By Meryl Gottlieb| mg986611@ohiou.edu| @buzzlightmeryl
Glee airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox
Rating: 3.5/5

Opening_night_bts_(2)It seems like the minds at Glee are finally working again. All I asked for was some decent episodes and I’ve managed to find them in tonight’s episode and in “New New York.” The dialogue leans more toward the sassy, funny end than the annoying, cliché end, and the musical numbers are not only tolerable, they’re good. It only took them 17 episodes to get it right this season.

It’s “Opening Night” and Rachel (Lea Michele) is panicking, so much so that she hallucinates a rather frightening dream. She sings “Lovefool” on the McKinley stage in her famed reindeer sweater and plaid, pleated skir; is accompanied by William Shakespeare on drums and a girl who dressed up as Rose from Titanic on keyboard. I’m sorry; did David Lynch direct this opening?

To help calm her down, Kurt (Chris Colfer) imposes an Internet lockdown, so she won’t continue to read any negative comments from random bloggers, and suggests the gang only surround her with calm, encouraging thoughts. Despite their initial efforts, Rachel binges the comments section, forcing them to do individual “therapy.” My personal favorite of these is when Kurt delivers a basket with a note signed by the original Fanny Brice, Barbra Streisand. However, Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) forgot Barbra dropped the “A” in her name as an act of defiance, so the charade was ruined. Michele’s divaness and obsession for Streisand worked flawlessly here.

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Michele was fantastic tonight. I’m a little disenchanted with this rollercoaster each week of when I like and then dislike Rachel. She used to easily be my favorite, and I’d like to be able to say that with confidence again. Lea Michele is so talented; please just let her be her and everything will be OK.

santanaThe best return of all goes to Santana (Naya Rivera), sorry not sorry Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz). Just as Tina asks how things could get worse, the camera cuts to Santana getting out of a cab slow-mo style. Of course, our favorite Lima Heights gal knows what to say, by referencing the negative reviews Babs got herself, and gets Rachel excited again.

Sue (Jane Lynch) is going to go with Will (Matthew Morrison) to New York because she needs to affirm her hatred of the city. Overall, it was a better episode, but this was a week storyline. They sing “NYC” from Annie — we get it, Lynch was in the Annie revival; we know already! They sang this mostly in the auditorium, and I must say I enjoyed it. Everyone knows I’m not the biggest fan of Annie, but they performed well and I’m glad they didn’t just plop them in the middle of Times Square; I’ve already had enough of them singing in the big city streets.

I have to contest this now. Why does every TV series or film that shows people visiting New York for the first time show them appearing from the subway station, smiling ear-to-ear?! These characters are from Ohio. Most likely they flew in or took a bus, meaning they definitely would have seen the city and some of its massive buildings by then.

Whoever handled the camera for this episode really knew what he or she was doing. There were a lot of scenes in which I was impressed with the way they framed or simply filmed things. In showing us those interesting filming choices, the camera slowly follows Rachel to the stage. The curtain goes up, and all we see from the first act is “I’m the Greatest Star.” I loved Kurt’s rendition of this, but I can always use another Lea Michele cover of a Babs song.

Very randomly, Sue locks eyes with Mario (Chris Parnell) across a crowd of people going into Funny Girl. When he leaves in the middle of the first act, so does Sue. The two hit it off, go on a date to his restaurant and hook up. She likes him so much that she even imagines herself up on stage next to Rachel singing “Who Are You Now?,” one of the closing numbers in Funny Girl, because he said she would have made the show more interesting. This was really just a very weird choice. It’s supposed to highlight how anyone can find love in NYC, but it was too random for me to accept. There was zero chemistry between these two actors and the scenes themselves just weren’t written very well. Let’s just not talk about it. Ever again.

Everything is resting on what the critics say, but there’s like six hours to kill so let’s go clubbing and dance until we die. Blaine (Darren Criss) suggests this bar in Greenwich Village that they could never realistically get into. It resembles a gay bar, but it’s New York so I’m not going to limit what it is or isn’t. However, everyone there loves Rachel already and begs her to perform, so she does. She sings “Pumpin Blood” and is #flawless. She looks amazing and does a really good job with the song. While the choreography doesn’t seem to reflect that they are a bunch of 19- and 20-year-olds, it is really interesting and fits the scene very well. It was odd and unrealistic, but I liked it. And I have to ask, was that a sex swing Michele was on? Gross.

