Saturday, December 31, 2016

An Affair to Remember

I have known of the classic film An Affair to Remember for many years. New Year's Eve seemed like a great time to experience this classic. A man and woman meet on a cruise ship and a flirtation occurs. They both have significant others, but their flirtation makes them feel guilty. I'm glad that I saw this classic.

Celebrity Sightings 2016

In 2016 my path crossed with several celebrities. Most I bought tickets to see, but a few were by chance

At the play Turn Me Loose we saw both Dick Gregory and Joe Morton

At Tribeca Film Festival I had the pleasure of seeing Francis Ford Coppola, Viola Davis, Ira Glass, Keegan-Michael Key, Rose Byrne, Katie Holmes, Cecile Strong, Jane Rosenthal and Susan Sarandon

I saw Mike Birbiglia at The Cloumbus Theater in PVD working out Thank God for Jokes and at Tribeca Film Festival with Don't Think Twice

At The Comedy Cellar I had a drunken (me not him) encounter with Jud Apatow

I saw Tig Notaro at The Columbus Theater in PVD

I ran into Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban at Americano in NYC

La La Land

In the style of a modern musical, La La Land brings dance, music, dreams, work, love and life to the screen. I like a mature love story with realistic consequences, and if you throw in a song, that's even better. The story holds up, the choreography is great and the numbers were meant to be filmed. The music is infectious, so we've got a winner here.

Manchester by the Sea

The film Manchester by the Sea is a study in family dynamics in the most awful of circumstances. The performances make this story bearable, and in a quiet way, sends a message of hope in the face of cruel reality. The characters mature in interesting ways. I really liked this drama, one of my favorite films this year.

Friday, December 30, 2016

American Honey

One of the most mesmerizing films of this year is American Honey. Watching a girl escape an awful home life to hit the road with a young band of  "sales associates" is beautifully shot with nuanced performances. The action is subtle and powerful. This was a good rental.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The BFG

A big friendly giant, The BFG bears the signature of Steven Spielberg. The visuals are deep and the story rolls at a brisk pace. There is ridicule, revenge and redemption. This tale is well done and the effects are very good. I liked this film.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Pete's Dragon

Live action with a dragon could be crazy. In Pete's Dragon it is heartwarming. Pete and his dragon persevere being hunted by the townspeople. Set in present day with a touch of reality, this tale has adventure and heart. When reality rears it's head I had to remind myself that dragons aren't real. Good fantasy film.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Late Bloomer

I don't mind a raunchy comedy, but The Late Bloomer is a strange story where sex is the main character. When a young man goes through puberty at a late age, the story takes a nice guy and turns him into a jerk. This story had a lot of potential, but the execution was to sophomoric for me. I tried.

Friday, December 23, 2016

War Dogs

A couple of assholes start running guns in the movie War Dogs and they have no idea what they are doing. Policy and politics are not their strong suit. The story unfolds with banter and motive, but the two main characters are so unlikable that I didn't care if they succeeded or not. An OK rental.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Magnificent Seven

The most striking thing about The Magnificent Seven is the way it looks. Gorgeous cinematography and expanded vistas made me wish I had seen it in the theater. The story of revenge is interesting and at times amusing. Just when I thought the movie was over there was a half hour gun battle. Bullets everywhere, but the goal was attained. This was a good western with good performances. I liked it enough to see it again some time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Suicide Squad

The movie Suicide Squad held little interest tome when it was in theaters, so I waited to rent it. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I get lost in the talky politics of the super-hero world, but I liked the action and the visuals. There was a fair amount of humor as well. A good rental.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Nocturnal Animals

The many layers of Nocturnal Animals makes it an intriguing film to watch. The story goes back and forth between a novel sent to a woman by her ex-husband, and the woman's real life. This sparks memories her life which sets off a third story line. This thriller is violent and dark. Highly stylized, the filming is brilliant and the performances are outstanding. I am anxious to see this again because there is so much to absorb. Excellent film.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Hollars

Family dramas that surround an illness are a popular theme in film. In The Hollars a family deals with the Mother's brain tumor operation.The siblings are an odd assortment of personalities, but the story is sweet and I liked it a lot. Margo Martindale really shines in this film.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Other People

How do you live out the last months of your life? In Other People, when a woman contracts cancer, her son moves home to help with her care. We watch her live. We watch her die. We see the effect both have on her family and especially her son. This is a powerful drama with a very big heart and great performances. A solid rental.

The Secret Life of Pets

To me, it is ideal when I can watch a family film with my grand-kids. Fiona, Mason and I sat down to The Secret Life of Pets and went on an adventure. The pets had voices and they were out in the streets of New York City. Some of the scenes were set in Brooklyn so the kids really related to the location. I thought some of the threatening situations were a bit intense, but the kids rolled with the talking animals and the action. They especially liked the bunny. Overall a decent rental.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Chicken People

If you enjoyed Best in Show the documentary Chicken People will feel familiar. The difference? The people in the doc are totally serious. The ins and outs of show chickens are explored along with the people who participate. They are very self-aware and love their chickens. This is a documentary worth seeing!

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

When a boy in foster care takes to the bush of New Zeland, the plot of Hunt for the Wilderpeople takes off. The boy is troubled, yet lovable. His companion is the unwilling foster father and their chemistry is great. His love of haiku is a fun form of expression. I really enjoyed this rental.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Mr. Church

In the film Mr. Church Eddie Murphy takes on a dramatic role and knocks it out of the park. Along with Britt Robertson, he tells the story of a man who cares for a dying woman and her daughter for six years, As a result, they become a family and the telling is so sweet. The third act drags a bit, but on the whole this is a solid drama. I liked it.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Mulan

Mulan is one of the few Disney films I had not seen. After taking a silly online quiz titled "What Disney character are you?" and getting Mulan, I thought I should check it out. Set in ancient China, its a bit tough to get beyond the prejudices against women, which were part of the culture, but the action and story are good. I'm not a huge fan of gender confusion plots (hello Shakespeare) but this story gets beyond it quickly and Mulan is a hero as herself. Glad I saw it.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Loving

That Richard and Mildred Loving were jailed for loving each other is ironic, appropriate and awful. In the film Loving the story of their pursuit of the lawsuit Loving vs The State of Virginia to legalize interracial marriage, is told in a quiet, respectful, realistic way. That this was ever against the law in this country blows my mind. The most powerful statement in the film is when Mildred is asked why they keep pursuing the lawsuit she says, "maybe this will help other people too." Boy did it. This is a good film and an important story.

Captain Fantastic

Family stories are common in film. Captain Fantastic puts a twist on the family trope by setting the family off the grid until the mother passes away. The emotions within the nuclear family and the conflict with the traditions surrounding death are interesting and emotional. I liked this film much more than I expected to. It was a solid rental. Well done.

Hands of Stone

Roberto Duran had a successful boxing career. His story is told in Hands of Stone. From childhood to his championship, his training and personal life are played out. The film stops with his championship and does not acknowledge the decline of his career. The performances are good and the story has a lot of heart.

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World

Werner Herzog explores the intricacies and concerns of technology. The documentary Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World is an interesting, sometimes scary, sometimes depressing look at the impact of cyber life and it's future. Good documentary. Makes you think.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Moana

It's always fun to see a movie with a large group of people. When my grandson chose Moana as the movie we were to see for his birthday I knew we were in for quite a ride. 21 adults and children were in our group, and we took up 3 rows in the theater. The short film Inner Workings set the tone for the theme of "follow your heart". Moana is the age-old story of a headstrong young girl who wants more than the protected world her parents insist on. She feels a destiny to help her people and sets off on a quest. In the exotic land of island culture we follow our optimistic hero. There is action, there is folklore, there is humor, there is heart and boy oh boy is there music! Lin Manuel Miranda weaves wonderful songs throughout the film in his own magical style. Moana is appealing and the young actress, Auli'i Cravalho, who plays her has a gorgeous voice. Everyone in our group loved this film and the packed theater applauded at the end. I look forward to seeing it again.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Arrival

The first part of Arrival seemed slow to me. I was expecting more slam-bang from a movie about an alien encounter. Once I realized that there was more heart and smarts to this film I could go along. The exploration of language and communication is a quiet adventure I enjoyed. Good film.

