Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New DVD Releases for 10/30/2012

The Campaign – The big new release on Blu-Ray this week is the timely comedy The Campaign. Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell play two men campaigning for a North Carolina congressional seat. Of course lots of slapstick and dirty jokes. Directed by Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents)

Rosemary’s Baby-Just in time for Halloween (barely) is the Blu-Ray release of the classic horror movie Rosemary’s Baby from 1968. The movie is about Rosemary (Mia Farrow) who becomes suspicious of her neighbors as strange things start to happen around her. Winner of Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards and ranked number 9 on AFI Greatest Thrills and is currently at number 221 on IMDB Top 250. Directed by Roman Polanski (Chinatown, The Pianist)

Safety Not Guaranteed-What is someone placed an article in the newspaper saying they had a time machine and was looking for someone to go back in time with them. Well that’s the premise of Safety Not Guaranteed. Three magazine reporters head out to find the guy who claims he can time travel. This is a fun little comedy with Aubrey Plaze, Jake Johnson (New Girl), and Mark Duplass (The League). Got good reviews at Sundance and I enjoyed it when I saw it over the summer. Directed by Colin Trevorrow

Ruby Sparks- An romantic comedy with a fantasy twist. Ruby Sparks is about a writer played by Paul Dano (There Will be Blood) who after getting writers block writes about the girl of his dreams. And one day he wakes up the girl Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) really exists. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine)

A Christmas Story 2-Why make a sequel to a classic that is 30 years old? The only reason is to make money. This story takes place 5 years after the first movie and instead of Ralphie wanting a BB gun he now wants a car. There are no reviews of the movie since the studio did not send out any screeners so take a chance on it if you want.
Directed by Brian Levant (Beethoven, The Flintstones)

Elena- A Russian movie about a nurse named Elena who comes up with a scheme to inherit money for herself and her grandchildren. Played at the Milwaukee Film Festival this year but didn’t get a chance to see it. Also available streaming on Netflix. Directed by Andrey Zvyaginsev (The Return)

Craigslist Joe- A documentary about a guy named Joe who decided to live for 31 days with no money and see if he can find everything he needs from people on craigslist. Interesting concept and produced by Zach Galifianakis. Directed by Joseph Garner

First Position – Another documentary about 6 dancers from around the world who are participating in the Youth America Grand Prix ballet competition. It sounds similar to other movies about kids like Spellbound and Mad Hot Ballroom but is getting some good reviews. Also available streaming on Netflix. Directed by Bess Kargman

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Movies that Shaped My Obession

