05/24/13 2:00pm

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Going to the Movies is written by Mount Vernon Triangle resident Catherine Taegel.

Ever since the creation of Instagram, when I watch an indie movie I’m often reminded of a #nofilter picture. There tends to be a lot of nature – trees, fields, and water – all with the sun artfully peering through and reflecting off of various objects. There also tends to be young love and friendships explained through those classic close ups that create tension.

There’s a reason Instagram was bought for $1 billion by Facebook and why the independent movies who can do it right immediately become a beautiful picture you can’t, and don’t want to, stop watching. Set and filmed in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, “The Kings of Summer” manages to hit all the right notes. It’s a beautiful cinematic experience that manages to stay relatable by never taking itself too seriously.

The film is a broad cast of characters that effortlessly revolves around Joe Toy (Nick Robinson), a sixteen-year-old boy whose home life is less than ideal. His family is clearly still grieving from the loss of Joe’s mother and with his sister living away from home, he’s left with just his dad (Nick Offerman) whose general demeanor is cloudy on a good day. He constantly pushes the boundaries, desperate for independence and to be seen as a man.

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05/17/13 1:30pm

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Going to the Movies is written by Mount Vernon Triangle resident Catherine Taegel.

It’s been eight years since “Wedding Crashers.” It’s been eight years since Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson were Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson – the most hilarious guys in the room that you really want to hang out with. Okay, they’re still funny – of course, they’re buddies who play well off each other– but they’ve softened. Once upon a time they were insanely funny and semi-nice guys, but now they’re really nice guys who are semi-funny. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it doesn’t make for a strong film. They’ve lost their edge and in the process we have been brought a poorly executed nice idea. A story by Vince Vaughn, “The Internship” is the film we wanted to be good but knew was going to bad.

“The Internship” focuses on two former watch salesmen – Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) – whose outdated skills have them searching for a way to reinvent themselves and get back into the job market. Vince Vaughn google’s Google and finds the opportunity – a summer internship that has the potential to leads to a full-time job. As recently enrolled students at Phoenix University, Billy and Nick land an interview for the internship via Skype. They get accepted into the program and the minute they arrive at the Google campus they are ostracized by other interns and members of the staff. The old guys get grouped with the Google intern outcasts. The groups are put through a series of tests and whoever wins the most wins the full-time jobs. Can you guess how that turns out?

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04/26/13 1:30pm

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Going to the Movies is written by Mount Vernon Triangle resident Catherine Taegel.

I didn’t know what to expect when I went to see the Scottish film, “The Angels’ Share”, at E Street Cinema. (I try to never read reviews or in-depth descriptions of movies before I go see them so everything is fresh.) When subtitles appeared on the screen before a word was spoken I was nervous. Not that I mind subtitles, but I tend to get distracted by reading the words that I miss out on parts of the movie. Soon though thick Scottish accents filled the air and the subtitles were more of a guide than a necessity.

The movie focuses on young Robbie (Paul Brannigan), who’s had rough times growing up in Glasgow. His enemies are carried through generations and his rough past has landed him in issues with the law again and again. His pregnant girlfriend wants him to get it together and her family wants him out of town. Realizing he’s probably on his last chance, Robbie focuses in on straightening out and being a good dad. While working to pay off his debt to society he becomes a part of a “community repayment” program and forms bonds with several of the other members of the group.

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03/29/13 1:30pm

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Going to the Movies is written by Mount Vernon Triangle resident Catherine Taegel.

I like scary movies. I do. I swear. You might not know it if you saw me watching one. I’m the one with my fingers in my ears (scary music = scary movie, no scary music than no scary movie) and am turning my head away every so often in anticipation of the next loud noise. It seems stressful for me, and at times it is, but in a way I’m facing my fears and enduring an adrenaline rush in the process.

Watching “Evil Dead” – an adaptation of Sam Raimi’s (“Spider Man” trilogy & countless others) first film, the 1981 cult classic “The Evil Dead” – I was put through several rounds of adrenaline rushes. It was only when I was walking out of the theater did I realize my hands were sore because I was pressing my fingers so hard into my ears. I’m not even sure I liked the movie that much, but it was an experience.

