By Vernor Rodgers
Find out where it's playing
The movie theaters are still closed, leaving
us film fans with the alternative of streaming. Below are three
movies I viewed during the month of June.
"THE FIDDLING HORSE"
This movie was brought to my attention via a
Facebook post by a friend of mine, Paula Lindberg, an actress I met
via my association with filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska. Lindberg
had a small but vital role in the Soskas' "American Mary" and I met
her when she attended screenings of Soska films "See No Evil 2" and
"The Fiddling Horse," Lindberg has a major role as Leslie Heart, a
woman who has been born into a family rooted into the Southern world
of unique heritage and charm. Upon the passing of her mother, Leslie
now is in line to be accepted into the exclusive Ladies Who Lunch, a
group of high society women led by the snobby Ethel Truman (Alley
Mills, the mom from "The Wonder Years"), from the family of
the powerful state treasurer. Despite her heritage, Leslie finds
she is not totally welcome in this group of privilege. For one, she
is not married -- just living with her boyfriend Philip Ainsworth
(J. Elvis Weinstein), a man struggling to maintain his timeshare
business that is trying to improve its image by changing the term
"timeshare" to "fractional ownership."
"The Fiddling Horse" is the brain child of
C.J. Wallis, who wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. It is
only 70 minutes long and takes a jab at high society with its gentle
When Leslie, stewing because she knows her
acceptance into this well-to-do realm is being met with some
resistance, learns she has inherited a horse, she convinces Philip
to explore the possibility of going into the horse racing business.
Philip reluctantly goes along and upon a recommendation from a
gambling co-worker Richard (Fiend), hooks up with Barry Bitterman
(Andy Kindler), an aptly named former jockey, discredited and
paranoid, barely surviving as a trainer.
Bitterman is a classic cynical con man, deep
in debt, making things up on the fly and suitably able to talk naive
Philip into a business deal to train and race the horse, named Some
Like It Heart by Leslie. Bitterman drafts a short-tempered jockey,
Bug Boy (Mitchell Murrill) to ride the horse.
Bitterman has a plan that is unscrupulous --
enter Some Like It Heart into a few races and have the horse finish
last or close to it. Then as the odds climb against the horse
winning, place heavy bets on the horse and allow it to run full
force, leading to a big payoff via a victory. Like that is going to
Kindler is a hoot as Bitterman, a perpetual
loser stumbling along as a person who thinks he can beat the system
but is always on the brink of toppling over a cliff.
Lindberg and Weinstein present an
interesting dynamic of a couple in which one must ask: How the heck
can this work? Leslie is so focused on entitlement yet is hooked up
with a man entrenched in a business that hardly is considered
honorable and certainly looked upon with disdain among the people
with whom Leslie seeks to be peers. Weinstein's Philip is almost a
tragic character, befuddled, devoted to Leslie but totally out of
his league trying to match wits with the elite class he is being
forced to join.
"The Fiddling Horse" is a charming little
movie, well constructed by Wallis and boosted by solid performances
from a cast of capable performers who may not be marquee regulars
but nevertheless know their craft.
HORSE" Official Trailer:
This documentary, offered on Netflix, is a
visually stunning look at people who like to take risky physical
challenges, going up against Mother Nature. The beginning of the
movie features a list of the people who served as cameramen on the
project, directed by Thierry Donard. The credited cameramen were
Jean-Remy Ceron, Tomatoa Cowan, Mateffy Istvan, Matias Myklebust,
Tim Pruvost, Soren Rickards, Humberto Santo, Matty Schweitzer and
"Magnetic" focuses on extreme surfers,
skiers, cyclists and flyers (non-plane) who visit remote areas of
the world to conduct their conquests of huge waves, steep slopes,
trails and rock formations and the unpredictability of wind
currents. Here are some of the featured locations and athletes:
Praia del Norte, Portugal: Underground
tunnels off the shore help trigger some of the biggest waves in the
world. Here, Toby Cunningham from San Diego and Maya Gabeira take to
these massive waves. So perilous are these endeavors, each surfer
must have a buddy nearby on a jet ski to be able to come to the
rescue should things go bad. The efforts of these surfers draw
crowds to watch.
