Mini Review - The Alpinist
The Alpinist (out Sep 23) taps into the success of Free Solo and is another interesting documentary about a gifted/crazy mountain climber, Marc-André Leclerc. It chronicles his insanely difficult climbs while also delving into his mindset. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Joe Bell
Joe Bell (out Sep 23) is based on a 2013 true story and follows a father (Mark Wahlberg) going on a trek across the contiguous United States to raise awareness about bullying. It's a moving drama but curiously, Joe Bell is the least interesting character. Reid Miller is excellent as his 15-year-old gay son and Connie Britton is just as good as the mother trying to hold the family together. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - The Killing of Two Lovers
The Killing of Two Lovers (out Sep 16) is an intense, simply-told drama about a husband and wife undertaking a trial separation and the impact it has on them and their four children. With long takes, striking cinematography (e.g. camera kept at a distance), and a powerful climax, this film leaves an impression. Grade: A-.
Mini Review - Palazzo Di Cozzo
Palazzo Di Cozzo (out Sep 16) is an Australian documentary about successful Victorian furniture salesman Franco Cozzo. Not sure there’s enough material to justify a full-length feature but I like what is has to say about changing times and dying businesses. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Die in a Gunfight
Die in a Gunfight (out Sep 16) is a lame, exaggerated, narration-heavy, modern day knock off of Romeo and Juliet. Forget this and revisit Baz Lurhmann’s masterpiece with Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes from 25 years ago. Grade: C.
Mini Review - Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon
Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon (out Sep 16) is a trippy animated film about a teenage girl from the Amazon who goes on a journey to save her community from an environmental disaster. Worthy themes mixed with simplistic dialogue and an odd villain. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Pig
Pig (out Sep 16) is a pleasant surprise. It's the story of a man who, after spending more than a decade living as a hermit in an Oregon forest, returns to civilization on a vengeance mission after goons steal his prized pet pig. There’s a fair bit to unpick here and first-time director Michael Samoski provides a nice balance of intrigue and dramatic action. Nicolas Cage terrific in the lead role. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Ride the Eagle
Ride the Eagle (out Sep 9) has an interesting concept - a man inherits an house from his late mother... but only if he agrees to complete a series of tasks left by her. Unfortunately, the characters are dull and the laughs, for the most part, don't hit the mark. Grade: C+.