Monthly Archives: June, 2014

'Arlo & Julie' Entertaining Enigma by Pamela Powell

June 23rd, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'Arlo & Julie' Entertaining Enigma by Pamela Powell”



“Arlo & Julie” is an entertaining look at a typical couple, caught up in the mystery and intrigue of putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  Each day, the young pair receives a few pieces of a puzzle in the mail.  When the number of pieces in each envelope doubles every day, the two find themselves obsessed with not only solving the puzzle but determining the meaning behind it.  As they begin to piece it all together, their work and social lives begin to unravel.  Will solving this puzzle be the end of them or will there be a pot of gold for them?

Arlo and Juliearlo are hardworking young adults with money issues.  Their jobs get them by, but that’s about it.  As Arlo learns of a valuable painting of Julie’s hanging on their wall, his curiosity gets the better of him.  Adding the pieces of the puzzle to mix as well as several interesting characters, the film takes on a life of its own.  Their snoopy mailman, with his need to know what’s in the envelopes and the dysfunctional couple who have answers for everyone but themselves, take up precious puzzle-solving time.  The clever conversation, quick-paced with off-beat comments interspersed, keeps you on your toes.  Throw in some historical stories about Grant and the film has everything you could want.  If only there actually was a college course called “Whiskey & War!”

“Arlo & Julie” is a truly creative film with its quick banter, striking camera angles, intriguing use of larlo3ighting, and old-time music accentuating each dramatic scene.  With a feel of the 1920’s, each day is depicted with a black screen and simple writing of “Day 1.”   As the old victrola plays songs from by-gone eras, this film captures and successfully blends the old with the new for a beautiful result.  The attention to detail is extraordinary as this film had me believing there was an artist by the name of Comstock.  

Alex Dobrenko and Ashley Spillers carry this film with the deft skill of seasoned actors.  The subtleties in their expressions and body language make their characters completely believable.  Mallory Culbert and Chris Doubek have stellar performances bringing their own quirky characters to life.  The remainder of the cast augmented the overall feel of eccentricity with an outstanding sense of comedic timing.

arlo2“Arlo & Julie” is an unusually funny film that will entertain you on every level.  With its ingenious writing and outstanding acting execution, “Arlo & Julie” can’t miss.  Don’t be the missing piece of the puzzle…be sure to see “Arlo & Julie!”


Watch the trailer here





Rob Reiner Rivets Chicago by Pamela Powell

June 20th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Rob Reiner Rivets Chicago by Pamela Powell”

image 5Rob Reiner swept into the Windy City on Wednesday night to screen his new film “And So It Goes” starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton.  As luck would have it, I was asked to introduce, interview, and moderate the question and answer session following the film.  Rob Reiner needs little introduction as he is an icon in the movie industry.  His versatility in creating films of different genres is unparalleled.  The classic movies “Stand By Me” and “When Harry Met Sally” are still used to this day in comparing films of those genres.  How do you introduce this calibre of filmmaker?  Could I possibly do him justice?  With my introductory speech in hand, I stood in front of the packed theater, and the microphone was handed to me to introduce one of the most celebrated writers, actors, and directors in Hollywood—and then the mic cut in and out.  The speech was tossed out the window, the actor/writer/director took the stage as the applause enveloped him.

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From the moment Mr. Reiner began to speak, he had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.  He began to riff about a prior comedic sketch with intermittently working microphones.  From that point on, it was obvious that the actor was comfortably in his element.  Reiner answered my questions as well as those from the audience as he brought us all back and forth between side splitting laughter to insightful aspects of life.  He punctuated the fact that there is no end point in life except for that final one.  Life is a process and you need to be in the moment and enjoy each image 2and every experience.  


Mr. Reiner continued answering questions regarding the impetus for the film, his mother’s influence upon his career, as well as describing the completely undetectable hair piece he wore.  He also shared behind the scenes stories as we all hung on each and every word.  From Frankie Valli and Liberace references, acknowledging that woman are far more evolved than men, and that he makes the same romantic comedy each time, just set in a different phase of life, Reiner’s ease of delivery made us all feel that he was telling these stories for the first time and just for us.  At the close of the session, he graciously stayed to take photos, sign autographs, and answer even more questions. He and the audience members were most definitely in “the moment” and all tremendously enjoyed the process.


Rob Reiner is truly one of the greats in Hollywood today.  But from my viewpoint, what truly makes this man great is not just his talent, but his genuineness and love of life.   With a hug and a thank you from him to me, I couldn’t have been any more charmed.    This opportunity will always be remembered and cherished. So how do you introduce one of the most talented men in the film industry?  Simple.  Here’s Mr. Rob Reiner.