Bleed for This

When a local story finds its way to the big screen it's usually a lot of fun. The story of RI boxing legend Vinny Paz is told so well in the film Bleed for This. I feel I am biased because I have local knowledge, but I got a kick out of the portrayal of this colorful character. He was a cocky guy who shook it in everyone's face. When Paz was in a car accident, his condition was in the news every day. As time has gone by, it is with nostalgia that I look back at his story. Seeing him do press tours today, it's nice to see him happy, and still a character. A helluva sports comeback and a helluva guy. Fun film.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Moonlight

The structure of a film can make a touching story pack an emotional wallop. In Moonlight we watch a young man grow up under very difficult conditions. The journey is told in three parts, I was happy to be along for the ride. One of the most powerful dramas I've seen this year. Well done.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Lost Weekend

Billy Wider is a wonderful film maker. Watching The Lost Weekend this is quite obvious. The story of a man struggling with alcoholism is compelling. Even though it is black and white, the shots, the structure, the acting and the music are blended so well. A true classic.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Not far into Alice Through the Looking Glass I realized that it is assumed that the audience has seen Alice in Wonderland (2010). Since it has been 6 years, and it wasn't that great a film, my memory of it is dim. The story of Alice trying to help the Mad Hatter is weak at best. The costumes and makeup are great, but there was not much else in this film for me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Out of the Furnace

The film Out of the Furnace is a rather bleak look and two brother's relationship and how they deal with the consequences of their actions. They make choices dealing with bad people and things do not go well. Story is depressing but the performances are very good. An OK rental.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Life, Animated

In the documentary Life, Animated we meet Owen Suskind who is autistic. His family and he have learned that he can communicate and relate to the world through Disney films. His family is working to transition him to living on his own as a young adult. Owen is charming and works hard to achieve his goals. He also draws to express himself and has several big accomplishments in the film. If you rent this on DVD be sure to watch his short film in the extras. This is an uplifting film. Good rental.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Duel

In 1846 southern Texas was struggling to keep its identity. The living was tough and people were territorial and brutal. In the film The Duel a man and his wife try to navigate to new territory looking for answers and find themselves in a tough town. The story plods and the violence is brutal. An OK rental.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Indignation

The drama Indignation is a well written portrayal of a young man coming of age on a difficult path. He speaks his mind at a school that would prefer him to conform. Some of his relationships are difficult, some confusing, some rewarding. A good drama that I'm glad I saw as a rental.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Norman Lear: Jut Another Version of You

Producer Norman Lear is the father of the TV sitcom. In the documentary Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You we learn of his formative years and career. A look inside TV producing and how the sitcoms expressed social issues with humor. At 94 Lear is still working and still making solid TV. This film was a good peek behind the curtain. Good rental.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Doctor Strange

The new Marvel film Doctor Strange was a breath of fresh air to me. I thought I was on super-hero overload, but his film explained all situations well and had enough humor to make it entertaining. It reminded me of the first Iron Man movie. A clever script and solid performances helped too. The visuals make this a must-see-in-the-theater movie. I liked this movie a lot.

Imperium

The thriller Imperium goes inside the world of white supremacy in the form of an FBI sting. The situation is scary and the characters are menacing. I really liked the performances, but the foray into this world is very disturbing. Good rental.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

I Saw the Light

I Saw the Light is another music biopic in which the age of the star, Hank Williams', at the end of his life stunned me. The battle of egos in his personal life certainly overshadow his music. Excellent performances salvage this sad story to make it an OK rental.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Batman v Superman

When the film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice came to theaters I decided that I had no interest in watching two of my favorite superheroes fight. When it came to DVD my curiosity got the best of me and I rented it. Visually this film is very dark which made it hard to stay interested. The angst of the characters is well done with anger and strategic fighting. The performances are good, I really liked Lex Luthor. An OK rental.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Free State of Jones

There is so much drama in the early history of the United States. Film mines this regularly. In Free State of Jones the life of Newton Knight rebelling against the confederates with farmers and slaves in the south is inspiring, dangerous and violent. The aspect of interracial couples being against the law still blows my mind and is told well in this film in a side-plot. A good film that is tough to watch at times. Decent rental.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The River Wild

Ihttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110997/?ref_=nv_sr_1n the 90s my daughter would watch the film The River Wild regularly. Not sure if it was on cable, or if she and her friends just kept renting it, but she always used to say how much Kevin Bacon freaked her out. His portrayal of a bad guy is menacing and ruthless. The 20 year old thriller holds up and we get Meryl Streep as an action hero. Crazy rafting scenes combined with the kidnapping story keeps the viewer in suspense. Well done with a bit of a corny ending. Good rental.

The Infiltrator

In The Infiltrator Bryan Cranston climbs behind the makeup once again to portray Robert Mazur, an undercover customs agent flushing out drug money launderers in the 80s. The danger and risk is well represented. A good rental.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016)

I tried to let the Ghostbusters remake have a life of its own. Without comparing it to the original, this film is clunky and a bit of a mess. It teeters on what could have been a lot more fun as the writing and performances were good. The sets and effects were overdone and sloppy. The best scenes were the pared down visuals with a good gag. There were too few of these for me. As a rental, this movie has its moments, but it's just ok. Great cast and fun cameos made it worth seeing for me.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

The Girl on the Train

When a woman can't remember the events of a critical evening we are in for a decent mystery. I spoiled the mystery of The Girl on the Train by reading the book first. Even thought I knew who-done-it I enjoyed the film. As always, there is a lot more in the book and the page-turning scenes were more dramatic as a read. I feel like the story was brought to the screen in a more subtle fashion. This is a decent psychological thriller.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Being Charlie

A young man struggles with sobriety in a high profile family. Where he lands is very satisfying. Being Charlie is a personal story of recovery that is well written and performed. This film is a decent rental.

Birth of a Nation

The recounting of a slave uprising is violent and disturbing. The Birth of a Nation shows us the life of Nat Turner from childhood to revolution. Stylized and graphic, this film gave me a gut-punch of reality that was uncomfortable and necessary.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Joshy

A suicide brings a group of friends together on a guys weekend that has awkward, weird and poignant moments. In Joshy a cast of talented comedians show their acting chops in this drama with a light touch. An OK rental.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Eat That Question: Frank Zappa In His Own Words

Frank Zappa was a composer, musician, advocate and outspoken artist. In the documentary Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words we learn of his diversity and creativity through interviews. He tells his own story, expresses his views and passions in archive footage. Such an interesting man. Such an interesting life. The credits end with Zappa saying, "Vote like a beast." I wonder what he'd think of today's political climate. It's an interesting piece of music history. Loved this film.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week

I was 7 years old when I first saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. At that tender age I was rocked. I grew up with their music, but did not know much about heir early touring years. In the documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, those days are presented in archival footage and interviews with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. In their own words the band expressed their feelings about the music, travel and fame. The hysteria was crazy! There is a 30 minute film after the documentary of their concert at Shea Stadium. Amazing stuff. Well worth seeing.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037

I work in manufacturing. I love music. These two things made the documentary Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 a very satisfying film for for me. Along with the artistry involved with making a Steinway piano, the dedication, logistics and people is fascinating to me. Beautifully filmed, the year long process of making one of these beauties is detailed by it's craftsmen. We learn the history of Steinway as well. This is the second time I've seen the film and I still love it. It inspired me to sit down and play a few tunes at my own piano. Haven't done that in a while. Nice film.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2? Disappointing. Clunky and awkward. What a mess. Nuff said.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Snowden

Laura Poitras is a documentarian who traveled to Hong Kong to film Edward Snowden as he spoke of his story. Citizen Four highlights Snowden's whistle-blowing on the US government in regards to internet survelence. In The film Snowden, Oliver Stone dramatizes this. Some see Snowden as a traitor, some see him as a hero. The fact that all of our communications are being monitored is disturbing. I really liked the way the film ended. It will be interesting to see if he ever returns to the US and if he ever stands trial. I thought this film was very well done and very interesting. Nice job.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Little Men

Rave reviews brought me to see Little Men. A quiet film about a friendship and several family struggles. There are ethics and feelings involved on a complicated level.The pace of the film was a little slow for me, but the relationships and the struggles make the film worth a look.

Now You See Me 2

I liked Now You See Me better than the critics, and now it appears I feel the same about Now You See Me 2. The plot is a bit thin and far-fetched, but I found the characters entertaining and engaging. A decent rental enjoyed.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

I'll admit to a bit of superhero fatigue as I watched Captain America: Civil War. The battles are tedious, the snark overdone and the storyline a bit melodramatic. Avengers have become vengeful, desperate and sad to me. I will say, this is a fantastic cast and a few new characters are interesting. The teasers at the end of the film sucked me in for what Marvel has in store. An OK rental.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

I don't get the title Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. I also realize that I am not the audience for the music in this movie. The story of fame and success in the music industry is not new, but it is funny and corny here. Lonely Island's performance at the end was the only song I appreciated, as this is a hard R comedy. I'm guessing that in the end, I got it. An OK rental.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sully

Not only is the Miracle on the Hudson portrayed several times, in several ways, but the film Sully presents depth and closure to an amazing event. The editing and performances pleased me. As in many films based on true stories, photos and clips of the actual people and event are nice. Well done.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

All the Way

I saw the play All the Way on Broadway. HBO presented it as a film, and wow did they do it proud. The film All the Way presents LBJ's policies and presidency with high production value, humor and amazing performances. The dialogue is dense and well represented. I really liked this film.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Love & Friendship

The tongue-in-cheek nature of Love & Friendship reminds me a lot of Another Period. Though not as outrageous, I enjoyed the light nature and a bit of satire. On-screen explanations are both helpful and funny. Lots of characters and aristocratic melodrama. Decent rental.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings

Deciding to see Kubo and the Two Strings was easy because Laika Entertainment puts out quality film. The story of a boy on a quest is intense and beautifully animated. The battle scenes and themes of loss may be a bit much for little ones, but this was a solid film. Credits are worth watching.

