Film Review: Intimate Stranger — 3 stars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVVGS1H_ZuQ

ONE WORD REVIEW: Sad!

SUMMARY: The compelling, tragic, global story of Joseph Cassuto, a man who loved his work more than his family.

DETAILS: Intimate Stranger is the story of Joseph Cassuto, an average, hardworking Jewish man whose life changed drastically due to WWII. Living in Egypt prior to the war, Joseph had a lovely wife and four children and a very successful career exporting Egyptian cotton to Japan, but following Pearl Harbor his life and career would take a drastic turn. His American wife and his two youngest children were able to return to America just prior to the war breaking out with the thought that Dad and the others would soon join them. But as fate would have it, it would be several years before they would arrive in Brooklyn, and in America, their successful father was a nobody. Mr. Cassuto soon started rebuilding his relationships with the Japanese and he eventually would live in Japan, away from his family, for 11 months of the year. As he became more loved by the Japanese, he became more hated by his own family. The best quote of the film is by one of his own sons who said, “I never met anybody who disliked him, other than the immediate family.” Intimate Stranger was made by Cassuto’s grandson Alan Berliner and is a great look at a man who busied himself too much with his career at the expense of those who should have loved him the most.

WATCH THE TRAILER
SCORE: 3 out of 5 stars
RELEASE: 1991
RATING: NR
DOCUMENTARY

Film Review: Monica & David — 4 stars

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xf3gqx_hbo-documentary-films-monica-david_shortfilms

ONE WORD REVIEW: Uplifting!

SUMMARY: In spite of them both having Down Syndrome, Monica & David marry and start their lives together.

DETAILS: Monica & David have Down Syndrome… and yet they won’t let that stop them from being happily married. Although dependent on Monica’s mother and step-father, Monica & David begin their lives together and show us that love is so much more than what we typically expect it to be. The film covers the stresses of the first year of marriage including a big family move, David’s adjustment to diabetes, and the thought of losing those you love. We also see the struggles of their parents who ultimately fear the day when they are dead and gone and can no longer care for and protect the children they love so much. I watched this film because I have a 6 year old daughter with Down Syndrome and I often look into her beautiful blue eyes and wonder what her future will hold. I have 5 other kids who I know will do okay out in the world, but it’s my youngest, the one with Down’s that I worry the most about… and she’s only 6. Monica & David is uplifting and inspiring. I highly recommend this film because it will show you that just because someone has Down Syndrome, it doesn’t mean they don’t have dreams and aspirations. Monica & David captures the humor, the resilience, and the heart that is Down Syndrome.

WATCH THE TRAILER
SCORE: 4 out of 5 stars
RELEASE: 2009
RATING: NR
DOCUMENTARY

Film Review: All This Mayhem — 3.5 stars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wDiszmA2o8


ONE WORD REVIEW: Tragic!

SUMMARY: All This Mayhem showcases the rise and fall of the world’s best skateboarders; two brothers from Australia who launch from the vert into the limelight only to come crashing down under the weight of their own fame.

DETAILS: All This Mayhem is the most appropriate title this tragic documentary could have. It tells the story of the Pappas brothers (Tas and Ben) who grew up in Australia and started skateboarding as young kids. The motion of the skate ramp is very symbolic of the lives of Tas and Ben. Once they learned to ride the vert (half pipe) their careers and personal lives follow the same arc; fast motion, enormous energy, up the ramp, launch into the air, gravity kicks in, free falling back to the ramp… oh, and by the way, any error in timing the landing can and will be catastrophic. Soon after Tas and Ben learned to push the limits they took the skate world by storm and helped redefine the sport. As brothers, they went head to head with skate legend Tony Hawk… and they beat him, pushing the boundaries and creating new tricks every step of the way. But fame can lead to drugs, and drugs can lead to the downward spiral that would eventually wreck both Tas and Ben’s lives. Their tailspin includes arrests, drug abuse, physical abuse, and eventually murder, suicide, and prison. It’s a tragic story of two boys who couldn’t handle their own success. They had everything a skate kid could ask for… except the sense to handle it all.

WATCH THE TRAILER
SCORE: 3.5 out of 5 stars
RELEASE: 2014
RATING: NR
DOCUMENTARY

Film Review: Living On One Dollar — 3.5 stars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze72rpWp_Dg

ONE WORD REVIEW: Empathy

SUMMARY: Four college friends spend their summer living on a dollar a day in rural Guatemala in an attempt to see what it takes to live like 1 Billion other people on the planet.

DETAILS: What would it take to live on $1 per day? Four college friends are about to find out by spending there summer in rural Guatemala in an attempt to see what it takes to live like 1 Billion other people on the planet. How do you make your rice and beans more nutritious? What can you grow to help supplement your meager income? What do you do when you are sick and can’t work? Can you rely on your neighbors? Imagine deciding between feeding your child or paying for their schooling. How can you afford a stove? Do micro loans make a difference? All of these issues are addressed in this powerful documentary that stares poverty in the face… and helps the viewer empathize with those living in these conditions. I really enjoyed this short documentary, but would’ve appreciated it even more if 10 to 15 minutes would have been added allowing us to really get to know our main characters better. Even so, it’s definitely worthy of an hour of your time.

