Sunday, February 09, 2020

Birds of Prey: The Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn

After watching quite a few serious films in preparation for the 2020 Academy Awards I happily sat down to Birds of Prey: and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn for a bit of relief. Harley Quinn has broken up with The Joker and she's a mess. A mess with a charming grin and a mischievous tilt toward revenge. The characters in this film are badass, the action is amazing and the humor downright clever. The fight scenes are beautiful, powerful and skillfully executed. This movie was just what I needed. Well done.

Friday, February 07, 2020

The Cave

The documentary about an underground hospital in Syria is rightful titled The Cave. Heartbreaking accounts of injuries from bombings and chemical attacks are graphic and brutal. The dedication the doctors and health care professionals show is astounding and inspiring.

Monday, February 03, 2020

For Sama

The documentary For Sama was made from of footage shot by her mother for posterity. When she collaborates with a documentarian to put the story together, we get an intimate, passionate story of a family in Aleppo. There is destruction everywhere and the footage is truly shocking. This film was put together with brutal honesty and a lot of love. Quite eye-opening.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

The Edge of Democracy

The trials and tribulation of the difficult politics in Brazil are spotlighted in the documentary The Edge of Democracy. Corruption and tension abound as the presidents move in and out of the office. There is chaos, demonstrations and tension throughout. An unsettling documentary.

Honeyland

Honeyland is a vivid documentary about life, survival, nature, kindness and beekeeping. The results of care are rewarded, the results of neglect gets its due. This documentary is beautifully filmed and almost hypnotic, as we follow the beekeeper through her days. What a wonderful film.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Miller's Crossing

As old fashioned crime stories go, Miller's Crossing is one of the best. A clash between mobsters brings betrayal and violence. The action is played out with a lot of style and great hats. This is a classic gangster movie that I like.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Crawl

In the midst of a category 5 hurricane, in the movie Crawl, a young girl tries to find her father. As the water rises, it becomes apparent that the real threat are giant alligators. This story is so cheesy and far fetched, but interestingly works on a certain level. This is an OK monster / disaster movie.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Pain and Glory

The film Pain and Glory explores relationships, career, aging, art and love. When an older actor contemplates his life and accomplishments we experience a very personal film. Gently moving back and forth from the past to the present, we come to understand his head, his heart and his body. The structure works well. This film is beautifully shot with some very creative choices. The performances are excellent. I really liked this film.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

The story of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is dark and intense. Themes of family, betrayal, hope and love make this a wild ride. There are battle sequences that are not for the kiddos. They are very violent and scary. In the midst of it all, the makeup and hair is off the rails. This movie was better than I expected, but not great and very menacing for a Disney story.

American Factory

A clash of cultures is examined in the documentary American Factory. A Chinese glass company buys a shut-down American auto factory and deals with their past workforce as their US staff. The differences in work ethic and labor structure is interesting.This is an interesting documentary.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

They Shall Not Grow Old

Footage from World War I is restored for They Shall Not Grow Old to tell the stories of the brave soldiers in that war. Peter Jackson implements some awesome technology and research to bring this film to life. The "making of" extras on the DVD are well worth watching. Most poignant quote? "Everything should be done to avoid war." Excellent documentary.

Les Miserables

In Les Miserables, the unrest in an urban neighborhood in France pits the police against the residents. It is intense, thrilling and thoughtful. Police and punks clash in dramatic ways. Good film.

Yesterday

In a cataclysmic event the work of The Beatles is erased from the world. Only one man knows of these works. In the movie Yesterday, this young musician plays Beatles music and people think he is a genius. He struggles with taking credit or telling the truth. The story is a bit unsettling, but I liked the resolution and it was wonderful to sit with Beatles music for 2 hours. Beautifully filmed. 

Friday, January 24, 2020

Breakthrough

The elements of heroism, faith and dedication lead to the miraculous story told in Breakthrough. A boy survives falling through the ice and is brought back from being unresponsive. If this story were not true I don't know if I would have believed it. His Mother is an especially strong influence in his recovery. Crissy Metz plays the Mother and is the heart of the film. This is a good rental.