Friday, September 02, 2016

White Men Can't Jump

In the streets of New York, hustlers make their livings. In White Men Can't Jump we see the con worked over and over for different motivations. Hustlers hustling hustlers is entertaining, but not as entertaining as a young woman using Jeopardy! to the same end. Cool rental and Rosie Perez is a national treasure. Great rental.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Walkabout

In Australia, as a rite of passage, 15 year old boys get sent into the outback to live on their own. This is called a Walkabout. In the film with this title, a brother and sister come upon such a young man while lost. The film is a gorgeous adventure. This is so beautifully shot, and I had to keep reminding myself that it was made in the early 70s. Well worth seeing.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Keanu

I am violently allergic to cats, so the animal interests me very little. Watching Keanu I was very surprised to find great joy every time the little kitten, Keanu, was on screen. The story is a crime-comedy-buddy-thriller that rambles and is pretty violent, but oh when that kitten comes on the screen. Fun rental.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Man Who Knew Infinity

The Man Who Knew Infinity was another film I missed at Tribeca Film Festival. I'm thankful when these films come to DVD. The story of elite mathematicians is talky and very dry, but the story has enough heart to make this a decent rental.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Blank City

Mike Russell recommended Blank City as a piece of film history. The film documents early independent film in New York City. The film maker's dreams and motivations are explored. Jim Jarmusch and lend cool insight. Interesting documentary.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Weiner

I refused to see the documentary Weiner in theaters because I find the man's actions abhorrent. Anthony Weiner is a talented man who is self-destructive. Sad to see what he gave away. The man has a sickness, I hope he gets help. The documentary has amazing access and is well structured. The story is sad.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hell or High Water

A concerted effort to raise money to protect his family's financial future lies at the heart of the film Hell or High Water. The route is criminal and calculated. Themes of loyalty and righteousness are strong. Performances are excellent, but the violence is a bit gruesome at times. Good film.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Demolition

The film Demolition is an interesting examination of loss and grief. A man takes an interesting therapy route. Both heart-wrenching and satisfying. Good film.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Jack Reacher

I have always enjoyed Tom Cruise in films. In Jack Reacher he plays a huge bad-ass who investigates a random sniper attack. Lots of action and punching. OK rental.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Florence Foster Jenkins

Before I saw The fim Florence Foster Jenkins I researched the socialite. Her story is interesting. She supported the arts with her privilege and loved music so much. Her personal circumstances were complicated and are glossed over in the film. Knowing the backstory helps with understanding her motivations. I loved this film and the cast.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Hologram for the King

Drama can be interesting when it is set in an exotic locale and takes unexpected turns. In A Hologram for the King a tech salesman is challenged with a culture he does not know and is surprised by love. The customs of Saudi Arabia throw obstacles and help in unexpected places. This film takes a turn of the heart at the end. Interesting film. Worth a look.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Tallulah

The role of Mother and home are explored in Tallulah. A young girl who can't even handle her own life, takes on the care of a child in a desperate attempt to rescue her. Unequipped and lying along the way, she is in over her head with the best of intentions. Writing and performances in this film are excellent. I really liked it.

Friday, August 05, 2016

High-Rise

A truly bizarre story in an equally bizarre setting is told in the film High-Rise. A man moves into an apartment building full of strange folk and strange events. Tom Hiddleston's performance made this worth watch for me. So weird.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The First Monday In May

The documentary The First Monday in May was the opening night film for Tribeca Film Festival this year. I missed it, but was so happy that it came to DVD quickly. The film follows the preparations for the Met Ball at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Anna Wintour guides the event to fruition. The costumes are exquisite, the celebrities shine and the work that goes into an event like this is the true star. I loved this documentary.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Cafe Society

In Cafe Society, a young man goes to Los Angeles to get out of NYC and find a different life. He feels stifled by his family in New York, but turns to family for help in finding a life in Los Angeles. An odd love triangle forms, he learns his professional strengths and ultimately finds love, success and security. Can he hold on to it? Is it enough for him? Decent film.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Miles Ahead

Miles Davis was a brilliant jazz musician. In the film Miles Ahead his story is told in flashbacks and present day. Addiction, relationships and racism all play big parts in his journey personally and professionally. I liked the structure and performances in this film. Another good rental.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Born To Be Blue

In Born To Be Blue we get the age old struggle of the strung out musician in the story of Chet Baker. Not only is this gifted trumpet player compromised by his substance abuse, but physical injuries make playing a challenge as well. A sad story told in excellent performances. Good rental.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Eddie the Eagle

The story of  young man from England and his dream to be an Olympic ski jumper is told in Eddie the Eagle. Though not the best athlete, he is driven and optimistic. He is oppressed and taunted by the Olympic authorities and athletes and encouraged by his coach and family. A feel-good story with a heart and great performances. Good rental.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

The Music of Strangers

Yo-Yo Ma has been on my radar for decades. Mot only for his music, but for his personality and activism. In the documentary The Music of Strangers we see his journey in these worlds. He approaches music as a window to different cultures with the creation of The Silk Road Ensemble. We are taken on journeys to the musicians' countries and are shown how the culture of their roots affects their music. A diverse group making beautiful music with so much joy. The audience I saw it with sat through the credits to enjoy the music, and applauded at the end. Wonderful music, wonderful stories, wonderful film.

Friday, July 08, 2016

The Adderall Diaries

Not everyone remebers events in the same way. In The Adderall Diaries a young man writes a book recounting his childhood as he remembers it. His father and family remember it very differently. There is struggle, there are drugs, there is sex. The editing in this film is interesting and jarring. The performances are intense and the story well told. I liked this film.

Zootopia

Serious themes are tackled in the animated film Zootopia. Bigotry, bullying, stereotypes, loyalty, friendship, hard work, family and tolerance. There are some intense scenes involving crime which concerns me for little ones. The animation is vibrant, and there are a lot of openings for discussion of important topics for parents. There are many light moments too, but there are a lot of life lessons among the laughs. Good film.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Hail, Caesar!

The cast of Hail, Caesar! is a Hollywood Who's Who list. The story of a studio star who is kidnapped and held for ransom is silly and raucous. The characters are caricatures. I loved the musical numbers, especially No Dames with a surprisingly dynamic performance from Channing Tatum. Fun film.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Jaco

I had heard of the bassist Jaco on WTF and was happy to see this documentary about Jaco Pastorius on Netflix Instant. His short life was full of innovative music and volitile behavior. The latter did him in. His music was brilliant, what a talent. Another wonderful music documentary.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Swiss Army Man

The film Swiss Army Man is often referred to as "the farting corpse movie." It is so much more. It is a story of isolation, coping, friendship and love. The creativity of the filming and performances in this film are striking and impressive. There is laughter, there are tears. A unique story told in a unique way. I love this film.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Jane Got a Gun

The old west was a hostile environment and in Jane Got a Gun we see a magnification of how tough people had to be. When Jane needs help for her husband, she turns to a past lover and a gun to fight off the gansterish men attacking them. This is a dark, gritty film that was a decent rental.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Race

It is good that reminders of racism and discrimination live on in film. In the film Race themes of hard work and talent overcome these issues. We need to be reminded of these historic behaviors so that the awful ones will not be repeated and the redemptive ones are our role models. Great story, good film.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Finding Dory

Pixar's latest, Finding Dory, is cute enough on its own. It is challenged with standing in the shadow of Finding Nemo. Fans have spent 13 years watching beloved characters over and over. On first view this film is fine. Not one of Pixars best, but I'd put it alongside Cars. I wonder how I will feel once I get to know the new characters. The fish spent a little too much time out of the water for me. I loved the short Piper that was shown before. The credits were fun and the post-credit scene was worth the wait. The kids sitting behind me seemed to love it.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Food Fight: Inside the Battle for Market Basket

Living in New England, the film Food Fight: Inside the Battle for Market Basket strikes a local chord. I saw the film maker on The Rhode Show and was happy to see that the story would be told on film. This documentary is well structured, dramatic, insightful and sometimes funny. It shows the passion that the workers and customers of Market Basket had and how far quality and compassion goes. Check it out if you can.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Knight of Cups

Terrance Malick strives for the abstract and totally delivers in Knight of Cups. A series of scenes follows a man in a trance-like state. The scenes are short, beautifully shot and effective. When I started to feel frustrated I reminded myself that with all Malick films you just have to relax, give in and enjoy. A bit like poetry. Cool film.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Love & Basketball

I have seen the film Love & Basketball on many Best Sports Film lists over the years. In finally watching it, I found a good story about growing up, goals, identity, love and sports. The ending was a little too pat for me, but overall this film was excellent.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

One More Time

The music business is tough. In One More Time we see the collision of an artist trying to break in and another desperately trying not to exit. Family dynamics play a big part and there is high drama at times. A bit quirky, I liked this film.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Get a Job

