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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Criminal 2016 * * 1/2 Stars

CriminalDirector: Ariel Vromen
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones

Here are a few observations I've made about some actors/actresses in 2016's Criminal (my latest review). OK, let's begin: Kevin Costner with his meager dialogue readings, grumbles, growls, and grunts. Gary Oldman with his umpteenth American accent, gets ticked off and yells customarily. Tommy Lee Jones who fades in and out of the film, talks fast and doesn't really get to emote. The prepossessing Alice Eve looks sedated while really phoning in her performance and finally, Ryan Reynolds is well, Ryan Reynolds. Now is Criminal the reunion-like sequel to Oliver Stone's JFK (Oldman, Costner, and Jones in the same flick together)? No, not really. This is a nastily violent, techy thriller that's edited tightly, preposterous, and flows nicely. For better or worse, Criminal is passable entertainment despite a premise that is seemingly "on parole" (ha-ha). And Costner who looks so far gone from trying to get in the Academy's good graces (remember Dances with Wolves from 25+ years ago?), bulks up here all the while trying to become a successor to Liam Neeson (oh my, the badass, senior antihero circuit is ever expanding).

Filmed primarily in London, England and distributed by Summit Entertainment, Criminal on the surface, projects itself to be another straight-to-video endeavor. There's its poster channeling 2015's Extraction (released only on DVD) and then there's the generic title (which feels a little hackneyed). Don't be fooled though, this is a movie that's above the limited release muck. The production values are stronger and director Ariel Vromen (The Iceman) seems to know what he's doing with the camera. Yeah Criminal does promote itself as action for the bloody, horror film host. And yes, its script, musical score, nullified computer speak, and slick look come off as rather stock at times. Here's the thing however: Criminal does deserve a true, theatrical release (despite what I initially thought). Just imagine something above Costner's previous 3 Days to Kill and slightly below Pierce Brosnan's The November Man. Not half bad as far as I'm concerned.

The story is sort of unoriginal yet somehow someway, an audience member could be distracted from that notion. Jericho Stewart (Costner) is a despicable man, a convict with a frontal lobe disorder. As the film tells us, "he has no impulse control, he's unable to calculate the consequences of his actions, and he has a total lack of empathy for anybody or anything." Because of his condition, Jericho has been tapped to be an experiment for the CIA. Supervisor Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman) with the help of Dr. Mahal Franks (played by Tommy Lee Jones), wants to infuse the memory implants of a dead agent (Ryan Reynolds as Bill Pope) into Stewart's brain. This will enable Costner's Stewart to find the location of a computer hacker known as 'the Dutchman' (played by Micheal Pitt). Said 'Dutchman' has the ability to create a wormhole bent on protecting the world's nuclear defense codes. This diegesis is all made simple by Vromen's gruesome, penchant for street-style brutality and Costner's free-based arrogance (he likes to play these types of characters a lot). Look for a scene where Jericho uses a sharp part of a police vehicle to rip a cop's neck open. Also, look for another scene where Costner's Jericho beats a female malefactor with a disassembled lamp. Talk about Antoine Fuqua kitsch that's truly not for the kiddies. Rating: 2 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Thursday, April 21, 2016

I Am Wrath 2016 * * Stars

I Am Wrath
Director: Chuck Russell
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: John Travolta, Christopher Meloni, Rebecca De Mornay

John Travolta and Christopher Meloni know that they're appearing in a campy shoot-'em-up. They also know that their kooky interplay is what the script requires in said shoot-'em-up. Finally, they realize that they've fallen far from the days of Pulp Fiction and Law & Order: SVU. Do they care? Probably not. Otherwise, they wouldn't have agreed to star in I Am Wrath (my latest review).

"Wrath" is helmed by Chuck Russell. He's a guy that I guess, grew up within a stone's throw of where I live (Edison Park, Chicago). Having not made a film since 2002, it's odd that the director of such box office hits as The Mask and Eraser would wait over a decade to put such a predictable revenge thriller on his resume. Bodies pile up, acting is middle-of-the-road, Travolta's hair (or his highlighted toupee) becomes a supporting bit part, and obligatory, techy news footage inhabits the opening credits. Would I call Russell's "Wrath" a John Wick clone with less kills? That's a fair assessment. Would I recommend it considering that I've seen much worse direct-to-video releases (Exposed comes to mind)? Not quite. With a farcical ending, Rebecca De Mornay accumulating just a few minutes of screen time, and laughable decisions made by the makeup department (some scenes are bloodless while other shots have to show the required red dye on the trouper's faces), I Am Wrath is the definition of average. "I am" not that impressed by it.

