THE FILM YAP » Indianapolis International Film Festival We Never Shut Up About Movies Fri, 21 Nov 2014 19:48:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2014 Indy Film Fest: The Essentials Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:18:31 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The 2014 Indy Film Fest

The 2014 Indy Film Fest opens Thursday, July 17, and runs through Saturday, July 26. In its 11th year, the IFF is bigger than ever, with once again more than 100 films showcased throughout its 10-day run.

Here’s the full list of movies and showtimes and ticket information. You can find full reviews to many of these films here at The Film Yap. Of course, we always recommend buying an all-access pass, but if that stretches your budget, at least check out this handy guide and check out a few. Here are some of the essentials for the 2014 Indy Film Fest:

Opening Night: “I, Origins”
At the Indianapolis Museum of Art & The Hall
Thursday, July 17 at 7 p.m.

“Origins” stars Michael Pitt (TV’s “Boardwalk Empire”) as a molecular biologist whose study of the eyes creates questions about love, life and spirituality. Steven Yeun of “The Walking Dead” co-stars, and this screening serves as Indy’s de-facto premiere, as the film hits theaters July 18.

Awards Night/Screening of “Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter”
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Saturday, July 19 at 7 p.m.

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter - inside

In “Kumiko,” a Japanese woman (Rinko Kikuchi of “Pacific Rim”pursues the hidden money left by Carl Showalter in the movie “Fargo” based on the fallacy that the movie is based on a true story in this arthouse flick. Read Christopher Lloyd’s review of the movie. In addition, the Indy Film Fest recognizes the best of the fest with its annual awards ceremony.

Closing Night Film: “Life After Beth”
Indianapolis Museum of Art and City Market
Saturday, July 26 at 7 p.m.

When Beth (Aubrey Plaza of “Parks and Recreation”) dies, she doesn’t let that affect her relationship with her boyfriend Zach (Dane DeHaan of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″). She rises from the dead, and they continue their relationship in this quirky dark comedy. After the screening, the party moves to City Market and Tomlinson Tap Room, where everyone will raise a glass to the 2014 Indy Film Fest and to the promise that lies in next year’s fest!

Be sure not to miss:

BluebirdSpare and bleak, “Bluebird” is about a life-changing event in a blue-collar community, and how it reverberates through various lives.”— Christopher Lloyd

The Chaperone: “A fun, exciting experience … a simple but not simply told tale that is a breath of fresh air” — Joe Shearer

American Arab: “… Explores post 9/11 Arab American identity, interspersing the personal stories of others with his own experiences” — Ben Johnson

You’ll Be A Man:A warm, engaging drama that deals with both coming-of-age and parenting issues … one of the Indy Film Fest’s best.” — Joe Shearer

Jingle Bell Rocks!: “… Doesn’t seek to rationalize or justify the writer/director’s obsession with Christmas music, rather it’s more like his Christmas gift to us” — Mo Hammond

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Fort Tilden Wed, 16 Jul 2014 19:35:23 +0000 Continue reading ]]> For Tilden - inside

For an Indy Film Fest schedule and showtimes, click here.

A sort of road picture, but on bicycles, and a comedy, but with serious moments, “Fort Tilden” is a delicious send-up of New York City and over-privileged Millennial women. You may think that demographic may be tapped out after the TV show “Girls,” but writer/directors Sarah-Violent Bliss and Charles Rogers, and stars Clare McNulty and Bridey Elliott, find a ton of original material to mine.

Allie (McNulty) and Harper (Elliott) are 25 and share a fabulous apartment in Brooklyn, though they don’t seem to have any discernible income or direction in life. Harper is ostensibly an artist who’s never sold anything, and Allie is an indecisive type who seizes upon different grand plans and then drops them. Currently, she’s set to depart for Peace Corps work in Liberia.

Considering she’s the type of person who freaks out if the cab takes more than five minutes to arrive, Liberia would seem to be biting off more than she can chew. “I heard they sell human flesh on the streets there,” an acquaintance helpfully advises.

The relationship between the girls is genuinely friendly, but with undercurrents of competition and resentment. Harper is outgoing and self-confident; Allie is the sort who says “sorry” three or four times a minute, even though she hasn’t done anything.

