Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cook County

Review by Rob McKinnon

Running Time: 93 minutes
Not Rated
Written & Directed by David Pomes

As a writer/director myself I watch many, many movies, and will often review some of the best films that I see, and I’m happy to be able to advise here that COOK COUNTY is one of the best “low budget” indie films I’ve seen in a very long time.

Adroitly written and directed by David Pomes, COOK COUNTY is an unflinching look at the Great American Tragedy of meth addiction; but it is unlike any of the drug culture films you may have seen. This film is not the usual urban story. COOK COUNTY delivers showing us a predominantly white, rural America, that is being consumed and destroyed by the scourge of crystal meth addiction. Here you’ll see a story that though fiction is completely grounded in an ugly reality. It is currently perhaps the biggest problem with which American law enforcement is confronted.

This film is set around a country family made up of a father Sonny (Xander Burkeley), returning home from prison and having been off meth, who wishes to reconnect with his teen-aged son (Ryan Donowho), who is just beginning to experiment with drugs but is devotedly protective of his little niece, who with her father (Anson Mount) , the boy’s uncle, and his grandfather all share a small house in the East Texas countryside. The home is constantly visited by a variety of disreputable meth addicts. The uncle, Bump, (Anson Mount) is not only an irredeemable addict who cares about nothing more than meth, but has a meth “lab” in the house where he cooks it to use and to sell, unmindful of the danger to his young daughter.

The suspense, conflict, drama, tension, and violence which Pomes’ intelligent script and spot-on directing creates, makes for a film which is compelling, insightful, real and thoroughly entertaining. And yes, I said “film.” In the days where low budget is generally digitally shot, this one was shot on film, and because of it, it’s all the more powerfully engaging. We do what we have to do when shooting low budget, but don’t ever forget the power of the film image to thoroughly engage the audience in the story, particularly in drama, terror, and horror.

This is strong stuff, but definitely a “must see” film. The major players are all outstanding in terms of the credibility, power, and skill of their respective performances. Anson Mount is phenomenal and brings such incredible depth to his portrayal of Uncle Bump.

The audience (a full house) with which we viewed this movie, was mesmerized and clearly, completely drawn into the story.

This film has not yet been picked up for theatrical distribution (though I’m sure it will be). You can help in the process. You have an advance opportunity to see it, and tell others…everybody. It will be screening in Houston again at Studio Movie Grill CityCentre from September 4th through 10th. David will be taking his film to Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida to give people a chance to see it on the big screen before it goes to DVD. Locally for tickets, go to

Besides Studio Movie Grill CityCentre, from 9/4 through 9/10, COOK COUNTY will screen Tuesday, Sept. 1 in New Orleans, 7:30 PM at Canal Place Cinema; Thursday, Sept. 3 in Baton Rouge, 8PM at Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion; Thursday, Sept. 10 in Fayetteville, AR, 8PM at University of Arkansas Global Campus Theater; and Friday, Sept. 11 it will have a one-week run in Little Rock. Spread the word about this movie!

Friday, August 14, 2009

District 9

Review by Matt Piccirillo

Rated R
Running time: 112 minutes
Matt’s Mark: 9.5 out of 10

If you are a fan of Sci-Fi aliens with a documentary film style, then I recommend DISTRICT 9, the latest from Oscar winner Peter Jackson who produced this film. This is not your typical sci-fi flick because of its film style (which is a good thing). DISTRICT 9 also combines the elements of drama and action with documentary captions and social commentary.

For this being his motion picture directing debut, Neill Blomkamp has created something special. He not only directed DISTRICT 9, but he wrote the screenplay with Terri Tatchell. Blomkamp is best known for his advertising work, short films, and contribution to visual effects. He was the creator of the short "Alive in Joburg" (which is the impressive original to DISTRICT 9).

DISTRICT 9 is worth every cent of the movie ticket price. Blomkamp isn’t afraid to show blood. The film can be brutal at times, but it’s done in a way where it doesn’t fall into the gore genre.

The story takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa and follows Wikus Van De Merwe played by Sharlto Copley. Copley is a South African filmmaker turned actor and he's delivered a memorable performance. Copley portrays a man who gets framed and becomes part of an experiment by Multi-National United (MNU). MNU was set up to quarantine the aliens whose ship landed above the African city nearly 30 years ago. DISTRICT 9 includes Man vs. Aliens and Man vs. Man combat.

This is the best Sci-Fi film I have seen this year. It is solid. Strong writing and directing, believable characters and good acting, impressive visual effects and sound editing all add up to an entertaining time at the movies. Isn’t that why we go to the movies? It sure is. So go on and enter DISTRICT 9.