Taking place in Ohio and filmed in Ohio (Columbus to be exact), "Wrath's" title refers to a biblical passage drawn from the book of Jeremiah. When the flick concludes with the antagonist asking the protagonist, "who are you?", the response is emphatically, "I am wrath". Talk about a cheesy cinematic moment. So OK, here's the story: Stanley Hill (John Travolta) is an engineer who is in between jobs. As "Wrath" opens, we find out that he might be employed again with great opportunities. Now Stanley wasn't always this stodgy workman. He used to be a badass black ops guy, capable of killing at will (with his bare hands mind you). When his wife is murdered in front of him (in the confines of a dark parking garage), Stanley comes out of retirement, rift with guns blazing. He wants to avenge the death of the woman he loved. And against his initial judgment, he gets help from his former co-worker, a gun-toting compadre named Dennis (played by Chris Meloni).

As mentioned earlier, you know how I Am Wrath is going to play out almost before the actors/actresses do. When Hill's wife Vivian gets stabbed, it's so apparent that it wasn't just a random hit. This act of belligerence came from the top-down (could it have been the fact that the governor of the Buckeye State was responsible, hint hint). Obviousness aside, Travolta's solution in "Wrath" is a violent one and it is presented in foolhardy fashion. Once an A-list actor in the 1970's and 1990's, John Travolta's performance here is a B-list, vigilante take on Charles Bronson, Denzel Washington, and/or Clint Eastwood (pick one). You kinda ache for remnants of his better, more humored version of action lore in From Paris with Love ("Kitchen staff? They're no kitchen staff!").

In conclusion, if it's raining outside, you've read every book in your house, you've played solitaire for hours, or you've already binge-watched reruns of Flashpoint, I guess viewing I Am Wrath would be a useful time killer. Here's the thing though: Wait about a month to rent it. At the moment it's not worth ponying up $9.99 via On Demand. Rating: 2 stars

Written by Jesse Burleson

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Everybody Wants Some!! 2016 * * 1/2 Stars

Everybody Wants Some!!Director: Richard Linklater
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Blake Jenner, Ryan Guzman, Zoey Deutch

Without a shadow of a doubt, Richard Linklater is a very distinctive filmmaker. He's the guy who shot 2001's Tape in real time (via a cramped hotel room). He's the dude that made Boyhood (sequential-like) over a twelve year period letting his actors age naturally. Finally, he's responsible for the trippy, A Scanner Darkly (you know, the flick where all human characters are transferred into animation). With Everybody Wants Some!! (my latest review), Linklater trades innovation for nostalgia all the while trying to recapture the magic from his early 1990's masterpiece, Dazed and Confused. The results like your typical screwdriver (a cocktail featured in "Wants Some!!"), are mixed at best.

Now you're probably wondering if I'm gonna make comparisons between Everybody Wants Some!! and "Dazed". Guess what, I am. Both films are indeed similar. They are both light on plot (but heavy on the pot), both take place over thirty years ago (the mid-70's and the early 80's respectively), both flicks bring Linklater back to his Texas roots, both involve a kaleidoscopic snapshot of an era, and both are cast with young, little-known actors (who knew McConaughey and Zellweger would make it so big, ha). Here's the difference though: Everybody Wants Some!! doesn't have troupers in it that are as affable, the writing/acting in "Wants Some!!" isn't as sharp as it is in Dazed and Confused, there isn't as much genuine humor as there is in "Dazed", and Ben Affleck's Fred O'Bannion is nowhere to be found (talk about one of the great bullies in cinematic history). In truth, it may be justified but to call Everybody Wants Some!! a poor man's Dazed and Confused, is a little harsh. I mean it does have some veritable moments. So I guess just think of it more as "Dazed's" menial stepchild, "Dazed's" naive little brother, or a dragged out version of "Dazed".

