Sunday, October 28, 2018

Beautiful Boy

Passionate performances and a heartbreaking story make Beautiful Boy one of the best films released so far this year. A young man battles addiction as his family tries to help. The intentions of the characters depict the struggles of addiction in a realistic, powerful way. At the core of all of the relationships is love. "I love you more than everything." "Everything?" "Everything!"

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Mom and Dad

When parents are infected with a virus that makes them want to kill their children all hell breaks lose in Mom and Dad. A silly monster movie that is tense and gory. The premise is crazy and make for a very entertaining horror film. Pretty good.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Doing research for an article on Diane Ladd, I re-watched Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. I saw this film in the theater when it came out in the mid 70s. After meeting Ladd at Newport Film Festival I thought of this film often. Watching it now, I enjoyed the story of a woman struggling to support herself and her son after her husband dies. Taking a job at a dinner while working on her singing career, she meets Flo (played by Ladd) a no-nonsense woman with experience and a life philosophy that is deeper than Alice expects. It is from Flo that Alice learns that friendship has value. This film has grit and a lot of heart. It holds up.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story

The Star Wars collection continues with Solo: A Star Wars Story. This is Han Solo's origin story. The story itself is OK, but the visuals are what shine in this movie. Sweeping shots of spaceship flight kept my attention throughout. There is drama and humor as well. I liked this addition to the Star Wars universe more than expected.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

I liked the movie  Mamma Mia! fine, but I didn't like it enough to have a desire for a sequel. I waited to see Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again until it came out in DVD based on that feeling. I was treated to an origin story that I really enjoyed. The lead performance of Lily James as young Donna is mostly to blame for that. Great voice, great screen presence, she carries this movie. I was also surprised by how much I liked the music. Some of the supporting cast was weaker than I expected, but the spirit was there and the ending was rather sweet. Glad I saw it.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Oath

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, The Oath is an excellent addition to holiday set films. A family gathers for Thanksgiving before the deadline of signing a loyalty oath to the US. The signing is optional, but strange things start happening to people who don't sign the oath. There are differing opinions among the family members and most interactions are tense. When members of an enforcement group show up this turns into a sort of home invasion story that turns pretty violent. Things go way off the rails. Though totally fictional, there is enough reality to make you think "what would I do?" the whole time. Intense film. I liked it.

Bad Times at the El Royal

Set at the El Royal Hotel in Lake Tahoe, the thriller Bad Times at the El Royal is  wild ride. Strangers meet, situations unfold, histories are revealed. The twists and turns are many. This film is a crazy, violent ride that I rather enjoyed. Well done.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Halloween (1978)

With the release of the latest Halloween film I was reminded that I have not seen a single film in the franchise. AMC was playing the whole series this week, so I decided to watch the original Halloween. This is a classic horror film with all the tropes, crazy killer and threatening music. Not really my cup of tea, but I respect what it is, and the performances of a young Jamie Lee Curtis as she reprises the role 40 years later. Glad I saw it.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Seagull

The film The Seagull is an adaptation of Chekhov's play. The story is about acting, aging, ego and love. The character's interactions are complex and the results are not always pleasant. The performances are passionate. A good film.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Hocus Pocus

As lists of Halloween films start popping up, I realize that I have never seen Hocus Pocus. This campy, silly horror film about witches, spells and curses is highly entertaining. It is also has a side theme of family. Cute, fun Halloween movie.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Night of the Living Dead

When I was in college, we would often go to my room mate's hometown of Pittsburgh for the weekend. On Saturday nights,there was a show called Chiller Theater, hosted by Bill Cardille aka Chilly Billy. Often the home grown film, Night of the Living Dead would be playing. I saw that movie countless times. Re-watching it now, I see Romero's brilliance of this horror-thriller that was shot in Pittsburgh as well. Great classic to watch this time of year.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

First Man

Growing up with the Space Race, it took me a long time to realize that astronauts had families. Being a child, I assumed that they would not send someone's Dad on such a dangerous mission. In First Man all of my childhood concerns were addressed. From the risks men were taking away from their families to the primitive nature of the technology. The focus is on Neil Armstrong and the first landing on the moon. Dramatic and emotional in it's own right. I liked this film.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

A Star is Born (2018)

The fourth remake of A Star is Born is a very satisfying film. The story of an unknown young singer being discovered by a superstar leads to love and heartbreak. Addiction plays a large roll in the relationship of the two artists. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper do impressive work in this film. It is one of this year's must-see movies.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Don't Worry He Won't Get Far on Foot

Cartoonist John  Callahan was not always a paraplegic. In the film Don't Worry He Won't Get Far on Foot, we meet him before the accident, then follow his survival, career and sobriety after the accident. He has an acerbic wit, a perverse sense of humor and is driven by success. A very interesting character.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

I was sold on the Hotel Transylvania series when I took my grandsons to see #2. These stories are very funny with a big heart. Hotel Transylvania 3 is a great addition, taking the familiar characters on a cruise. The jokes are funny and there are some pretty clever dance numbers. This would be my third favorite in the series, but I did enjoy it.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

The Beguiled (1971)

Having watched the 2017 version of The Beguiled, I wanted to see the 1971 version. This is a much grittier, vibrant rendition. A wounded civil war soldier ends up in a remote girls' school, at the mercy of the occupants.This film is beautifully shot, well acted and disturbing as hell. Well done.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Taxi Driver

I first saw Taxi Driver in the theater on a first date. After the film, I experienced my first grown up conversion about a film. I still remember my date turning down the radio in the car so we could discuss. Every once in a while I re-watch it to appreciate the brilliance. This film is beautifully shot,
it has very sympathetic characters and many scenes almost feel choreographed to the music. This film is good to watch every once in a while.

Night Comes On

In the film Night Comes On two sisters set out on a tough road trip. A tribute to love, dedication, perseverance and resourcefulness. Not everything works out, not everything is candy-coated. The performances and story make this well worth seeing.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Fundamentals of Caring

In The Fundamentals of Caring a disabled young man has a caregiver who doesn't take his crap. Most of the film is a road trip to see the largest hole in the country.We learn the flaws in both the patient and the caregiver and the interesting ways they meet their needs. They meet interesting people along the way, and the ways they interact with them is interesting as well. A heartfelt stroy that pulls no punches. I liked this one.

