February 2006

New on DVD

by Alan Rapp on February 28, 2006

in Uncategorized

We’re here to let you know what’s out there for your entertainment dollar.  Every week a new batch of DVD’s gets shipped out and thrown onto the shelves.  This week we’ve got a film that made two of our Top 10 lists (yeah, I don’t know what’s wrong with Aaron either).  Also out today: the popular Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, some more TV collections, a fiftieth anniversary edition of Lady and the Tramp, and one of my worst films of 2005.  Take a peek inside for the full list.

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Here’s what is getting released today on DVD:

Film:

Pride & Prejudice – A reinterpretation of the Jane Austen novel starring Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennet a modern woman stuck in a world not yet ready for her.  Beautiful cinematography and great acting make this a gem of 2005.  Knightly earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance and the film earned a spot on both December’s top ten list (check it out) and mine (check it out).  The DVD includes commentary from director Joe Wright, behind the scenes featurettes, and a feature on author Jane Austen.  Read the original review.

Walk the Line – Joaquin Phoenix stars as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon has piled up the awards for her performance as June Carter.  The film takes a look at Cash’s childhood, his love affair with June, and drug use but not much about his career in music.  Available in two different additions with commentary by writer/directer James Mangold, trailers, and deleted scenes.  The Collector’s Edition has an extra disc with movie videos and featurettes.  Read the original review.

The Ice Harvest – Ugh!  Horribly unfunny and unsuspenseful suspense/comedy starring John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton.  It was bad enough to make my worst films of 2005.  The DVD contains commentary from director Harold Ramis, some featurettes, outtakes with Thornton, and an alternate ending.  Read the original review.

Where the Truth Lies – That naughty film with Kevin Bacon that was banned from most mainstream theaters that tried and failed to challenge the NC-17 rating.  The film noir/mystery/drama includes nudity, sex, violence, drugs, and blackmail.  Released here as director Atom Egoyan’s original version shown at Cannes.

Yours, Mine & Ours – I don’t know if Dennis Quaid is a good actor that takes bad parts or a mediocre actor that occasionally backs into a great role, but based on this one you’d have to assume the later.  The remake of 1968 film stars Quaid and Russo.  Sadly they’re no Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball.  Many gross jokes very young children might enjoy.

Collections:

Controversial Classics, Vol. 2 – The Power of Media (All the President’s Men, Network, Dog Day Afternoon) – Great set including the new two disc collections of all three films.  Extras include commentary for each film and more extras then you can shake a stick at plus a nice collector’s sleeve for the DVDs. 

Family/Animated:

Lady and the Tramp (50th Anniversary Edition) – The classic Disney film gets a special 50th Anniversary DVD upgrade.  The love story between Lady (a sheltered cockel spaniel) and Tramp (a streetwise mutt) is one of the most beloved Disney love stories.  The film has been digitally restored with 5.1 sound and enhanced picture and includes never-before-seen footage, original storyboards, an all new music video, a trivia game for kids, a featurettes on the making of the film.

Beast Machines: Transformers – The Complete SeriesTransformers computer generated spin-off centered around a group of Maximals trying to free Cybertron form the Veicons and Megatron.

TV:

Charmed – The Complete Fourth Season – The first season post-Shannen Doherty is chronicled including the two-hour introduction of Rose McGowan as Paige.  The set includes 21 episodes on six discs.

NewsRadio (The Complete Third Season) – The hijinks at WNYX continue with all 25 third season episodes including commentary from 10 episodes, featurettes, and a gag reel.

Bleak House – BBC mini-series adaption of Charles Dickens finds young orphans at the mercy of an unjust 19th Century legal system, murder and more.  The set includes all fifteen episodes on three discs.

Ellen – Season 3 – Third season of Ellen DeGeneres unfunny sitcom includes all 27 episodes and bloopers.  Joely Fisher and Jeremy Piven also star.

