New movie reviews from The Movie Snob:
Off the Map (B+). I really liked this quiet, slow-moving movie about an eccentric family living in the New Mexican desert. The story is told from the perspective of Bo, a precocious little girl of 11 or 12, who is the home-schooled only child of Charlie (Sam Elliott) and Arlene (Joan Allen). They live literally “off the map,” out in the middle of nowhere, without electricity or telephone, mostly bartering for the things they can’t make themselves. Oh, and Arlene likes to garden in the nude. Anyway, the plot meanders a bit but focuses on two crises: first, Charlie is sunk deep in a paralyzing depression that he can’t explain or escape, and second, an IRS agent comes nosing around to inquire why the family hasn’t filed tax returns in seven years. A few surprising things happen, but mostly the movie is content to just watch these odd but decent folks try to deal with their problems and live their lives the way they like. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
Dear Frankie (B). The appealing actress Emily Mortimer (Bright Young Things, Lovely and Amazing) stars in this manipulative but still enjoyable little melodrama. She plays Lizzie Morrison, a single mother who is constantly uprooting and moving her deaf 9-year-old son Frankie and her chain-smoking mother from place to place in England. The movie is slow to reveal what really happened to Frankie’s dad, but we quickly learn that Lizzie has raised Frankie to believe that his father is kept away because he’s a sailor on a globe-trotting ship called the ACCRA. She keeps up the charade by writing letters to Frankie, ostensibly from dad, but the plan goes awry when Frankie finds out that a real ship called the ACCRA is actually on its way to drop anchor briefly in their seaside town. So, with a friend’s connivance, Lizzie finds and hires a complete stranger to pretend to be Frankie’s dad for a day while the ship is in port. The premise is a bit far-fetched, and as I say I felt a bit manipulated, but it still jerked a couple of tears from me.