Movie Reviews From a Spiritual Perspective

Browsing Archive: April, 2011

Arivaca Film Festival

Posted by Jean Jessup on Saturday, April 23, 2011, In : Shorts 

ON LOCATION at ARIVACA

I wasn't able to attend the Arivaca portion of the fest this year, but I was able to find some trailers for the shorts program.  Links to reviews of the films I have seen are below.

I wasn't able to attend the Arivaca portion of the fest this year, but I was able to find some trailers for the shorts program.  Links to reviews of the fil...
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abUSed:The Postville Raid

Posted by Jean Jessup on Saturday, April 23, 2011, In : Documentaries 


abUSed - The Postville Raid by Luis Argueta, USA

This was an engrossing documentary about the largest, most expensive immigration raid in U.S. history, which took place in Postville, Iowa at Agriproscessors, a Kosher slaughter house and meat packing plant.  I was especially interested because I read the book, Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America and I have lived in southeastern Iowa off and on for 20 years. 

The film consisted of ...
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BOYS OF BONNEVILLE

Posted by Jean Jessup on Wednesday, April 20, 2011, In : Documentaries 


BOYS OF BONNEVILLE: Racing on a Ribbon of Salt by Curt Wallin, USA

This professionally made documentary is about David "Ab" Jenkins, who set world speed records so fast that 12 are still unbroken today.  Even though I am not interested in car racing, I found this film very engaging. 

"Ab" lived in Utah as an engineer.  He had to drive great lengths cross-country for his job and drove very fast.  Soon he got a job driving for Studebaker to tes...
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Pancho Goes to College

Posted by Jean Jessup on Wednesday, April 20, 2011, In : Comedy 


PANCHO GOES TO COLLEGE by Ruben Reyes, Tucson

This Tucson-produced comedy feature tells the story of a young man named, Pancho, who comes from California to attend college in Tucson.  He encounters lots of wild local characters - not to mention his rowdy, colorful roommates.  His roomates challenge his focus on his studies and also his cultural identity.  Pancho perseveres, juggling his studies with work and parties.  He holds fast to his philosophy of let...
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The Pipe

Posted by Jean Jessup on Wednesday, April 20, 2011, In : Documentaries 

THE PIPE by Risteard O Domhnaill, Ireland

The Pipe is a documentary that draws the audience into the intimate experience of the Irish coastal community of Rossport.  It follows the community's 8-year battle with Shell Oil Company to prevent them from laying an oil pipe through their coastal waters. The oil pipe and its potential dangers if it ever broke would destroy fishing and farming which are the major livelihoods of the community.  The beautiful prist...
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Grandpa's Wet Dream & Peep Culture

Posted by Jean Jessup on Wednesday, April 20, 2011, In : Documentaries 

GRANDPA'S WET DREAM by Chihiro Amemiya, Japan

This short documentary on a 75-year-old man who has been a porn star in Japan for 15 years was very engaging to say the least.  Well shot and edited with some behind-the-scenes footage of the making of his films. It's a great look into the Japanese porn world.  Interviews with friends and business associates and with Grandpa include his interest in porn and how he got into the business.  Highly entertaining and...
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THE AVENUE

Posted by Jean Jessup on Sunday, April 17, 2011, In : Documentaries 


THE AVENUE by Alan Williams, Tucson

This locally produced documentary tells a cautionary tale about how the local character of a street can be destroyed by corporate take-overs and buy-outs.  The documentary starts out showing excerpts from the documentary, Mill Ave, Inc., about how large corporations took over the artsy Mill Avenue in Tempe, AZ and made it into a stale, characterless street wit...
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El Andalon & Ex-Voto and Catalina High School Student Shorts

Posted by Jean Jessup on Saturday, April 16, 2011, In : Documentaries 


EL ANDALON, (The Healer) by Consuelo Alba, USA

A heartwarming and fascinating documentary about Don Sergio Castro, a humanitarian that has been volunteering to help the indigenous communities of Chiapas for 46 years.  He started in 1970 as an agronomist, facilitating various agricultural projects and in the process got deeply involved in each community.  He learned and became fluent in their seven different languages.  There are 4.5 million people ...
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THE GREATER GOOD

