The Bang Bang Club

Based on a true story of a group of combat photojournalists as they capture images of the final days of apartheid in South Africa from the period 1990-1994. This Canadian-South African 2010 drama/documentary style film grips you from the very beginning in many edge of your seat clips as well as graphic scenes of the violence.

From the opening frame to the last portrays the frustrations of four photographers and their friends as they snap photos of the inhumanity of civil strife as it tears apart a country. Although the violence is upsetting it is a film worth watching. The Bang-Bang Club members star Ryan Phillipe as Greg Marinovich,  Taylor Kitsch as Kevin Carter, Neels Van Jaarsveld as João Silva and Frank Rautenbach as Ken Oosterbroek as a tightly knit group to get the story of country caught in turmoil through the lens of a camera.

Grab the popcorn, put some butter on it and pick out another snack that suits your fancy although I will warn you that watching the compelling scenes you may just forget you have any snacks at all.

Illusion

In this 2004 film, an iconic movie director, Donald Baines is in the twilight of his life where he ponders the whereabouts of his son and what has become of him.

Enter stage right, Stan, his assistant (not of this world as he’s dead) brings a silver lining to the silver screen showing Christopher’s (the movie director’s son) life in three separate scenarios. It’s sort of like A Christmas Carol and the three ghosts as it tells what was, what is, and what will be.

The ailing director regrets his past by ignoring his son but redeems himself in the end by arranging a scene written for Christopher and Isabelle to meet – you have to watch this as I’m not going to give the ending away, come on, you should know be by now 🙂

Michael A. Goorjian does a great job both as actor and director, but I believe Kirk Douglas did a remarkable job of portraying a dying soul

Cautiva

Foreign film – Argentina (2003).

An award winner at the San Sebastian Film Festival. The movie is based on the turbulent time of the military regime in Argentina during the 1970s. The plot does not focus on the activists of the era but what happened to the children of the activists.

Cristina, an affluent and almost perfect student, is summoned to the principal’s office and is escorted to a judge informing her that her real parents were taken from her when she was very young and were imprisoned. We first learned that Cristina’s adoptive parents found her on an abandoned train.

As a result, Cristina is taken from her adoptive parents and awarded to her paternal grandmother. Angry at first Cristina, born Sofia Lombardi, struggles to find out what really happened to her birth parents. In her journey she is brought to an old nurse, who remembers the situation quite well as it was during the time the Argentines won the world cup in 1978. The nurse retells the story to Cristina/Sofia that seems to turn Sofia toward her new destiny

She eventually warms to the idea of having a grandmother and cousins to grow up with. Although this is a heart warming story, it does have its slow moments but if you prevail I think you’ll enjoy this one.

It is believed that over 30,000 activists were imprisoned back then and to date 74 children have been found and returned to their birth families.

Another Earth

A 2011 independent film tells a story of a young teenager, Rhoda Williams, on her way to MIT to explore the galaxies of other worlds. She’s bright, talented, and has exceptional qualities. John Burroughs on the other hand is married with a child and another on the way, is on the top of his profession as a composer. He’s bright, talented, and has exceptional qualities.

However, on the eve of discovering another earth just outside of the moon’s shadow an accident happens killing Burroughs’ wife and family while young Rhoda goes to jail for the crime. Once out and on probation, Rhoda lands a cleaning job as a janitor at the local high school.

Compelled to say she’s sorry to John for the accident, Rhoda couldn’t find it in her to tell him the truth. So, she becomes his house cleaner and the two engage into an unlikely affair she knows is wrong but is helpless to stop. The affair is too much for Rhoda to bear so she tells him the story. John almost chokes her to death.

Meanwhile, during the affair Rhoda enters a contest to win a ticket to travel to Another Earth and she wins and decides to offer John the ticket. Rhoda’s theory is that John’s family is alive and well on the new earth – oh, did I forget to mention when the new earth was discovered its inhabitants were duplicates of what we have on this earth. Okay, now that the cat’s out of the bag, there’s a surprise ending.