Waterfront Is a Wrap by Pamela Powell

June 16th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Waterfront Is a Wrap by Pamela Powell”

The Waterfront Film Festival, in its 16th year, has come to a close and what a year it has been.  From  informative and astounding documentaries to gruesome (but entertaining) shorts to imaginative and powerful feature films, Waterfront has set the bar at an all-time high.  Screening over 10 films in 3 days  and not being disappointed in one, is a reviewer’s dream.  Yes, dreams do come true at Waterfront.

What films should you be watching for over the next year to be released?  I have the list for you.  But please know that this list will grow as I did not get a chance to see everything I wanted to see—a person has to eat, sleep, and walk her puppy after all.  Reel Honest Reviews’ highlights (so far) include:  CHU & BLOSSOM, CAS & DYLAN, WILD CANARIES, JAKE SQUARED, FINDING NEIGHBORS, KIDNAPPED FOR CHRIST, I PUT A HIT ON YOU, COPENHAGEN, LAWRENCE & HOLLOMAN, KING OF HERRINGS, FATHER-LIKE SON, COFFEE KILL BOSS, ARLO AND JULIE, and BFFs.

But wait!  There’s more in the form of short films!  Remember, one of the wonderful aspects of the Waterfront Film Festival is that they show a short film prior to each feature film to set the mode or tone for you.  Here are the favorites in that category:  I DO, HEART TO HEART,  PINK BALLOONS, UPSTAIRS, LANDSCRAPERS ‘THE GUYS GET BLINDSIDED’,  DAVID SEDARIS’ THE LEARNING CURVE, HAPPY BIRTHDAY,  and ONE PLEASE.

When these wonderful films are released, I will be sure to direct you as to how you can access them.  And if you missed the Waterfront Film Festival this year, put it on your calendar now for next year.  Just to entice you, I’ve included some photos of what you missed!

image image image image image imageUntil next year, the Waterfront Film Festival is a Wrap!


'Chef' Delivers Delicious Dad's Day Film

June 11th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'Chef' Delivers Delicious Dad's Day Film”
The independent film “Chef” is getting a wider distributionjust in time for Father’s Day.  “Chef,” written, directed, and starring Jon Favreau, is the first attempt since “Swingers” back in 1996 for this filmmaker in the “indie film” genre.  Between independent films, Favreau has been enjoying the executive productionrole in mainstream filmmaking with the likes of “Iron Man” and “The Avengers.”  In addition to Favreau, you’ll recognize Sophia Vergara, Johnny Depp, and Scarlett Johansson in this deliciously wonderful Father’s Day film.
Carl Casper is an elite chef living and working in California.  Restaurant critic, Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt),  announces his future appearance at the restaurant which will make or break not only the restaurant but also the chef.  Chef Casper decides to hit the creativity button, but his boss, Riva (Hoffman), puts a kaibosh on it all, enraging Casper.  The consequences are disasterously funny, but that means the chef must recreate himself.  As this divorced dad who is out of touch with his young son,  attempts a new journey along the road of life, the path get peppered with situations that enable both father and son to grow and learn about each other.
The movie begins, ends, and weaves in and out of the kitchen.  We see appetizing ingredients, sliced skillfully , then magically constructed into culinary delights. You can almost smell the aroma of the decadent dishes as the meals are prepared.  From the simplicity of a grilled cheese sandwich to creatively seasoned gourmet steak, everything is simply mouth-watering.   But the food is really just the side serving.  The main entree is the relationship or lack there of, of Casper and his son, Percy (Emjay Anthony).  Of course, Percy is adorable and precocious, everything the movie industry looks for—but it works.  Percy wants nothing more than to be noticed by his fathchef1er and to be included in his father’s life.  Unfortunately, Percy isn’t a top priority, initially.  He accompanies his father  to the farmer’s market and wants to cook with him, but Percy is always brushed off.  That is until “the moment.” This “moment” is Carl’s baptism into social media.  
“Chef” is a sweet, charming, and delicious story about a boy and his father.  Using the vehicle of food, the story develops, albeit in a predictable way, that will make you laugh and give you hunger pangs at the same time.  This might not be as novel as Favreau’s “Swingers,” but it is a film that will appeal to the crowds.  The humorous situations between sous chefs, family, bosses, and food critics are quite funny, although at times a bit far fetched.  We also have the punctuated reality of the “older” generation’s lack of knowledge of the techie world (aka Twitter) and the resulting consequences of ignorance.  Think about it, if you’re over 40, do you really “get” Twitter?  I didn’t think so.
The writing is entertaining, yet predictable as is the acting.  Favreau is