The synopsis of "Wants Some!!" (or lack thereof) is told loosely through the eyes of (freshman) college baseball player, Jake (played by newcomer Blake Jenner). You see Jake has three days to kill before fall semester starts. Within the confines of a small Texas university, he meets his teammates in a rundown house right off of campus. From there, chaos ensues with these horndog adolescents integrating Jake while showing him how they party their own, plated asses off. We meet other freshmen on the team, a transferring pitcher who's a couple cards short of a full deck, and a star hitter who can slice a baseball clean through with one swing of an ax (great scene). Granted, we only see the athletes inhabit about fifteen minutes on screen playing America's pastime. The other 100 involves them getting inebriated at a discotheque, a country bar, a punk bar, and various socials near college grounds. I gotta admit, most of the male actors in Everybody Wants Some!! sometimes annoyed me. They tried too hard to be witty and invariably, tried too hard to dazzle the audience. At about the hour and a half mark, their arrogance became totally aromatic. I wanted to plead with them to please just shut up!

With a movie title obviously inspired by a Van Halen song (of the same name), "Wants Some!!" is amusing for I guess, its first act. Linklater as expected, gives the film an exceptional sense of time and place. His direction is well assured and his musical soundtrack pounds relentless with great bubble gum and AOR hits. But as hazily effective and authentically relapsed as Everybody Wants Some!! usually is, it still showcases two hours of its college caricatures drinking heavily, smoking the reefer, trying frantically to get laid, and ragging on each other. That gets old fast. "Everybody" in the theater will wonder how much more they can truly take. Rating: 2 and a half stars.

Of note: If you choose to take in a viewing of "Wants Some!!", look for the great Kurt Russell's son (Wyatt Russell) and Lea Thompson's daughter (Zoey Deutch) in supporting roles. They are in jest, the most likable people in the movie. Oh and they are literally the spitting image of their parents. This accounts for looks, mannerisms, and overall voice. Also, watch for a scene in which Russell's kid takes some big bong hits and gets all philosophical to the workings of Pink Floyd's "Fearless". I wonder what Snake Plissken would think of that!

Written by Jesse Burleson

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Boss 2016 * 1/2 Stars

The BossDirector: Ben Falcone
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage

Melissa McCarthy is a successful comedic actress. Her films make a ton of money and she's been nominated for an Oscar. I'm happy for the girl but in my opinion, she hasn't been humorous in a movie since 2011's Bridesmaids (of which she got said Oscar nom). Melissa has become the female Vince Vaughn being that she plays the same character type and bemoans the same tired mannerisms in all of her projects. She has also become the female Chris Farley. The only difference is that her aptitude of physical comedy doesn't have any payoffs or a means to an end. When McCarthy falls down the stairs in The Boss (my latest review), it's not justified and it feels like it was never supposed to happen. When she lays down on a fold out bed and it hurls her against a wall (also featured in "Boss"), it doesn't register as plausible. All these shenanigans seem just for show you know. And as I sat in theater, I kinda wish The Boss could've been a fine-tuned documentary about Bruce Springsteen instead. Fat chance on that.

Edited in a slipshod manner by Craig Alpert (he chopped Ride Along and The Sitter), taking place in Chicago with a lazy, pedestrian-like use of its locales, and containing a scene in which the leads pet each other's breasts for three minutes straight (excruciating), "Boss" is not even offensively funny. It's just plain offensive. Case in point: When I see a grown woman character close-lining a childlike, female character during a girl scout gang brawl, I cringe in revulsion. And when I see the same grown woman character shove cookies into another character's panted keister, well I just wanna hurl.

The story is as follows: Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) was a troublesome young girl. She was shuffled mind you from foster home to foster home. Cut to present day and she's now the 47th wealthiest woman in America. After a tip to police from her rival businessman (Renault played by 4 foot 5 inch Peter Dinklage), Darnell is arrested for insider trading and sentenced to a few months in prison. When she gets out, she is penniless, asset-free, without friends, and pretty much homeless. Michelle Darnell's solution: Move in with her former assistant (Claire Rawlins played by Kristen Bell) and eventually start a brownie-making empire with Claire and her cookie troop daughter (Rachel Rawlins played by Ella Anderson). Throughout "Boss", there's plenty of suggestive language, mean-spiritedness, and uncomfortable references to lesbianism. Ah, you gotta love the citizens via the "City of the Big Shoulders".