At a party, they espy a seriously hunky guy named Russ (Jeffrey Scaperrotta) and flirt with him. He’s accompanied by his friend Sam (Griffin Newman), who’s a nerdy hipster type. Upon learning the boys plan to spend the next day at Fort Tilden Beach in the Rockaways, Harper unceremoniously invites herself along.

Allie, despite having an important meeting with her Peace Corps supervisor, is cajoled into going, though it’s not too hard since she also has designs on Russ. The rest of the movie is all about their misadventures in making it to Fort Tilden.

It’s interesting that the underlying dynamic of their journey is that both women want to hook up with Russ, and that while they secretly compete to see who it will be, neither ever for a moment considers Sam as a more suitable target. He’s simply the tagalong of the hot friend, the less attractive one who must be navigated around to get to the prize. I wonder: Do they consider that the men might also regard them the same way?

First glance might suggest Harper, who is model-pretty and a smooth operator, is the Russ of their pair. But I like how McNulty gives Allie a sort of neurotic confidence, in that she refuses to be dismissed as anyone’s second fiddle. There’s a backbone there, if she can just locate it.

Alas, the women are hopeless travelers. They resolve to ride bikes to the beach, despite the fact it is many miles away and Harper does not even possess a bicycle. After borrowing one from a schlumpy neighbor, they quickly get lost in a seedy section of town, and are constantly distracted by the need for iced coffee, impromptu clothes shopping trips, and so on.

Allie is intermittently harassed via text message by the Peace Corps woman she blew off. Both also flirt-text with Russ to let him know their progress, and position themselves above the other.

Allie and Harper are annoying, ridiculous people, but the cast and crew invest a lot of love in the pair, and we can’t help but feel some of that affection rub off on us. They’re both celebrating and mocking these characters.

One scene, where the gals dally as a boy appears to be scoping out their unlocked bikes, is an exercise in pure comedic genius. A close second is one where they buy an old wooden barrel they fancy for their apartment as an umbrella holder — even though they don’t actually own any umbrellas, and, even if they did, would probably forget to grab one on a cloudy day.

I won’t give too much away, other than to say the gals make it to their destination eventually but find things do not turn out the way they’d expected, and their friendship is tested.

“Fort Tilden” is a wonderful character study of a couple of women who are still getting their act together. Watching them flail and fail is never dull.

4 Yaps

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Bluebird Tue, 15 Jul 2014 20:20:50 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Bluebird - inside

For an Indy Film Fest schedule and showtimes, click here.

There’s a stillness to “Bluebird” that bespeaks of a mature filmmaking voice, one that understands not every silence must be filled, and that sometimes a lack of action can be more profound. It’s only more surprising, then, that this is Lance Edmands’ first feature film as a writer/director.

Set in the frozen hinterlands of his native Maine, “Bluebird” features terrific performances from a number of recognizable veteran actors, including Amy Morton, John Slattery, Margo Martindale and Adam Driver.

The film reminds me a lot of “Winter’s Bone,” in which people in a fairly remote and sheltered community react to something terrible happening among them, and how one woman in particular sees her life changed. “Bluebird” is less reliant on plot, though, and spreads the emotional impact of the events amongst more characters.

Morton plays Lesley, a workaday school bus driver. When she’s later asked how she picked this job, she replies matter-of-factly that the work isn’t too hard, the hours aren’t bad and she’s always loved children. It beats working a register, she states.

Her husband is Richard (Slattery), who works for a tree-cutting company that feeds the local paper mill. The mill is about to be liquidated, news he hasn’t shared with his wife or anyone else, but you can feel the impending deadline weighing on him despite his pains to appear nonchalant.

Their daughter is Paula (Emily Meade), a fairly typical 17-year-old who agitates under her parents’ yoke, works an after-school job in retail and cuts up a little with her friends — though by most standards, she’s a well-behaved kid.

Lives are upended when Lesley starts the day after a particularly cold winter night and finds a boy unconscious in one of the back seats of her bus. He’s been there all night and is hypothermic. The authorities are called and he lives for now, but is at risk for death, permanent coma or brain damage.