I Lost My Body

The creativity and heart of I Lost My Body is at a high level in this animated film. The story is harrowing, sweet and a little creepy. I really like this Oscar nominated film. Well done.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Joker

The latest version of the Joker story left me with a lot of questions. Though Joaquin Phoenix's performance and the music are dramatic and committed, I felt that the scenes were disjointed and made little sense. This was a miss for me.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Richard Jewell

The story of the bombing at the Atlanta Olympics is told from an interesting perpective in Richard Jewell. This story is very unsettling in so many ways. Dramatic representation of a man wrongly accused. I found it very disturbing.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Missing Link

In my quest to see all of the Oscar nominated films this year, I watched the animated film Missing Link. Acceptance and adventure are central in this delightful film. Laika does some of its finest work here. Worth a watch with or without kids.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Blue Hawaii

Elvis Presley enjoyed success in film in his early career. The film Blue Hawaii is entertaining, Presley plays a soldier returning home to Hawaii and trying to find work in the civilian world.When he finds his niche good things happen. The film looks good and has a sincere tone. I also learned that my favorite Elvis song, Can't Help Falling in Love, is from this film. I liked this movie a lot.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Butterfield 8

A young Elizabeth Taylor won the Oscar for her performance in Butterfield 8 in 1961. She plays a single woman dealing with limited options for employment. She struggles with making tough decisions. This film is well written, performed and filmed. The costumes are great too. The ending was surprising to me. A classic.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Klaus

Klaus is a delightful animated story about a postman who needs letters. His determination changes his world, creates friendships and changes attitudes of  the people. He is especially influential with a cranky old toy-maker who finds a new path. I really enjoyed this holiday movie.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Two Popes

In The Two Popes we experience a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. The two men spent time together before Benedict retired and the story is an interesting walk-and-talk. This film portrays their personalities on a very human, down to earth level. It is especially fun to watch Francis' love of soccer. Nice film.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

1917

World War I is the setting for the movie 1917 which is a very simple story. Get the information to the front lines in time to save the troops. Two soldiers set off on this quest and experience the many horrors of war in a very short span of time. The one-take in the filming of this story got a lot of attention in their marketing, but I thought the story and the action were compelling as well. This is a graphic war story well told.

The Fisher King

In a quest to ease his guilt, in The Fisher King a popular radio DJ leaves his job to help a man he feels he influenced badly. A deep dive into relationships and decision-making are the basics of a beautiful story. The performances from Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams are outstanding. This is a wonderful film.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Black Christmas (1974)

Waiting for the latest interpretation of Black Christmas, I decided to watch the original from 1974. This college girl stalker film is a horror classic set during the Christmas holiday break at a small college. Very well done for one of the earliest of the slasher film genre. The most impressive part of this film to me was the point of view. The performances from some very young actresses who would go on the big careers are excellent. This film is worth a look.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Aladdin (1992)

After seeing the live action version of Disney's Aladdin I had to go back to the animated Aladdin to get my joy back. I remember seeing this movie for the first time in a packed theater from the second row. Along with many other families, we reveled in the animation, the music, the story and the laughs. 28 years later it still holds up, and I was able to enjoy this experience from my couch. This is such a fun film.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Bombshell

Sexual harassment in the world of television news is specifically explored at Fox News in the movie Bombshell. Though I am not up for glamorizing any aspect of Fox News, it was worth watching for the performances. This is such a disturbing story about disturbing people.

American Woman

In American Women we go inside a family crisis in a tough world. A woman disappears and her family must step up to take care of her child. They have limited resources, but a strong, surprising love fuels their actions. This is a heavy drama with good performances and a big heart. Not all rainbows and sunshine, but realistic to the situations. This is an interesting film.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Ford v Ferrari

I love the world of race cars, and the film Ford v Ferrari takes us inside that world. Specifically, Le Mans in 1966, when the Ford Motor Company challenged the ever-dominant Ferrari. They hired engineer/designer Carroll Shelby to topple the champion. As interesting as I found the story, the sound design is the true shining star of this film. All of the driving sequences are thrilling. The relationships are also portrayed very well, not only between the characters, but also with the joy of driving and corporate meddling. With outstanding performances and an excellent portrayal of the period, I enjoyed this film a lot.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

David Crosby: Remember My Name

In the documentary David Crosby: Remember My Name David Crosby tries to come across as a musical genius, and he is, but there is such arrogance in his delivery. In the skillful hands of Cameron Crowe, this film chronicles the rise of Crosby's creative career and his personal relationships along the way. Some more successful than others. I've always loved this music, but I don't need to know any more about him personally. Crosby is not a person I would enjoy spending time with. This is an interesting film about an important part of music history.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Little Women (2019)

The structure of the film Little Women gives new life to a classic story. I read and re-read the book Little Woman as a child, but it has been a long time since then. This film was like a reunion with old friends. This interpretation is skillful and beautiful, full of excellent performances and some creative editing, that made the story feel new.This is a lovely film. Well done.

Frozen II

Following the phenomenon of Frozen, Frozen II is a worthy sequel. Though it is not enjoying the epic popularity of the original, I liked the adventure we went on with the beloved characters, and a few new ones. The animation is gorgeous. I was happy to see this in a theater with some very enthusiastic, vocal young film lovers. Good movie.