Saturday, May 30, 2020

Boy

Poor parenting lies at the heart of Boy where a young family lacks a father. When he shows up, his effect is not good. He is using his son to find ill-gotten treasure. Though the father is presented in a whimsical light, the darkness of his motives are quite clear. The boy is so desperate for his Father's approval, he'll do anything. Sad story. Wonderful performances. There is a dance number at the end that is worth watching.

The Last Word

What would it be like to choose the person who writes your obituary? In The Last Word we find out when a wealthy woman, who is not very well liked, starts to worry about what her legacy will be. She approaches a writer at her local paper to write her obituary and goes down a road of self-examination that leads to showing her true heart. There was a lot more to this story than I expected. A solid rental.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas

Hannah Gadsby took the world by storm with her first stand up special. In her new special titled Douglas we go for a comedy ride that is no nonsense, smart and brave. She has a wry way of responding to the world that I really enjoy. Loved this special and look forward to more from this thoughtful person.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Lost Girls

A family's anguish in Lost Girls is raw and heartbreaking. A mother searches for her daughter, who she is sure has met and unfortunate demise. The police are little help and the victim shaming gets in the way of progress. All of the characters are flawed, but the Mother persists no matter what. This is based on a true story and the outcome is not a happy one. Somber film with excellent performances. 

The Red Shoes (1948)

The drama of the world of ballet is at the center of The Red Shoes. A young ballerina rises to stardom and falls in love. The complexities of mixing her personal life with her professional ambitions is a classic tale. This is a very pretty film. The performance at the center is dreamy and elegant. I liked this film a lot.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Million Dollar Mermaid

The film Million Dollar Mermaid is the biopic of Annette Kellerman. A passionate swimmer, she found a way to monetize her talent in the entertainment world. This film is beautifully shot, the costumes are great and the performances are top-notch. Interesting to see the evolution of entertainment. Good film.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Third Man

I have had The Third Man recommended to me many times. This masterful mystery is full of drama, door work, log shots and intrigue. The cinematography is intricate, working shadows for every ounce of drama. I'm glad I finally saw this film and look forward to watching it again.

Janie Jones

I first saw Janie Jones at Tribeca Film Festival. On a rewatch I am reminded of the dramatic family circumstances with an underlying sweetness. There is trauma, struggle, rejection, growth, maturity and music. This film holds up. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Mikey and Nicky

In a disturbing way, Mikey and Nicky is a buddy film where the buddies are at odds. They are childhood friends, but staying one step ahead of a hit-man adds stress to an already tense relationship. This crime thriller is well written with excellent performances. Lots of drama. Good rental.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Sullivan's Travels

A Hollywood director has an idea for a research project and Sullivan's Travels begin. The film has some great Hollywood scenes. They depict the nightmare movie theater experience and the ideal movie theater experience. It's a great contrast. When Sullivan gets where he wants, things turn ugly and the drama turns dark. This is an excellent film I really enjoyed.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Photograph

Romance is alive and well in The Photograph, when 2 people meet because of a photograph and a reporter's story. Sexual chemistry and investigating the photograph become an equation for love. Life decisions come down to a realization that, "we need to make our own things without asking permission." There is substance to all of their actions. I liked this film a lot.

Strangers on the Train

Two Strangers on the Train meet and a thriller quickly develops.The two men share relationship details and one takes things a bit too far. Bourbon fuels his actions, I have never heard the euphemism, "boiled" for inebriation. Hitchcock guides the twists and turns in this excellent thriller. Glad that I finally saw this classic.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Top Hat

The theme of mistaken identity is played for comedy in Top Hat when a dancer notices a woman and observes, that "her niceties are very nice." The observations and relationships in the film would not fly today so it is a bit of a time capsule. Rogers & Astaire are magical when they dance together. The grace combined with athleticism is a joy. Now I know where the song Cheek to Cheek is from. Astaire's tap dancing is mind boggling. what a talent! I liked this classic.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Night of the Hunter

Beautifully shot, The Night of the Hunter is a solid thriller. Set in the depression, an evil preacher chases two children for money their Daddy stole and hid, swearing them to secrecy. The preacher is vile, the children are clever, and the cinematography is stunning. The writing has it's own lilt, and words are used in a poetic fashion. Children singing "Hing, Hang, Hung" is a bit jarring, but the pronouncement that "children are man at their strongest. They abide and they endure" is powerful. I really enjoyed this film, it was a solid rental and I'll bet it would be impressive on the big screen.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Becoming