Chamonix, France: Here the patience of a
dedicated skier is shown as Wille Lindberg ends up spending 46 days
seeking a chance to ski down nearly 90-degree slopes of L'Amone in
the French Alps. Out of those 46 days of waiting for the best
conditions to ski, Lindberg actually went to the crest of L'Amore
seven times before he was finally able to tackle the slope on his
Tarifa, Spain and Scotland: Liam Whaley
meets the forces of wind and water as he goes kite-boarding. What
looks graceful can be punishing to the body, especially the legs and
back, according to Whaley.
Samoens, France: Those of us who thought it
was great to ride a bike without too many spectacular crashes can
envy Xavier Marovelli and Tom Barrer, who cycle in rugged territory,
often with narrow trails and hills and even rocks that they are able
to hop up on with their bikes. Marovelli considers himself a climber
while Barrer is a freestyler.
Karimabad and other locations in Northern
Pakistan: Back to the slopes as extreme skiers Sam Favret, Leo
Slemmit and Julien (Pica) Herry meet the spine-tingling deep slopes
of Mirshiker Summit and Barbara's Peak. The dedication of these guys
is seen as they hike for hours, sometimes getting physically sick,
to reach their destination and what will be a brief but
unforgettable zip down the snowpacked terrain.
New Zealand: Speed flying, shown here by
Jamie Lee and Malachi Templeton, is the elite group of hand-gliding
experts. Templeton's helmet-cam shots show these guys navigating at
high speeds through gulleys and narrow canyons where one slip of
their controls could send them bashing into rocks.
Hawaii and Tahiti: The documentary wraps up,
naturally, featuring surfers Zane Kekoa Schweitzer, Matahi Drollet,
Lorenzo Avvenenti, Tikanui Smith, Tehotu Wong and Hira Teriinatoofa
as they take on some of the best waves in the world and recall some
close calls when the oceans elect to slap them down.
Watching this movie, I wished I could have
viewed it on an IMAX screen. The footage is so spectacular that not
only are we going on wild rides with these athletes, we are seeing
gorgeous elements of this world.
Via Amazon I was able to view "Save
Yourself," a little horror flick that was made in 2015. All scary
movies latch onto to some theme that is a staple of this genre --
such as "promiscuous sex usually leads to a brutal death" and sweet
and traditional holidays like Christmas can be terribly perverted by
some deranged killer(s).
"Save Yourself" builds upon the theme of
"beware of small towns, as they can be a breeding ground for some
truly demented people." After the screening of a horror movie and
subsequent autograph-signing session in a modest little hamlet, five
young women -- part of the film's cast and crew and led by director
Crystal Lacroix (Tristan Risk, "American Mary"), pile into a car for
a drive to Los Angeles for another screening. Crystal appears to be
weary of it all, yet carries on like a trooper.
The car loaded with the women doesn't get
far when Crystal,, the driver, pulls off at a rest stop to get out,
take a breather and smoke a cigarette. Several hours pass and
Crystal does not return.
Three of the women -- Kim Tobin (Jessica
Cameron, who also served as producer), Lizzie Miller (Cayleigh Le
Grand) and Dawn Sommerville (Lara Mrkoci) set out to look for
Crystal while Sasha Tobin (Tianna Nori) opts to stay with the car.
The three women come across a big secluded
home that looks both inviting and ominous, where they get a hostile
greeting by Astrid Sauter (Elma Begovic) whose lack of hospitality
is overridden by her husband Chris (Ry Barrett), whose friendliness,
like the house, could be inviting while still being creepy. Taken in
by the cordiality of Chris, the three women accept his invitation to
come inside, get refreshed and then use a landline to call the
police to report Crystal's disappearance.
Of course, it is not long before the true
agenda of Mr. and Mrs. Sauter is revealed.
Directed and co-written by Ryan M. Andrews
-- others collaborating on the story and screen play were Chris
Cull, Mitch Lackie and I.J. Schecter, "Save Yourself" now becomes a
body-count thriller as the women, upon learning the ghastly truth of
what is transpiring at the Sauter residence, try to survive in a
very deadly situation. They encounter Heather Amato (Sydney
Kondruss), who has been held captive by the Sauters for a few years,
Richard (Marcus Haccius), who oozes cool evilness, and Tessa (Bea
Santos), the silently suffering daughter of the Sauters. And it
wraps up with a slightly twisted ending.