With what looks like no hangovers, the group runs to the newsstand to pick up the latest New York Times to find that Rachel was the only thing praised in the show. Huzzah! What an unsurprising turn of events.

Will calls shortly after to say congratulations while congratulations are in order for him as well. He would have seen the premiere had Emma not gone into labor like five minutes before the show started. He was already in New York. That’s a nine-hour drive. I highly doubt you would have actually made it for the birth of your son, so just stay for the show. Do these people really have some underground super-jet that gets them back and forth between these locations? Anyway, Wemma has decided to name their son Daniel Finn Schuester. I really liked that decision. I think this is a great way to wrap up Will’s storyline. That was a perfect bow to place on top of the nicely wrapped package. Now, if only Sue had gotten the same. Sure, she made the closing speech about how anyone can find love, but I didn’t believe in her love so it meant nothing to me.

Did you even notice Artie (Kevin McHale) was abset? I can’t see how him simply wheeling around in the background would have done anything of importance, so please take this as notice that he is not needed in the future of the show. Cut the cord. Say your goodbyes.

But let’s look on the bright side. Lea Michele was fantastic; Santana was just as witty as ever and made an excellent return; a majority of the musical numbers were great and download-worthy; Sue’s biting comments were as free-flowing as ever; and there was a quick, but important tribute to Cory Monteith’s Finn. This is all I’m asking from a show that is still climbing its way out of the low troughs it dug itself into in the later fourth and majority of the fifth seasons. Looking at this episode among the context of the rest of the episodes in season five, it was one of the best. Here’s hoping the show can manage to put out tolerable content for the last three episodes.

By Will Ashton | wa054010@ohiou.edu| @thewillofash
Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1
| Directed by Lars von Trier | Not Rated
RATING: 3/5

large_3lVe9Os8FjpX1VgtdT9VFnbqs5fI must confess: I’m not quite sure how to confront my review of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1.

It’s not that I don’t know what I feel towards the film—I do. I just don’t know how exactly to assess it. Should I view it as its own individual film, or the first part of one long movie?

Considering that this version is the first film on Trier’s filmography not to get the official green slip of approval from the director himself, I guess it doesn’t completely matter how I grade the movie. I mean, it is still his film, and he will still get the blame or praise of the movie. But I shouldn’t have to guilt myself too much over whether I am being as liberal to the filmmaker’s work as I should be.

As the first of two “volumes,” this first chapter of the life of a self-professed nymphomaniac named Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) as she professes her life story to Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard) after he finds her beaten and passed out in an alley. As they discuss her life and her naughty deeds, they discuss the worth of her character.

Based on the slivers of footage that was shown during the credits from the second part of this film series, it would seem that all the really crazy shit is going to go down in the next movie. As a result, this one, while certainly good at establishing character, is a bit dry and sluggish in its delivery.

The primary reason for this is because, throughout the movie, Trier never really answers the question that is in the viewer’s mindset, which is: why he is devoting four hours of film to tell this girl’s story? I mean, there are certain segments here that are interesting, but there is nothing especially notable in this movie that explains why this was not brought down to a two hour—or even three hour—movie.

See, unlike last year’s Blue is the Warmest Color, this movie’s decision to go beyond the 140-minute mark isn’t necessarily earned. Although both are intimate in their portrayals through studying their female character’s sexuality—very explicitly, for the record—Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 feels padded and excessive to a fault.

For the record, before this, I only have seen two of Trier’s movies, which were his last two: Antichrist and Melancholia. Even though neither was perfect in my opinion, for different reasons, I respected and appreciated both in particular for their opening minded looks at heavy topics like depression and lost.

With this movie, though, I’m not quite sure what the writer/director’s point here is. I can’t completely judge yet, because I have only seen the first part of this two-part story, but I don’t quite see what the point is of this story. Are we studying the depravity of sexuality in our culture, or the over-fixation we have towards sex? Is he trying to test the endurance of how much sex we can willing watch on the big screen? Or is he just interested in telling the story of a girl who has sex—a lot?

Truthfully, I don’t know. It doesn’t seem, at least so far, that he really has a point. Which, in turn, makes for a rather dull movie at times, especially considering how stretched the story is already.

