Zeremes and Oliver Torr. Two roommates, Burke and Wills, experience loneliness in different ways. Shot in black-and-white, this film simply lacks an engaging plot and doesn’t make up for it with any character development—neither Burke nor Willis is likable. Only a few scenes seem true-to-life, but others feel too contrived and bizarre. Fortunately, the running time is only 74 minutes. Entertainment Value: Low. Spiritual Value: Low.
The Case of the Grinning Cat(Spotlight)- Directed by Chris Marker. A very off-beat, lively and imaginative documentary with some witty social commentary about the first few years of the 21st Century. Only 58 minutes long but still manages to be powerful and memorable without being too heavy or pretentious. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: High. Opens December 20th, 2006 at the Film Forum. Released by First Run/Icurus.
Civic Duty (Discovery)-Directed by Jeff Renfroe. Peter Krause gives an excellent performance as an American who suspects that his neighbor is a terrorist. This film has as much suspense as Arlington Road, but it does get a bit frustrating and overly dramatic in the third act. Its final message will send chills down your spine. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: Moderate.Released by Freestyle Releasing. Opens April 20, 2007.
Choking Man (International Narrative Feature Competition)-Directed by Steve Barron. Well-edited and directed. However, the problems are mainly in the screenplay with its weak, boring, awkward, and contrived plot about a quiet Ecuadorian young man who witnesses what goes on while working as a dishwasher at a diner. Stylish visuals, but ultimately forgettable. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low.
Colour Me Kubrick(International Narrative Competition)- Directed by Brian Cook. John Malkovich plays Alan Conway, a con artist who pretends to be the legendary filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick. It should have been called Being Stanley Kubrick because it’s just as bizarre and outrageously funny as Being John Malkovich. Kubrick fans will enjoy hearing the musical score from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey blended quite appropriately with the visual. However, not everyone will appreciate the dry British humor, some of which insults pop culture and the media. As usual, Malkovich gives a terrific performance. Entertainment Value: Very High. Spiritual Value: Moderate. Released by Magnolia Pictures.Opens March 23rd, 2007 at the IFC Center.
Comeback Season(Spotlight)- Directed by Bruce McCulloch. After getting kicked out of his house of cheating on his wife (Glenn Headly), Walter (Ray Liotta) bonds with his daughter’s ex-boyfriend (Shaun Sipos) who injured himself playing football. Despite good performances by Ray Liotta and Glenn Headly, the plot plays out so by-the-numbers, it feels uncomfortable to watch at times. It does have a feel-good message about second chances and forgiveness, though. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Moderate.
Comedy of Power(Spotlight)- Directed by Claude Chabrol. Isabelle Huppert stars as an examining magistrate who investigates potential corruption of executives. Very little humor and not enough drama make for an overall dull, forgettable film. Also, too many scenes drag—you’ll be checking your watch at least 3 times. Entertainment Value: Low Spiritual Value: Low. Released by Koch Lorber Films. Opens January 5th, 2007 at the IFC Center.
Encounter Point (Discovery)- Directed by Julia Bacha. A documentary about Israeli and Palestinian bereaved families who have discussions together. Not nearly as powerful or insightful Promises, but at least it’s occasionally moving. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low. Opens November 17th, 2006 at the Quad Cinema.
Farewell Bender (Discovery)-Directed by Matt Oates. A group of high school friends reunite after college and bond when one of their friends dies. Superbly-written screenplay full of insight and true-to-life moments. The real star here is Eddie Kaye Thomas who gives the film warmth and delightfully offbeat humor. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: High. Fat Girls (Discovery)- Directed by Ash Christian. A shy, gay teenager (Ash Christian) looks for love and attention along with his obese friend Sabina (Fink). Much better than the recent movie Phat Girlz, but not funny or and insightful enough. There are too many awkward scenes, some of which drag a bit. Nonetheless, it does have a witty script. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low.
First Snow(Discovery)- Directed by Mark Fergus. Guy Pearce stars as Jimmy Starks, a man who gets paranoid after a psychic warns him of his impending death during the first snowstorm of the season. Piper Perabo plays his wife who thinks he’s gone mad. Fortunately, the script has enough drama and mystery to generate a lot of suspense and tension. Kudos to the impressive cinematography and musical score which gives a very Hitchcockian feel. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: Moderate. Released by Yari Film Group. Opens March 23rd, 2007 at Landmark Sunshine Cinemas.
