Review: A PRIVATE WAR

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

From 1985 until 2002, American journalist Marie Colvin risked her life on a regular basis, working as a foreign affairs and war correspondent for British newspaper, The Sunday Times.  During her tenure at the paper, Colvin would interview Muammar Gaddafi and cover multiple conflicts in the Middle East.  Even losing an eye in Sri Lanka after an RPG attack would not deter Colvin from continuing her work.  War coverage would eventually take its toll on Colvin personally and psychologically, and would cost her her life. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Matthew Heineman makes his narrative feature debut with a harrowing and powerful film which tells Colvin’s story.  Read more »

Review and Filmmaker Interviews: TIME TRAP

By Liz Lopez

Rating: B+

I had the opportunity to view the feature film “Time Trap” on the big screen prior to the limited theatrical release that starts today in Austin at the Alamo Drafthouse and it is one that I highly encourage viewers to do as well while in theaters. There is no way to compare viewing this film in the theater and a small device as a computer screen or smaller. There are details about the story that I may have missed on a smaller screen, especially when archeology Professor Hopper (Andrew Wilson, “Bottle Rocket,” “The Royal Tenenbaums”) is exploring a cave, or when a group of students follow suit and make certain discoveries within the area they are wandering through. There are also great scenes of two very diverse eras of exploration in our history and what may be to come in the near future. “Time Trap” is co-directed by Mark Dennis (“Strings,” “The Alternate”) and Ben Foster (“Strings”) from a script by Dennis that I find engaging. Starting from the present time, the story also incorporates looking back in time to the 60s/70s “hippies” era, and way, way back to when the caves were man’s actual dwellings, as well as the future explorers who know what special properties the cave also has. If time travel is of any interest to film fans, this is one film not to miss as it jets back in forth in time for the very inquisitive and valiant teaching assistants who become resourceful, even if it means taking along two preteens who are all in for the adventure of a lifetime. Read more »

Review: DR. SEUSS’ THE GRINCH

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.” Those immortal lyrics will be forever sung every holiday season.  Since 1957, when Dr. Seuss published his story, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, this beloved/reviled sourpuss character would eventually become a Christmas icon.  This fate was sealed when animation filmmakers Chuck Jones and Ben Washam adapted the story for a television special.  For several generations of children, television’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas was the only version of this story outside of Seuss’ book.  That is, until director Ron Howard and Imagine Entertainment adapted a live action version for the big screen in 2000. Read more »

Austin Film Festival 2018: Interview: TEXAS COTTON

By Liz Lopez

At last year’s Austin Film Festival (AFF) a short film entitled “Texas Cotton” featured actor George Hardy as a law enforcement officer. Hardy is not a full time actor and yet, he was willing and able to be the protagonist when the opportunity for the feature arose. Directed by Tyler Russell (“Dog Years”) and written by Jameel Khaja (“A Passage to Ottawa”), this year’s AFF was host to the premiere of the feature, “Texas Cotton.” This independent movie set in small-town Texas was actually shot close to San Antonio in the community of LaCoste/Medina County. It is not a fictional place. Khaja has written characters that are quite believable (especially for those of us who are from Texas or spent any length of time in a small town in the state). There are plenty of superhero movies that come along with big budgets for everyone to see. Then there are great stories about different heroes who still try to do the right thing, not only for the community as a whole, but for the individuals and their families who are invested in their homestead, that is often a legacy from generations in the past. You won’t see capes, tights or other fantasy stories in “Texas Cotton,” but the strong convictions and actions will keep you rooting for the community as a whole. Read more »

Austin Film Festival 2018 Review/Interview: ORIGINAL SIN (PECADO ORIGINAL)

By Liz Lopez

Rating: B-

“Original Sin” (“Pecado Original”) had its Texas premiere at the 25th Annual Austin Film Festival in competition in the Comedy Vanguard category. Director/Writer: Jean Lee presents her feature directorial debut, “Original Sin” (“Pecado Original”) and stars an international cast, including Maia Nikiphoroff, an up-and-coming star from Paraguay, alongside costars Alejandro Torres Menchaca from Mexico and César Di Bello from Spain. This one hour and fifteen minute Spanish language rom – com certainly has humor and drama as is to be expected when there are characters in a marriage that do not have the same sense of satisfaction as husband and wife. The script is engaging and does have some great performances, more so when the three characters, a married couple and an artist, are talking out their differences in the home. I certainly look forward to seeing the actors in future films. Read more »

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