It’s unclear how Lesley could possibly have missed a boy slumped against a window; Edmands shows her going from seat to seat after her shift the night before, picking up stuffed animals and other lost items. Was she that distracted? Was he hiding? Did he sneak back on afterward and fall asleep?

Answers are hard to find. But the subsequent events expose every flaw hidden in this quiet little family, as Lesley must stay home and find a purpose to her life while waiting to see what will happen to her.

Moving in parallel to this family’s story is another: the boy’s mother and grandmother, Marla and Crystal (played, respectively, by Louisa Krause and Martindale). Marla is pretty much a party-girl loser who hadn’t even realized her son was missing; he mostly lives with Crystal, and it was Marla’s day to take him. But Marla was too busy getting drunk and high to take care. So what could have been an embarrassing mix-up turns potentially deadly.

Edmands is less concerned with the standard dramaturgical possibilities of this set-up — court cases, conflicts, lawsuits — than seeing how its events register on the faces and souls of his actors. Morton is amazing in her internalization of Lesley’s anguish. A blue-collar family woman who’s done the right thing all her life and seen little reward for it, she’s not emotionally equipped to deal with the possibility of killing a tyke.

Krause has an anguished sort of charisma as Marla, whose entire life feels like a trap that’s slowly encircled her with the passing of years. Martindale is her usual steady self as the long-suffering grandmother, someone who’s always put others first and can’t understand how her offspring could have turned out so different from herself.

In the end, I did yearn for a little more storytelling from “Bluebird,” to take these characters through a few more steps down the road and see how they react. But this is an amazing debut by Lance Edmands, who looked to his own backyard for inspiration and pulled out this darkling beauty.

4 Yaps

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I Believe in Unicorns Tue, 15 Jul 2014 20:13:27 +0000 Continue reading ]]> I Believe in Unicorns - inside

For an Indy Film Fest schedule and showtimes, click here.

Technically a dazzler, “I Believe in Unicorns” is a coming-of-age tale of a teenager caught between womanhood and girlish flights of fantasy. It’s a romance that is very cynical about love, and a drama that takes itself both very seriously and playfully. The fact that it’s written and directed by a woman who’s still a graduate student at New York University’s film school is staggering.

Like “Twitch,” a short film Leah Meyerhoff previously made, this appears to be a quasi-autobiographical tale about a girl with a mother (Toni Meyerhoff) who is seriously disabled. Barely speaking and confined to a wheelchair by an unidentified illness, she’s more of a dependent on young Davina than the other way around.

Movingly, the story begins with photographs and video of Toni Meyerhoff from her own girlhood into adultery and motherhood, continuing through her slow decline into invalidism.

But ultimately, this is the tale of Davina, winningly played by Natalia Dyer. Her age is never explicitly stated, but in the beginning she seems so waif-like and innocent, we guess perhaps 13 or 14. She grows up quickly over the course of the next 78 minutes, and by the end seems like an old soul who has been worn down by life.

The cause of her transformation is the oldest story in human history, and filmmaking: love, or at least the facsimile of it. Loitering with a friend in the park, she takes some Polaroids of a cute skateboarder, who notices her and comes over to talk. Casually, he instructs her to meet him at a certain place the next day, no time specified. Thrilled by the attentions from an older, mysterious figure, we suspect she would have waited all day.

Sterling (Peter Vack) is a mix of contradictions. He styles himself a renegade poet, but is burdened by the weight of his absent father’s ghost. He lives the life of a vagabond, with little to his name but his skateboard, a guitar and an ancient Camaro. He wants Davina desperately, but only in small spurts. He plucks her chastity like an unripe fruit, to be savored and disposed of as his fleeting whims dictate.

(Vack also bears an unfortunate resemblance to a young Andy Samberg, which grows distracting during the more serious moments when Sterling is supposed to be threatening.)

They take off on a road trip to parts unknown, heading westward as long as their modest supply of cash, supplemented by petty thievery, can sustain them. It eventually becomes clear to Davina that their star-crossed romance cannot be sustained beyond first blush, but she’s obstinate enough to try.

Leah Meyerhoff has some beautiful camerawork, often lending the film a dream-like quality. This is enhanced by Davina’s daydreams, involving unicorns made out of paper or other craft materials, which move in deliberately jerky stop-motion animation. Later, she encounters a fearsome dragon, and it’s not a stretch to figure out who that represents.