There are many similarities between “Evil Dead” and “The Evil Dead.” A cabin in the woods? Not just check – they were essentially identical. The creepy porch swing exists in the new one but so does an additional shed. Three girls and two guys? Yup. A brother and sister are still the main focus. A forest seemingly with a mind of its own? Got it. 360 degree shots and the camera personifying fast moving demons? Everything seemed to be pretty on point.

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03/22/13 1:30pm

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Going to the Movies is written by Mount Vernon Triangle resident Catherine Taegel.

Timely. Powerful. Unexpected. That’s what “Disconnect” felt like to me. Going to the movie I didn’t know too much about the plot and expected an artistic documentary-type film centered around how tied we are all to technology. Well it is has some of those elements, but it’s so much more than that. Starring Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgård, and Paula Patton, “Disconnect” is pointed, expertly acted, and beautifully executed. It’s the rare film that is able to be current and timeless, providing a relatable narrative and commentary on how our online identities can affect our offline realities.

“Disconnect” opens with a scene in what appears to be a group house but the audience quickly sees that the young group house is really a base for online youth prostitution. A young, ambitious female reporter stumbles onto the website and sees a story in one of the young boys who offers himself up for a pair of Nike’s. We’re introduced to two fifteen-year-old boys who play dirty tricks and are too confident for their own good. An unfortunate moment of time brings them into contact with a reserved, artistic loner who quickly becomes the target of their next pet project. The last story we learn about is of a young couple who lost their young child and are fast becoming strangers living under the same roof. Searching for solace, they are brought back together to face a reality where their child has not only been lost but so has their livelihoods.

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03/08/13 12:30pm

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Going to the Movies is written by Mount Vernon Triangle resident Catherine Taegel.

Debuting at the D.C. Independent Film Festival this week, “Corporate FM” digs deep into what has happened to radio over the last 20 years and what it’s doing to our communities. It talks about how radio helped elevate local bands, discuss issues within the listening area, and instill a sense of community. There is something powerful about knowing that what you are hearing is being heard by thousands of your neighbors – connecting you all to a specific place and time.

“Corporate FM” focuses in on the little known Telecommunications Act of 1996 , which really becomes the cornerstone of this film. Compelling interviews and historical references show us how this little known or cared about act has affected local radio and what that means for communities nationwide. Heavily focused on Lawrence, Kansas and radio station KLZR, the narrative draws between what local radio was and what it has now become.

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03/01/13 1:45pm

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Going to the Movies is written by Mount Vernon Triangle resident Catherine Taegel.

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend a preview night for this year’s DC Independent Film Fest (DCIFF). They presented a few trailers and I was able to talk with organizers about the evolution of DCIFF itself and a few filmmakers about their work. The organizers want to make this year very dynamic – utilizing spaces throughout the city to show films and integrating classes and discussions into the overall event.

They aim to deepen community interest in a wider variety of independent films beyond what plays at E Street Cinema. (I have seen great small independent films at West End Cinema though and I hope the place is able to last.) It was a great evening and got me excited about this year’s class of films. Submissions are from all over the world and cover a range of topics. They’re divided into four categories: Narrative Features, Documentaries, Narrative Shorts, and Animation and Experimental. I was able to pick three films to see and review and I chose – “Between Two Rivers”, “Corporate FM”, and “Lifeless.”

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02/24/13 4:40pm


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Going to the Movies is written by Mount Vernon Triangle resident Catherine Taegel.

If you didn’t already know the 85th Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars) are on this Sunday, February 24, at 7pm on ABC hosted by Seth McFarlane (Creator of “Family Guy”). Here is the entire list of the categories and nominees. Glad we got that out of the way. Now time to get down to it.

