Film Review: The Young Cast of “Skater Girl” Shines Despite a Disjointed Script

My review for Skater Girl on Film Festival Today!

This film really made me want to bust out my rollerblades…

Skater Girl treats both the titular character and her sport with a lot of heart. Beautiful intentions are on display here, between some gorgeous, energetic cinematography and a few stellar performances by young and relatively unknown actors. The downsides are an inconsistent tone and a plot that builds to an abrupt and limited ending, dulling the many other elements of this story about being true to oneself and following your dreams … It’s a shame, too, because it is easy to see how great this movie could have been … Gupta absolutely shines in her performances on and off the skateboard. Patel is a tremendous delight, too, with whimsical counterpoints to many serious moments. On the whole, Skater Girl is quite enjoyable and worth watching

Read the full review on Film Festival Today:
The Young Cast of “Skater Girl” Shines Despite a Disjointed Script


Film Review: “Grace and Grit” Aims for Transcendence but Critically Misfires

My review for Grace and Grit on Film Festival Today.
This one was such a disappointment. I really had high hopes from the trailer.

It’s clear that there isn’t a lot of time available to establish the romance before the [breast cancer] diagnosis kicks in, but creating a foundation of profound love has most definitely been done before. Here, though, Treya and Ken’s romance winds up seeming to be based entirely on physical attraction or starry-eyed naïveté (perhaps both), due to cloying dialogue, melodramatic gazing into one another’s eyes… Particularly frustrating is the abrupt point of view switch, abandoning Treya’s direct experience for Ken’s distress. The film almost singularly depicts how the disease impacts their marriage, rather than also exploring Treya’s individual suffering. The most we get are fleeting flashbacks to her teenage self, standing in front of a mirror, exploring her femininity. There is a legitimate sense of helplessness most of us are probably familiar with when watching someone we care about suffer. That could have been a much stronger motif, had it been the starting point, but it’s not.

Read the full review on Film Festival Today: “Grace and Grit” Aims for Transcendence but Critically Misfires


Film Review: “Chasing Wonders” Is an Understated Meditation on Forgiveness

My review for Chasing Wonders on Film Festival Today!

A real challenge for any tale such as this is to create depth among even the antagonists, and this film strongly succeeds. All of these relationships feel layered and complex …

The stakes, however small and personal, are clearly defined. The story never careens too far into any extreme, avoiding becoming too volatile and maintaining cohesion, all enhanced tremendously with the stunning cinematography by Denson Baker

The film builds to a conclusion that dodges an overabundance of melodrama, opting for a more stripped-down truth that lands beautifully in its finesse.

Read the full review on Film Festival Today: “Chasing Wonders” Is an Understated Meditation on Forgiveness


Film Review: “P!nk: All I Know So Far” Delivers Fun, Candor, and Some Great Music

My review for P!nk: All I Know So Far on Film Festival Today!

I’ve always liked P!nk, but after viewing this documentary, I am a big fan. I’m so impressed and have mad respect for her as an artist, a mom, and a person.

P!nk - All I Know So Far

This is an invitation to join P!nk and her family, while she and her band reach a particular milestone: playing Wembley Stadium. It’s exactly what it advertises itself to be, in the best sense …

P!nk’s devotion as a parent and the visible delight she takes in her music is absolutely transparent.
That is the core of what drives her and, thus, this documentary
.

Read the full review on Film Festival Today: “P!nk: All I Know So Far” Delivers Fun, Candor, and Some Great Music


Film Review: “Los Hermanos/The Brothers” Is Beautiful, Sad and Joyous All at Once

My review for Los Hermanos/The Brothers on Film Festival Today!

I loved this film – I was smiling and crying while watching it and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I even rated it 4/4 stars!

Virtuoso Afro-Cuban musicians Aldo and Ilmar López-Gavilán, separated in their childhood and reunited intermittently throughout their adult lives… Ilmar studying violin abroad while Aldo remained in Cuba, learning piano. They…became masters of their respective instruments, all the while longing to someday record an album together…

The film doesn’t openly condemn anyone, keeping the focus on personal experience, not politics. It shines a light on how Aldo and Ilmar have adjusted to these political restrictions on their lives and the candid truth of their experience is enough to wrench your heart.



Source: Film Review: “Los Hermanos/The Brothers” Is Beautiful, Sad and Joyous All at Once”

Series Review: Disappointment Abounds In “Jupiter’s Legacy”

My series review for Jupiter’s Legacy on Film Festival Today.

This one was tough to write. If you’re planning to watch Jupiter’s Legacy, brace yourself. One thing I don’t cover in this review is the cavalier attitudes towards mental illness, addiction, and suicide.

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With the yo-yoing back and forth between centuries, plus an overcrowded cast of characters, plot threads get muddled or abandoned altogether … which causes the symbolism to grow murky and elicits uncomfortable questions… A few moments manage to shine, including an Episode-Seven fight sequence featuring the non-super-powered Hutch (Ian Quinlan). The show really would have benefitted from more of such ingenuity.

The ideas of generational divides, idealism vs. harsh reality and, perhaps the most important and underused of all, action vs. inaction, may be worthwhile in theory, but they just don’t deliver in execution.


Source: Disappointment Abounds In “Jupiter’s Legacy”

Film Review: “The Water Man” Deftly Blends Realism and Fantasy

My latest review for Film Festival Today: The Water Man!

Between the new family in town, the somewhat-haunted forest, a local legend, one dying parent, an estranged relationship with the other, and running away from home, one might expect The Water Man to feel like a bundle of strewn-together clichés. Instead, David Oyelowo’s directorial feature debut is a well-paced and cohesive expedition into that strange and wondrous place where imagination meets reality…


I enjoyed “The Water Man” tremendously – even if it made me a bit misty-eyed.

I am really looking forward to whatever David Oyelowo is planning to do next!



Source: Film Review: “The Water Man” Deftly Blends Realism and Fantasy

Series Review: “Shadow and Bone”

My review for Shadow and Bone for Film Festival Today is up!

One’s enjoyment of this series may vary because familiarity with ­and affinity for the source material will undoubtedly affect the overall viewing experience here … performances across the board are fantastic … the visual effects are stunning, and the music and sound design are tremendous. From the jump, the world feels grounded without being exorbitantly gritty … Sadly, what kills the show’s momentum – repeatedly – is the cutting away to the city of Ketterdam and its characters … Many of their scenes, setups and lines of dialogue are rehashed from Six of Crows and cobbled together in this new context for surface-level fan service that … implies that they are not worthy of the same time and effort as the Shadow and Bone characters, story, or screen time…


After reading a smattering of other reviews, it seems I’m a little harsher on the series than other critics, but I stand by what I say here. I wanted to love this series, and there are many aspects of it that I did adore, but others – the ones that meant a lot to me as a fan – really let me down. It all leaves me wondering, with the choices they made, where do they go from here?



Source: Series Review: “Shadow and Bone” Is a Paradoxical Mix of Opportunities Won and Lost