Jane Eyre (in theaters now)

3 05 2011

Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 2 hrs.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, 7.5/10

I can’t help but think Charlotte Bronte would have been pleased with the most recent remake of her novel Jane Eyre. The film holds true to the gothic themes of the novel and does not fail to portray Jane in the same plain and yet heroic light in which Bronte’s original work depicts her.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Restrepo

8 04 2011

Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hr. 33 min.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, 7.8/10

Restrepo takes its viewers into an uncomfortable setting–the battlefield of Afghanistan. Although relatively bloodless, it shows all of the emotions that come with war from addiction to killing, soldiers goofing off with one another and the pain that comes from losing a friend. Most striking, it shows it all as it unfolds. There are no actors. There are no reenactments. Everyone has their emotions on their sleeves and all the benefits and costs to war are exposed.

While not strictly an international film, Restrepo shows the difficulties American soldiers face in attempting to communicate with cultures extremely different from their own. Soldiers must bear a heavy burden as they negotiate with tribal leaders, fight off Taliban fire and manage their own longings to return home.

There is nothing glorious about Restrepo. There is no grand reception upon their departure or return to the U.S. There is no idealism to their days spent in a hot, small outpost in the middle of the Afghan countryside. There is nothing to be dreamed about in fondness in the future. But that, the filmmakers show, is real, unfiltered war.





The Story of Qiu Ju

26 03 2011

Rating: PG
Runtime: 1 hr. 40 min.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, 8/10

I began watching The Story of Qiu Ju with the expectation that the seemingly strong-willed pregnant woman Qiu Ju would be a valiant heroine who saves her family’s honor. I was wrong. By the end you aren’t really sure who is most to blame for all the trouble, Qiu Ju, the village chief who is feuding with Qiu Ju’s family, or the Chinese judicial system.

The best part of this film is not a beautifully written plot or flashy camera shots. Instead, this film gives viewers an incredible insight into Chinese culture. It may not be glamorous or entertaining, but it is a complex system of maneuvering between societal, personal and legal obligations.

Qiu Ju is not a heroine. Not in the traditional sense of the word. She is not always right. She does not fix everyone’s problems. She wants what is best for her family. She wants to be respected. She worries. She makes mistake. She is strong. She is a Chinese woman.





The White African

18 03 2011

Rating: Unrated

Runtime: 1 hr. 30 min.

Rotten Tomatoes: 7.6/10 97%

Foreign documentaries often focus on injustices done to minorities, but rarely are those minorities white men. The White African tells the story of a farmer and his family who live in Zimbabwe during the time when Robert Mugabe is trying to incite division between the blacks and whites. Without portraying all black Zimbabweans negatively, the film appears to keep a balanced view of those who are racist and those who want justice, no matter what their skin color.

Despite beatings and death threats, white farmers in Zimbabwe fight to keep the land that they rightfully own. One cannot watch this documentary without comparing it to apartheid in South Africa, allowing a reflection on human nature and the realization that people have the will and the capacity to either accept or discriminate against each other. The White African follows the international law suit the white farmers have against Robert Mugabe, making the appropriately long-winded like the prolonged suit.

Will justice prevail? Well, like life, it’s a little more complicated than that.





Encounter Point

11 03 2011

Rating: Unrated
Runtime: 1 hr. 28 min.
Rotten Tomatoes: 7.2/10, 100%

This is the first movie I have seen that has for me truly humanized the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Though this film is now five years old, it is still extremely relevant as the fighting continues. Throughout the world, we generally only hear about the negative aspects of the situation. We rarely hear about the hundreds of people who are trying to reconcile the two sides through dialogue and understanding.

Encounter Point shows the stories of 28 families who have lost children in during the conflict and how they are learning to cope with their loss and forgive and make peace with those who killed their children. This film will move you to tears as you see the deep love and hate people on both sides of the issue express. Without simplifying the situation, Encounter Point gets to the heart of the matter–that there is no easy solution, that solution has to start from within the Israeli and Palestinian people, and peace will take time, a lot of it.

A breath of fresh air from many movies that seem to take sides on the issue, Encounter Point is a must see.

After you watch the film, click here to read more about one of the mothers, Robi Damelin, and how she responded to the sniper that killed her son after the sniper was arrested in the end of the film.





True/False Review: Secret Screening Green

5 03 2011

Each year, True/False brings in movies that have not yet had their premier. They do not announce the name of the movie until the audience is already in their seats and then the audience makes an unspoken pact not to reveal which film it was so as not to ruin its premier at future film festivals.

So, unfortunately, I cannot give any details of this film except to say that it is a must see. The film will keep you thinking for days to come. In fact, this film embodies what True/False stands for, the blurred line between reality and lies.

Here is the description  True/False gave of Secret Screening:Green. I hope you take the chance to see this amazing film…

“A tale of greed, exploitation and the media frenzy that surrounds a child prodigy – this Secret Screening is documentary storytelling at its finest. It’s a carefully constructed mystery, and a film that moves expertly from gleeful emotional highs to shocking lows. But, in the end, we’re left with a touching look at the loving relationship between a teacher and his pupil.”





Manufactured Landscapes

25 02 2011

Rating: Unrated

Runtime: 1 hr. 23 min.

Rotten Tomatoes: 7.3/10, 83%

The dialogue in Manufactured Landscapes doesn’t say much, but the pictures say it all. The film follows around photographer Edward Burtynsky as he shoots pictures of the changing landscapes all around the world. Following a striking and appropriately drawn out several minutes of going down row after row in a Chinese manufacturing plant, the documentary continues to amaze with its striking angles of the impact humans are having on the environment. Read the rest of this entry »