 a believable chef with his robust form and personality as well as his chopping skills.  Sophia Vergara is a bit over the top, but when isn’t she?  And let’s admit one more thing:  whenever Johnny Depp appears, it’s just plain fun.
“Chef” finds humor in divorce and parenting while keeping the story entertaining which is q
uite a feat.  Favreau tells a tale that will keep you interested; caring for each and every character, even when you know what’s going to happen next. The end will be satisfying, but there is one thing that won’t be satisfied—your appetite!  No worries, though.  Keep reading and you’ll have some guidance in that area too.
“Chef” is a “well-done” movie perfect for Father’s Day.  With some language, I would recommend this for kids over 17 with the R Rating.  Anyone over the age of 17 will enjoy this scrumptiously funny film.  A final note to sons (or daughters) who take their fathers to this film:  Check out a recipe for a Cuban sandwich, purchase the ingredients, then upon your return from the film, recreate what you’ve just seen.  Your dad will love you even more for it (and you’ll thank me later)!
If you enjoy this film, you will enjoy the French film LE CHEF!

'The Fault in Our Stars' Fails by Pamela Powell

June 6th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “'The Fault in Our Stars' Fails by Pamela Powell”


“The Fault in Our Stars” is the much anticipated filmopening across the nation this weekend.  Based upon the best-selling young adult novel of the same name authored by John Green the film stars the diversely talented Shailene Woodley opposite Ansel Elgort.  The two also starred in the summer teen blockbuster “Divergent.” 

faultIf you haven’t read the book, here’s the synopsis of the story.  Hazel is a 17 year old who has been battling cancer since she turned 13.  Gus is 18 and a survivor of cancer after losing a leg to the battle.  The two meet in a cancer support group and their relationship blossoms.  The growing love, unfortunately due to the circumstances, may be ashort lived one.  The two share their thoughts, outlooks, and dreams as they live each day to its fullest.

Let me start by start by stating the obvious.  This is a sad topic for a film.  Cancer is a wordno one wants to hear let alone hearing that a child is diagnosed with it.  However, Hazel’s blunt and realistic attitude toward her disease, its progression, and the inevitable outcome is quite eye-opening.  “The Fault in Our Stars” is Hazel’s story told from her point of view.  We see her interactions with her caring and overprotective parents as well as with her doctors. Hazel wants nothing more than to experience love like every other teen and she finally gets that chance with the ever-positive, precocious and charming 18 year old boy named Augustus Waters or Gus, for short. 


The two forge a friendship and Gus’ zest for living life help Hazel to think beyond the scope of her diagnosis. But throughout the film, the big letter “C” is always rearing its ugly head, bringing both Hazel and Gus back to the reality of the battle.  Not surprisingly, this film is continually sad, even with a a few happy, sweet moments of a first-love, the grim reaper is always nearby.  The positive messages the movie attempts to convey are wonderful, but they are unceasingly hurled at you in each and every scene making the positivity less effective. The two hour and 5 minute running time of continuous sadness and unending pearls of wisdom made this viewer disconnect from the characters.

Initially, the film is narrated from Hazel’s voice as scenes unfold.  This style of story-telling is captivating and entertaining.  Unfortunately, using narration is only heard in the beginning and the end of the film.  The pace is exceptionally slow paired with many long shots of Hazel contemplating her circumstances.  Lack of editing is most definitely a factor in the pace and overall effectiveness of the story, as the film becomes less and less engaging.




Woodley and Elgort are a well-matched pair in this film, portraying two kids that have been dealt a miserable hand of Life.  Laura Dern plays the doting, protective mom to a “t,” but the performance of the Sam Trammell as Hazel’s father is distractingly unbelievable.  The shining star in this film is Nat Wolff who plays Isaac, a teen afflicted with cancer who is losing his eye sight.  His off-beat humor and delivery of lines punctuate the fact that one can find irony and a little wit even in a serious situation.  Willem Dafoe’s role as a reclusive author also added depth and believability to the film.

Rarely does a film do a book justice and unfortunately, “The Fault in Our Stars” holds true to this premise.  For those that have read the book, the minor changes and omissions will leave you confused.  This is a long, drawn-out version of the book which doesn’t capture the essence of Hazel’s story.  While understanding that the topic of childhood cancer is truly tragic, the continual sadness becomes wearisome in film form.  Sometimes a best-selling book should remain just that.