The documentary Becoming follows Michelle Obama on the book tour for her memoir, Becoming. The doc also tells of her life story and time in the White House. At this time, watching the large events for her tour, the phrase "the power of gathering" was rather poignant.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill

Jerry Seinfeld's latest standup Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill is the legendary comedian more comfortable on stage than I've ever seen him. The material follows his traditional style, but his performance is relaxed, and makes a lot of sense when he does a bit about how he feels about his age. His ease and manner onstage come across well, and The Beacon Theater looks great. I liked this special a lot.

Heathers

Almost every talk around high school movies references Heathers. The story of clicks and bullying is not new, but where they take it is rather shocking. The dark tone is an interesting take, and I can see why this film is held in such high regard. As disturbing as the story is, the writing and performances make this more watchable than I would expect. What a rental.

Gypsy (1962)

My new love for Rosalind Russell had me renting the 1962 version of Gypsy.I have seen this story in several community theater versions and the 1993 version played over and over in our house back in the day. This version has the pizazz of old vaudeville, along with performances that flesh out the characters well. Russell plays the brash, lovable personality of Rose with a flair, while Natalie Wood's subtle vulnerability as Louise is masterful. I liked this version a lot.

Friday, May 08, 2020

M*A*S*H

The film M*A*S*H was a cultural phenomenon when I was a teenager. On the news, we were watching scenes from the conflict in Vietnam, and to see this story set in Korea hit pretty close to home. That it was dealt with with humor and irreverence struck a nerve with some, but for most it was much needed. The writing, performances and direction are outstanding. The Last Supper tableau for Walt is visually effective. Altman is a master. This is an excellent rental, the film really holds up.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Drop Dead Gorgeous (2010)

I was a bit taken aback by the premise of Drop Dead Gorgeous. This mockumentary within the world of high fashion takes a very dark turn early on and I'll say that I found it more disturbing than funny.This film was recommended to me because I like mockumentaries, but this was not for me.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Sweet Charity

The first time I can remember my parents going to the movies was when they went to see Sweet Charity with their friends in the theater. They talked about it for weeks after. I was 12. They bought the soundtrack album and I knew all the songs, and I have seen clips of the dance number over the years, but had never seen the film in its entirety. Today I fixed that. The story, the music, the choreography, such a fun film. I really liked the Laugh-In references, Fickle Finger of Fate and Sock it to me. The sign of the time Rythm of Life Church played well portraying the era, Big Daddy is the jam. His take on the Ten Commandments are so great. Church of the Month Club served Oscar well. The sass and determination in Charity and her friends is admirable, and lyrics like "get up get out and do it" are empowering. Smatter in a few declarations of  "up yours" and we know exactly how they feel. I'm glad I saw this on DVD because there is an alternate ending in the extras, which I preferred.This is a wonderful movie, and I did go back and watch all of the dance numbers before I returned the disc. Great rental.

A Star Is Born (1937)

The original version of A Star Is Born is interesting to watch after seeing the other 3 versions. Again, the story of a young actress' rise to stardom and her successful actor husband self-destructing, is a dramatic story. This version features performances that paint the characters a little more sympathetic. Janet Gaynor's performance takes her character from wide-eyed innocence, pronouncing "I'm gonna be somebody," to down to earth practicality in the wake of stardom. I liked it when Norman says to her, "a star is born," at the premiere of The Enchanted Hour. And when he asks her to marry him the first time she says "No thank-you." An interesting visual is the hand-prints on Hollywood Boulevard bookend the film. This was a fun journey, all 4 versions are worth watching.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

His Girl Friday

The film His Girl Friday has been on my must-see list for a while. After seeing Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame, I moved this one to the top of my queue. What a film! The rapid-fire dialogue keeps up through the whole story. The scenes with telephone dialogue are especially impressive. It stars out as a bit of a love story and turns into a crime thriller. The pace of this film is quick, but not so much that you get lost. This is a great rental.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

I have been listening to a podcast where 2 people who have never seen the Star Wars movies watch them in chronological order and discus each one with a guest who is a fan. I saw all of these films in the theater and have had a 43 year relationship with these movies, so listening to people who have not lived with these stories forever was highly entertaining. They actually became quite knowledgeable very quickly. This inspired me to really think about what movie in the saga was my favorite. I had recently watched A New Hope and being the first I saw will probably have a special place in my heart. But listening to them talk about Return of the Jedi, I was reminded of how entertaining it was, so I gave it a re-watch. It did not disappoint. There is nostalgia, action, battles and heart. Those crazy ewoks get me every time. This movie is worth watching just for the chase scenes. Great rental.