WATCH THE TRAILER
SCORE: 3.5 out of 5 stars
RELEASE: 2013
RATING: NR
DOCUMENTARY

Film Review: How To Make A Book With Steidl — 4.5 stars

ONE WORD REVIEW: Inspiring!

SUMMARY: Famed German bookmaker Gerhard Steidl brings passion with him as he works around the globe to print and bind the works of renowned photographers.

DETAILS: What does it take to make a book of photography? Paper, Images, Ideas, and of course, the most important resource, famed German bookmaker Gerhard Steidl. In this inspiring documentary we travel with Steidl around the globe, from Germany to New York, LA, Vancouver, Qatar, and other stirring locations as he shapes the printed work of renowned photographers. This film starts off a little slow, but then sucks you into the printing press and the creative process that goes into making a book one that will bear the name Steidl. If you do any creative work whatsoever, watch this film and be inspired to perform your work with beauty, grace, elegance, and passion.

WATCH THE TRAILER
SCORE: 4.5 of 5 stars
RELEASE: 2010
RATING: NR
DOCUMENTARY

Rebellion of Thought — 4 out of 5 stars

ONE WORD REVIEW: Mine

SUMMARY: Two stories woven together… Post-Modernism explored and my personal journey away from the traditional church.

DETAILS: I haven’t watched this film in a few years and I realized that I come across as rather egotistical…. imagine that happening when someone puts themself into their own film!

SCORE: 4 out of 5
RELEASE: 2007

RATING: NR
DOCUMENTARY

Stained Glass Rainbows — 4.75 out of 5 stars

ORIGINAL POST: 13 MAY 2014
FINALLY! After nearly 7 years of working on this film I was able to watch the first assembly of the entire project… all 3 hours and 20 minutes. Now I need to cut it down to 90 minutes or less, add b-roll, music, clean up the audio, etc. etc. It was a great feeling to watch the final credits roll as Brian Healy of Dead Artist Syndrome sang “Angeline”. Wow… what a long time coming!
SCORE: 3.5 out of 5

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UPDATE: 20 JULY 2014

I was able to sit and watch the 1:46 version of SGR (v3) with Karen. It was great to watch it at this length and in a single sitting. Still too long, but heading in the right direction.
SCORE: 4 out of 5
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UPDATE: 22 JULY 2014
We had a private screening of this work-in-progress version (v3.1) of the film at the Paladin studio. It was very well received by the small gathering of friends. Chris & Missy Martin, Heather & Hambo Myers, Pete Kulenek, Will Musser, Dan Fellows, Whitney Henderson, my Mom, Karen, Chase, and I watched it. It’s great to get some encouraging feedback at this point. The disappointing part of it was I had sent out 26 invitations, mainly to pastors and NOT 1 pastor showed up to watch the film. Sigh…
SCORE 4 out of 5
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UPDATE: 9 AUG 2014
I watched my film again with the Klint family during the middle of the day. Remind me never to do this again. Constant interruptions from kids, distractions, etc. I’ve only had a couple of follow up conversations and people seemed to like it, but boy was it rough getting through it. Meanwhile, James Burgess is editing on the film right now and we’ll hopefully have a good cut of it in the next few weeks.
SCORE 4 out of 5
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UPDATE: 13 AUG 2014
Brad hosted a small screening of the film with Fred Jolly, John Moline, and Beck. There was some good conversation that followed, but unfortunately I had to step out early to do a radio interview with Keith Giles about the film for his blogtalk show Subversive Radio. Brad had some good ideas for trying to push each end of the spectrum toward dialogue about this topic.
SCORE: 4 out of 5
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UPDATE: 1 OCT 2014
Much tighter, but still dragged 3/4 the way through… more tightening to do. (the next day, James Burgess and I went through the entire film shot by shot and removed 6 minutes of footage… new running time 85 minutes).
SCORE: 4.5 out of 5
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UPDATE: 9 AUG 2014
The Film is done! Even tighter & better!
SCORE: 4.75 out of 5

RELEASE: 2015
RATING: NR
DOCUMENTARY

Tiny: A Story About Living Small — 3 out of 5 stars

ONE WORD REVIEW: Downsized

SUMMARY: This movie will make you consider downsizing your current way of life

DETAILS: A young man who is turning thirty searches for the meaning of “home” when he embarks on a mission to build a tiny house. What begins as a summer project takes over a year of his life as he struggles to complete his undertaking. I love the ideas presented in this film of living less cluttered and more simply. I wish the film would have dug deeper into the relationship between the main guy and his girlfriend who was helping build the house. In essence, that’s the deeper, real, more human story taking place. Will their relationship survive? Will they live happily ever after in this tiny house? Those are the lines I wanted to see explored and unfortunately it was more about building their house, than building their lives.

SCORE: 3 out of 5

RELEASE: 2013
RATING: NR
DOCUMENTARY

The Lost Boys Of Sudan — 3.5 out of 5 stars

Good look inside the lives of two of the lost boys who came to the States as refugees from the civil war in Sudan. With no family and not much support they struggle to make it in America.
SCORE: 3.5 out of 5

RELEASE: 2003
RATING: NR
DOCUMENTARY

Born Into Brothels — 3.5 out of 5 stars

Good look into the lives of children of the brothels. A woman comes alongside them a teaches the love of photography. One student stands out with his passion and skills.

SCORE: 3.5 out of 5
RELEASE: 2004
RATING: R
DOCUMENTARY