the blog of Jason C. Stanley

Category: Film (page 1 of 18)

Where Hope Grows (2015)

I wrote the following review of the film “Where Hope Goes” for ScreenFish.net.

Where Hope GrowsCalvin Campbell (Kristoffer Polaha) is a former baseball player who is searching for a new purpose in life. After his formative career ended, a drinking problem began. This added to his struggles as a single father to his teenage daughter, Katie (McKaley Miller). Katie is dating a boy that Calvin knows is no good, but the more Calvin tries to steer Katie in a different direction, the wider the gap between the two becomes. While the character of Calvin is a bit of a cliche, he provides the foundation for what will be a warming tale of hope.

Everything begins to change for Calvin when he meets a young man whom everyone calls Produce.

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Pirate’s Code: The Adventures of Mickey Matson (2015)

mickeymatsonpiratescode-smPirate’s Code is a sequel to the earlier film Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure. This time Mickey (Derek Brandon) comes face-to-face with the evil Admiral Ironsides (Frank Collison) and his gang of misfit pirates. Their goal? Destroy civilization by removing technology. Their invention, the Tesla Coil, will send out an electromagnetic pulse throughout the world, destroying every electronic device.

Mickey and his best friend Sully (Francesca DeRosa), along with the secret government organization they belong to, set out to stop the pirates from stealing the last needed part for their weapon of mass destruction.

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5 Movies on Netflix Worth Watching

Here are five movies currently streaming on Netflix that you might find worth watching.

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American Sniper (2014)

AmericanSniper_PosterNo matter where you stand on the war in Iraq debate, American Sniper is a film worth watching. I was torn when the film was released. Did we need another war film? Did we need a film before we were out of Iraq telling us whether the war was good or bad?

So I waited for the film to come out on DVD and Blu-ray, which happened this week, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

I was surprised at how good the film was. I know, I know, it was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor in a  Leading Role (Bradley Cooper).  (It only won Best Achievement in Sound Editing). American Sniper is not an analytical film about war, instead war is the reality of the narrative. It is the story of a father, a husband, and a service man, Chris Kyle (Cooper).

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“We’re Home”: Star Wars 7 & Vocation


This week the second official trailer for Star Wars VII was released. In no time, Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere were alive with comments and thoughts about what this means for the movie coming out in December 2015.

In case, some how, you missed it, here it is:

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Answers to Nothing (2011)

large_onho6lqX4UAsMiQ9LdLhUJqyAKKAnswers to Nothing join films like Crash and Babel in the multiple-stories-that-interlock genre.  In this Crash-like (or lite) film, director and co-writer Matthew Leutwyler interweaves various lives in Los Angeles to tell a story of loneliness and brokenness.

Ryan (Dane Cook) is having an affair with rock singer Tara (Aja Volkman), all while trying to have a child with his wife Kate (Elizabeth Mitchell). By day, Ryan is a psychologist who is treating Allegra (Katie Hawk), the only African-American writer for a television show. Allegra meets Evan (Zach Gilford) while walking her dog, and they begin a relationship. Evan is the sound engineer for Tara’s band. In the meantime, Kate is a lawyer whose client Drew (Miranda Bailey) is fighting with her parents for custody of her ex-marathon-running, now-paralyzed brother Eric.

Kate is also friends with Officer Frankie (Julie Benz). Frankie is investigating a missing girl case. Frankie’s daughter is in Carter’s (Mark Kelly) class. Carter is a school teacher who rushes home to get on his computer and play an online fantasy video game. One of Carter’s neighbors is Jerry (Erik Palladino) who ritually gets ready each day by putting his police uniform on and walks his beat around his apartment.

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London Boulevard (2010)

affiche-London-Boulevard-2010-2London Boulevard is the directorial debut of William Monahan.  Monahan won an Oscar for his script for the film Departed, which would explain the similarities between the two films.  The cinematography drapes the London cityscape with blood, grime, and smeared lipstick.  At other times it is reminiscent of The Bodyguard—the protector and the protected falling in love.

Mitchel (Colin Farrell) has been in jail for three years for “grievous bodily harm.”  His buddy Billy (Ben Chaplin) picks him up and immediately begins coercing him into criminal work.  Mitchel tries to explain to him that he is never going back to jail.  Billy, however, doesn’t seem to care.  He continuously puts Mitchel is awkward situations where he has to defend himself.  Eventually, Billy will make it near impossible for Mitchel not to confront Gant (Ray Winstone), the gang boss.

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Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (2010)

poster212x312Serge Gainsbourg, born Lucien Ginsburg in Paris in 1928 to Russian-Jewish emigrants, was possibly the greatest European cultural icon of the twentieth century, most widely known (and celebrated) for the songs he wrote for beautiful female singers. Not to mention the affairs he had with each of them. This French film follows the life and career of this cultural icon, including his troubled relationships, bouts with depression, and abuse of alcohol and drugs.

Just as celebrated in France is the writer-director Joann Sfar who is a comic book artist and musician.  The animated opening of the film is all the work of Sfar.  Throughout the film an animated version of Gainsbourg might pop up here and there.  When we consider Sfar’s artistic inclinations, it becomes clear that he is the perfect candidate to explore Gainsbourg’s roller-coaster of a life and career.

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The Broken Tower (2011)

brokentower_poster_001Hart Crane was an early 20th century modernist poet. His poetry was difficult to understand, it was highly stylized, and very ambitious.  James Franco, as writer, director, and actor, brings to us the complicated life of the mustachioed gay romantic living mostly in his own head in The Broken Tower. As complicated as Crane’s life and poetry was, so is this biopic based on Paul Mariani’s biography of the same title. Shot in black-and-white video, Franco’s film uses repetitive, stop-and-start-like cuts that are very chaotic and could simply mirror Crane’s life, that of a man who ended his own life by jumping from the steamship SS Orizaba at the age of 32.

Franco tells the narrative of Crane’s life using a chapter-based structure (not unlike a technique used by director Lars von Trier). These chapters are called “Voyages,” which is the title of a series of erotic poems written by Crane. The Voyages help guide the film through Crane’s narrative, moving us from his early years in Cleveland, to the streets of New York, to trips to Paris and Mexico.

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The Rum Diary (2011)

rum_diary_ver2_xlgPaul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is an American journalist who has relocated to San Juan, Puerto Rico as a freelance writer in the 1950s.   He’s hired by a not-so-great American newspaper to write the daily horoscopes.   At first he thinks it’s a joke, but alas, it is not.

As the film unfolds, there’s a tension in the air, and I don’t mean the rum-aroma air that almost seeps through the screen.  There is a tension existing inside Paul Kemp.  As he sits at Al’s bar with Chenault (Amber Heard) he tells her, “I don’t know how to write like me.”   From the beginning of the film, we see this struggle.  After witnessing his first Puerto Rican cock fight, Paul wanders off with a camera.  He snaps some pictures of the local children in a trash dump.  He then writes a story about the children eating in the dump.  He wants to draw the attention of the reader to this great injustice.  It’s rejected by the editor, Lotterman (Richard Jenkins).  “Nothing will change,” Lotterman reasons.  “You underestimate me,” Kemp replies.

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