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Mace & Crown | April 22, 2018

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Monarch Movie Minute: Out of My Hand, Man Up and PlantPure Nation

Monarch Movie Minute: Out of My Hand, Man Up and PlantPure Nation
Megan Snyder
Staff Writer

‘Out of My Hand’ (2015) | Unrated | 87 min. | 🎬🎬🎬🎬


Cisco’s (Bishop Blay) work on a latex plantation in Liberia is simple but hard. Every morning before the sun rises, he walks several miles to a section of the forest where he collects the milky sap from the trees in two large buckets. He carries these buckets across his shoulders back to his village, but to his and his family’s dismay, it’s never enough.

After a failed strike, Cisco travels to America, desperate for money, where he drives a taxi cab. The work is equally hard back home but for different reasons. Seeking comfort in the small Liberian community of New York City, Cisco encounters Jacob, a fellow ex-child soldier, and the memories of their shared past haunt the men in “Out of My Hand.”

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize and U.S. Fiction Award at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival, “Out of My Hand” is only one of two narrative productions to have been shot in Liberia. The Liberia Movie Union worked closely with the Liberian government during filming.

Director Takeshi Fukunaga, winner of the George C. Lin Emerging Filmmaker Award at the 2015 San Diego Asian Film Festival, makes excellent use of silence in portraying Cisco’s internal struggles. With minimal dialogue, the beauty as well as the destitution of the Liberian countryside is most appreciated. Fukunaga was also nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the 2016 Independent Spirit Awards.

The consensus on “Out of My Hand’s” critical reception is in debate. While Rotten Tomatoes awarded it a solid 100 percent, Netflix viewers were reluctant to give it even one star.

This film is available on Netflix.

‘Man Up’ (2015) | R | 88 min. | 🎬🎬🎬

34-year-old Nancy (Lake Bell) routinely gives herself half-hearted pep talks in the hopes of inspiring more spontaneous behavior and meeting a suitable partner. Her goals for this year include taking chances, being more deviant and getting stronger thighs. But at the end of the day, all this cynic really wants to do is eat a cheeseburger in bed and watch “The Silence of the Lambs.”

40-year-old Jack (Simon Pegg), on the other hand, hasn’t let his cheating ex-wife discourage him from meeting new people. After buying into the advice featured in a self-help bestseller, this romantic and recent divorcee agrees to go on a blind date with another fan of the book but serendipitously mistakes Nancy for his arranged date. “Man Up” tells the resulting story of what happens when the cynic and the romantic give each other a shot.

“Man Up” is British director Ben Palmer’s first film since 2011’s TV-crossover “The Inbetweeners Movie” and only his second production to make it to theaters. With positive critical reception overall, Palmer undoubtedly owes much of the film’s success to Bell and Pegg’s outstanding performances.

Rory Kinnear (“Skyfall” and “Spectre“) steals most of the laughs in the unexpected role of Sean, Nancy’s harmless but no less off-putting stalker. An eclectic supporting cast and superb writing from newcomer Tess Morris revive what some argue is a dying genre.

From the producer of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” this romantic comedy unobtrusively subverts American audience’s sense of humor. Like Pegg’s other clever and highly stylized work, “Man Up” will become an instant favorite of the self-deprecating intellectual.

This film is available on Netflix.

‘PlantPure Nation’ (2015) | Not rated | 95 min. | 🎬🎬

Starting in 1983, Dr. T. Colin Campbell served as a lead scientist in what’s been called the most comprehensive study of human nutrition ever conducted. 21 years later, Campbell, along with his son Thomas, published their findings of this groundbreaking research in the best-selling book “The China Study.”

In an attempt to reform the standard American diet and promote plant-based nutrition, Campbell partnered with Kentucky State Representative Tom Riner. But when their proposal was met with steadfast resistance from lobbyists for the meat, dairy and egg industry, this pioneering duo realized just how closely intertwined politics and food were.

Having experienced the positive effects of a predominantly vegetarian diet himself, Dr. Campbell’s oldest son Nelson and his wife Kim launched “PlantPure Nation.” Beginning in the tight-knit rural community of Mebane, North Carolina, Nelson personally invited his neighbors to participate in a 10-day program to demonstrate the effectiveness and ease of the diet.

When the health of the participants dramatically improved, the community was convinced of the power of whole, plant-based foods. PlantPure “pods” began coalescing nearby. Nelson’s grassroots approach to inciting a food revolution was a success.

Perhaps more at home in a high school health class than in theaters, “PlantPure Nation’s” potential remains unrealized, as its means of delivery seriously underwhelms. The opening credits, for example, utilize a series of overlapping soundbites touting the benefits of various fad diets, a strategy that has been grossly overused and therefore, rendered ineffective in the realm of documentaries.

Nonetheless, the film relies heavily on its wholesome and pure message and for good reason. Despite being repeatedly contested, Dr. Campbell’s research remains widely accepted.
This film is available on Netflix.


Rating System:
🎬 — Straight to DVD.
🎬🎬 — Well, there goes 2 hours of my life!
🎬🎬🎬 — Add to my queue.
🎬🎬🎬🎬 — A must see.
🎬🎬🎬🎬🎬 — Mind blown!