Though the movie Get a Job tries to appeal to an older generation at times, this is more of a story about 20 somethings. They are all in various states of employment and unemployment after graduation, and it is a bit of a roller coaster ride entering the adult world. The main character's father also finds himself thrown into the world of the job search and we see the differences and the similarities. They help each other with strategies and encouragement. This film was often very funny and earns its R rating with sex, nudity, language and drug use. A decent rental.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Maggie's Plan

A refreshing turn on the romantic comedy, Maggie's Plan is a wonderful film. Maggie has trouble maintaining relationships, but wants to have a child. She forms a plan, the plan derails. She forms a new plan. That plan goes south. She comes up with the ultimate plan. The writing and performances in this film are excellent. An interesting, funny, sometimes complicated love story. The lesson for me? Always be ready for a new plan. I loved this film!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Lobster

It is possible that The Lobster is one of the strangest films I have ever seen. When a man's wife leaves him he must go to a hotel where he has 45 days to find a mate or he will be turned into the animal of his choice. He chooses a lobster. In the time he is there, we see strange interactions, awkward misunderstandings and weird behavior all around. There are flirtations, rebellion and attractions. This film has a very bizarre ending.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Touched with Fire

Mental illness is a tough subject, but popular in independent film. In Touched with Fire a man and woman with bi-polar disorder meet and fall in love. We ride the ups and downs with the couple and their families. Well done, touching and realistic. I liked this film.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Deadpool

Oh how I love a snarky superhero and Deadpool is the poster-child for that. From the opening credits to the last frame the snark is front and center, fueled by one-liners and crazy characters. I enjoyed this film much more than I expected to. Earns its R rating, not for the kids.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Mr. Right

What happens when you fall for a man who is a hired killer? Mr. Right is so charming, yet so dangerous. The fact that the main characters are played by Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell elevates the charm of their characters. A very dark comedy with a dash of crime and a sprinkle of romance. I liked this one.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Enemy

A game of who's who is at the center of Enemy. A film where it is hard to decipher what is real and what's in the main character's head.The main confusion comes from the fact that the main characters look alike and are played by the same actor. As they interact and try to figure out what's going on the film gets very dark. This film has a very strange ending.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Nice Guys

A good script, great chemistry and loads of action makes The Nice Guys a great ride. Two men are thrown together as they are looking for the same person. Their investigations bring them to dangerous, volatile people. Both have their strengths and flaws. They misstep many times before they get it together. These situations are fuel for comedy. The crime action thriller formula is enhanced by excellent writing and performances. Fun and funny.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Bigger Splash

I had heard A Bigger Splash called a solid adult drama. It surely is. A rock star recovering at a resort from throat surgery is visited by her ex-husband and his daughter. They are all exotic characters and their interactions are interesting and sometimes volatile. This is a very insightful, mature film about relationships over the long and short term. Good film.

Ghosts of Mississippi

After seeing Turn Me Loose I wanted to know more about Medgar Evers. In Ghosts of Mississippi the third trial to prosecute his murderer is the focus. An all star cast reenacts the events around the third trial and it is excellent.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Bernard and Doris

Doris Duke was a wealthy woman. In Bernard and Doris we see the years Bernard was her personal butler. He is attentive and efficient and dotes on the woman. It is an interesting relationship and a sweet film.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Safe

When you don't feel well, yet cannot pinpoint the source of the malady, it is frustrating. In the film Safe a woman who is mentally fragile starts feeling ill. Her husband tries to be supportive, yet he is wondering if her illness is in her head. She happens on a group that goes after environmental illnesses. It is interesting and a little trippy. Decent film.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Turn Me Loose

My grandson's music teacher was going to be in the off-Broadway play Turn Me Loose, so my daughter picked up tickets to be supportive. When the play opened to glowing reviews in the New York Times, we knew that we were in for something special. The play is Joe Morgan playing the comedian Dick Gregory going back and forth in time from the early days of his comedy career to present day. Morgan pulls off the time change with posture and tone. This is a long conversation about race, rights and life. Not only was it powerful, but it's accurate. On the way out of the theater we realized that Dick Gregory himself was in the audience which was a bit of a thrill. It was exciting to re-live this chapter of history in a small New York theater. Well done.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Jungle Book

Taking the opportunity to see the live-action version The Jungle Book in the theater is worth it. The CGI is beautiful and is worth seeing Mowgli's adventures, trying to stay out of the way of Shere Khan, on the big screen. There are a few songs from the Disney animated version that work well. I especially liked the scenes with King Louie and his crew. A little Walken humor tickled me. Cool film.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Witch

I was hesitant to rent The Witch because witches don't scare me. This was a decent horror film though. Set in the 1630s in New England, a family moves to a farm and they suffer at the hands of demons. A bit slow at times, but if you like this kind of film it's an OK rental.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Frank and Cindy

At first I thought Frank and Cindy was just a dysfunctional family rant, but as the film progressed it became more about the individuals and what they were looking for in life. The music is great, this is a solid rental.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Family Fang

I ran into Nicole Kidman in NYC the morning after the premiere of The Family Fang at Tribeca Film Festival. She was sweet and relaxed going to lunch with her family. I said, "I love your work" and she smiled back and said thank you. I'm glad that I had not seen the film yet, because I would have gushed more. The story of a family parented by parents who use their children in performances pieces in the name of art hit me in all the right places. Directed by and staring Jason Bateman, with Kidman as his sibling, they deal with their parents as adults. Secrets are revealed, feelings are explored and decisions are made. The less you know going into this film the better. The writing, directing and acting are great. I really liked this film.

Where to Invade Next

Michael Moore tends to be a blow-hard, but in the documentary Where to Invade Next, his queries into the laws and practices in other countries makes you think. There are a lot of things that other countries do better than the US, but as I watched I realized that that's easier in a small country. This film was OK.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mustang

Turkish social norms abound when five orphaned sisters coming of age in the film Mustang. From schools, to behavior, to marriage these teens battle not only the strict rules of their culture, but their own desires and goals. Well acted and beautifully shot, it is easy to see why this film was nominated for an Oscar. The ending was very poignant. Well done.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

We Are Still Here

Watching the extras on the DVD I agree that "classic haunted house film in a modern style" describes We Are Still Here well. A grieving couple who have lost their son, move into an old house in a rural town. Terror ensues. The tone and effects are good. I liked this more than I expected to.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Janis: Little Girl Blue

Janis Joplin was a force in the music world. She passed away just as I was entering high school. In the documentary Janis: Little Girl Blue I learn about her life and her story. The archive footage is impressive considering the times and technology. An important force in music history with a tragic ending. Good documentary.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Get on Up

I like James Brown music OK, but stories of his explosive behavior and abusive behavior toward women was always a turn off for me. The biopic Get on Up gives the background of his behavior moving back and forth from his childhood to his rise to fame and success. All of his struggles laid out to see. A much better film than I expected. The performances are great.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Special Correspondents

I couldn't work the film Special Correspondents into my schedule at Tribeca Film Festival, so was thrilled when it popped up on Netflix instant this week. This is the third TFF film I've seen since coming home. Two journalists are supposed to go to Ecuador to cover the situation and things go awry. There are lies, there are compromises, there are well intended missteps, there are egos, there are laughs. Funny stuff, I enjoyed this one.

Green Room

A simple punk rock gig goes south quickly in Green Room There are quick-thinking musicians and ruthless Nazis. They did not spare the blood, this is a good cat-and-mouse thriller. Well done.

Friday, April 29, 2016

True Story

A web of lies cover a murder, and identity theft pulls in an unwitting journalist in True Story. Desperation fuel both men. A pathological liar manipulates the journalist as he tries to avoid the death penalty. Based on a true story. Decent drama.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Elvis & Nixon

Films involving presidents are often serious, but the film Elvis & Nixon is refreshingly light-hearted. The historic meeting of Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon shows the behind the scenes quirks and strengths of two very famous, powerful men. The performances in this film are outstanding and I left the theater with a smile on my face.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon

I missed the film Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon at Tribeca Film Festival last year, so finding the DVD in my mail when I can home was a nice treat. This film is a wealth of history and visuals from the legendary magazine. This is not a documentary you can just listen to. The wealth of art, drawings and photos from the pages of the magazine deserve your full attention. A fascinating chronicle of an important piece of satirical comedy. Irreverent as it was brilliant. Excellent documentary.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Kind of Murder

I like a good crime thriller and, for me, A Kind of Murder was just that. Set in the 50s an unhappy man aspires to write murder mysteries. He researches real life murders for his stories and one hits close to home. As his equally unhappy wife spirals downward emotionally, he is distracted by that murder and a young club singer. There is murder, mystery, and deception in this film noir. I liked the story, I liked the style. I loved the costumes. This was a fine ending to the film festival for me. I was disappointed that there was no Q&A but 6 out of 7 ain't bad.

