Captain America: Civil War

Bill I’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Why are Iron Man and Captain America fighting each other when there is a real bad guy out loose? I can’t tell you but it strained my suspension of disbelief. You have to sit back and enjoy the action, including a slew of other action heroes, the most fun being a young Spider “Man” and Ant Man. The plot is mega stupid, but the actors are terrific as is the action. A lot of fun, and will be a super huge blockbuster.

Morris from America

Bill I’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Another Montclair Film Festival superb, surprising, film. Similar to another film fest I reviewed, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, this has as its main character a 13 year-old boy (Markees Christmas, in what I assume is his debut, so great) who is in a foreign environment (Heidelberg, Germany in this case), surrounded by unfriendlies (his school mates), and channeling his inner gangster (he’s a wannabee gangster rapper). Craig Robinson is great as his dad, a former soccer player turned coach, who has a unique style of parenting (his wife recently died), and figuring out to deal with his unhappy son. There’s a girl involved, and some embarrassing episodes and an understanding German tutor who gives Morris some motherly attention. This should be a big hit if it gets publicity. See it if you can!

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Bill I’s Rating: 4 out of 5

I had a ticket to a different film at the Montclair Film Festival, but went to the wrong theater and ended up seeing this which totally delighted me. Aspects of Home Alone: boy left alone (this boy actually runs away from his foster home), pursued by some mean people (meanest being the Child Welfare lady), and finding an adventure in the local wilderness (instead of Central Park this kid ends up in the New Zealand bush). With some great characters, and spectacular scenery, and what I consider an Oscar worthy performance by the kid, I loved this. Great for kids of all ages, with only a little wild boar violent episode, and some close call rifle shots.

Donald Cried

Bill I’s Rating: 3 out of 5

A low budget film at the Montclair Film Festival that has recently been picked up by a distributor, this is a great character study of two old high school friends who reconnect after many years in their hometown of Warwick Rhode Island. Peter is a Wall Street financier, successful and in no way ready to enjoy returning to Warwick to take care of his grandma’s estate and funeral. He loses his wallet on the way and ends up depending on Donald, an unforgettable character played by the director and writer, Kris Avedisian. Over the course of 24 hours the two go through a roller coaster of emotions and experiences, encountering old “friends”, crushes, and haunts along the way. I can’t do justice to the realness, (enhanced by the hand held camera) but I will say that my wife was really upset afterwards due to the Donald character, who is the super clingy friend who literally won’t leave you alone. I really liked it!

Syl Johnson: Any Way the Wind Blows

Bill I’s Rating: 3 out of 5

Straightforward documentary, played at the Montclair Film Festival, about a great soul singer, Syl Johnson, who never got much acclaim. In fact, I had never even heard of him. He was almost Al Green, and unluckily missed his big shot. He appeared on Soul Train, toured extensively, including today as an 80 something year old, and had a couple of top 100 hit songs. But some key people did find out about him and his songs: Wu Tang Clan, Jay Z, Snoop Dogg and literally hundreds of hip hop artists who sampled him in their songs. Syl is an interesting character, both proud of his accomplishments, resentful he never gained mainstream success, and loving the attention wherever he can get it. The documentary coincided with the release of a $75 boxed set of his catalog, that got a Grammy nomination (for engineering, although Syl perceived it as his). Very cool to hear how his work was sampled, and how good the original songs are. Check him out, and look for this documentary if it gets released.

http://syljohnsonmovie.com/