But, there is no mistaking that Trier’s is a talent director with a particular warped vision. For all my criticisms, Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 is a well-made movie. The acting is strong, the direction is tight and the writing, while a bit all over the place, is well-written in a thoughtful way that I was not expecting from a movie with such a title.

However, what truly makes the movie passable, at least so far, is its dark sense of humor. Through this, Trier is able to not take himself or his subject matter too seriously, which, in turn, makes for a more enjoyable film. There is always the risk that this movie will get too far up its own ass. But through this dry sense of comedy, most notably in the scene with Uma Thurman, the movie works particularly in its twisted, demented little way.

If I have to give credit to Trier in one regard, at least, it will be that he certainly knows how to give his movies unique and memorable opening sequences. This movie is no different. Although this one is quite as beautifully disturbing as Antichrist or as just plain gorgeous as Melancholia, this movie certainly knows how to throw its audience for a loop and get them invested in the story.

As I said, I am essentially reviewing half a movie, so this is weird for me to write. I can’t promise I will like the second half of this story, because I barely enjoyed the first one, but I will say that Trier’s has crafted another distinct and well-made film. Even if this one doesn’t quite have as much of a point, at least so far.

By Will Ashton | wa054010@ohiou.edu| @thewillofash

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With that, the Athens International Film + Video Festival comes to an end. It was a dynamic week of ups-and-downs, and that can be said for the last film that I saw this week.

It’s All So Quiet | Directed by Nanouk Leopold| Not Rated
RATING: 3.5/5

If there is one thing that I can say about Nanouk Leopold’s It’s All So Quiet, it’s that it lives up to its title.

Filmed with a grounded, minimalistic mentality, Leopold’s film is all about the little details. Whether it is the emotions hidden in one’s eyes, or the mundane burdens we go through in our daily existence, everything is filmed with an ear close to the ground, and an eye always watching for the authenticity to whisper (not shout) into the viewer’s attention.

That said, however, It’s All So Quiet is a slow-burn of a movie, and I like slow-burn movies. For, as much fascinating detail is paid attention to character, Leopold can’t help but make the film drag due to a lack of swift pacing. Don’t go expecting any high-speed car chases, and don’t go watching this movie after a busy day, if you know what I mean.

But, even through its duller moments, the movie is always at the height of its potential dramatic tension thanks to the commanding yet subtle lead performances from the late Jeroen Willems and Henri Garcin. They quietly (how appropriate) take the viewer’s attention through their remorseful looks of doubt and self-conflict. Even when dry, the film always has a command of the audience’s attention.

In studying the lack of emotional physicality and the hidden emotions of the burdened middle-aged man, Leopold’s movie has a lot to say in small doses. It’s a movie that may not immediately and permanently win you over. But once it grabs you, it’s hard not to be swept away in its silent beauty.

By Will Ashton | wa054010@ohiou.edu| @thewillofash

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Things are finally starting to wind down, as I am about to write two of my last reviews from this year’s film festival. Thankfully, as things slow down, the quality is not being brought down with it, as these two movies were among the best that I saw so far this week. They also connect in that they fall somewhere in line between good and really good, neither of them quite making that needed leap into greatness thanks to their own individual problems in their third acts.

In Bloom | Directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß | Not Rated
RATING: 3.5/5

After a while, coming-of-age films start to become a dime a dozen. It’s not such much that they are getting worst, it’s just that there are —seemingly—so little things you can really say about the teenage experience that hasn’t been seen and felt on the screen before.

It is with that that the ones that do actually take you off-guard, that make you feel something that you rarely experienced in a movie theater before, that are more enticing to watch. In Bloom is one of those types of movies.

Much like last year’s great The Spectacular Now, directors Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß are able to express a sense of identity in their film-making that is distinctive yet familiar that, no matter what country sees it, they are able to relate and feel for these characters. There is a distance they create that feels like we are always watching from afar, but we are always close enough that we are able to connect and care about what is being seen.

Through beautifully crafted long-standing tracking shots, there is a sense of observance that is all-encompassing of the bitter struggles towards coming into the reality of one’s environment. This masterful sense of craftsmanship, in addition to its natural writing and performances, helps the audience get through some of the film’s muddled story elements. Unfortunately, as the story progresses, the story only gets more misguided and melodramatic. While the performances and direction keep it all watchable, they can’t save the movie from slipping in quality towards the movie’s final reels.