The Wife

In The Wife a writer accepts a Nobel Prize. As he and his family attend the awards events, his true story unravels. This man is truly awful to his wife, his son and colleagues. When the truth is exposed I found this man disgusting. This is actually a very sad story. Good film.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Permanent

Identity and family are strong themes in Permanent where a young girl thinks appearances define us. There are the awkward moments with her parents and teen angst. The true heart of this film is in the sincerity of the performances. Well done.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Under the Tuscan Sun

Every time I thought about watching Under the Tuscan Sun I could find better things to do. Women trying to get over a broken relationship not my jam. The charm of Diane Lane drew me into this one. A woman buys a house in Tuscany and life happens. I liked the way it was shot, I liked the performances, but I still thought the story was just OK. This film was better than I expected.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Pippin

Listening to someone talk about seeing all of Bob Fosse's work I decided to rent Pippin. The disc was a documentary of the actual Broadway show from 1981. Fosse's choreography is distinct and sexy. The production is vibrant and sincere. The 80's vibe is strong. I loved this rental.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Jurassic World: Forgotten Kingdom

In the film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom we see a park trying to preserve dinosaurs. This story is foolish and sloppy. There are a few winks at criticisms of Jurassic World, this was the only thing I found entertaining. Not for me.

Damsel

Boring and offensive is the way I describe the film Damsel. Set in the wild west this story was too sexist for me. Pretty gross.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

It has been decades since I've seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Reference to the film has popped up a few times in the last few months so I rented it. In true Spielberg style, the visuals are great and the story tugs at the heartstrings. Aliens are brought to earth in a very special film. I especially liked the mode of communication. The extra features on the DVD that explain the practical effects are especially interesting. Classic sci-fi.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Searching

A man's daughter disappears in the film Searching, and he learns that he did not know much about her life and relationships. All of the scenes are played out through some form of screen. Phone, text, skype, laptop. The technique draws the viewer in and lends an interesting tone. This is a good modern mystery thriller.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A Simple Favor

Two women become unlikely friends over childcare issues. Both have motivations to be friends. Both are very different. When one of the women disappears after asking A Simple Favor, the other looks into her life to find clues to where she might be. Many secrets are revealed. This is a good thriller with a lot of twists and great performances. I liked this movie a lot.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Oceans Eight

Loving all of the Oceans movies, I was skeptical of Oceans Eight. My fears were laid to rest by the strong cast and hi-tech heist. The winks to Oceans 11 are well placed. I liked this one.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hearts Beat Loud

The transition time from high school to college is emotional for both students and their parents. In Hearts Beat Loud this time in a young girl's life is explored. The situations are sweet and real. The resolution is satisfying. There is a lot of love for music in this film that carries the story nicely.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Filmworker

I am an implementer. Leon Vitale is an implementer. There was so much to relate to in the documentary Filmworker for me. As a right-hand man to Stanley Kubrick, he made things happen on many important films. Anyone interested in film and film history will enjoy this film...I did.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

The Last Laugh

When is humor offensive? Where is the line? This is explored in The Last Laugh, a documentary that specifically asks , "when can you make jokes about the holocaust?" An interesting study from some of the most accomplished comedians of all time. Good, thoughtful rental.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Do the Right Thing

It is wild to watch a movie like Do the Right Thing and have the themes all still ring true. The in-fighting in a neighborhood in Brooklyn accentuates the class and ethnic lines. There is a survival story, a love story, an identity story, a family story. A film that stands the test of time.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Point Break

I first saw Point Break at least 10 years ago and remembered it as a surfer movie. I remembered liking it, but these days that did not make sense to me. To alleviate my confusion I watched it again recently, and realized that it's really a crime movie. That's why I liked it. An FBI agent goes under cover to try to infiltrate a band of bank robbers who are also surfers. The cast is great, the story is great and the scenes are great. This movie is action-packed. There is a skydiving scene near the end that was my favorite. This is an enjoyable film to watch and re-watch.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Book Club

The premise of Book Club was interesting to me, but when the books in the title were The Shades of Gray books I was out for seeing this in the theater. After renting the movie I was correct in my assessment. Four women over 60 go down their different paths of life.No matter how successful, they are all mooning over men and their relationships or lack thereof. I found their complaints to be trite and their solutions often immature. Interestingly, the least annoying part of the movie was the third act, the beginning was a mess. This was an OK rental.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Deadpool 2

I had forgotten how raunchy the first Deadpool movie was. Deadpool 2 continues in the same style. The character is so inappropriate, that it almost gets old. The jokes and snark are still there and I do like the characters. The story is typical superhero stuff. This was an OK rental. Glad I waited to rent it.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Bamboozled

The social satire Bamboozled is a look at historic culture in black America, specifically, black-face. It takes on the tough subject of the misrepresentation of blacks in entertainment throughout history. Spike Lee has been called a universal humanist and tries to present this from the modern-day perspective. A thought provoking subject and film. Excellent film.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

First Reformed

In First Reformed a clergyman is riddled with grief over the death of his son. In trying to counsel a parishioner and organize an event at the church, he is overwhelmed with emotion and inner turmoil. This drama plays well until the last 10 minutes.  The ending of this film is odd, abrupt and not very conclusive. I usually find that thought provoking, but in this case it was just annoying. It was an OK rental.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Kodachrome

The premise of Kodachrome has to do with a dying man's last wish. The problem with the dying man is that he's an arrogant asshole who has been estranged from his son. The son is a sympathetic character, the father is not. This is a road-trip movie with good performances and a bit of an edge. A decent rental.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

McQueen

IN 2011 I saw the exhibit Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Met in NYC and was blown away. The work was creative, raw and gorgeous. The way I looked at fashion was changed. The documentary McQueen digs into the career and motivations of the young artist and his all too short life. It is inspiring, but ultimately very sad. The walk through his shows and collections is a pleasure.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

BlackkKlansman

The true story of a black man infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs the 70s is depicted in the film BlackkKlansman. Ron Stallworth was a young police officer with the state police. He found an ad recruiting members for the Klan and called the number. When a meeting was arranged a surrogate white officer had to go in his place. He and other undercover officers infiltrate and thwart the Klan. This is an interesting story in which the period is represented well. The racial tones are disturbing, but that is the intent. Well done.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Pollyanna

When I was a kid, I used to watch the movie Pollyanna on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color on Sunday nights. If memory serves, they showed one hour one week and the second hour the next. I probably saw it two or three times over the years. I loved the characters and the story, it hit my sweet spot for optimism. A group in the DVD Nation Facebook page for Netflix got to chatting about movies we loved as kids, wondering if they still held up. I rented the film for a look. The film is still strong for me. The performances are outstanding and serve the characters well. The story has an interesting social message as well. I wish I had counted the number of times the word glad was used, it was a lot, but always to effect. I was happy to see that this movie was still pleasing, and I hung the prism I've had since childhood in the window so I could have my own rainbow-maker in my home. The movie reminded me that it had been tucked away in a keepsake drawer. Glad I watched this again. Thanks Netflix!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Shock and Awe

