On DVD & Blu-Ray: December 23, 2014

The Good Lie is a perfectly good movie. It has simple aspirations and intentions and within these goals it does what it sets out to do with perfectly reasonable results. There isn't an over-complication of themes or a conflict of interest in the characters and filmmakers objectives, but more this is a film that feels as if it has one mission and that is to tell a story of great risk and sacrifice leaving how it makes you feel up to you. This is strangely unique to a story that looks and feels like the one The Good Lie is telling because typically we are manipulated into feeling a certain way for the victims of such circumstances and led to a foregone conclusion from the opening scene. There is certainly an expectation that one would come away from the film feeling largely sympathetic for the lost children of Sudan, but the film also understands that this is largely a case of bad luck-being born into an unfortunate time in an unfortunate corner of the world. The film doesn't make a case that we, as individuals or as a country, should be doing more to help the situations of those less fortunate than us in poorer nations, but if anything reminds us to be thankful for the opportunities offered to us by the place and time in history we were born. As much as I appreciate the film traveling the lesser of two roads and approaching its inherently uplifting story with a straightforward mentality that doesn't necessarily make the proceedings all that compelling. Like I said, this is inherently uplifting and there is no escaping that fact and so as the film glides from one setting to the next we are left knowing that everything will turn out more promising than it began, yet it is told in such a conventional, almost safe fashion in terms of filmmaking techniques, dialogue, even overcoming certain obstacles that we never feel the tension or emotion that should come to light in some of the situations that arise. This is all to say that The Good Lie could (almost easily) have been a better, more affecting film than the product we have here, but in terms of what it was meant to do and what it ultimately does it sits squarely in the middle between excellent and horrible. Full review here. C+

I'm currently putting a list together of a few movies I saw this year that I thought flew under the radar and deserve to be given a shot, but I have certainly missed out on my fair share of films this year as well. I count The Trip to Italy chiefly among those I intend to catch up on in the doldrums of January. If you don't feel like going out to pick up a copy or if you haven't seen the first film, go ahead and do yourself a favor and check them out as they're both now available for streaming on Netflix.

Another I will be watching in January is Pride, the story of U.K. gay activists who worked to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984. I have heard nothing but great things surrounding the film and can't wait for a break from all the obligatory year-end watching to check out some films I really wanted to see, but wasn't able to make it around to.

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