Tag Archives: Spellbound

“Lucky” documents lottery winners, but not much else

“What would you buy if you had a million dollars?”  This is the type of hypothetical fantasizing we’ve all indulged in as children, but what if you actually won that million dollars?

Lucky follows the rare people who have won the lottery, varying from 5.5 to 22 million dollars in winnings.  The effects of fame and fortune are disclosed by the winners in interview format.  Some find it a curse they’re happy to spend until they’re again broke; others help their families or migrate to wealthier locales to fit in.

The general idea behind the film is immediately an attractive one: how do one of our fellow proles cope with becoming a part of the elite?  In a brief interview with a lottery player, he explains that he gambles so, “I can actually be free.”   Right there is a golden opportunity to explore our definition of “free” in a country that heralds itself as the uber-democracy and how capitalism and wealth play into that concept.

But director Jeffrey Blitz (Spellbound, Rocket Science)  doesn’t follow these breadcrumbs.  When former friends of lottery winners Kristine and Steve’s tell us they are envious of their bump up the class ladder, the film fails to dig in and ask why.  Why are we envious of the wealthy?  What does it mean to us to have money, to yearn for it?  Instead of providing an insightful document on the U.S.’s religion of greenbacks, it takes hunger for cash for granted.

Sure, we meet the guy who keeps a lid on his expenditures, except the stay cats he feeds every night and the stripper friends he visits; we even see the literal ruin of a man due to the cash (his siblings hired a hit man so they could acquire the wealth).  But Lucky doesn’t get the pick axe to the heart (so to speak) and leaves an aftertaste just slightly better than the Inside Edition clips it uses.

When a Vietnamese lottery winner’s wife stops the interview when it becomes too emotional, it stands in metaphorically for the film overall.  It could go deeper, but maybe it hurts too much.

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Edinburgh International Film Festival Schedule Released

The Edinburgh International Film Festival has just released their schedule for the 12 day long festival, which starts June 16 and ends June 27.  Tickets for the festival go on sale tomorrow at noon.

You can read through the digital brochure here or go to the film fest’s website here to look through their calendar.

Due to your readership, dear Film Fan, I have secured a Press Pass for the festival. This makes almost all of the screenings free. Without your readership, I would be spending over a 100 pounds trying to cover a fraction of the festival’s events. So thank you.

To honor your support, please look through the festival’s brochure and tell me what films you want reviewed  – or simply if I’ve overlooked a great film at the fest. I cannot promise I will be able to deliver all reviews given time restraints, but I will do my best.

There are an insane number of films being shown, so the following are the main titles I’m looking forward to seeing.

22 Bullets


“Jean Reno gets shot 22 times…and he’s not happy about it.”  Produced by Luc Besson (Unleashed, The Fifth Element) and starring our favorite hit man, this is high on my list.

BAFTA Scotland Interview: Sir Patrick Stewart

Who would pass up a chance to see Captain Picard?


Cigarette Girl


A dystopia in which smokers are separated from the rest of the city, it looks like a fun B-movie.

Get Low

Robert Duvall plays Felix Bush, an old timer who wants to have a funeral party – while he’s still alive.  Throw Bill Murray into this 1930’s period piece and I’m there.

H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror

This will be a “audio horror movie,” using the cinema’s sound system to tell Lovecraft’s tale.

Lucky


Documentary from Jeffrey Blitz (Spellbound, Rocket Science) detailing the lives of lottery winners.  Given the greatness of Rocket Race and an NPR piece I heard discussing the making of the film, it should deliver the goods.

Monsters


After contact with alien life has gone awry, the Mexican/U.S. border becomes “infected” territory.  Monsters received buzz at SXSW and has been compared to District 9.  Probably the film I’m most anticipating at the festival.

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?

Directed by Werner Herzog and produced by David Lynch, that’s enough to watch.  Adding Michael Shannon (a little known actor who was phenomenal in Shotgun Stories), Michael Pena (Crash, The Shield), Chloe Sevigny, and Willem Dafoe is just icing to the cake.

Outcast

Looking forward to this based solely on the reviews, tagging it as a UK horror that throws out the rules.

R


Described by the EIFF as a prison story that makes A Prophet “look like porridge.”

Red Hill


“This Western-style outback thriller is action cinema at its very best.”

Restropo


“The Afghanistan war film that renders all others unnecessary.”  After being embedded for 15 months, the film is supposed to be an unflinching analysis of modern warfare, featuring civilian and military casualties.

The Last Rites of Ransom Pride


It’s 1910 and a young woman is hellbent on returning the body of outlaw Ransom Pride to Texas for a proper burial.  Described as a “dark, violent western” reminiscent of Tarantino, Pekinpah, and Sergio Leone, with cameos from Kris Kristofferson, Dwight Yoakam, Jason Preistly, and a shotgun wielding Peter Dinklage, it sounds like a good ride.

The People vs. George Lucas


I posted a blog piece about this that you can read here.  Super pumped for this one.

Toy Story 3


UK premiere of Pixar’s latest.

World’s Greatest Dad


Starring Robin Williams in a dark comedy/drama directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, it’s sure to be interesting given Williams abilities showcased in One Hour Photo and Death to Smoochy.

Other film of interest include: Act of Dishonour, And Everything is Going Fine, Au Revoir Taipei, Blank City, Boy, Caterpillar, Chase the Slut, Cherry Tree Lane, Crime Fighters, Evil in the Time of Heroes, Fog, Gravity, Henry of Navarre, HIGH School, Hotel Atlantico, Jackboots on Whitehall, Lucky Luke, Ollie Kepler’s Expanding Purple World, Perastroika, Police Adjective, Postales, Privelege, Putty Hill, Skeletons, Snowman’s Land, Son of Babylon, Soul Boy, The Dry Land, The Hunter, The Oath, The Red Machine, The Robber, The Sentimental Engine Slayer, Third Star, Two Eyes Staring, Vacation, and Went the Day Well?

There are still some costs to covering the film festival, so if you like the blog and can afford to support my work, donate below.  If you donate $10 or more, I will send you a DVD of my short films. One finds more value in their work when people are willing to pay for it.

Thanks!