The film Shock and Awe is a reminder that the Bush administration got this country into a war on very flimsy evidence. The war in Iraq was sold to the American people as retaliation for 9/11, defending the US from weapons of mass destruction. 15 years later, we have lost thousands of young soldiers and have no evidence of these weapons. This film follows a group of journalists who pursued this story before the 2003 war began. It is a painful reminder of where this began, for apparently no reason at all. This film is excellent. The story is very sad.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Like Father

The movie Like Father is running on Netflix. It has OK reviews so I gave it a look. A driven young woman is left at the altar and ends up on her honeymoon with her estranged father. The story is treated lighter than it should be and there are huge plot holes. The cast keeps it going though, not bad.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

On Chesil Beach

On Chesil Beach is a story of young love gone awry. As a young couple falls in love, there is sweetness and chemistry, but once they marry the woman has no interest in a physical relationship. There re back stories, there are emotions. I was not very invested in this story. OK rental.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Aardvark

In the film Aardvark, a man has delusions. Many involve his older brother whom he idolizes. He is seeing a therapist of sorts, who ends up getting involved with his brother. This is a story where it is hard to tell what is real and what is in the character's head. I had to watch a few scenes twice to keep things straight. I thought the performances were very good. This was a twisty film I liked.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Eighth Grade

Having been both an eighth grade girl and also the parent of eighth grade girls, I thought the character portrayals in the film Eighth Grade were pretty accurate. This film follows Kayla through the insecurities and discoveries in her last week of middle school. We get inside her head through the YouTune videos she makes while watching her struggle with the realities of adolescence. This film is smart and realistic. I liked it a lot.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Elvis: The Miniseries

A fascinating interview with Johnathan Rhys Myers brought up the TV series Elvis. When I learned how the actor developed the character I decided to rent it. Rhys Meyers gives a convincing performance as the late singer in his early career. A good dramatization of an interesting life. Good series.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Private Parts

After seeing Howard Stern interviewed by David Letterman on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, I realized that I've never seen Private Parts. This biopic is interesting because some of the characters are played by the actual people. The film is made by Stern, so it presents him as a sympathetic character. I find him interesting, but he always seems to go to a place that makes me very uncomfortable. He's a smart guy, and the events of the rise of his career are interesting, but in true form, this film goes to places that make me want to change the channel. This was an OK rental..

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Blindspotting

The reality of race and police violence is portrayed in Blindspotting. From situations to incarceration to rehabilitation to reality. The story follows a young man with three days left in his probation period. We do not know why he was incarcerated at the beginning of the film. As the characters are established and we work into the present, the past is revealed bit by bit. The film unfolds in layers and everything we have learned in the film up to the climax is powerful and important to the impact of the story. There is a bit of comic relief in the dialogue at times. The writing, acting and structure are outstanding. This is one of my favorite films so far this year.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Leave No Trace

In Leave No Trace a father and his daughter are living off the grid in a public park. When they are discovered, social services gets involved. The daughter finds a world she's never known that has new comforts. The father finds a world he rejected and hates. The way they deal is interesting and heartening. There is a lot of thought and compassion in this story. The acting, writing and shooting are outstanding. I really liked this film.

Julia

Enduring friendships make good drama. In Julia we see two women as friends and then activists and then allies. The bond they has makes them take risks for each other that are impressive. The performances in this film are outstanding and I love the way it was shot. Well done.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Days of Heaven

An act of deceit is a survival technique in the film Days of Heaven. Lovers pose as brother and sister so the woman can marry a wealthy man who is dying. They enjoy the farmer's lifestyle until they are exposed. The story plays out in a way I did not expect. This film is gorgeous and they music is haunting. Excellent rental I wish I had seen in the theater. Beautiful.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Poetic Justice

A relationship film like Poetic Justice is interesting. Justice meets a young man and she is not having any of his bravado-style flirting. She is attracted to him, but insists on being treated with respect. They argue, they fight and in the mix is another couple who are their friends. This is a great story, te acting is great, the music fits well. There is a scene at a family reunion that is just delightful. This film ends with an interesting fight scene and a resolution that makes sense for the journey we have watched. An excellent film.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Drugstore Cowboy

The battle of addiction is explored in Drugstore Cowboy.A group of young people figure out how to steal from pharmacies to fuel their addictions. Some are better at it than others. The acting, writing and structure of this film is very good, though the subject is dark. Well done.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Three Identical Strangers

In the documentary Three Identical Strangers we meet three men who were adopted by three different families when they were born. At 19 years old they discovered each other. The result of this discovery is a compelling, yet troubling story. The tone of the film goes from celebratory to disturbing. This film gives you a lot to think about.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Sorry to Bother You

Ambition and survival are themes in the creative film Sorry to Bother You. A young man works at a call center selling encyclopedias over the phone. He strives to be successful within the company, but what he finds in that success is not what he expected. The less you know going into this film, the better. There are some very clever staging devices and the acting is great. There is one place the film goes that I did not totally buy, but still very creative. Good film.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Lean on Pete

The film Lean on Pete is a dark look at a boy's search for family. As his disintegrates, he goes in search of the last family member that he knows of. He takes a horse, Pete, with him. The events along the way are very dark and tragic. Jarring. It is a lot to watch a young person handle. He is resourceful, creative and desperate. Driven to find that last chance he has to find home. This is an excellent drama, but a very sad story.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

I Feel Pretty

Self esteem gets a close look in the movie I Feel Pretty. The subjective nature of beauty is explored with a sense of humor. Two events cause a young woman to become overly confident. I wish they had used just one. It muddles the plot and discounts the character a bit. The first half of this film is quite good and very charming. The third act falls apart in a big way. This movie is OK as rental, I would suggest going in with low expectations.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Please Stand By

In a story of perseverance, the film Please Stand By is an uplifting tale. A young woman with autism writes a Star Trek screenplay for a contest. We watch her write it and then, in compliance with the rules of the contest, get the script to where it needs to be. It is a road trip story with enough missteps to add an air of adventure and struggle. The main character is very resourceful. The end is very satisfying. I really liked this film.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Waiting to Exhale

After seeing the documentary Whitney, I realized that I did not know much about Whitney Houston's acting carreer, so I rented Waiting to Exhale. The stories of a group of friends play out. Houston's performance is subdued and deliberate. Again, her talent is evident. I could not relate to all of the relationships, but this is a solid rental.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Girl Walks into a Bar

In the film A Girl Walks into a Bar a mystery plays out in 10 different bars in LA. There is mystery and intrigue in this thriller. A true homage to noir cinema.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Paris is Burning

To understand drag culture better, I watched the film Paris is Burning. This documentary is a fascinating look at the creativity and passion that goes into the art form. I also learn what "vogue" really means. Excellent film.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Whitney

The documentary Whitney brings back memories. Her music was the soundtrack of my young adult life. Her talent and success was astounding, which made her fall so very tragic. The story of the rise of her career is nostalgic and exciting. The story of her addictions and end of life left me so sad. This is an excellent documentary.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Incredibles 2

In Incredibles 2 we are back with the Parrs. Elastigirl is in the position of saving the world and she does it with panache. The action is good. The story is good, though a few of the story-lines could have been fleshed out more. The dialogue is often funny. The animation is outstanding. I liked this continuing story of my favorite family of super heroes. I enjoyed this more than I expected to.

