Saturday, May 11, 2019

Nights and Weekends

The difficulty of long distance relationships is explored in Nights and Weekends to a painful degree. The desperation of a couple living in separate cities is palpable and a bit sad. The more they try to make the relationship work, the less it does. The performances are outstanding, but this is a sad story.

Friday, May 10, 2019

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

I enjoyed The LEGO Movie, so I was hoping that The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part would follow suit. The story takes a darker turn which is OK.I prefer my LEGO characters more upbeat. The older sibling viewing his younger sibling as a threat was honest, but again, pretty dark. This was an OK rental.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

The Woman in Red

There is a strong 80s style in the film The Woman in Red that brings great joy. The story is odd. Teddy's restlessness and awkward demeanor do not seem to deserve the attention he gets. His fantasies are out there. This is well worth seeing for the performance from Gilda Radnor. It's an OK rental.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

My Fair Lady

I've always had trouble getting through the movie version of My Fair Lady even though I know the story and the music well. The misogyny was always too much. I saw the latest Broadway version and learned that they had changed a few small things to make the plot more palatable. I enjoyed the live version I saw, so I decided to give the movie another try. Audrey Hepburn is the biggest reason to see this film. Her performance is outstanding, even though the singing is dubbed (Thank you Marne Nixon). I'm still disgusted by the character of Henry Higgins, but there is a charm to most of the others that won me over. The costumes are amazing as well and I had the pleasure of seeing them live in the Warner Brother's Museum back in October. I'm glad that the Broadway version brought me back to the film. Well done.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Creature from the Black Lagoon

Guillermo del Toro said in an interview, that Creature from the Black Lagoon was inspiration for The Shape of Water so I decided to give it a look. I loved this film. The technology is pretty amazing for the time. The camera work and cinematography are great and the story moves right along and draws you in. So many shots have been recreated in more current films. It was very cool to see the original. I really liked this film.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Destroyer

The story in Destroyer is poorly told. I usually like a film whose time-line jumps around, but this one did not work for me.I felt like I need ed more information sooner to care about the main character. Nicole Kidman turns in great performances, but that story still wasn't very good. An OK rental.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Nureyev

A beautifully structured documentary, Nureyev takes us on the journey of Rudolf Nureyev's life and career. The clips and interviews are edited to tell a story of hard work, drive, perseverance, art and focus. Nureyev is a wonderful dancer and lived an interesting life. Excellent documentary.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Roar

The monumental task of making the film Roar is as compelling as the film itself. The story of a man who lives among lions was filmed with real lions. When his family comes to visit and he's not there, it becomes a bit of a horror film as the family fends off the animals that seem to see them as lunch. The production of this film is fascinating yet rather frighting. What a film.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Obit

The New York Times writers featured in the documentary Obit are masters of the craft of writing. Using journalist skills and techniques akin to detective work they give special attention to detail to tell the stories of the lives of people for their obituaries. In this film crafting an obit is like writing a song. Finding the right notes while being true to the subject...with compassion. This is a well structured documentary with some talented, experienced writers. Well done.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Second Act

The performances in Second Act are worthy of a much better script. The story of a woman getting a job under false pretenses is not new, but this cast is so skilled and sincere, I wish they had had better material to work with. There was so much potential here. An OK rental.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Mirai

 The story in the animated film Mirai begs the question, is it time travel or is it magic? A child copes with life in interesting, creative ways. This is a charming film.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

The Mule

Clint Eastwood brings an innocence to his character in The Mule to excellent effect. He is not a nice man, yet Eastwood's performance begs for sympathy. I have trouble feeling that sympathy, because he treats his wife and family so poorly. This is a good drama, but I had such a dislike for the character I have trouble liking the film.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Bumblebee

I loved the first Transformers movie. In Bumblebee I felt the same vibe. The character development is good, the action is solid, the story is interesting and there is a big old heart. The humor is well placed and executed. This movie was a lot of fun.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Gloria Bell

I so wanted to like Gloria Bell, but I think it hit a little too close to home. A single, middle aged woman looks for happiness and does a good job satisfying that. When she meets a man who seems to be a good fit, he tries to make her responsible for his happiness as well. He hurts her. He's not emotionally fit to be in a relationship. The third act does not make a lot of sense, but there is one very satisfying scene near the end. The performances are very good, this story just wasn't for me.

The Invitation

Grief can have strong consequences. In The Invitation a group of friends gather for what we think is a dinner party. As the conversation and evening evolve, we learn it is much more. The less you know going in, the better. This film is bizarre, creepy and very well done. If you like something different with a twist, this is a good film.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Aquaman

Superheroes go underwater in Aquaman in this Shakespearean-style drama. The best parts of this film are the world building, visual effects, even a sharknado! The worst parts are the battle scenes. There are too many of them and they go on and on.  There is also a constant harping on the fact that Aquaman is a half-blood. Got it the first ten times. This is an OK rental with decent performances.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Instant Family

Foster care and adoption are addressed in the movie Instant Family. It comes off a bit cheesy and cut and dried, but the portrayal does get messy sometimes, and that's where it shines. The young actors that play the kids are very good. This movie has a big heart and good intentions. A decent rental.