A Star Is Born (1954)

The movie A Star Is Born was remade 4 times to date. In the second version, the actress' success puts her husband in the shadows. He does not deal with it well. The musical numbers are show-stopping as Judy Garland just shines. A classic worth seeing.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Prizzi's Honor

When two assassins fall in love the work gets tricky. In Prizzi's Honor it is all about the money, the mob, the job and love. Unconventional turns are many and near the end you realize that not all things are as they seem. John Huston shoots a heck of a film, This one's a classic.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Arthur

The story of a spoiled rich man is entertaining and heartwarming. Arthur shines a light on the absurd excess of wealth, yet ultimately finds his heart. He does frivolous things with money, but very thoughtful things with his actions. It is lovely to watch a young Liza Minelli and Dudley Moore, they have great chemistry. The dialogue John Gielgud delivers is delicious. It is also fun to watch these characters figuring things out on the streets of NYC. This is a movie that really holds up.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Crip Camp

The history of activism for the handicapped has a long history. In the documentary Crip Camp a wealth of archival film takes us through that history and the connection to Camp Jened, a camp for handicapped teens. The emotional aspects of the campers' disabilities, combined with their age is addressed respectfully and honestly with love and humor. We then watch these teens grow into adults who take their rights and advocacy to a very impressive place. This is an excellent film about an important topic.

Friday, April 17, 2020

The Devil Wears Prada

I met Meryl Streep in the summer of 2000. It had been a while since I had seen her in anything in the theater and, until she introduced herself I was not 100% sure it was her. I always say it was her pre-Devil Wears Prada years. After Adaptation and The Hours, this film seemed to propel her into the pop-culture lexicon. Playing the head of a fashion magazine in New York City, her interpretation of Miranda Priestly is brutal, yet ultimately vulnerable. Her relationships with her staff, her competitors and herself are complicated. As her assistant, I especially liked Stanley Tucci's character describing himself as, "a young boy growing up in Rhode Island with six brothers." As a Rhode Islander myself, I got it. I was happy to revisit this movie and yes, I cried in the same place I did when I first saw it. Good rental.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice

The music in Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice was on constant play on the radio and on my stereo in my high school and college years. Going behind the scenes in this documentary with archival footage and interviews gives wonderful insight to her art and career. What a voice. What a heart. This is a great rental.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Horse Girl

In Horse Girl a young woman with mental challenges struggles with reality. In a nuanced performance, Alison Bree takes us in and out of her world. This is a quiet psychological drama with a sad undertone. A decent rental.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Heaven Can Wait

A young quarterback for the LA Rams is working hard to stay fit and be the best professional athlete he can be. In Heaven Can Wait, things do not go quite as he planned. An unfortunate accident starts a string of events that take us to the afterlife...sort of. There are rules that must be followed, and negotiations take place. The bridge between earth and heaven can be a tricky one. The plot is very clever and leans heavily on the themes of loyalty and fairness. A tenor sax even has a key role. I originally saw this film over 40 years ago and it still holds up. Excellent rental.

Desperately Seeking Susan

In Desperately Seeking Susan we meet a married woman who reads the personals in the newspaper like you would follow a soap opera. This was the original social media, and she wonders about the people looking for love, or just a specific person...like Susan. When she actually inserts herself into one of the stories things go off the rails. The movie turns into a crime mystery - buddy story. There is stolen property, there is mistaken identity, there is love. There are a lot of pop-culture references. Cheez Doodles, Wonder Woman, a specific jacket, vanity plates and a cameo of a famous set of triplets set the time firmly in the 80s. This is a fun film that was much more than I expected. Well done.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Sweet Smell of Success

