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FILM THIS WEEK: Million Dollar Arm

FILM THIS WEEK: DATE

Ratings: ★ ✩ ✮ ✰ ☆

Friday 29th August 2014

Million Dollar Arm (PG)


SYNOPSIS: Based on a true story, sports agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) finds that business has changed and things aren’t going well for his career. In a last ditch effort to save his livelihood he concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next great pitching ace. Hoping to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a major league baseball star, JB travels to India to produce a reality show competition called “The Million Dollar Arm.”

With the help of cantankerous but eagle-eyed retired baseball scout Ray Poitevint (Alan Arkin), he discovers Dinesh (Madhur Mittal) and Rinku (Suraj Sharma), two 18-year-old boys who have no idea about playing baseball, yet have a knack for throwing a fastball. Hoping to sign them to major league contracts and make a quick buck, JB brings the boys home to America to train. While the Americans are definitely out of their element in India, the boys, who have never left their rural villages, are equally challenged when they come to the States. As the boys learn the finer points of baseball, JB, with the help of his charming friend Brenda (Lake Bell), learns valuable life lessons about teamwork, commitment and what it means to be a family.


A lovely entertaining film, I even had a blub!  It’s heart-warming. Once JB arrives in Indian, you have to run the gauntlet of predictable ‘Delhi Belly’ Jokes, and there’s a joke about ‘juice’ that just made me sigh! Why do the ‘natives’ always have to be shown as simpletons? Granted, some of the antics of the boys in LA fresh from India are funny, but it’s a more kind of ‘honest’ funny.

Anyhoos… Once we’re passed those little niggles, it’s an interesting story, with lots of laughs, AND just the right mix of emotion. Jon Hamm fitted the role of ‘business before everything’, sports agent well and his transition was lovely to see, I also loved Alan Arkin’s belligerence! The fact that this is based on a true story and we get to see pictures of the actual two winners of Million Dollar Arm at the end of the film, wrapped it up perfectly.  Those last shots warmed my heart.

Rated: 4 – ✮ ✯ ✰☆

Director: Craig Gillespie. Starring: Jon Hamm, Lake Bell, Aasif Mandvi, Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Alan Arkin

EAST END FILM FESTIVAL: 14-25th June 2014

The East End Film Festival kicks off this weekend from Saturday 14th June to Wednesday 25th June.  East End Film Festival

Here is my pick of films to catch over the festival:

 

Saturday 14th June

Hackney’s Finest 9pm @ Hackney Picturehouse
A crowd pleasing tale of mayhem and ineptitude in East London, Hackney’s Finest is a riotous, knowing comedy-thriller that pits a group of hopeless Hackney drug dealers against a group of corrupt policemen, Russian thugs & Welsh-Jamaican arms dealers. An irreverent tale of greed, corruption and the fight for survival it serves as a knowing antidote to the tired British gangster genre. Festival Link

Inna Vision Film School Screening2pm @ Genesis
Based in East London, the Inna Vision Film School works with adults with and without lived experience of mental health issues. Making a powerful, engaging short films, the participants touch on various aspects of mental health experiences, with a particular focus on African and Caribbean communities. Festival Link

This Ain’t No Mouse Music1pm @ Red Gallery (Part of the “Grits n’ Gravy” screenings: A Cinematic Celebration of the Deep South)
Chris Strachwitz, the founder of Arhoolie Records, has sought out blues, zydeco, Cajun, tex-mex, klezmer and Appalachian bluegrass, recording artists like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Flaco Jiminez and Michael Doucet. Taking in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia, family picnics and beer joints, with music from Ry Cooder, Richard Thompson, Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal, immerse yourself with a life loving music obsessive. Festival Link

Sunday 15th June

Blue Caprice5.30pm @ Hackney Picturehouse
Many films claim to seriously explore the African American experience. But few manage it as powerfully, and to such harrowing ends, as Blue Caprice, Alexandre Moors’ psychological drama inspired by the ‘Beltway Sniper’ shootings that took place in 2002 in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC.  Festival Link

Concerning Violence3pm @ Hackney Picturehouse
Göran Hugo Olsson (The Black Power Mixtape) returns with another powerful filmic retrospective conjured from the archive. Inspired by Frantz Fanon’s book The Wretched of the Earth, Olsson’s film takes a look back on Africa’s independence and liberation movements, and the uprisings that led to much of Africa’s decolonisation. Festival Link

