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The Independent Critic

Ryan Scott Self, Samantha Cutaran, John Sterling Carter, David Alan Graf, Erica K. Evans, Carson Aune and Nina Gosiengfiao
Mike Cohen
97 Mins.
Perspective Films
Interviews With Cast; Outtakes/Bloopers; Greg's Home Video including footage from Montauk, Alcatraz and Fort Point; Trailers

 "Cinema Salvation" Review 
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Greg (Ryan Scott Self) loved Hannah (Nina Gosiengfiao). Hannah loved something else even more than she loved Greg. When their engagement collapsed, a devastated Greg did what any filmmaker would do ... he decided to make a film.

Uh oh.

When Greg's script about Hannah is selected to be produced, Greg's new journey as filmmaker begins. Inspired by actual events, the easygoing and pleasing Cinema Salvation takes an incredibly entertaining look at the peaks and valleys one encounters when  one is making a film about a former fiance'.

Cinema Salvation looks and feels like one of John Cusack's early projects, those endearing heartfelt comedies of the 80's that made you care about the characters while having a good time with them. While Cinema Salvation isn't quite up to the quality of an early Cusack film, it captures the heart, sentimentality and occasional absurdity of those films and yet does so in a way that makes the film a distinctly unique vision of its writer/director Mike Cohen.

Filmed in various locations in both California and New York City, Cinema Salvation has been enjoying an extended indie and festival run since its release in late 2009 and has finally been released on DVD with Perspective Films. The packaging for Cinema Salvation is quite good, with a variety of bonus features that are frequently not found on indie DVD releases.

The film depends very much upon the winning performance of its lead actor, Ryan Scott Self as Greg, a generally good-hearted guy who's trying not to be overly bitter that he lost out to Jesus while trying to keep his sanity amidst the increasing demands of shooting a film about very real characters. Self, not to overkill the Cusack comparison, exudes that same level of likable "ordinary Joe" as did Cusack in a good number of his films. Self wisely never overplays the character or paints in broad strokes, the result being a film that is both incredibly funny and emotionally resonant.

The supporting cast is solid, as well, with newcomer Nina Gosiengfiao leaving a positive impression along with Samantha Cutaran, Erica K. Evans and Carson Aune standing out among the fine ensemble cast. D.P. Kara Stephens lenses the film warmly, while Tara Robinson's production design takes quite the advantage of the film's various locales. The film captured the "Aloha Accolade" at the Honolulu International Film Festival in 2010.

Greg may have been better off with Jesus, but for sure you'll be better off if you catch the insightful, funny and incredibly appealing Cinema Salvation.

For information on the DVD release of Cinema Salvation, visit the film's website (or, better yet, just click on the Amazon banner to the right and get your own copy!).

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic