(L-R) Harry Connick, Jr., Morgan Freeman and Nathan Gamble in a scene from 'Dolphin Tale'

By Marie Moore

*”Dolphin Tale” is no ordinary film but then it’s star, Winter, is no ordinary dolphin. This must-see, riveting, heart wrenching movies also stars Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd-this being her third film with Freeman-and Kris Kristofferson. Having played such lofty roles as Nelson Mandela in “Invictus” and United States President Beck in the 1998 film, “Sudden Impact,” Freeman portrays Dr. Cameron McCarthy, the prosthetics doctor who fits the Dolphin Winter with an artificial tail. Not only is the real life character white, but Kevin Carroll (Vice President of Prosthetics for Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics), a Board Certified prosthetist with more than 30 years experience as a practicing clinician, visionary researcher and skilled educator, told The Film Strip that Freeman is a combination of himself and Dan Strzempka (Manager for Hanger Posthetics, treating in Sarasota, Bradenton and Venice, Florida), a certified prosthetist and orthotist, also with nearly 30 years experience.

Since 2006, together with his colleague, Kevin, Dan has been involved in the rehabilitation and development of a prosthetic tail for Winter at the Florida Clearwater Marine Museum. Dan is also an amputee, having lost his leg in a lawnmower accident when he was four, and along with his patients, has personally benefited from the use of a WintersGel prosthetic liner made with the same material he and Kevin created to protect Winter’s delicate skin while forming a more secure attachment for her prosthetic tail. The two individuals extensive work with human amputees and veterans made it possible to develop the tail for Winter.

In addition to Freeman’s blind casting role, an important turn of events in the story takes place involving a black child and her mother. The wheelchair bound little girl (Laila Harris) had her mother (Stacy-Ann Rose) drive for hours so that she could visit Winter at the Florida Marine Museum, having been inspired by her progress. Freeman, too, was moved by the story. “I thought it was a good story and really good family fare,” Freeman says. “No crashes, no chases, no sex. Just a “crackin'” good story. Kid friendly. I have young grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And so the idea of them being able go and see something like this and get a little bit of a boost in some of the values that are out there, it’s good to be involved with that.’

One poignant comment Freeman’s character makes to a returned Vet is, “Just because you hurt, doesn’t mean you’re broken.”

Well broken needles can not only hurt but kill and that is the topic of the engrossing film, “Puncture,” where Chris Evans-best known as Captain American-stars as Mike Weiss, an impressive young Houston lawyer but a functioning drug addict. He and his straight-laced partner take on a case involving a local ER nurse, who is pricked by a contaminated needle on the job. Brothers and directors Mark and Adam Kassen bring the real-life story to the screen with all the urgency and passion of the subjects themselves.

The Film Strip asked Evans if it was more pressure playing a superhero or a real life character? “There’s pressure in different ways,” he explained. “Most movies you make you hope people will see it. You don’t know if it will reach an audience. ‘Captain America,’ there’s no question people are going to see it, people are going to have an opinion, and you will be judged. And there are obviously people who hold that character true to their heart; they have an expectation, so there’s pressure in that regard. ‘Puncture’ is tricky because it’s a true story. So it might not reach the masses, it might not have the same ripple effect, but to a very select few it’s their world. And that’s pressure; that’s terrifying.” Evans went on to say that he hoped the film would make a difference. “Not only did I like the character and the script, the story, and the directors, but there was a message in there, there was a topic that needed to be addressed, so it’s kind of like two birds one stone.”

Evans will be back striking out against all that is evil next year. “‘The Avengers’ is done,” he says. “We just finished. We finished two weeks ago, and that’s a wrap, and that’ll come out in May.”