A Wrinkle in Time

For a step into fantasy A Wrinkle in Time is a good effort. The film is visually gorgeous and the young actors are excellent. The Mrs. characters are a bit distracting as they are played by some of the most famous women in Hollywood. I had trouble seeing them as their characters. Overall a good effort in adapting this beloved book.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Blockers

Prom night brings out the antics of a group of high school friends. Sex, booze and making memories are all on the list. The parents' access to their electronic conversations sets the tone for Blockers to be an entertaining ride. There are some very funny situations and some very sweet situations. I thought I would be annoyed by the parents, but all in all they were funny, even if they were a little over the top. This was a fun rental.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Ibiza

A girl's trip on tenuous footing is the base for Ibiza. Mixing business with pleasure becomes problematic in this dark comedy. The most saving grace is the cast. They are charming and talented, but the story is weak and a bit disappointing.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Always Shine

In Always Shine two friends explore their rivalry on a get away trip. The events of the trip are colored by perception, self esteem, jealousy and passion. The events are intense and dramatic. This is a relationship story that turns into a thriller. Very well done.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Flower

Teen sexuality is explored in Flower as a young girl seeks revenge using family and friends. When things get out of control there is no turning back. There are a lot of uncomfortable situations in this story, but by does it make things interesting. This was a good rental.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

My Favorite Spy

I think I saw My Favorite Spy on late night TV when I was a kid. But after seeing the documentary about Hedy Lamarr I wanted a refresher. This mistaken identity thriller, comedy is masterful and satisfying. Lamarr and Hope have great chemistry. I love a classic. Really holds up.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Marwencol

With promos for a new film Welcome to Marwen I decided it would be good to rent the documentary Marwencol learn the origin story. In the film we learn of a man coping with PTSD from a severe beating. He is creative and expressive and his art saves his sanity. This is a very interesting story and a documentary worth seeing. If you rent the DVD the extras are worth watching.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Matilda

Social media posts from Danny DeVito around Father's Day made me realize that I've never seen the live action movie Matilda. The Roald Dahl story of a young girl, and the teacher that helps her overcome her horrible parents and a mean school principle, has a charm rooted in the performances. Mara Wilson is a delight in this. The uncomfortable moments remind you just who wrote this. A good rental.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Unsane

The lines between mental illness, stress and reality are blurred in Unsane as a woman struggles to find safety. Every time I thought I knew what was going on in this film I was wrong. Even the ending left me scratching my head. An interesting drama with the flavor of a thriller. The performances are excellent.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Suburbicon

A nasty man does nasty things and pays the price in the movie Suburbicon. The fantasy of ideal suburbia is satirized in the misdeeds and misfortunes of this man. This is a very dark story that left me feeling unsettled. An OK rental.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Father Figures

In pursuit of their birth fathers, two brothers in the movie Father Figures have many missteps. They meet many colorful people on their journey and the cases of mistaken identity are very entertaining. This is an amazing cast and a fun rental.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Hereditary

What appears to be the difficulties of an extended family becomes so much more in the film Hereditary. The less you know going into this film, the better. Just know that it is a horror film and there is plenty of darkness and jump scares. This is one of the best films of the year for me.

Friday, June 08, 2018

I Kill Giants

In I Kill Giants a girl uses a fantasy world to deal with the complexities of her young life. We step into the mind of  Barbara as she struggles with school and family. Beautifully shot, but the story fizzles near the end. This was an OK rental.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Thoroughbreds

A percussive score lends the tone to Thoroughbreds as two women set out to right a wrong. With more depth than your average coming of age film, the decision making process and methods are intriguing and entertaining. Good film.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Backstabbing for Beginners

Based on a true story, Backstabbing for Beginners follows a young diplomat to a world of  international corruption. This conspiracy thriller has performances that meet the level of drama required to tell this story. Well done.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Annihalation

Watching Annihilation I realize that I'm not that good with sci-fi. The concept of "the shimmer" and parallel universes was lost on me. This is a very pretty movie and the drama was fine, but the fantasy aspects left me cold. Not for me.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Game Night

A group of friends' gathering for Game Night goes out of control in more than one way. The less you know going into this film, the more entertaining it is. The situations are edgy and funny. There is a thriller aspect that works well with the silly situations. Rachel McAdams was the bright spot in this movie for me. Very entertaining.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Red Sparrow

In the spy thriller Red Sparrow sex is a weapon. After a dance accident, a Russian ballerina turns to spy work as a "sparrow" to support herself and her family. She uses her body as a weapon against the enemy. This story has some interesting aspects and relationships, but it is much too long. It was an OK rental for me.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Plenty

The story of a twenty year span of a woman's life makes Plenty a very interesting drama. She is strong-willed, smart and passionate. The performances and writing make this story compelling to watch. I liked this film a lot more than expected. Well worth watching.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Early Man

The story of Early Man solving their discrepancies with a soccer game is cute and silly. Stop-action animation lends charm and whimsy to a pretty silly story. An OK rental.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Party

High drama in the form of confessions makes The Party a compelling film. A group of friends gather to celebrate and the words fly. As the stories unfold, we get the events that bring us to this night. Dramatic in black and white, this film had a shocker of an ending.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

RBG

The scope of the work and life of  Ruth Bader Ginsburg is explored in the documentary RBG. Her defense of civil rights and rise to the Supreme Court at a time when women just didn't do that is fascinating. We see a professional, a mother, a wife, a fried, a colleague, a judge...with a sense of humor She is badass and inspiring. Everyone should see this film.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

Hedy Lamarr was most famous for her film roles, but in the documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story we learn there was much more to her. Smart and a bit of a tinkerer, she messed around with technology that is now part of the internet. A fascinating life and story.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Maudie

In Maudie a marriage of convenience results in love, devotion and artistic satisfaction. Based on a true story, Maudie fights for artistic and personal independence. An inspiring artist. Good film.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

High Society

Continuing my viewing of the great classic films High Society found its way in to my DVD player. Another fabulous performance from Grace Kelly as a socialite on the eve of her second wedding. There are complications, there is drama, there is humor. A great classic remake that I enjoyed.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

High Noon

The classic western is in full glory in the film High Noon.Watching Grace Kelly shine in every scene as her character muscles through a difficult situation is a pleasure. Her husband faces off against a gang trying to take over the town. Great film.