Posted by Jean Jessup on Saturday, April 16, 2011, In : Documentaries 


THE GREATER GOOD by Kendall Nelson & Chris Pilaro, USA

This documentary tried very hard to be balanced about the pros and cons of vaccine use today.  But being very wary of vaccines, I personally found the documentary to have lots of evidence to support not taking vaccines.  Mainstream scientific research is not conclusive about the safety of vaccine use.  There has been no research performed to show what happens when a person does not take vaccines, so we...
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Gift of the Magi & Night of the Fish

Posted by Jean Jessup on Saturday, April 16, 2011, In : Drama 

This stop-motion animated short faithfully retells O'Henry's story of the Gift of the Magi.  This classic story is about a very poor couple.  The wife has beautiful long hair and the husband has a gold watch. The husband sells his gold watch for a beautiful accessory for her hair and she sells her hair for a nice chain for his watch.

I loved the detail on the animated set pieces.  But I found the animation at times choppy or non-existent and at other times very ...
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ABRAXAS

Posted by Jean Jessup on Friday, April 15, 2011, In : Drama 

ABRAXAS by Naoki Kato, Japan

This was a gentle, funny, charming film about an ex-punk-rocker, Jonen, who became a Buddhist priest.  Jonen's wife is relieved that he has left his Punk lifestyle.  But Jonen soon realizes that he cannot separate himself from his music.  So, much to his wife's chagrin, he is compelled to stage a punk rock concert for the small town where his Buddhist temple sits. 

I enjoyed the message of always following your heart and ...
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RUN TO THE EAST

Posted by Jean Jessup on Friday, April 15, 2011, In : Documentaries 

RUN TO THE EAST by Henry Lu, USA

This documentary follows three Native American high school students who are cross-country runners.  We see them successfully focus on their training in spite of the numerous obstacles they face in their culture.  Such obstacles include, meth abuse and alcoholism, lack of transportation, lack of money, lack of emotional support, and lack of opportunity on the reservation.  Their goal is to get running scholarships in order t...
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FLY AWAY

Posted by Jean Jessup on Friday, April 15, 2011, In : Drama 

FLY AWAY by Janet Grillo

This feature about a divorced mom, Jeanne (Beth Broderick,) and her autistic teenage daughter, Mandy (Ashley Rickards) surprised me.  For me, the story was more about the mother, than the daughter.  Jeanne struggles with the daily chaos of dealing with Mandy's unpredictable behavior and also strongly identifies with this difficult lifestyle.  Jeanne wrestles with the idea of putting Mandy in a school for autistic kids and resolves ...
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NOKOTAHEART & COLUMBUS DAY LEGACY

Posted by Jean Jessup on Friday, April 15, 2011, In : Documentaries 
NOKOTAHEART & COLUMBUS DAY LEGACY - 4/10/11

NakotaHeart by Sean Garland, Ireland

This documentary explores the efforts of Leo Kuntz to preserve the horses that are the ancestors of the horses of Sitting Bull.  Kuntz has been trying to preserve the bloodlines of these now unappreciated horses since the 1970's.  Kuntz feels very close to Native American living.  He believes that everything is spiritualized, the ground, the sky, everything.  He also says that...
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INDIE FAMILY FILMS

Posted by Jean Jessup on Friday, April 15, 2011, In : Shorts 
INDIE FAMILY FILMS - 4/9/11  Families with their kids were in attendance.  Mia Schnaible gave a great intro appropriate for kids.  She included that it was OK for family members to read subtitles to kids who can't read yet.  It made for a nice relaxed, organic viewing experience. 

Homeless Conductor
by Yen-Ting Chaing, Taiwan

This skillfully animated 3-D short is about a homeless girl who envisions an orchestra made out of inanimate objects playing a ...
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HAPPY - A Profound Documentary

Posted by Jean Jessup on Friday, April 15, 2011, In : Documentaries 

HAPPY - A documentary by Roko Belic

I wasn't interested in seeing a smiley-face film.  But since I was trying to review every film I can in the festival, I had to see it.  When I arrived, the theater was almost packed.  The director made a short presentation before the film and a Q&A.  The film was quite profound and well-researched.  I learned a lot.  Scientists, psychologists, statisticians, to name a few were interviewed about happiness.  The place wher...
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