If I Had Wings

I will probably shift back into some darker films soon, but in the meantime I’ve been really in the mood for movies that just make you happy. The kind you don’t have to think too hard about that make you all warm and fuzzy inside. So without further ado:

Name: If I Had Wings

Director: Allan Harmon

Writer: Michael Markus and Tim Stubinski

Runtime: 89 min.

Rating: PG

Synopsis: A blind high school student, eager to run cross country, partners up with an unlikely ally in order to get a shot at joining the team.

Review: This movie is feel-good through and through. If you want to watch something to motivate you and make you feel better about the day, then here you go. This family friendly film features a blind student, Alex, who decided he wants to run cross country. Unable to find someone to team up with him his father turns to a Juvenille Delinquent he is the probation officer for, in hopes of giving the student one last chance to avoid jail and allowing his son the chance to run. Now I’m sure you can imagine where this is going, and it’s in the same vain of movies like This is Us or The Fault is in our Stars without all the romance, and a much happier ending. You may think, wait how is that possible? It’s really about the tone, the writing, the style of cinematography, the choice in protagonist.

Now Richard Harmon is not blind, but he does a decent job of convincing me he is. When I turn off my critique lens I have no problem believing him. Though in reality I think Jaren Bartlett (Brad) stole the show. Maybe it’s because I think he has a cute face and solid muscle tone, but Bartlett presented what I thought was just an amazing performance. Plus, he’s Native (or more technically First Nations as he’s from Canada) and as you probably know by now I’m a sucker for a film where one of its’ protagonists is of a less casted minority. The inclusion of Native/First Nations actors into this film was a breathe of fresh air and if Bartlett is still acting, I hope to see him in other larger rolls in the future.

Overall, this movie is really well done. It is family safe (if you’ve got kids or teens who want a movie night and you air on the conservative side of content) and no matter what your age a portion of it will probably make you smile. There are characters for just about everyone to relate to. Besides, who doesn’t love a feel good sports movie about some disenfranchised boys looking to make good for themselves?

If you’re interested check out the trailer here

Or, if you’re already feeling it watch it now on VUDU (free with ads) or order it for $1.99 on Amazon Video. Also available on Netflix, I think… don’t quote me on that. Netflix has a link in the search query but I’m currently without a Netflix subscription so I can’t double check.

Image is a still shot from the film and therefore being cited below:

If I Had Wings. Dir. Allan Harmon. Perf. Richard Harmon and Jaren Brandt Bartlett. Two 4 the Money Media, 2013. VUDU. Web. 15 May 2017.

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Unfinished Song

Name: Unfinished Song

Director: Paul Andrew Williams

Writer: Paul Andrew Williams

Runtime: 90 min.

Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: A man struggles to accept the inevitable passing of his wife, who diagnosed with terminal cancer is given a month to live.

Review: This film is very honest and refreshing. A lot of people are affected by cancer either directly or indirectly, and while many people beat it, many others lose the battle. Its’ a very difficult thing to swallow, especially if you’re the main character in this film. For each sad moment there’s a happy one, and though I didn’t cry a more sensitive person (I dont’ cry often watching movies) will probably shed a tear or two as often as they laugh. Though bitter sweet, I was left smiling and feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

The best part about this movie is that it features a very large cast of 50+ aged actors. I love when I watch a movie that’s a real story with real people, and features actors who frequently aren’t featured. Even with the age difference I could relate to their very human feelings and experiences. Finding a group of people to support you in the event of loss is necessary no matter what age. If you want something real featuring people you don’t usually see in films, this is the movie for you.

On the more technical side, the writing is solid (though it has a few cheesy moments) and the visuals are enjoyable. It’s not some sort of cinematic masterpiece, but it is a very enjoyable film.

If you’re interested check out the trailer here

Or head over to VUDU and watch for free now! (with ads) Also available for rental for $1.99 on Amazon Video and Youtube.

Image is a still shot from the film and therefore being cited below:

Unfinished Song. Dir. Paul Andrew Williams. Perf. Terrance Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, and Gemma Arterton. Steel Mill Pictures, 2012. VUDU. Web. 13 May 2017.

The Hunters

Title: The Hunters

Director: Nisha Ganatra

Writer: Matthew Huffman

Runtime: 85 min.

Rating: PG

Synopsis: Two children discover their parents are secret agents and that they’ve disappeared on an epic journey to gather the pieces of a magic mirror.

Review: This one may very well be a terrible movie to write a review on, as I have little good to say about it, but I’m doing it anyone because if anything someone can make a solid drinking game out of it. Obviously every star has to get their start somewhere, and if you love Alexa PenaVega (credited as Alexa Vega) and Robbie Amell (known mostly for TV) you may get a kick out of this.

