MovieCriticND's blog

The Donor

In a rundown part of a city in China, a man named Yang Ba (Ni Dahong) struggles to support his family. He runs a tiny shop where he repairs mopeds, often getting paid in food rather than money, much to the annoyance of his wife, Hua. They have a teenage son, Bao, who's about to take his all-important college exams. Getting into a top college is his only chance to find a much more prestigious job than his father's, perhaps working at one of the big state-run firms, but that will take money Yang doesn't have.

Yang on his knees, begging Li to spare him a terrible decision. It doesn't work.


In the hallowed halls of St. Sebastian's Quiet Academy for Disreputable Youth, things are indeed quiet, probably because no one's allowed to do anything. The boys drift mournfully around, attend 'classes' where they act out doubtful morality plays, and are forced to wear identical outfits of tan pants and light blue shirts. One character plays music on a boom box and I was shocked they allowed such goings-on. If the kids only wore darker clothes it would be like there was constantly a funeral in progress.

The headmaster lectures Issac. Sorry kid, but you just don't have any character.

The Heretics

Getting kidnapped by a sacrificial satanic cult is the sort of thing that can ruin your whole life. Just ask Gloria (Nina Kiri), who is still struggling with the fallout five years later. Still, Gloria is one of the lucky ones, since this particular satanic cult has a weird idea of sacrifice -- they killed themselves rather than the girl they kidnapped, leaving her covered in blood and completely freaked out, but alive.

Poor Gloria, tied to a chair and covered in goo.

Rainy Season

On a warm June day in the 1970's, a young couple drives along isolated, wooded roads en route to the small town of Willow, Maine, where they've rented a house for the summer. It's a quiet, sleepy sort of place, but that's what they want, since John Graham (Brian Ashton Smith) is a writer and wants time to work on his craft. It's less clear how wife Elise (Anne-Marie Kennedy) will occupy herself, however.

The movie poster. It's not kidding, either, they really do pour.


The moment she appears on screen, it's clear that Astrid (Rebecca Martos) is having a rough time. She sits alone in bars and restaurants, waiting for the chance to strike up conversations and eventually hook up with random strangers. None of these hookups make her any less alone, not even for a moment, but at the same time she can't seem to manage without them.

Astrid smoking in the window. It's a very slow way to kill yourself.

Over Coffee

If you work in an office, half the fun is keeping track of the gossip that goes around -- or if you're more like me, the gossip is actually the single biggest problem about working in an office. Who's got the time to keep track of all that anyway? But in the workplace featured in Over Coffee, everyone knows one thing for sure: that Andrew (Erik Potempa) has a crush on Carla (Jocelyn DeBoer). David (Michael Oberholtzer) likes to tease Andrew about it, but then David's kind of a jerk.

Carla and boss-man Rice. Note the look of vague terror in her eyes.

Dirty Books

I hadn't really thought about it before, but there probably aren't an awful lot of paper and ink school newspapers anymore. Mind you, I went to school in a town so small that the school's paper was also the town's paper, but it does seem a shame to lose the actual newsprint. Online writing is great (I'd better say that, right?), but there is also something irreplaceable about holding a book or a newspaper in your hands.

Woodward meets with Deep Throat. I mean, David meets with Owens.


In a residential area of southern California, two police officers (Monte James and Cliff Everett Smith) investigate a large Victorian house with blood on the welcome mat. Guns drawn, they enter cautiously, so far mercifully unaware that they are about to discover the havoc that can be wreaked by three Psychos.

Sasha faces off with her tormentor. Beware of axe-wielding manic.

What Jack Built

In a little shack somewhere deep in the woods, Jack (Timothy J. Cox, Night Job) is building something mysterious. He's working quickly and secretly, following a set of complicated hand-drawn and illustrated plans. They seem like the sort of plans that Rube Goldberg might have designed, with added hints of Wile E. Coyote and just a touch of Da Vinci thrown in for good measure. However odd they might look, though, Jack is taking them very seriously.

You can't imagine how glad Jack is to see this keyboard.


College is a time when many people expand their horizons and meet people they might otherwise never have known. Of course, sometimes everyone would have been better off had certain people never met, as Catfight neatly demonstrates. Veronica (Sandra Oh) and Ashley (Anne Heche) were at least sort-of friends in college until Veronica put an end to things. Ashley is convinced that this was because she's gay. Veronica denies it but quite frankly it's hard to believe anything she says, at least to begin with.

Seen here: One last moment of calm before everything explodes.