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Don Knotts

by Alan Rapp on February 27, 2006

in Uncategorized

I was all set to wax nostalgic over Don Knotts who passed away last Friday at the age of 81.  Then December found this site which offers such a loving tribute to the man I just thought I’d share it with you.  I’ll just say thanks for protecting Mayberry, for the Apple Dumpling Gang, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, and so much more.  Your unique humor and voice will be missed.  Just click on the pic and enjoy tons of Don Knotts goodness.

Don Knotts 1924-2006
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This Week

by Alan Rapp on February 27, 2006

in Uncategorized

So what’s out there this week.  Well today we’ll take a look at the films scheduled to be released this Friday including Richard Donner’s latest with Bruce Willis and Mos Def, and the delayed Ultraviolet.  And make sure to check back tomorrow when we’ll check out the new DVD releases (which includes a film that made both December’s top ten list and mine).  Plus with the Academy Awards gearing up to give up their pretty statues this Sunday we’ll have our Oscar picks for you Thursday.  Read on…

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Here’s what’s scheduled to hit theaters this Friday.  Want to know more, just click on the title for film info including a full cast list.  Want a closer look, just click on the poster to watch the trailer.

16 Blocks

Richard Donner’s (remember when you looked forward to seeing one of his films?) latest involves Bruce Willis as a cop with the duty of protecting a key witness (Mos Def) and transporting him from the precinct to the courthouse.  So what’s the problem?  Well turns out most of the force is filled with corrupt cops that will be brought down with his testimony so they offer Willis the choice to walk away or risk his life for a criminal against men he thinks of as friends.

Ultraviolet

Might as well just call it Resident Evil: Ultraviolet.  Milla Jovovich plays a genetically enhanced humanoid with super speed, strength and intelligence from an infection (oh this time she’s one of the zombie people, ‘cept the zombies is cool!) during a civil war between the humans and the super hemophages.  Jovovich leads the fight to stop the government’s genocidal tendencies by beating up as many of them as possible.  This film has been delayed and pushed back so long if it’s anything but a complete disaster it will be a surprise.

Aquamarine

Cutesy teenage remake of Splash.  Two teenage girls find a mermaid at the swimming pool at the country club on the beach.  Of course they decide to take her home.  The mermaid, Aquamarine, falls in love with a young boy who works at the food bar in the club and tries to get the girls to set them up on a date.  Probably as sickeningly sweet and inane as it sounds.  Based on the Alice Hoffman novel and rewritten by Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On) and John Quaintance (Good Morning Miami and Joey).

Block Party

Dave Chappelle.  If those two words don’t make you want to see the film just move on by because there’s little else here to see.  The “film” is a mix of Chapelle’s sketch comedy, comic bits, and stand-up along with some added music.  Seems like an odd choice for a theatrical release as it will probably only appeal to Chappelle fans willing to drop down $10 to see what they can see on their TV for free.  Chapelle states that the film is “inspired” (a word always to be cautious of in film) by the 1973 documentary Wattstax.  Was he serious or was that just another joke?  Probably better or worse than it sounds (but which?).

Joyeux Noel (limited release)

Christmas Eve 1914 on a battlefield the Germans and the French try to make a tentative peace in order to bury their dead and have Christmas.  Written and directed by Christain Carion the film is in French with English subtitles.  A huge hit at Cannes (a reported 10 minute standing ovation); it’s getting a small limited release this week but will it survive long enough to earn a wide release?  Likely to be a bigger hit in Europe than here in the States.

Deep Sea 3D (IMAX)

IMAX undersea look at the ocean and all the little critters deep below.  Directed by IMAX veteran Howard Hall the film is done in 3D and snagged the narration team of Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet.  Those factors along with a score by Danny Elfman make this one of the more ambitious IMAX films to date.  Now the question is will the 3D IMAX fascination and the narration of two stars bring in a wider audience?

