Miles Thompson

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City Of Ember Review


Good
We critics like to argue that Hollywood defangs most family fare. Unless it can find a viable commercial tie-in, or lead to a series of equally superficial sequels, studio suits avoid anything remotely dark or contentious. Apparently, the applicable philosophy argues that childhood is a time of innocence and fun, therefore, any movie aimed at said audience should be even more fluffy and non-threatening. Watching City of Ember, the latest live-action effort from Monster House director Gil Kenan, a couple of questions instantly come to mind. One, who authorized such a wonderfully rich yet exceedingly grim adventure? And two, who exactly will show up on opening day?

For the residents of the city of Ember, these are troubled times. The massive generator that keeps the town functioning is failing, and Mayor Cole (Bill Murray) is at a loss for answers. A bumbling bureaucrat through and through, he'd rather maintain order than find a viable solution. Two young members of the community, Doon Harrow (Harry Treadway) and Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan) don't want to give up. He wants his father (Tim Robbins) and an elderly co-worker Sul (Martin Landau) to help him get to the damaged energy source. She discovers a strange box which may hold a key to saving the day. Unfortunately, a hidden cabal of city leaders may be trying to undermine any effort to bring Ember back from the brink.

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Me and You and Everyone We Know Review


Extraordinary
Don't let Miranda July's background as a performance artist scare you away from her first feature, the offbeat, totally winning Me and You and Everyone We Know. July, who also stars in the film, combines a twisted indie sensibility with honesty and warmth, creating a movie of surprising accessibility. As the "independent" genre becomes increasingly forced, Miranda July's greatest accomplishment is that this all feels so effortless.

Making up the odd little microcosm of Me and You (recently chosen for competition at Cannes) are characters ranging in size, color, age and desires. Christine (July), a woman who chauffeurs the elderly around in her car, longs for two things: her own art installation and the affections of a scruffy shoe salesman named Richard (John Hawkes, of HBO's Deadwood). Richard is nursing a broken heart and a bit of self-flagellation since separating with his wife and moving his mixed race sons (Miles Thompson and amazing six-year-old Brandon Ratcliff) into a tiny apartment.

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Me & You & Everyone We Know Review


OK
It probably helps a great deal that the wispy, flower-likeMiranda July appears in her own film, as her adorable, blue-eyed presencewarms what would have been a cold, quirky, Todd Solondz-like experiencein "Me and You and Everyone We Know."

Like a mini-"Short Cuts," the story follows severallost and lonely characters as they cross paths in funny, sad and sometimesdisturbing ways. A six year-old boy chats on an internet sex site, a manlights his hand on fire and a woman practically throws herself at him,not comprehending how dangerous or unhinged he may be. Yet none of thissets off any alarm bells, thanks to July's wide-eyed dreaminess and eternalhope.

A former performance artist and video maker, her featuredebut plays both with memorable visuals and lovingly written words. Fromthe opening sequence -- in which she records two voices for a potentialvideo art piece -- she raises our hopes and manages to keep them there.

July plays Christine, a video artist who falls for Richard(John Hawkes), a newly divorced father of two boys, one a teenager andthe other only six. Christine also drives an Elder Cab and becomes involvedwith some of her aged clients. Otherwise, we meet a couple of teenage girlsexperimenting with sex, Richard's African-American ex-wife, who alreadyhas a new boyfriend, and a lonely art museum curator.

Continue reading: Me & You & Everyone We Know Review

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