Now The Boss is helmed by Melissa McCarthy's real-life husband, Ben Falcone. He also shot McCarthy's 2014 vehicle, Tammy. I have yet to see Tammy but if it's anywhere near as bad as "Boss", well Falcone should never be allowed to venture behind the camera again (at least for the sake of his wife's future endeavors). His direction here feels rushed and sort of pasted together. He obviously can't work with a script supervisor because segments in "Boss" tend to go on too long with infertile background completely evaporating. There are also gaps in the film's 100-minute running time where he relies heavily on location shots of Chicago aerials or a Chicago-based burrito restaurant (I guess that's where Claire's apartment was located). It's the type of innovation that only a mother or Ed Wood could love. In truth, if Falcone wants to be in his wife's movies, then fine (I'm sure his many cameos are stipulated in her contract). He just shouldn't be able to direct. That needs to be nipped in the bud right away.

As for "Boss's" attenuated screenplay (penned by Falcone, McCarthy, and Steve Mallory), well it didn't feel like their was one. This flick is about the trading of securities, entrepreneurship, and the emergence of a self-made woman. However, the interplay between the troupers came off as though no one did any research on these subjects. During The Boss with its twisted innuendos, its sense of cringing fantasy, and its morbid sense of hilarity, I had no idea what McCarthy's Darnell did for a living, no idea what kind of job Kristin Bell's Claire had, and no idea how Peter Dinklage's antagonistic Renault became so rich. What we're left with as an audience, is improvised, uninsightful, not to mention grating dialogue from mediocre actors (McCarthy for the moment, is excluded and Bell could do better than this thankless role). I mean was there no one on set to consult Falcone, McCarthy, or Mallory on the ins and outs of CEO compartmentalization (or anything Martha Stewart went through)? Guess not. The opening sequence in "Boss" has Melissa's Michelle Darnell making an appearance at Chicago's famed, United Center. She comes down on a phoenix and basically says, "I'm the wealthiest woman in America" and "do you wanna make some f**cking money!" Heck, a second grader with a 'C' average could have written those lines.

Bottom line: With almost no laughs, a persona created by Melissa McCarthy that is pretty much unlikable, and a vision of her cloaked in turtle necks in nearly every single scene, The Boss as a movie, is insubordinate (no pun intended). Rating: 1 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Saturday, April 9, 2016

WEAPONiZED 2016 * 1/2 Stars

WEAPONiZEDDirector: Timothy Woodward Jr.
Year: 2016
Rated NR
Rating: * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Tom Sizemore, Mickey Rourke, Johnny Messner

2014 had The Prince, 2015 had Vice, and now 2016 has WEAPONiZED (my latest review). What's the world coming to? I mean are well known actors still defacing their own integrity? It certainly appears so.

With its all caps title and unvarying combat scenes, "WEAPON" is the ultimate B movie, the ultimate sci-fi cattle prod. Its stars consist of a veteran trouper trudging his way out of rehab (Tom Sizemore), a Hugh Jackman wannabe (Johnny Messner), and Mickey Rourke in his most weathered state. In terms of direction, well Timothy Woodward Jr. fills the screen with tons of flashy, unnecessary cinematic techniques. He uses lots of close-ups, lots of slow-mo sequences, some jittery flashbacks, and an overuse of contrast lighting. Added to that, Sid De La Cruz's musical score is forcefully repetitive and "WEAPON'S" cop movie cliches are more than evident. There's stuff like the pissed off captain, the detective who ignores advice to stay out of harm's way, the same detective who gets framed for murder, and the protagonist who vows to protect his only child. WEAPONiZED distributed by Cinedigm Entertainment Group, was only put into circulation by way of DVD. That by hook or by crook, should've have never really happened.

What we have here is a silly actioner, a techy misfire that's plotless in its concepts. Mounds of tired, computer speak and middling acting are in bunches. And oh yeah, there's an out of place, destructive robot to boot. I guess "WEAPON" is a body-swapping pic but basically, I threw my hands up in the air and at times said, "what is this thing really about?".