I figured if you are going to read my movie reviews, which I hope you do, you might want to know a little about me and the movies I like.
People always ask have I always wanted to be a film critic? The answer is no. My passion and obsession with movies grew gradually. I have always like movies. Even as a kid I would watch movies all the time. The Goonies and Stand by Me were some of my favorite movies as a kid. But it wasn’t until my college years that movies became an obsession.
I decided to make a list of movies that played an important part of shaping my passion. This is not a list of my favorite movies because it is a movie that I didn’t like that probably had the biggest impact. But I will start with the movie that had a big impact on me as a kid.
The Stuff- I am sure very few people have even heard of this movie, but it does play an important part in my movie history. While it is not the first movie I saw in the theatre (my parents took me to see E.T. at a drive in but I fell asleep) it is one of the first horror movies I saw. At a sleepover when I was in 4th grade my friend rented a bunch of horror movies and the first one we watched was The Stuff. For those that don’t know it is about this stuff that looks like marshmallow fluff that turns people to zombies. Stupid premise but to a nine year old it was great. That night we also watched A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween 2. While A Nightmare on Elm St. has become one of my favorite horror movies The Stuff still holds a special place as the first horror movie I saw. After that my and my friend would rent all the horror movies we could. I think this disturbed my mom a little because she would always say “Why don’t you get something nice like a Disney movie” Don’t worry mom I turned out ok even after watching all those horror movies.
Titanic- OK I know what you’re thinking “Titanic really?” Well yes. For a movie I didn’t like very much it had a big impact on my relationship with movies. This is when my obsession really started. The two main effects of the movie had little to do with the movie itself and more to do with the way it was received in the world. The first effect was the box office. The amount of money it made was amazing and the number of weeks it spent at number 1 unprecedented and has yet to be matched. It intrigued me to why a movie that I felt was mediocre at best (at the time I would have said it was awful) was doing so well. Because of that I started checking the box office results weekly. I found a website and would read it a couple of times a week. I was fascinated by why some movies made a lot of money and others didn’t and why movies that made a lot opening weekend weren’t the ones that were number 1 all time. For a while I had the top 10 grossing movies of all time and the top 10 opening weekends memorized. The second big effect Titanic had on me was my obsession with The Oscars. Which is still somewhat inexplicable why I am so obsessed to this day. I remember watching the Oscars with my mom as a kid and we would always try to guess who was going to win even though we hadn’t seen any of the movies. But when Titanic was getting all the Oscar talk about best picture I couldn’t believe it. So, I made it a point to watch every other movie that was nominated that year (I still think Good Will Hunting should have won). But after that it was all over. I have seen every movie nominated for best picture since then. I now follow the Oscar race closely and always have an idea of who the favorites are to be nominated. Every year I try to see all the nominees before the nominations are even announced so when the Academy gets it wrong I can authoritatively say who I think should have won. My obsession with the Oscars culminated with me watching every movie that won best picture and blogging about it. Check out that blog at www.stevesmoviepage.blogspot.com.
Men in Black- While Men in Black was a good movie the reason it is on here is because it was the first movie I ever saw by myself in the theatre. There was something always a little weird about going to see a movie by myself. One summer day in Boston it was hot and I was bored. Most of my friends went home for summer break so I decided to see a movie by myself. The first time it felt weird and like everyone was looking at me. And even after the first time it was a while before I did it a second time. Then I met someone who was also a big movie buff and he said he goes to movies by himself all the time. This made me feel a little better. When I moved to Wisconsin and didn’t have any friends in the area it became commonplace to see a movie by myself. While most of the movies I see now are by myself there are times when it does get depressing and I say I won’t go to another movie by myself. But that doesn’t usually last long.
Super Size Me- This is the movie that opened my eyes to how good documentaries could be. It was funny and informative. Before it I always thought that documentaries were boring educational movies. But after seeing Super Size Me I was hooked. Documentaries are now one of my favorite types of movies. I try to convince people to give them a chance that they are not all as boring as some people think they are.
Casablanca- You might be wondering why an old movie is on this list. Well this is the movie that made me realize that old B&W movies can be good. I am ashamed to admit that I use to think that old movies were just boring and if it wasn’t in color it wasn’t worth watching. In 1998 the American Film Institute (AFI) released their 100 Greatest Movies of all time. After I moved to Wisconsin I had a lot of free time and Blockbuster was still around and had this deal where you could rent one new movie and get an older movie for free. Well never one to pass up a deal I decided to watch all the movies on the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time list. Casablanca was listed a number 2 and I couldn’t believe how great that movie was. Bogart is amazing the dialogue was great. I loved it. And I went on to watch the rest of the movies on the list thanks to Blockbuster and TCM. After that was done I watched the 100 Greatest Thrills and started watching movies that were on IMDB Top 250. I now have a pretty good list of favorite older movies. Even though the AFI Lists are criticized for not having foreign film’s on it. I credit it and Casablanca with introducing me to great old movies.

Stephanie Daley- A movie I am pretty sure no one has ever heard of but it in 2006 it was the first movie I saw at Sundance. Going to Sundance in 2006 was a complete fluke. My dad invited me on a ski trip to Salt Lake City and while I was looking into the trip I discovered that Sundance was going to be going on the same time he was planning on going. I figured it would be impossible for me to get tickets but it turned out that it is not that hard. So, I flew in a few days before my dad and saw a couple of movies including Stephanie Daley, and I was hooked. I have been back 3 times since and now watch a larger variety of independent films. One year I got tickets to the documentary short program and that has become one of my must sees every year I go now. It also led me to being on the Short Film Selection Committee for the Milwaukee Film Festival. 