Avengers: Infinity War

SO many superheroes. So many battles in Avengers: Infinity War. The quest is taken up by the villain, and the superheros try to stop him. The result is not a happy one. I was glad to learn that this is the first half of a two part story. I need a little more resolution. Well done.

Friday, May 04, 2018

American Assassin

Drawn out and a bit boring, American Assassin takes us through the black ops training of a young man who has suffered terrible loss and is out for revenge. This film would have benefited from a serious edit, I understand that the book is a good read. This was an OK rental.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

The To Do List

Graphic, honest and very funny, The To Do List is a coming of age story that focuses on sex. The class valedictorian is feeling good about working through her to-do list before leaving for college until she is asked about losing her virginity. In a panic, she starts to research sex the way she researches any task. The to-do list grows in a humorous and tactical fashion. This film is raunchy, explicit and very funny.Great cast too. Worth a look.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Outside In

When a man is released from prison, he seeks out a high school teacher who supported him during his incarceration. The film Outside In tells the story of a man learning to deal with the world after years in a structured, sheltered world. His maturity level is stifled and he struggles to work on decision making skills and relationships. I liked the story and performances. A good rental.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool

Based on the life of  Gloria Grahame, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool is an artful, heartfelt film. Gloria pursues her career and takes up with a much younger man. When she is diagnosed with cancer, she lives in denial and it is her final demise. Her story is poignant. The performances are outstanding. I liked this film.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Final Year

Since the 2016 election there has been a hole in this country. I liked the Obama administration. I miss the Obama administration. In the documentary The Final Year I got to spend a little time back in that world. It was very comforting. A good documentary about Obama's last year in office.

Friday, April 20, 2018

You Were Never Really Here

The film You Were Never Really Here is as intense emotionally as it is visually. A man takes on some violent thugs to protect young, abused girls. There are a lot of disturbing themes in this film, yet I liked it and thought about it a lot after I saw it.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tribeca Film Festival 2018

I only had a few days to go to NYC for Tribeca Film Festival this year. Because of travel schedules, I was in NYC on the first few days of the festival. I was sold out of several tickets that fit my schedule, but the one that I was able to get turned out to be the one thing I most wanted to see. 

I arrived in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, dog sitting for my granddogs in DUMBO. Wednesday morning I walked to downtown Brooklyn to TKTS and lucked into a ticket for a show that night. Heading to the financial district I took a stroll through the Occulus and the World Trade Center. Gorgeous structure. Walking north to Tribeca, I found myself on a stool at Tribeca Tavern for their delicious lunch special. After lunch, the sun had come out and I thought I would walk the Brooklyn Bridge to get back to DUMBO. I first stopped in to The Patriot on Chambers and was fortunate that Patience, who I had met last year, was working. Her sunny attitude and a glass of wine were just the fuel I needed to make the bridge walk a piece of cake. Despite the sunshine, the walk was a little brisk and I was going to have a late night so I stopped in to Superfine before I returned to the pups. The bartender, Bowayne delivered my Irish coffee with a "booya" and I knew I had made a wise choice. After hanging out with the dogs, I found my way to Union Square and had a bowl of soup at Smith before the show. At the Daryl Roth Theater I experience In & of Itself. An amazing one man show that culminated on the corner of 51st & 7th to find a Gold Brick. See the show and you'll know why. Finding myself uptown I went by the Monkey Bar which was packed so I satisfied myself with a picture of a funny lamp and headed back to the subway. In Times Square there were no street vendors because of the rain, so back to DUMBO I go.

Though the morning was gloomy on Thursday I took myself to the west Village in search of lunch. At the Olive Tree I found a delicious salad in a quiet place. With time to kill I head to Tribeca and stop in to Reade Street Pub for a quick drink. My film festival event today was the film Tully followed by a discussion panel with Tamara Jenkins and Jason Reitman. A very interesting film and a generous panel after. Dinner was delicious sliders at Mudville 9 and a subway ride home after a satisfying day.

Thanks to morning film times on Friday, I had time to see You Were Never Really Here at The Angelika before meeting Lucy for lunch at Edward's in Tribeca. After a lovely visit and a tasty lunch we go our separate ways and I decide to pop into Reade Street Pub for one last visit. Sitting at the bar is Charles, the house manager from BMCC for Tribeca Film Festival. I see him in the theater every year, and finally introduced myself a few years ago. We have a lively conversation over a few drinks and say goodbye. Such a nice person. On the way home, I make one last stop into Superfine before I return to the pups. The kids return from their travels and Liza, Ryan and I have dinner at Superfine. Liza and I have one last nightcap at 68 Jay, my favorite neighborhood dive.

On Saturday we take Fiona for her first swim lesson at Leman Prep in the Financial District. While Mason goes to speech therapy, Dorlans Tavern in the Seaport fits the bill for lunch. Water taxi is our way home and I happily stay in with the kids while Liza and Ryan meet friends out in the city.

On Sunday I'm up and out to get back to RI for my niece Bridget's bridal shower. A bit of a whirlwind, but a very fun time. Thanks to NYC, the Porter family and friends old and new that joined me along the way. See you next year!

Tully

The strain of motherhood and managing a family is honestly portrayed in the film Tully We meet a woman pregnant with her third child carrying all of the stress and emotion that goes with parenting and birth. This is another film where you will benefit from knowing very little. I can't wait to see it again. I was surprised by how this film seemed to strike a chord with men. At the Q & A most of the questions were from men, and a male film reviewer I liked said that the film made him cry. This is a very interesting film.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

In & Of Itself

I am not sure how to describe the show In & Of Itself. This is an off-Broadway performance at the Daryl Roth theater in NYC. Derek DelGaudio gives a one man show that is deep, thoughtful, funny and mid boggling. I am so glad I saw this show and even happier that I made a little follow-up trip to complete the experience. See the show and you'll know what I mean.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Frank Serpico

The 70s film Serpico is as iconic as the man. In the documentary Frank Serpico we hear the story of the real man from the real man. He talks about the actual events of his life, then talks about them in reference to the film. A very interesting, smart, deep man. I liked this documentary.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

A Quiet Place

The terror of being found by a monster is a lot. In A Quiet Place the terror of being found because of the sounds you make is even more so. In the wake of a monster invasion a young family has found ways to survive that are both resourceful and creative. The less you know, the better. There are plenty of jump-scares and a lot of suspense. Very well done.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Party Girl

