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Friday, July 15, 2005
Short Takes: July 15, 2005
A single mom (Emily Mortimer) is on the run from her abusive husband with her mother and deaf 9-year-old son Frankie (Jack McElhone) in tow. Frankie has been told that his father is a merchant seaman on a ship called the Accra. When he learns that the real Accra has docked in Glasgow, his mom has to hire a stranger (Gerard Butler) to play the part of Frankie's dad. He and Frankie hit it off and the mother finds herself drawn to the reticent man who seems to understand everything. There are too many contrivances, but the film tugs at the heartstrings all the same. (Kaori Shoji)
This remake of 1987's "Dirty Dancing" is set in Havana in 1958. A rich girl (Romola Garai) and a poor boy (Diego Luna) fall in love as they prepare for a dance competition, which the boy sees as his ticket out to America. The choreography is by JoAnn Jansen, the same woman who oversaw the U.S. version of "Shall We Dance?," and the story is loosely based on her own experiences in Cuba.
When Cho Won's mother realizes that her autistic son, who's in his 20s but has the mind of a 5-year-old, is a strong runner, she hires a former marathon champion teaching at Cho Won's school as his coach. The coach, a burned-out alcoholic, is initially reluctant but eventually inspired by the boy's determination. A megahit in South Korea, the film's hero is based on Bae Hyeong Jin, an autistic runner who ran a full marathon under three hours. While writing the film the director spent a year actually training with Bae.
What if you were the son of a Nazi doctor, whose nickname at Auschwitz had been "Angel of Death." Such was the fate of Hermann M., whose father, Joseph, reputedly experimented on, and murdered, over 3,000 people. Shortly after the Nazi surrender Joseph fled to Brazil where he lived for the next 30 years. "My Father" traces the anguish of Hermann (Thomas Kretstchmann) as he tracks down his father (Charlton Heston) and struggles to communicate with him. Hermann wants answers but his father stubbornly refuses to admit to anything but the fact that he was "following orders." As father and son stories go, this one is often too painful to contemplate. (Kaori Shoji)
This surfing documentary traces the history of big-wave surfing from its height in the 1950s, with interviews and spectacular surfing footage. The film focuses mainly on three legendary figures: Greg Noll, Jeff Clark and a current big-wave icon, Laird Hamilton. They talk not only about the spiritual bond they feel with the ocean and their passion for giant waves but also their fears. Directed by Stacy Peralta, famous for his his skateboarding documentary, "Dogtown & Z-Boys."