There’s not a whole lot of story to “I Believe in Unicorns,” but the evocative imagery and convincing performance by Dyer buoy it along on a wave of whimsy, nostalgia and regret. Meyerhoff is a filmmaker born; now all she needs is some narrative to push and pull.

4 Yaps

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Kumiko the Treasure Hunter Tue, 15 Jul 2014 20:02:31 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Kumiko the Treasure Hunter - inside

For an Indy Film Fest schedule and showtimes, click here.

I often ruminate on the divide in aesthetic tastes between film critics and regular moviegoers. As a general rule, if you look at aggregate ratings given by professional reviewers and those by ticket-buyers, the latter rate movies higher. I think the explanation is easy: Regular folks don’t see movies as often, so doing so feels like a special occasion that they’re enthusiastic about, and that translates into a predisposition to like what they see. After all, they chose it.

Also, because critics are seeing a lot of flicks, it’s hard to avoid a dread feeling of sameness. So reviewers sitting through the third coming-of-age drama or romantic comedy this month are apt to cast a more baleful eye.

On the flip side are so-called “art films” that critics will enthusiastically embrace, but about which audiences — outside of the rarefied circuit of elite film festivals and industry insiders — are considerably less amorous. Again, I don’t think the answer is mysterious: These types of films eschew or challenge conventional stories and narrative devices of which critics have grown tired.

“Different” often translates as “good” for weary critics, even if the totality of the cinematic experience isn’t really all that edifying.

“Kumiko the Treasure Hunter” is the sort of movie destined to be loved by critics, and not many others. Indeed, I saw one writer who labeled it the best film ever to come out of Sundance.


I am reminded of Yasujirō Ozu’s “Tokyo Story,” both because of the Japanese flavor of the tale and the same sort of narrative momentum … which is to say, not very much. Writer/director David Zellner, who is also one of the principle actors, is more concerned with capturing moments than telling a story.

The movie seems almost resentful about any expectation about storytelling. Scenes will linger on and on, a moment of silence that is supposed to be revealing but ends up stultifying. At some point, I began fantasizing about removing a few dozen frames at a time with the snap of the finger.

The titular character is played by Rinko Kikuchi, whom American audiences may remember from the wonderful “Pacific Rim.” Her character here could not be more different: Kumiko is a wallflower seemingly without any internal mechanisms ticking. She is fixated only upon one thing — the idea that she knows the location of a treasure, and that it is her duty to go find it. Indeed, she feels it already belongs to her, and any impediments between her and obtaining it are to be avoided or overcome.

She bases this on the movie “Fargo,” of which she replays a faded old VHS ad infinitum. You may recall the scene where a bloody Steve Buscemi buries a briefcase full of cash in the snow next to a barbed wire fence, and marks it with an ice scraper. Kumiko, spurred on by title cards that claim the film was based on real events, convinces herself the money is still out there, waiting just for her, two decades later.

This would seem to locate her somewhere in the delusional spectrum. But Kumiko is adamant, and eventually steals her boss’ company credit card to fly to Minneapolis and make her way north to Fargo. She speaks almost no English, has no maps and no certainty about the geographical location of this fence, or even if it actually resides near Fargo. But hers is a tale of faith.

There are a few strangely funny scenes, such as when a helpful deputy (Zellner) picks Kumiko up after she’s been wandering around the frozen streets wrapped only in a comforter she’s liberated from a hotel. He offers to help, but can’t communicate, so he takes her to the local Chinese buffet place because he figures someone there will know her lingo — the difference between Japanese and Mandarin apparently being a little hazy to small-town Minnesotans.

Kumiko’s only real human connection is with her mother, whom she calls at inopportune times so they can have repetitive conversations, mostly about the daughter’s lack of a husband and family.

She works as an Office Lady in Tokyo. I learn that this is a real thing, young winsome girls recruited for pink-collar jobs filing and such. It is understood by employer and employees that there is no real chance for future or promotion, and that the women will quit when they settle down and marry — preferably by 25, as there is always a new crop of OL’s waiting to take their place.

