Elevate Difference


The Switch

The Switch is getting a lukewarm reception, unless of course you count Capone's review over at AintItCoolNews.com, which makes the film sound like the culprit behind most major World Wars.

The Things We Carry

The Things We Carry tells the story of two sisters coping with the death of their drug-addicted mother Sunny (Alexis Rhee). After leaving her mother and sister Eve (Catherine Kresge) to travel the globe, Emmie (Alyssa Lobit) returns home upon news of her mother’s death.


I love a romantic comedy. Throw in some magic realism–even better. Jac Schaeffer's Timer ticks both of those boxes, but, unfortunately for a film that explores people’s fears about missed opportunities, this film missed a few opportunities itself, and lost me as a fan in the process. (It bills itself as sci-fi but I say magic realism–there is new technology, but it’s never fully explained. I call that magic.

The Other Guys

Adam McKay is one of a million: a writer and director who can put together a great trailer. Too bad the feature presentation of The Other Guys is so long and boring that it chokes on its own machismo.


Manchester is taking a photograph of his girlfriend Noon. She’s asleep. He develops the film while she naps and goes outside to lay on a dingy blanket on the gravel driveway that leads to their makeshift garage-turned-apartment. Did she consent to being documented? No one seems to care. When Noon wakes up, she goes outside naked and has sex with Manchester in broad daylight. A seemingly enviable hipster couple sequestered from the world in their own squalid little space, it doesn’t take long for things to go south.


The first feature film of Lyès Salem, Masquerades is a lighthearted and quirky comedy about an Algerian gardener, Mounir Mekbek, who dreams of a life beyond the confines of his sleepy village. His arrogance combined with his “responsibility” for a narcoleptic younger sister, Rym, make him the laughingstock of his community. He is a misunderstood dreamer who has aspirations, but can’t quite seem to pull himself together to meet the goals he has set for himself.

Adrift (Choi Voi)

At last year's Venice Film Festival, Adrift won the FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Prize. With its lush scenery, layered characters, and startling soundtrack, it’s not hard to see why the film stood out to an international panel of jurors. The film is in Vietnamese with English subtitles and is set in various Vietnamese locales, including Hanoi, Quang Ninh, and Hoi An. Jam-packed streets filled with tiny tuk-tuks and motorcycles are juxtaposed with lonely, gorgeous beach campfires at sunset.

Eat Pray Love

Pretty Woman meets Ugly American in Eat Pray Love, a gender reversal romp in which the woman, for a change, instead of the womanizing man, gets to be the one with commitment issues. And while this female free spirit fling junkie cruise around the planet for high carb self-fulfillment is clearly likewise cruising in search of the chick flick demographic, the misguided message seems to be that hedonism is the new feminism.

Atomic Mom

I was born in 1952 and, although I don't remember public service announcements about the atom bomb like the ones M.T. Silvia includes in her feature-length documentary Atomic Mom, I do remember "bomb drills" when I was in elementary school. At least we didn't just crawl under our desks like some PSAs recommended; we went down to the sub-basement and hunkered down in the dark. I don't remember being scared, but then I don't think I had a very good idea of what the hell we were doing. I'm not sure anyone did.


I recall visiting a horror movie convention soon after Kill Bill had come out. Nearly every film production table had at least one "sexy lady getting revenge" movie poster predominantly on display. Attractive female murderers are the perfect shortcut to fulfilling violence and sex in films.

Dinner for Schmucks

In the formulaic plots that have developed in mainstream comedies over the last several years the re-occurring theme seems to be male idiocy. The Will Ferrells and Steve Carrells of the comedy world have delighted in creating man-children characters who don’t exist on the normal plane of human intelligence. They come equipped with stock sex jokes, like not understanding the female anatomy, or overconfidence that their incorrect knowledge of basic vocabulary is accurate.

I Can’t Think Straight

It’s always a bit tricky to adapt one’s real life experiences to the big screen, but that’s what award-winning filmmaker Shamim Sarif has done in I Can’t Think Straight. Based in London, the film depicts the budding romance between Leyla, an Indian Muslim woman raised in the UK, and Tala, an Arab Christian Palestinian woman who was brought up in a very wealthy family in Jordan.

A l’Est avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton

Chantal Ackerman’s projects over the past forty years have secured her place in the international vanguard of film directors both male and female. Her films are widely known for experimenting with time and images while questioning their relationship to a film’s narrative. It’s no surprise that her film A l’Est avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton showed at the Barcelona International Woman’s Film Festival in June. In fifty-one minutes Ackerman attempts to show the power of music and the passion of the musician through images.

Speaking in Tongues

The award-winning documentary Speaking in Tongues spells out an intriguing paradox of America’s identity: Although we’re a nation that prides itself on diversity, we also militantly cling to monolingual education at the expense of culture, communication, and even academic achievement. Speaking in Tongues follows four San Francisco children, all of whom attend either a Spanish or Chinese immersion public school: a young African-American boy who lives in public housing but is gaining fluency at his Chinese school;

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

In the previous millennium when I was an idealistic young thing attending Barnard College, the women’s college affiliated with Columbia University, there was a lot of talk about who before us had walked the hallowed halls: anthropologist Margaret Mead; writers Edna St. Vincent Millay, Zora Neale Thurston, Francine du Plessix Gray, Patricia Highsmith and Ntozake Shange; recent United States ambassador to the U.N. Jeanne Kirkpatrick; musicians Laurie Anderson and Suzanne Vega (whose song “Luka” was then on all the airwaves); NPR’s Susan Stamberg; nationally syndicated columnist Anna Quindlen; choreographer Twyla Tharp; and a pre-Omnimedia Martha Stewart, whose daughter had also recently attended.

Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel

The documentary Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel aims to rise above traditional pit stops of jiggles and giggles while recounting the tale of Playboy Magazine’s founder and editorial icon. This is an investigation into a man who consistently pushed the envelope in the name of freedom; a gentleman baffled by repression, who sensed an incredible opportunity to create a magazine that catered to the curious and the liberal, personifying a sexual revolution that lasted for decades.

Soul Kitchen

Soul Kitchen is a lot like cotton candy—sweet but, ultimately, not very satisfying. Like many festival favorites, the plot of this independent German film revolves around a cast of lovably quirky characters who get themselves eye-deep into trouble. Zinos (Adam Bousdoukos), a German of Greek descent, has a lot of stuff on his plate. He’s the proprietor of Soul Kitchen, a struggling eatery in a rundown section of Hamburg. The tax people, led by Frau Schuster (Catrin Striebeck), are knocking at his door.

Going Down: The Official Guide to Cunnilingus

Dr. Carol Queen may be a noted sex educator and renowned for her ability to openly address the subject and raise awareness of healthy, pleasurable sexual relations for us all, but she’s a little over-the-top in this video. Displaying slightly better production quality than a basement porn or self-made flick, Queen explains in appropriate detail the elements of desire and orgasm through cunnilingus.

The Kids Are All Right

In an attempt to beat the glorious heat last week, I ducked in to the cool air conditioned walls of The Archlight theater in Hollywood to catch an afternoon showing of Lisa Cholodenko's new high femme film, The Kids Are All Right.


The Cold War may be over (or not, given the recent New York City-based Russian spy scandal), but it’s alive and well in Salt, the new action adventure thriller directed by Phillip Noyce and starring Angelina Jolie.

Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County

Orange County, California is known for both wealth and political conservatism. In fact, the most recent American Community Survey reports that the largely Caucasian locale boasts a median household income of $81,260. But as filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi’s latest documentary, Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County, demonstrates, more than ten percent of OC residents live below the poverty line.

Meredith Monk: Inner Voice

Dutch Filmmaker Babeth VanLoo’s compelling tribute to sixty-seven-year-old choreographer-musician-teacher-composer-artist Meredith Monk does many things. In addition to introducing us to this enigmatic Jane of many trades, it showcases the artist’s creative processes and worldview. Along the way, it looks at the ways Buddhism has infused Monk’s work. “Silence is her source,” VanLoo explains. The engrossing eighty-two-minute film includes footage of Monk performing, writing, and living in both upstate New York and New Mexico.

Sons of Perdition

Exiled boys from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) have been making news and showing up on the pop culture radar for a while.

Hannah Free

If LOGO and the Hallmark Channel had a baby, they would name her Hannah Free. The story goes like this: an aging lesbian couple, together for four decades, both now find themselves confined to the same nursing home, but unable to see one another.

Despicable Me

A few years ago my eleven year old sister was writing an essay on violence in schools. During our discussion of different types of violence, she astutely pointed out that not all violence is physical, and that a mean comment can be just as violent as a punch in the face. This led to an involved conversation about bullies in which, at one point, my sister looked at me and said, “I think bullies are mean to the kids at school because no one is nice to them at home.

The Last Days of Emma Blank

Emma Blank believes death is eminent. Surrounded by a sulky if compliant staff in her large home near the Dutch dunes, she shouts absurd orders in between bemoaning her fate. “Don’t worry,” she assures her impatient employees. “Before winter, I’ll be dead.” Emma’s character is frustratingly distempered. Seemingly with no idea what is good for her, she demands an eel for breakfast, then violently vomits while her staff stands around shaking their heads with annoyance. It’s clear no one in the house has any sympathy for her condition, whatever mysterious ailment it may be.

Leading Ladies

It may seem quite an impossibility, but the film Leading Ladies is, simply put, a quietly revolutionary dance musical. While most dance musicals (think Dirty Dancing, Save the Last Dance) center on the boy-meets-girl heterosexual love match, Leading Ladies is a beautifully wrought girl-meets-girl story.

The Extra Man

Based on the Jonathan Ames novel of the same title, The Extra Man is a film about, among other things, the amusing network of personal eccentricities that are produced when people engage with each other in society.

Winter’s Bone

In my review of 2009’s Oscar-nominated film Precious I stated that it was incredibly difficult to objectively review the film because the realism that is presented is so detached from my own circumstances.

The Tiger Next Door

"Experts estimate that there are now more tigers in private captivity in the USA than there are roaming wild in the world." This is the opening line from The Tiger Next Door, a compelling documentary about the surprisingly widespread practice of breeding, selling, and owning exotic animals in the United States. The film focuses on Dennis Hill, a big cat owner who resides in Indiana.