Film Brief: Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey

Don't Stop Believin' - poster large

I caught a good chunk of Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey a while back — I can’t remember on what channel — and was reminded of what a terrific story it is last night as it aired on the PBS series Independent Lens.

Though I have not seen the film all the way through, I recommend it.  And if you’re a Journey fan, Don't Stop Believin' - text blockit’s a no-brainer.  The story of the band’s new frontman Arnel Pineda is fascinating, inspiring and heart-warming.  What enriches the story so much is that Pineda is such a nice guy, humble in his extraordinary talent.  Catch it if you can.

Comparison Note: Searching for Sugar Man

2014: A good year to fly the friendly skies?

THE MARCH DISAPPEARANCE of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a huge, state-of-the-art widebody Boeing 777 jet with 239 souls on board, stands as the greatest aviation mystery of all time.  Not a UFOs & jetlinersingle shred of the airplane or anyone on board has ever been found, nor is there any concrete evidence that it even crashed.  It literally disappeared off the face of the planet.  For all we know it was abducted by aliens.

Then the psychopath Vladimir Putin shot down another Malaysian Airlines 777 over the Ukraine, and another 298 people were gone.

And now yet another jetliner, this time an Airbus A320, operating in the same part of the world as Malaysia Air Flight 370 has gone down, though there is no mystery this time as wreckage has already been found.

What an extraordinary year for air travel.

Film Brief: Short Term 12

Short Term 12 - poster

Like Boyhood, critics seemed to trip over themselves to see who could heap more praise on Short Term 12, a movie I just missed seeing in the theater last year.  John Hartl, writing for The Seattle Times, was a little less glowing:

“Short Term 12” is the kind of teen-oriented movie that’s often dismissed as an “after-school special,” but thanks to a nimble young cast it’s frequently better than that.

A familiar, emotional drama about an institution for at-risk teens, it sometimes plays like an actors workshop.

Short Term 12 has some powerful moments — a children’s story about an octopus sticks out — but the lackadaisical approach to plot did not impress me.  What little was there felt overly formulaic.   I liked this movie, but it did not grab me, and I doubt in a year or two I will remember much.  6/10

The Trip to Bountiless

The Trip - poster smallWhen I first saw the Michael Caine impersonation-off in the trailer for The Trip a few years back, I was amused.  But when that scene hit early in the actual movie, it rang hollow.  I love Michael Caine, and the one maestro of British impersonations (which seems to be the main point of the movie) does a dead-on Caine, really nailing both the young and old actor.  The fact that it wasn’t funny speaks volumes about this failed film.

So a recurring theme in my blog: comedy is tough.  The British comedic chemistry that this film yearns for is largely missing.  A reference in the movie is made to the phenomenally successful BBC series Top Gear.  Now there’s some comedic chemistry.  But no such luck in The Trip. 

Another problem was the split personality of The Trip.  If the comedy worked well enough it might not be so bad that it splits its effort with equally ineffective forays into drama.  I suppose the dramatic interludes are meant to bolster the overall comic output — Neighbors comes to mind, but it does not work here.

Sideways, the movie that has grown near and dear to my heart, draws obvious comparisons to The Trip.  And since Sideways started slowly, I kept giving The Trip the benefit of the doubt that it would improve as the not-so-dynamic duo trundle along.  But except for the end of the film, which I hope without giving anything away brings strong parallels to Local Hero, that higher calling is never reached on this Trip.  It is no Local Hero, it definitely doesn’t lean Sideways, and it cannot reach a Top Gear.  4/10