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Monday, July 31, 2006

To See Or Not To See: The Heart of the Game

Movie Review
by Jan Stetter

The Heart of the Game is a movie about a Seattle Girls High School basketball team. It is a documentary that chronicles six seasons of the Roosevelt Roughriders’ history as a mediocre team propelling itself to becoming a state finals sports phenomenon.

At the heart of this game is the story of a mild mannered superhero, Bill Ressler who, by day, is a tax professor at The University of Washington. By night, he transforms into the same mild mannered human being who has no real offensive strategy and limited coaching credentials. However, Ressler manages to whip these girls into ferocious, disciplined athletes.

Ressler uses unorthodox methods of strength training, guided imagery and the creation if the Inner Circle -- a sacred circle, void of parents and adults -- to allow teammates to air and negotiate frustrations, and commiserate. In the process, he convinces these young women that they are a calculating pack of alpha female wolves who begin every game in the huddle with a war cry of “DRAW BLOOD!” It is followed by a resounding cry from Coach Ressler to remind the girls to “HAVE FUN!”.

Sounds charming? It is, and more. The director, Ward Serrill, does a superb job of giving the audience the feel of a team identity. He also takes the film a step further by accentuating a few of the girls’ stories concerning some of life’s ugly realities: child abuse, teen pregnancy, class distinction and gender discrimination.

One need not be a sports fan or knowledgeable about point guard and fouls to be caught up in this movie. This story has so much heart in showing issues of adolescence, doubt, acceptance and facing adversity while rising to become a better person because of challenges. Heart surpasses any feel good commercial films in its ability to engage the audience. They become a spectator of the Seattle Roosevelt High School Girls Basketball team and a cheerleader for them as well. SCORE!

Having trouble making decisions about whether a movie is worth it? "To See or Not To See" reviews movies each week on Monday. Contact jans@queencityforum.com

Sunday, July 23, 2006

To See Or Not To See: Oscar documentaries 2006

by Jan Stetter


On Monday and Tuesday (7/24, 7/25), Cincinnatians will have a rare opportunity to view the 2006 Oscar nominated Documentary Short Films. All of the Academy Award nominated entries will be shown at the Cincinnati Freedom Center at 7:30 p.m. on both nights. There will be four films ranging in lengths between twenty five and forty minutes.

And the nominees are…

A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin

The film celebrates the extraordinary career of America's pre-eminent radio dramatist and poet laureate Norman Corwin--considered the Edward R. Murrow of radio's Golden Age. The film highlights his amazing broadcast commemorating VE Day in World War II.

God Sleeps in Rwanda

An uplifting but sobering film that shares the hope, resilience, and dedication of the women of Rwanda as they rebuild their lives and their country.

The Death of Kevin Carter

Against the backdrop of apartheid in South Africa and starvation in the Sudan, this film investigates the tragic death of a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and highlights the risks to all first-responder professions that cover trauma and extreme human distress.

The Mushroom Club

As North Korea and Iran flex their nuclear muscles and thousands of warheads are adrift in the former USSR, this film offers a timely look at the human and cultural consequences of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima Japan, on August 6, 1945.

This is the first ever viewing of these documentaries in this area. It is being hosted by Cincinnati World Cinema which is a local film society that offers alternative cinema.

Come join fellow Cincinnatians for a summer evening downtown to view these eclectic film offerings. Come for a chance to see The Freedom Center. Come to widen your cerebral panorama. Hope to see you there!

TICKETS: Adults $8.00 in advance; Students with ID $6.00 at the door only. On-Line -- http://www.ticketfusion.com/cincyworldcinema/

Clifton (North/Ludlow) -- Sitwell's Coffee House 324 Ludlow Ave.

Clifton -- Ben & Jerry's Clifton Heights 214 Calhoun Street

Mt. Lookout -- Lookout Joe Coffee Roasters 3181 Linwood Ave

Northside -- Shake It Music & Video 4156 Hamilton Ave.

For more information http://www.cincyworldcinema.org/.

