Paul Mezey

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Sugar Review


Very Good
Part of an emerging pack of would-be American neo-realists, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden find themselves with one of the most intrinsically American emigration stories never told in their sophomore effort Sugar. From his home in San Pedro De Macoris to a competitive single-A baseball affiliate in Bridgetown, Iowa, Miguel Santos (Algenis Perez Soto), also known as Sugar, finds himself part of an all-too-poorly documented class of citizens picked out of small villages throughout the Dominican Republic -- not to mention Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Chile -- who are promised the American Dream in return for bolstering the American pastime.

Initially feeling more like a study in cultural assimilation in the style of compatriot Ramin Bahrani than their hard-nosed drug-drama debut Half Nelson, Sugar ends up being remarkably singular in its focus. In the Dominican ghettos, Sugar is considered a hero when he comes home from the baseball academy where he spends his weeks honing a rocket launcher of a pitching arm. When he is asked to the Bridgetown affiliate, nicknamed The Swing, his only connection to his home is an old friend (Rayniel Rufino) who was pulled out of San Pedro as well but who hasn't been called up thanks to a chronic ailment. Perez Soto, whose angular figure and penetrating gaze make him a hypnotic presence, appears in almost every frame.

Continue reading: Sugar Review

Our Song Review


OK
Our Song never struck me as being the greatest title for a movie. It brings to mind some weepy tearjerker with an A-list diva/actress dying of terminal cancer while her nursemaid looks on, wiping away a brittle tear. Rest assured, this movie is far more substantial than the banal Hollywood weepie. Jim McKay's indie follow-up to Girls Town is another socially aware portrait of adolescence over a long, hot summer in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Three close friends, Lanisha (Kerry Washington), Maria (Melissa Martinez) and Jocelyn (Anna Simpson), listen to their favorite song on the radio ("Ooh, child... things are gonna get easier... we'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun") and wonder what the future has in store. As they go through their routines of shoplifting, flirting, grabbing a slice, or making plans to catch a movie, their relationships inevitably change as young friendships always do. McKay is well serviced by superb cinematographer Jim Denault (Boys Don't Cry), who knows how to frame subtle moments with unobtrusive grace.

Continue reading: Our Song Review

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Our Song Movie Review

Our Song Movie Review

Our Song never struck me as being the greatest title for a movie. It...

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