Walter Hill’s “The Assignment” is a study in contrasts. On one hand, it’s a career high for one of its lead stars, while on the other it’s amongst the career lows for the other. On one hand, it makes a great argument for why we need more female-centered action movies, while on the other it makes a great argument for why we need better female-centered action movies. At times, it shows why we shouldn’t give up on certain stars and filmmakers just because they are “past their prime,” while at other times it shows why those who might not get as many offers for great roles or directing vehicles as they used to might want to not jump at anything that comes their way.
Sometimes, the time between a movie is planned, shot, edited, scored, promoted and released, its intended meaning changes along with the time it finds itself released upon. There’s no way actress/producer Jessica Chastain and director Niki Caro could have known what was in store for our political landscape of 2017 when the film was first set up in 2013 or when it went in to production in the fall of 2015, and perhaps it’s because of where we are today, with women and their rights under siege daily, that the film has extra adde poignancy and relevancy it may not have had if things turned out differently last November.
I think I figured out why first time director Reed Tang’s “A Different Sun” feels so darned disjointed. How else can you describe a drama about a Chinese family who moves to Germany to help their daughter get a better education, which is mostly in English and almost exclusively shot in upstate New York?
Sometimes, a movie that would be little more than a Movie of the Week in America can seem refreshing because it’s from another country. Wei Zhang’s “Destiny” falls in to this category, giving us a little glimpse in to how autism is discussed and dealt with in China.
Prom King, 2010
It is said that neophyte filmmakers should stick to things they know. It is clear that Christopher Schaap, the writer/director/star of the new film “Prom King, 2010” knows a thing or two about the mavericks that came before him. It may be bit premature to put Schaap in the same league as John Cassavetes and John Sayles, but this New York-based filmmaker’s debut should be as exciting to cinephiles as “Shadows” was in 1959 or “Return of the Secaucus 7” was in 1980.
Director Lindsey Copeland’s second feature “Hedgehog” fails one of the most basic tenets of storytelling. If you can’t make your lead character likable, at least make them compelling. And if you can’t make them compelling, at least make them interesting. And if you can’t make them interesting, at least make it worth our while to follow them.