Tuesday 17th June

Angels in Exile6.30pm @ Rich Mix
A challenge to pervading myths about street children, Angels in Exile folds back the violent and often graphic image of homeless youth to show children facing a cycle of violence, rape, abductions and murder. The street kids of Durban, South Africa mostly have no way out, and director Billy Raftery commendably embeds himself within the community, many of whom are huffing glue as a means of temporary escape, and who are in turn facing addiction and a life of crime. Made over the course of 8 years. Festival Link

Family Reunion8.45pm @ Genesis
“Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.” – Arthur Miller
It’s that time of life; Dad, recently widowed, is now mourning the passing of his best friend, ‘Uncle’ Bernie. Joined by his adult children, Karen and Jason, the three return from the day’s funeral back to their family home. Cold and without the warmth their home once knew, Karen and Jason assure Dad of the imminent loving, family reunions ahead. Festival Link

Wednesday 18th June

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz9pm @ Genesis
Programming prodigy, information activist and tragic casualty of the crackdown on so called internet ‘piracy’, Aaron Swartz is a true internet celebrity, in the positive sense of the term. From his role in developing RSS to co-founding Reddit, he lay claim to being a genuine pioneer in the digital realm. But he was also a political campaigner, one whose dream of a better world meant access to information; a cause that would eventually land him in a two year legal battle for downloading academic material at MIT. Faced with 35 year jail term and punitive fines, he took his own life at 26, and promptly became a symbol for those fighting for a free web. Festival Link

White Shadow6pm @ Hackney Picturehouse
In Tanzania, witch doctors believe that albino body parts bring health, posterity and cures for dangerous illnesses. Within this environment is young albino boy Alias, who witnesses his father’s murder and is promptly sent to the city, where he lives with his uncle Kosmos, and becomes a hustling young businessman, selling DVDs and mobile phones. But despite some happy moments, not least potentially falling in love, Alias is locked in a fight for survival. Festival Link

Thursday 19th June

Leave to Remain6.30pm @ Genesis
Social discrimination and adjusting to life in the UK are given powerful, emotive force in Leave to Remain, the debut feature from lauded television director Bruce Goodison. A young Afghan boy arrives at a refugee home, and encounters a society and a system that is seemingly rigged against him, and where the story he tells is seemingly more important than the truth. Festival Link

Saturday 21st June

One Rogue Reporter4.00pm @ Rio
Recovering tabloid hack Rich Peppiatt has fallen out with the rag trade, it’s safe to say. Having mercilessly turned on the tabloid industry during the Leveson Inquiry, accusing the industry of both Islamaphobia and fitting the facts to match the story, here he turns his hand to filmmaking, in One Rogue Reporter  he delivers a mercilessly satirical dissection of his former trade. Festival Link

Sunday 22nd June

Drowned City6.30pm @ Genesis
Transmitting illegally on London’s radio airwaves can lead to an unlimited fine and a jail sentence. Filmed over a 3 year period, Drowned City follows 3 pirates with very different stories. A story of clandestine climbs up telephone pylons and tower-block rooftops, it’s an exploration of why people take dangerous risks just to play illegal music. Jay, who began his career aged just 13, left the scene by choice at 32 without ever being caught, whereas Sam Supplier’s pirate career was ended by a 2005 police raid, a huge fine and 2 years on bail. A film about aspiration, London, music and dwindling cultural scene, one which may soon only be preserved by ex-pirates telling tales about serving their communities through illegal acts. Festival Link

Irons In The Fire7pm @ Genesis
‘Irons in the Fire’ follows five inspirational young people, facing up to struggle as they conquer success. This Film Festival Premiere delivers a powerful story of how five young people, overcome adversity to reach their current success. Elevated by Idris Elba’s narration and George the Poet’s punchy & enlivening words, the film explores the importance of maintaining your own identity whilst appreciating the opportunities that exist for young people. Festival Link

Payday7pm @ Genesis
Narrated by George the Poet, PAYDAY is a unique performance documentary, which delves into the finances and lives of four twenty-somethings. The film focuses on the contrasting lives of our diverse cast from the moment they receive their ‘payday’ money to how they go on to spend, save or squander it. Festival Link

 Jammie x