The source of my disconnect from this movie is the inability to relate in any way with Kumiko. Her quest is a ridiculous one, undertaken only by the supremely dim and/or psychologically disturbed. She has a sort of passive/aggressive nastiness about her, failing to look anyone in the eye or provide anything like human interaction. Once her boss discovers what she’s up to, he cancels her credit card, so she ends up walking out on a lot of bills. I felt more sympathy for the stiffed taxi driver than her.

I suppose there’s a case to be made for an interpretation of “Kumiko the Treasure Hunter” that’s less literal and more fanciful, a version in which she’s the brave heroine who never gives up in her dreams no matter what anyone else says. The problem with that is not all dreams are created equal, and hers are left wanting. So is the story about her.

2 Yaps

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Big Significant Things Tue, 15 Jul 2014 19:55:14 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Big Significant Things - inside

For an Indy Film Fest schedule and showtimes, click here.

It’s not often that I’ll be watching an indie film, point to a guy or gal onscreen and think, “That is a star.” But I did have that reaction to Harry Lloyd in “Big Significant Things.”

It wasn’t until I looked him up that I realized I had seen Lloyd before, as Viserys, the vain and cruel boy-king in “Game of Thrones.” He’s a Brit, but pulls off a surprisingly convincing American accent as Craig, a yuppie driving aimlessly around the South looking for kitschy roadside attractions.

With his lean, handsome face and quizzical expressions, Lloyd projects a vivid portrait of intelligent anxiety. Craig is a cool guy who works very, very hard at appearing to be a cool guy.

A tad manipulative and needy, he’s the sort of fellow who’s constantly calling his friends on the phone or starting conversations with strangers — not out of a genuine sense of fellowship, but because we sense he can’t stand to be alone with himself.

Craig has a good speech prepared about his strange journey. In looking for the big stuff in life, we often overlook the little things that end up having a bigger impact on us. So rather than going to see the Gateway Arch in St. Louis or something else grandiose, he’s actually mapped out a trip built around things like the “World’s Biggest Frying Pan” or tallest chair.

There is subterfuge behind his seemingly benign intentions. Craig is about to move to San Francisco with his girlfriend, Allison (Elisabeth Gray, only a voice on the phone). They’ve gotten new jobs, are planning to buy a house together, and it’s pretty clear that marriage, kids and the end of youthful independence will follow not long behind.

Craig is secretly terrified, and is spending a week tooling around the South in his Volvo to delay the inevitable. (I mention his car because it’s illustrative. An upwardly mobile dude in his 20s who chooses boxy security for his transportation is desperately short on vim.)

However, he’s told Allison he’s actually on a business trip with some colleagues. In reality, he wrapped up his job a week ago. He’s steering all alone, hunting for something to listen to on the radio — a call-in dedication/confessional show for romantics is a favorite — and running away, even if he has nowhere to run.

An early scene is instructive: Absorbing the rhythms and stories of the country music stations he can’t escape, Craig espies a man dipping tobacco at a gas station. Impulsively, he buys a tin and starts to load up on chaw, howling in time to the cowboy ballads on the radio. He will come to regret his indulgence.

Here is a man without a strong sense of self, who hopes to quickly replicate a persona before his life runs away from him.

He makes a lot of connections, most of them fleeting. But in Gulfport, Miss., he runs into a trio of young people at a bar, including easygoing redneck Grant (Travis Koop) and his wild partying bartender/girlfriend Grace (Sylvia Grace Crim), who seems to have a hazy grasp on the whole fidelity thing.

Most enigmatic is Ella (Krista Kosonen), a woman from Finland who warbles a tune onstage and seems to be just as lost in her spiritual and geographical wanderings as Craig. There’s a strong pull between them, and Craig lingers in Gulfport for a few days, buying a rocking chair and making up excuses to stick around.

Writer/director Bryan Reisberg, making his feature film debut, isn’t concerned so much with narrative momentum as establishing a strong sense of place and person. The people we glimpse on screen, even those for just a minute or two, are resonant and authentic.

Binding it all together is Lloyd, who bravely explores the inner world of a guy who really doesn’t have much going on in there. If it’s possible to draw a detailed portrait of a man as seen through the reflection of a reflection, then here it is.