Five Fingers(Spotlight)- Directed by Laurence Malkin. Ryan Phillippe plays a man who gets kidnapped and tortured by a group of terrorists while visiting Morocco for a charity. Laurence Fishburne gives a powerful performance as one of terrorists. The plot combines the uncomfortable horrors from Saw and tries to build suspense as to what that the terrorists really want. Unfortunately, the film falls apart in the twisted, implausible, silly third act. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low.
A Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus (Discovery)-Directed by Randy Olson. A fairly balanced documentary about the battle between the theory of evolution versus that of intelligent design. In other words, is there or isn’t there a God? Don’t expect any solid answers to the complex question, but at least director Randy Olson includes many different viewpoints, including his own. Fresh, funny, lively and not nearly as headache-inducing as the recent What the Bleep Down the Rabbit Hole!?. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: Moderate.
Goal! The Dream Begins(Tribeca Family Festival)- Directed by Danny Cannon. Kuno Becker stars as Mexican-American who dreams of playing professional soccer in England. Mildly entertaining, but derivative, full of clichés and with poor transitions between scenes. Also, some of the thick British accents are hard to decipher without subtitles. It’s not nearly as funny and memorable as Bend it Like Beckham. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low. Released by Touchtone Pictures. Open May 12th, 2006. Full Review
The Groomsmen (Spotlight)-Directed by Edward Burns. A young man (Edward Burns) bonds with his four groomsmen before his wedding. A superbly-written drama with a smart screenplay that balances drama and comedy quite well. Jay Mohr, Matthew Lillard, John Leguizamo and Donal Logue are all funny and full of energy as the groom’s four quirky friends. It would have been nice to have more scenes with Brittney Murphy, who plays the bride-to-be. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: Moderate. Opens July 14th, 2006 at the Village East Cinemas. Released by Bauer Martinez Distribution.
The Heart of the Game (Showcase)-Directed by Ward Serrill. A documentary about the Roughriders, a high school girls’ basketball team that gets led to victory by coach Bill Resler. Meanwhile, Darnellia, their star-player, struggles with life outside of the court. Riveting, uplifting and moving! It’s this year’s Hoop Dreams! Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: High. Opens June 14th, 2006. Released by Miramax Films. Full Review
The Hip Hop Project (NY,NY Documentary Competition)-Directed by Matt Ruskin and Scott Rosenberg. Bruce Willis serves as an executive producer for this terrific documentary about teenagers who channel their personal frustrations by creating hip hop music. Surprisingly heartfelt, inspirational and engaging. A must-see for everyone young and old, even for those unfamiliar with hip hop music. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: Very High. Released by THINKfilm. Opens May 11th, 2007 at the Angelika Film Center.
House of Sand(Spotlight)- Directed by Andrucha Waddington. Three generations of mothers and daughters survive life in a desert house with sand all around them. Although lacking in plot and character development, there are enough true-to-life moments and beautiful cinematography to keep you somewhat engaged. Fernanda Montenegro, best known from Central Station, gives a very moving performance—but the truly interesting character here is the desert landscape. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Moderate. Released by Sony Pictures Classics. Opens July 28th, 2006.
I’m Reed Fish(Discovery)- Directed by Zachary Adler. Reed Fish (Jay Baruchel) plays a young man whose impending marriage to Kate (Alexis Bledel) is threatened when an old flame (Schulyer Fisk) visits his town. This sweet, charming film has funny script with likable, lively characters—especially Reed Fish (named after the screenwriter). The third act in particular feels quite inventive and refreshing—although a bit contrived. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: Moderate. Released by Red Envelope Entertainment. Opens June 1st, 2007 at the Quad Cinema.
I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With (Spotlight)-Directed by Jeff Garlin. Jeff Garlin stars as a lonely, obese man who searches for his soul mate. The well-written screenplay by Garlin breathes life into this charming little gem. Sarah Silverman as his potential girlfriend is a breath of fresh air. A warm, tender and very witty film. A comic delight! Entertainment Value: Very High. Spiritual Value: High. Released by IFC First Take. Opens September 5th, 2007 at the IFC Center
Just Like the Son (NY, NY Narrative Competition)- Directed by Morgan J. Freeman. Daniel (Mark Webber) bonds with an adorable young boy named Boone (Antonio Ortiz) while working as a janitor in his school. Soon enough, he kidnaps him and they go on a road trip to reunite him with his sister who lives in Dallas (in Florida, not in Texas). The best part of this meandering film is Ortiz who provides much of the humor and charm just like Jonathan Lipnicki provided in Jerry Maguire. Rosie Perez has a supporting role as the elementary school principal. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low.
