Garden Thieves Pictures / Quad Cinema
Bittersweet Exposé Explores Redheads’ Rough Lot In Life
Everybody knows blondes have more fun, but what about redheads? They have the least pleasure according to Scott Harris, the producer, director and primary subject of Being Ginger. In this bittersweet exposé, the ostracized underdog explores his plight in particular as well as that of his fellow, so-called “Gingers” in general.
We learn that the 31-year-old filmmaker has apparently been saddled with low self-esteem ever since being mercilessly teased about his hair during his formative years. He sets about illustrating that point by confronting one of his former schoolteachers who, rather than stepping in to stop the torture, had joined in the bullying.
The inept educator even admits on camera to having threatened to hang Scott on a hook, if he didn’t stop blubbering, so that his classmates could pummel him like a piñata. As a result of such repeated mistreatment, the poor boy ended up an adult lacking in self-confidence, especially when it comes to the ladies.
Scott claims women don’t find redheads appealing due to a basic look which is more goofy than virile. Consequently, he’s never been in a long-term relationship. Convinced that his soul mate must be out there somewhere, he decided to shoot a movie chronicling his desperate search for the girl of his dreams.
To that end, Scott looks for Ms. Right everywhere he goes, whether in a nightclub, on a college campus, at a redhead convention, online (at dateginger.com), or by boldly walking down the street wearing a sandwich board advertising that he’s available. Which, if any, of these approaches works? Far be it from me to ruin the resolution of a delightful documentary’s denouement.
Actually, as a black man born with red hair and freckles, what I found far more thought provoking was the question of whether I might have been emotionally scarred during my own childhood in a way similar to Scott. After all, I’d often been referred to as “Carrot Top” and “Kraut” as a kid, and was not particularly popular with the opposite sex.
Ultimately, I’ve come to the conclusion that those hair-related nicknames never bothered me as much as being the brunt of racial epithets. And I doubt that most females are so superficial as to reject a guy out of hand just because of his hair color.
Nevertheless, I don’t want to minimize the trauma Scott suffered since he did such a fine job, here, of illustrating the source of his angst. Ronald McDonalds of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your Cheetos-colored coiffures!
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 69 minutes
Thomas Keating: A Rising Tide Of Silence
Poignant Portrait Pays Tribute To Modest Trappist Monk
Father Thomas Keating is a very influential theologian despite the fact that his is not as much of a household name as some of his contemporaries like the Dalai Lama and Deepak Chopra. That’s because the 91-year-old cleric got a late start after having spent the bulk of his life under the radar as a Trappist monk withdrawn from the world and operating under a vow of silence.
How exactly did he land on that Spartan path? Well, as a sickly five-year-old, Thomas had promised God to enter the priesthood if he were allowed to survive a life-threatening childhood disease. So, upon completing his studies atYaleUniversity, he kept his word by joining an ascetic order located in ruralRhode Island.
However, he would resign in 1981 and start talking again in order to be able to share his unique brand of Eastern-influenced Catholicism with the masses. He subsequently moved to an abbey inColoradowhere he founded the Contemplative Outreach program.
Over the intervening years he also wrote 30-plus books about his meditative approach to spirituality. His Earth-friendly philosophy basically suggests that “The more we know about nature, the more we know about God.” In that regard, it reminded this critic of a passage from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, which reads, “And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.”
Co-directed by Peter Jones and Elena Mannes, Thomas Keating: A Rising Tide Of Silence is an endearing biopic whose only flaw is a slight tendency at times towards hero worship. For, although the endearing documentary’s humble subject obviously has little interest in such glorification, the filmmakers can’t help but gush, cinematically, in the process of placing him atop a virtual pedestal he probably wants no part of.
The picture is at its best during relatively-introspective interviews conducted with Thomas which intermittently arrive between glowing accolades from colleagues and distracting reminders that, as an Ivy League grad, he could’ve written his own ticket had he gone the conventional materialistic route.