4 Yaps

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Skook Tue, 15 Jul 2014 19:48:42 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Skook - inside

For an Indy Film Fest schedule and showtimes, click here.

“Skook” is the sort of movie you see a lot at indie film festivals from young artists making their first feature films. They showcase twentysomethings who are wandering emotionally and geographically, not really sure what to make of their lives as they emerge from the cocoon of modern society’s extended adolescent period.

Of course, the plight of the characters are often abstracted from the lives of the filmmakers, who fall back on the adage to “write what you know.” As a result, stories like “Skook” slide along on an undercurrent of authenticity. Often, not much happens from a traditional narrative sense, but these films are less about plot than mood and emotional projection.

Ashley Pishock wrote the screenplay and stars as Amy, a 20-year-old college student in New York City who returns to her hometown on an extended visit for the holidays. She’s not really excited about returning to Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, since it’s the sort of place from which smart, free-thinking kids like her want to escape.

“Skook” is the affectionate nickname/epithet locals apply to the region or anyone from it. It’s blue-collar country, where adults get back working on the coal mines or in supporting industries, and teens get wasted and dream about leaving, or staying. Amy did not fit in during high school, and there’s a reference to an awful incident that served to underline her outcast status.

Jordan (Patrick Arnold) was one of those who participated in the torment of Amy, a good-looking popular kid whom everybody looks up to at 17 but who will doubtless be a faceless worker drone by 30. He’s not a bad guy, and forgotten impulses of attraction between them reignite between them, despite their sour history.

Kailee McGee and Rich Costales play Amy’s grunge buddies from the old days, who never left and pretty much continue their tiny rebellion against everything Skook, since they know they are trapped there. I also enjoyed Paul Castro Jr. as Brian, the local rich kid/party boy; there’s an art to being snotty, and he’s mastered it.

Directed by Connor Hurley, “Skook” ambles wherever Amy does, focusing on what she does and letting other things slide by. There is unexplored territory with her dad (Cat Collins), who has recently taken up with an older woman, much to the delight of the Skook gossips.

Amy herself has an ostensible boyfriend (David Charney), an Occupy Wall Street type who manages to turn every aspect of his activism into an act of narcissism. After initially declining to travel with her, he shows up in Skook unannounced and then promptly leaves, without much significance (or purpose) to his stay.

Just 72 minutes long, “Skook” has the feel of a rehearsal for something bigger and grander. Pishock, with her angular beauty and thoughtful gaze, reminds me of a younger Parker Posey. And based on her screenwriting, there’s a brain and soul there, too.

4 Yaps

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Homemakers Tue, 15 Jul 2014 00:32:15 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Homemakers screenshot

For an Indy Film Fest schedule and showtimes, click here.

Homemakers” can best be described as a case study of “Peter Pan Syndrome.”

Unfortunately, much like the main character, the film never fully develops. It’s quirky and funny and weird at times, but ultimately “Homemakers” is too hip for its own good.

Following hipster transient punk singer Irene through the exploration of her late 20s, “Homemakers” has a very rootless quality to it that mirrors Irene’s countercultural worldview.  After inheriting a house from her great-grandfather, Irene moves from Austin to Pittsburgh to start renovations. Albeit haphazardly at first, Irene eventually finds solace in the role of homemaker. She meets up with her long-lost cousin, and the two go in and out of renovating the house and drunkenly destroying it.

This “two steps forward, one step back” mentality eventually takes its toll, and Irene soon has inspirations of nesting in her newfound home. The entire film acts as one long metaphor for growing up. Irene is constantly toeing the line between exuberant adolescent and responsible adult, but when she finds herself straying too far in either direction, she takes heed and destructively vents her frustrations.

“Homemakers” has a South by Southwest quality to the whole affair, which is to say it’s hipster fodder that, at times, is too cool for its own good. The film tries too hard to maintain an edgy, eccentric vibe, and instead comes off as convoluted rather than refreshingly hip. I understand the aim of the film, but the delivery is muddled amid a sea of disenfranchised youth and fractured character development.

“Homemakers” makes promises of an irreverent comedy, but falls just short of said goal.

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Coldwater Mon, 22 Jul 2013 00:18:15 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Coldwater 2

For Indy Film Fest showtimes, click here.