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Be Very Afraid

by Alan Rapp on February 24, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

I think Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal have grounds for a defamation suit against the makers of the new film Running Scared considering how much ill-will this film shall deservedly earn.  The film borrows the title from the 1986 film but sadly nothing else.  The new movie stars Paul Walker as a mob flunky whose job is to dispose of guns used in mob crimes.  The film is a mishmash of bad camera moves, annoying film techniques, a stylistic writing syle of torturing the audience as much as the characters, with editing that I can only assume was done as a joke.  How bad is this film?  Well let’s just say the pair of child molesters (who apparently got Tim Burton to decorate their apartment and keep Freddie Kruger and the Gnarl creature from the 7th Season of Buffy in thier shower) come off as sympathetic as anybody else in the film.  Yeah, that’s bad.

Running Scared (2006)
Negative Stars

I wonder how some films get made; I really do.  Running Scared is one of the worst movies to be dropped on an unsuspecting public in years.  I know I told you Freedomland was awful (and it was) but Scared digs deep down into the same pile of sludge and manages without much effort to be even worse.  The film uses issues – child abuse, murder. children shooting guns, torture, inappropriate sex, children being beaten and threatened with guns and knives, child molestation and child pornography, and the total legitimacy of blowing away the bad guys as the right thing to do – as empty plot devices to keep the “action” rolling right along.  Much like Freedomland the film doesn’t deal with any of these issues only exploits them for cheap thrills, but Scared does it over and over and over again with joyfully perverse glee. 

It’s horrific and it’s not helped by the odd camera techniques and editing style that I’m sure was supposed to be some kind of homage to Tony Scott and Ridley Scott in the same way the story is “honoring” Tarrantino and the weird look and moments are “honoring” Tim Burton and David Lynch.  Far from honoring them however the film mashes all of it together into an almost completely inarticulate unwatchable mess (more than one person left the free screening well before it was over, and do I wish I was one of them!).

Still reading?  Boy you really are a glutton for punishment.  The “plot” involves Joey (Paul Walker) who works as a mob flunky entrusted with disposing of guns used in mob related crimes; instead Joey decides to hide them in his basement, still loaded, in plastic Ziplock sandwich bags.  Why the mob trusts this job to a complete screwup like Joey or why Joey would keep all the guns in his basement are just two of the many questions that will make your head explode if you think too much about the film. 

While hiding a gun in his cleverly concealed hiding spot he is noticed by his 10 year-old son Nicky (Alex Neuberger) and his best friend Oleg (Cameron Bright).  Oleg has been getting the snot beaten out of him by his father for years and decides to steal the gun and shoot his father (John Noble).  As a side note, the film includes a speech by Joey to Oleg about Joey’s experiences being beaten by his father until he was fourteen and beat him into a near braindead slobbering mess (flashbacks tastefully included) and he tries to persuade Oleg to wait until he’s a little older and do the same thing.  Ah what wonderful fatherly advice; god, this kid is going to be screwed up by the time this film mercifully ends.

Things get sticky because the gun he picks was just used to kill two corrupt cops in a drug deal gone wrong.  Things get even sticker because Oleg’s father is the brother of a Russian mob boss.  So of course we get a long list of nameless interchangeable mobsters (Johnny Messner, Michael Cudlitz, Arthur J. Nascarella, Karl Roden, Jim Tooey, and more) who appear on screen to cause havoc without any real purpose or reasoning to their actions.  Joey sets out to find the kid and the gun before his bosses find out that he let the gun get taken and used in a shooting.  From there story devolves into one of those films were the character is chasing something but is always too steps behind and two minutes late.  We’ve seen this done (much, much better) many, many times before.

Then we get to the subplots.  One subplot includes a crooked cop (Chazz Palminteri) wanting to burn Joey and giving Oleg back to his abusive father who he just shot in hopes of pressuring him to give up Joey and the gun.  Another deals with Oleg getting mixed up with a pair of child pornographers (who for some weird reason are keeping the Gnarl creature from the seventh season of BTVS in their bathroom) while running away from his father only realizing too late what is happening and calling Nicky’s mom Teresa (Vera Farminga).  Her solution to the problem is as horrendous as the rest of the film.