The writing is sloppy, the visuals are unexciting, and the story is overdone. Harshness aside, I think the actors did the best they could to bring the content they were given to life. It’s sort of like a bad SyFy movie meets The Librarian meets Spy Kids. I’m serious though, you could make a SOLID drinking game out of this because every trope necessary in a “teens rescue their secretly secret-agent parents” film is there. Better yet, we should start a petition to convince Screen Junkies to dig into this one, they’d have waaayyy too much fun. Now if you can make it past the bad writing and un-eventful visuals, it is a decent family-friendly movie. It’s not filled with gratuitous nudity or violence. Family-friendly can be tough to find, so give it a watch if you’re with the kids, have nothing better. Or, if you’re terribly bored and don’t mind suspending your disbelief by more then is usually required, it’s better then some of the atrocious stuff I’ve suffered through. And if you’ve got a taste for somewhat cheesy films that take themselves seriously when they shouldn’t? Well, this may just be perfect. Though in all honesty, I’m impressed the director managed to make anything watchable out of that really really mediocre dialogue… Then again it is a TV movie, so I should keep my expectations in check. Even my description sounds ridiculous…

If you’re interested check out the trailer here

Or head over to VUDU and watch now for free (with ads)!

Image is a still shot from the film and therefore being cited below:

The Hunters. Dir. Nisha Ganatra. Perf. Alexa Penavega, Robbie Amell, and Keenan Tracey . Hallmark Entertainment, 2013. VUDU. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

A Monster Calls

I want to start off by saying sorry I haven’t posted in a while! I haven’t been feeling well and though I’ve been watching a lot of movies, I haven’t had the motivation to post on them. Now I will!

Title: A Monster Calls

Director: J.A. Bayona

Writer: Patrick Ness (adapted from the book of the same title and same author)

Runtime: 108 min.

Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: A little boy, facing multiple tragedies, creates a monster who helps him handle each of life’s moments.

Review: Decent children’s movies can be difficult to find, and many of them seem to lack in substance. I know this isn’t an indie film, but since it’s also not one that got mountains of attention when released I figure it deserves a post! With only a few studios catering to younger audiences, kids don’t get a lot of options throughout the year. This is an exception. Filled with rich content and a plot that has an ending that wraps up like a bow, it’s a good one for a family night. Maybe not for tiny kids, as the monster may be a little frightening, but anyone over the age of 7 would enjoy it. The graphics are fascinating, and the switch between the real and whimsical world are amazing. It didn’t pull me out for a moment, it kept me following non stop.

Dealing with trauma can be difficult for children, and they have to find ways to cope. This exploration is a look at one way in which a child may do that. In the case of the story, the boy is going through about a million terrible things at once, but even the smallest travesty for a small child has to be coped with one way or another. This is just a look into one kid, but I feel it could be useful to parents with kids who are experiencing a lot whether it’s bullying, a family death, etc etc.

Overall I totally recommend this one for anyone who wants a film that isn’t overly violent and has a very poignant ending. It’s extremely heart felt, and though sad is filled with a lot of happy moments.

If you’re interested, check the trailer out here

Or, rent it now from your local Redbox!

Image is a still shot from the film and therefore being cited below:

A Monster Calls. Dir. J. A. Bayona. Perf. Lewis MacDougall and Liam Neeson. Focus Features, 2016. DVD.

Solace

Title: Solace

Director: Afonso Poyart

Writer: Sean Bailey and Ted Griffin

Runtime: 101 min.

Rating: R

Synopsis: An FBI investigator that is  pre-cognoscente comes out of retirement in order to help catch a killer.

Review: I have to start off by saying I’m a sucker for Anthony Hopkins. Ever since Silence of the Lambs I’ve been fascinated with his acting skills. Hand him some solid writing (which this has) and he will turn your masterpiece up a few notches beyond what you thought its’ threshold was. If I get the chance to ever work with him I’ll take it up in a heartbeat. That said, I’m sure you can imagine this is the part where I gawk at his performance. Hopkins, Jeffrey Morgan, and Abby Cornish really meshed well throughout the film and though I didn’t find Morgan of Cornish’s characters nearly as fascinating as Hopkins’ character, that may be my own personal bias.

Moving on to the visuals, this feels like Requiem for a Dream and Seven had a crime thriller baby. I really enjoyed the somewhat experimental moments that wrapped up nicely at the very end. You’re not left with a lot of questions in regards to the events of the film when its’ over, but there is plenty of room to generate questions after. It’s very much a psychological experiment in perception, time, politics, suffering, etc. that may make you wonder, if you could stop suffering, would you?

Overall this is the perfect movie for someone who doesn’t mind some violence (It’s a crime thriller, there’s blood, no way around it) and for their minds to sort of meld around the experience. Whether you’re into philosophical arguments or just like a movie with a solid and interesting killer with murky intentions, this is the film for you. If anything, the visuals are gorgeous, the soundtrack intense, and the experimental nature of the whole film has your brain constantly moving and wondering what it all means. But, thinking is optional since the film answers all your questions at the end. It’s a solid mesh between Avante Garde and Narrative.

