Wrecked (2010)

I would say this isn’t for the faint of heart but that might lead you to believe its focus is on the physical trauma of survival. Obviously, injuries from a car crash need more than a band aid and an ice pack. But imagine you woke up trapped in a vehicle. Even worse: without knowing […]

Sunshine (2007)

A mesmerizing yet contemplative movie about a mission through space to refuel the dying Sun with a bomb. In place of aliens and lasers battles, breathtaking visuals coupled with a visceral urgency illuminate the self-sacrifice that undergirds its characters’ fierce determination to save Humanity.

99 Homes (2014)

If you’ve seen The Big Short, this movie will seem slightly less shocking. It’s still outrageous from a moral standpoint but the rock and the hard place between which the main character finds himself could easily entrap anyone. Rather than categorize an unscrupulous person as a single-minded villain, this movie depicts how a previously upstanding […]

I am Elizabeth Smart (2017)

Intermittent narration by none other than the titular now-public figure herself both reminds us this is a real live person and assures us of her survival. Her story in her own words is empowering without reducing it to a sensationalized “ripped from the headlines” dramatization. After so much time in forced isolation Ms. Smart is voluntarily coming forward and speaking out. We owe it to her to listen.

Winter’s Bone (2010)

I had the pleasure of watching an advance screening of this pearl at a film festival. Afterwards, a local musician spoke about the making of it. Deep in the Ozarks, lies a population—like a country all its own—sprawled out among the craggy terrain. Fiercely protective of their own, it took years to earn the trust of the community in order to craft a novel based on their way of life.

Most of the supporting cast and extras are locals, and the homes and clothing are indigenous to the area. Lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence (virtually unknown at the time of its release) had to learn to hunt & skin squirrels, to chop firewood and to fight. Her character must find some evidence of her meth cook father, for whom there is an arrest warrant. He’s missing—either in hiding or dead—but “like a dog digging after a Winter’s bone,” as the old Appalachian expression goes, she must find some enough proof to satisfy the authoritys, who are about to seize her family home where she takes care of her ailing mother and two younger siblings.

The Florida Project (2017)

My affinity for this movie is starting to border on obsession. It’s main purpose—besides superb acting and superior cinematography—is to get into your heart and burrow down deep where it can change your perspective of a complex subject that is at worst completely unknown, or at best unfairly judged then flippantly dismissed. Any film that can portray the complex realities of systemic poverty and not flinch at the failings of marginalized people forced to live in a motel while retaining their dignity as Human Beings deserves more attention than it will get. It ain’t pretty but somehow it’s still beautiful.