There is more to Party Girl than just a young woman out for a good time. She is trying to find herself and make a difference. When she helps out at the library, she finds a world that opens her eyes to life lessons and creative ways to get things done. There is a tone of whimsy and fun with a real heart and smart ending. I liked this film a lot.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Slums of Beverly Hills

To prepare to see Tamara Jenkins at Tribeca Film Festival in a few weeks I watched her film Slums of Beverly Hills. I was treated to a story of survival in an unconventional family while coming of age. Episodes of sexual awakening and finding identity are strong as a family struggles. The performances are great and the story has a sweet side. I liked this film.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Isle of Dogs

With stop motion animation, Isle of Dogs tells the story of loyalty and perseverance.When a virus makes the entire canine population sick, the dogs are exiled to Trash Island. A boy sorely misses his dog and sets out on a quest to find his beloved companion. There are interesting characters in this film presented with dry, dry humor. Worth a look.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Love, Simon

The teen romance gets a bit of a twist, good writing and strong performances in Love, Simon. The characters in this story of sexual awakening for a young man in high school. When he admits to himself that he is gay, he finds an anonymous confidante who he develops a crush and then a relationship with. This story is about identity, growing up, family, friends bullying and self defense. I liked this film a lot.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Death of Stalin

I'm glad I brushed up on the historical details before seeing The Death of Stalin. Another film where I wouldn't believe elements of the story if they weren't true. The satire is hilarious, though the circumstances are dire. Great cast. Good black comedy.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Justice League

Oh Superheros... Justice League joins the cannon in predictable fashion. A lot of the same old battles as worlds collide and snappy dialog. I did enjoy the character of The Flash. An OK rental for me.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pitch Perfect 3

Did the world need Pitch Perfect 3? Probably not, but I did find it more entertaining than Pitch Perfect 2. The Bellas are now young adults and dealing with the successes and disappointments in life. An opportunity to sing together arises and the adventure begins. Of course, there is a competition. This movie is entertaining enough and I always like the music. It's an OK rental.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Literally, Right Before Aaron

When a couple has dated for over 7 years the bond is strong. It is easier for some to move on than others. For the man who was Literally, Right Before Aaron, Adam has trouble reconciling his feelings when she invites him to her wedding. There are several earnest performances and the uncomfortable scenes are, well, uncomfortable. Good rental.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Una

When a girl is sexually assaulted at 13, she thinks she love her attacker. In the film Una we see her struggles with relationships and her sexuality as a result. She tries to confront her attacker years later and it does not go well. A bleak, slow film. I appreciate the performances, but would not recommend this film.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Band Aid

A couple is grieving a miscarriage in the film Band Aid. They find solace and re-connection through music. They fight through the music. The music helps their voice. An important take-away for me from this film is that Fred Armisen is an amazing drum. Good drama.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Who Killed the Electric Car?

In the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? we watch greed and the almighty dollar do its thing. The electric car was beloved, but did not fit the automotive world's economic model, so they destroyed it. A sad chapter of automotive history. Good documentary.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Faces Places

Two photographers jump in a photo van and ride the countryside looking for subjects for larger-than-life murals in the documentary Faces Places. From lone subjects to groups, the murals tell stories of lives lived and their relationships. The dynamic between the two artists is very interesting as well, and becomes very endearing. This is a very sweet documentary that I liked very much.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Oscars 2018

Here are my Oscar picks for this year. Saw 50 of the 59 nominated films. It was a good year!

Best Picture - Get Out
Best Director - Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water
Best Actress - Frances McDormand
Best actor - Gary Oldman
Best Actress in a supporting role - Allison Janney
Best Actor in a supporting role - Sam Rockwell
Original screenplay - Get Out
Adapted screenplay - Call Me by Your Name
Animated Feature - Coco
Documentary Feature - Faces Places
Foreign language film- A Fantastic woman
Original score - Phantom Thread
Original song - Mystery of Love
Sound editing - Baby Driver
Sound mixing - Baby Driver
Makeup  and Hair-styling - Darkest Hour
Costume design - Victoria & Abdul
Cinematography - Mudbound
Production Design - The Shape of Water
Film editing - Baby Driver
Visual effects - The Last Jedi
Documentary short - Traffic Stop
Live Action short - Watu Wote: All of Us
Animated short - Lou

Thursday, March 01, 2018

The Poker House

Survival of a young family in a house with a drug and drink addled Mother is a true story of survival in The Poker House. The older sister tries to protect her little sisters while holding down several jobs and playing on her high school basketball team.Her Mother and a variety of boyfriends, one who is her pimp gives the girl the attention she craves which takes an ugly turn. This film is based on a memoir. Early work from Jennifer Lawrence makes this worth watching.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wild at Heart

Opening with a very violent scene, Wild at Heart sets the tone for the crazy road trip of a young girl in love with an excon. There are pronouncements of love and hate amid scenes of violence and graphic sex. A bizarre ride from David Lynch with many outstanding performances.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Brother from Another Planet

A young Joe Morton brings a lot of heart to The Brother from Another Planet from 1984. This film was recommended on social media and because I respect the film taste of the person recommending it, and I love Joe Morton, this was an easy sell. Morton's character arrives in Harlem from outer-space with no language skills. Which makes his navigation of Manhattan interesting and sometimes humorous. On anther amusing note, he is being pursued by two bounty hunters from the cosmos who are great comic relief. The "brother" has a lot of heart and explores our world like a visitor to the zoo. He is calm and kind and grows as the story progresses.I really liked this film. Worth watching.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards

I love shoes. To be able to watch a documentary about the man who makes some of the most beautiful shoes in the world, Manolo Blahnik, was a real treat. In the documentary Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards he is called "the Godfather of Soles." It traces his love of designing footwear and the history of his collections. A documentary for lovers of pretty things and interesting creators. Well done.

Mute

I heard Mute called "the neon sci-fi movie" which is very accurate. Aside from the fact that this film has a look that just won't quit, neither does the story. A thriller with some futuristic themes mixed with present-day issues, to say too much would be spoiling. I will say I liked this film. I wish it had been available in theaters because it is so pretty. I'm just glad that Netflix gave Duncan Jones the opportunity to get this film made. Worth the wait.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

It Happened One Night

It Happened One Night is a classic boy meets girl, girl is not available, boy and girl are forced to spend time together, boy and girl fall in love, girl runs away, boy follows, happy ending. The details in between and the performances are whet make this film an Oscar winner. Well written, creatively filmed and very well acted. A classic worth watching.

