Middle Of Nowhere
Rated R for profanity.
Wife Weighs Absentee Hubby’s Worth In Introspective Tale Of Female Empowerment
Middle Of Nowhere is a cinematic masterpiece reminiscent of those rare treasures that have managed to capture an authentic slice of African-American life, à la such black classics as Love Jones (1997), The Best Man (1999), The Visit (2000) and Brown Sugar (2002). However, this introspective tale of female empowerment simultaneously touches on a number of universal themes apt to resonate with an audience of any demographic.
The picture was written and directed by rising star Ava DuVernay, this year’s winner at the Sundance Film Festival in the Best Director category. The story revolves around Roberta “Ruby” Murray (Emayatzy Corinealdi), a med student who’s on the brink of becoming a doctor when her husband, Derek (Omari Hardwick), is sentenced to eight years behind bars for a drug conviction.
Rather than abandon the love of her life, the loyal wife decides to drop out of med school to give her man the emotional and financial support he’ll need while in prison. This means she’ll have to endure long bus rides just to see him, and also have to pay his legal bills on a nurse’s salary.
However, the shame and separation eventually take a toll on the relationship, especially when Derek has a jailhouse romance and sabotages his chances for an early parole with fresh criminal charges for fighting. Suddenly Ruby finds herself questioning the wisdom of her slavish devotion, and she begins entertaining the advances of a bus driver (David Oyelowo) she’d befriended.
To date or to wait, that is the question. Ruby has a couple of confidants to turn to for advice, but neither proves to be of much help. One is her sister, Ruth (Lorraine Toussaint), a single mom with a bad track record of her own with men. The other is their embittered mother (Edwina Findley) who can only muster up ineffective, if well-meaning, suggestions like “hold your head up, please.”
So, in the end, it’s up to Ruby to decide for herself, but only after lingering interludes of reflection and contemplation. A refreshing alternative to the superficial mainstream fare that tends to stereotype sisters as either sassy mammies or compliant sex objects.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 101 minutes
Janeane From Des Moines
Iowa Housewife Weighs Options In Presidential Race Docudrama
How do you get the Republicans vying for the presidential nomination to appear in a movie which might not show them in the most flattering light? You might have a nondescript, middle-aged actress pose as a TEA Party conservative during the lead up to the Iowa caucus, a time when the candidates generally make themselves available to valuable voters.
That was the inspired idea of filmmaker Grace Lee, who followed around Janeane Wilson (Jane Edith Wilson) with a camera at the State Fair where it was relatively easy to approach the likes of Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, New Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. Pretending to be unemployed, uninsured, suffering from breast cancer and in danger of losing her home, the desperate protagonist sobbed while asking each of the Republican hopefuls how they planned to help someone like her.
The upshot is a gotcha docudrama that’s a cross of Borat and Michael Moore, which captures some of the candidates as plastic, some as somewhat sympathetic. The only problem with Janeane From Des Moines is that it feels a bit dated, as it is arriving in theaters a little late since, at this point, we really care more about Romney’s responses than any of the also-rans.
Although his callous “corporations are people” comment is included here, he proves to be about as patient as one might expect of a polished politician with bigger fish to catch. And even though he knows how to escape the clutches of a very clingy constituent, you come away feeling he’s actually acting just as much as Janeane, who becomes disenchanted with the whole lot by film’s end.
The futile search for a presidential candidate who cares about the average person’s everyday concerns, a quest leading frustrated Janeane to conclude that her only option is to pull the lever for Obama in November.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 78 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening October 19, 2012
Alex Cross (PG-13 for violence, nudity, sexuality, drug references and disturbing images). Tyler Perry plays the title character in this cat-and-mouse thriller based on the James Patterson best seller about a revenge-minded police psychologist hell-bent on apprehending a sadistic serial killer (Matthew Fox). Ensemble cast includes Edward Burns, Carmen Ejogo, Cicely Tyson, Jean Reno and Giancarlo Esposito.
Paranormal Activity 4 (R for profanity, violence and terror). Latest installment in the horror franchise observes the odd goings-on that start occurring inside the home of a suburban family right after a murderer (Katie Featherston) moves in next door. With Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively and Brady Allen.