The movie’s decidedly indecisive ending unfortunately makes me drop this movie down a peg, but there is no mistaking the fact that this is an extremely well-made film that, whether you speak their language or not, one should be able to connect to these characters and their pathos. The situations are realistic and grounded, which makes even the more over-the-top elements of the movie’s ending moments worth the watch. As the characters grow into maturity, we grow to love and care for them even more.

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Omar | Directed by Hany Abu-Assad | Not Rated
RATING: 3.5/5

Action-thrillers can become so generic these days that it is hard to forget why we watch them in the first place. Thankfully, Academy Award-nominee Omar is here to remind us loud and clear why we come to these movies in the first place.

There is an American influence to this film that is hard to shake. Its sense of heightened thriller storytelling seems to be inspired mainly by the mid-level blockbusters created here in the States. In its attempt to recreate, the film usually runs into its own problems. The plot, as it progresses, becomes more silly as it stretches out its rather basic storyline material, and some of its emotionally-driven moments come across cheesier than they should. Particularly, in how they are written, as Hany Abu-Assad, the film’s director, also penned the script.

But, while its peers’ mentality is its occasional downfall, it is also the provider of some of its saving graces. The most notable of these factors include the movie’s sense of humor and its pacing. What should be accounted for in the movie’s success is its extremely good editing by Martin Brinkler and Eyas Salman. Although one of the films I saw this week is edited by one of the biggest names in editing today, Walter Murch, this is easily the best edited movie I have seen so far at the festival.

What is most notable about the movie is its lack of score. In the same vein as No Country for Old Men, the movie is able to keep the pulse of the audience moving without playing one note of heightened pathos-driven music. And this is most notable in the movie’s incredibly executed chase scenes. Although we are not driven the music playing, we are there; we are on the edge of our seats. In fact, these music-less scenes actually add to the movie’s sense of intimacy, in my opinion.

Also worth noting is its very good lighting from Alexey Antonovsky. That work is also forgotten about, and it shouldn’t. Especially when it is as well-done as it is here. The same can be said for its sound mixing and editing. Which is appreciated more because of the film’s score-less nature.

Much like In Bloom, the ending of Omar is just as abrupt. But, thankfully, it is more satisfying in its conclusion. But, through its strong execution and its tightly put together film-making, Abu-Assad’s film is a fast-paced and highly engaging. It should be to appeal to American audiences as it worked for audiences in its original language.

By Will Ashton | wa054010@ohiou.edu| @thewillofash

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Well, the film festival is already halfway over, and as things are winding out, I only got to see two today instead of my average three that I have been pulling for the past couple days. Oh well, the movies themselves were good enough, as you can (or should) read below. And, of course, keep coming back as I finish up my coverage of the fest tomorrow and Thursday.

I Am a Visitor in Your World | Directed by Miguel Silveira | Not Rated
RATING: 3/5

Miguel Silveira’s I Am a Visitor in Your World is unique for one reason in particular: it is both a fictional narrative and documentary—at the same time.

I don’t mean like The Thin Blue Line, or even like Bernie. I mean, this movie tell one cohesive story, but it mixes the footage between recreated footage, real documentary footage and poetic recreations of blog writings written by Rebecca Babcock, the focus of the film, as they delve into her battle with poverty and colon cancer—before she even reaches the age of 30.

There is no mistaking the amateurish nature of the film. In particularly every level—whether it be the editing, or the low-res camera, or even the acting and directing themselves. But, through it all, there is both a sense of earnestness and genuineness that keeps this movie afloat.

In particular, it is Rebecca’s charm that makes you root for her more than anything. She is such a sympathetic, down-to-earth figure that is both realistic and likable. As she struggles and opens up more and more to the audience, it’s hard not to be moved. Especially when the final, bittersweet final note of film hits its chord.

The scenes that shine the most are the ones that are between Babcock and her mother (who, in fact, was in attendance during the screening). They are both real, meaningful and pack the punch that they need to make it worth their viewing.

Even if it is slight and not especially true in earning its intentions, I Am a Visitor to Your World is a sweet-hearted, touching little movie that, even when it becomes more personal, looks like something you would easily watch on YouTube.