Aside from using such issues as cheap plot points the film never actually deals with the issues or merges them into a coherent story.  To try and solve this issue the film is shot and edited in such a way that makes no sense what-so-ever.  Quick cuts, odd camera moves, color manipulation and more create a visual nightmare for the audience that instead of distracting you from how bad the film is only adds more fuel to the fire.  I like how Tony Scott uses camera techniques to add to the flavor of his films but in the hands of an imitator like Kramer (who has obviously never heard of the word subtle) it’s simply dreadful.

The film feels like it was done by the illegitimate retarded crack addict son of Tony Scott and Quentin Tarrantino who had Twin Peaks forced indoctrinated into his brain during his frontal lobotamy; it’s painful to watch.  I can’t imagine how the film could have been worse and the fact that the film got made, marketed, and released boggles my mind.  After the film ended I wanted everyone involved round up and shot for stealing two hours of my life.

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No Day But Today

by Alan Rapp on February 23, 2006

in Uncategorized

Great cast, great story, great music what more do you want?  The film based on the Broadway show is now on DVD.  Okay so it’s got some issues Red State people might be uncomfortable about – drugs, homosexuality, civil disobedience, and cross-dressing but it’s damn good fun and one of my top 10 films of 2005.  Although beloved by a vocal group of Rentheads sadly the film never found a wider audience and has been ignored by most award committees but maybe it can find a new audience on DVD.

RENT
5 Stars

RENT is a labor of love.  The cast worked on the play and lived with these characters for a decade and it shows in every second of the film.  The DVD captures the performances and gives some historical perspective to the play and eventual film adaptation.  RENT is definately worth owning.

The story revolves around a group of friends living in New York City’s East Village from Christmas Eve 1989 through the following year.  Adapted from the play RENT, The film deals with AIDS, homelessness, squatting, drug use, and death yet is a celebration of life while showcasing the troubles of the time.  For more on the film read the original review.

The film works as well on DVD if not better than in the theater.  The DVD allows you to savor and enjoy all the moments and even a couple extra moments that were cut from the film including two musical numbers (“Halloween,” and “Goodbye Love”) and an alternate ending to the film performed on stage.  After watching these scenes and the commentary by director Christopher Columbus and stars Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal I agree that although they are very good the decision to cut them was the right one.

The DVD also contains commentary for the film by Columbus, Pascal, and Rapp.  I was a little disappointed more of the cast wasn’t involved in the commentary but what we do get is quite good.  The three of them talk about specific film moments but also talk about the similarities and differences to the play, memories, and experiences. 

The most intriguing extra though is the documentary on composer/playwright Jonathan Larson and the labor of love that created the play.  The documentary is focused on Lasron and his struggles to create a modern rock opera dissimilar to the epic musicals of the time like Cats and Phantom of the Opera.  The near two hour documentary focuses on his early struggles and eventually success and untimely death and includes interviews from friends and family and many of the show’s cast.  From their the focus shifts to RENT, its Broadway success, and the process of turning the play into a film.  It’s a great piece of work and a very emotional look back at his life.

I really like this film and the DVD gives me the opportunity to shoot right past my major complaint with the film (Chapter 14 -“Over the Moon” – on the DVD, just skip on right by it, trust me) and enjoy the entire experience.  For me it’s one of the best films of the year and although it may be a niche film based off a niche play the issues and emotions it deals with are universal.

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Indiana Jones Will Return

by Alan Rapp on February 23, 2006

in Uncategorized

Seems you just can’t stop the Hollywood sequel machine.  In an interview with an Israeli newspaper Steven Speilberg stated plainly that Indiana Jones 4 is a go!  Speilberg plans to film this year getting Indy ready for a Summer 2007 release.  Now for those of you just saw Harrison Ford in Firewall the news may seem a little bittersweet.  Can the Lucas/Spielber/Ford team recapture the magic in a bottle one last time?  Or will the fourth film be vastly inferior to the predessors (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Lethal Weapon 4, Batman and Robin)?