Tribeca Film Festival Day Six

Waking up on my last day at Tribeca Film Festival I have a girl-on-a-mission feeling. I have one more film to see and I want to spend a little more time in the neighborhood. My first stop is lunch at the Tribeca Grill. This restaurant is a favorite stop in Tribeca. The food is good and folks very friendly. I make sure to tell the bartender to tell the powers that be that they do a great job. The day is sunny so a walk to the 9/11 Memorial Park is next on my agenda. The trees are starting to blossom and there is a serenity there that pleases me. Crossing the street to Brookfield Place, I find an art installation of inflated white rabbits called Intrude by Amanda Parer. There is a whimsy to this ambitious project and it makes me happy. Walking north through Rockefeller Park I enjoy the sights of the greening lawn, blossoming flowers and a flurry of activities of people of all ages. This is one of my favorite parks in NYC. My walk ends on a stool at The Palm where a glass of wine and the news of Prince's passing meets me. My sadness of the news is tempered by two women in their 70s enjoying Cosmopolitans down the bar. I mentally dub them Senior-Sex in the City. Back at the Regal Cinema for A Kind of Murder, I can feel the film festival winding down. I enjoyed the film, but was disappointed that there was no Q&A. Returning to Edward's, I finish my film festival week where I began. A bowl of soup sets me right for my final ride back to Brooklyn. Back in the hood, I stop in to Superfine for a happy hour cocktail, grab a few groceries and go home to the pups. The kids come home tonight and my film festival week ends. It has been amazing. Thanks to Tribeca Film Festival, the neighborhoods of NYC and all of the friends and family who made this week so much fun.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Francis Ford Coppola

Among all the film I saw at Tribeca Film Festival I took a break to go a discussion panel with Francis Ford Coppola. I have seen most of his filmography and have consumed a fair amount of his wine. I think he was sincere when he invited everyone to the vineyard. He spoke of digital media (he predicted it and embraces it), long-form TV and serial film (he's writing one now) and bragged about his wife making her first film at the age of 82 (inspiring for women of any age). He talked a little bit about past projects, most references led to Apocalypse Now. He spoke of the difficulty, fear and expense of making those early films. ($39 million financed at 29% interest) It was obvious that the man loves his family and his home. He is still creating and works with students and academics on dramatic projects. At 77 years old he has a 5 year plan to take him into his 80s that he's happy with. I'm glad he shared it with us. What a nice afternoon.

Tribeca Film Festival Day Five

Spending the morning with the dogs and relaxing in DUMBO, I'm feeling the melancholy of my last days at Tribeca Film Festival. I make my way to Chelsea and find a stool at the bar at East of Eighth. Regular locals are chatting, the music on the bartender's iPhone is pleasant and the vibe is good. I order wine and french fries and have a nice chat with a woman named Stella. Crossing the street to the SVA Theater I am very excited about this afternoon's program. Jane Rosenthal takes the podium and the guest arrives. To say that seeing Francis Ford Coppola in person is impressive is an understatement. The man is calm, low-key and eloquent. He talked about working on films back in the day and the future of the medium. He predicted and embraces digital technology. He talked about his wineries and thanked the audience for buying his products. As the moderator wrapped the event, Coppola said, "that's it?" I think he would have enjoyed speaking longer. Leaving the theater, I head north to Times Square to buy a mini-poster of Fun Home for my collection. Arriving as the matinees are getting out is a nightmare. I swung by the stage door of Hamilton to see if I can see any of the performers, but a man comes out of the door and says that no one is coming out today. I get my poster and navigate Times Square shoulder to shoulder with the crowd to the subway. Stopping for a snack of chicken wings at Mudville 9 is a good end to another good day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sing Street

The story of the kids in Sing Street is not new. Coming of age in the 80s in Ireland has the same struggles as anywhere else. A young boy has to change high schools and the typical feelings of alienation and bullying ensue. Then he meets a girl and forms a band to impress her. We are treated to a sweet story and a lot of good music. This is another soundtrack I will buy. Everything about this film makes it so nice. Creative, smart and funny with a lot of heart. I highly recommend this one!

The Meddler

I feel that the title of The Meddler is a bit off. I think that the term meddler comes from the daughter's perspective, where other characters in the film may have called her helpful. When a woman's husband passes away, she moves east coast to west to be near her daughter. The daughter is one huge eye-roll and voicemail box so the mother turns her energy to help others she meets. She is kind, she is funny, she is smart, she has resources. There is even a romantic interest. I liked this sweet, funny film a lot. Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne and Cecily Strong joined the director and producer for an interesting Q&A. The film was autobiographical for the director. Well done.

Tribeca Film Festival Day Four

Caught an early train into the city to meet Meredith at the Angelika Cinema to see Sing Street at their first morning screening. What a delightful film! I especially loved the music. We walked around the corner to Il Buco for lunch outside. I had a soup that was spectacular! We caught up on life. Long uninterrupted conversation is such a luxury. I went back to Brooklyn, walked the pups and made some dinner. Back in Tribeca for a screening of The Meddler at BMCC. This is my last screening in this venue, so I make sure to say hi to the house manager, Charles, who has been with Tribeca Film Festival for 15 years. Such a lovely man. The film was wonderful and the director, one of the producers, Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne and Cecily Strong conducted the Q&A. I will admit to getting choked up when the last question came from a woman seeing the film with her daughter and who had just lost her mother. Poignant moment and made me miss my girls. Back in Brooklyn I think about how lucky I am to be able to come to this event. Another cool day.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Don't Think Twice

Over the years I have become a big fan of Mike Birbiglia's work. His latest film Don't Think Twice is such a delight. The story of 6 friends in an improv troupe as they grow and change is poignant, sharp and very funny. At Tribeca Film Festival Birbiglia invited anyone who had anything to do with making the film come to the front of the theater. A group of about 25 people entertained a Q&A with many of the folks answering questions and many stories about the shooting were told. Ira Glass even shared a song he had recorded on his phone that was made up to tease Birbiglia. It is now on my phone. This screening was such a treat. I'd see this film again.

All We Had

In All We Had we meet a woman who is a mother, yet she can barely take care of herself. Immaturity, dependence and addictions have her sabotaging her situation regularly. She and her daughter end up in a small town when their car breaks down and they have no money. The people who try to help them are compassionate and interesting. Eve Lindley gives an especially wonderful performance as the waitress Pam. Lindley and Katie Holmes, in her directorial debut, gave interesting insights to the making of the film. Holmes' thanked her daughter Suri who was in the audience, and it turns out it's her 10th birthday.

Tribeca Film Festival Day Three

A crisp day in Brooklyn starts with a dog walk around the hood. Pups seem happy to be out. Now that the weekend is over, the train schedule is back to normal. A ride into the village to wander Washington Square Park a bit, then south to Tribeca. I meet my friend Lucy at Walker's for a little rose, a sandwich and wonderful conversation.  A walk to Regal Cinemas for the film All We Had is sunny and pleasant. Katie Holmes and Eve Lindley conduct the Q&A after the film. Holmes' daughter Suri is in the audience and it turns out it is her birthday! Cute mother-daughter moment. I return to Brooklyn to feed the dogs and grab a bite to eat myself. Then back to the Regal for a screening of Don't Think Twice. After the film Mike Birbiglia invites anyone who worked on the film to the stage for the Q&A. His joy, enthusiasm and inclusiveness was so sweet. It was cool to see Ira Glass and Keegan Michael Key there as well. They told many funny stories from the making of the film. What a treat! Walking back to the subway I pass The Palm. Looking in the window I notice a familiar face painted on the wall. Smiling back at me is a caricature of Randi's cousin Cathy! So cute. Another cool star sighting. What a fun day!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Custody

There are more plot-lines in the film Custody than just a courtroom drama. When a woman's children are removed from her custody, we are immersed in her story and also those involved. Layered and well acted, I liked this film. At Tribeca Film Festival, they filled the stage with the cast for an interesting Q&A. Viola Davis rules the stage as she did the screen.

Dreamland

A man too young to be dissatisfied with his life is just that. In the film Dreamland we meet him in the rut that is his relationship and an empty job. He enters a taboo relationship and though the path is bumpy, the result is satisfying. The story is familiar, but the colorful cast of characters gives this film a fresh take. This film was directed by Robert Schwartzman who conducted an entertaining and informative Q&A after the film. I really liked this one.

Tribeca Film Festival Day Two

Waking up in Brooklyn I am thrilled to see that the men of Colossal Media work weekends. They are hand painting a mural for a jazz festival on a building across the street. What a process, fascinating to watch. I take the dogs for a walk and head up to Chelsea for brunch at Americano. My friend Mary Catherine and I enjoy a tasty meal on their patio. As we are leaving Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban are arriving with their family. They seemed relaxed and happy and returned my hello as we passed. With time to kill we walk the High Line for a bit, taking full advantage of the spring sunshine. Our film is Dreamland, a Mrs. Robinson themed story by Robert Schwartzman. He conducted an interesting Q&A after the film. Back into the sunshine I return to Dumbo to feed the dogs. A drink at Read Street Pub before the film Custody fits the bill. The cast of Custody filled the stage after the film. A strong drama I really enjoyed. Viola Davis is a force. On the way home I end up in conversation with a traveler from Amsterdam. It is her first time in NYC and she is checking off an item on her bucket list. Interesting person. Back in Brooklyn I feel happy with a very full day.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Youth in Oregon

Dealing with our mortality is tricky. When a person is getting older and debilitated thoughts of checking out can be strong. In Youth in Oregon an 80 year old man with a heart condition has these thoughts. Because he owns property in Oregon he is eligible for their program to voluntarily end his life. His family comes at it from many angles. On a road trip we learn that his quest for end of life is more about the defects in his relationships than the defects in his body. Good film.