If you’re interested, check out the trailer here

Or head over to your local Redbox and rent a copy! Also available on VUDU for $3.99

Image is a still shot from the film and therefore being cited below:

Solace. Dir. Afonso Poyart. Perf. Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Abbie Cornish. FilmNation Entertainment, 2015. DVD.

C.O.G.

Title: C.O.G.

Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez

Writer: Kyle Patrick Alvarez and David Sedaris

Runtime: 88 min.

Rating: R

Synopsis: A Yale graduate flips his life upside down when he decides to move off the grid to Oregon.

Review: This semi-autobiographical film is yet another example of the clash between rural towns, religion, and the gay community. Though not focused on those particular issues, it has a very real feel about it. I grew up in a small town, and it just so happens I was raised in Oregon. Showing a different side then most people are used to (let’s face it, half of you imagine sprawling trees, marijuana, and free love. Or Portlandia… which aren’t all inaccurate but like any state there is more then one side) this film does something a lot of movies don’t. There’s no real catharsis, no happy-go-lucky ending, and yet the film contains a certain aspect of realism that makes it feel good.

Living in Boulder for four years I saw a lot of kids like this one, fresh out of college who want to go experience rural life because they’ve never left the city.  They want something different. Their romanticized version of what the country is though, is never reality. (And I only get to say that because I grew up in the middle of nowhere). The main character carries the audience with few words as he absorbs life in a way he’s never experienced before. The cinematography is quite lovely as well, helping carry the audience from moment to moment. Not to mention the overall color and tone of the film is so intriguing, I may give it a second view to see how color corresponds with feel, or if it was just arbitrary. There are moments where you laugh, cry, and in general whether you’ve ever been this kid or not you can probably somehow relate to him.

I highly recommend this one for someone who likes a dark comedy feel in their drama, and who likes living in the moment of a life of a character. I personally was left wondering, what happens to this character next?  And if that’s how you like to end a film, this is the one for you. Also a side note: Though not violent there’s plenty of profanity, which I know some people are sensitive to (and is probably the majority of the reason for the R rating) so keep that in mind while watching. If that doesn’t bother you? You’re all good to go!

Interested? Watch the preview here

Or, head over now to VUDU to watch free (with ads)! Also available on Hulu.

Image is a still shot from the film and therefore being cited below:

C.O.G. Dir. Kyle Patrick Alvarez. Perf. Jonathan Groff and Denis O’Hare. Focus World, 2013. VUDU. Web. 30 Apr. 2017.

The Perfect Family

Title: The Perfect Family

Director: Anne Renton

Writers: Paula Goldberg and Claire Riley

Runtime: 84 min

Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: A devout Catholic woman, nominated for Catholic Woman of the Year, must come to terms with the fact that her family is less then perfect while trying to win the award of a lifetime.

Review: This is what I’d call a feel good movie. It’s not quite a comedy as advertised, and is more of a dramedy. If you’ve ever lived in a super religious family, or grew up Catholic, this is probably a somewhat familiar story that you’ve either witnessed or heard. The not-so-Catholic kids do things the uber religious parent doesn’t approve of and chaos ensues. Dogma exists in just about every creed, credo, religion, etc etc. I witnesses a lot of it myself growing up so this story wasn’t anything new, but the way it plays out is very refreshing. The mother is clearly grappling with some intense emotions and she feels she must decide between her family or her religion.

Overall, while the film wasn’t anything particularly memorable or breathtaking, but it was enjoyable. Some of the jokes fell flat however I may not be the audience it was intended for. Seeing older actresses getting starring roles is few and far between, and made me extremely happy. I love when films take the time to represent a world film usually ignores, which is anyone over 40. It also grapples some with politics, religion, familial bonds, and all the familiar things many Americans themselves have to face. Not to mention it’s a female director telling a story which allows a woman to be what she is, which is a woman. The overall feeling is very ernest and honest. The world is complex, and it shows.

So while not phenomenal or insanely breathtaking, if you want something on for a couple hours that you don’t have to think too much about that will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside when it’s finished, this is the movie for you. It may not quite do it for me, but as I’m sure you’ve noticed by now I tend to prefer thrillers or dark comedies. So for people who like a different style and wanna feel good? This is a good one for you!

Interested? Watch the preview here

Or, if you’re already interested watch free now on VUDU! (with ads) or rent on Amazon video for $2.99

Image is a still shot from the film and therefore being cited below:

The Perfect Family. Dir. Anne Renton. Perf. Kathleen Turner and Emily Deschanel. Gravitas Ventures, 2012. VUDU. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

Please, if my citations are incorrect let me know! I want to make sure to give credit where credit is due. The artists at work put a lot of time and effort into their films, I’m just here to help bring exposure to said films.