Movie Reviews From a Spiritual Perspective

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DRAMATIC SHORTS

Posted by Jean Jessup on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, In : Shorts 
DRAMATIC SHORTS - 4/4/11  These well-produced shorts were all VERY dramatic except for one.

Friday Night Tights by Joonki Park

This was the odd one of the group.  What a charming 3-D animation of a guy who secretly loves taking a ballet class on Saturday mornings!  The animation was not absolutely perfect, but extremely expressive, whimsical and musical!  I thoroughly enjoyed this.  Very uplifting.  It was actually filmed in 3-D. See the entire 2-D ...
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SCHLAFENDE HUNDE (SLEEPING DOGS)

Posted by Jean Jessup on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, In : Drama 

SCHLAFENDE HUNDE (Sleeping Dogs) by Michael O'Connor, Germany- 4/5/11

This German feature was beautifully acted and beautifully filmed in Black & White.  The main character, Jim, is somewhat clairvoyant and sees a vision of his death.  His past premonitions have come true which makes him believe all of his current visions will come true. So he concerns himself with reconciling with his estranged son who harbors much resentment for his father's abando...
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WORLD SHORTS

Posted by Jean Jessup on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, In : Shorts 

WORLD SHORTS - 4/5/11 - Stories that seem connected with the thread of grief and loss - Very high production values.

The Wind-Up Life by Yi-Jen Chen, Taiwan

This 2-D/3-D animation short tells the story of a young man who gets bogged down by his busy 9 to 5 existence.  It is hard to tell if he is experiencing a dream while sleeping or getting very lost in thoughts on the subway train (or both).  But whatever, the dreams are quite beautiful and watery. ...
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SHORT DOCUMENTARIES

Posted by Jean Jessup on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, In : Documentaries 
SHORT DOCS - 4/6/11

A Comic Author X-Ray by Marcos Nine, Spain

A very creative documentary about a very creative guy.  This Italian comic artist and fiction writer, who is very shy to speak, speaks volumes through his work.  English subtitles throughout. I liked this! See the trailer here.

Little Mom by Maria Fortiz-Morse, USA

A documentary on kids who end up taking care of their special needs siblings to help out their single Mom's.  Tw...
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ARIZONA SHORTS

Posted by Jean Jessup on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, In : Shorts 


ARIZONA SHORTS
- 4/6/11 

Replacement by Tanya Beeker - Tucson

This is the story of a corporal who struggles with his prejudice against a young, inexperienced replacement for one of his soldiers who was killed in battle.  It is nicely filmed with a thoughtful story line.

And the Dogs Tried to Dance Too by Trevor Riley - Phoenix

A futuristic tale of what it might be like to live during WW3 if it was waged on US soil.  We follow a coupl...
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LEAP BEFORE YOU LOOK - WAY OF THE MORRIS

Posted by Jean Jessup on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, In : Documentaries 

Leap Before You Look by Stephane Goldsand, Mexico

This beautifully and creatively filmed documentary short follows the journey of Stephane (pronounced Stefan) Goldsand through his fears of being a father.  Goldsand uses B-roll or cutaways, to dramatically and often hilariously exemplify what he is feeling at that moment.  His painful childhood is also explored.  His wife, who is very eager and ready to have a child, seems to have a completely different out...
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INNER CIRCLE

Posted by Jean Jessup on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, In : Horror 

INNER CIRCLE by Emma Humphreys

This murder mystery thriller inspired most of the audience to walk out before the end.  I stayed because I wanted to know who did it and why in spite of the disjointedness of the story  The production quality was very low.  Some scenes looked like they were shot without doing a white balance first.  Audio & lighting were also poor.  But on the upside, the shots were nicely framed and the acting good in spite of the disjoint...
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FILMMAKERS OF TOMORROW

Posted by Jean Jessup on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, In : Shorts 

FILMMAKERS OF TOMORROW - Student films from The Art Institute of Tucson, Pima Community College and the University of Arizona.  Only the Art Institute had student filmmakers present for Q&A.

Art Institute of Tucson Entries:

ABC's by Adriana F. Garcia & Jacquelyn Vrooman

This reworking of David Lynch's experimental short was skillfully produced and directed.  It created a creepy dark, yet playful feeling.  Nice multi-media work!...
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GUN HILL ROAD

Posted by Jean Jessup on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, In : Drama 


GUN HILL ROAD by Rashad Ernesto Green

This skillfully produced and emotionally rich film set in the Bronx was shot in 15 days for $200,000.  It looks like much more time and money was put into it.  The film tells the story of a father who, after three years in prison, comes home to discover his 16-year-old son is trans-gender.  The father has to deal with his issues about being sexually molested in prison which are reflected back to him by his son.  I real...
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ABSENTIA

Posted by Jean Jessup on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, In : Horror 

ABSENTIA by Mike Flanagan, USA

This artistic, moody, low budget, black & white horror story tells the tale of a woman, Trisha, who's husband went missing around 7 years ago.  She finally starts to complete the paperwork on filing his death in "absentia."   (After 7 or 8 years if someone is still missing, they can be declared dead.) Trisha starts to see horrifying visions of her husband.  She tries going to a counselor.  Her sister, who drove through Tucson...
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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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