Rogers

http://blog.dvd.netflix.com/new-dvd-releases/spotlight-on-fred-rogers-an-american-icon

Monday, March 25, 2019

Operation Finale

War criminals are brought to justice in the film Operation Finale where a group of spies hunts down Adolf Eichmann.The pace of this film is slow, but the story is important. War criminals do not always get what they deserve. Performances are excellent.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Us

The film Us has all the creepy you would want. A parallel universe makes its way into the real world and chaos ensues. This one is a mind-bender and the less you know going in the better...

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Somebody Up There Likes Me

Watching Somebody Up There Likes Me I notice that many boxing films follow the same path. The true story of Rocky Graziano is more interesting than most. The support of his family is very important. The response to the title line "Somebody up there likes me." is "Somebody down here too." Perfect.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Returning to the world of dragons in How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World was such a pleasure. Hiccup is determined to find a place where they can live in peace with all of the dragons. The visuals of the swarms of dragons are amazing. The characters have their quirks and our hero fights valiantly. The villain's transport made me immediately think Dragon Drone. There is action, adventure, humor and heart. All of this is accompanied by a beautiful score. The closing credits have some very entertaining drawings that allude to what is being credited.Wonderful end to this heartfelt trilogy.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Apollo 11

I was 12 when the US put a man on the moon...and brought him back. I remember being so worried about the astronauts. In the documentary Apollo 11 all of the footage is authentic, much is from the spacecraft itself. In ways that is comforting. In ways that is terrifying. Going behid the scenes with NASA is amazing. At the end of this film I felt like I had been to the moon and back. This is a dynamic documentary.

Withnail & I

I tried to watch Withnail & I years ago and it was too much of a chore. I gave up. Being charmed by Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me? this year I decided to give it another look. This film is a delightful road trip with 2 friends. One wackier than the other. It is fun and philosophical. I really enjoyed it.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

I have heard many claims that The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a classic. In the opening scenes the color and music made me realize that I was watching something special. This is a classic love story. A young couple falls in love, but he must go off to war for 2 years. Things happen in those 2 years and the lovers must deal. The entire film is sung and the music was familiar to me. I think when the film came out the tunes must have been on the radio,. The performances are excellent, the set design and costumes great and the story sincere. It is worth spending the time and attention with this film. Well done. A true classic.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Captain Marvel

I enjoyed Captain Marvel more than expected. Knowing nothing of Captain Marvel this origin story movie was perfect for me.We also get some back story on Nick Fury. The action is good, the characters bizarre and the humor throughout is well used. The homage to Stan Lee in the opening was great. Stay through all the credits, there are 2 scenes worth seeing. This movie sets up Avengers: End Game well. Good addition to the Marvel universe.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Creed II

I so enjoyed Creed that I was looking forward to Creed II. Unfortunately, this chapter is a collection of boxing movie cliches. The performances are still good, but the actors are given very little to work with. This is an OK rental.

The Green Book: Guide to Freedom

I was happy to learn of the documentary The Green Book: Guide to Freedom because I am pretty disappointed by the popular film Green Book. This documentary chronicles use of the travel guide travel for African Americans from the 30s through the 60s through interviews and vintage footage. Very well done. A nice pallet cleanser for me.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Vox Lux

The film Vox Lux follows the rise of a young pop-star. There are unusual circumstances and she's got a rough edge...and a child. The style of this film is very disjointed and abstract. The camera work and acting are OK, but this was a miss with me.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Paddleton

In the film Paddleton a man finds out that he has terminal cancer. He decides not to wait for the disease to do him in and takes matters into his own hands. The story is about him taking a friend along for moral support. The friend wants to be supportive because of their friendship, but he is saddened and conflicted about the goal. This is a good road-trip-buddy film with a very somber theme.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

The Catcher Was a Spy

The story behind The Catcher Was a Spy is interesting. A professional baseball player becomes a spy for the government. The problem? This film jumps from spy work, to personal issues, to baseball anecdotes. This film had trouble holding my interest. It was an OK rental.

