Tag Archives: Joshua Caldwell

I Believe I Can Fly

Mending the Line

by George Wolf

Mending the Line certainly has its heart in the right place. It gives us wounded warriors and grieving souls, all finding some peace for battered psyches through the Zen of fly fishing.

There are some beautiful and serene Montana landscapes, and a message of caring respect that’s easy to get behind.

It’s also smart to get behind it, because anything in front of that message is in the path of some dramatic box-checking with little thought of subtlety.

Marine Sgt. John Colter (Sinqua Walls from the recent White Men Can’t Jump remake and next week’s The Blackening) is making good progress on recovering physically from a deadly firefight in Afghanistan. “Colt”‘s mental state is more fragile, as he’s plagued by memories of losing good men on their final tour before coming home.

Their final tour. And Colt’s best friend in the Corps was about to be married. And Colt was to be the Best Man.

Colt wants to get back to the front lines asap, but his V.A. Dr. (Patricia Heaton) isn’t sure his head is right, so she sends him to see old Ike Fletcher for fly fishing lessons.

Ike (Bryan Cox) is a battle-scarred Vet himself, and begrudgingly puts Colt through some Mr. Miyagi-approved training while Colt gets to know the locals. There’s Lucy (Perry Mattfeld), who’ still mourning the loss of her fiancĂ©, while Harrison (Wes Studi) is the requisite best friend who needles Ike about what an old coot he is before imparting a nugget of wisdom and walking off.

The cast is fine, and director Joshua Caldwell follows up the in-your-face cliche fest of his Infamous with a appropriately gentler hand, but Stephen Camelio’s debut screenplay offers more good intention than authentic emotion.

Pivotal changes of heart land suddenly without being earned, while the heavy-handed plot turns walk hand in hand with Bill Brown’s paint-by-melodramatic-numbers score.

Veterans care, survivor’s guilt and life after trauma are worthy issues, and Mending the Line wants badly to respect those involved and provide enlightenment for the conversation.

The respect is never in doubt, but the conversation ends up treading water.



by George Wolf

Arielle (Bella Thorne) is bumming. She’s got a crap waitressing job in a boring Florida town, and she’s way over living with her mom and her mom’s creepy boyfriend. And too many people pronounce her name like the Disney princess! But that’s not the nearly the worst of it.

Her Instagram numbers are pathetic.

Enter a hunky new bad boy in town named Dean (Jake Manley), a gun, and a string of brazen robberies along the route to a new life in Hollywood, and those followers start piling up.

The news reports begin branding the couple as a modern day Bonnie and Clyde, but it’s clear early on that what writer/director Joshua Caldwell has in mind is a Natural Born Killers for the social media set.

While the film’s timing – dropping right when we are seeing social media push overdue social change – isn’t great, its goal is an ambitious one. The internet age still seems ripe for the type of darkly comic and satirical fish eye that Oliver Stone used to frame mass media in 1994. And no matter how well you think that film has aged, you can’t deny the boldness of the vision.

There’s nothing remotely fresh about Infamous, let alone bold. The last straw catalyst for leaving town, the sex while driving, the media obsession and the misplaced adulation of the masses all line up and fall as easily as the next robbery.

About an hour in, Arielle and Dean take a hostage (Glee’s Amber Riley with a nice, understated turn) and it seems Caldwell is finally trying to make his own statement. But it stalls from exposition and generality, leading nowhere close to the intersection where Stone planted his flag, one where the film’s true commentary transcends the style and narrative.

And there is style here. Caldwell gives much of the action an urgent pace and a livestream feel, with texts and comments often darting the frame to remind you where Arielle’s heart is.

But she, and Dean, are more cliche than character, and what they tell us about social media isn’t much deeper. The interchangeable, angst-heavy soundtrack choices only confirm that Infamous isn’t reaching beyond these two outlaw lovers, and the youngest of adult audiences may actually identify with them for all the wrong reasons.