 

Lunopolis

I first put this movie into my instant queue as I thought it was a Sci-fi movie. However, when I started watching it I thought I was watching a documentary. So, I almost turned it off as I was in the mood for a Sci-fi flick, not a documentary.

I realized the movie was about two documentary filmmakers discovering a conspiracy with the government – enter the Sci-fi movie.

It appears that moon people (humans really but they live on the moon) are involved in time travel through the Church of Lunopolis (ohhh, sound familiar, Bollywood fans?) as this discreet organization protects the moon people.

There were some really neat parts of this movie that amazed you and you could almost believe this is a Sci-fi documentary and people do exist on the moon deciding our fate. A bit tongue & cheek at times but enjoyable nonetheless.

Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School

I was perusing the 90+ movies in my instant queue (I need to think about retirement so I can watch more movies) and decided to watch this as the availability was going to expire soon. This independent, romantic 2005 film stars Robert Carlyle, Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Donnie Wahlberg and Mary Steenburgen.

Even when the (and I know I’m getting ahead of myself here) movie was over I watched the credits slowly move from the bottom of my TV screen to the top. The reason for this was quite simple – the music. To say the least it was quite enticing.

On to the story, Steve Mills (John Goodman), an ex-con on his way to Marylin Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School to meet Lisa, a young girl he accidentally hit when they were kids. He promises to meet her at the dance school on the fifth day of the fifth month of the fifth year of the new millennium. However, he crashes into a barrier on the highway en-route to the “charm school”.  Bread maker, Frank Keane (Robert Carlyle) is delivering his bread and comes along Steve after his crash and tries to keep his distance from the crashed vehicle.

On the way to the hospital, Steve tells the story of why he’s going there and after a spell realizes he won’t make his promise so he lures Frank into going for him and Frank promises to go to the dance to find Lisa.

Here’s the predictable part, he doesn’t find Lisa but meets Meredith Morrison (Marisa Tomei). Enter love and destiny and I’ll leave it at that. Frank does have to overcome his own demons as well as an over-protective step brother (Donnie Wahlberg).

I think the acting was pretty good but too much sentimental overtones clouded what could have been a real nice story. The best part of the movie was the musical score which I enjoyed immensely.

Hollywoodland (2006)

Diane Lane does a great job portraying Toni Mannix who helps the career of George Reeves (Ben Affleck). Seemingly unhappy in his role as Superman and the image he has to keep up, George looks for other roles while having an affair with Toni. Sounds like the tabloids of Hollywood.

A detective that is down on his luck, gets an inside scoop from the police that certain details of the apparent suicide don’t seem to add up and it’s nothing the law wants to uncover. Luis Simo (Adrien Brody) tries to find clues that the Adventures of Superman star’s death was other than suicide. One of his biggest theories is that Reeve’s new girlfriend, Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney) accidentally shot him. Or was it someone else that had him murdered?

Incendies

Foreign film, drama – French (2010).

In this noir drama twins, Jeanne and Simon arrive at the attorney’s office for the reading of their mother’s will. Their quest is to deliver two letters, one to a brother they never knew and one to their father they thought was dead. In their travels to the Middle East they discover hidden family secrets. Flashbacks to the Lebanese civil war in the 1970’s are intense giving the viewer an insight into the mother’s character. A shocking ending will have you mesmerized. Add in a couple of bags of red licorice and add butter to the popcorn.

Franklyn

This 2008 noir film is a suspense filled Sci-Fi thriller from start to finish and if you’re a Sci-Fi nut like me you’ll enjoy this one. It took me awhile but I finally figured out what was going on and I enjoyed this immensely. But then again I love Sci-Fi movies. It takes place in two intertwined worlds. A vigilante is on a quest to defeat his foe in Meanwhile City and students in present day London mix channels with his world. The characters of each psychological universe begin to unfold and similarities surface giving the viewer the answers to a surprising ending.

American East

Drama – (2007).

During volatile times, an Arab Muslim looks into his own soul as he is about to go into business with a Jewish partner. The Jewish partners except one are reluctant to enter into a contract for the new restaurant. The movie addresses some of the political and public issues of the times but I saw this through the lens of two friends becoming partners from two entirely different cultures, working together for a dream they have developed.