Film Review: Prospect

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The universe is vast and mysterious. But the fact remains that even if humans manage to dwell beyond the confines of Earth, we will still be humans. We’ll likely always be slaves to some sort of currency and thrive on a class divide, even in a far-flung future galaxy. Writer/director team Zeek Earl and Christopher Caldwell work off of this concept in their debut feature space western, Prospect. The alien world they’ve miraculously created on a shoestring budget is rife with implications of an expansive human-populated universe that is inaccessible to their financially-strapped protagonist.

Cee (Sophie Thatcher) is a teenager living with her widower father, Damon (Jay Duplass), on a space freighter. They are prospectors in orbit around a green moon rich with precious gems called aurelacs. Extracting them from their fleshy spermatozoidal sacs is a risky and complicated process. But Damon is uniquely skilled and also desperate to make ends meet, which is why he decides to risk their lives for the chance at one big score that would cure their financial ills for good. Of course, they aren’t the only ones after the motherlode. Damon’s get-rich-quick scheme soon turns into a fight for survival for him and his daughter…

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Seattle International Film Festival 2018 Wrap-Up

ef87bb37d9eeb0f90349e88ae209cf63562e9e06The 2018 Seattle International Film Festival ran from May 17th to June 10th. That’s 25 solid days of movie madness. It kicked off with the premiere of Isabel Coixet’s The Bookshop, starring Emily Mortimer as a widow who uses her “bibliophilia” to open the hearts and minds of the conservative residents of a small English town.

SIFF’s juicy centerpiece was a movie that will undoubtedly take America by storm in the coming months: Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You. Riley was on hand to introduce his surreal social justice comedy to a sold-out crowd.

Gus Van Sant closed out the fest with Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. The latest offering from the veteran indie director stars Joaquin Phoenix as John Callahan, a celebrated Portland cartoonist who struggles with substance abuse and being confined to a wheelchair.

Melanie Lynskey spent an afternoon talking to fans about her impressive career and promoting Megan Griffiths’ latest outing, Sadie. Lynskey stars as a working-class single mother who underestimates her angry teenage daughter (Sophia Mitri Schloss).

HIGHLIGHTS:
People often ask me for recommendations from the festival, and I’ll have 1 or 2 titles to tout. But there were so many standouts this year, that my answer is, “How much time to do you have?” I try to focus on female-centric films and this year’s lineup made it easy…

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Film Review: The Long Dumb Road

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The Long Dumb Road resembles an update of Albert Brooks’ 1985 masterpiece, Lost in America. Only instead of yuppies attempting to emulate Easy Rider, we follow a 19-year-old boy who wants to experience “the real America” before matriculating to college and manhood. Director Hannah Fidell, heretofore known for dramatic fare like A Teacher and 6 Years, joins forces with Carson Mell (Another Evil) to breathe new life into the odd couple road trip comedy.

Fresh off his sheltered suburban Austin upbringing, Nathan (Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel) documents his trip on a 35 mm Pentax camera, operating as if his photos of dive bar patrons, abandoned buildings, and strip malls are groundbreaking works. But when his mini-van won’t start, his trip changes course both figuratively and literally. His car trouble serendipitously leads to Richard (Jason Matzoukas, The League, The House), a mechanic who has just tendered his middle-fingered resignation from his employers. Richard is upbeat and friendly, albeit rough around the edges. Nathan admits that he’d hoped to meet interesting people on his trip and as Richard puts it, “I’m interesting as fuck!” So, Nathan agrees to give Richard a ride in exchange for his services…

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Film Review: Blindspotting

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Carlos López Estrada tackles such a staggering number of themes in his feature debut, Blindspotting, that it almost feels like too much for one film. Then again, that may be part of the point. The truth of the matter is that gentrification, police shootings, racial profiling, cultural appropriation, and post-incarceration trappings don’t take turns affecting people on a daily basis. If we can’t handle it for 93 minutes, imagine how it feels to the people who can’t get away from it. Despite an implausible ending that dramatically shifts the film’s tone, Blindspotting is a candid, and occasionally humorous, look at the systematic oppression of the disenfranchised residents of Oakland, CA.

Stars, Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal spent nine years writing the script, a story set in their native city. Diggs (Hamilton, Blackish) plays Collin, an African American ex-con with only three days left on his probation, so long as he can stay out of trouble. But trouble seems to find Collin wherever he goes. Much of the credit goes to his ever-present and volatile best friend, Miles (Casal), who is white. Miles and Collin are a walking sociology study. They grew up on the same side of the tracks, and both were involved in the violent incident that sent Collin to jail for a year. But the police didn’t give Miles a second glance when they came to arrest Collin…

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