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 4

Paranormal Activity 4 - Rated R

Directed By - Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

Let me start off by confessing something. I am a horror movie fanatic. There, that's out of the way. I was also a child of the 80's. I grew up with Jason, Freddy, Michael and, Leatherface. All of those films spawned many sequels, some great, some not so much. The thing about those sequels is they were for the most part, interchangeable. You didn't have to see Friday the 13th part 5 to understand part 6. You didn't care how Jason got his hockey mask. It was cool. Leatherface was just crazy. It was cool. This brings me today's horror sequels. They are just too confusing for my 80's horror brain to wrap itself around. Paranormal Activity 4 is VERY closely tied to the previous films, to a fault. I didn't know what the hell was happening past the halfway point. I did see the previous films in the franchise and, lost it with this one. You definetly have to see the first 3 films to get any sense of enjoyment out of part 4. This is unfortunate because it could have been a much better film, if it was a new story.

Paranormal Activity 4 is the tale of Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her family. A fairly normal family with everyday problems. Alex has has a little brother named Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp) who is at the center of the story. A woman and her son move in across the street from them and, they start seeing the mysterious boy at odd times. The woman has to spend a few days in the hospital for some reason so, the boy named Robbie (Brady Allen) stays with the family for a few days. This is where things get scary and, I got lost. The strange Robbie is just that, strange. I'm sure the things he says and does were intentional by the writer and directors. Was there something in the previous films about an old fork that can tell the future? I don't remember but, Robbie does. When things get scary, Alex's boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) sets up the numerous computers the family has to record everything on their webcams. I guess this family has a computer in every room. Lucky them. Between them and the camera that Alex always seems to have on, we don't miss a beat. Lucky us. No one questions why she is always video recording everything? No one? Things do get scary because, according to Robbie, the ghost (Toby) doesn't like them. The scares were decent but, predictable. It didnt do anything new in that department. The family's cat was scarier than the ghost at times.

Robbie's mother Katie (Katie Featherston) shows up towards the end of the film. No back story is given on her character. You're just "supposed" to know who she is. Judging by the gasps in the theatre, most did. If you didn't see the previous films, you'd be lost. Katie is no Jason Voorhees. Not yet, at least. The movie did have a sense of doom when she shows up. What follows is nothing short of predictable, played out horror film formula. Only to get you ready for Paranormal Activity 5 next year.

The one saving grace in the film is the acting. It was quite good for an unknown cast. Alex and Ben were very sharp. Likeable characters who, you do develop a relationship with. The child actors in the roles of Wyatt and Robbie were typical inexperienced actors. Not very good in the least. Paramount made this film on the quick and cheap. With a budget of only 6 million dollars, filmed in July of this year, the turnaround is quick and profitable. Promising part 5,6,7 so on and so on. Is this a good thing, you ask? NO WAY! stop these shenanigans now, Paramount! A total reboot is the only way to save this franchise. The story is becoming way to complex. Complex stories do not work in horror films like this. Never have, never will. Stay after the credits to be "treated" to a bonus scene. All I can say is Paranormal Fiesta, anyone? It made no sense to me, at all. Maybe I'm too old or something went over my head. Directed by the talents of Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish), Paranormal Activity 4 was confusing, typical and pointless. If only they reboot with a new story and loose the "found footage" motif, this could be a better franchise. As is, it's just dumb.

1 and a half stars out of 5.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Movie Review: The Master

During the Milwaukee Film Fest I managed to squeeze Oscar hopeful The Master in to a little break I had between festival films. 

