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FLICKS: The Hero, Cars 3 & Lou

Posted on 22 June 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave


Receiving much praise since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, The Hero opens locally in neighborhood theaters. As the ironically-named title character, Sam Elliot has earned his best notices in years as an iconic actor whose career peaked many decades ago. A man out of time, Lee Hayden (Elliot) makes a living doing voice-over for barbecue sauce and spends his free time getting stoned with an old actor friend, Jeremy (Nick Offerman).

Diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, Hayden attempts to make amends with his estranged daughter Lucy (Krysten Ritter) and his ex wife, Valarie (Katharine Ross -Sam Elliot’s real life wife). Having burned emotional bridges many years ago, the reconciliations are cold. While toking with Jeremy, Lee makes the acquaintance with Charlotte (Laura Prepon), a stand-up comedian. Through Charlotte, Lee is given one last dose of living fully. While attending an awards banquet, he is given career redemption and, through moments of generosity, the actor becomes a social media sensation again. But, through Charlotte, Lee is given a brutal reminder about his vulnerability and fatality.

The Hero sets false expectations for a Sam Elliot film in which he wears a 10 gallon hat. The title is meant to be ironic. Elliot takes full advantage of his public persona, while revealing painful truths about aging. His voice is as strong as ever, but as the film progresses, the tough-looking cowboy fades into a pot smoking has been. The Hero is hard to watch, but is a truthful statement about a generation of actors whose time has passed them by.

Having not seen the previous Cars movies, I was drawn to Cars 3 on Father’s Day when mainstream critics questioned if this film was meant for children. It does provide enough slapstick to hold a child’s attention, but this new Disney Pixar animated movie has themes and emotional content that relates to middle-aged adults. It is a reminder of Pixar’s award-winning films like Monsters Inc., Wall-E, Up and Toy Story 3.

After many successful years on the racing circuit, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is defeated by a younger rival who is faster, stronger and more scientifically aerodynamic. Taking advice from his dearly-departed mentor, Doc Hudson (the late Paul Newman), McQueen trains “old school,” but is forced to work with young Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), a perky trainer with unrealized dreams. Cars 3 has an adult appeal for people who like The Karate Kid, Cinderella Man and Rocky Balboa.

Being a Pixar/Disney release, Cars 3 includes a brilliant short subject film titled Lou. Set in a playground, Lou feels like an Aesop Fable with a subject about bullies and loss. Both Cars 3 and Lou create a life-affirming afternoon at the movies.

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FLICKS: Run Boy Run & Adventurers in Charity 3

Posted on 08 October 2015 by LeslieM

flicks100815By Dave Montalbano


Run Boy Run opens tomorrow in local theaters. This film won 10 U.S. Film Festival Awards and is based on a true story about how a boy survived Nazi aggression from 1942 through the end of World War II. With English subtitles, this foreign movie does not need much language translation; it relies on the visual imagery to tell this riveting story.

Srulik (played by twin actors – Andrzej and Kamil Tkacz) has escaped a concentration camp with his father. With guards in hot pursuit, the father tells his son the most important thing to remember, if he loses memories of his father, mother and siblings, is that he is a Jew.

While on the lam, Srulik attempts to pass himself off as a Christian. He goes from farm to farm offering free labor in trade for room and food. If a farmer beats Srulik, the boy moves on. Sometimes a temporarily content life is ruined when children his own age discover, because he is circumcised, that this vagrant farm boy is a Jew.

Much like Homer’s Odyssey, Run Boy Run is a rollercoaster ride that swings from bucolic moments to frantic action scenes in which the child uses his wits to survive deadly violence. Director Pepe Danquart provides enough attention to detail rival Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s best suspenseful thrillers.

Surlik does not survive his ordeal unscathed. Due to a farming accident, Surlik’s medical situation goes from bad to worse due to the prejudice of Nazi laws. This is a strong memory to take away from this film; however, this film is life-affirming. After surviving such atrocity, ticket buyers will enjoy roaming the European countryside with the likable Surlik.

Adventurers in Charity 3 was held last weekend and “Cinema” Dave was there. This annual event brings together fans of the now closed Adventurers Club, formerly located at Pleasure Island in Downtown Disney. Since it closed seven years ago, Downtown Disney has become Disney Springs, with more stores and restaurants but fewer locations for human interaction. The annual event contributes to several charities.

While A Better Life Pet Rescue earned the majority of the contributions, Adventurers in Charity shed light on Dravet syndrome, a rare and catastrophic form of epilepsy that begins in childhood (www. dravetfoundation.org). The Starkey Hearing Foundation conducts hearing missions in the United States and around the world. This foundation plans to fit 10,000 hearing aids annually to children in need.

Adventurers in Charity is a rewarding weekend for those who contribute, and Adventures in Charity 4 is on the drawing board.

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