Film Review: THE PUBLIC (USA) ***

The Public Poster

An act of civil disobedience turns into a standoff with police when homeless people in Cincinnati take over the public library to seek shelter from the bitter cold.


Emilio Estevez

THE PUBLIC is Emilio Estevez’s ambitious little movie that tackles a few key social issues while being commercially entertaining.  Estevez gives himself the title role as a thankless, sensitive but realistic librarian.

After instilling to the audience the oddness and importance of the librarian in the American society with voiceover over archive black and white footage, the film opens with head librarian of downtown Cincinnati, Stuart Goodson (Estevez) heading to work one very cold morning.  He encounters  people who greet him on the way and it becomes obvious he is setting himself up as the sympathetic hero of the piece.  He meets an old lady who accuses Jews of meaningless deeds, while the homeless wait for the library to open so that they can wash up in the toilets.  He is also realistic as he answers back rationally to a female librarian under him who accuses him of leaving his carbon footprint behind.  It is obvious he likes her though she appears a bit too radical for him..  All these incidents are the prologue to a lawsuit undertaken by a public prosecutor (Christian Slater), again a too obvious villain of the piece.  The prosecutor is also running for the office for mayor.  It is seldom one gets to see Slater snarling and growling as a villain.

One quarter through the film, a new character, a police negotiator (Alec Baldwin) whose son is missing because of a drug addiction problem is introduced into the story.

One feels that Estevez is too manipulative in his sardonic humour and tackling of too many issues – from the homeless to mental health to the city’s opiate addiction to the environment and yes, politics.  “Try not to kill any of my friends,” says the female librarian to the cops at one point.

The film opens a few insightful possibilities.  Do the homeless protect and look after other homeless?  The film seems to think so.  Estevez takes the notion one step further when they take down the library after a cold Arctic blast hits the city resulting in -10C. 

To Estevez’s credit, a few bits of his script are quite good.  His film also propagates the main worthy cause of the homeless, despite looking too ambitious.  The film has a twist in the story despite an Hollywood happy ending.

Estevez and Slater are both good but it is Baldwin who steals the show, showing he can play serious as well as comedy (Saturday Night Live’s Donald Trump).

The film was shot in the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  The story was inspired and a little glamourized by the moving 2007 essay “Written Off” by Chip Ward, a now-retired assistant director of the Salt Lake City Public Library System.

This is a film that presents problems with no solutions leaving it somewhat disappointing.  One might argue however, that these problems can never be solved, but Estevez should provide some ray of hope.  THE PUBLIC is a not half bad mix comedy/drama relevant social issues that seems too obvious in pleasing the audience.


Film Review: THE PRODIGY (USA 2019) ***

The Prodigy Poster

A mother concerned about her young son’s disturbing behavior thinks something supernatural may be affecting him.


Jeff Buhler

THE PRODIGY is a horror slasher/possession film that by nature of the script evokes a lot of thinking – at least from my part.  Part of these will be mentioned in the review.

The plot centres around a child, Miles (Jackson Robert Scott) whose disturbing behaviour signals that an evil, possibly supernatural force possessed him, forcing his parents, Sarah (Taylor Schilling) and John (Peter Mooney) to investigate whether sinister forces are involved.  Miles is a prodigy with exceptional learning ability though socially backward.  The film is clear later on to let the audience know the difference between possession and reincarnation though the effect of both on a horror film is the same – i.e Miles behaves like a different being.

The film begins with three intercut scenes.  One is a woman screaming for help, running out of the woods stopping a car driven by another woman, who stops.  The second is a birth, an early one at that, with the mother in labour.  The scene is intercut with a man in his tool shed, called out by the police and then gunned down in the yard.  The man clasps what seems to be a severed hand.  When the woman gives birth the writhing baby fades into the dying man that was gunned down by the police.   The film then moves on in years when the baby is now grown to a boy of different ages 8 and 10.  It does not take a genius to fit the pieces of the jigsaw together, but it is still fun doing it.  The dead serial killer is reincarnated in the boy.  The parents have to figure out what is happening and who the reincarnating killer is and save the day, and hopefully their son in the process.  A doctor, Arthur Jacobson (played by Canadian Colm Feore) aids in solving the mystery.

The film is supposedly set in Pennsylvania but shot in Canada.  The actors are a mix of Canadian and American casting.

McCarty’s film is both scary in concept and execution.  One is not knowing what your child will grow up to be.  One scene has the mother wondering the same question, then assured by the physician that the boy is giftedly bright.  The film contains graphic gore and violence – the most disturbing scene involving the boy hitting another with a huge wrench.

Not to mention any details, there is one glitch in the story that I thought evaded the scriptwriter.  But upon closer examination, the script allowed for that discrepancy if one thinks hard enough.  The details will not disclosed for plot twists would have to be revealed.

THE PRODIGY is not without its loose ends (how did the boy get the sharp shears in the car?  How did the boy have the tools to make the camera to spy on his parents), which is forgivable in a low budget horror movie.  Still this is one hell of a thinking horror film, and a satisfying one nevertheless.


Happy Birthday: Taylor Schilling

taylorschilling.jpgTaylor Schilling

Born: July 27, 1984 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

I started doing yoga in college, so that has just become a staple of a self-care routine for my mind and my body. My body craves it at this point, so I do it two to three times a week, sometimes more. I practice Vinyasa style yoga and sometimes mix it up.



dir. Scott Hicks
Zac Efron
Taylor Schilling

dir. David O. Russell
Bradley Cooper
Julia Stiles