Suspria

In Suspria it first seems political. I thought the power dynamic being established was based in the world of dance. It then became apparent that there was a supernatural element that takes the scenes off the rails. The performances in this film are outstanding. It is also stunning to look at at times. The dance sequences are well filmed. A crazy ride, though much too long. I'll bet this looked great in the theater. A decent rental.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Columbus

The film Columbus is pretty slow. Two people are trying to make life decisions and a lot of the scenes are nice shots of the character thinking. This is a thoughtful film. If you are looking for action rent something else.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Support the Girls

A tough day at work is depicted in Support the Girls as a restaurant manager deals with customers, employees, management and her family. This character shines as a strong person who does not give up, even when things keep going against her. A testimonial to strong women. Good movie.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Minding the Gap

I thought Minding the Gap would be about skaters, but for me it was about domestic abuse. The up-close interviews of a group of friends shows all of the problems in their homes and relationships. It is intimate and uncomfortable. Interesting documentary.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Of Fathers and Sons

Life in Syria is portrayed in Of Fathers and Sons in a first person documentary about men and their relationships with their sons. It is harsh, brutal and eye-opening. Looking behind the curtain in militant countries is a bit jarring, but interesting.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

While I Yet Live

Five friends talk about why they quilt in While I Yet Live. The quilters in this film speak of camaraderie, family and friendship. So many aspects of quilting can be therapeutic and they embrace it. The quilts are gorgeous. A lovely short film.

Hale County, This Morning, This Evening

The documentary Hale County, This Morning, This Evening follows the people of Hale County in clips. It is like a poetic portrait. Quiet film.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

White Boy Rick

Trying to navigate the world of guns and drugs, in White Boy Rick  a young man trusts the wrong people. When the FBI approaches him with a deal things do not go well. Interesting that this is based on a true story. The dramatization is very well done.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Front Runner

Gary Hart was a naive candidate for president. In The Front Runner we see him get caught at indiscretions with women other than his wife. In the age of cameras everywhere, it is amazing how clueless this guy was about his activities. An OK rental.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

At Eternity's Gate

I enjoy the works of Van Gogh, so the film At Eternity's Gate was a pleasure. While in France, his technique progresses as he struggles with life. The way this is filmed, it sometimes looks like a Van Gough painting. Lovely film.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Capernaum

Nominated for an Oscar, the film Capernaum is a heartbreaking story. A young boy in a very large family in Lebanon is disgusted with his parents and their disregard for the well-being of their children. The examples of poor parenting are many and he ultimately runs away. When taken in by a kind woman he becomes the unwitting caretaker of her baby when she disappears. The scenes with the boy and baby are riveting and scary. This film is tough to watch, but a testimony to the heart of the young boy under horrible circumstances. Excellent film.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

The Sisters Brothers

Following The Sisters Brothers through the wild west in search of gold is quite a ride! The chase is on in the wilds of the old west for riches. Some situations are funny, some are harrowing. This was a good rental.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Love, Gilda

The life of Gilda Radner is told by the woman herself in Love, Gilda. Her words are presented from journals and clips. Her joy is infectious, exuberant and focused. This film is a a beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul. Great documentary.

Guest

http://blog.dvd.netflix.com/new-dvd-releases/spotlight-on-christopher-guest

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

The Guilty

In The Guilty an emergency dispatcher works with callers in a situation that is not always what is seems. This is a thriller with only one character on screen for the majority of the film. The story is told through a series of phone calls. It is mesmerizing. Excellent film.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Stan & Ollie

Stan Laurel and Oliver Harding are a legendary comedy duo. In the film Stan & Ollie Steve Coogan and John C. Reily bring these men back to life. The film follows their live tour at the end of their film career. Their relationship is strained, but their affection for each other is obvious. The struggle of art vs business is front and center. The performances are outstanding, especially the depictions of their wives. Good film.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Free Solo

I had avoided seeing the documentary Free Solo because the subject scared the crap out of me. Alex Honnold's love of climbing rock faces with no ropes or safety equipment is terrifying to me. When the film was nominated for an Oscar, the only theater it was showing in near me was IMAX. I went. I am so glad I did. First of all, it is a beautiful film. Second, Honnold is open, smart, multi faceted and enthusiastic about life. This made me feel like he wasn't reckless, he was adventurous. He has made a living at rock climbing. That's impressive. A wonderful example of the human spirit. I loved this film. Well worth seeing.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict

I first became aware of Peggy Guggenhiem as an art aficionado in the film Pollock. She commissioned the artist to paint a mural for her and the piece spoke to me. In the documentary Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict I learn more about her art acquisitions and influence on the art world. A fascinating person, this film is charming, lovely and full of great art. Good rental.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Baskin

The crazy horror film Baskin was recommended on the podcast Who Shot Ya? The story goes down a rabbit hole filled with demons and disgusting acts of depravity. It goes around a corner and down a road in a wild, weird way. Good horror film.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Christopher Robin

I rented Christopher Robin because it was nominated for an Oscar for visual effects. As much as I love the Winnie the Pooh characters and stories, exploring a grownup Christopher Robin is boring. I really did not care about his dour outlook on life. The visual effects are good, but I could not get into the story. An OK rental.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Cold War

A fated love story lies at the center of the film Cold War as two people fall in and out of each others lives over a period of years. They are not good for each other, but their chemistry makes the attraction irresistible. A tragic love story. The period is depicted well and the cinematography is excellent. Good film.

Ready Player One

I rented Ready Player One because it is nominated for an Oscar for visual effects. I was skeptical about this film, but it was much better than I expected. It is set in the world of video games, so that loses me from the beginning, but characters are presented well and the visual effects are pretty awesome. I'm sure people half my age would enjoy this film more than me, and I thought it was OK.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Shoplifters

The theme of family is strong in the Japanese film Shoplifters. Not only does a family with limited resources stay together as best they can, they also take in strays. The concept of chosen family is heartwarming. They get creative when it comes to acquiring life's essentials. In desperation, they commit acts that are not legal in the interest of survival. In the end, it is about family and noodles. Food is prevalent in this film. I went to a noodle restaurant the day after to satisfy the craving the film created. Good film.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Old Man & the Gun

In The Old Man & the Gun we meet a serial criminal. He can't seem to help himself from committing robbery. Even a jail sentence does not avert him from his life of crime. After a while I started to think he's just an asshole, especially when he involves others in his activities. A very unlikable character to me, who is presented as charming. I did not find him charming at all. This is a decent rental as it is amazing what this guy got away with.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Bookshop

In The Bookshop a town looks down its nose at the local bookstore. There are struggles and alliances. The performances are excellent, the characters endearing and the love of books defended. Good film.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Madeline's Madeline

Acting takes an extreme turn in Madeline's Madeline as an actress embodies her character on and off the stage. A strange story about a strange actor going to a strange place. Worth renting if you like stories about artistic process.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Desk Set

"Be on time. Do your work. Be down at the bar at 5:30." This is the work ethic proclaimed by the boss in Desk Set. As the staff struggles to accept new technology that can replace them, we are treated to clever turns at humor. The love story plays out in a very satisfying way as well. This is a great film to watch at the holidays. A true classic.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

On the Basis of Sex

After loving the documentary RBG, seeing the film On the Basis of Sex was a no-brainer. The film is very specific to Ruth Bader Ginsberg's first discrimination case. She is portrayed as smart, assured and relentless. I would recommend seeing the documentary first.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

What They Had

The heartbreak of dementia is explored in the film What They Had. As the Alzheimer patient moves through her struggles, the family has theirs as well. It plays out with honesty and compassion. This film hit close to home and is very well done.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Monsters and Men

The film title Monsters and Men refers to the police in  a racially charged environment. The treatment of young African American men is atrocious. This is an important film.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Mid 90s

Coming of age in the film Mid 90s is painful physically and emotionally. A young boy struggles to be heard in his family as well as at school. He struggles to find friends and to relate to those friends in skater culture. The performances of the young actors in this film are excellent. Well done.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

They'll Love Me When I'm Dead

The documentary They'll Love Me When I'm Dead chronicles the film career of Orson Wells. His struggles and triumphs throughout his film making career are chronicled in clips and narration. Good documentary.

Roma

A family and their domestics in Mexico share the screen in the film Roma. There is a distance in the relationships until survival kicks in. Though shot in black and white, this film is warm and full of depth and emotion. There are characters in conflict. There are characters in love. This is a beautiful film with a lot to say. Well done.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Bird Box

When a mysterious force drives people to suicide in the film Bird Box we see survival techniques in overdrive. The back and forth in the time-line establishes tensions and dread. The solution? Blindfolds. I get it, though it's a bit melodramatic. This film is a good addition to the future-alien-apocalypse genre (is that a genre?) Since it's streaming on Netflix I'm sure I'll watch it again.

Friday, January 04, 2019

A Wedding

The bizarre nature of family and ceremony is explored in A Wedding to a comic degree. Though the situations are exaggerated for comedic effect, you could see a lot of these things happening at a wedding. Maybe just not all of them at one wedding. Very funny film that is worth renting.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

The Finish tale Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale of the whereabouts and movements of Santa Claus is interesting. The discovery of a community of Santas along with an edgy twist is entertaining and satisfying. And oh those elves! I'm adding this one to my list of Christmas favorites. I really liked this film.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Mary Queen of Scots

Costumes for Mary Queen of Scots were on display at The Angelika Film Center in NYC when I was there on Christmas Eve. This whetted my appetite for this period film about the rivalry between Mary Queen of Scots and her cousin Elizabeth. All of the costumes in this film are sumptuous. Makeup and hair are well done also. In travel scenes, the horses set a rhythm for the action. It almost feels choreographed. The power struggle between men and women is explored as well. At one point one of the men exclaims, "I am more than a sire to a mare." Dramatic and heartfelt, I liked this film a lot.