California Typewriter

The typewriter was an essential tool for any writer when I was growing up. I cherished the one that was given to me as a graduation gift when I finished high school. I typed many a paper on it in college. Erasable paper was my friend. In the documentary California Typewriter the love for the machine is profiled. The collectors are the most fascinating. Made me wish I still had my typewriter. An interesting history. An interesting film.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Rebel in the Rye

I am finding post-war authors to be a dour lot. The film Rebel in the Rye chronicles J.D. Salinger's writing career. He is enthusiastic and motivated before he has to serve in the war. The war traumatizes him and he struggles to return to his writing. It is kind of amazing that Catcher in the Rye was written. An interesting story.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Icarus

Doping in athletics is the subject in the film Icarus.The science and process of drug testing athletes is explained and probed. The scientist in the film gets caught up in the Russian doping scandal and science meets thriller. Quite a ride.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Strong Island

When a young man is murdered in Long Island, the case is never prosecuted. In the documentary Strong Island his family tells the tale. The story of the family is documented carefully and lovingly in this talking head film. Powerful story.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Breadwinner

In my quest to see as many Oscar nominated films as I can, the Providence Children's Film Festival once again helped me out with a screening of a film nominated for animated feature. The Breadwinner is the story of a young girl in Afghanistan whose father is unjustly jailed by the Taliban. Left with her Mother and sister, she cuts her hair and dresses like a boy so she can go out in public alone to acquire water and food for her family. Themes of courage and oppression are heightened in this story. After the film, students from a local school read essays they had written after reading the book this film is based on. Heartening to see young people express themselves in empathy to the character's story. A nice film experience.

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

The story of the shlubby lawyer is not new, but in Roman J. Israel, Esq. the story has a good twist. Denzel Washington rocks the Afro and bad suits in the beginning of the film to emphasize Roman's transformation as the story progresses. This was a quirky film I liked.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Blade Runner 2049

I did not care for the original Blade Runner movie so it was no surprise that Blade Runner 2049 underwhelmed me as well. The sequel was almost as boring as the first, though it got more interesting in the second half. I get the nominations for visual Academy Award categories, but could not get into the story at all. Glad I didn't waste 3 hours in the theater with this one. I love DVD!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

In the financial crisis of 2008 a lot of banks got away with a lot. In Abacus: Small Enough to Jail we learn of the only one that went to trial. This documentary follows the 5 year trial of a small family run bank in Chinatown in NYC. The viewer is left to its own conclusions of why. Interesting film.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Wonder

The movie Wonder is a good take on bullying, family and friendship.When a young boy with facial deformities enters public school for the first time in 5th grade, we see the typical and predictable reactions of the kids he encounters. How it's handled, and how it plays out is interesting and effective. It also addresses the effect on the whole family. This is a good film and I'm happy to hear that schools are using it and the book it is based on to teach empathy. Well done.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts

The Oscar nominated short films are compiled to feature length programs. I saw the animated program today. It is an interesting assortment of films.

Love Basketball - Pencil drawings come to life in a self-narrated ode to basketball by Kobe Bryant. Lyrical and nice to watch. A love letter.

Garden Party - A bizarre scene unfolds from the perspective of frogs at an abandoned mansion...or so it seems. Funny with a jarring ending.

Lou - The items of a Lost & Found box take on a life of their own to address a bully on a playground. Pixar's magic is fun to watch here.

Negative Space - The strategies of packing a suitcase give a young boy an interesting perspective when faced with the end of life.

Revolting Rhymes - A Rahl Dahl twist on a classic fairy tale with a dark tone and great animation.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Come From Away

This winter's Broadway show for me was Come From Away. The story of planes grounded by the events of 9/11 in Gandor, Newfoundland Canada had excellent reviews and Tony nominations. I was not prepared for the heart, the talent and the creative genius of this show. 12 actors, 12 chairs and 2 tables surrounded by massive tree trunks were the only things on the stage. They represented a town, an airplane, a bus, a bar and more. The choreography and fluidity of the show kept the audience engaged for 90 minutes without a break in song or action. If you get a chance to see this show go! I'm sure glad I did.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

I, Daniel Blake

In I, Daniel Blake the social services system in the UK gives little help to Daniel Blake when he cannot work because he has had a heart attack. He wants to work, but his doctor says no, so he turns to the system for help. There are challenges in technology and processes. Thankfully, he befriends a person who is also struggling with the system.Together, they sort through their dilemmas with friendship. This is a good film with a not-so-happy ending, but I liked it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

LBJ

I enjoyed the play and movie All the Way, so I thought LBJ would be a good next film for me. This version of the time period after JFK's assassination is interesting, but not as intense. The performances are adequate impersonations, but everyone is walking through the events. OK historical film.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Disaster Artist

As part of My Oscar Project I had to find The Disaster Artist. Not an easy task because it played in RI months ago. Traveling to Boston, I discovered The Somerville Theatre. I found a quaint New England theater with a lot of history and a ton of character. Worth the ride. The film was much better than I expected. The story of Tommy Wiseau's creation of the infamous film The Room, is told from the perspective of his best friend Greg Sestero, based on Sestero's book. This is a story of determination, friendship and loyalty with a dash of delusion. Good film.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

The Greatest Showman

P.T. Barnum was a historic entertainer, earning the moniker The Greatest Showman, the name of the movie I saw today. The story of his early days in show business are interesting and it is appropriately presented as a musical. The music is good, the performances work. Not the best ever, but certainly entertaining.

Friday, February 02, 2018

The Square

Emotions in The Square run from hope to despair. When the characters try, they fail. If something can go wrong it will. The characters muddle through this creative, bizarre story set in the art world. At times it is amusing, at others unsettling. A very interesting film, with a cool to look.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Last Flag Flying

In Last Flag Flying three men who served together in Vietnam are faced with one of their son's death. The father wants to take the boy's body back to NH to bury him near his mother. The escort who travels with them is the boy's friend and adds details to his time in service. Those details are wrapped up nicely at the end. I liked this film, one of the Marines is over the top and the father is super subdued. This was a decent rental.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Goodbye Christopher Robin

I thought Goodbye Christopher Robin  would be a sweet story, but boy was I wrong. The misery of post-war life comes to the screen again. When A.A. Milne is looking for inspiration for a marketable writing project, he turns to his son's toys. With the success of the characters the boy creates, the exploitation of him in the marketing was a bit sad. The relationships in the family become more businesslike than a child should have to deal with. A melancholy story. A good rental.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Ferdinand

The animated film Ferdinand goes for the heartstrings. With about 15 minutes of editing, this would have had me. Near the end of the film a few of the little ones were running up and down the aisles in the theater, and I wanted to join them. The peril of the bull fight was a bit unnerving for me. The animation was lovely and Ferdinand is a sweet character, but there was no need to drag it out.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

All the Money in the Wiorld

For all the controversy surrounding the film All the Money in the World I was not prepared for the disturbing story that this film is based on. My take away from this film is that J. Paul Getty was a cold hearted bastard. This film was so sad. Michelle Williams gave it her all. I understand the Oscar nomination for Christopher Plummer, but what an awful man he played. This film left me cold.

