La Misma Luna
Under the Same Moon

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I have a strong opinion on illegal immigration. I do not support illegal activity, but I do recognize the bravery of human beings who leave their family, friends, community, and culture behind to gain just a chance at making their lives something better than poverty.

One of many movies featuring this political topic, La Misma Luna is a family film about a mother and son seperated by a border. Rosario immigrated to the United States illegally so she could earn money to support her family in Mexico. She left behind her son, Carlitos, at the age of four, but every Sunday for four years, she calls him from a pay phone in the middle of East LA to let him know that she loves him. Back in Mexico, Carlitos, is under the care and watchful eye of his grandmother, but when she passes unexpectedly, his desperation leads him to cross the boarder alone. Along the way, he finds help from those running in the same direction and hopes that he can find his mother before Sunday so she won't worry about him.

Everything a family film should be, La Misma Luna explorers the notions of community, family, and the swaying balance between the American dream and the costs to obtain it. A heartstrings puller, this film does everything possible to enable the viewer to empathize with its main characters. As the young protagonist, Carlitos is an absolutely adorable, round-faced charmer whose innocence and trust in humanity get him through the journey. The movie also does a good job portraying the emotional hardship of a family divided by a border. The addition of some East LA, first-born Mexican American, and immigrant culture adds to the perspective and the wider message.

However, La Misma Luna was, at times, dull and the plot was extremely predictable. Usually, in the family film genre, predictability is good, but in this case I almost felt insulted. It was like the filmmakers tried to hide what the ending would hold. The film wasn't anything new or groundbreaking, and though it makes a great Saturday afternoon watch, I wouldn't think much more of it. Cute but average, Under the Same Moon is just another movie.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 12:49 PM 0 comments  

Inside Darkness

Thursday, October 16, 2008


The Pope, tradition, rosary beads, Purgatory – all prominent images of Catholic culture. In particular, the priesthood has been the subject of documentaries, comedies, and the occasional drama. But have you heard of a priest making the movie? Meet Father Dominic De Lay, writer/director extraordinaire. Aside from celebrating mass every Sunday, he makes movies as his ministry. A part of the Dominican Friar order, De Lay preaches through art, and so he does in his 36 minute short film entitled Inside Darkness.

Just in time for the 2008 Presidential Election, Inside Darkness features three presidential candidates trapped inside a dark room. The three hostages:
1.) Presidential incumbent, Yvette Anderson- Protestant, female, Republican
2.) Senator John Bowman - Catholic, black,[ former Colonel, Democrat
3.) Patrick Weller - atheist, intellectual, Independent
The last thing they remember is being at the presidential debate, and though they share the same last memory, they do not share the same ideas about leading a nation.

Intense and symbolic, Inside Darkness is thrilling and politically charged. The dissonant music adds to the tension, and it churns the paranoia that progressively creeps into the slow shrinking room. The use of lighting is creative and spurs discussion. Why, for example, are some characters cloaked in red light at some points in the film? Why are there single points of light in a room full of darkness? There are other concepts to examine in this short film - Why do the captors keep looking to the sky? Why did the filmmaker choose such diverse demographical representations for his characters? How does religion affect their decision making, both in the room and out? And then, there's that ear. What the heck does that ear mean? The death of listening? One-sided hearing? Who knows? That's for you to discuss.

The analysis of Inside Darkness can go on for hours and hours, and you'll notice that I've listed more questions than anything else. Completely abstract, Inside Darkness is not meant to provide answers, which can be frustrating. This film is not for the artistically narrow-minded. It is, at times, hard to follow. There is no obvious plot, and no obvious message. It is meant to stimulate the exchange of ideas and promote thought, so it is important to keep this mentality in mind prior to watching the film. The episodic format makes this goal easy to obtain, so again, be prepared to watch a movie that is crafted as a visual art piece and generates conversation, not a flick to sit and eat a bowl of popcorn to (however, I'm sure Father Dominic would love for you to eat popcorn with this film).

To watch free, online episodes or buy the DVD, visit
For more information on the filmmaker, Father Dominic De Lay, visit
For more information on the Dominican Friars visit

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:15 PM 0 comments  



. . . and then he could jump through space and time - now we're in London, now we're in France, I can see Rachel Bilson's underpants.