Keeping Up With the Steins (Tribeca Family Festival)- Directed by Scott Marshall. A delightfully charming story about Ben, a young boy who invites his quirky grandfather to his house two weeks before his bar-mitzvah. Garry Marshall is hilarious as the grandfather. Expect plenty of Jewish jokes, some juvenile humor and a scene showing Garry Marshall’s buttocks—which doesn’t exactly make you do the “Hava Nagila”, so-to-speak. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: Moderate. Opens May 12th, 2006. Released by Miramax Films. Full Review
Kettle of Fish (NY,NY Narrative Competition)-Directed by Claudia Myers. A mildly entertaining romantic comedy about a bachelor who searches for love and must choose between two different women. The film suffers from stilted dialogue and awkward transitions between scenes. Gina Gershon's British accent was quite irritating, too. It’s somewhat engaging to find out who Matthew Modine would choose, but, honestly, the frog and the fish had more romantic chemistry than anyone in the film. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low. Opens October 6th, 2006. Released by Aloha Releasing.
Kiss Me Again (NY,NY Narrative Competition)-Directed by William Tyler Smith.A stilted, pointless and unfunny low-budget film about a ménage à trios with professor, his wife, and his student. Jeremy London (who looks a lot like Brendan Fraser) gives a mediocre performance as a college professor as does everyone else—especially Darrell Hammond, who seems uncomfortable in a small role that requires him to be somewhat serious. It fails as a drama, romance, or comedy and doesn’t even have any nudity to compensate. Entertainment Value: Low. Spiritual Value: Low. Opens May 5th, 2006 (Quad Cinema). Released by Turtles Crossing. Full Review
Land of the Blind(International Narrative Competition)- Directed by Robert Edwards. Ralph Fiennes gives a powerhouse performance as a soldier who reverses roles with a political prisoner played by the always-amazing Donald Sutherland. A very intelligent script along with powerful, symbolic imagery makes for a consistently fascinating, absorbing film. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: High. Released by Bauer Martinez. Opens June 9th, 2006.
Lassie(Tribeca Family Festival)- Directed by Charles Sturridge. When a poor family sells their beloved dog, Lassie, to an far-away owner, Lassie goes on a long journey back home. The best parts of this remake include Pete O’Toole as the Duke, the beautiful scenery, and, of course, Lassie the adorable collie. Unfortunately, Samantha Morton and Peter Dinklage don’t shine as much as they usually do and a few scenes actually drag. However, it's worth mentioning that the uplifting ending will put a smile on anyone’s face—young or old. This updated version of Lassie is ultimately harmless and forgettable. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Moderate. Released by Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films. Opens September 1st, 2006.
Local Color(Discovery)- Directed by George Gallo. A teenager (Trevor Morgan) spends a weekend with a much older, talented painter (Armin Mueller-Stahl). This sweet, heartwarming film takes a while to get into with its slow pace but once you forgive it for its clichés and its simple plot, it becomes very moving and absorbing. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: High.
Lonely Hearts(Spotlight)-Directed by Todd Robinson .During the 1940’s homicide detectives (John Travolta and James Gandolfini) search for serial killers (Jared Leto and Selma Hayek). Despite decent performances, good cinematography and impressive set/costume designs, the plot has very little suspense because you know who the killers are from the very beginning. The only suspense is wondering how and when the detectives will find the killers. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low. Released by Roadside Attractions/Samuel Goldwyn Films. Opens April 13th, 2007 at Quad Cinemas and Clearview 1st & 62nd Cinemas.
Mentor (Discovery)-Directed by David Carl Lang. A young man gets involved with a beautiful classmate in college who happens to be in love with her professor as well. The plot is often contrived, boring and meandering despite a decent performance by Rutger Hauer as the creepy professor. Entertainment Value: Low. Spiritual Value: Low.