The Master is about Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) a returning vet from WWII who is lost in the real world.  His main specialty is making alcohol out of whatever ingredients he can find.  One night after a drunken binge he ends up on a boat belonging to Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who is the leader of a movement called The Cause.  The Master as Dodd likes to be called takes Freddie under his wing and teaches him about the cause and how it can help him become a better man.  Dodd seems to think if he can fix Freddie it will validate the cause.  At first Freddie falls under his spell but things change and Freddie doesn't know what to think. 

Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will be Blood, Magnolia) has made another beautifully filmed and well acted movie.  He seems to have great skill in making a movie just look great and bringing great performances out of actors.  While a lot of talk has deservedly been given to Phoenix and Hoffman for their performances the one performance that really blew me away was Amy Adams as Dodd's wife.  I hope she gets a best supporting actress nomination for the performance. 

As far as the story goes the movie is similar to other Paul Thomas Anderson movies in that it's really good up until at the end. He seems to have a problem coming to a conclusion with his movies.  Like There Will be Blood the end jumps some time into the future to a final confrontation between the two that seems to come out of the blue.  But also like There Will be Blood the final confrontation is riveting even if it doesn't make much sense in the context of the entire movie.  This was one of those movies that I left trying to figure out what to make of the movie. 

Of course the most talk about the movie has been the Scientology connection.  While it appears The Cause has a lot of similarities to Scientology the movie is not about that.  The movie is not about The Cause it is about the two men. 

Overall 4/5 Great performances but ending felt a little confused. 

Killer Joe quickie review

Killer Joe - Rated NC-17

Directed by William Friedkin

Killer Joe is the work of Pulitzer Prize winnig playwright Tracy Letts. It centers on the very dysfunctional Smith family. Led by Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) who is in debt to some mafia types. He hatches a plan to have his abusive mother killed for insurance money. He brings his father (Thomas Hayden Church) into the fold. Unknown to Chris' sleazy step mother (Gina Gershon), his father agrees. Chris then hires "Killer" Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) to do the dirty work for him. Things don't got to plan for Chris and, he doesn't have the money to pay Joe for his "Services". Joe decides to take Chris' sister, Dottie (Juno Temple) as a retainer. Things just go downhill from there. Killer Joe got a lot of buzz close to release. Mainly due to the NC-17 rating it got from the MPAA. The rating was really due to one scene in particular involving a piece of fried chicken. I will leave it at that and let your imagination go where you want it to. I really thought that McConaughey would steal the show with his performance of Joe. Sadly, it was flat and underwhelming. Directed by legendary film maker William Friedkin (The Exorcist), Killer Joe could have been a very witty dark comedy instead, it underwhelms through most of it. The standout perfomance belongs to Juno Temple as Dottie, she was a big surprise here. Killer Joe wasn't a bad movie per se. It just wasn't very interesting to watch. There were moments where you felt things were building up then, dissapointment. Tracy Letts wrote the screenplay based on his 1991 play. Friedkin and Letts also worked together on the creepy 2006 thriller "Bug". The ending is something to take note of as well, it was horrible. I am all for "make your own conclusion" kind of endings ala Christopher Nolan but, this was horrible. I hated investing my time and emotions only to be left hanging at the end. It felt too much like it was emulating earlier Cohen brother's films like Fargo. Unfortunately, it didn't work very well.

2 out of 5 stars

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Movie Review: Sinister

Sinister - Rated R

Directed by Scott Derrickson

Sinister centers on true crime author Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke). After a few failed books, he craves another blockbuster hit so, he moves his family to a town where a family was mysteriously murdered. Unknown to his wife and kids, he moved them into the same house the lived in. This is the set up for Scott Derrickson's (The Exorcisim Of Emily Rose) newest horror film. Upon Oswalt's investigation, he discovers a mysterious box of old 8mm films in the house's attic. Not only do the films contain the murders of the house's previous owners but, also the murders of families all over the country.Oswalt becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth behind the films. Ethan Hawke is very well cast as Oswalt. You feel empathy for him and care about his character and his situation. The film has some very tense moments in it, particularly the footage of the murders. There is a mysterious character that appears in the footage that is quite creepy. Music and sound effects were also very well done and should be noted. They all really add to the atmosphere. The film doesn't do anything new in the horror genre but, is very well made. It is a refreshing change of pace to see a good R rated horror film. It seems that the studios cater to the PG13 crowd these days in the horror genre. Sinister should not be missed if you are a horror fan. It is sure to please.