The power of the press is a weapon in the film Sweet Smell of Success. The gossip papers could make or break a career and the power of the PR machine is used like a choke-hold. The dialog is very sassy and brash. A wife calls her husband Hitler when he tries to tell her what to do. In another scene a man tells his female assistant to "start thinking with your head instead of your hips." Yikes. As the story progresses and pot-shots are taken the most striking line is, "You have the scruples of a guinea pig and the morals of a gangster." What?!? This is a film about control and getting ahead. Writing and performances are top notch. Great rental.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Wings (1927)

The film Wings from 1927 has the distinction of being the first film to win the Oscar for Best Picture.The story of WWI fighter pilots as heroes and humans is so well done. Stunning camerawork and a gorgeous soundtrack support the drama well. I realized that silent films do a great job of conveying the story with the performances. There are not a lot of dialogue cards in this film. The technical achievements are impressive. The human stories are also well told and quite sweet. The Shooting Star becomes Grandeur in the Sky...as it should. I really liked this film.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Thief

I saw the film Thief in the theater when it came out and was reminded of how good it was in an interview with James Caan. On a re-watch I was treated to a gangster story that was dark, gritty and dramatic. Caan's character is a safe-cracker trying to quit the game and the Mafia is not going to make it easy for him. There's a line where a guy calls Caan's character sonny, which struck me funny because that was the name of his character in The Godfather films. I wondered if it was intentional or just a turn of phrase. I liked the way this film was shot. This is a good rental.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Auntie Mame

There is a joy in a film like Auntie Mame that exudes from the actor. I had the feeling that everyone in this cast was happy to be on that set and was having a great time. A young man goes to live with his flamboyant Auntie Mame and we go for the ride of his life. We understand her on their first meeting when she says, "Let's sit down for one minute and really get to know each other." She wears beautiful clothes and always a lovely bracelet. At the end of each scene there is an interesting thing they do with the lighting on Mame before the camera cuts. It gives her a very dramatic air. The dialogue is clever and words like twaddle and nincompoopery find their way into the conversations to great effect. The sets really work as well. The furniture in the NYC apartment portray the style of the time perfectly. Mame has a real zest for life, in her words, "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." This film is a delight.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Wait Until Dark

I remember seeing Wait Until Dark on the midnight movies on TV back in my teen babysitting days. Sitting alone in a dark house, with sleeping children, I found this story of home invasion to be pretty scary. Watching this film as an adult, I appreciate the story of crime, manipulation, strength and cunning. There is a lot going on and the fact that the perceived victim is blind makes for great drama. I'm glad I re-visited this classic.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Fresh Dressed

I love documentaries about fashion. In the film Fresh Dressed I got a wonderful education on the history of hip-hop fashion. I had no idea that the looks and the style was such a big part of the culture.This is a fun, well done doc I appreciaated. My favorite quotes?
"Fashion is about authentic expression."  ~ Damon Dash
"To be fresh is to be recognized." ~ Pusha T

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Birdcage

My affection for Robin Williams' film work is well known. In The Birdcage he portrays a nightclub owner whose son wants his fiance to meet his family. There are things about his family the young man would like to keep under wraps. His fiance's family has their own issues and it lends itself to a series of funny circumstances. There is a man on the run and mistaken identity are both played well for comedy. There is also a very sweet emotional underlying tone. It's a crazy ride with outstanding performances all around. This film really holds up.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

A Quiet Passion

The life and works of Emily Dickinson are explored in A Quiet Passion. Her life, work and tenacity are portrayed nicely. My favorite quote in the film is, "I hope you live for 100 years." with a response of, "What a repellent idea." I agree. If you like literary history this is a good rental.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

I don't know why I had never seen the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I was certainly aware of it, and had seen bits and pieces of it on TV, but never sat down to watch the whole thing. When I learned that Diane Ladd was in this my curiosity was peaked enough to rent it. What a gem! This movie moves along a a good clip, the story is everyone's worst nightmare and Chevy Chase delivers a complicated line like no other. The Star Spangled Banner and Pledge of Allegiance have all new meaning for me, I may giggle the next time someone says grace before dinner. I have never seen a swat team in a Christmas movie. This iconic cast pulls off every scene like a master class in comedy. This movie was such a pleasure.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Black Christmas (2019)

