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BAMcinemaFEST (June 9th - June 20th, 2010)

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*Opening Night Film*

Directed by Jay and Mark Duplass.

John (John C. Reilly), a recently divorced and lonely man meets Molly (Marisa Tomei) at a party and the two instantly hit it off. Little does he know that she has an obese, annoying 21-year-old son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill), who's still living with her. Cyrus may or may not have stolen John's shoes after he stayed over one night. He soon becomes a nuisance to John because he doesn't want to lose all the attention that his mother had given him all his life--it sounds like Cyrus might have an Oedipux Complex, among other issues that require massive therapy. Catherine Keener plays John's ex-wife, Jamie, who's nice enough to listen to his problems and offer him advice---could he use some more cheese with that whine? Co-writers/directors Jay and Mark Duplass do a decent job of juggling comedy, drama and romance without going over-the-top or resorting to unnecessary subplots. They shoot the film with a handheld camera that gives adds a dash of realism. It's refreshing to see Jonah Hill in a comedy that doesn't resort to toilet humor and, instead, has humor that's more gentle, although not particularly intelligent, though. The way that the Duplass brothers find a solution to John, Cyrus and Molly's problems feels facile and rushed, but what helps to ground the film to keep you marginally immersed in it are John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei's heartfelt and well-nuanced performances.
Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Opens June 18th, 2010.

12th & Delaware

Directed by Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady.

This well-balanced and provocative documentary from the co-directors of Jesus Camp focuses on an abortion clinic and a pro-life center located on opposite corners of 12th & Delaware in Fort Pierce, Florida. Patients in the pro-life center get to see photographs of the abortion process which show its harsh, gruesome realities. They also have an open discussion with Anne, the center's director. Candace Dye, the abortion clinic's founder, understands that patients have their own reasons for choosing an abortion and talks to them about it so that they're sure they want to go through it while denying that the process involves a massive loss of blood like the pro-life center claims. Regardless of which sides of the abortion issue you're on, you'll find a lot of food for thought here because everyone from all sides of the issue gets a chance to speak their minds and, most importantly, inspire you to start a well-informed discussion about it. An example of a question that the documentaries asks you to think about is: How does the abortion clinic's doctor live with himself and sit down at the dinner table with his family after performing an abortion?
Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by HBO Films.
Debuts August 2nd, 2010 on HBO.

Valhalla Rising

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.

*Review coming soon*

Number of times I checked my watch: 9
Released by IFC Films.
Opens July 16th, 2010 at the IFC Center.

Wah Do Dem

Directed by Sam Fleischner and Ben Chace.

Max (Sean Bones), a young musician from Brooklyn, chills with his girlfriend, Willow (Nora Jones), by the river where she ends their relationship two days before she was supposed to join him on a cruise to Jamaica that they had won last summer. He must go on it alone now because none of his friends are able to make it last-minute. During the cruise, he tries to loosen up a bit by getting drunk and opening up emotionally to a stranger, but still seems sad and lonely from the recent break-up. The ship docks in Jamaica, and he immediately goes outside of the tourist zone where he meets a friendly Jamaican who graciously drives him to a secluded beach before picking up his girlfriend. Thus far, the plot sounds like it could veer into horror much like Touristas, and, in a way, it does because, all of a sudden, the Jamaican stranger steals all of his belongings that he left on the beach while he goes for a swim. The cruise ship has already left by the time he arrives at the dock, so he has to travel all the way to Kingston to get a new passport and head back home to Brooklyn. Will he make it to Kingston safely? Luckily, he meets strangers who help him along the way including tourists who give him $10 and a t-shirt. The screenplay co-writers/directors Sam Fleischner and Ben Chace begins somewhat intriguingly as youre wondering what kind of adventures Max will have in Jamaica, but once hes left stranded on the island, the plot loses a lot of steam and often meanders. Max comes across as lonely, nave and has somewhat of a dull personality, so it makes sense why his girlfriend dumped him. The picturesque setting of Jamaica becomes a more of interesting character in itself than any of the characters onscreen. Fleischner and Chace never allow you to get inside Maxs head or to provide enough background information about him so that you'd care about him as a human being to begin with. His journey to Kingston is not exciting, believable or surprising enough to hold your interest, and, on top of that, the ending arrives so abruptly that it leaves you with a bad aftertaste. At a running time of only 1 hour and 16 minutes, Wah Do Dem has breathtaking scenery, but suffers from a lazy, meandering and unimaginative adventure with a poorly developed, frustratingly nave and dull protagonist.
Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by Wah Do Dem LLC.
Opens at the Cinema Village.

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