Tribeca Film Festival Day One

Arriving in DUMBO for the week, I am thrilled to see that Colossal Media is busy re-painting the billboard across the street. This is my view and watching these guys painstakingly paint a beautiful mural is one of my guilty pleasures. This will be the third one I've watched them create. Walking the dogs and hanging out with them until mid afternoon, I head to Tribeca for my first film of TFF. walking the Brooklyn Bridge on a sunny spring Saturday was a challenge. Tourists were in strong numbers. A walk around the neighborhood takes me to Walker's to make reservations for Monday and I kill a little time at the bar at Edward's. I meet my friend Mary Catherine at BMCC for the premier screening of Youth in Oregon. An excellent film about the issues of voluntary end of life. Most of the cast, the director, writer and producers conduct a nice Q & A and at the end the director had anyone on the crew in the theater to stand up. It was a good sized group and I think they were all pleased with how well the film was received. Heading out into the neighborhood we make a stop in to Read Street Pub for a drink and discussion. When I go to the subway to go back to Brooklyn I learn that trains I need are not running, so I hoof it across the bridge. Not part of the plan, but it was ok. First day of TFF a success.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Concussion

More politics than sports, the science of brain injuries and its results are the subject of the film Concussion.We see the path taken to investigate the erratic and suicidal behavior of NFL veterans. It is complicated and political. The doctor's life story is woven in as well. This film is ambitious and the subject is controversial and disturbing. So are the statistics. Worth renting.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Boyz N the Hood

The shear desperation of the urban environment is what I see as the catalyst for many of the actions in the film Boyz N the Hood. High school aged youth in south central LA try to navigate their economics, relationships and hormones in a sometimes hostile setting. Decision making is not easy and tragedy rides along with triumph. Excellent performances. Good film.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Tumbledown

Grief is an interesting subject in film. In Tumbledown a young widow is trying to protect the legacy of her late husband and her own emotional fragility mourning his sudden death. When a journalist invades her coping, he projects he own assumptions and emotions into her situation. Some is helpful, some is not. Well written and acted, this is a strong emotional drama with a touch of romance. Well done.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Midnight Special

As a sci-fi dramatic chase scene Midnight Special is excellent. The story of an unusual boy being chased has a lot of holes. The strengths of this film are the performances, the way it is shot and the music. These all save a pretty lame story. Not bad.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Testament of Youth

A love story set in WWI and based on true lives, Testament of Youth is a powerful tale of relationships. Not only romantic, but of families. Guided by the strong and steady performance of Alicia Vikander, the virtues of love, loyalty, compassion and persistence guide her portrayal of author Vera Britton through the heartbreak of war and loss. I really liked this film.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Eye in the Sky

So much more than an Eye in the Sky, drone warfare is fascinating. From 4 locations on the globe a drone strike is negotiated and executed. Not a simple as it looks. So much tension, so much negotiation, so difficult. The setup in this film is efficient. The actual events are tense and dramatic. The end is heartbreaking yet satisfying. What a film. Well done.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Legend

The story of twin brother gangsters Ron and Reggie Kray is told in the film Legend. A ruthless story of the volatile brothers' reign over organized crime in London in the 60s. The real reason to see this film is for the masterful work of Tom Hardy playing both brothers. Mesmerizing performances worthy of your time.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hello, My Name is Doris

On her name-tag it says Hello, My Name is Doris and what a Doris she is. An awkward woman in her mid-sixties acts on a crush on a younger man. Her friends are mortified. She comes to life. There is a little heartbreak, there is humor, there is sweetness, there are consequences for inappropriate actions. A side-story with her family deals with mortality and grief. Sally Fields gives a performance that really sells the character and the story. In interviews she calls it "a coming of age about a woman of age." I really liked this film.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

James White

In the film James White we watch the process of end of life real close up. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is hard enough, but dealing with the long process of  the end of a terminal illness is heartbreaking. Realistic and intense.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The French Connection

I saw The French Connection for the first time in the 70s. I knew nothing of the stars, I knew nothing of drug dealers. I knew nothing of New York. It was still a great ride and a thrilling crime film. Forty some years later, I've watched the film again and it really holds up as a crime thriller. The added bonus is the genius of the filming, staging and action scenes. A cop in a car chasing a hijacked subway train is suspenseful and thrilling. A stakeout scene off Front Street in Brooklyn held familiarity, drama and tension. I enjoyed seeing this film again, a true classic.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Cobain: Montage of Heck

The documentary Cobain: Montage of Heck takes us up through the creative process of Kurt Cobain to his success with Nirvana. His process, his energy, his motivation. The second half of the film chronicles his relationship with Courtney Love. His devotion to family, his addiction, his career, his music. A poignant look into a creative, fervent, passionate, short life. Good documentary.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane

In 10 Cloverfield Lane what we don't see is the scary part. A woman wakes up in a bunker told of an invasion that has killed everyone and made the outside world toxic. The man delivering the news has an elaborate underground bunker. Is this guy a nut? Is he telling the truth? Is there a way out? Should she stay put? All good questions. All answered in crazy ways. Just enough jump scares. Awesome performances. So good.

Crimson Peak

As far as period pieces go Crimson Peak does the visual proud. As far as ghost stories go it is pretty thin. Couple falls in love. Man brings woman back to his creepy mansion. Woman is haunted and freaked out. Twisted family history revealed. Beautiful film, but not much to it. Kind of cheesy. An OK rental.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Spectre

There are a lot of throw-backs to 007 history in the new Bond film Spectre. The opening scene reminded me of Live and Let Die. When the plane flies through the barn in the final chase sequence, I thought of the opening scene of Octopussy. That sweet old Aston Martin shows up as well. The story? Not great. Daniel Craig is almost boring in this. Could not put my finger on what was missing, but this film was just average.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Macbeth (2015)

The classic Macbeth has been interpreted many times. A man fights to be king. In this interpretation Michael Fassbender brings intensity and nuance to the battles Macbeth fought and the effects on the psyche and family. Excellent film.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

In military terms Whiskey Tango Foxtrots translates to WTF. The film of the same name is based on the memoir of a journalist sent to cover the situation in Afghanistan after war breaks out in Iraq. The acronym WTF is appropriate to all of the messed up situations she finds there. From the violence, to the sexism, to the professional competition this is an interesting story. Good film.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Miss You Already

The film Miss You Already sounded sappy in trailers, so I took a pass when it came to theaters. A woman finds out she has breast cancer and the story shows how her coping effects her family and best friend. As a rental I found this to be a good story of friendship, choices, illness, dreams and family. The performances are outstanding.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Rock the Kasbah

When it come to movies the bigger the star, the bigger the expectation. But even someone like Bill Murray can only do so much. Rock the Kasbah has a mediocre script and takes too long to get to the interesting part of the story. It's almost like 2 movies. This was just an OK rental.

Monday, February 29, 2016

I Smile Back

The story of addiction can be rough. In the film I Smile Back we meet a woman who has a lovely home, husband and family. Her depression and distance from them was so sad to me as she would reject prescribed therapies to self-medicate with coke and alcohol. Interesting to watch a comedian like Sarh Silverman play such a serious dramatic role so well. She played it with respect and compassion. Sad story, good film.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fun Home

Last year at the Tony Awards I became aware of the musical Fun Home. A stirring performance of the song Ring of Keys enchanted and delighted me. I learned that the musical was derived from a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. Over the next few weeks I heard a lot of interviews with the author and writer of the musical. Over the summer my Father had a health issue that had me in doctor's waiting rooms where Fun Home kept me company. I loved the book I loved the story. Poignant and brave. Around the holidays my daughter asked what shows I was interested in seeing on Broadway. Fun Home was at the top of my list. Under the Christmas tree this year was a ticket for me along with the announcement that both of my daughters would join me. We made reservations for dinner and made an evening of it.

The show? We made our way into the Circle on the Square and took our seats. The show is staged in the round and we were seated next to the orchestra. An intimate theater. The actors were amazing, the set was an engineering marvel and by the end they had captured my heart. With no intermission, the climax of the play was powerful and the tears flowed freely during the last song. I left the theater with a huge smile on my face and a song and story in my heart forever. What a wonderful show, what a wonderful story. Thanks to Ms. Bechdel for sharing her life and her family with mine. What an experience.

Oscar Picks 2016

This is where I post how I would vote if I were a member of the Academy. Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant were huge standouts to me this year. Star Wars: the Force Awakens was a crowd pleaser and Brooklyn was one of the nicest films of the year. I have really enjoyed this year in film. Popping the popcorn and tuning in on Sunday night. Wishing Chris Rock a good show! Happy Oscars!

