Flutter, a Film That Tells a Good Solid Story

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Flutter is one of those small independents that unless you’re looking for it is likely to get lost in the mass of summer releases and slip under your radar, and that would be unfortunate. Even at a festival I can see how the unassuming façade of this well produced little feature might not catch the eye of the usual attendee looking for the latest edgy story. However, if you take the time to seek out Flutter you’ll discover a little gem of a film that recalls the quality of the best productions of the independent world, films that tell a good story.

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At first glance Flutter appears to be just another simple tale about a poor single mother struggling to get by with a young son who has some unusual medical condition (no spoilers here). However, not too long after the picture starts you’re drawn into the appealing story of motherly fortitude by the straightforward performances provided by the talented cast. Lacking the showiness of overwrought melodrama, Lindsay Pulsipher leads with her clear-cut depiction of a young mother going through the difficult day-to-day task of making ends meet in rural Texas. Looking not much older than the son she cares for, Pulsipher initially appears frail, but quickly takes on the persona of an iron willed force of nature that prioritizes her son above all else, but without shouting, crying or any other hysterics typical of films that don’t believe in the strength of their own tale.

Flutter_142157It may not be an unusual basis for a plot, but just like any oft-told tale it’s the execution that makes a difference. I was particularly impressed with how the film avoids portraying anyone as an out and out bad guy (although the mother-in-law comes close) or as an “ideal” character. Rather we see everyone with their warts and all, with complex personalities that exist as a matter of fact. The father-in-law (Glenn Morshower) is sympathetic but no hero, the son (Johnathan Huth Jr.) is charming but irresponsible, and even our heroine, the mother, is allowed a freak-out and moments of horrible judgment. And the temptation to add a love story is handled in an unexpected yet satisfying manner as well, giving a mature relationship an honest portrayal that does not end up being the answer to the female lead’s problems. Imagine that? 

A053_C008_0525XGThe other very striking element to Flutter is the stylized cinematography. Although the film is shot with traditional compositions, it is the whitewashed look that provides an almost ethereal quality to the overall mood, constantly reminding us of the hot Texas sun, the starkness of everyday life, and the lack of artificial conveniences in the world laid out before us. The cinematography is put to exceptionally good use for the little vignettes that act almost like bookends to the major moments in the film. Appearing almost as if they may have been improvised, these unguarded moments of play between the boy, his mother and his beloved pet pig (yes, a pig) provide delightful bits of character development without the use of dialogue.

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I realize that most films these days tend to focus on either the special effects or supposed “edgy” material. But personally, I prefer a good story that is told well regardless of the pomp and circumstance. Such is the case with Flutter. I know I haven’t said a lot about the plot here, but I prefer seeing films without knowing that much about them, especially when they’re good. And Flutter is exactly that: simply a good film. Period. Why would I want to take away the experience of you discovering that for yourself? So, go forth and discover Flutter, a quiet and powerfully satisfying film.

 

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return Deserves a Chance

by Carrie Specht
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Two weeks ago the new animated film Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return opened and immediately met with audience trepidation and hostile reviews that resulted in a very low cumulative rating on Rotten Tomatoes (currently standing at just 15%). I believe these reactions are unjust and the film deserves a second consideration. Yes, by taking on such a revered story the filmmakers set themselves up for this kind of knee-jerk reaction, but if you listen to the naysayers you’ll be denying yourself the opportunity of seeing a truly charming film as entertaining as it is appropriate for the whole family. How many other films can you say that about this holiday weekend?

14I get the reason for the initial gut response. I too was hesitant to accept any telling of a story involving Dorothy that didn’t have Judy Garland and the rest of the 1939 elements involved. In fact, I would have thought it ill advised to even think of taking on such a venture. After all, The Wizard of Oz is one of the most acclaimed and cherished films ever made. Most people (although not everyone) has seen the beloved musical either on television, in a revival house or on DVD, and that Technicolor presentation (with a little bit of black and white) is the way generations have and will always think of Oz. Period. So, why even try to make something new? For the simple reason that it’s not the only Oz story out there to have captured the imagination of a generation of young readers. I know it might shock you, but there are actually a whole bunch of books by L. Frank Baum, let alone by his great-grandson, Roger S. Baum who picked up the storytelling mantle and created the book on which Legends is based. 

45_headerI had the opportunity of seeing Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return last November during the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California. Although I admit I was less than open-minded about the idea of yet another film attempting to depict an Oz based story, I was pleasantly surprised if not overwhelmed with the quality of the overall production value. From the animation to the star-studded cast Oz is a solidly made film worthy of high praise it has yet to receive. No, the animation is not “Disney”. But neither was Toy Story. Anything that isn’t what we’re use to takes a little adjusting to. However, I found myself accepting the style very quickly as the engaging story progressed and drew me in. Besides Dorothy (Lea Michele) and the expected trio of the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion (voiced by Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi and Kelsey Grammer respectively) there are a delightful group of new characters such as the soldier Marshal Mallow (Hugh Dancy), an owl named Wiser (Oliver Platt), the China Princess (Megan Hilty) and the fearsome foe of The Jester (Martin Short).

legends-of-oz-dorothys-return-movie-wallpaper-34Honestly, all in all, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is a film that earns every cent of your admission dollar. Whether it’s animation you’re looking for, or action, or adventure, or fantasy, or a love story (trust me, it works) or even a 3D presentation there’s plenty of appeal for every generation of the family. And on a long weekend at the precipice of summer with the whole family chomping at the bits for something to do together what more could you ask for? I say see it. Given half a chance, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return will not disappoint even the most ardent of Oz admirers.