The story (or what I barely gathered from it) is a conundrum, something about a damaged father losing his son to unhinged, terrorist activity. Said father (Kyle Norris played by Tom Sizemore) is a military contractor and his chief motivation is to develop a "robotic virus" capable of inhabiting any human being at any time. He wants to avenge his son's death all the while putting the U.S. in danger with his untested, dangerous technology. Walker (played by Johnny Messner) is the scruffy homicide detective bent on stopping Norris from his intentions. Taylor Cole (as Angela) plays Walker's sultry wife, Michael Pare (as Captain Doug Rice) plays Walker's salty superior, and Mickey Rourke (as Clarence Peterson) plays a professor hesitant on helping Norris with the savage Trojan Horse. Rourke's character is confined to a wheelchair, sports some nappy facial hair, and carries his fugly-looking dog around with him. Just think Ernst Stavro Blofeld without the Mao suit.

Now the L.A. environment here is more congested than anything else. The special effects are shoddy even for a film about body swapping (this ain't no Matrix or Terminator 2 I tell you). And I think it's laughable how "WEAPON" takes place in the future but only a couple of years from now (like 2017 and 2018). If you're gonna shoot a movie in a futuristic setting, why not go with 2025 or 2026. The technological imagery in WEAPONiZED (just imagine the first thirty minutes of Minority Report) isn't gonna be on our radar two to three years from now. That much I can tell you.

Having its original title being called Swap, "WEAPON" has opening and closing credits that are banal, dialogue straight out of every sci-fi film involving law enforcement, and a tacked on, happy ending that is nothing but filler. Eyes in every audience will surely roll to the back of their heads. Oh wait, this thing is never gonna see the inside of a movie theater. Oops, I forgot.

In conclusion, "WEAPON" is a rare motion picture that has that seen-it-all-before feel and at the same time, doesn't make a lick of sense. If I had my druthers, I'd have all direct-to-video releases be saddled with a cease and desist letter preventing anyone from seeing them (that includes this one). Basically, if you've already viewed WEAPONiZED, it's your loss. You might as well be "exorcised" from its remnants permanently. Rating: 1 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Monday, April 4, 2016

(Cole's Take) Cloverfield Lane 2016 * * * 1/2 Stars

10 Cloverfield LaneDirector: Dan Trachtenberg
Year: 2016
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars (Click on the rating link to see Cole's on-site review)
Cast: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.

Written by Cole Pollyea

2016 is looking strong for movies―and I’m not just talking about Scorsese’s Silence, scheduled for a November release. Rather, I’m talking about the future based on what’s already been released. In February, we had what I called “The movie’s movie” in Hail Caesar, and in early March we had Zootopia, a brilliant children's film that will no doubt receive attention from the Academy next year. In the latter half of the month of March, we get one of the most unexpectedly enthralling, suspenseful moviegoing experiences in recent years in 10 Cloverfield Lane. This unique, part-abduction, part-possible-apocalyptic tale will no doubt remind those of you who have seen it of 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow, a movie that also caught me off guard (in the best possible sense).
10 Cloverfield Lane follows the misfortune of Michelle, our protagonist, who is driving along on mission to abandon her rocky relationship when she is hit by a maniac driver and wakes up in the confines of a small basement bedroom, chained to the bed. While convinced that she is being held captive, her “captor”, played marvelously by John Goodman, tries to tell her that he has saved her life, that there is a nuclear war and that the air is contaminated; in short,  this compels her to stay, along with the fact that her leg is injured from the car accident. To divulge any more would be to corrupt the seamless string of events that play out perfectly, ebbing and flowing to the haunting denouement.
While Goodman doesn’t have a whole lot of leading roles under his belt, you wouldn’t know it when you watch him on screen here. His portrayal of the sincere-appearing yet more or less strange survivalist is enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen. Several scenes of physical acting (hands shaking vigorously, cornering Michelle) are just as captivating as his chilling delivery of the acute dialogue. His prowess, though, is not all that does, however. In addition to the compelling performance of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, which doesn’t disappoint in any single frame, we also have an endearing portrayal of a clueless local by John Gallagher Jr. who is also sharing the shelter with the two of them.

