REVIEW: The Ocean of Helena Lee

Girls

Last year, Martin Scorsese penned a public letter to his daughter, expressing how films nowadays can be made for little money and how important it is to maintain the spark that leads one to making a film. He’s right; what’s unique about this time is that anyone can be a filmmaker. All anyone needs is a camera and an editing system, and he/she can make a film just the way that he/she originally envisioned, without any interference whatsoever. With that, the filmmaker’s voice is preserved, which is something that any director or writer working in Hollywood would kill for.

I couldn’t help but think back to this letter after watching Jim Akin’s second feature-length film, The Ocean of Helena Lee, because it encapsulates just what Scorsese wrote about. Here is a film that was produced with just a thousand dollars and – from its first to final frame – expresses and maintains its filmmaker’s vision and voice. While it does have its fair share of flaws, you can’t help but admire its spirit and tenacity to show and tell a personal human experience.

Continue reading

I Need a Beer: The Frozen Dog

Frozen_dog_Wallpaper_vmhp2When I moved to Upstate NY and saw that I had a large pond in front of the home I would be living in, I thought it was awesome. Then I remembered I had a not-quite-two-years-old boxer who does whatever the fuck she wants. That’s when the nightmares started. It’s a cold, snowy day and Evie is running around outside and then crack-yelp-splash, she’s falling through the ice and I can’t get to her. I’d wake up freaked out and panicked only to realize that it was just a dream and Evie was in California.

Well, Evie is not in California any more. She’s here. And the first day I took her outside, she ran on top of the pond. Yup, it’s her world and she don’t care if I want her to be safe, she’s running where she wants. Fortunately it was cold as hell and the ice held. However, two days later, it was a balmy 60-degree day and we’re out for a walk. And that is how our story begins… Continue reading

Age of Ultron: The Comic Book Experience on Screen

avengers-age-of-ultron-collageI feel like most people had high expectations going into this movie. I did not. I am not weighed down by silly ideas like “a movie should be good” or “will I believe that these characters are the Avengers” or even, “What are they avenging?” Unlike Jun; who walks in with a notepad in one hand, and a Filmmaking for Dummies in the other; I just need some action, a few one-liners, something that doesn’t look cheap, and you’ve got me hooked. Just kidding Jun… Just kidding…  Continue reading

REVIEW: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Group Shot

Avengers: Age of Ultron has a lot of expectations to juggle. It’s the follow-up to the all-time biggest superhero film, so moviegoers naturally anticipate a bigger, grander picture with new characters. It’s tasked with pushing the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) narrative closer to the inevitable showdown that we’ll see in the two-part Avengers: Infinity War. Director and writer Joss Whedon said he’s looked to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather Part II, arguably two of the best sequel films, as inspirations. I’ve never seen so much coverage regarding a film’s opening weekend box office prospects since Avatar. Under such pressure, it’s naive to believe that the film won’t buckle, and buckle it occasionally does. Nevertheless, this globetrotting flick never fails to entertain with its relentless action and energy, even though its reach exceeds its grasp.

Continue reading

Predicting the 87th Academy Awards

86th Oscars®, Governors Ball Preview

(UPDATE: 02/22/15, 9:26 p.m.: I went 19/24 this year, which is about my average when it comes to predicting the Oscars over the years. The categories I got wrong were Director, Animated Feature, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, and Sound Mixing. Of these, Director, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, and Sound Mixing were really tricky categories to predict. Here’s to better luck next year!)

The time has come to take my annual psychic test, and I find myself both excited and unsure. The Oscars ceremony is set to televise in less than 24 hours, and I’ll be second-guessing my predictions down to the wire. This is the most competitive Oscar race in recent memory (even with this year’s snubs in mind – I cry for thee, A Most Violent Year), and for those who have been following this race for years, we’re in for a treat. There’s only a handful of guaranteed wins, and it’s so close for a good number of categories that only one in as many as three films can win that coveted statuette. This is going to be a nail-biter, and I find it humorous and somewhat sad how I’m using that word to describe an awards event that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

Continue reading

REVIEW: A Most Violent Year

CityscapeWatching A Most Violent Year is a blast from the past. It hearkens back to the brooding crime drama films from the ’70s and ’80s, which were irresistibly good ol’ fashioned adult entertainment. When was the last time we saw those types of films? Those were films that weren’t afraid to dive into dark territory yet packed nourishing food for thought – the films that showcased decent and sympathetic characters driven to making decisions that determine who they will be. This is a film that has all these goodies on full display, and what a grand show it is.

Continue reading