Indiana Jones 4
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Miller’s 300

by Alan Rapp on February 23, 2006

in Film News & Trailers

Haven’t had enough Frank Miller?  I loved the adaption of Sin City and now another of Miller’s graphic novels, 300, is in production and the official site is posting video journals for us fans.  For those of you unfamiliar to the story it retells the historic Battle of Thermopylae where 300 Spartan soldiers held off the entire Persian army numbering in the hundreds of thousands for longer than any believed possible.  The time gained by such a heroic stand allowed Greece to mobolize and stand against the Persians and without their sacrifice the dream of democracy may have died.  The third video journal was just posted last week.  Check it out.

300
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Saturn Awards

by Alan Rapp on February 22, 2006

in News

The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror has announced the nominations for the 32nd annual Saturn Awards.  So who made the list?  Well let’s just say that George Lucas is a very happy guy.  Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith leads all nominees with a total of ten nominations.  Sin City, A History of Violence, Serenity, Batman Begins, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang all earned nominations.  Sadly Fantastic Four, The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, King Kong, and Saw II were nominated as well.  The people running the official site for the awards forgot to pay their rent and their site has been shut down – Oops!  Don’t fret though we’ve got the list of nominations.  Take a look…

[click to continue…]

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DVD Shelf

by Alan Rapp on February 21, 2006

in Uncategorized

We’re here to let you know what’s out there for your entertainment dollar.  Every week a new batch of DVD’s gets shipped out and thrown onto the shelves.  And Whoa boy folks this is a hell of a great week for releases!  We’ve got a movie from my top ten list – RENT and one from December’s list – North Country and Keira Knightly as bounty hunter Domino Harvey in Domino.  Also out today are Ultimate Avengers: The Movie, The Weather Man and more.  Take a peek inside for the full list.

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Here’s what is getting released today on DVD:

Film:

RENT (2 Disc Special Edition) – Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes; how do you measure a year?  The broadway rock opera slice of life look at seven bohemians in New York’s East Village over the course of a year measures it in great music and outstanding performances.  Most of the cast was drawn from the original broadway show.  A powerful and poignant generational tale similiar to Hair.  So good I had to put it on my top ten list for 2005.  The two disc collection includes over three hours of extras and features including commentary by the director and cast.  You can read the original review here.

North Country – Charlize Theron stars in this inspired by real life story about the first sexual harassment case in United States history.  Theron (in an Academy Award nominated peformance) plays a single mother who takes a job in a mine and sues after constact harassment and attacks from male co-workers.  One of December’s top ten films of 2005.  You can check out her original review here.

Domino – Keira Knightly stars as bounty hunter Domino Harvey and hooks up with Mickey Rourke and Edgar Ramirez.  The first of Knightly’s two great performances this year.  Based off real life bounty hunter and friend of director Tony Scott.  Got mixed reactin from critics and the public but I had a blast; great fun for the acquired taste.  Read the original review.

The Weather Man – Tale of Chicago weather man (Nicholas Cage) who is a complete success on camera and a disaster off the air.  Gore Verbinski brings this funny (funny humorous and funny strange) tale to life.  Also starring Michael Caine, Hope Davis, and Gil Bellows.  Read the original review.

All The President’s Men (2 Disc Special Edition) – Retelling of Watergate scandal with Robert Redford as Bob Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein.  The 1976 film gets the special edition treatment that includes commentary from Redford and an entire extra disc of features on the film and the story that inspired it.

Midnight Cowboy (Two Disc Collector’s Edition) – Joe Buck plays a cowboy who moves to New York City who is hustled by Dustin Hoffman in the film that won the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay in 1969.  The special edition includes commentary by Jerome Hellman and documentaries and featurettes.

Family/Animated:

Ultimate Avengers: The Movie – Marvel’s greatest heroes in an animated feature film re-telling how the Avengers discovered Captain America and fight for truth, justice, and all that good stuff.