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Deadpan conversations and a romantic filming style sets an ominous tone in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. When the actual premise kicks in it is disturbing and menacing. This modern horror film is disturbing but creative. Glad I saw it, but this one stayed with me for a while.Pretty creepy.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Paddington 2

I enjoyed the first film about Paddington bear, so when Paddington 2 came out to great reviews, I was in. The story is sweet and concise. There is a bit of adventure, a bit of peril and a lot of love and laughs. This story has a lot of heart and has a great visual aesthetic. Fun film.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Phantom Thread

The ending of Phantom Thread leans toward kink. When the world of a fussy fashion designer is turned upside down by a new lady love, she takes matters into her own hands. Reynolds Woodcock is overbearing and oversensitive, haunted by the only woman he's ever really loved, his Mother. When his new love and muse speaks her mind, he doesn't quite know what to do. She does. And he goes along. People do not treat each other very well in this story, but the coping mechanisms are interesting. Beautifully shot with and outstanding score and sumptuous costumes. Good film.

Mudbound

Post-war struggles and racism haunt the stories in Mudbound. Beautifully shot, Dee Rees brings the stories of poverty and PTSD to life in a powerful film. The family is held in high regard, and dealing with the mental traumas of war and alcoholism with no resources weighs heavy. Good film beautifully shot.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Bound

After watching Bound you will never complain about neighbors again. An ex-con is working renovating an apartment and the next door neighbors end up in trouble with the mob. There is intrigue, lust and lots of blood. The bumbling mobsters are no match for the ex-con and her disgruntled lover. Solid rental.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Loving Vincent

In Loving Vincent, we follow the story of the artist's friends as they cope with losing  him through the eyes of a young admirer. This film is made in a painted style of animation mirroring the style of Van Gough. A lovely film.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Lady Macbeth

The film Lady Macbeth is a dismal tale of lust, anguish and betrayal. Thoughtfully shot, well acted we see a young woman trapped. Her way out is shocking and violent. This film is well done, but the subject matter is disturbing.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Molly's Game

In Molly's Game the rise and fall of Molly Bloom plays out. As a fallen Olympic athlete, she applies her intelligence and drive to running high stakes poker games. She does very well until things get messy. The second half of the film is Molly pulling herself together and figuring out her future. Both stories are rich and satisfying.

The Post

A journalistic adventure reenacts the events around the publishing of the Pentagon Papers in The Post. When word of the Papers gets to the Washington Post there are scrambles to get them, read them, understand them and decide whether to publish them.. The government had been lying to the public about the Vietnam war and the paper is ready to make it all public. The drama revolves around the law and the decision. Good film.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Florida Project

Watching small children left on their own, The Florida Project takes us through their days on summer break. They are poor, and the adults in their lives are constantly striving to find ways to pay the bills. The manager of the motel they live in acts as a gruff uncle, but keeps an eye out for all of them. Subtle and detailed, I liked this film.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The 9th installment of Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a satisfying addition to the franchise. We follow some familiar characters across the galaxy and meet a few new ones. There is humor, adventure, peril, space chases and oh those light saber battles. Carrie Fisher's last appearance is poignant, and her daughter delivers a nice tribute performance to Leia. The music and visuals are thrilling. Well done.

Manifesto

Through a dozen characters and a series of monologues, Manifesto is art commenting on art. Cate Blanchette gives a collection of performances that are powerful and nuanced. Jim Jarmusch adds his gorgeous style throughout the film. An interesting film.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Marshall

The early career of Thurgood Marshall found him working for the NAACP fighting for civil rights. The film Marshall is based on the events of one of these cases. A man wrongfully accused of rape is defended by an assigned lawyer and Mr. Marshall acts as his advisor. The film unfolds like a crime procedural. The ending addresses the accuser's situation, but they leave you hanging on an issue of domestic abuse. I found that a bit unnerving. This is a good rental.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Patti Cake$

An aspiring rapper struggles to realize her dream in Patti Cake$. The tone is set in her entrance to the local pharmacy early in the film. The story is about dreams, survival, confidence and friendship. I liked this film a lot.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

I, Tonya

If the events depicted in I, Tonya are true, Tonya Harding is truly a survivor. The movie begins when Harding is 4 years old and all she wants to do is skate. Her mother bullies her way into a class and the rest is history. According to the film, her mother was brutal to her, yet she put everything she had (which wasn't much) into her daughter's skating career. Harding's tenacity is front and center when it comes to skating. She perseveres through beatings from both her mother and her husband. The bumbling actions around the Kerrigan assault are ridiculous and played for a laugh. I wonder how much of it is true.

Darkest Hour

I took my father to see Dunkirk and he said that he wanted to see the strategies behind the decisions. This made taking him to see Darkest Hour a no-brainer. This film focuses on the short time that Winston Churchill had to make decisions about military strategy against Germany as the new Prime Minister of England. The performances are very good, but politics and war are ugly businesses.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Coco

Pixar is good at tugging our heartstrings and Coco is no exception. Miguel has a passion for music, but his family suffered an emotional loss at the hands of a musician generations ago and refuse to let him follow his dream. On a search for that dream, through his grandfather, he ends up in the Land of the Dead and works to bring closure to his family. The story has a lot of ins and outs and a bit of a morbid tone with story lines of mortality, abandonment and deceit, but the charm of the characters, the music and the animation add levity. I liked this film, but I think a few of the story lines would be too much for little ones.

Friday, January 05, 2018

The Lure

Film critic April Wolf recommended The Lure as one of the most overlooked films of 2017. She described it as a "vampire, mermaid, disco film." I knew I had to see it. Two sisters, who transform to mermaids when they come in contact with water. are discovered by a strip club owner and he adds them to the musical act. They become a sensation and enter relationships with humans. This would be very Beauty and the Beast if they did not eat their paramours. Well filmed and very original. Cool film.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Lucky

Harry Dean Stanton shows his masterful acting in the film Lucky playing a man riding out his life in a small town, with a set routine. As we follow Lucky through his days and interactions, it is Stanton's performance that makes it interesting to watch. A fitting last act for a wonderful actor.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Favorites of 2017

I have finalized my list of favorites from the 2017 film year. This was a year with refreshing, new takes on story telling. Click the titles to see what I thought when I saw it. Here's to the 2018 film year!

Get Out
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO
The Big Sick
Lady Bird
Colossal
Baby Driver
Wonder Woman
Call Me by Your Name
It
mother!

Honorable mentions? Paris Can Wait, Wind River, Battle of the Sexes, Victoria and Abdul, Wonderstruck, The Little Hours, Loving Vincent and Molly's Game.