Mini’s First Time(Discovery)- Directed by Nick Guthe. Mini (Niki Reed), along with her stepfather (Alec Baldwin), tries to cover up the murder her alcoholic mother (Carrie-Ann Moss). Luke Wilson plays an investigator and Jeff Goldblum is great as next door neighbor. The real star of this movie is Niki Reed, looks sexy and seductive, much like Alicia Silverstone in The Crush--in fact, both movies share the same dark tone. With a sharp, tongue-in-cheek script, writer/director Nick Guthe has made a highly entertaining guilty pleasure. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: Low.
My Dad is 100 Years Old(Spotlight)- Directed by Guy Maddin. Isabella Rossellini pays a loving tribute to her father, Roberto, in this 17-minute, visually stylish, wildly imaginative and bizarre film--come on, what Guy Maddin film doesn't have those adjectives? Rossellini boldly plays every character including her father, herself, Fellini and Hitchcock. Ultimately, this turns out to be quite insightful and somewhat moving. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: High. Opens on December 6th, 2006 along with Bergman Island at the Film Forum. Released by Zeitgeist Films.
Once in a Lifetime (Spotlight)-Directed by Paul Crowder, John Dower. A documentary about the rise and fall of the New York Cosmos, a soccer team that brought the European football craze to America. There's lots of information about the history of soccer and many mildly engaging interviews with Cosmos team-members, but only true soccer fans will be truly entertained by this film without taking much away from it. The MVP Cosmos player Pelé, unfortunately, refused to be interviewed. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Moderate. Opens July 7th, 2006 at the Angelika Film Center. Released by Miramax Films.
One Last Thing… (Tribeca Family Festival)-Directed by Barry Stringfellow. In Finnish with subtitles. A terminally-ill teenager makes a last wish to spend a weekend with a famous supermodel. This contrived, awkward and absurd film does have a few funny moments, but the predictable ending doesn’t pack an emotional punch like it should. Cynthia Nixon doesn’t have enough material to work with here as the boy’s mother. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low. Opens May 5th, 2006. Released by Magnolia Pictures. Full Review
The One Percent(NY, NY Documentary Competition)- Directed by Jamie Johnson. A teenager documentary about the unjust separations between the rich and the poor in the United States. Although lively and engaging, this is much more of a personal documentary with personal revelations, especially since director Jamie Johnson includes himself throughout the interviews—like Michael Moore, only less annoying. Nothing new or surprising is said about greed, though, or where it comes from. An interesting question to ask would have been: What came first, money or greed? The Corporation is a much more profound and analytical documentary. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: Low.
The Promise (Spotlight)-Directed by Chen Kaige. Breathtaking visuals and gorgeous costume designs somewhat compensate for a boring, tedious plot about a princess who is cursed with fleeting love after a promise to a goddess and ends up in a love triangle between a general and a slave. It has the highest budget of any Chinese film, but not the highest quality of screenwriting. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low. Opens May 5th, 2006. Released by Warner Independent Pictures.Full Review
Return to Rajapur (Discovery)-Directed by Nanda Anand. A young girl (Kelli Garner) visits Rajapur to secretly dig up information about a love affair from the past. A contrived, unfocused plot along with many scenes that drag makes for a rather dull experience. Gardner gives only a mediocre performance. A tighter script with more suspense would have helped a lot. Entertainment Value: Low. Spiritual Value: None.
The Road to Guantanamo (Spotlight)-Directed by Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross. A docudrama about three British citizens from Pakistan who recall their horrific memories of being captured by U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan until their and torture in a Guantanamo military prison. An effective blend of documentary with re-enacted scenes. Powerful and gripping! Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: High. Opens June 23rd, 2006 (Angelika Film Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas). Released by Roadside Attractions.