To read an interview with “Coldwater” director/co-writer Vince Grashaw, click here.

A harrowing, affecting film, “Coldwater” is a drama about accountability, power run amok, and finding justice.

Brad Lunders (P.J. Boudousque), a teenage drug dealer, is shipped off to a teen “boot camp,” the sort of place the exasperated parents of troubled teens send their kids in hopes of straightening them out. This camp is run by ex-Marine Frank Reichert (James C. Burns), who, much like the warden at Shawshank prison, promises that with obedience and discipline will come happiness.

But Brad is in no mood for cooperation and finds brutal penalties for disobedience or for falling behind on the backbreaking work and long runs in the sun. When the punishment goes too far for one, Brad decides he has to play along to survive.

Meanwhile, as Brad draws nearer to his “captors,” he has plans of his own, especially when a friend of his arrives in a new wave of “campers.”

Part revenge tale, part searing expose, “Coldwater” offers a question for those who cheer these sorts of boot camps: Do you really know to whom you’re turning over your children? With little real supervision or accountability, Frank becomes drunk with power, figuratively and literally, believing he can dodge responsibility as investigators begin sniffing around the compound.

Boudousque is a Ryan Gosling clone who more than acquits himself well in an indie role; he owns the film. His steely, expressive eyes are full of untamed principle and complete defiance. This is the kind of role that could get him noticed.

“Coldwater” could have just been a twist on prison movies, a “Cool Hand Luke” for the teen set. But where the juvenile delinquents of a generation ago would have been cheered, we now root for their humiliation and “straightening out.” Co-writers Mark Penney and Vince Grashaw (who also directs) ask an important question of the reality TV age: can the people to whom your entrust your kids succeed where you, as a parent, did not?

A compelling film, “Coldwater” is a must-see.

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Liv and Ingmar Sun, 21 Jul 2013 13:37:58 +0000 Continue reading ]]> LivandIngmar-inside

Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann was 25 years old when legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman cast her in “Persona.” Twenty-one years her senior, the director found the muse that would serve as the creative fuel for 12 of his films and result in a relationship that would last for the next 43 years of their lives.

Director Dheeraj Akolkar showcases the loving, and sometimes volatile, relationship between Ullmann and Bergman in the documentary “Liv and Ingmar.” Filled with passion and intensity, the duo’s 43-year collaboration went beyond the silver screen and was not the typical Hollywood fairy tale.

The documentary is told through interviews with Ullman, who is still stunning at 73. Her beautiful blue eyes recall the pleasure and pain of loving a man who was private and controlling. While the doc relies heavily on Ullmann’s memories, Akolkar also uses Bergman’s letters to Ullmann to help the deceased director lend his voice to the story.

In those letters, Bergman tells Ullmann he had a dream that they were “painfully connected” and that dream turned out to be a premonition. The couple shared five years of their lives together from 1966 to 1971 and had a daughter, but things never worked out. Bergman tried to shield his muse from the world by constructing a wall around the beautiful home he built on the tiny Swedish island of Faro.

After years filled with turbulent times, Ullmann left, which would be the end of the story for most relationships. That wasn’t the case for Ullmann and Bergman. The couple spent the rest of their lives navigating life apart but always connected up until the director’s death in 2007.

The interviews are conducted in and around the home Ullmann and Bergman shared, adding more weight to the words. Bergman’s presence seems to fill the house.

Two of the most touching scenes in the film come late in the 81-minute running time. One involved Ullmann describing a wall diary the two kept during their relationship. As the sun faded it during the year, she tells how Bergman would touch it up every spring, freezing it in time. Since his death in 2007, the images are fading into the ether much as the director has himself.

The other is when Ullmann discovers that the director kept a note she wrote him several years ago inside his teddy bear. She reads the note and begins to cry during the final lines.

The documentary is beautifully shot with breathtaking images of Faro intercut throughout. Akolkar crafts a beautiful documentary about Bergman and his muse.

While the movie tends to shy away from much of anything about their professional lives, “Liv and Ingmar,” at its core, is a film about passion, love and the enduring connection two spirits can have. It is wonderfully romantic yet tragically sad.

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