Leave No Trace (2018)

Appropriate to the title, little– other than award nominations and wins– was left in its wake. I can see why. The premise of a military vet raising his daughter in isolation from Society seems to promise a survivalist thriller. Though there is adventure, to expect heart-pounding chases through the woods and rural shootouts will only disappoint; this is purely a psychological exploration of PTSD, familial bonding, parenting and identity. Accordingly, the characters say little out loud; the communication and emotion is almost entirely visual. There is love and care and trust but as much as a daughter loves her father, she can’t hide from the world forever. I won’t wax poetic about the plethora of additional themes; you’ll explore them if you’re so inclined.

Liar Liar (1997)

“My dad? He’s… a liar.” “A liar? I’m sure you don’t mean a liar.” “Well, he wears a suit and goes to court and talks to the judge.” “Oh, you mean he’s a lawyer.” In this case, same difference: “Great news! Both my legs are broken so they can’t take me right to jail.”

Max Reede misses his dad, Fletcher even though his mother threw him out for being a self-centered, philandering liar. Max makes a birthday wish that– just for one day– his dad wouldn’t be able to tell a lie. So imagine Fletcher’s surprise when he wakes up one day blurting out even the most uncomfortable truth. “My teacher tells me beauty is on the inside.” “That’s just something ugly people say.” Of course, everything works itself out in the end but not before wreaking havoc on Fletcher’s life, both in and out of court. “Mr. Reede, one more word out of you, and I will hold you in contempt!” “I hold MYSELF in contempt! Why should you be any different?”

Ricky and the Flash (2015)

When a plot is a character study rather than a tale with a definitive moral, trivia will overshadow all other aspects. In this case, the fun facts (e.g. Meryl Streep learned to play the guitar and does her own singing alongside career musician, Rick Springfield and her real- life daughter plays the part onscreen) enhance the realism that keeps it from being overly simplistic. Any humor lies in relatable and/or ironic elements, which can only be disappointing when compared to a formulaic Dramedy, in which everyone learns their lesson far too easily.

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 […]