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By Jared Huizenga – Contributing Writer – SunSailer

A-New-High

McCullough took on the role of senior patrol leader last year and said he also works with adult leaders to help plan the troop’s monthly meetings and campouts.

Aside from the leadership experience he’s gained, McCullough said he’s also felt fortunate to meet people who work in many various professions.

For what it lacked in quantity, Day No. 1 of the 2015 Twin Cities Film Fest definitely made up for in quality.

The sixth year of the festival kicked off with two gala screenings – the first for the documentary “A New High” and the latter for the Toronto International Film Fest darling “Room.”

“A New High” spotlights a program at the Union Gospel Mission in Seattle that takes homeless, recovering addicts and – as they progress through their rehabilitation – trains them to climb Mt. Rainier. The film documents the highs and lows of the subjects’ recovery and training.

Directors Samuel Miron and Stephen Scott Scarpulla do an excellent job of showing the different layers of each subject to provide the viewer with a balanced idea of who each is – nobody is shown in a completely positive or negative light. They also adeptly capture the dangers involved in the climb (while making the climb themselves) and shine a light on the program and its mission of helping and bettering the lives of others.

“A New High” will have one more showing during TCFF 2015 – 12:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30. The following link contains ticket information, trailers and a synopsis of the film: https://twincitiesfilmfest.org/films/a-new-high/

★★★½ of ★★★★★

Room

The second film of the evening is the drama/thriller “Room,” which features Brie Larson (“21 Jump Street,” “Trainwreck”) as Ma – a young woman who is forced to raise her son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay) in a single room after she is kidnapped and held captive for several years.

In his intro last night, TCFF Executive Director Jatin Setia described “Room” as an “emotional rollercoaster.” And try as I might, I can’t think of a better way to describe it. Sometimes the pair is happy (despite their deplorable situation) and other times they’re miserable … and it’s definitely a fluid situation. The roller coaster doesn’t stop or even slow down until the very end.

The story is at times disturbing, but really makes you examine how you view the world and live your life. I don’t see it as the Best Picture Oscar contender that some critics are hailing it as, but Larson’s turn as the tragic and heroic lead of this film puts her firmly in the list (if not at the top) of the Best Actress list.

★★★ of ★★★★★

“Room” will not have any additional screening at TCFF, but it will open nationwide on Nov. 9.

Jared Huizenga is a freelance movie critic and entertainment reporter. He can be reached atmoviesjared@gmail.com.