4 out of 5 stars.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Milwaukee Film Festival Day 15: The Sessions

The closing night film of the 2012 Milwaukee Film Festival was The Sessions.

The Sessions is based on the true story of Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes) a poet who after getting polio as a child spends most of his day in an iron lung.  He is able to spend about 4 hours a day outside the iron lung and must have an assistant push him around in a gurney.  He spends most of his time outside at a church where he becomes friends with Father Brendan (William H. Macy).  After he gets an assignment to write about sex and disabled people he decides at the age of 36 it is time to lose his virginity.  Someone recommends he uses a sex surrogate named Cheryl (Helen Hunt).  Cheryl tells him that her maximum is only 6 sessions but the emotional connection between the two makes it complicated. 

The movie could be considered a romantic comedy but not your typical romantic comedy.  It is quite funny and emotional but has some unusual twists and turns.  Mark O'Brien's sense of humor about his situation keeps the movie light even as he struggles to fill that void he has in his life. 

John Hawkes gives an amazing performance and it is one that might finally get him the recognition he deserves after giving great performances in Winters Bone and Martha Marcy May Marlene. He makes you forget about Marks physical disabilities and all you see is  his emotional vulnerability and his great sense of humor.  Helen Hunt gives another great performance on par with her Oscar winning performance in As Good as it Gets and William H. Macy is great as usual. 

Overall 5/5 Great performances, great story, and well written.  Look for some Oscar nominations for this one. 

Milwaukee Film Festival Day 14: The Sapphires

After taking two days off from the festival to spend time with the family on day 14 I saw The Sapphires.

The Sapphires is a musical comedy about a all Aboriginal girl group from Australia in the 60's.  When 3 Aboriginal sisters go to a talent show They meet a washed up musician Dave (Chris O'Dowd). When he recognizes the talent and the tenacity they have he agrees to be their manager. They end up teaming with their cousin for a life changing trip as entertainers for US soldiers in Vietnam.

With a back drop of racism and war the movie manages to be quite funny. It walks the delicate line of serious and hilarious and does it perfectly. The. cast is amazing and Chris O'Dowd shows he has a bright future ahead of him in comedy. The rest of the cast is also great.  Each of the girls had their own personality which is a credit to the writing and acting.  While the plot is similar to other movies like Dreamgirls I think this movie stands on its own. 

Overall 4/5 Stars.  Great acting, funny and emotional but the story is familiar.

Milwaukee Film Festival Day 11: 17 Girls

17 Girls is a French movie that is based on actual events that occured in Massachusetts where a group of girls all got pregnant at the same time.

In the movie after the popular girl gets pregnant her friends rally around her and support her.  When another girl gets pregnant they talk about how much fun it would be if they all had kids at the same time and they could all help each other and the kids will all have friends.  The it starts and each girl sets out to get pregnant..  As the story spreads through the school more and more girls get pregnant and the parents and school officials are dumbfounded.  At the end there are a total of 17 girls that are pregnant in the class. 

It is slightly disturbing to think that girls could be that bored that having a kid is the only wat to end the boredom.  While the story sounds outrageous it works. You really believe these girls are desperate for something to and are very naive about what having a baby means.  A big part of the believabilty is the acting.  All the girls in the movie do a great job.  There are some parts of the story  that feels like they could have gone more into.  And the ending felt slightly rushed and lefted some unanswered questions.

Overall 4/5 Stars. Good story, good acting but some of the story felt rushed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Milwaukee Film Festival Day 11: The Jeffrey Dahmer Files

When I saw that there was another Jeffrey Dahmer movie coming out I was wondering what new could there be to talk about.  Seems like this has been covered enough.  Well I was wrong.  The movie uses interviews of the investigators and one of his neighbors to tell a personal story of the effect Dahmer had on them. In between interviews there are reenactments of Dahmer's everyday life like him on a bus or drinking beer by the State Fair.  