RV (Tribeca Family Festival)-Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld.Bob (Williams) takes his family by a recreational vehicle to vacation in Colorado and meets a strange family of campers along the way.Painfully unfunny with too much low-brow, unimaginative attempts at humor. Entertainment Value: Low Spiritual Value: None. Opens April 28th, 2006 Released by Columbia Pictures. Full Review
The Sci-Fi Boys(Discovery)-Directed by Paul Davids. A fascinating documentary about the history of science fiction in motion pictures. Interviews by Peter Jackson, John Landis, and Stephen Sommers are compelling and engaging, but not too profound. It would have been interesting if they revealed at least a little bit of their magic instead of keeping it to themselves. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low. Released by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Sketches of Frank Gehry(Spotlight)- Sidney Pollack directs this thoroughly engaging documentary about Frank Gehry, a famous architect who designed famous buildings such as the Guggenheim Museum and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Fortunately, Gehry comes across as a rather articulate artist who hasn’t lost mind—not yet, at least. Sydney Pollack asks very interesting questions about Gehry’s background and includes footage of the artistic genius at work with his young protégée. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: Moderate. Opens May 12th,2006 (Landmark Sunshine Cinemas). A documentary about Frank Gehry, Released by Sony Pictures Classics.
Snow Cake(Spotlight)- Directed by Angela Pell. Alan Rickman stars as a man who bonds with the single, autistic mother (Sigourney Weaver) of a woman who died in a car accident. This smart, funny, true-to-life movie boasts two great performances as well as a few touching scenes which never seem too sentimental. Well-cast and well-directed. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: High. Released by IFC First Take. Opens April 27th, 2007 at Cinema Village.
The Treatment(NY, NY Narrative Competition)- Directed by Oren Rudavsky. On his quest to find love, Jake (Chris Eigerman) sees a therapist (Ian Holm) and meets a lonely widow (Famke Jannsen). A tender, sharp script helps to make this an engaging film, but a few awkward, contrived scenes try to hard to generate laughs—especially with the therapist’s strange remarks. As usual, Ian Holm gives a terrific performance while Eigerman and Jannsen only give a mediocre one. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low.
United 93(Gala)-Directed by Paul Greengrass. A sensitive, gripping film that recreates the events leading to the courageous revolt of United Flight 93 passengers against the four terrorists who hijacked their plane. This is definitely the kind of film that forces people to talk about their own 9/11 experiences with others after watching this film. Not easy to sit through, but it’s emotionally powerful and well-structured without any unnecessary subplots. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: Very High. Opens nationwide April 28th, 2006. Released by Universal Pictures. Full Review
A Very Serious Person(NY,NY Narrative Competition)-Directed by Charles Busch. Charles Busch stars as a nurse who bonds with a young effeminate boy. This off-beat comedy has moments of hilarity, insight, and warmth, but suffers from a third act that drags for too long. As usual, Charles Busch shines! Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Moderate.
Wah-Wah(Spotlight)-Directed by Richard E. Grant. A deeply-moving indie gem about a young boy who comes-of-age in Swaziland, South Africa. Gabriel Byrne gives a terrific performance as a drunk, abusive father! The rest of the cast also shines, including Nicholas Hoult as the young boy and Miranda Richardson as his unfaithful mother. Julie Walters and Emily Watson are also superb. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: High. Opens May 12th, 2006. Released by Samuel Goldwyn Films. Full Review
Walker Payne(Discovery)-Directed by Matt Williams. During the 1950’s. a father (Jason Patric) enters his dog into the world of dog-fighting to come up with $5,000 or else his ex-wife (Drea de Metteo) will run off with his kids. Slow-paced and poorly-acted by Jason Patric, who comes across as very unlikable and irritating. The second act feels vaguely recalls Amores Perros with shockingly gruesome dogfights that are difficult to watch. It’s equally difficult to care about any character in this film. At 113 minutes, Walker Payne overstays its welcome. Entertainment Value: Low. Spiritual Value: None. Opens May 12th, 2006. Released by Samuel Goldwyn Films.
Who Killed the Electric Car?(Discovery)- Directed by Chris Paine. A documentary about the rise and fall of the electric car during the mid-nineties. Informative and engaging, but it doesn’t dig deep enough or convincingly analyze why the particular “suspects” were guilty or not guilty for the electric car’s fall. Its conclusions or verdicts are too simple without exploring the grey areas, so-to-speak. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: Low. Released by Sony Pictures Classics. Opens June 28th, 2006.
Wordplay(Spotlight)- Directed by Patrick Creason. A documentary about crossword puzzle fanatics who compete in an annual American Crossword Tournament. Many people will compare this to Spellbound, but it doesn’t have as much suspense or personal interviews. Nonetheless, it still remains a fascinating documentary about a lively subculture. The lively interviews include a variety of people from Will Shorts, the crossword editor of the New York Times to Bill Clinton who happens to love crossword solving. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: High.
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