But it was apparently hard for the directors to leave well enough alone and just let Thomas speak for himself. A poignant portrait of a transcendent figure for the ages with a simple message that “Forgiveness is at the very center of Christianity.”
Excellent (3.5 stars)
Running time: 75 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening April 4, 2014
Afflicted (R for profanity and gory violence) Horror flick revolving around a couple of BFFs (Clif Prowse and Derek Lee) whose vacation of a lifetime far from home morphs into a never-ending nightmare when one becomes infected with a mysterious disease which slowly starts to consume his entire being. Co-starring Baya Rehaz.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (PG-13 for gunplay, pervasive action and intense violence) Cold War era sequel pits the Marvel Comics superhero (Chris Evans) against a new nemesis, a Russian assassin (Sebastian Stan) wreaking havoc around Washington, D.C. Cast includes Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie and series creator Stan Lee.
Dom Hemingway (R for nudity, sexuality, violence, drug use and pervasive profanity) Jude Law plays the titular character of this crime comedy as a just-paroled safe cracker who’s determined to collect a bonus from his mob boss (Demian Bichir) for not snitching on him while behind bars. With Richard E. Grant, Emilia Grant and Kerry Condon.
10 Rules For Sleeping Around (R for crude humor, sexuality, nudity, profanity and drug use) Screwball comedy revolving around the attempt by an adventurous couple (Jesse Bradford and Virginia Williams) in an open marriage to keep their sex life fresh and exciting long past the honeymoon. Supporting cast includes Chris Marquette, Bill Bellamy, Michael McKean and Wendi McLendon-Covey.
Alan Partridge (R for profanity, nudity and brief violence) Steve Coogan handles the titular role in this kidnap drama as a radio DJ whose help is enlisted by the police as a negotiator when a disgruntled colleague (Colm Meaney) holds fellow staff members hostage with a shotgun. Featuring Felicity Montagu, Simon Greenall and Darren Boyd.
Flex Is Kings (Unrated) Brooklyn-based documentary featuring flex dancers and showcasing the underground scene on the mean streets ofEast New York where proponents choreograph their unorthodox steps.
The Galapagos Affair (Unrated) Paradise lost documentary about the rapid decay of the Galapagos Islands since being settled in the ’30s by pleasure seekers with different definitions of utopia. Featuring voiceover commentary by Cate Blanchett, Diane Kruger and Connie Nielsen.
In The Blood (R for profanity and graphic violence) Vigilante thriller about a woman trained to kill (Gina Carano) who decides to take the law into her own hands after her husband (Cam Gigandet) is suddenly kidnapped while on their honeymoon in the Caribbean. Cast includes Danny Trejo, Luis Guzman and Treat Williams.
Island Of Lemurs: Madagascar (G) Morgan Freeman narrates this endangered species documentary, shot in IMAX 3D, offering a spectacular peek at lemurs’ struggle to survive as civilization continues to encroach on their natural habitat.
Jinn (PG-13 for terror and intense violence) Supernatural thriller about newlyweds (Dominic Rains and Serinda Swan) whose quiet, suburban life is turned upside down soon after the husband starts receiving cryptic messages about a curse that has afflicted his family for generations. Co-starring Ray Park, William Atherton and Faran Tahir.
Nymphomaniac: Part Two (Unrated) Racy sequel finds frustrated heroine (Charlotte Gainsbourg) seeking sadomasochistic liaisons to revitalize her sex drive when she loses all sensation in her numb nether regions. With Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Jamie Bell, Uma Thurman and Willem Dafoe.
Under The Skin (R for violence, profanity, sexuality and graphic nudity) Sci-fi thriller, set in Scotland, about an attractive alien (Scarlett Johansson) with a van who picks up hitchhikers in order to seduce them before harvesting their organs. Cast includes Paul Brannigan, Jessica Mance and Adam Pearson.