Having trouble making decisions about whether a movie is worth it? "To See or Not To See" reviews movies each week on Monday. Contact jans@queencityforum.com

Monday, July 10, 2006

To See Or Not To See: The Devil Wears Prada

... With a Touch of Integrity

by Jan Stetter

Imagine this picture of The Devil: She has white, perfectly coiffed hair and pursed lips painted to match the exact hue of her attire. This Devil has the power to end one’s career or alter an entire industry with her position as executive editor of an influential fashion magazine known as Runway. The Devil in this movie is played by Meryl Streep; the angel by Anne Hathaway.

The story is about an unaffected, intelligent, Midwestern college graduate living in New York, struggling to catch a break in getting employment as a journalist. Anne Hathaway plays a convincing ingénue. She has honed her acting skills and parlayed them to tell the story of the ugly duckling turned beauty.

In the beginning Hathaway’s character, Andy Sachs has aspirations that are as straightforward and pure as the air she breathes from her small Ohio hometown. It is precisely this freshness that plays well in contrast to the character Meryl Streep developed, Miranda Priestly a.k.a. The Devil.

Miranda Priestly is a huge icon in the fashion industry and international world. Her detached presence, passive interest in eye contact or verbal exchange with any underlings in her organization makes Streep’s performance as the Devil entertaining. At all times Miranda’s voice and emotions are in tact. Her style is impeccable and it is no surprise as to why Miranda Priestly is a fashion visionary.

Stanley Tucci plays the next top ranking official in Miranda Priestly’s dynasty. As Nigel, Tucci adds class to this trite and simple minded story. For fashion mavens this movie will enthrall you. For the rest of us it merely told a time honored tale of good vs. evil.

Wait for it to come to DVD.

Having trouble making decisions about whether a movie is worth it? "To See or Not To See" reviews movies each week on Monday. Contact jans@queencityforum.com

Monday, July 03, 2006

To See Or Not To See: Superman Returns

Get a big tub of popcorn for a big, big movie

Jan Stetter

If ever we needed a hero, if ever we needed someone to believe in, if ever we needed a reason to go to a movie, with lots of special effects and cheers for justice, truth and the pursuit of entertainment; here’s a movie that delivers.

After a six-year absence from The Daily Planet and the world, Superman returns to his beloved childhood roots and his job. Brandon Routh is the new, credible Clark Kent. His resemblance to the most famous of Supermen, Christopher Reeves, is remarkable. But don’t be fooled. Routh is his own man and plays his part well. As hoped, he is charmingly nerdy as Clark Kent and brazenly virile as Superman.

To Superman enthusiasts, the inclusion of Marlon Brando as Jor-el will impress. The use of archive film footage looks like a natural appendage to the contemporary piece that it inhabits. Familiar elements of the Clark Kent story will delight; the farm homestead, his adolescent discovery of his superhero powers, his ongoing fascination with Lois Lane, played by Kate Bosworth and his duty to defeat Lex Luther, a deliciously villainous Kevin Spacey, at all costs.

But the biggest treats are the special effects used in creating this catastrophic story. Currently this movie is being played at several movie theatres and also, in a in 3-D format.

Go see it at IMAX if you are a movie goer that enjoys spectacular, stunning, magnificent visual effects. Coupled that with a brilliant, patriotic rendition of John Williams original score from Superman: the Movie and accompanying music by John Ottman and you will be simultaneously thrilled and inspired.

Three new characters add to the storyline and update the contemporary 21st century story about a certain female reporter who “…Once Spent the Night With Superman,” as the headline reads. James Mardsen plays a capable love interest of Lois Lane’s, and Parker Posey as Lex Luther’s brunette, comic book styled girlfriend Kitty Kowalski, gives any stereotype of dumb blondes a run for their money.

Excluded is the mention of the youngest star added to the cast as you’ll have to see Superman Returns for the unraveling of that new twist in this film.

The only criticism is the length of the movie at 154 minutes; a bit too long. So if you go--get an extra large popcorn and drink. Be prepared to sit tight and enjoy Superman Returns!

Having trouble making decisions about whether a movie is worth it? "To See or Not To See" reviews movies each week on Monday. Contact jans@queencityforum.com