12 posts categorized "Independent Cinema"

November 16, 2011


Colesmithey.com"Rid of Me" is a dud. It’s further evidence that the Mumblecore movement is like dog shit stuck to the feet of navel-gazing filmmakers who follow in its steps. Writer/director James Westby shows little promise as a director, much less as a scriptwriter.

Filmed on what seems like a toy camera, and with the lighting design of dog house, the movie lacks a single empathetic character. Manic depressive Meris (Katie O'Grady) has the personality of an old stinky running shoe. Her Oregon husband Mitch (John Keyser) is a terminal frat boy with the charm and intellect of a flea. Mitch has recently lost his job (shocker), and so the couple road-trip back to his rinky-dink home town where he looks forward to reuniting with his culture-less — read racist idiot — group of best friends. Meris doesn't pretend to try to engage with Mitch's judgmental asshole buddies and their air-headed wives.

Tribeca 2011: 'Rid of Me' tries to find its niche | 24 Frames | Los Angeles  Times

Still, she wins no audience empathy because she’s such a pill. She takes the group’s advice to avoid a Muslim family she makes friends with on her first day in town. It isn’t until Mitch divorces her that Meris starts to find her voice as a punk rocker inspired by a bi-sexual chic she works with at a local candy store. She could have at least explored her obvious lesbian tendencies, but that would be too much work for such a lazy movie.

Rid of Me,' Directed by James Westby — Review - The New York Times

“Rid of Me” is a great movie to bet a friend that they’ll walk out of in the first 10 minutes. They’ll have the cash to pay up because they’ll demand it from the box office.

Not Rated. 89 mins.

1 Star

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October 27, 2011


Janie-JonesAlessandro Nivola and Abigail Breslin can elevate just about any piece of dramatic material, even when comes to portraying convincing singer/songwriter types. Still, their efforts don't sufficiently pull up director David M. Rosenthal's hackneyed imaginings about a rock ‘n’ roll band frontman confronted with a 13-year-old daughter he didn’t know he had. Nivola plays Ethan Brand, an alt rock narcissist who gets charged with custody of his daughter Janie Jones (yes, named after the Clash song — now go away).

Janie Jones': Family Harmony Takes Practice : NPR

Shameless mommy (Elisabeth Shue) needs time to clean up in rehab. Given his temper-driven tendency for self-destruction it’s impossible to see how Ethan has held his lame band together for 15-years, much less managed to make any kind of living, touring around the country playing dive bar gigs booked by his well-meaning manager (Peter Stormare). Little Janie takes after dad in the singer/songwriter department. The conceit of the movie is that Breslin does a decent job of singing and playing guitar.

Janie Jones (2010/2011) - Covering Media

A few nicely performed father/daughter duets provide the only narrative meat there is on the bones of Rosenthal’s sketchy script. The musical set pieces aren’t enough reason to see “Janie Jones,” but at least there’s some payoff for an otherwise dismal excuse for a story.

Janie Jones' With Abigail Breslin - Review - The New York Times

Not Rated. 107 mins. 

2 Stars

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

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

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

Cole Smithey on Patreon

October 18, 2011


Martha-marcy-may-marlene"Work-shopped in a Sundance writing and directing lab" proves to be the kiss of death for an overwrought and underdeveloped psychological thriller that refuses to either poop or get off the pot.

Newbie writer/director Sean Durkin wears his obsession with Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke on his snot-covered sleeve. Evidently they don't teach that flashbacks are a bad idea at NYU film school — where Durkin attended — or at Sundance since exactly half of Durkin's story is told using the most common crutch in narrative existence.

Cinematic Immersion Tank #1: Martha Marcy May Marlene

Durkin has an ace up his sleeve in newcomer Elizabeth Olsen, whose beguiling nubility and haunting mood shifts the filmmaker milks for all they’re worth. Olsen plays the title character whose name Martha gets transmogrified to Marcy Mae by a creepy cult leader named Patrick (John Hawkes) who feeds on the flesh of his mostly female clan on a remote farm commune in the Catskills. Martha's "Marlene" identity is the least explained, and is left dangling along with every other plot thread the filmmakers bother to create.

Martha Marcy May Marlene | Filmmaker Magazine

Martha runs away from the commune at the beginning of the story. She calls her sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson), who she hasn't been in touch with for two years, to come pick her up. Lucy and her husband Ted (Hugh Dancy) take Martha into their spacious riverside home in Connecticut. Martha displays odd behaviors such as skinny dipping in broad daylight and crawling in bed with Ted and Lucy while they're having sex. She doesn’t believe in such capitalist traps as pursuing a career. She holds onto firm but unstated beliefs about “the right way to live.”


Flashbacks reveal Martha's rape at the hands of Patrick, and her indoctrination as a "leader and teacher" at the commune. The filmmaker constantly jockeys back and forth between Martha's increasingly problematic situation with Lucy and Ted, and her not so distant past that informs her subconscious and conscious mind. Martha is an unreliable protagonist the audience is tempted to side with in spite of her volatile personality.

Martha Marcy May Marlene Trailer: Martha Marcy May Marlene: The Story  (Featurette) - Metacritic

"Martha Marcy May Marlene" comes across as an extreme right-wing fantasy about the leftist mind. If we take Martha, as the filmmakers seem to intend, to represent the kind of person engaged in the global protests against savage corporate greed then we are forced to admit that they are emotionally disturbed sociopathic human beings. The big problem with the movie is the filmmakers forgot to tell a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Rated R. 101 mins.

1 Star

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

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

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

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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