Film: 2012 LA Film Festival: Wide Releases

by H. Clent Bowers

Magazine     >    Reviews

Written by H. Clent Bowers w/ Marion Ramsey for THE ARTISTS FORUM MAGAZINE
Edited by
Courtesy of the LA Film Festival / Film Independent

5 out of 5 stars


LOS ANGELES, CA (June 25, 2012) These next features are some of the films at the Film Independent – 2012 LA Film Festival which will receive wide release through theaters or TV. These films are generally larger budgeted and festival goers get to see them before the general public.  It’s always exciting to be amongst the first to witness a new birth of art. 

Promotional still from Disney/Pixar’s “Brave”

BRAVE (USA, 2012)
Director: Patrick Doyle
Producer: Katherine Saraflan
Cast: Emma Thompson, Kelly McDonald, Kevin McKidd, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Billy Connolly, John Ratzenberger, Craig Ferguson

Yes, Disney/Pixar has finally done it. A female hero. She can hunt. She’s an archer. She can ride and do what most men can if not better. She is beautiful just like her mother, but she is the King’s baby girl. When it is time for her to accept a husband from a choice made up of the princes from other kingdoms, she rebels by beating them in contest and winning her own hand and runs away.

Through the spirits of the forest and with the help of a pretty, colorful witch (a wonder new Disney addition) to whom she asks for a potion to change her mother’s disposition. What ensues is a myriad  of comical and touching moments to bring order back to the kingdom, including times when our young lady forgets that to be female innately is to be a nurturer. A wonderful new addition to the Disney/Pixar family.

Promotional still from Disney/Pixar’s “Brave”

There was a panel discussion following the screening of Brave called Behind the Scenes. During the panel discussion, we met the women producers who bring us the great animation that we love to see. They explained the process of development and choosing scripts. They showed previews of some wonderful new animation to come this year such as Jack Frost and others.

When asked about diversity in characters in their films, they agreed that it is happening. An example is the Asian boy in UP, and in Jack Frost there with be African American twins. At last we can all belong to the world of American animation, and not only when placed in ethnic situations, but as we are. Well done ladies.

Promotional image from “People Like Us”

Director: Alex Kurtzman
Cast: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Michael Hall D’Addario,
Phillip Baker Mark Duplass, Michelle Pfeiffer

This new popular film is directed by Alex Kurtzman and stars a young man (Chris Pine) who is forced to show compassion to his half sister (Elizabeth Banks). When his musician and emotionally absent father passes away and leaves his son a very needed sum of money,  the son’s anger with his father grows when he realizes that his father wants him to give the money to an estranged half sister – a sister who he has never met. His business is bad, and he could use the money to bail himself out.

He reluctantly goes home to meet this sister before he makes his decision.  His curiosity leads to  many complications,  as the sister has an incredible young son with whom he bonds.  Sparks fly when closeness leads to disclosure.  The mother, beautifully played by Michelle Phiffer, is the key to enlightenment. Brother and Sister learn a hard lesson of compassion, ethics, and understanding. This new treatment of a familiar theme makes this film a popular favorite. Great performances all around.

Scene from “Robot and Frank” starring Frank Langella

Director: Jake Schreier
Cast: Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Peter Sarsgaard, Jeremy Sisto, Jeremy Strong

This is  wonderful story of a lonely single senior starting to show the beginning stages of forgetfulness, and his son is too busy to care for him.  In an effort to solve this dilemma, the son decides to give his dad the latest invention… a robot.

The father, at first, hates this robot. But, of course he learns to love the robot, and to enlighten and teach the robot… to be a  burglar. What a romp they have. Longella is brilliant with this robot, and the robot is a wonderful side person. Add a touching ending and you have a warm enjoyable movie experience.

Scene from “Gayby” starring Jean Harris (l) and Matthew Wilkas (r)

GAYBY (USA, 2012)
Director: Jonathan Lisecki
Cast: Jean Harris, Matthew Wilkas, Mike Doyle, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Jack Ferver, Jonathan Lisecki, Louis Cancelmi, Alycia Delmore, Charlie Barnett, Adam Driver, Joanne Tucker, Alex Karpovsky, Sarita Choudhury, Dule Hill

This feature started out as a short.  It got so much acclaim that it is now a feature.  The story is about two high school friends. She had a crush on him. He is gay. Now that they are grown and friends, she wants a baby. She has decided that she wants it to be with him.  They decide to have a baby in the traditional way.   This film is a hoot – very well written, directed, and acted. Pure fun.

Jeff Daniels in HBO’s “The NewsRoom

Cast: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterson

Jeff Daniels is back and he’s taking no prisoners. This new newsroom show is fast paced, exciting and honestly raw. I love this new series. The writing is smart and gives the audience credit for having common sense. When you watch the opening episode you will see what I mean within the first ten minutes.

Basically, you have a popular news anchor who has lost his passion and has begun to sink into an apathetic, not-so-quiet hostile hopeless view of our country, until a question from a student and a moderator fielding the questions just wont let him not respond.

When he does respond all hell breaks loose as he says the things most people want to hear spoken out loud. If the writing and ensemble performances shine as well as this pilot episode, then this proves to be the beginning of a new home run for HBO. Well done. 

Scene from “Magic Mike” featuring Channing Tatum (center)

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn, Olivia Munn, Matt Bomer, Riley Keough, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodriguez, Gabriel Inglesis

Opening and Closing Night Film – This film is slick and fun for those into male eye candy and great erotic dancing. Matthew McConaughey turns in a most honest performance as a stripper and bar pimp. All of the actors do a fine job for light entertainment, and the complications brought on by fast money, drugs, women, and rock and roll. In this way the film does deliver wonderfully, and will work for the general public for which it is intended. In theaters now.

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