Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kshay (2011) NR - 4 Stars

One of the best things about writing my movie review blog is sometimes I am asked to preview new movies before the general public. That's the case with this great find from India. The film just played last Saturday the 14th of April at 930 PM at the Arclight Hollywood for the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (www.indianfilmfestival.org). I wish I would have been able to have this review on line before the showing to encourage more movie goers to attend while it was here in Hollywood.

Kshay, aka Corrode, is beautifully shot in rich tones of black and white and directed by first-time filmmaker Karan Gour. Featuring Chhaya (Rasika Dugal), as a young wife who's obsession with a statue of the Hindu Goddess, Lakshmi, is taking control of her life. A young sculptor (Adityavardhan Gupta), carved a larger than life unfinished stone Lakshmi which Chhaya instantly forms a deep bond with as if fulfilling some need lacking from her simple life. While she awaits her husband Arvind (Alekh Sangal), to finish his business next door, she fantasizes of having this expensive icon before more eyes can gaze upon it. Now, she must convince Arvind to spend money this young couple can not afford. Rough times have taken their toll in Arvind's career and his boss Bapu (Sudhir Pednekar), holds back pay for work already completed. The couple is barely surviving paying rent and meager meals so Arvind looks into another line of work. But this statue has left such a mark on Chhaya, she's willing to sacrifice everything to have this Lakshmi for her own.

I thought Dugal's character was starting out a little weak but as the movie progresses, I'm convinced she's obsessed. I really loved her realistic performance as a young woman on the edge. Produced on a micro budget, the strong imagery moves you in and out of scenes as the musical score lures you into insanity. Also starring (Nitika Anand) as Shruti, (Asit Redij) as Asif, (Ashwin Baluja) as Jamil and (Siddharth Bhatia) as Amay. If you foreign film lovers get the chance to view,you won't be disappointed. The movie leaves that very unsettling feeling that stays with you for awhile. In Hindu with English subtitles. The film has played in Chicago, Dubai, SAIFF and New York and you can read more at Kshay - the film.

Conjur Arts Media, Empatheia Films
Director: Karan Gour
Producer: Shaan Vyas, Karan Gour
Writer: Karan Gour
I viewed 4/12

Sunday, April 15, 2012

White Lightnin (2009) NR - 3 Stars

Perfect movie to watch after the documentary of "The Wild and Wonderful Whites." In black and white, this film focuses on Jesco White. After you listen to the family members in the above mentioned documentary, you get a good perspective into Jesco White's background.  I love the accompanying musical score for the movie. Hearing the voices that takes over Jesco's mind give a good impression of what one might be thinking having voices take over their mind. I thinking filming it in black and white adds to the gloom.

Living in Boon county West Virginia, the Whites have the notorious reputation for bringing out their worst in front of people. Growing up in the back woods of the West Virginia, papa D R White lays claim to a family of trouble. It wasn't his intention but growing up uneducated, he had feet did most of his talking. Famous for his back country shuffling tapping shoes, D R just wanted to make people happy by entertaining them. His young son Jesco found every opportunity for trouble, sniffing gas and paint for grins. Jesco was in and out of institution at his young age but the damage was already starting to take hold of his brain. When his father was killed by two local drunks for fun, Jesco pledges to avenge his father's death. But not before taking his father's tap dance routine on the road.

Film and Music Entertainment, Mainframe Productions, Filmfreak Distributie, Vice Films
Director: Dominic Murphy
Writers: Eddy Moretti, Shane Smith
I viewed 4/12

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (2009) NR - 2½ Stars

This documentary is about one of the worst dysfunctional families I've ever seen. Even though it's not the most exciting documentary, you somehow can't stop watching it. The story allows a peek inside the lives of the "White family" of West Virginia. Trying not to judge will be real hard for the viewer as this entire family is one gigantic wreck. No one seems to have their act together,except maybe the father of the whole clan, D R White. D R was famous for his tapping shuffle style of dance and all he wanted to do was to make people smile with his clapping feet. D R forced this dance style upon his young son Jesco. For punishment after Jesco was caught sniffing paint, gas and lighter fluid his father would force him to learn how to mimic his fathers dance moves. Jesco grew up with brain damage but it didn't stop him from preforming like his father did. Unfortunately he also had the devil bred into him who could snap at slightest sign of trouble.

Becoming a product of their environment, the Whites are uneducated, living in the back hills, and no real enthusiasm of working their way out. Even the smallest of family members curse, hold up their middle finger and have already learned to hate and rebel against most everything as the mock their environment. Their lifestyle, attitudes, struggle with drugs make them the most reviled family in West Virginia. When you hear the words, "white trailer trash," you just might find them on page one.
Dickhouse Productions, MTV Studios, Tribeca Film
Director: Julien Nitzberg
Producer: Storm Taylor
I viewed 4/12

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Growing Op (2008) NR - 3 Stars

If you can be patient with this movie and not rush to judge, it does get better at the end. Hippy parents home school their kids to keep them away from the evils of the world. With a twist at the end, it's an interesting story about a young boy's struggle, trying to be normal when his parents grow pot for a living out of their home. Never having let an outsider in, the parents also struggle with letting their grown son leave the nest to discover love. Decent acting and story line once it gets going.

Quinn (Steven Yaffee), feels trapped in his own home. Both he and his sister Hope (Katie Boland), are home schooled. Parents Diana (Rosanna Arquette), and Bryce (Wallace Langham), grow marijuana in every room of their house, making it impossible for the children to lead a normal life. Hope has found a way to make it work while Quinn takes his knowledge of growing tips to the neighborhood doing odd gardening job as he yearns for something more. When Crystal (Rachel Blanchard), the pretty girl he's always dreamed of, moves in across the street he immediately ditches his gardening duties and gets himself enrolled in school to be close to her.

Quinn doesn't fit into molds of normal teen life and he soon finds himself on the wrong end of the high school jock that has his eyes on Crystal. He'll stop at nothing to make sure this "geek" Quinn doesn't rob him of his trophy. Quinn wishes he had learned that not to trust, as his lack of hormonal interchange brings his entire family down.

Cineast Screen Developments, Cinimage, Emotion Pictures, Middlefish Films
Director: Michael Melski
Writer: Michael Melski
Producers: Michael Melski, Monique LeBlanc, Rick Warden
I viewed 3/11