Picture - The Revenant
Actor - Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant
Actress - Brie Larson - Room
Supporting Actor -Christian Bale - The Big Short
Supporting Actress -Jennifer Jason-Leigh - The Hateful Eight
Director - Alexandro Innaritu
Animated Feature - Shaun the Sheep
Foreign Feature - Son of Saul
Documentary Feature - Amy
Animated Short - Sanjay's Super Team
Live Action Short -Day One
Documentary Short - Body Team 12
Cinematography - The Revenant
Editing - Mad Max: Fury Road
Costume Design - Cinderella
Makeup and Hair Styling - Mad Max: Fury Road
Original Score - Hateful Eight
Original Song - Simple Song #3
Production Design - Mad Max: Fury Road
Sound Editing - Sicario
Sound Mixing - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Visual Effects - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Adapted Screenplay - Carol
Original Screenplay - Spotlight

Friday, February 26, 2016

Oscars 2016: The Films

Until I saw The Revenant I was sure that Mad Max: Fury Road was the best picture of the year. Now they sit side by side in my brain on an equal footing. I think The Revenant will take the Oscar. Of the animated films, Pixar's Inside Out will probably walk away with the statue, but the very charming Shaun The Sheep Movie was my favorite animated film this year. The documentary Amy pulled at a lot of heartstrings and was a nice tribute to a short career. Cartel Land and Winter on Fire could win just on the bravery of capturing the harrowing footage. The only foreign film I saw was Son of Saul. I'll be interested to see if it wins. All of the animated shorts were lovely in their own way. Pixar could walk away with this one too with Sanjy's Super Team, but World of Tomorrow did some innovative stuff. Live action short could go to Stutterer for the sentimental, Day One for the intensity or Ave Maria for a laugh.I got within 4 films of seeing every feature nominated for an Oscar. Not bad! It's been a good year for film.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Oscars 2016: The People

The most consistent thing I have been saying about movies this year is that the stories are OK, but the performances have been outstanding. The supporting acting categories for this year's Oscar will become a popularity contest because all 8 nominated performances are so good. I'm still not sure who I'll pick for my Oscaar Pool, but Jennifer Jason-Leigh for The Hateful Eight and Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs stand out. For the men I really can't pick, all were strong in their own way. Best Actor for me this year was Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant. Such intensity and commitment paid off. Inarritu could win Best Director for the film as well. It's really a masterpiece. The Best Actress will probably go to Brie Larson for her powerful performance in Room, But Saoirse Ronan put in some good work in Brooklyn so we'll see. Bravo to all!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Oscars 2016: The Stories

There were so many great scripts this year. The trend of stories based on true events is still running strong. For original screenplay I think that Spotlight is the standout. Inside Out and Ex Machina are very clever, bu there is an intensity and resonance in the way the journalists dog down the story that is so compelling to me. The adapted screenplay I liked was Brooklyn. A nice story of making decisions and growing up that sat well with me. Carol is a similar story about making decisions that is also well written. Any of the adapted screenplays could win the Oscar and I wouldn't be surprised.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Oscars 2016: The Sounds

Music sets tone and the emotional path in a film. Several beautiful scores accompanied the best films this year. John Williams did a nice job blending the nostalgic with new music in the score of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I really liked the score to The Hateful Eight for it's intensity and drive. I thought that the original songs this year were just alright. Simple Song #3 was the only one that impressed me. For all of the light sabers, robots and space chases I thought the sound in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was most effective. Though I thought the sound editing in Sicario really took you along for the ride.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Oscars 2016: The Sights

Everything we see on the screen feeds our senses. Two of the most stunning films to me this year were Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant. From editing to makeup to costumes to production design, editing and cinematography, both are stunning. Both are masterful in their visual effects, but I think based on pure emotion, Star Wars: The Force Awakens marries the old and the new to a wonderful effect. Costumes almost become a character in Carol and The Danish Girl. The Oscar could go to any of these and be well deserved.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Boy & the World

The last attainable film in My Oscar Project was Boy & the World. This lovely animated feature follows a young boy out of his idyllic world to the reality of industrialism and environmental decline. The animation is colorful and involved. The story is simple and deep. Loved this film.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Everest

I have no interest in extreme adventure, and I think mountain climbers are nuts. I rented Everest after seeing Josh Brolin in an interview. He made the telling of a disasterous ascent of Everest in 1996 interesting. This film was shot for IMAX and even on my small screen it looks amazing. The climb was hampered by a storm, and lives were lost. The story is wrenching and the climb and descent harrowing. The film made me cry a few times,so it made the connection. Good film.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Man Up

In an unlikely meeting, a story of mistaken identity is told in romantic style. In Man Up the strength of the film lies in it's actors. Simon Pegg and Lake Bell light up the screen with likable characters that I rooted for. Really enjoyed this film.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Oscar Nominated Shorts Animation

The shorts nominated for Oscars tend to be very short, so 4 extra shorts were added to the Oscar Nominated Short Animated Films program to fill out a 90 minute program. 

Bear Story shows a charming bear with a street show that tells his story. Sweet and poignant.

Prologue depicts a battle in line drawings that is surprisingly effective and graphic.

Sanjay's Super Team is comprised of some surprising characters as his religion meets his fantasies. Maybe they are the same thing?

We Can't Live Without Cosmos is a story of friendship and exploration. Mostly friendship.

World of Tomorrow looks at the future in analytical style with a childlike joy. Very creative.

The Loneliest Stoplight is a story about a stoplight at an abandoned intersection. The signature style of Bill Plympton is delightful.

The Short Story of a Fox and a Mouse shows off stellar animation in the story of a mouse who turns from food to friend in the eyes of a protective fox. Stunning visuals.

If I Was God takes us back to the classroom in the eyes of a young boy. Frogs and girls hold his attention, but how to get the attention of the right one?

These were all wonderful in their own way.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Son of Saul

In my quest to see as many Oscar nominated films as possible, I found myself reluctantly going to see Son of Saul. I have pretty actively avoided films that take place in the Holocaust. I've never seen Schindler's list. Though everything I have heard about the film was positive, the setting can be too much for me. To watch a man's experience escorting victims into the ovens, hearing their screams, collecting their belongings, cleaning the chambers and shoveling their ashes is horrific. We have the constant perspective of looking over Saul's shoulder. All of the atrocities are background and blurred out of focus, yet you know exactly what's going on. Saul also goes on a mission that seems to be an effort to keep hope alive for him. A sad story told in a very skillful film. Tough stuff.

Oscar Nominated Shorts Live Action

Every year they release the Oscar Nominated Shorts in three programs. Today I saw the Live Action Short Films.

Ave Maria is the story of a miserable family that breaks down outside a convent on the West Bank. The nuns have taken a vow of silence so the comedy lies in their efforts to communicate.

Day One shows us the first day of an interpreter in Afghanistan assigned to special forces. The harshness of the environment and the situations are an eye opener.

Everything Will Be OK gives us a front row seat to a kidnapping. Desperate and touching.

Shok shows us two friends and the consequences of having something valuable like a bike in Kosivo.

Stutterer tells a tale of online romance for a young man who has difficulty speaking. The online relationship is great until the young woman wants to meet. He sweats it out until the surprise ending.

I find shorts very satisfying and liked all of these quite a bit. Well done.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Pawn Sacrifice

People with high intellect can become mentally unstable. In Pawn Sacrifice we watch Bobby Fisher fall down the rabbit hole of paranoia as he rises to world championship status in the chess world. I remember when Fisher was a sensation and everyone was playing chess. An interesting film about an interesting man and his struggles.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

99 Homes

The cruelty and despair of the housing crisis is the setting for 99 Homes. When the ruthless real estate mogul hires one of his eviction victims, morality and ethics get pushed to the limit. This is an excellent drama with excellent performances and a powerful ending. Gripping. Excellent film.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Flashback

Moving a prisoner should be easy for the FBI, right? In Flashback we see where the difficulties lie. The prisoner is a 60s kinda dude and the FBI agent goes by the book. Sentimentalities are preyed on and the results are unexpected. Very funny with classic performances, I enjoyed this road trip film a lot. Good rental!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Meadowland

The dramatization of couples losing children makes for wrenching film. In Meadowland a couple copes with losing their son and it is a powerful drama. There is very little dialog, but with there is it is a bit of a gut-punch. This film is a poignant story of family, love, loss and coping. A bit raw. Good film.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Truth

When it came to light that George W. Bush may not have been the war hero he claimed to be, CBS ran with the story...a little too fast. Armed with photocopied documents and vague promises that they were authentic, Mary Mapes released the story. This opened she and Dan Rather to accusations of lying, forgery and ultimate disgrace. In the film Truth this story is dramatized with a sympathetic eye to Mapes and Rather. Well done.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