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Particle Fever | Directed by Mark A. Levinson | Not Rated
RATING: 3.5/5

There are many things that I don’t know about. Probably more than I am willing to admit. But I will be more than willing to confess that I know next to nothing about physics.

I barely made it through my high school course on the subject, and that was really only because I had a pretty awesome teacher. I even took a physics-based course in college. It didn’t go very well.

Needless to say, I worried about this as I entered Particle Fever. Will I be a bubble of confusion for an hour-and-a-half as they talk about stuff that is way over my head? Although there are more than enough things that were well above my understanding, Mark A. Levinson’s search at one of the greatest physics discoveries of all-time is an enjoyable study at an important piece of history.

While there are many things that will easily confuse anyone who is below a second-year Psychics student, Levinson has a good enough sense to make everything as layman in understanding as possible. Well-designed graphics fly and flow throughout the screen, giving even the average Joe off-the-street at least a decent comprehension as to what is going on in front of them.

But, in particular, what sells this movie is that it always keeps it about the people, and not the numbers. It would be easy to just regurgitate a bunch of numbers and facts about what is happening, which they do—at times—but Levinson always keeps the people surrounding these events in check. Which adds to our investment and interest in what is going on.

What is easily the film’s best feature, though, is its editing by film legend Walter Murch. The guy who edited little indies like Apocalypse Now and The English Patient. His skilled understanding of the film medium not only gives the movie a good sense of plotting, but it also gives it its much need sense of immediacy. Even though Levinson would have crafted a fine film without him (most likely), he makes the movie have its real kick.

There is also some impressive sound editing and mixing throughout as well. Additionally, the movie knows to not take itself too seriously, giving nice little moments of levity and easy humor whenever it is needed.

Even if you don’t have a good understanding of Physics, one should be able to enjoy at least some of what is shown in Particle Fever. It’s a well-made, finely-tuned documentary that knows what it wants to say and says it well. Plus, it beats doing math.

 

By Meryl Gottlieb| mg986611@ohiou.edu| @buzzlightmeryl
Glee airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox
Rating: 3/5

Tested_stills_(1)Despite how snarky this review will probably sound, I do need to recognize how much more tolerable Glee has been since the permanent move to New York. It’s not that the storylines are making sense again; it’s just that I’m able to accept them and not vehemently detest the show every week. After the recent news about Ryan Murphy’s plans for the future of the show, I’m hoping Murphy can stick to his word. In an interview with E! Online, he discusses how the show was at its best when there were less than 10 main cast members and once the show had a flood of characters, things faltered. Well, I’m glad he sees it too. Season five will continue in New York and finish up the current storylines of Rachel’s Funny Girl run, Klaine’s relationship issues and Samcedes. Season six, however, will be in a different location, jump time and, as Murphy hopes, include more of the original glee club members. This latest news really peaks my hopes for a brighter end to the series that started out so strong. Everyone always asks me why I continue to watch this never-ending train wreck and that’s the answer: I’m waiting for it to rise from this terrible trough and possibly peak once again.

Tonight’s episode, “Tested,” featured a lot of issues, as is the Murphy way.

Artie (Kevin McHale) is somehow a ladies man at his New York film school and is sleeping with two girls but wants to actually have a relationship with Julie (Stephanie Hunt). He sings “Addicted to Love” to exemplify this and while there are great vocals and it was a fresh idea to do a split-screen format for the song, I don’t artiebelieve this idea. It’s not because Artie is physically handicapped, but it’s because that is not who his character is. He’s always been a little egotistical but never in the way a “ladies man” is supposed to be. Writers, please stop trying to make the Artie storylines work. They don’t, so please cut him out sooner rather than later. It takes up minutes of my life I will never get back. Just give me more of Darren Criss singing or being in his boxers or something. Anyway, Artie ends up getting chlamydia — I’m guessing the only reason for the episode’s title — and we get a nice visualization of how self-conscious he feels because he literally wears an STD suit. Again, make this end, please.

Blaine (Darren Criss) is all about the NYC food scene. He’s munching on international cuisine, ice cream and, most importantly, cronuts. Granted, that fad ended a few months ago, but you can’t deny the deliciousness of croissants and donuts in one pastry. While he’s been busy chomping away on Cheetos, Kurt (Chris Colfer) has been dieting and working out steadily, giving him that hot bod he’s been rocking since the beginning of the season. I have never connected with a character more than I did tonight as I watched Criss stuff his face with cronuts, gyros and more. Also this scene:

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There are two kinds of people.

It just so happens they now have combat class together — what happen to miming? — and Kurt is consistently showing off his new confidence and muscles, making Blaine feel self-conscious. He’s so uncomfortable he turns to FratBoyPhysicals.com for sexual release instead of Kurt. The two battle duet in combat class to “Love is a Battlefield.” This was definitely the best performance of the night. The lyrics and meaning of the song is applicable to their situation and the fight choreography was really different and interesting to watch. Glad to see we are slowly but surely working ourselves out of that trough I was talking about earlier! Good for you, writers.

Ultimately, it’s the power shift that has mostly jolted Blaine. He’s used to having to protect Kurt and be the alpha male, and now he feels Kurt doesn’t need him. Obviously, his nerves are put to rest and two reconcile and decide to try to act more like equals.

I like that things aren’t simply peachy keen for Klaine and I like that these issues they’re dealing with are rational and relatable, however I’m starting to feel less love on Kurt’s end of the relationship. Struggling to like how you look is a problem most people face and it can be especially hard when your partner does not have those issues. I think this was a great topic for the show to focus on; however it was solved in one episode, so is it really that impactful? Furthermore, it feels like Kurt seems less and less in love. Colfer plays him much more straight-faced and cold nowadays, and I’m not sure if it’s just his performance coming off poorly or if this is the direction the writers are choosing. Klainers, what do you think will happen to your favorite couple?

Mercedes (Amber Riley) is still a virgin and isn’t ready to have sex yet and wants to wait until she’s married. Sam (Chord Overstreet) says he’s OK with this, but his performance says otherwise. I was quite annoyed with this. The whole time he said he accepted her feelings, but I never felt he truly understood or respected her decision. There’s a lot of back and forth with this storyline. Mercedes sings “I Want to Know What Love Is” in church — because now that Riley is back she’s probably obligated to belt out a number at least once per episode to make up for lost time. In the end, Sam creates a fire hazard by lighting a hundred candles in their apartment to say that he’s OK with waiting. I still don’t feel the chemistry here and have no reason to root for these two.

I think this was the least amount of screen time ever given to Lea Michele, but it was well used. Rachel is simply used to ease Mercedes nerves about her first time and to offer girl advice. Then comes the bigger question at hand: When will Rachel move on in her own love life? This is a question the show has to handle very carefully or else spark a riot. Finchel fans will never let go of the endgame that even Murphy said should and was going to happen. Unfortunately, Cory Monteith has passed and with him Finn and that ending. Rachel gracefully explains how she and Finn “were always dating” and they both “knew how it was supposed to end,” an all too realistic statement. She says she’ll draw that line between her past and her future when she’s ready.

With this short but poignant monologue, the writers managed to gracefully say how they aren’t confronting this issue at this moment. Right now, they are focusing on Rachel’s career, as she probably would do if she were real. Murphy said he would consult Michele about the future love life of her character. There was that random, idiotic flirtation between her and Sam earlier this season, but thankfully that was killed quickly. Personally, I don’t think there’s a need to make her love life the center of her character again. That worked when it was about her one true love, but now it would seem forced. I also don’t see the need for this to be urgently reintegrated into the show. Can’t we just continue talking about her life with her friends and her career? Are we not allowed to have female characters in the media unless they are discussing their love lives? Here’s hoping they don’t do something stupid.

By Will Ashton | wa054010@ohiou.edu| @thewillofash

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I’m a little late this time around, but here are my latest batch of reviews from the film festival. I am not even going to pretend that these movies have much in common with one another, so let’s just get moving on the show here.

Last Call | Directed by Enrico Cerasuolo | Not Rated
RATING: 3/5

Although the topic itself may be a very important, a majority of the documentaries, and even narrative films, that have been made on environmentalism and world preservation can’t help but be a bit dull. The most interesting one we have—probably—is An Inconvenient Truth, and, even for as scary as that movie is, it drags at times.

So it was with that initial thought-stream in mind that I was pleasantly surprised how pulpy the first moments of Enrico Cerasulo’s documentary Last Call were. There were slight element of flair and spunk throughout, even though the subjects of the film are well past the age of sixty, and it gave me hope that, in addition to the compelling pieces of information the filmmakers were going to be throwing our direction, they were going to make the ride an enjoyable one along the way.

However, after the first 30 minutes or so, despite compelling narratives and engaging topics throughout, the movie begins to fizzle a bit due to uneven pacing and a lack of urgency. It’s always well-made, and there is a great understanding of the topics provided through graphics and visual effects throughout. But there’s not too much here that really, truly pulls the investment of the audience’s attention in for its full running time.

But, when Last Call is interesting, it’s very interesting. It is the segments with Dennis Meadows, one of the many co-authors of The Limits of Growth—the film’s overarching topic of choice—and one of the film’s primary figures and talking heads, that brings some much needed life into the movie. There is something captivating about Meadows and his presence, especially when he is speaking to a room of people, that draws you in immediately, and he knows how to play with this pull too. As do the filmmakers, thankfully.

There is also a sorrowful, oddly engaging score throughout that keeps things on its thoughtful toes, as are there some well put-together segments that make this a documentary that is worth admiring. Just don’t expect the most enthralling film you’ve ever seen when you watch it.

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Koinonia | Directed by Andrew Finnigan | Not Rated
RATING: 2.5/5

Perhaps, if one were to have missed seeing I Am Legend, The Road or any other post-apocalypse film ever made, especially of late, they would be entertaining by Andrew Finnigan’s Koinonia.

Bottling up just about every cliche there is in the genre, Koinonia is a film that, for all its low-budget goals, is earnest in its production, but can never, ever get over the hurdle of being anything original whatsoever. The voice-overs throughout are deathly familiar, as are the flashback segments centered on the main character’s previous life before the destruction of humanity hits him, that the movie can’t help but be just boring.

Cinematography and direction throughout are never outright bad, and there are moments were it, and the editing, work in small doses. Perhaps that is what saves this movie from being a train wreck. But, truthfully, I believe what keeps this movie in mediocrity is the commitment of its lead actor, Tony Doupe. While his performance isn’t especially great, it’s committed, for better or for worse. Despite the troubled script he is given, he gives the movie all he’s got, even when that backfires on him. There are moments that are meant to be serious, but are just silly or, worse, awkward. But, through thick and thin, Doupe makes the most of it all.

Which he should, as he is primarily the only actor on screen for the majority of the running time.

Had I not seen this at the film festival, I feel like the only other place I would come across it would be at the bargain bin at Wal-Mart. Perhaps, even, in a combo pack with other forgettable B-movie knock-offs. Although his efforts are commendable, and he has an actor willing to push himself, Finnigan and his film can’t do anything with this material that hasn’t been done before and, especially, done much better.

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Le Week-End | Directed by Roger Michell | Rated R
RATING: 3.5/5

The power of watching two great actors perform together can be all that a movie needs.

When you have veteran greats like Jim Broadbent (who is always, always welcomed to come onto any screen I am looking at) and Lindsay Duncan together in Paris, that is all you need to get me into the theater. But, when you have a good script, good chemistry and beautiful scenery to boot, the trip becomes even more of a delight. And, while Le Week-End, the movie they share the screen together, does have its bumps on the road, this trip to Europe is still a treat that puts a smile on your face.

As these characters are three dimensional and complex, they are not without their flaws. But the flaws these characters carry do not always make for an enjoyable time at the movies. Duncan’s character, sometimes for reasons that are not fully explained, is a bit of a bitch, and Broadbent’s character is occasionally too mild mannered for his own good.

Additionally, the movie—especially in its third act—starts to unravel a bit due to its unevenness tonally and its over-desire to be too cutesy for its good. Perhaps in a ditch attempt to keep pleasing the senior citizen crowd it is attempting to pull in.

But, despite these reservations, Le Week-End is a wickedly funny movie throughout, thanks primarily to Broadbent and Duncan’s easy chemistry and the witty script by Hanif Kureishi. Another huge factor in this movie’s success is a scene-stealing supporting performance from Jeff Goldblum, who, while he may be playing himself, gives one of his most enjoyable performances in some time. Through all its up-and-downs, this trip to France is a breezy, pleasant time at the movies, especially for those of us who don’t get to go Europe anytime soon.

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