3 posts categorized "American Independent Cinema"

June 21, 2019


Ghost Light PosterAt a time when Hollywood has lost its mojo, low budget indie films such as “Ghost Light” come with simple theatrical pleasures that remind us there is a world of talented, inspired artists who have not fallen prey to America’s industrial Cinema complex of military indoctrination — see any superhero movie made in the last 15 years.

The long-observed stage curse incited by speaking the name of “The Scottish Play” aloud inside a theater, comes back to haunt a troop of actors performing a small town production of “Macbeth” in this cinematic amuse bouche. Whistling in a theater is another no-no that one of our irreverent actors is all too willing to test. Theatre superstitions are nothing to trifle with.


Although the writing could be stronger, “Ghost Light” has some shining moments thanks to the reliable scenery-chewing efforts of stage legend Carol Kane, and (surprisingly) of Shannyn Sossamon in her Lady Macbeth incarnation. Carey Elwes manages to mask his less-than-impressive acting abilities in the context of an amateur stage production of one of Shakespeare’s most admired plays.

The film’s play-within-a-play narrative landscape allows for sufficient suspense to build even if the movie comes to an anti-climactic finish.

Ghost Light

The ghost light of the film’s title refers to a stage light that must remain lit on an empty stage if a production is to be successful. It’s a metaphor befitting our current filmic wasteland. It takes films such as “Ghost Light” to maintain a glow of hope that one day American Cinema will be reborn. In the meantime, Shakespeare’s plays remain a wellspring of material to rinse out Hollywood’s static noise. “Ghost Light” is good, clean (if a little bloody) fun. For Hollywood, it’s back to the woodshed.

Not Rated. 102 mins.

Three Stars


Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

June 16, 2017


Return-of-the-secaucus-7In 1980, four years before “The Big Chill” addressed baby boomers crossing over into middle age ennui for mainstream (read Hollywood) audiences, John Sayles created the subject’s wryly indelible mold with an independent ferocity inspired by John Cassavetes’ daring approach to cinematic truth.

Born of lower and middle-class New England families, seven (optimistic but seasoned) friends reunite for a weekend of hanging out, skinny dipping, singing songs, and peeking into the uncertain future staring them in the face. They talk, joke, hook up, and bare their souls to one another in refreshingly honest ways. This film is an exquisite time capsule of New Hampshire culture circa 1980. Dig the Tretorn tennis shoes.


Financed with money he made from writing B-movie scripts for Roger Corman, Sayles’s episodic storytelling breathes with lumpy authenticity. The reunion crew refer to themselves as the “Secaucus 7” (think “the Chicago Seven”) because of an arrest they endured in Secaucus, New Jersey on their way to a protest in Washington D.C. that they were thwarted from attending.


Rated R. 104 mins. (A-) (Four stars — out of five / no halves)

COLE SMITHEYA small request: Help keep Cole Smithey writing reviews, creating video essays, and making podcasts. Click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon, and receive special rewards!


Click Here to Pledge Your Support Through Patreon

October 01, 2010


COLESMITHEY.COMDocumentarian Davis Guggenheim petitions the same level of cultural awareness about American education myths as his film "An Inconvenient Truth" delivered regarding Global Warming.

The filmmakers methodically introduce America's systemic public education crisis with data and graphs that show how the majority of U.S. high schools have become "Drop-Out Factories." With U.S. students coming in last in math scores behind 30 other countries, you know we're in trouble.

Waiting for "Superman" Movie Review

A significant crux of the problem comes from a teacher's union contract, with the American Federation of Teachers, that tenures teachers after just two-years, upon which time it becomes impossible to fire them regardless of their success rate with students.

Waiting For Superman Review | SBS Movies

Harlem charter school founder Geoffrey Canada (Harlem Children's Zone) discusses his effective approach to teaching children. Geoffrey Canada has enjoyed tremendous success with sending his program's students on to college. Canada's passion and commitment to educating young people carries a refreshing ring of clarity. We also follow newly-minted Washington, D.C. public-school system chancellor Michelle Rhee as she attempts to clean up the nations lowest performing school district.

Convenient conclusions in flawed 'Waiting for Superman' | Movie reviews |  madison.com

The subject switches to the nation's best charter schools as the primary option over an abysmal public school system 50-years out of date. The problem is that charter schools only have a limited number of student spots to fill. As such, lotteries are held to randomly choose the lucky students who will attend. Utilizing five class-assorted case studies of children whose parents have entered their child in charter school lotteries, Guggenheim arrives at the harsh reality under our current system where many children will be blocked from a significant opportunity of living a financially successful existence.

Waiting for Superman Movie - Teacher Review of Waiting for Superman Movie

"Waiting for Superman" opens alongside "Freakonomics," which supports this film's emphasis on how America's drop-outs today will be the ones ruining or running the country 20-years down the road. It also comes out at the same time as Charles Ferguson's important documentary "Inside Job," about Wall Street's heist of our economy. All three films are mandatory viewing for anyone who cares about saving our country.

Rated PG. 102 mins.

4 Stars


Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

Featured Video

SMART NEW MEDIA® Custom Videos



Throwback Thursday

Podcast Series