REVIEW: A Better Life

A Better Life
Directed by: Chris Weitz
Written by: Eric Eason (screenplay), Roger L. Simon (story)
Starring: Demián Bichir,José Julián, Dolores Heredia and Carlos Linares

A Better Life is that movie that seemingly came out of nowhere and snagged a nomination for Best Actor at this year’s Oscars.  Its star, Demián Bichir, is a virtually unknown actor whose most prominent role was a lengthy stint on the marijuana dramedy Weeds.  His performance in this movie is an understated thing of beauty, much like fellow nominee Gary Oldman’s turn in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Bichir plays Carlos Galindo, an illegal immigrant and single father making a living as a gardener in Los Angeles to support his troubled son Luis (José Julián).  Though putting immigration front and center makes the movie unavoidably political, at its heart A Better Life is a father/son legacy story.  Carlos plays that instantly recognizable parent character, the one who works his ass off so his child can have… a better life.

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TRAILER: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Directed by: David Slade
Written by: Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay) Stephen Meyer (novel)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner

The third installment is finally here. Not like the wait was long from lasts November’s New Moon, but non-Twihards are anxious for this franchise to get wrapped up so we don’t have to hear about it from the news, tabloids, and endless marketing campaigns by the studios who are doing a great job on cranking out these half rate movies while the blood is fresh in the franchise. A summer release will be interesting for Summit, to see whether it can pick up movie goers, or if fans will abandon it with so many other better options out there.

Despite the eager fans the franchise has, the franchise shows up with a little less enthusiasm. The trailer looks much of the same old Twilight we’ve already seen in the first two films. People fight over Bella. Bella has to pick a man. Men go around tearing each other up over a bony pale virgin Arizona. Not much else happens. Ever. Continue reading

Are women trapped in film’s hurt locker?

The always engaging Manohla Dargis of the New York Times recently wrote a brilliant article about what Kathryn Bigelow’s Best Director win at the Oscars means.  Dargis’ thorough, bullet-proof essay concludes that women in film are probed about their personal life more than men as well as “ghettoized in romantic comedy.”

This got me thinking about some of those recent movies, both romantic and comical, and just how they view women.  Let’s take a look at two of 2009’s biggest films: The Hangover and The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

At a glance, these films may appear to have absolutely nothing in common.  On closer analysis though, they both share some kind of anti-feminist philosophy.   The Hangover operates under the philosophy that women are either a nuisance, or just total bitches, while New Moon treats its female “heroine” like a junkie looking for a testosterone fix.

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