CB Podcast Ep. 107 – “A Wrinkle in Time” Review

After a week off, the bros catch up with a bunch of recommendations in film and television and end with a review of Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time.
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  • Recommendations
    • Jake
      • The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy, The Purge: Election Year
      • Taboo: Season 1 (Amazon & Hulu)
      • Atlanta: Robbin’ Season (FX)
    • Sam
      • Jessica Jones Season 2 (Netflix)
      • Boy (Amazon)
    • Joe
      • Hans Zimmer: Live in Prague (Netflix)
      • Collateral (Netflix)
      • Love, Simon (In Theaters)
      • Nailed It! (Netflix)
  • Social Media
  • Credits:
  • Hosts: Josiah Wampfler, Sam Wampfler & Jacob Wampfler
  • Produced by Josiah Wampfler
  • A Cinema Bros Network Podcast
  • Theme Music by Josiah Wampfler. Film clips used under fair use. All rights belong to their respective copyright holders
  • Music clips used under fair use. All rights belong to their respective copyright holders.
  • Visit our website for show notes as well as articles covering film, television, video games, music & more!
  • Email us at cinemabrospod@gmail.com

Cinema Bros “Loving” Review Roundup

“Loving” – A Married Man’s Perspective

By Jacob Wampfler

Immediately after my screening of Loving concluded, I texted my wife.  The text message read, “I love you.  I know I take for granted what we have together, far too often but…I love you.”  Loving was, for me, an introspective and emotional film that caused me to examine my own marriage and contemplate the unsettling reality of Richard and Mildred Loving’s story.  I have never been told that I cannot be with my wife.  I have never had my personal rights or space violated because I choose to love the woman to whom I am married.  Jeff Nichols and his powerful film convey the long-suffering triumph of two people who refused to stop fighting for one another.  And at the very center of that story lies a simple message summed up in the words of Richard Loving, “Tell the judge that I love my wife.”  This may be a film about a landmark Supreme Court decision.  But moreso, it’s about Mildred and Richard and their love for each other.

I had the opportunity to see this film in St. Louis at a small art-house theater I used to frequent when I lived in the area.  As the theater began to fill up for an almost sold-out showing, I looked around me to notice that the audience was populated with couples of all ages and demographics.  The one demographic that stood out to me most, however, were the interracial couples who had come to see Loving.  It struck me that these couples, during the time in which Loving took place, would not have been allowed to see a movie together in  many parts of our country.  As the film progressed and finally, as the credits rolled, I heard the emotional sound of sobbing throughout the theater.  As I walked out that night, I saw one interracial couple grasping hands together, leaning towards each other with tears streaming down their faces.  That image has imprinted itself in my memory…and this is why Loving is important filmmaking.

There is a recurring theme in Loving that has stuck with me since I saw the film about a month ago.  Richard Loving is a mason by trade.  He goes to work each day with his tools and lunch pail in hand.  In a lesser film, this could quickly become cliche.  However, Nichols uses this aspect of Richard’s life to communicate something magnificent.  Over and over again, we see Richard with trowel and mortar laying brick on top of brick.  At the beginning of the film, he tells Mildred he will build a house for her one day.  At the end of the film, he builds that house for her in their home-state of Virginia, the very place from which they had been exiled for their previously unlawful union.  Mildred and Richard didn’t help to change the Constitution of the United States overnight.  They did it slowly, painfully, and not without setback along the way.  Brick by brick, they built their love for another.  Brick by brick, they made history together.  Loving is a fitting testament to and celebration of Richard and Mildred Loving, and it is an essential film of our time.


The Relevance of “Loving” in Trump’s America

By Sam Wampfler

I knew, going into Loving, that it was going to be a difficult movie to watch. It is a film set in a time when our country not only had bigoted and hate filled ideas, but also had the legal means to act on those ideas in often times brutal and unforgiving ways. That being said, I greatly enjoyed Loving. The makers of this film did everything right.

The casting was phenomenal. The lead actors, Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, played the roles of the tormented interracial couple perfectly. Negga especially was breathtaking. Her portrayal of Mildred Loving was strong and confident yet extremely caring. Even the minor roles in this movie were extremely important and perfectly acted. Nick Kroll, normally known for comedic antics, plays completely against type as the lawyer that initially takes on their case and Michael Shannon, as a man assigned to photograph the couple, adds new layers to some already emotional scenes.

Loving is also a very beautiful film. It is so beautiful that for the first half of the film I was so immersed in the visuals that I didn’t even realize how relevant the concepts of the film are to post-election America. Then at about half way through the film I realized just how screwed up America once was and just how screwed up we might become very soon.