Here are my picks for the major categories:

  • Best Picture: Out of the nine films nominated people are saying Argo, but I have to go with Lincoln. Both are amazing, but Lincoln is the man. In both cases the (majority of) truth is better than fiction.
  • Best Actor: My heart says Bradley Cooper, but my general pragmatism and awe for the man himself says Daniel Day Lewis. Ben Affleck did get snubbed in this category which is a large unfortunate.
  • Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence has been sweeping the awards and was perfection in Silver Linings Playbook. Let’s give it up for Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”, for being the youngest and oldest individuals, respectively, to be nominated in this category.
  • Best Supporting Actor: This is so hard. The only movie in this category I actually didn’t see was Django Unchained but I watched Christoph Waltz in “Inglorious Basterds” and he was amazing evil comic relief. I heard in Django he made the movie.  Alan Arkin, Robert De Niro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Tommy Lee jones are in his company. These are really some of the greats, but I just have a feeling Christoph Waltz is going to take it.
  • Best Supporting Actress: I’m one of those people that really can’t stand Anne Hathaway. I mean I’m sure she’s a nice person, but you can always feel her trying just a little too hard. That being said, she’s another one sweeping the awards and she got emaciated, shaved her head, and sang live for “Les Misérables”. And, oh yea, she was actually really good. She’s the only one who provoked a tear out of me – in this category and Les Mis itself. She’s got my vote.
  • Best Director: Well this category is whack. Nine best films and five best director nominations. So who gets slighted? Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained and Les Misérables.  If you ask me, that looks like the real category for Best Director. I guess we just have to work with what we got. My vote goes to Lincoln. Directing-wise it stands above the rest. If any of the others that were snubbed got in then we might have had a closer race.

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02/15/13 12:30pm


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Going to the Movies is written by Mount Vernon Triangle resident Catherine Taegel.

Last night I went to the screening and D.C. premiere of “A Place at the Table”. The screening also included a passionate exchange from co-directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush and Executive Producer Tom Colicchio(Chef, Co-host of “Top Chef”). There was no shortage of passion in the room, which was filled with advocacy organizations focused on finding constructive and lasting ways to feed all Americans. In short, “A Place at the Table” discusses the issue of hunger in America. An easy phrase to say but a complex problem to combat and even further to discuss.

According to the filmmakers, “[f]ifty million people in the U.S.—one in four children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from. [In “A Place at the Table”], Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush examine the issue of hunger in America through the lens of three people struggling with food insecurity: Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother who grew up in poverty and is trying to provide a better life for her two kids; Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader who often has to depend on friends and neighbors to feed her and has trouble concentrating in school; and Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader whose asthma and health issues are exacerbated by the largely empty calories her hardworking mother can afford.”

The documentary has the works – deeply personal human stories, high impact graphics, and some heavy political and star power behind it. The human stories of Barbie, Rosie, and Tremonica are heartbreakingly real and clearly representative of a seemingly invisible population that deals with hunger and access to affordable, healthy food on a daily basis.

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02/08/13 12:30pm


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Going to the Movies is written by Mount Vernon Triangle resident Catherine Taegel.

Last night I saw “Safe Haven” starring Julianne Hough as Katie and Josh Duhamel as Alex. The movie is based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. Therefore, the audience knows there are certain guaranteed elements – a scenic coastal landscape as the backdrop and torrid pasts that draw the starring characters together. With the starring actors being better known for their significant others than their own careers (Hough is dating Ryan Seacrest and Duhamel is married to Fergie), movie magic wasn’t something I was anticipating. However, I was pleasantly surprised. This Nicholas Sparks adaptation is more suspense-oriented with the dramatic aspects taking a supporting role.

The opening scenes of the film kick the movie off with high intensity and get your adrenaline pumping. Within minutes Katie (Hough) changes her look and is on the run. She ends up in a small town, far away from where she began, and feels safe enough to make herself at home. She ends up meeting Alex (Duhamel) and gets pulled into his world – two small kids and all. Katie is an innocent but guarded character, and Hough unexpectedly plays it well. She’s surprisingly genuine and, even though she’s not always polished, amiably plays the part. Duhamel is clearly comfortable as the nice guy and isn’t digging deep to play the role. He’s very enjoyable and has a nice chemistry with Hough on screen.

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