I really like the interviews with investigators especially the detective who initially interviewed him. It gave great insight to how overwhelmed the police really were. I think the most interesting interview was with the neighbor. A women that was friendly with him and initially couldn't believe that he had done anything wrong. The reinacments had me a little confused. I wasn't sure what they were trying to portray. But the director said afterward that he was trying to show the mundane parts of Dahmer's life. The ending of the movie left me wanting more. Like there could have been a bit more about the trial and Dahmer's murder in jail.

Overall 4/5 stars. Very well done and left me wanting more info.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Milwaukee Film Festival Day 10: Las Acasias

Las Acasias is an Argentinean film about a truck driver Ruben and his passenger Jacinta and her her 8 month old daughter Anahi. 

At first Ruben was reluctant to take a baby on such a long road trip.  But as they travel from Paraguay to Buenos Aires Ruben begins to appreciate the company. 

The movie has very little dialogue and very little happens.  It is a long and pretty uneventful road trip.  As Ruben, German de Silva does an excellent job at showing his emotion through his face without having to say a word.  The baby definitely has the cuteness factor and you can see Ruben bonding with her.  It is a romantic movie not like anything I have ever seen. 

Overall: 2/5 Great subtle acting but too slow for my taste.

Milwaukee Film Festival Day 10: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is a documentary about Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei.  After designing The Birds Nest for the Beijing Olympics Ai Weiwei garnered international fame.  As is fame grew overseas the Chinese government started to crack down on his activities.  The government started following him and set up cameras around his studio.  Yet with the power of the internet Ai Weiwei's found a way to get around the government and his international fame continued to grow.  The documentary follows him as he prepares for several overseas exhibits and he increasingly clashes with the government.  Eventually the government takes him to an undisclosed location and interrogates him for almost 3 months for "tax evasion".  He was released after international pressure. 

The film captures his life and art beautifully.  He turns out to be a fascinating subject and while I don't always get his work it is amazing what he can do and get away with in under such strict government control.  But thanks to twitter, which he is on constantly, and his loyal followers he is able to get his message out. 

Overall: 4/5 Slow at times in the middle but inspirational and fascinating. 

Milwaukee Film Festival Day 10: As Goes Janesville

Check out my blog post on The Oak Creek Patch for my review of As Goes Janesville
Movie Review: As Goes Janesville

If you didn't get to see it at the festival the 60 minute version that aired on PBS is online.


4/5 Stars - Great documentary and very timely. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Milwaukee Film Festival Day 9: Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

A highlight of the Film Festival Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God is a great documentary which is even more impact full because of the Milwaukee connection.

The movie is about the sexual abuse of children by Catholic Priests. It starts with the stories of boys that were molested by a priest at the St. John's School of the Deaf in St. Francis, Wi. While the story starts here in Wisconsin it gradually moves up to the church as a whole and a massive cover up by the Vatican.

While the movie does talk about some of the crimes graphically the focus is the conspiracy and about the victims feeling like the church does not care. The fact that the church knows this goes on and has known for a while but does not punish the perpetrators is sad and disturbing.

The screening was made even more emotional since a few of the subjects in the film were in attendance and did a Q&A at the end.

Overall: 5/5 Stars. Very Emotional

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Milwaukee Film Festival Day 9: The Imposter

The Imposter is a fascinating documentary. Part reenactment and part interviews it tells the story of a family whose son goes missing when he is 13 and is truly a case of truth being stranger then fiction.

Three years after he goes missing a person claiming to be him turns up in Spain. Obviously by the title it turns out he is an imposter and not the missing boy. But the situation gets even more bizarre after the family takes him home and accepts him as their missing son.

Interviews with the family and the imposter shows the complex and bizarre situation. The movie leaves you shaking your head and wondering what the truth really is.