The racist tendencies of our country have never disappeared and they never really will. As I mentioned before, the era that Loving is set in had no laws against the prejudiced actions of its citizens. Now that a man that could pass as one of the “villains” in Loving has been elected as president, it is very possible that we could end up with an America that looks far too much like the America we see in LovingThe growing prevalence of these completely racist beliefs in modern day America scares the crap out of me. The resurgence of open racist acts by some Americans days after the election definitely contribute to this fear. Hopefully my fears are unfounded.


“Loving” is the Rare Biopic That Is Both Accurate and Artful

By Josiah Wampfler

Biopics have become sort of a cliche, especially if they come out in the fall. Many follow the same types of plot beats, they are usually dripping in melodrama as they chase awards attention and, in general, I usually get pretty bored with a lot of them. Hacksaw Ridge and Sully earlier this fall were guilty of almost all of the biopic sins I mentioned. They were passable films, but they never really transcended the “genre” and overall I was just plain bored with them. Thankfully, 2016 has finally brought us a transcendent biopic in Loving: a film that manages to not only be true to its subjects, but also is told with an artistic eye.

Directed by Jeff Nichols, Loving tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who famously were the couple behind the supreme court case, Loving v. Virginia, that ended laws against interracial marriage throughout the country. Going into a film such as that, one may expect a typical courtroom drama that shows the harassment that both the lawyers and the Lovings faced. And while we do see much of the harassment the Lovings themselves faced, the courtroom is almost completely absent from the film. Nichols instead knew that the best version of this story would be to focus on what was truly important in it: the Lovings themselves.

As a result, Loving is a very subdued, quiet film that reflects the real people its characters are based upon. These weren’t revolutionaries like Malcolm X or Martin Luther King. Mildred Loving certainly helped a lot of other people in pushing their case to the ACLU, but in the end they were two people that loved each other that just wanted to be left alone to raise their family. And Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga do a spectacular job of portraying that. Edgerton’s Richard is a man of few words who is quite the reluctant participant in the whole ordeal. Negga’s Mildred on the other hand starts off quite timid, but as the film progresses she really takes charge and ends up being the really driving force in the relationship. And their chemistry together is absolutely palpable.

Now, Jeff Nichols, may not seem like the right man to tell a story like this, and even he has said he had his doubts at first. I mean, you wouldn’t think the white guy behind Mud and Take Shelter would be directing a biopic about the Lovings, but after seeing the film he made, I think there is no doubt he was the perfect person for the job. Not only does he take great care in getting the characters right, but he is exactly the type of sure-handed director that this story needed. He doesn’t get too flashy and he lets the characters really be the driving force behind the film. His obvious affinity for stories about huge anxiety inducing forces bearing down on people certainly helps the film as well, as he not only shows the obvious harassment the Lovings face, but the psychological torment they bare. And his experience of growing up in the south certainly comes through in the film, as he tackles the issue of race in quite complex ways that we don’t often see in films. There is even a brilliant conversation about white privilege in which Richard is made aware of the fact that he is the rare white man that has had a small glimpse into what black people at the time were facing.

The complexity Nichols brings to the film as well as his willingness to let character drive it is exactly what makes Loving a truly great biopic. In many ways, it is quite conventional, but Nichols always finds ways to either subvert convention or just do conventional things really really well. I think the moment in the film that really sums up the genius of it also happens to be where Nichols’ favorite actor, Michael Shannon, enters. His character, a photographer for LIFE magazine, comes by the house to take pictures of the Lovings. And while he is there, he is able to capture Mildred and Richard’s true selves as they eat and joke around the dinner table, wash dishes and finally, he snaps the most iconic shot of the couple: Richard lying his head on Mildred’s lap as they are perched on the couch laughing at the TV. Not only was this one of my favorite scenes, but it also represents everything the film is: a subtle look at the humanity of two people who loved each other very much.


“The Light Between Oceans” Review – A Brilliantly Beautiful Romance With A Twist

By Josiah Wampfler

Blue Valentine. The Place Beyond the Pines. And now The Light Between Oceans. Director Derek Cianfrance has now blown my mind with all of these films and, shockingly, they are his only three feature films of note. From the first frame of Blue Valentine it was apparent that Cianfrace was bound for great things. But with The Light Between Oceans, he makes it abundantly clear that he is a brilliant auteur through and through.

In this twist on an early 20th Century romance, Cianfrance trades in one of my man-crushes (Ryan Gosling) for my other: the endlessly captivating Michael Fassbender. Joining Fassbender is his real-life girlfriend Alicia Vikander and WOW! These two are incredible. Apparently, their real-life relationship blossomed during the making of the film and that is immediately evident on the screen. Fassbender and Vikander make one of the best romantic pairings in years.

Though Vikander is a relative newcomer compared to Fassbender, she is every bit as captivating and convincing. For every brilliantly emotive look Fassbender exhibits, Vikander is there to answer him. Each one feeds off the other’s performance to create the kind of magnetic chemistry that is rarely captured on camera.