Stuart Little 3 – Call of the Wild – Another sequel from the Stuart Little franchise including voices of Wayne Brady, Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie Virginia Madsen, Peter MacNicol, Jonathan Lipnicki, and Michael J. Fox as Stuart.

TV:

3rd Rock from the Sun – Further adventures of the Solomon family (a group of aliens hiding on Earth pretending to be humans to learn about us).  The set includes a 16 page collection booklet and interviews with the cast.

NYPD Blue The Complete Third Season – All 22 episodes of the third season of the New York cops.  The set includes commentary for two episodes and a collection of featurettes.

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Volume 1 – First volume of the 1960’s series about the SSRN Seaview, a submarine that investigates myseries at the bottom of the ocean.  Classic Sci-fi.

Also out today: Go Diego Go! The Great Dinosaur Rescue, Action – The Complete Series, and Iron Maiden – Death on the Road.

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This Week

by Alan Rapp on February 20, 2006

in Film News & Trailers

So what’s out there this week.  Well today we’ll take a look at the films scheduled to be released this Friday including a second week in a row with a film starring Paul Walker and a new animated film from the Weinstein Company.  And make sure to check back tomorrow when we’ll check out the new DVD releases (which includes on of my ton ten films of 2005 and one of my hidden gems).  Read on…

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Here’s what’s scheduled to hit theaters this Friday.  Want to know more, just click on the title for film info including a full cast list.  Want a closer look, just click on the poster to watch the trailer.

Running Scared

Paul Walker plays a mob flunkie given the task of getting rid of murder weapons but instead decides to collect them and hide them in his basement where his son’s friend finds them and uses on to shoot his abusive step-father.  Written and directed by Wayne Kramer who gave us The Cooler but is also responsible for the screenplay for Aaron’s worst film of 2005 Mindhunters.  Chazz Palminteri and Cameron Bright also star.

Doogal

UK animated film about a dog named Doogal who loves candy and bands together with friends to stop an evil sorcerer who escapes his prison and plans to exact revenge on the earth by freezing the sun.  Voices include Danile Tay, Juid Dench, Chevy Chase, Jimmy Fallon, William H. Macy, Ian McKellen, Kevin Smith, Whoppi Goldberg, and Jon Stewart as the wizard.  Can they save the day?  Well, it’s a kids film after all.

Madea’s Family Reunion

Comedy about a gun-totting grandma who attends the reunion of her dysfunctional family that includes a runaway and a pair of love-troubled neices.  The latest from director Tyler Perry (Diary of a Mad Black Woman which had a divided reaction with both critics and movie watchers).  The cast includes Lynn Whitfield, May Angelou, Keke Palmer, Cicely Tyson, Blair Underwood, China Anderson, and Tyler Perry himself in drag for the role of Mable “Madea” Simmons.

Night Watch (limited release)

Russian film about the others (vampires, witches and sorcerers) who live amongst humanity in present day Moscow.  They are divided into a group of light (good) and dark (evil) who live acoording to a centuries old truce.  The night watch is a group of the light who watch over the dark forces during the night trying to control and limit their effect on the world.  The film has been hugely successful in Russia since its release in 2004 and already has a hit sequel (2006’s Day Watch) and a new Enlgish language sequel in production now.

Tsotsi (limited release)

South African film showcasing a week in the life of a violent gang leader in Johannesburg.  The crime drama won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, got nominations from The Golden Globes, BAFTA, and is in contention for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Academy Awards.  The film is in various tribal dialects and presented with English subtitles.  Presley Chweneyagae, Mothusi Magano, Israel Makoe, and Percy Matsemela star.

Unknown White Male (Los Angeles & New York only)

A documentary look at Doug Bruce who woke up in Coney Island with no memories and is diagnosed with amnesia.  The film focuses on Doug’s rediscoving the world around him and his retun home to Europe in an attempt to reconnect with both friends and family.  Mixed early reactions to the film, but it was nominated at last year’s Sundance and first time director Rupert Murray got a nomination for his direction from the Directors Guild.

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