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Archives for : The Help

Movie Review: “Beside Still Waters” is a Promising Directorial Debut for Chris Lowell

Chris Lowell is most popularly known for his role on Veronica Mars and The Help.  But now he’s stepping behind the camera and taking a shot at directing/screenwriting.

After his parents’ recent passing, Daniel (Ryan Eggold) struggles to find closure.  He invites six of his old friends to visit for the weekend, so that they can say goodbye to the lakeside cabin they spent the majority of their childhood in.  Attending this somber reunion we have… the old flame (Britt Lower) who has brought her new flame (Reid Scott), the jackass (Beck Bennett), the free-spirit (Jessy Hodges), the high school sweet hearts (Will Brill and Erin Darke), and the TV star (Brett Dalton).  Needless to say, the weekend creates drama, rekindles a romance, and reveals “shocking” secrets.

I’m aware we’ve seen this many times before, i.e. The Big Chill, and even the recent indie, drama that came out this past August, About Alex.  So why is Beside Still Waters worth watching?  Because Chris Lowell manages to successfully portray a genuine group of friends who are struggling with their own issues while trying to be there for the one that needs them most.  This is not always the case with films that touch on the same premise.  Take About Alex; their reunion was forced because of a friend’s suicide attempt.  Sounds interesting enough, but sadly, About Alex chose to engage the audience with numerous, unresolved issues that lead nowhere versus any real character development.  This is where Lowell differs.  He keeps his storyline simple and does not veer from the growth of his characters, allowing us to care for each one of them.

Solid performances are given by the entire cast, effectively balancing their selfish tendencies with compassion.  In addition, the film fittingly includes subtle flashbacks of the group when they were kids playing in the cabin.

Beside Still Waters may not stand out as a significant film, but Lowell’s first attempt at writing and directing shows potential for great things to come.  Don’t turn your nose up at the familiarity of this movie, there’s enough authenticity and heart to make it an enjoyable watch.

Rating: 3/5

Beside Still Waters is now playing in select theaters and VOD.

“Beside Still Waters” Official Trailer HD

Movie Review: “Get On Up”- Chadwick Boseman Fires Up the Screen as James Brown

Get On Up may confuse with it’s non-linear timeline, but there is no misunderstanding the brilliance of Chadwick Boseman.

In last year’s 42, Boseman played baseball legend Jackie Robinson as a man suppressing his pride and bottling up his anger.  It was a strong breakout performance by an actor we knew we’d be seeing again very soon.  He then made a small appearance in the underrated Draft Day, as hopeful pick for the NFL draft.  In Get On Up, Boseman gets the chance to let loose in a firehouse of passion, funk, and intense ferocity.

The story itself may not have audiences captivated, as the constant back and forth jump from one year to the next tends to scramble the brain.  I understand not wanting to follow they typical bio-pic formula but in an attempt to be different, they might have lost track of what is more effective to moviegoers.  Getting emotionally wrapped up in one scene only to be abruptly pulled away to a moment that occurs 5 years later is not only frustrating, but it is distracting.  You don’t want to to forget what you just saw because you know they will be coming back at some point to finish the scenes they just started (confusing, I know).   So instead of concentrating on the current sequence, you are bookmarking everything you watch.  Luckily, this film isn’t about the story, it’s about the performances.

Chadwick Boseman’s phenomenal portrayal as James Brown and his A-list supporting cast is all you need to remember about this movie.   The Help alums: Octavia Spencer, who plays Brown’s brothel-owning aunt, and Viola Davis, who plays Brown’s neglectful mother, slides in for the film’s most emotional scene.  But it is Nelsan Ellis, who plays Bobby Bryd-Brown’s loyal best friend, that proves once again, he is more than the flamboyant comic relief as seen on True Blood every week.  Boseman and Ellis share great chemistry on screen and complement each other extremely well.

In comparison to the recent bio-pic/musical, Jersey Boys, Get On Up wins by a landslide.  The acting, the story, and most importantly the ability to have us care for the characters.  Had the story just been slightly more chronological I would have given the film a much higher rating, but none of the faults in Get On Up deteriorates from the sensation that is Chadwick Boseman.

Rating: 3.5/5

“Get On Up” Official Trailer HD

Interviews: Past Favorites

Some past interviews that I really enjoyed…

Warm Bodies: Teresa Palmer and Nicholas Hoult

warm bodies

 

Ruby Sparks: Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan/Directors, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Ruby Sparks

People Like Us: Chris Pine and Alex Kurtzman

People Like Us

Martha Marcy May Marlene: Elizabeth Olsen and Sean Durkin

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Moneyball: Jonah Hill

Moneyball

Another Earth: Brit Marling and Mike Cahill

Another Earth

The Help: Octavia Spencer and Tate Taylor

The Help