23 July, 2016

"Jasmine" Review - Macon Film Festival (***)

Jason Tobin stars in "Jasmine."

First-time director Dax Phelan crafts a tense but often meandering mystery in "Jasmine." Phelan is more than capable of setting the tone for the increasingly unsettling thriller but the story lacks complexity.

Jason Tobin plays Leonard To, a grieving widower whose wife was murdered the previous year. Leonard is in pain. Walking the streets of Hong Kong at night, he is very much alone and very much in his own head. With blurred lights in the distance and bustling streets, the city is a character of its own. Hong Kong—and Phelan’s ability to capture it—lends a lot to the film. Tobin is fantastic as the miserable, confused and angry Leonard. His wife’s murder is still unsolved and while the police seem to have given up, the lack of closure haunts him.

22 July, 2016

Macon Film Festival: Recapping the Sundance Institute Master Class

The Macon Film Festival welcomed us with open arms and kicked off the weekend with a Sundance Institute Short Film Master Class with Mike Plante and James Ponsoldt.

Plante, Sundance Short Films Senior Programmer, wove his tale to an eager crowd. Beginning his festival journey in 1993, he is no stranger to the inner workings of getting films into festivals, and he started with rule number one—'Don’t be a dick.' Simple enough, just treat every single person you meet along the way well. The positivity will read through the work and more people will sign on to help you make a great film.

"Legs: A Big Issue in a Small Town" Review - Macon Film Festival (**)

The titular, controversial sculpture of Sag Harbor, New York.

Four years before Angelina Jolie stunned the world on the 2012 Oscar Red Carpet with her bold, leggy pose, there was another pair of legs that caused quite a flurry of reactions and opinions. In 2008, eccentric art gallerists Janet Lehr and Ruth Vered erected a 16 foot tall, fiberglass sculpture of a pair of stocking-clad legs outside their home in the small, conservative town of Sag Harbor. Cue the controversy.

21 July, 2016

"Remittance" Review - Macon Film Festival (***)

Angela Barotia stars in "Remittance."

In her time as a domestic worker in Singapore, Marie Delacruz jumps through hoops to please her host family. Risking her position as a maid, she finds alternate ways of making money, such as doubling as a 'bar girl.' She soon discovers that the money she sends home has been spent by her husband’s frivolous hand.

19 July, 2016

14 Films to See at the 2016 Macon Film Festival

Middle Georgia's main film event returns for its 11th edition on July 21-24. While the festival focuses on music and Southern documentary, there's something for everyone.

A 30th anniversary presentation of John Hughes' classic "Pretty in Pink" with star Andrew McCarthy is a good hook. So is a Sundance Master Class with Georgia-born director James Ponsoldt. So are special screenings of Ponsoldt's critically-acclaimed hits "The Spectacular Now" and "The End of the Tour." But the 11th annual Macon Film Festival has a whole lot more to offer!

A couple of years deep into Macon's focused effort to spotlight music-themed films and Southern non-fiction, the festival is bursting with promising offerings in both categories. Pepper in loads of Georgia-lensed shorts, some festival circuit hits, diverse international offerings and quality workshops—you have yourself a dynamite 4-day event.

We've highlighted 14 films from this year's Macon Film Festival that you must check out!

13 July, 2016

"Undrafted" Review (***)

Jim Belushi and Aaron Tveit share a father-son moment in "Undrafted."

I have always been a sucker for baseball films, especially ones based on a true story. It is a tried-and-true genre, and although these films tend to be formulaic in structure and predictable in conclusion, they never fail to give me goosebumps on the final, slow-motion pitch that inevitably concludes the film. Joe Mazzello’s directorial debut, “Undrafted,” is no exception. It's wildly entertaining and it delivers that feel-good ending that's common to so many baseball films. However, "Undrafted" stumbles in its disproportionate balance of drama and comedy, creating awkward, out-of-place moments that disrupt the flow of the film.

11 July, 2016

Atlanta's 100-Year-Old Rialto to host Inaugural Be Downtown Film Festival, July 22-23

Georgia State University’s Rialto Center for the Arts, the Atlanta Film Society and Central Atlanta Progress are pleased to announce the first ever Be Downtown Film Festival on July 22 and 23, 2016.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Rialto opening as a movie theater in 1916. Built as the largest cinema in the Southeastern United States, the Rialto closed its doors to the public in 1989 before being acquired by Georgia State University years later. In addition to the centennial anniversary, the Rialto is also celebrating 20 years as GSU’s signature Center for the Arts as well as the Atlanta Film Society celebrating 40 years since its founding in 1976. The Be Downtown Film Festival will pay homage to the Rialto’s roots with a two-day festival celebrating films from the 1960s, 1970s and 1990s.

08 July, 2016

Macon Film Festival and Sundance Institute Join Forces for Short Film Master Class with James Ponsoldt & Mike Plante

The 11th annual Macon Film Festival kicks off on Thursday, July 21st and runs through Sunday, July 24th. Through a partnership with Sundance Institute, Middle Georgia's largest film organization is kickstarting this year's festivities with a high profile Master Class from acclaimed, Georgia-born filmmaker James Ponsoldt and long-time Sundance Short Film Programmer Mike Plante.

30 June, 2016

"Finding Dory" Review (****)

Dory (voiced by the hilarious Ellen DeGeneres) finds herself
among new friends in "Finding Dory."

"Finding Nemo" is one of the most beloved films in Disney's very full and rich history (see their dozens and dozens of shiny, gold Oscars), so to say that expectations for "Finding Dory" were high might be the understatement of the year. It's tough to outdo—or worse, redo—something that's been so critically lauded and culturally beloved. "Finding Dory," however, is up to the challenge, and directors Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane give it their very best shot.

Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) is an affable blue tang who suffers from short-term memory loss. In "Finding Nemo" she played side-kick to Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks), a not-so-funny clownfish, desperate to find his son Nemo. In "Finding Dory," however, the roles have been reversed slightly. Nemo and Marlin are on the hunt for Dory after she weasels her way into the Marine Life Institute (also known as 'the Jewel of Morrow Bay California'). The two films are seamlessly threaded. "Finding Dory" picks up almost a year after it's predecessor ended, and Dory, Marlin and Nemo are one big, happy family. Soon, Dory has flashes—small memories of her own family, her mom and dad. These flashbacks offer some of the films most sappy, sentimental moments; particularly the opening sequence which proves to be at least comparably (though arguably less) emotionally evocative than the opening of "Up."

28 June, 2016

"The Shallows" Review (***½)

Blake Lively stars in "The Shallows."

This may just be me, but when I first set eyes on the trailer for “The Shallows” I scoffed a good scoff; it seemed like an on-the-nose title for what would surely be a shallow shark-trope jump-scare film, made bearable only by a beautiful locale.

I was very wrong—so thrilled to be wrong.

“The Shallows” is an impressive departure from the fairly baseline arena of the action/horror genre that director Jaume Collet-Serra has thus far resided in. I went in expecting the shark-equivalent of a slasher, where I’d likely want the chick to die mid-way through and be done with it. Instead what I had the pleasure of imbibing was a bonafide triumph story. One of those involuntary reflex fist-in-the-air stories, where you feel genuinely engaged in the struggle and cheer for the victories. Yeah!