Friday, September 25, 2009

Independent Woman Pt. 1: A Review of Coco Before Chanel

"...without a clear plot trajectory, the film struggles to maintain momentum, relying on the tired period-piece mainstays of sweeping landscape shots accompanied by swelling orchestral music before concluding with little impact."

Click here to read my review in VIVmag

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


In the tradition of Raising Arizona comes Skiptracers, a low-budget, Southern fried comedy about a family of bail bondsmen – who also coach the local peewee football team in their hometown of Yellow Hammer, Alabama. Overseen by their surly, drunken patriarch, brothers JD (Porter Harris) and Tucker (Dustin Kerns) are fugitive recovery agents, but their minds are on other things. JD, the slightly more sensible of the two has dreams of flying fighter pilots while Tucker, the dashing one, is more interested in philandering around town.

Tired of scraping by on the company’s meager income, JD decides to take a gamble on a high-profile parolee named Rusty (Andy Stuckey, who also wrote and produced the film). Rusty, a livewire in the truest sense, quickly becomes more than they can handle and the brothers find themselves embroiled in a feud with the town’s rival bondsmen company.

Characters from the South frequently serve the purpose of easy jokes in the movies (think anything by Sacha Baron Cohen) but Skiptracers joins the group of emerging filmmakers who better care for their brothers from the South. Like David Gordon Green and Phil Morrison, director Harris Mendheim is happy to present his characters as eccentrics but they’re never repulsive or despicable (unlike the Staten Island inhabitants depicted in Big Fan for example). Some of the minor characters, while memorable, are occasionally overdrawn but Porter Harris gives a well grounded performance and Andy Stuckey has an admirable energy that makes a challenging character hard to resist.

Even if it may have trouble connecting with audiences on the coast, Skiptracers will likely be well received in the South and mid-West, where audiences will enjoy the familiarity of its milieu and its tender touch.

Skiptracers opens at New York’s Village East Cinemas this Friday, September 11th. In a savvy move of cross-promotion, opening night attendees can get a free Colt 45 from the nearby bar, Finnerty’s.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Inside Baseball: A DVD Review of Sugar

"Melancholic and pragmatic, Sugar is not a rousing Saturday night sports movie. But it is a brilliantly executed film that provides insight into a world most viewers rarely think about. As far as sobering sports movies go, Sugar would make a strong double-feature with last year’s The Wrestler, as both films are dedicated to examining the psychology of minor league athletes just outside the spotlight."

Click here to read my review at PopMatters

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

My Summer of Love: A Review of Adventureland

"Unassuming and naturalistic, Adventureland has a remarkable sense of pathos for a young adult comedy. But its appealing ensemble, pitch-perfect soundtrack, and controlled filmmaking help the tougher moments go down smoothly. It’s a hugely enjoyable blend of humor and agony that captures the confused, painful, but open-ended state of late adolescence. "

Click here to read my DVD review at PopMatters