Shelter Me (NR)
Being a firm believer in rescue dogs and rescue shelters, I was already prepared to love Shelter Me, a celebration of rescue-shelter success stories. But I didn't expect how teary I would be from the first few minutes. To see stray, abandoned, abused or just lost dogs given a second lease on life is truly inspirational. The film follows the path of dogs that end up in a shelter, starting with animal control agents picking them up off the streets. Some are then adopted, and others are chosen to be service dogs. The dogs sent into service (to help those with disabilities) are trained by female prisoners, some doing life for murder. The most moving segment follows dogs that are assigned to help returning soldiers with PTSD learn how to deal with the regular world again. Seeing these damaged warriors fall to pieces just thinking about their dog, you'll fall to pieces too. — Louis Fowler
Struck by Lightning (NR)
Squeezing every coming-of-age high school movie cliché possible into 84 minutes, writer-star Chris Colfer (Glee) and director Brian Dannelly (Saved!) try too hard to redeem a story that's literally dead on arrival. Colfer's Carson was an overachieving wannabe writer until he was hit by lightning and died. Through his own narration from beyond, he recounts his final days as a mean-spirited martyr whose efforts to start a literary journal include the same bullying behavior he insists he endured, despite Carson looking exactly like a toned TV star. Colfer's protagonist isn't impossible to like, especially considering his alcoholic mother (Allison Janney) openly wishes she had aborted him and his father (Dermot Mulroney) has knocked up his mother's pharmacist. He might've rallied the audience to his side if not for the inconsequentiality of it all. What good's a dead hero? — Justin Strout
Young and Wild (NR)
Imagine how annoying teenagers' blogs are. Now imagine a movie based on one. It's a nightmare made flesh with the pretentious Chilean import Young and Wild, based on the blog of the same name. Seventeen-year-old Daniela (Alicia Rodríguez) is almost psychotically obsessed with sex and spends every waking moment either blogging about her sexploits or masturbating as images of Jesus fondling male members flash on-screen. It's all done in such a cold, detached way that it's more sad and pathetic than empowering and insightful. Add to this a very stereotypical religious family whose fervor often goes off the rails into self-parody, and you definitely have a teenager's ill-fitting idea of rebellion and power. And a sullen, emo teenager's idea at that. It's grating when it should be funny, forced when it should be emotional, and ultimately vapid and not worth your time. — Louis Fowler
The costumes were amazing and added to the brilliant production.
The striking colors and textures are reminiscent of Southern Colorado and New Mexico. Lovely work.