I watched twenty-four movies at this year’s Phoenix Film Festival. If you’ve been following my blog then you know I’ve already given my feedback about three of them. Now, there are three more films I want to write individual posts for because they were truly amazing. And I promise I’ll get to them soon. That leaves eighteen more movies to tell you about. So, pull up your seat and let’s get started with the best one in this post.

 


The Islands and the Whales

The whale hunters of the Faroe Islands believe that hunting is vital to their way of life, but, when a local professor makes a grim discovery about the effects of marine pollution, environmental changes threaten their way of life forever.

This film is not for anyone with a weak stomach. It shows people killing whales and birds. Necks snapping. Whales screaming. I understand that killing them is a way of life. The people need the food to survive, but being an animal lover, my gut ached and I found myself looking away at times. Why must they kill the animals? Because the land is almost useless for farming. The best part of the movie was when Pamela Anderson showed up in her million dollar vehicles. She tried to stop the locals them from killing the whales. It didn’t work. They ended up making her look foolish, poking holes in her arguments.


The Midnighters

An aging safecracker recently released from prison is asked to put his old skills to use and risk his freedom to save his son’s life.

It wasn’t Ocean’s 11 but it was interesting. Good dialogue and dynamic between the characters. I am actually going to steal a line from this movie. One character said, “I’m such a pessimist, my blood be negative.” Love it.


How to Prepare for Prison

Through stories fuelled by fear, regret, defiance, and redemption, How To Prepare For Prison takes a unique and intimate look at people caught in the legal system and facing prison for the first time.

This was definitely better than I had expected. The one interesting part I found was there are people out there whose business is to prepare people for prison. But the film didn’t get into that as much as I would have liked. Instead, it was mostly watching criminals whine over going to prison for ninety minutes.


The Long Way Back

After losing his close friend Bradley Nowell of Sublime to a heroin overdose, Todd Zalkins aka ‘ZMAN’ fights for his life in what will become the worst drug crisis in American History, the Opioid Epidemic. Against all odds, Todd is able to break a seventeen-year addiction to prescription painkillers and dedicates his life to helping others who struggle with addiction. In a twist of fate, Todd is presented with an opportunity to help Jakob Nowell, Bradley Nowell’s son battles his own addiction to drugs and alcohol.

This documentary was a lot more about the band Sublime than anything else. I’d say ninety percent of the movie was about Todd and his bad influence on the band. It was ninety minutes of watching them getting them drunk, high and playing music. The movie focused less on the road back to recovery. In AA that’s called a drunk-alog. That’s not a good thing. The film spent five minutes at MOST about recovery. The writer and director missed a good opportunity here. They could have shown us what it’s like to recover. Instead, they focused on a bunch of guys partying for decades, killing one of their friends in the process.


The Commune

A story about the clash between personal desires, solidarity and tolerance in a Danish commune in the 70’s.

This Dutch film started out promising. A husband and wife turned the husband’s inherited estate into a commune. The interview process to find members was funny at times. When they established commune and its rules, that’s when the director lost my interest. I found the rest of the movie to be depressing. Why? The husband fell in love with a student, then invited her to live in the commune. The wife was okay with this at first, then she spiraled into a depression, ultimately losing her job and so on. There was so much arguing in the film it made my stomach ache.


NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER

Norman Oppenheimer is a small time operator who befriends a young politician at a low point in his life. Three years later, when the politician becomes an influential world leader, Norman’s life dramatically changes for better and worse.

This film starred Richard Gere and so I entered into it with high hopes. What a snore fest. I couldn’t care less about this guy’s life. For the first half hour of the film, I had no idea what the goal of the main character was. I know he wanted to impress some diplomat. But why? Didn’t care. It was terrible. I walked out close to three-quarters of the way through it.

 

 


Quaker Oaths

To make their divorce final, a Quaker couple must follow tradition by seeking out everyone who came to their wedding…and asking them to cross their names off the marriage certificate.

This was a cheesy and predictable movie with the acting being mediocre at best. The married couple split after one year. The husband chose to live in his mother in-law’s garage apartment for the next five years. The wife asks for a divorce so she can marry another man, who by the way, is starting his own unicycle football league. It rolls downhill from there *chuckle* Sigh.


Transfiguration

When troubled teen Milo, who has a fascination with vampire lore, meets the equally alienated Sophie, the two form a bond that begins to blur Milo’s fantasy into reality.

I love horror movies. This was not a horror movie. I don’t care what the director billed it as. It wasn’t. At best, it was a weak drama told from the perspective of the killer. The killer, who by the way, was a teenage kid who thinks he’s a vampire. He creeps up on people, stabs them in the throat then sucks up their blood. It was not only lame, it was boring.

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