All Together (Unrated). Golden years comedy about five elderly friends (Jane Fonda, Geraldine Chaplin, Pierre Richard, Claude Rich and Guy Bedos) who decide to live together rather than move to a retirement community. With Daniel Bruhl, Bernard Malaka and Camino Texeira. (In French and German with subtitles)
Big Foot: The Lost Coast Tapes (Unrated). Found-footage horror flick featuring a skeptical journalist (Drew Rauch) who gets the surprise of his life when he travels to Northern California to expose a supposed Sasquatch sighting as a hoax. Featuring Frank Ashmore, Noah Weisberg and Ashley Wood.
Brooklyn Castle (Unrated). Against-the-odds documentary chronicling the improbable triumphs of the nation’s number one, junior high chess team, a motley crew comprised of students from New York City’s I.S. 318, a cash-strapped school located in a poverty-stricken neighborhood.
The First Time (PG-13 for profanity, partying, sexuality and mature themes). Coming-of-age romantic comedy revolving around two teenagers (Dylan O’Brien and Britt Robertson) who embark on a wild weekend after falling in love at first sight at a house party. With Craig Roberts, Christine Taylor and Maggie Elizabeth Jones.
The Flat (Unrated). Never again documentary examining the shocking truths uncovered by the grandson of a couple of recently deceased Holocaust survivors while sifting through the treasure trove of personal effects left behind in the Tel Aviv apartment they’d shared since escaping Nazi Germany.
Holy Motors (Unrated). Dawn to dusk drama telescoping in on a day in the parallel lives of a shadowy character (Denis Lavant) capable of shape-shifting from assassin to family man to monster to captain of industry to beggar and back. With Eva Mendes, Edith Scob and Kylie Minogue. (In French, English and Mandarin with subtitles)
My Worst Nightmare (Unrated). Romantic romp revolving around the love which blossoms between a well-to-do socialite (Isabelle Huppert) and a homeless ex-con (Benoit Poelvoorde) after they meet through their children. Supporting cast includes Andre Dussollier, Virginia Efira and Corentin Devroey. (In French, English, Flemish, German and Japanese with subtitles)
Nobody Walks (R for sexuality, profanity and drug use). Love triangle drama about a happily married father of two (John Krasinski) who risks his marriage by cheating on his wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) with the aspiring writer (Olivia Thirlby) living in their pool house. With Dylan McDermott, India Ennenga and Justin Kirk.
Question One (Unrated). Gay rights documentary about the topsy-turvy battle over same-sex marriage in Maine, where it was legalized by the state legislature, only to be repealed seven months later.
The Sessions (R for graphic sexuality, frontal nudity and frank dialogue). Fact-based drama recounting the plight of a paralyzed polio victim (John Hawkes) who seeks his parish priest’s (William H. Macy) approval before hiring a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to lose his virginity. With Moon Bloodgood, Adam Arkin and Rhea Perlman.
Tai Chi Zero (Unrated). Martial arts showdown about a two-fisted drifter (Yuan Xiaochao) who saves the day when a squadron of soldiers descend on a village with plans to build a railroad there. Cast includes Qi Shu, Tony Leung and Eddie Peng. (In Mandarin with subtitles)
That’s What She Said (R for sexuality and profanity). Female-bonding flick about the romantic misadventures of three friends (Anne Heche, Marcia DeBonis and Alia Shawkat) with relationship woes. With Miriam Shor, Nick Gregory and Kellie Overbey.
Unmasked Judeophobia (Unrated). Peripatetic documentary examines the recent resurfacing of anti-Semitism in Europe, North America and the Middle East. With commentary by attorney Alan Dershowitz, Senator Joe Lieberman, and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.
We Are Legion (Unrated). Anarchist documentary about the work of an anonymous group of computer hackers discontent with the digital age, and especially the FBI, Scientology and godaddy.com.
Yogawoman (Unrated). Pretzel logic documentary explaining why the face of yoga has changed from male to female.