Rated R for profanity, sexual references and drug use.
Kaley Cuoco Stars In Millennial Generation’s Trendy Variation On The Big Chill
Bodhi was a popular guy back in high school several years ago. So, when he passed away unexpectedly from an aneurysm, it’s no surprise that many of his friends might decide to return home to attend the funeral.
Among the pals descending on Albuquerque for the services is Miguel (Eli Vargas) who picks up a pregnant hitchhiker (Sasha Pieterse) en route from Chicago. Another is Miguel’s roommate, Dylan (Landon Liboiron) whose mom (Virginia Madsen) hasn’t seen her son since he went away to college.
Then there’s Ember (Cody Horn), a promiscuous bimbo who admits to sleeping with Bodhi despite identifying herself as a lesbian. And Katy (Kaley Cuoco), who has a child being raised by her grandmother, is out on probation after spending time behind bars for drug possession and for leading police on a high-speed car chase.
This motley crew of mourners and a few others reunite to reminisce, imbibe and asses the state of their lives in Burning Bodhi, an alternately whimsical and sobering meditation on mortality. The movie marks the outstanding writing and directorial debut of Matthew McDuffie who exhibits quite a knack for capturing the attitudes and angst of today’s 20-somethings. His pithy dialogue is laced with lots of memorable lines like, “May the light at the end of the tunnel is just you coming out of another vagina.” Executing the flip script is a very talented ensemble led by The Big Bang Theory‘s Kaley Cuoco who exhibits an impressive acting range in a role far afield from the person (Penny) she plays on that popular sitcom.
The plot thickens when Dylan’s jealous girlfriend Lauren (Meghann Fahey) shows up in time to put the kibosh on any rekindling of romance between him and his ex, Katy. Meanwhile, Ember can hardly contain her crush on Katy, who was dumped by Dylan for sleeping with dearly departed Bodhi right after he left for the Windy City. And so forth.
To summarize in 25 words or less, this compelling, character-driven soap opera examines the incestuous coupling, uncoupling, re-coupling, revelations and regrets among a wacky clique of world-weary ex-classmates. A trendy, Millennial Generation variation on The Big Chill which gives that beloved classic a real run for its money.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 93 minutes
Adaptation Of New Zealand Novella Revolves Around Skeleton In Family Closet
It is New Zealand in the 1920s, a time when race was a hot button issue. And the idea of mating across the Maori-Pakeha (European) color line was still terribly taboo.
For this reason, Paraiti (Whirimako Black), a native midwife, has surreptitiously been summoned to the home of Rebecca Vickers (Antonia Perbble), a wealthy white woman whose husband is out of the country on business. “I am carrying a child that I cannot have,” she quietly announces, adding, “I will pay you handsomely for your assistance.”
However, the medicine woman is rather reluctant to perform an abortion, because she has been trained to use her skills to heal, not to end a life. In fact, the idea of terminating a pregnancy is so repugnant that she tries to change Mrs. Vickers’ mind.
After all, despite delivering many a baby, she herself was never blessed with a child. “I know women who would kill to have a baby,” she says, before suggesting, “Your husband will forgive you,” since “beauty softens any man’s heart.”
But the cold-hearted matriarch will hear none of it, for she is hiding a deep secret which she has apparently only shared with her trusted maid and confidant, Maraea (Rachel House). Uncompromisingly pro-life, Paraiti proposes that she be permitted to induce labor prior to the patriarch’s return. That way the infant might be adopted without Mr. Vickers ever knowing it existed.
Thus unfolds White Lies, a skeletons-in-the-closet affair directed by Dana Rothberg. Rothberg also adapted it to the screen from the novella Medicine Woman by Witi Ihimaera, the author of Whale Rider. This film slowly builds its tension around the scandalous secret Rebecca’s obviously hiding, and it all comes out in a big reveal during a very dramatic denouement.
A deeply moving reminder of man’s inhumanity to man in less enlightened times.
Excellent (3.5 stars)
In English and Maori with subtitles
Running time: 99 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening March 25, 2016
Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (PG-13 for intense violence, pervasive action and some sensuality) Adaptation of the DC Comics series finds adversaries Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) reluctantly joining forces to subdue a threat against Metropolis unleashed by the diabolical Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). With Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Michael Cassidy as Jimmy Olsen, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, Jeremy Irons as Alfred the Butler, and featuring cameo appearances by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Anderson Cooper, Brooke Baldwin, Soledad O’Brien and Dana Bash.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (PG-13 for suggestive material) Long-awaited sequel finds Toula (Nia Vardalos) and Ian (John Corbett) dealing with a stale relationship and a rebellious daughter (Elena Kampouris) prior to reuniting their families for an even bigger, fatter wedding ceremony. Returning cast members include Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, Gia Carides and Joey Fatone.
Bleed (Unrated) Horror flick about a couple of newlyweds (Chelsey Crisp and Michael Steger) who come to regret inviting their friends to participate in a ghost hunt on the grounds of an abandoned prison that turns out to be really haunted. With Riley Smith, Elimu Nelson, David Yow and Lyndon Smith.
Born To Be Blue (Unrated) Chet Baker (Ethan Hawke) biopic reimagining the heroin-addicted, jazz trumpeter as mounting a comeback in the ’60s with the help of an attractive actress (Carmen Ejogo). Cast includes Callum Keith Rennie, Tony Nappo and Stephen McHattie.
Fastball (Unrated) Kevin Costner narrates this baseball documentary exploring the age-old battle between batters and pitchers while also examining the science behind throwing and hitting a ball traveling at speeds of up to 100 mph. Featuring commentary by Derek Jeter, Nolan Ryan, Matt Harvey and David Price.
Get A Job (R for sexuality, nudity, crude humor, profanity and drug use) Coming-of-age comedy revolving around a couple of recent college grads’ (Miles Teller and Anna Kendrick) attempt to launch their careers with the help of family and friends. Supporting cast includes Bryan Cranston, Marcia Gay Harden, John Cho, John C. McGinley, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Alison Brie and Brandon T. Jackson.
I Saw The Light (R for profanity, sexuality and brief nudity) Tom Hiddleston plays Hank Williams in this reverential biopic chronicling the legendary country singer/songwriter’s rise to fame and untimely demise at the age of 29. With Elizabeth Olsen, David Krumholtz and Cherry Jones.
Identicals (R for profanity, sexuality, violence and drug use) Futuristic, sci-fi thriller about a young man (Nick Blood) who allows himself to be killed and reincarnated as a clone in order to search for the girlfriend (Nora-Jane Noone) abducted and forced to undergo the same procedure against her will. Co-starring Tony Way, Lachlan Nieboer and Robert Wilfort.
Killing Ed (Unrated) Education documentary exposing the corruption in the movement to privatize America’s public schools.
Ron And Laura Take Back America (Unrated) Political mockumentary about a conservative suburban couple (Mel England and Janice Markham) that decides to launch their own reality TV show in response to constant cable news coverage they disagree with. Featuring Jim J. Bullock, Sally Kirkland and Irene Bedard.
Valley Of Love (Unrated) Bittersweet drama about the attempted reconciliation by a couple (Isabelle Huppert and Gerard Depardieu) in accordance with the dying wish of their son who committed suicide. With Dan Warner, Aurelia Thierree and Dionne Houle. (In French and English with subtitles)