To Live and Write in LA

Archive for Drama

‘20th Century Women’ – Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig Star

’20th Century Women’ takes you on a cinematic joy ride while being at once heart-warming, sad, and funny. Oscar nominations are in its future, particularly for Annette Bening’s amazing performance.

IFFF: ‘Ridge Runners’ – Sex Trafficking in a Small Town

There are many more talented actors, writers and directors than Hollywood has room for. Ridge Runners is proof of that. The first feature film for screenwriter Austin Lott and director Hunter West is an indie crime drama which is a standout on multiple levels.

Anthem Film Festival: Slavery Is Alive and Well and May Be Living Down Your Street

Slavery has become more subtle and is not just something that happens far away in third world countries. This was the message of The Return, a film by director Matthew Szewczyk and producer Chelsea Fenton, which won the “Best Libertarian Ideals, Short Narrative” award at the Anthem Film Festival.

‘Wolf Mother’ and ‘I Live For You’

There seems to be a new meme in indie film: scary ladies. “Danger: Crazy Lady Ahead” award goes to a pair of films shown at the Dances With Films Festival.

‘Room’ – Mothers, Children, and Abduction with Brie Larson, Joan Allen, and William H. Macy

‘Room’ will both scare you and make you cry. It is the best movie I’ve seen this year. It is two movies in one. The first movie is a tense thriller about an abducted teenager, locked in a 10 by 10 sound-proof garden shed as a sex slave for seven years. She finally has an idea of how to escape with her five year old child. The second movie is a psychological study of the effects of abduction, rape, and social and sensory deprivation on its direct and indirect victims. Both stories will grab you.

Anthem FilmFest: Plato, Revolting, and Mendocino – All in a Cave

Ancient Greek philosopher Plato put in a couple of appearances at the Anthem Film Festival in Las Vegas, July 8-11. Two of the short films showed influence, if not direct inspiration, by Plato’s tale of the cave, written 2,500 years ago. The films, ‘The Cage’ and ‘Helio’ both deserve praise for supporting the human quest for freedom and individualism. Cinematically, ‘Helio’ was a winner and ‘The Cage’ was not.

LA Film Fest: Kiernan Shipka of ‘Mad Men’ and Meg Ryan make ‘Fan Girl’ Fun

‘Fan Girl’, by director Paul Jarrett and screenwriter Gina O’Brien, was a total trip when it premiered at the LA Film Festival. A “trip”? Dude, that’s so last century. If there is anything this movie isn’t, it’s last century. Fan Girl is a winner of a movie because of the writing, the casting, and the acting. If all that works together, the director deserves credit as well. On the surface Fan Girl is a story of teenager Telulah Farrow, played by Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men, Flowers in the Attic), who adulates the punk band All Time Low. She thinks she needs to connect with the band and create a music video for her filmmaking class to launch her movie career. What she really needs, and the story beneath the surface, is to learn what is really important in human relationships.

‘Wildlike’ – A Journey through Loss and Abuse to Redemption

‘Wildlike’, a film by writer/director Frank Hall Green, was shown during the eighteenth Dances With Films (DWF) indie-film festival in Hollywood. Dances With Films promotes itself as relying on “innovation, talent, creativity and sweat equity” rather than celebrity. All those good qualities are evident in ‘Wildlike’. The film has an intriguing story, great characters and an interesting production history.

‘Kidnapping Mr. Heineken’ – Anthony Hopkins Gets Kidnapped by Sam Worthington

How much is the life of a billionaire worth? That and other questions about life, relationships, and greed are explored inKidnapping Mr. Heineken, staring Sir Anthony Hopkins (The Lion in Winter, Silence of the Lambs) as Dutch beer entrepreneur Alfred “Freddy” Heineken, and Jim Sturgess (The Other Boleyn Girl, Cloud Atlas) and Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans) as the brains behind the grab.

Directed by Daniel Alfredson (The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest), this film is not the typical “heist flick” in the Oceans 11-The Italian Job genre. It goes much deeper.

SXSW: ‘Manglehorn’ – Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, and a Cat

Most movies are the merging of technology and short stories, novels or sagas. Manglehorn is technology merged with a poem. It is the story of a locksmith who has lost the love of his life because of something he has done and lives in self-imposed isolation. Manglehorn has constructed a cocoon of memories and fantasies, keeping his son, a former protégé, and the hope of new love at arm’s length.

SXSW: ‘The Last Man on the Moon’ and ‘Love and Mercy’

Two remarkable biographies premiered on the screens of SXSW this year. ‘The Last Man on the Moon,’ profiling Astronaut Gene Cernan, and ‘Love and Mercy,’ which brings us into the life of Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson.

The Price of Following Your Dreams

(Originally published on Two films debuting this spring explore the challenge and cost of following your dreams. Documentary My Way (theatrical release on Febrary 20) follows rock musician Rebekah Starr as she leaves her Pennsylvania home for Los Angeles to make a music video. Narrative drama Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (U.S. release in March) […]

‘Ask Me Anything’ Starring Christian Slater and Martin Sheen

“Ask Me Anything” qualifies as “serious,” funny, and touching cinema, so when it opens on December 19, you should watch it. Then, blog about it.

Family Film Festival: ‘Centurion AD’ and ‘Leaving Limbo’

(Originally published on Two films at the International Family Film Festival, Centurion AD and Leaving Limbo took two radically different paths to get you in touch with things spiritual, although they both involved a character out of their normal place in time. Centurion AD is billed as a sci-fi action adventure, set in current […]

White Bird in a Blizzard

White Bird in a Blizzard, written and directed by Gregg Araki, adapted from a novel by Laura Kasischke, is like an ultra-realistic painting of a bloody car crash. You can almost smell the smoke and the blood. This is a film you can praise for its technical and storytelling virtuosity, without saying that watching it was an enjoyable experience.

Anthem Film Fest: A Dark Future, but with a Few Laughs

Two films — two questions about America’s future

Dallas Buyers Club

(First published on Opening night of the 2013 Film Independent (FIND) Forum, a three-day intensive on filmmaking at the Directors Guild on Sunset Boulevard, featured a preview of Dallas Buyers Club and a question and answer session with its producers, Robbie Brenner (Escape Plan, Immortals) andRachel Winter (Brooklyn Rules, The Lather Effect). Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner and Jered Leto,Dallas Buyers […]

Anthem Film Fest: Two for the Culture

(First published on There no shortage of either documentaries or polemics at the Anthem Film Festival, and they serve their role to advance the cause of Libertarian thought. But, and I heard this message last year and even more this year, before you can have an impact on the political system, you must change […]

LA Film Fest: ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’

Originally published on Writer/director David Lowery has what seems like a cliché story.  In 1970s Texas, an outlaw escapes from prison to find the wife and the daughter he’s never met. But Lowery paints this story with a different, intimate, film-noir brush. Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints opened at the LA Film Festival Saturday, June 15. He is aided in […]

LA Film Fest: ‘Crystal Fairy’

(First published on I don’t like hippies or recreational drug use and that’s what Sebastián Silva’s Crystal Fairy is all about. Strangely, I enjoyed the film and recommend it. Part of the Los Angeles Film Festival Summer Showcase series, Crystal Fairy chronicles the road-trip and psychedelic-trip adventures of Jamie, played by Michael Cera, (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Arrested […]

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