‘American Empire’ takes a critical look at what has value

‘American Empire’ takes a critical look at what has value

“The Fall of the American Empire” (“La chute de l’empire américain”) (2018 production, 2019 release). Cast: Alexandre Landry, Maripier Morin, Rémy Girard, Maxim Roy, Louis Morissette, Florence Longpré, Patrick Emmanuel Abellard, Pierre Curzi, Vincent Leclerc, Eddy King, Anoulith Sintharaphone, Ayana O’Shun, Kémy St-Eloy. Director: Denys Arcand. Screenplay: Denys Arcand. Web site. Trailer.

We all have our priorities when it comes to determining what we believe has value. But what exactly are those determinations based on? Do they arise from rigorously scrutinized considerations, or do they stem from arbitrary, capricious, cursory examinations? Are they decided upon by consensus, or do they vary from one individual to another? And are they fixed or flexible, changeable as needs arise or forever rigid? Those are among the questions examined in the quirky and thought-provoking new comedy-drama, “The Fall of the American Empire” (“La chute de l’empire américain”). (more…)

‘Dark Phoenix’ probes the impact of underlying intents

‘Dark Phoenix’ probes the impact of underlying intents

“Dark Phoenix” (2019), Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Jessica Chastain, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Scott Shepherd, Hannah Anderson, Summer Fontana, Ato Essandoh, Brian d’Arcy James. Director: Simon Kinberg. Screenplay: Simon Kinberg. Story: John Byrne, Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum, “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” Comic Book Source: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Web site. Trailer.

When we converse with someone, we like to think we understand the meaning behind everything they’re saying. But are we truly grasping the beliefs, intents and motivations underlying their statements? And what about their actions and gestures – can we say the same about those, too? Sometimes we need to take a closer look to make sure that we’re correctly reading their intentions, a theme that runs through the latest installment in the X-Men franchise, “Dark Phoenix.” (more…)

‘The World Before Your Feet’ explores fulfillment for its own sake

‘The World Before Your Feet’ explores fulfillment for its own sake

“The World Before Your Feet” (2018). Cast: Matt Green. Director: Jeremy Workman. Web site. Trailer.

Mountaineer George Mallory became famous (although some would say infamous) for three little words he uttered to a New York Times reporter in 1923 when describing his multiple attempts to ascend Mt. Everest, the world’s highest peak – “Because it’s there.” It’s an expression that’s become virtually synonymous with embarking on a daunting endeavor simply for its own sake. Such undertakings are truly impressive, even if they’re not for everyone. Indeed, where would the spirit of human adventure be were it not for this kind of attitude? So it’s been for an intrepid urban hiker who undertook the challenge of walking all 8,000+ miles of roads, paths and bridges in New York’s five boroughs, a journey gorgeously chronicled in “The World Before Your Feet,” available on DVD and video on demand. (more…)

‘The Tomorrow Man’ urges us to live in the moment

‘The Tomorrow Man’ urges us to live in the moment

“The Tomorrow Man” (2019). Cast: John Lithgow, Blythe Danner, Derek Cecil, Katie Aselton, Sophie Thatcher, Eve Harlow, Wendy Makkena, Isabelle Boni, Naveen Havannavar, John Sindoni. Director: Noble Lincoln Jones. Screenplay: Noble Lincoln Jones. Web site. Trailer.

There’s nothing wrong with looking ahead – unless, of course, it becomes so compulsive that it keeps us from enjoying (or perhaps even recognizing) what’s going on around us – the present moment in which we dwell. It’s somewhat akin to being more worried about taking a smart phone photo of a significant event than the event itself. Yet, as comical as that may sound, all too often our focus is misplaced, myopically cast on the erroneous priority. We can miss a lot by doing that, something we could end up regretting if we do it for too long and let what truly matters go unrecognized as time evaporates away from us. Such is the potential pitfall faced by a worrisome, somewhat paranoid senior in the new romantic comedy-drama, “The Tomorrow Man.” (more…)

‘Ask Dr. Ruth’ lovingly profiles a sexual revolutionary

‘Ask Dr. Ruth’ lovingly profiles a sexual revolutionary

“Ask Dr. Ruth” (2019). Cast: Interviews: Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Miriam Westheimer, Joel Westheimer, Jonathan Capehart, Betty Elam. Archive Footage: Johnny Carson, Arsenio Hall, David Letterman, Joan Rivers, Diane Sawyer, Phil Donahue, Regis Philbin, Bo Jackson, Fred Westheimer, Helen Singer Kaplan. Director: Ryan White. Web site. Trailer.

Were it not for sex, none of us would be here. Yet it’s amazing how, until comparatively recently, many of us have been reluctant or embarrassed to openly discuss something so fundamental to our nature and very being. No matter what the reason behind this, the hesitant among us long avoided the subject, almost pretending as if it somehow didn’t exist. But, given the magnitude of what’s involved in sexuality – on so many different fronts – it’s often been to our detriment to evade talking about it. This is why it has been so valuable to have someone come along who has been willing and courageous enough to help lead us out of the erotic darkness, to bring sex above board and out into the open for plainspoken but informed conversation, as seen in the new biographical documentary, “Ask Dr. Ruth.” (more…)

‘On Her Shoulders’ speaks for those without a voice

‘On Her Shoulders’ speaks for those without a voice

“On Her Shoulders” (2018). Cast: Nadia Murad, Murad Ismael, Amal Clooney, Borys Wrzesnewskj, Michelle Rempel, Barack Obama, Ki-moon Ban, Simone Monasebian, Ahmed Khudida Burjus. Director: Alexandria Bombach. Screenplay/Translation: Hishyar Abid, Nawaf Ashur, Deniz Ekici, Yousif Haskan and Shahnaz Osso. Web site. Trailer.

For those without a voice, it’s often difficult to be heard. In those cases, it generally takes someone with the courage and resilience to step up and make the case for them, not the easiest of undertakings. But, when an advocate with the right qualities emerges, incredible results are possible. So it is with an unlikely envoy for a little-known aggrieved people as seen in the stirring documentary, “On Her Shoulders,” available on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and video on demand. (more…)

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