Movie Review of “Hellion” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 01/29/2014)

Raising this ‘Hellion’
Ashley Jo Will

On a spur of the moment, I decided to go to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 18 despite me already planning to attend Jan. 24-25. When a previous co-worker suggested going, my husband and I decided to go as well to see if we could see any stars in Park City as well as check if there were any tickets available at the box office. Not surprisingly, we were unable to attend a film in Park City but we were able to score tickets to two films in Salt Lake City theaters, a bit less than an hour away. One of the films we watched was “Hellion”, an entry in the U.S. Dramatic Competition, a movie I highly recommend to everybody. In “Hellion”, Aaron Paul, who many may know as Jesse Pinkman in the television show “Breaking Bad”, stars as a father struggling raising two sons during a time of turmoil.

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Movie Review of “Drinking Buddies” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 01/22/2014)

Only ‘Drinking Buddies’
Ashley Jo Will

Released on video Dec. 3, 2013, “Drinking Buddies” is a comedy that has improvised dialogue. When used in filmmaking, this technique seems to make a film feel either natural or awkward. “Drinking Buddies” sometimes feels awkward while feeling natural at other times as the relationships between four people are explored. Starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston, “Drinking Buddies” depicts two people who seem perfect for each other although they are already in relationships. Beer emphasizes the blurry relationships among the friends as some love is lost and some is gained.

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Movie Review of “Crystal Fairy” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 01/15/2014)

Meet ‘Crystal Fairy’
Ashley Jo Will

At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, “Crystal Fairy” received the Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic. With this in mind, I was curious to check out this film that received praise from the competition’s jury as I eagerly look forward to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival happening this month. Michael Cera stars in the film as a young man named Jamie who is on a road trip in Chile. He is also accompanied by a woman who calls herself Crystal Fairy. The film follows Jamie on his foreign adventure while he searches for a magical cactus.

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Movie Review of “A Werewolf Boy” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 01/08/2014)

Loving ‘A Werewolf Boy’
Ashley Jo Will

A strange tale is set in store for viewers as they watch “A Werewolf Boy”, a South Korean film released on video Aug. 13, 2013. As long as everybody can read subtitles, the entire family can enjoy this film with minimal profanity, sexual content, and gore. The film begins in America with an elderly lady named Suni receiving a phone call while she is among family members. Suni’s face goes agape and she states, “I need to go to Korea.” After traveling across the world, Suni connects with her granddaughter living in South Korea. Suni comes across the home she lived in as a teenager and as she looks upon the abandoned house, the audience learns what transpired there 47 years ago. Loud thunder booms and lightning strikes while setting the mood for an eerie setting. A man is seen carrying a bucket of meat and opening multiple padlocks to feed whatever is locked up. Suddenly, before the door is opened, the caretaker falls over and dies. When Suni’s family moves into this house, its previous history is unknown and the creature still behind the padlocked cage changes all of their lives.

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Movie Review of “Blackfish” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 01/01/2014)

Swimming with ‘Blackfish’
Ashley Jo Will

I have been to SeaWorld once in my lifetime. An aunt, uncle and a couple cousins of mine live in Texas. While vacationing at their house during the summer, my family traveled to the SeaWorld location in San Antonio. I was most excited to see a killer whale show and sit in the splash zone because these particular marine mammals are my second-favorite animal on Earth – if you are wondering, my No. 1 favorite animal is a tiger. One of my favorite movies as a child was “Free Willy” and I especially loved the ending when the killer whale is released from captivity by the star of the film. The most emotional scenes include Willy acting despondent while in captivity and the end of the film when Willy is reunited with his family’s pod in the ocean. These scenes affected me and although I wanted to see a killer whale show at SeaWorld as a teenager, I already firmly believed whales like Shamu should be living in wide-open oceans rather than captured and used for the public’s amusement. Yet this may be the closest I ever get to a live killer whale. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013 and released on video Nov. 12, 2013, “Blackfish” tells the story of behind the scenes at SeaWorld from the perspective of several former killer whale trainers. The goal of “Blackfish” seems to be to convince viewers that it is folly to think humans can control killer whales and that this clouded judgment harms the animals as well as humans.