Newbie Dan Trachtenberg (and by newbie I mean that he has never directed, produced, or written a feature film before) does a marvelous job of getting the most out of the eerie tone that was so well captured in the screenplay and production design of the movie. To say that he has a bright future is an understatement; with a debut like 10 Cloverfield Lane, it’s likely that his contribution to the mystery genre of filmmaking is going to be tremendous.

Now, 10 Cloverfield Lane isn’t going to win any Academy Award (it’s not on a great enough scale). But it is nonetheless quality filmmaking. In my best effort to describe it, I’d say that it has equal parts Agatha Christie, J.J. Abrams, and Barton Fink. It cannot be emphasized enough, though, that 10 Cloverfield Lane is a wholly original film.

Written by Cole Pollyea

Saturday, April 2, 2016

8th Annual River Bend Film Festival Feature Film-The Looking Glass 2015 * * * 1/2 Stars

The Looking GlassDirector: John D. Hancock
Year: 2015
Rated NR
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Dorothy Tristan, Grace Tarnow, Elizabeth Stenholt

John D. Hancock hasn't made a film in about thirteen years. He's a director that works well with young actors. He's a director that sticks to his Midwestern roots. Lastly, he's the guy that put Robert De Niro on the map (remember 1973's Bang The Drum Slowly?). Although time has passed making Hancock the Hoosier State's version of Terrence Malick, he never misses a beat with his newest vehicle, The Looking Glass.

On April 1st of 2016, I wistfully attended a free screening of this little-known drama. I didn't perceive anything about it as I ventured into the legendary Goshen Theater (located firmly in the Maple City). While its initial running time felt a little draggy, The Looking Glass then turned into a prolonged, powerful, and profound coming-of-age pic. I was also gravitated by its blow-by-blow character study of an ailing grandmother and her suicidal (yet misunderstood) granddaughter. From its opening frame consisting of a sweeping aerial shot to its final frame (harboring a similar shot), "Glass" gives its cast ample room to squeeze in terrific performances. All of this is done to the backdrop of summertime in Northern Indiana.

Now would I classify The Looking Glass as a superior indie? Perhaps if my assumption is correct that it is independently distributed. Did it remind me of 1981's On Golden Pond but fashioned in a Middle America setting? Oh for sure. With "Glass", there's tragedy in numbers, there's plenty of references to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (hence the working title), and the proceedings ultimately further a play within a movie. My list of top picks for 2015 includes a crime drama, a crime biography, a comedy, a historical drama, and a sports drama. Why not add this one to the mix.

Shot on location in South Bend, LaPorte, Michigan City, and Three Oaks, Michigan, "Glass" is written by and stars Dorothy Tristan (John D. Hancock's real-life spouse). Tristan, a Hollywood recluse herself, hasn't acted in a motion picture since Down and Out in Beverly Hills circa 1986. No matter. Her turn as a grandmother/former movie star stricken with early Alzheimer's, is under the radar and worthy of a delayed Oscar. Added to that, her script for The Looking Glass is filled with tender moments, tough love between family members, and insight on how to succeed in the realm of stage and screen.

The story is as follows: Emotionally distraught Julie (played effectively by newcomer Grace Tarnow) is sent to live with her grandmother (Dorothy Tristan as Karen, who looks as though she could be Tarnow's actual nana). Julie's mother died at a young age and she is seemingly alienated from her father and her stepmom. Karen and Julie (at first) don't connect with their relationship stemming from distance and intense encounters. Over time, they bond with Karen reminding Julie that she is talented, can sing, and should try out for a part in a local play. The character of Julie's mom, is almost never seen in flashbacks and there is only a faint photo of her shown in a handful of scenes. Her invisible presence however, stays with you throughout "Glass" and adds to its absorbing palate. The musical score although facile, is sublime. The rural Indiana landscape here is homegrown. Watch for a twist in The Looking Glass that anyone would be hard pressed to reveal.

Not swayed by its compact exposure, I think this is truly a beautiful film. Some people in audience where I sat, cried. A lot of them definitely teared up. Shown on less than 10 screens nationwide, it's a misfortune that this thing didn't get a larger release. My rating: 3 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson