The Imposter (2012)

How does a foreign man suddenly end up a U.S. citizen, welcomed into the family of a long- missing child? While it’s impossible to fully understand the grief of those keeping vigil by the window, waiting for a phone call that may never come, it is curious that every expert agrees there are many loose ends. Is it merely that hindsight is 20/20 (as the old saying goes) or is there a more sinister explanation? Though the testimony of an identity thief certainly isn’t everything, it seems to corroborate the suspicion of at least one specialist…

Masterfully crafted, the details of this publicly documented incident are recounted chronologically by a rotation of several family members, some government employees, a smattering of friends/ neighbors and one relentless private investigator. During the lengthier portions of each person’s story, voiceover serves as narration for actors’ portrayals of the events being described. By the end of the film you have about as much information as everyone involved to decide for yourself what you think happened.

Searching (2018)

Stories about missing persons are nothing new. Neither is utilizing a smartphone to make a movie anymore. But shooting an entire film through every kind of lens but a movie camera– and sometimes exclusively screens of websites, texts and social networking apps– is definitely a first! But make no mistake: this unique approach is by […]

Pure Luck (1991)

Could there be anyone with worse luck than otherwise ordinary accountant, Eugene? Actually, yes: the daughter of a wealthy businessman, Valerie who recently went missing. With a chemistry that embodies cinematic fixture, the buddy comedy, detective, Raymond is unfortunately paired with the hapless klutz. Together they endure a series of mishaps, each more wacky than […]

UFO (2018)

Finally, an indie movie that isn’t self- conscious or earnest. This one is based on different species united by the universal language of Math rather than humans pitted against each other in wars of inhumane Science. Preachy rants by beleaguered protagonists are so last decade. Best of all, there’s no theatrical AAACTiiiiing, either. Characters’ personalities, […]

The Big Sleep (1946)

Despite Casablanca’s iconic status (fans consider it “bittersweet” while I classify it as brooding and enigmatic), I consider this Noir to be the epitome of its genre. For me, Bogart springs to mind when I think of classic film: charming and able to hold his own without diminishing the strength and wit of a bold […]

Radius (2017)

A man wakes up in a crashed car.

What happened?

Where is he?

Who is he?

He stumbles down the road looking for help. A car comes into view. He flags it down but then it crashes.

He keeps walking and finally arrives in town…

To discover that everyone is deceased. As he frantically seeks shelter, even animals drop dead.

Polarizing expectations seem to be inevitable with any small budget Indi but sometimes less is more, especially to maintain an air of mystery. Though there are a few instances of slightly deflated acting, the nuances of the characters are intriguing. Despite apparent bypasses around expensive effects, the cinematography is striking. The ending is abrupt, if not enigmatic, to some while wholly satisfying to others, which could generate discussion if the audience is so inclined but don’t expect a thematic message. Overall, the engaging M. Knight Shyamalan-style premise proves to be an entertaining story.

Mildred Pierce (1945)

I liked this movie upon first viewing and have re-watched it since. I should clarify: the original version; while Kate Winslet’s talent is undeniable, remaking a classic film in color serves no purpose. I would, however, be interested in seeing this reinterpreted in a modern context as the themes (e.g. permissive parenting and familial loyalty) are still relevant and need revisiting. History repeats itself, especially when Society fails to pay attention to former generations when they tried to warn us. Some viewers will automatically assume an old movie—particularly one in black and white—is outdated. But its archetypical style is precisely what will induce the connotations necessary to see the film through, such as not being in a hurry to get to the action or the assurance that it won’t rely too heavily upon sequencing gimmicks to explain background information. Ultimately, its enduring legacy can be attributed to superior filmmaking, which includes everything from acting to editing.

Charade (1963)

It’s as if Hitchcock went to Paris. He didn’t but a script full of twists and turns brought to life by two of the most elegant lead actors ever to grace the screen, supported by high-quality talent is bound to yield mystery, action, suspense, humor and romance. What’s not to like?

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

This cartoon is unusual because, while it has the capability to exaggerate what/ whenever it wants, it’s not particularly fantastical. In typical comic fashion, the story is told through music that complements gestures and facial expressions rather than dialogue but not to accommodate talking animals or people bouncing around like a rubber balls. All the elements of design that would enhance any other kind of film are expertly utilized in this charming tour de force about a competitive French cyclist, who gets kidnapped and taken to New York City. His grandmother, who raised him sets out in search with her trusty dog in tow. The pair is taken in by an eccentric old trio of jazz musicians, who’ve been performing together since Vaudeville. The minimalist—and at times slightly abstract—style is a stark contrast to modern computer rendering but serves as the perfect medium for this story’s setting.

Secret in Their Eyes (2015)

As a preemptive strike against seeing another round of forehead vein-throbbing performances from a circle of actors with a knack for intensity, I deliberately ignored this movie at the theater. Much to my chagrin, when I watched it out of desperation for something new and available, I found myself moved by the struggle of grief and the realization that it hits everyone differently, often creating tragic separation from the very people, who should be drawn closer by it. The formidable ensemble is in capable hands, which keeps them under the reign of the story at hand. Somber, thoughtful and engaging till the end.