MovieCriticND's blog

People

The title might not grab you, but People is about exactly that -- friends, lovers, siblings, acquaintances, and strangers -- and what happens when they all have a bad night at the same time. It seems like a simple concept, but just like your average human being, upon taking a closer look it isn't simple at all.

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The movie poster. It does matter, though.

My Pet Dinosaur

There's not a lot to do in Brightwood, especially if you're a kid. Businesses are closing and people are moving away, because when you live in Brightwood you have a better than average chance of dying of cancer. Jake (Jordan Dulieu) lost his dad that way two years ago, so now it's just him, his rebellious older brother Mike (Harrison Saunders), and their mother Jennifer (Beth Champion). But things are about to change drastically, because the EPA has just ridden into town! Actually, they've sent Dr. Tansy (Christopher Gabardi), who's just arrived with his daughter Abbie (Annabel Wolfe).

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Magnus plays with toilet paper. See, he's part kitten.

Tilt

A few years ago, a filmmaker had a modest success with a documentary called Tilt, about the history of pinball and pinball championships. Now this filmmaker, Joseph Burns (Joseph Cross), is suffering from a sophomore slump as he struggles to finish his next documentary, Golden Age, about the myth of the "good old days" of the fifties. His wife Joanne (Alexia Rasmussen) is pregnant, and after having supported him by working as a nurse, she now wants to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor. That means Joe has to step up, but that's going about as well as the documentary.

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Joe's struggle for his sanity begins. Yes, he does look rather like Nick Stahl.

Psychic Murder

Of all the difficult gigs there are in the entertainment world, one of the toughest has to be stand-up comedy. I once heard a comic making fun of his own profession (as many of them do), talking about how people usually don't even know who's performing at the local comedy club; they just go there because they want to go out. You hardly ever see people doing that with movies at the theatre. Granted, I did that once but those were special circumstances, and it really isn't the norm.

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Mickey ready to pounce, while Puma looks faintly amused.

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.

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

Trouble

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.

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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.

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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.

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

Numb

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.

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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.

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