Set during World War II the Busbee family is torn as father, James (Michael Rapaport), is drafted into service as eldest son, London (David Henrie), suffers from flat feet. Left to raise the boys and run the family business mother, Emma (Emily Watson), is faced with adversity, especially from 8 year old son Pepper/Little Boy (Jakob Salvati). Pepper in particular turns to magic and faith to bring his father home from the war; but, it’s the vigilant eye and friendship of neighbor Hashimoto (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) that may have the larger impact. Directed and partially written by Alejandro Monteverde, this historical time capsule does in fact touch on a number of social themes from the 40’s, some of which are still evident today, racial profiling, and small mentality to name a few. Lightly sprinkled humor throughout the film makes strides to touch the heart strings and win with cuteness, sadly, the end result is more akin to a daytime, semi low budget, made for TV movie that aspires to be greater than it actually is. And, while all the nuts and bolts are here, the film’s drama doesn’t manage to feel dramatic enough and the comedy doesn’t feel comedic enough. Nice effort but wait for rental or pass altogether on this one. Little Boy is rated PG-13.
Post World War I, an Australian man, a water diviner named Connor (Russell Crowe), travels to Turkey and Gallipoli to locate his three missing sons, all thought to be victims of the brutal trench warfare seen in the region. While in Turkey Connor happens to meet Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), keeper at his hotel, what starts as a cold acquaintance turns to a slow boil and a roaring flame. Meanwhile the war, while technically over, continues to ravage the country and revolution is at hand. Will Connor find what he was looking for or will the dowsing continue. Feature length directorial debut for Crowe, it would appear though Crowe is off to a decent start. While some of the romance scenes drift and reduce to longing wistful glances, oh puke, a fair amount of creative cinematography and editing also exists, perhaps influence from Crowe’s work with Ridley Scott and Darren Aronofsky? Meanwhile, solid performances from the ensemble fill out the rest of the frame nicely. Additional applause to the acknowledgement of the ANZAC and Turkish forces who lost their lives in this tragic battle, a part of history often overlooked in American schools. Maybe a matinee or a rental for your dollar. The Water Diviner is rated R.
A young and talented programmer, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), is selected to assist Nathan (Oscar Isaac), the creative genius behind the internationally popular search engine Bluebook. As it turns out, Nathan has created what he believes to be a true artificial intelligence in the form of Ava (Alicia Vikander), it’s up to Caleb to prove or disprove via a series of Turing tests and interviews whether Nathan has succeeded. If it’s a success, we as humans are extinct, if not, it’s back to the drawing board. Just where will our race for existence and desire to be gods lead us? Written and Directed by Alex Garland (writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine) this is Garland’s directorial debut. Heavily inspired by some of cinema’s heavyweights, think Kubrick and Fritz Lang, Garland weaves a very plausible tale of the singularity and the downfall of humanity; not belaboring the technical aspects or the science involved, Ex Machina chooses to go a significantly more socially introspective route keeping everyone in suspense, viewers and characters alike. Meanwhile, acting from the ensemble all round is top notch with a particular tip of the hat to Vikander for her ability to move from subtlety to extreme all the while keeping us under her thumb. Sharp CGI and sound design add another layer of beauty to this already stunning work of art. Here’s to a thinker! Cheers! See this film. Ex Machina is rated R.