Overall 4/5. Bizarre and fascinating. With more twists then expected.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Milwaukee Film Fest Day 7: The Invisible War

The last and best movie I saw on day 7 was the documentary The Invisible War directed by Kirby Dick (This Movie Not Yet Rated)

The Invisible War is about women who have been sexually abused and raped while serving in the military.  They interview several women who all started out young and eager to serve their country.  All the patriotism and enthusiasm change after they are raped.  But the trauma doesn't stop there.  The movie explores what happens to the perpetrators.  Since the ones committing the crimes are usually higher rank and in charge it leaves the women fearful of filing a complaint.  The complaints that are filed are often swept under the rug  and very few of the rapists are charged and punished. 

The stories of the women are heartbreaking and disturbing.  The fact that most of the men who raped the women are still actively serving and some have been promoted is even more disturbing.  The movie brings to light a problem in the military and after viewing the movie the military has changed some policies but more still needs to be done.

Overall 5/5 stars.  Disturbing documentary but brings an important issue to light and is a call to action. 

Milwaukee Film Fest Day 7: Policeman

The second movie I saw on day 7 was the Israeli movie Policeman. Interesting that I saw a movie from Iran then a movie from Israel back to back. 

Policeman follows two groups of people on opposite sides of the law.  First we meet a group of guys in an anti-terrorists task force.  The we meet a group of young radicals who want to make a bold statement.  After the radicals take some hostages the task force gets called in to take them out. 

While the movie has an interesting story it feels like it spends too much time on the back story of the policemen that has no bearing on the ending of the movie.  There appears to be some kind of cover up from a previous job that we never really learn about and with the attention spent on it you would expect it to have some relevance to the story but it doesn't.  By the time we get to the end and the radicals have taken their hostages the movie picks up a bit and gets more interesting but the finale is anti climatic. 

The highlight is the girl who plays one of the radicals.  She gives a great performance and wish the movie focused more on her.

Overall 2/5 Stars.  What could be an interesting story is just a boring set up with not much payoff. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Milwaukee Film Fest Day 7: Goodbye

The first of three movies I saw on day 7 was Goodbye about a pregnant Iranian woman. 

Zareh is a lawyer in Iran who works to defend human rights.  After her husband got in trouble and is gone Zareh must cope with being alone and pregnant in a country that does not value women's rights.  Her law license is revoked and she forced to seek help from from a "fixer" to try and get a visa so she can leave the country and have her baby someplace else. 

The acting is good and the story is interesting but the movie just moves very slowly.  Maybe I shouldn't have watched it after getting little sleep.  I had a very tough time trying to stay awake. 

The interesting part of this movie is the story of the director Mohammad Rasoulof.  Like the Zareh in the movie he was trying to find a visa to leave the country, but was arrested for protesting the government.  After being released from jail he made this protest movie while being monitored by the government.  So the fact that the movie got made is a miracle. 

Overall 2/5 interesting story but too slow for my tastes. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Milwaukee FIlm Fest Day 5: Compliance


One of my most anticipated movies at the film fest Compliance did not disappoint. 
The movie is about a fast food manager who gets a phone call from "Officer Daniels"  claiming that one of her employee was caught stealing.  The "Officer" then explains that the girl is in big trouble and that they will have to hold her in the back room till his team arrives.  Of course this is all one big prank and the caller is no police officer just a guy who gets off on power trips. 
The movie is very well done and will keep you in a state of shock as the caller sees how far people will go.  Once they strip search her you think they can't go much further, but they do.  What makes this even more disturbing is that it has happened at fast food restaurants and more then once. 
Some people have trouble watching this movie and walk out.  I think that is because they don't like being challenged, or they just rationalize it and say these people are stupid and thin they could never fall for that and dismiss the movie as dumb.  I love this movie because it does challenge the viewer.  Would you do something like that?  Of course everyone will say no, but until you are in a situation you never know.
With great performances that are already getting Oscar Buzz and a disturbing and challenging story I think this is one of the best movies of the year and a must see.
5 out of 5 stars.