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‘Disconnect’ shows what’s missing in life

‘Disconnect’ shows what’s missing in life

“Disconnect” (2012 production, 2013 release). Cast: Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Alexander Skarsgård, Paula Patton, Andrea Riseborough, Max Thieriot, Frank Grillo, Michael Nyqvist, Colin Ford, Jonah Bobo, Aviad Bernstein, Norbert Leo Butz, Marc Jacobs, Haley Ramm, Kasi Lemmons. Director: Henry-Alex Rubin. Screenplay: Andrew Stern. Web site. Trailer. Feelings of detachment are, unfortunately, all too prevalent these days. So many people believe themselves to be so removed from one another that they often wonder whether or not they’ll ever be able to get those feelings back. Correcting such failings may require drastic measures, too, as becomes all too apparent in the compelling new drama, “Disconnect.” The narrative of “Disconnect” weaves a number of story threads together, creating an intriguing interconnected tapestry: * Shy, sensitive high school musician Ben Boyd (Jonah Bobo) feels isolated from his family and most of his classmates. His father, lawyer Rich Boyd (Jason Bateman), mother (Hope Davis) and sister (Haley Ramm) are preoccupied with their own lives and interests, paying little attention to him, and his peers see the enigmatic recluse as something of an inscrutable freak. To cope, Ben loses himself in his music, tuning out much of the world around him. So it comes as quite ...
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‘Jurassic Park 3D’ instills respect for the power of creation

‘Jurassic Park 3D’ instills respect for the power of creation

“Jurassic Park 3D” (1993 original release, 2013 3D re-release). Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Samuel L. Jackson, B.D. Wong, Wayne Knight. Director: Steven Spielberg. Screenplay: Michael Crichton and David Koepp. Book: Michael Crichton. Web site. Trailer. The power behind acts of creation, no matter how seemingly trivial, is tremendous. The process of bringing forth an idea into manifestation is truly miraculous, something not to be taken lightly. But, when we treat this notion casually, we run the risk of paying a high price. Such is the message of a recently re-released screen classic presented in a new format, “Jurassic Park 3D.” Theme park developer John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has a full plate of problems to resolve. He’s heavily invested in getting his latest venture off the ground, routinely proclaiming that he’s “spared no expense” in doing so. Even with that, though, the project is beset by technical glitches, untrustworthy employees, worker safety issues and investor jitters, concerns so worrisome that major backers have asked attorney Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) to investigate the attraction’s viability. But then that should probably come as no surprise for an undertaking as audacious ...
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Sparkling ‘Sapphires’ reveals how to shine

Sparkling ‘Sapphires’ reveals how to shine

“The Sapphires” (2012 production, 2013 release). Cast: Chris O’Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell, Tory Kittles, Eka Darville, Cleave Williams, Lynette Narkle, Kylie Belling, Gregory J. Fryer, Don Battee, Hunter Page-Lochard, Meyne Wyatt, T.J. Power. Director: Wayne Blair. Screenplay: Keith Thompson and Tony Briggs. Play: The Sapphires, by Tony Briggs. Web site. Trailer. Stepping into the spotlight is something many of us have likely fantasized about at one time or another, but how many of us actually follow through on that dream? Some of us end up shooting ourselves in the foot. Others among us lack the courage or conviction to carry through. And others still simply don’t know how to make things happen. But there are steps we can take to achieve success, many of which are outlined in the delightful new comedy-drama, “The Sapphires,” a story inspired by actual events. The Australian Outback may not seem like the birthplace of a pop singing sensation, but don’t tell that to a talented quartet from the Aboriginal community of Cummeragunja. At one time, the long odds of anyone from Australia’s native population making it big in the face of the country’s oppressive, but legally sanctioned, segregation policies ...
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‘Oz’ depicts how to become great and powerful

‘Oz’ depicts how to become great and powerful

“Oz the Great and Powerful” (2013). Cast: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Bill Cobbs, Joey King, Tony Cox, Tim Holmes, Toni Wynne, Abigail Spencer. Director: Sam Raimi. Screenplay: Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire. Screen Story: Mitchell Kapner. Source Material: The Oz book series, by L. Frank Baum. Web site. Trailer. From the time we’re children and on into adulthood, we’re routinely encouraged to live up to our potential, to become the best we can be as great and powerful beings. Some of us even succeed at that, too. But, regrettably, others often find themselves lagging behind, frustrated and disappointed that they’re unable to fulfill their expectations. In most of those instances, however, those who feel held back unwittingly sabotage their own efforts by simply lacking faith in their own abilities, a dilemma playfully explored in “Oz the Great and Powerful,” the recently released prequel to the 1939 screen classic, “The Wizard of Oz.” Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is biding his time, waiting for something big to happen. The small-time carnival magician, who ostentatiously bills himself as “the Great and Powerful Oz,” spends his days performing flashy but cheesy parlor tricks for gullible Midwestern audiences at ...
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‘Sound of My Voice’ asks "What do we believe?"

‘Sound of My Voice’ asks “What do we believe?”

“Sound of My Voice” (2011 production, 2012 release). Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius, Brit Marling, Davenia McFadden, Kandice Stroh, Richard Wharton, Christy Meyers, Alvin Lam, Constance Wu, Avery Pohl. Director: Zal Batmanglij. Screenplay: Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling. Web site. Trailer. What we believe makes up who we are. Much of the time we take that for granted, too, never giving our beliefs a second thought. But every so often we undergo profound experiences that prompt us to examine our beliefs and how they form the basis of our reality, a notion explored in the intense independent production, “Sound of My Voice,” now available on DVD. Intrepid documentary filmmakers Peter Aitken (Christopher Denham) and Lorna Michaelson (Nicole Vicius) are so eager to make a movie about cults that they’re willing to secretly infiltrate one to conduct research. Besides the investigative journalism value, Peter has a personal stake in making the film: Having been orphaned at age 13 when his mother, a longtime follower of a new age movement that eschewed the merits of modern medicine, died of cancer, Peter now seeks retribution for the “brainwashing” inflicted upon her by documenting and exposing the alleged fraud and false hope he believes such ...
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How'd I Do?

How’d I Do?

With this year’s Academy Awards ceremony behind us, it’s time to take a look at how I did on my predictions for the 85th edition of this annual competition, as first outlined in my previous blog, What To Expect Out of This Year’s Oscars. And the result? Well, I did OK, but not as well as in previous years. Out of the six major categories, I’d give myself an overall score of 3.5. Here’s how I did: Best Picture Projected Winner: “Argo”Actual Winner: “Argo”Result: Correct call This was a slam dunk. Anyone who didn’t see this result coming wasn’t paying attention. As the best picture winner of every major competition leading up to the Oscars, there was no reason to believe that the result was going to be any different this time. It’s regrettable, however, that this picture beat out the best nominee in this category, which was, in my opinion, “Les Misérables.” Best Actor Projected Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”Actual Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”Result: Correct call This was another slam dunk. Day-Lewis swept the best actor category in every major competition leading up to the Oscars, so, once again, there was no reason to believe that the result was going ...
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