The film also features Rachel Weisz, who is every bit as superb as her co-stars, but to even talk about her role is a spoiler in itself unfortunately (If you haven’t read the synopsis/watched the trailer, DON’T). What I will say is that all three of these actors put in phenomenal performances worthy of awards attention, but it is Weisz that surprised me the most. I hadn’t seen her in much before this film and I want to see her in everything now. It is her character that makes The Light Between Oceans so much more than a simple romance and it is her performance that adds heartbreaking complexity to the film, as she pulls at our heartstrings and allegiances throughout.

And holy sunsets! The Light Between Oceans is one of the most magnificently gorgeous films I have ever seen. The scenery, a lone island on which a quaint lighthouse rests amid the treacherous ocean, is the epitome of tranquility. And Cianfrance captures this extraordinarily beautiful place under the light of sunsets and sunrises as often as possible. With his camera he is able to make one place emotionally different in almost every shot, showing how beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Throughout the film we experience beauty in loneliness, love, togetherness, and even tragedy. It is truly a unique visual experience.

The Light Between Oceans is a film first and foremost about love. This is not the simplistic love that is found in most mainstream romances that is all about surface level emotion but a love that explores the deeper complexities of what it takes to make a relationship work. The type of love that Cianfrance shows us involves sacrifice and forgiveness. Life is messy and, like the director’s past work, much of The Light Between Oceans revolves around good people making bad decisions. But we empathize with the characters as they make these decisions, making it all the more heartbreaking. Yet out of the tragedy that is the second half of the film comes a deeper understanding of true love that is willing to sacrifice and willing to forgive. This love is what is able to carry these characters through the tragic events of the film and, in the end, it is this same kind of love in another that ultimately saves them.


Indie Spotlight – “EVER” Review

By Josiah Wampfler

I will admit that I have always been a sucker for a good romantic film. I love a good rom-com like 13 Going on 30 and I think that Titanic is a beautiful masterpiece. Maybe I get it from my mother, who would agree with me on those points, but I think that we all can enjoy a good love story because most of us have been in love. So, when I heard about a small, little indie romance called EVER I simply had to check it out.

EVER is the story of a woman of the same name who lost her long-time boyfriend a year earlier in a car accident. She is deeply depressed and is moving through her life like a ghost. She can’t move past what happened. Then, in the midst of all this, she meets a woman named Emily, who she begins to develop romantic feelings towards.

Even though the romance involved in this film is between two women, it is unfair and untrue to categorize EVER as simply a “lesbian film.” What makes this film so powerful and so wonderful is that it is a typical romance in many ways, it just happens to be between two women. I loved this.

The film takes the best parts of the romance genre and the best parts of indie filmmaking and combines them to make a wonderfully touching story. It manages to perfectly walk the line between feeling heightened and completely down to Earth. While the situations the characters find themselves in are not exactly normal, they make for a compelling story. And while the performances by the cast are extremely real and the dialogue almost mundane, the film is never dull.

And it is these performances that made me love the film so much. Wendy McColm and Christina Elizabeth Smith play Ever and Emily, respectively, and are absolutely phenomenal. They have perfect chemistry and manage to portray the early stages of a romance in the most convincing, nuanced way. Through their performances, we see all the relationship’s rough edges. We see all the awkward, giddy, uncomfortable moments that are part of the beginning of any romantic relationship. All of these moments are what contribute to the authenticity of the film.

The stunning performances by McColm and Smith are supported by beautiful cinematography as well. Interestingly, director Josh Beck and his cinematographer Micah Van Hove decided to shoot EVER only using what light Los Angeles gave them, rarely bringing in additional lights. This makes much of the film fairly dark, but also extremely beautiful. Just as the romance we see on screen is raw and has its rough edges, so too does the look of the film have its own.

One of the most interesting aspects of the film though, is the way it was released. Because of an incredible soundtrack (That I have been listening to non-stop since I first saw the film) filled with many great indie artists, and the extremely low-budget the filmmakers had to work with, they were not able to legally sell the film. The music royalties they would have to pay were just too much. So instead, director Josh Beck released the film for free on Vimeo so people could see the film with this amazing soundtrack. I would encourage anyone to check it out and donate to the filmmakers’ PayPal as well.

Even though EVER is a free film on Vimeo made for $12,000 and stars actors you have never heard of, it is easily one of the best films I’ve seen in a while. If it had come out last year, it probably would have even made my Top Ten. It just goes to show you that you don’t need millions of dollars to make a beautiful, compelling film. Instead, great films come from having a great vision and the right actors to pull it off.

Watch EVER Here!

CB Podcast Ep. 10 – Actors & Directors

“This week, the brothers discuss some actors and directors they love, think are underrated and some that they don’t like so much. They also bring you some more recommendations in film and television.”

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