Summer movie mania is in full swing. After last week’s shipment of summer films hit theaters, a new batch is ready for consumption. Two of the most anticipated and advertised releases last week were “Green Lantern” and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” The big budget, blockbuster heavyweights are set to duke it out for ticket sales but the fight is not a guaranteed one-on-one match. A slight glance to either side of the heavy spotlight will reveal several other films worth a look.
The Art of Motivation
Teen angst and teen romance rule in “The Art of Getting By.” Underachieving, fatalistic, high school senior, George (Freddie Highmore), meets popular girl with substance, Sally (Emma Roberts), and that’s when sparks and superfluous complications fly. The self-proclaimed Teflon Slacker, George, can’t get his mind to work or his homework done. He is put on academic probation and goes in search of his artistic voice and his courage to tell Sally how he feels. This official selection of the Sundance Film Festival is a sweet, youthful film about finding one’s self.
Saddle Up Softly
Horse trainer Buck Brannaman sums up this documentary about his life’s passion best when he says, “A lot of times, rather than helping people with horse problems, I’m helping horses with people problems.” “Buck” is not about breaking horses. It’s a human story about finding a compassionate way to not only understand animals but ourselves and each other. Brannaman’s violent upbringing gave him the gift of a deeper empathy for confined, powerless or tortured beings. He is living proof that love really can conquer all.
Thrill Me, Kill Me
If fear is fun then “Kidnapped” will certainly tickle your fancy. This English-dubbed, Spanish thriller is about a well-off family whose home is invaded by a gang of ruthless burglars. It is a terrifying glimpse at a nightly news scenario that could possibly happen to anyone. The family is held hostage while the intruders try and get as much money out of them as possible with threats, torture and singled-out family members being driven to ATMs. “Kidnapped” will leave you gasping for air.
The Jig is Up
“Jig” is a toe-tapping frenzy of revelations about the world of competitive jig dancing. This magically delicious documentary follows jig dancers from around the globe flocking to Glasgow for the 2010 Irish Dancing World Championships. An illuminating look is given into the intense training and perfection-seeking performances of several local and international contestants fighting for the top prize. “Jig” is not just required viewing for dancing fools, those of Irish descent or, regrettably, any former or current Michael Flatley groupies.
“Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times” is a documentary whose title sums up the movie’s content. This Sundance Film Festival darling gives an inside view into the New York Times news room and the transformation of a waning print media caused by the proliferation of flourishing online media outlets. The ripple effect of upheaval is a mark of evolving technology.
“My Afternoon with Marguerite” is another subtitled gem. An unlikely pair of polar opposites finds friendship through their shared need for companionship. An exceedingly bloated Gerard Depardieu plays an illiterate loner who bonds with a lithe, literature-loving, older woman.