Completely abrupt, haphazard, and crazy, Jumper is a story about David Rice (Hayden Christiansen) and his ability to jump through space - I'm not sure if he can jump through time though. They may not have covered that in the user manual. One day, after being throughly humiliated on the school yard in front of the girl he's crushing on, he falls through a frozen river and is about to drown. Suddenly, he finds himself sopping wet in the middle of the school library. He then realizes that he can go anywhere in the world, which includes a stop over in the middle of a bank vault. As the years pass and he's worked his way up to a luxury apartment, Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), a Jumper Hunter, finds him, and the whirlwind of jumping, running, and electrocuting begins. Somewhere in the mix, David manages to pick up his former childhood sweetheart (Bilson) and meet another Jumper.

Great CG and beautiful destination shots, Jumper is still just a hop, skip, and a jump away from being a zero GOOMBA, a rating I hadn't thought existed before this movie. Poorly acted, cheesy, and continuously dumb, I purposely gave you a thorough synopsis because I know you'll be curious, but don't do it! My synopsis is better! Samuel L. Jackson, a Jumper Hunter - I shouldn't have to say any more.

Aside from plot retardation (like Millie naively following along with no questions asked, or Jackson electrocuting Jumpers just because, or Hayden Christiansen pretending to be a bad ass), the interesting concept for a story was drowned, maimed, and cindered in the span of an agonizing 90 minutes. The movie started out well. I was engaging, and I was curious to see how it would all work out. Then, that great 20 minutes were followed by the introduction of the grown-up David (AKA Christiansen). Throw in the Snakes on a Plane actor, and you've got yourself a flop.

So Jumper is not good. Don't jump!

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 9:50 PM 0 comments  

The Other Boleyn Girl

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


One of my favorite teachers, Mr. Armstrong, taught AP European History. During the first week of class, I had been listening diligently to one of his lectures, and for one moment I focused on my notes when suddenly, he calls my name. He's waiting for my answer. The last thing he was talking about before I zoned out was Germany. The question was, "Where does he live?" So I answered, "Berlin . . ?" In actuality, the question was "Where does the pope live." And that, of course, was the wrong answer. So from then on, every once in a while, if Mr. Armstrong thought I was drifting off . . . he'd yell "Jennifer! Where's the pope!?!" And I'd answer, "The Vatican, Mr. Armstrong." But aside from learning where the pope lived, I learned about Anne Boleyn and her integral part to the Church of England.

The Other Boleyn Girl focuses on Henry VIII's affair with Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johansson) and the struggle between two sisters over the same man. Mary is shy and beautiful while Anne (Natalie Portman) is witty and daring. In an attempt to raise their family standings, the Boleyn parents sought to make Anne King Henry's mistress. However, when her first attempt fails to get his attention, he notices the quiet, but stunning Mary instead. Mary becomes his mistress while Anne is sent off to France for some feminine refinement. Anne returns some years later, after the King has grown tired of Mary, and King Henry becomes infatuated with her. And when sisters fight over the same man, things get pretty ugly.

With two strong female leads, its a wonder that this period piece became such a revolting film. Now, I realize that this was just how it was in the olden days, setting your kids up to become royal sex toys for the betterment of the family, but I was absolutely disgusted. But that isn't so much the film's fault as it is history's fault. What was terrible was the indecisive portrayal of Henry VIII. I have no way of knowing how close the role is to the real person, but as a character, he had no depth or complexities. He was basically a sex fiend who got what he wanted or someone died if he didn't. Completely uninteresting. Same with the plot. Same with Anne and Mary. Although, I must recognize Natalie Portman's dazzling performance as the loving, yet dually selfish sister.

I must say that this article is particularly dull. I blame that on the subject. Don't watch this movie unless you want to catch a glimpse of the cute Jim Sturgess, the Boleyn Brother. Unfortunately, he gets beheaded and he doesn't sing a line. If I spoiled it for you - good. Anything to keep you from watching this film.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:32 PM 0 comments