Heartland minireviews: Crocodile Gennadiy, Superior, Big Voice
By Bob Bloom
“Crocodile Gennadiy’ follows Gennadiy Mokhnenko, an activist pastor in the Ukraine who gained recognition — or notoriety — for abducting homeless drug-addicted children off the streets of Mariupol and bringing them to Pilgrim Republic, a rehabilitation center that he founded.
As you watch this documentary, you come to admire Mokhnenko as he butts head with an uncaring, corrupt and overwhelmed bureauracy amid the social and economic upheavels in the Ukraine following the break up of the Soviet Union.
Director Steve Hooper happened to be in the right place at the right time as the Russian-Ukraine turmoil boiled over while he was filming this project.
The film details how Mokhnenko’s activism has expanded over the years to helping other unfortunate people, including abused and battered women and children.
3½ stars out of 4
“Superior” is a coming-of-age feature about two friends having one last fling in the summer of 1971 before one goes off to tech school, while the other awaits his calling from the draft board.
The two decide to take a 1,300-mile bike trip around Lake Superior.
They encounter a few comic misadventures during their trek, bicker with each other and learn some life lessons.
“Superior” is a bit slow at times, but is an overall engaging movie that features warm performances from Paul Stanko and Thatcher Robinson as the longtime buddies.
The movie will definitely resonate with baby boomers who came of age during this period.
2½ stars out of 4
“Big Voice” is a documentary that chronicles a year in the life of Santa Monica High School choral director Jeffe Huls as he works with his most advanced ensemble.
Huls is a taskmaster who demands the most from his students.
What is refreshing about director Varda Bar-Kar’s feature is that it does not portray Huls as the perfect teacher.
He is shown getting impatient, frustrated and angry with his students because, as teenagers, they seem to have short attention spans and easily lose focus.
Yet, Huls perseveres, making his students set aside their egos and differences for the greater good.
“Big Voice” shows what one caring and dedicated teacher can accomplish through hard work and drive.
3 stars out of 4
Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and The Film Yap (filmyap.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.