June 1st, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “THE WONDERFUL WATERFRONT FILM FESTIVAL SET TO AMAZE AGAIN by Pamela Powell”



Thinking that film festivals are just for Hollywood?  Think again!  The Waterfront Film Festival (WFF), named one of the top film festivals in the world, is right in our own backyard in beautiful South Haven, Michigan.  Located less than two hours away, South Haven will host the 16th annual festival from June 12-15, 2014.  Everyone is welcome and the line up of films continues to look wonderfully enticing.

Created 16 years ago by a handful of volunteers, the Waterfront Film Festival has grown tremendously since its inception. The location has recently changed from Saugatuck, MI to South Haven creating an even more convenient location for this ever-growing film festival.  Patrick Revere, Media Coordinator of the event, explains that even with the growth of this festival, “Our intention has always been to offer a laid back event that works as a fun summer getaway on many levels.  We are a beach party with a lot of movies and alittle bit of musicand an audience that has a common interest in supporting groundbreaking independent art and film.”


Hosting screenings of nearly 80 films over four days, WFF presents feature films, documentaries and short films in a non-competitive arena.  You might see a movie that has its premiere here or it might be a film from another prestigious festival such as Sundance, Tribeca, or SXSW.  Here are my list of films that I’m excited about seeing.  Check back as I continually add films!  ARIO AND JULIE, BEING AWESOME, BFFs, CAS & DYLAN, CHU AND BLOSSOM, COPENHAGEN, COFFEE,KILL BOSS, CRATERS OF THE MOON, EMPIRE OF DIRT, FATHER-LIKE SON, FINDING NEIGHBORS, I PUT A HIT ON YOU, JAKE SQUARED, KING OF HERRINGS, KNUCKLE JACK, LAWRENCE ADN HOLLOMAN, THE ODD WAY HOME, SISTER, and WILD CANARIES.

What makes this film festival stand out among the literally thousands of other festivals across the country is many-fold.  First of all, the setting is pristine. Located in a quaint vacation village on the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan, the town boasts wonderful shopping, boating, and delicious culinary delights.  As you saunter along the brick-laid pathways, store owners welcome you in trueDSC_1433 Midwestern style;  with a familiar smile of a neighbor.  After taking in a movie, hitting the beach, and doing a little shopping, dining al fresco is without question a perfect way to savor not just the food, but the atmosphere as well.

The backdrop of this festival isn’t the only unique aspect of this festival.  The films are typically “represented by at least one of the  filmmakers who will attend the screening of their films, have a conversation about the project and answer questions from the audience,” says Mr. Revere.  He continues, “This is one of the most dynamic aspects of Waterfront…”  The intimate theaters allow you to truly converse with these talented individuals.


Filmmakers and actors from the film TWENTY MILLION PEOPLE

TheWaterfront Film Festival utilizes yet another unique technique in showing their films:  before the feature film begins, a perfectly paired short film is screened to set the appropriate mood.  With so many entertaining short films, three categories of programs will show 5 consecutive “shorts:” ‘Creepy,’ ‘International,’ and ‘Shorts Spectacular.’  Here’s an inside tip:  ‘One Please’ is one of this reviewer’s favorites.

Just when you didn’t think it could get any better, this year’s Waterfront Film Festival announced that in addition to all the other celebrities and filmmakers, Jason Ritter, Emmy Award nominee, will also be in attendance for the viewing of his new film “Wild Canaries.”  This “light-hearted mystery” will make its Midwest premiere here after being nominated for a Grand Jury Award at the SXSW Film Festival last month.

This year the festival will open with an outdoor concert on the beach featuring Tony Ferrari who will film his upcoming music video during this event.  Then, at sundown, the movie under the stars will commence.  Special guests are always in attendance along with celebrity guests!

TONY FERRARI Gentleman Tour


The Waterfront Film Festival in South Haven, MI is the perfect getaway to enjoy summer at its best.  Check it out for the day, the weekend, or make an entire week-long vacation out of this festival.   Enjoy the sites and warmth of summer along the shores of Lake Michigan, grab a bite to eat, see a couple of outstanding movies and listen to a band under the stars.  This hidden gem of a film festival isn’t going to be a secret for very long, so be sure to get your tickets soon!  And remember that South Haven is one hour ahead of the Chicago area!



Individual tickets ($12) as well as single day and full festival passes are available.  For more information, go to  You can see full film descriptions, trailers, dates, and times of the movies before heading out the door.





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