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Movie Review of “Heavenly Creatures” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 12/25/2013)

Bond of ‘Heavenly Creatures’
Ashley Jo Will

Most people hear the name Peter Jackson and immediately think of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” films. Recently I watched his latest film, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” in the local movie theater. A couple days later, I watched an older movie also directed by Peter Jackson, “Heavenly Creatures”, originally released in 1994. I was at a book club meeting and a member insisted we watch it rather than read a book during the busy month of December. Rather than being a Christmas themed movie, “Heavenly Creatures”, which is based on true events in the 1950s, is about the intense relationship of two teenage girls which leads to them murdering one of their mothers. Watch “Heavenly Creatures” and see the evolution of the unique friendship between Pauline and Juliet.

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Movie Review of “Wolf Children” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 12/18/2013)

Raising ‘Wolf Children’
Ashley Jo Will

Although “Wolf Children” contains fantastical elements, its strengths are moments that many viewers will relate to such as the power of love, the importance of family and choosing your own path in life. I have been excited for this particular anime film, which has won five awards at various festivals and ceremonies, since reading about it a number of months ago. The director of the film, Mamoru Hosoda, also directed the anime film “Summer Wars”, which I wrote about in this column for the March 2, 2011, edition of the Rocket-Miner Marquee. I really liked the combination of science fiction and family drama in “Summer Wars”, and anticipated a perfect combination of reality and fantasy with “Wolf Children” as well. Fortunately, I was not disappointed when “Wolf Children” was released on video Nov. 26, 2013.

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Movie Review of “The English Teacher” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 12/11/2013)

Words of ‘The English Teacher’
Ashley Jo Will

The title of the film “The English Teacher” brought back fond memories of all of my beloved English teachers in high school. The teacher that comes to mind in particular is Diane Woodd, an English teacher at Green River High School. She definitely has a passion for literature and the English language and I remember her energetic demeanor ten years after sitting in her classroom. Ms. Woodd was one of the inspirations for my decision to major in English which led me to earn a bachelor degree in English at the University of Wyoming and now I am working with books in the Sweetwater County Library System. Released on video Sept. 3, 2013, “The English Teacher” gives the audience a glimpse of the life of another passionate high school English teacher who is named Linda Sinclair.

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Movie Review of “Europa Report” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 12/04/2013)

Viewing ‘Europa Report’
Ashley Jo Will

Released on video Oct. 8, 2013, the film “Europa Report” details the journey of the crew of Europa One which is a space exploration mission to test for possible life on Jupiter’s moon Europa. Scientists believe Europa contains an icy surface with an ocean of water underneath. With a speculation of an abundance of water, life is suspected to exist on Europa. With much planning, specialists from around the world are selected to be crew members of Europa One. Initially the mission was going to send a robot to collect data samples from Europa but a manned spacecraft was decided upon instead. It would be well over a year before Europa One would reach its destination but humans are said to have a special quality that robots do not have. View the “Europa Report” and see what was found on Jupiter’s moon and the perils endured and sacrifices that the crew made for the sake of discovery.

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Movie Review of “The Paw Project” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 11/27/2013)

Spreading ‘The Paw Project’
Ashley Jo Will

For a while, I hesitated to watch “The Paw Project” and write my weekly column on it because I know it is a controversial subject. After contemplating my trepidation, I decided to go ahead and write about this documentary that I am passionate about because I believe it is important to spread the word about “The Paw Project” to at least allow everybody to be aware of what exactly declawing cats entails and then people can decide for themselves whether or not they want to accept the position of the filmmakers. I have been following The Paw Project website and Facebook page and watching for a nearby screening close to Wyoming. Regrettably, there were no screenings as of November within a reasonable drivable distance. Fortunately for me and the rest of the public, in November “The Paw Project” was released via on-demand services such as iTunes and amazon.com instant video. Watch “The Paw Project” and learn what exactly declawing is and how a grass-roots movement spread, leading to a ban of declawing in several cities in California.

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