A Ballerina's Tale

Last year, A Ballerina's Tale was screened at Tribeca Film Festival with a Q & A with Misty Copeland. I missed the event but finally saw the film on DVD. This documentary speaks a bit to Copeland's rise to principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater, but speaks more to her struggles to stay there despite injuries. Her dancing is beautiful and the brutality of the ballet, both psychologically and physically is apparent. Copeland is a beautiful dancer whose career is both historic and inspiring. Hard work and perseverance pays off.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

45 Years

In 45 Years there is a miscommunication between a couple that has been married for 45 years and we watch the emotional fallout. The word that kept popping into my head as I watched was dour.The husband knows that his wife is upset, but doesn't really validate her feelings. The wife is more upset than she probably should be, but keeps it all in. This leads to scenes of talking around the issue and many sad, pensive looks. Excellent performances, but all in all, to me this was a sad story.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Burnt

There is an amazing amount of stress in a professional kitchen. In Burnt we are thrown into it head first. As a chef struggles to redeem his career and reputation we learn of his relationships old and new. Some help him, some don't. I liked this film a lot more than I expected to.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Chi-Raq

In the midst of all of the race controversy in Hollywood, I decided to see Spike Lee's latest film Chi-Raq.This film re-tells the story of Lysistrata and sets it in modern day, violent Chicago with a predominantly African-American cast.The women in the city decide to try withholding sex until the men can live in peace. A tall order. The dialog is in verse which reminds us of what a fantasy this story is. This film is a visual wild ride, the performances are strong and the story is a bit crazy. Glad I saw it.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Anomalisa

A man's mental issues are played out in stop-motion animation in the film Anomalisa. Though the story is told with puppets, the story is so human you soon do not see the seams. The main character Michael is like a lot of men I've known. He is selfish, winy and manipulative. An impressive film, though the characters were unlikable for me. Interesting animation.

Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom

The overwhelming violence of the Ukrainian revolution is brought to the screen in Winter of Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom. This documentary chronicles the student uprising against the Ukrainian government that started in 2013.Their passion on issues are brought to light well. What a film.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Straight Outta Compton

The origins of NWA are laid out in Straight Outta Compton. From the birth of the raps to the unfair business deals and deceptions, this is another dramatization of art and business that leaves the artists fighting for their rights. The struggles were not only with the studios but among themselves as well. This is a good film, but a bit too long. They could have easily edited 20-30 minutes. Though I find the language a little off-putting, I liked the performance scenes. An interesting part of music history.

Cartel Land

The violence surrounding meth production in Mexico is depicted in Cartel Land in graphic detail. How the footage in this documentary exists astounds me.When the people who live there get fed up they take matters into their own hands. The war between the police, the drug cartels and the citizens is violent and jarring. For all of this violence the film has a hopeful ending. Excellent documentary.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Mississippi Grind

Though it is a standard road trip movie, Mississippi Grind is worth watching for the performances. Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds are a pair of gamblers who are just awful for each other. It is only surprising when they win, which is not often. I liked this film, it's an OK rental.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Screen Scenes: Ziegfeld Theater, New York, NY

Upon hearing about the Ziegfeld Theater closing in NYC, I reflected back to the day I last visited there. I was on vacation in NYC and was on a mission to visit this iconic theater. The day I decided to go, the film Ocean's was playing. I was thrilled. Underwater footage on a big screen sounded great to me. The entrance to the theater is unremarkable from the street, but as soon as I walked through the doors it was magical. I climbed the carpeted stairs to a lobby where an usher welcomed me with, "Hello miss, you are the celebrity here today!" It was a quiet, matinee day and there were not many people around so I was definitely being schmoozed and I loved it.Walking into the theater, I tried to drink in everything. Velvet ropes, lush carpets, fancy sconces, an enormous screen and rows and rows of plush seats. The movie was beautiful and looked great on that big screen. I had just come from a small screening room at the IFC Center, so the contrast made this experience even more dramatic. Glad that I got to visit this iconic theater.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Danish Girl

Walking out of The Danish Girl, I was struck by how well the inner torment of a trans-gendered man was communicated. Through actions, looks, gentle words and persistence, we see the conflict and struggle of Einer Wegener's desire to physically become the woman he feels inside. From gestures, to clothing, to makeup, to his art, Einer gradually lets Lili develop and evolve. In the 20s this was unheard of and he was supposedly the first to attempt sex reassignment surgery. On top of this, his wife Gerda is supportive and loving. Her roll is a bit heartbreaking. The story in the film is based on the Wegener's time together, but poetic license is taken with a lot of the characters and events. This is an astounding story that champions identity and love. Such a powerful film. Loved it.

When Marnie Was There

Nominated for an Oscar in the animated feature category, When Marnie Was There is certainly worthy of the nod. This film from Ghibli Studios is a heartfelt story of adolescence, family, belonging and heritage. The drawings are beautiful and the dubbing in the rental I watched was very well cast. A lovely film.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappaeared

When I see a title like The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared I think, "good for him." Watching my parents struggle through old-age I have become a cheerleader for the beleaguered senior citizen. In this Swedish film, when Allan steps out the window of the retirement home he unwittingly gets involved in a road-trip adventure I really enjoyed. The characters are colorful, the bad guys are bumblers and, yes folks, there's an elephant. A charming film I watched because it is nominated for an Oscar for excellence in makeup. I really liked it.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Look of Silence

I found The Act of Killing to be one of the most disturbing films I've seen, and its companion film The Look of Silence is a close second.A man pursues the details of his brother's murder in the Indonesian genocide of 1965. He hears these details directly from the killers. The graphic description of the killers' activities are incredibly disturbing because they seem quite proud of their accomplishments. The man searches for closure. This is not an easy documentary to watch.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ted 2

I really enjoyed the movie Ted so renting Ted 2 was a no-brainer. In this second round, Ted and his wife want to adopt a baby, but they are deemed ineligible because Ted is not human. They hire a lawyer, and the adventure begins. There are all kinds of mishaps along the way and this next chapter is as outrageous and raunchy as the first. This was a fun rental.

Favorite Films 2015

I think that 2015 was an excellent year in film. I saw lots of strong films at Tribeca Film Festival in April, and I'm a little surprised that I saw my favorite of the year as early in the year as May. It is hard for me to keep this list to the popular 10 so here are the 17 films I enjoyed the most this year. They are diverse, and I think that film makers are working hard to entertain and enlighten the audience. These are in no particular order, though I think the first half of the list are the best of the group.

Click on the titles to see what I thought when I saw them.

Mad Max: Fury Road
Creed
Ex Machina
Grandma
The Walk
The Revenant
The Martian
He Named Me Malala
Shaun the Sheep Movie
Tangerine
Call Me Lucky
Dope
The Hateful Eight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Brooklyn
Youth
Sicario

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Irrational Man

Woody Allen caused quite a stir when he came to RI last year to film Irrational Man. Star sightings in our little corner of the country are always fun. The film is a quirky caper-slash-romance-slash-comedy with great performances. The story is ridiculous, but I liked it. Always fun to see RI as a co-star as well. Decent rental

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Revenant

No film surprised me more this year than The Revenant. The definition of the word is: one that returns after death or a long absence. Through a perilous set of circumstances, we watch a man descend into a situation that seems impossible to survive. With almost no dialogue, we follow him to the end of his journey and justice for all that has happened to him and those dear to him. The cinematography is brilliant and the story is harrowing. There are scenes that take us inside his head that are a good break from some very intense action. Brilliant film.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Carol

Fidelity drives the plot in the film Carol. Set in the early 50s, Carol meets a young woman, and we watch the quiet progress of an affair that blossom to even more. Though she is separated from her husband, he uses her infidelities against her in negotiating custody of their daughter. Beautifully shot, Carol slowly becomes realistic about the relationship she wants. Gentle, poignant and heartfelt I liked the way the story handled the situation and felt good about the ending. A lovely film.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Ashby

The film Ashby was such a pleasure to watch. A coming of age story of a young man in a prep school, finding his way. The age-old story of fitting in is depicted with charming characters with relate-able woes. The young man befriends a character named Ashby, a retired assassin with a few loose ends to tie up.The acting and writing are great. I especially enjoyed Micky Rourke's performance. Good rental.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Experimenter

The project depicted in the film Experimenter is tough to watch. The Milgram Experiment is a look at obedience through clinical eyes. Initially, it looks like the experiment exposes a heartless side of human nature, but there are so many extenuating circumstances, I find the experiment to be one of intimidation. There are some great actors in this film, but the story itself is a bit slight and I thought the film dragged. Interesting enough, but just an OK rental.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Minions

Ever since their debut in Despicable Me I have been a fan of Minions. This year they got their own Movie and I couldn't be more pleased.Going back to the time of the dinosaurs, the little yellow guys are in search of a villain to serve. As time goes on Kevin, Bob and Stuart end up in quite the adventure. These little guys crack me up and it's an entertaining ride. I liked this as a rental.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Youth

When I saw elderly characters in a film titled Youth I was intrigued. The story takes place at a fancy resort in the Alps. We meet a retired conductor, an actor and a director preparing a new film. We learn their stories quickly and watch their interactions as they deal with the past and their current situations. The performances are outstanding and the setting is lovely. I really enjoyed this film.