When Black Christmas came out in theaters I did not have time to get to the theater. Sadly it didn't play long enough for me to catch it on a big screen. The benefit here, is that by renting, I could watch the film a few times...and I did. This stalker / slasher horror story is well told. The intricacies of the story were all made clear. I liked the performances and the way it was shot. Lindsey as a snow angel a pretty cool visual. This was a good rental for me.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Gimme Danger

I am familiar with The Stooges nd their music through pop culture references, but I'm not that familiar with their music. In an interview with Jim Jarmusch, the documentary Gimme Danger was recommended. The story of the band is interesting and has all the drama and joy you would expect from this popular band.  It is told with great photos and archival footage. A lot of time is spent with Iggy Pop as well. I found it interesting that Ron Asheton actually called Moe Howard to get the OK to use the name The Stooges. This is a documentary I really enjoyed.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Girl Interrupted

The question of who belongs in a mental institution is explored in Girl Interrupted. This is so well written, with wonderful performances from excellent young actors. My favorite line is when Valerie says, "Do not drop your anchor here." Good rental.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Very Bad Things

In the course of a bachelor party weekend Very Bad Things tells the story of  one awful event after another. The trail of terrible events leads right up to the wedding. Though this could be viewed as a comedy, the events are so horrible, after a while you don't feel like laughing. This is an outrageous story. A decent rental.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

A romance builds in Portrait of a Lady on Fire with a quiet intensity. A painter is commissioned to paint the portrait of a woman with the intention of her family sending the painting to a potential husband. The woman being painted is resistant to the whole project, so the artist must use subtle techniques to produce an accurate likeness without having her sit. A relationship develops and it shows in the art. This is a layered story with genuine, intense emotions. This film is beautifully shot. I really liked this film.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

The Invisible Man (2020)

A new take on domestic abuse is explored in The Invisible Man. I liked the use of technology in unraveling the mystery. The struggle for survival provides some great fight scenes. This is a solid thriller with some strong performances. I really liked this film.

Queen & Slim

Two young people on the run after an unwitting crime makes Queen & Slim a tense watch. The writing, performances and direction in the film is outstanding. It is tough to watch because of the subject matter. Good rental.

Friday, March 06, 2020

A Wake in Providence

The awkward premise of meeting your boyfriend's family is exacerbated in A Wake in Providence by race and culture. This film was originally recommended to me because it was shot in RI. It is fun to watch a film with local familiarity. The story is an interesting examination of a relationship that is challenged by this trip home. This is a decent film with a satisfying resolution. On a set design note, the cars are great! An OK rental.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Mean Girls

After seeing Mean Girls the musical on Broadway, it only made sense to re-watch Mean Girls the movie. I really enjoyed this the first time around and was impressed with how it holds up. The high school drama of clicks, crushes, classes, status and growth are all well represented in this story. It is well written and the performances are very genuine. An excellent movie.

Monday, March 02, 2020

The Circus

The brilliance of Charlie Chaplin's films is on full blast in the film The Circus. The Little Tramp tries to get a job with the circus and helps out in more ways than one. This is a very entertaining film with a sweet heart. Great rental.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Wedding Guest

The title of the film The Wedding Guest is a bit misleading. Under the guise of attending a wedding a young man travels through India and Pakistan. He is a mysterious man on a mysterious mission. This is an intense thriller that is a good rental.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

The 3rd installment in the John Wick franchise, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, is a bang-bang shoot-em-up ride you won't soon forget. The plot is pretty lame, but the action makes up for it. There are also scenes on a rooftop in a neighborhood I am familiar with that makes me smile. This is a decent rental.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

It Happened on Fifth Avenue

In 1940s NYC, a wealthy family's home becomes a refuge for a homeless man when they are away for the winter. Where? It Happened on Fifth Avenue. Things get out of hand and therein lies the humor and the heart. Though much lighter, this was recommended to me as a companion piece to Parasite. It works. Excellent film.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Beetlejuice

I felt the need to re-watch the movie Beetlejuice after seeing the Broadway musical version. The film really holds up with great performances and production value. Burton's imagination and Elfman's music propel this crazy story of the dead in the land of the living. Lots of rules. A fun rental with so much heart and so much fun.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A Million Little Pieces

The film A Million Little Pieces is based on the controversial novel of the same name. It was alleged that some of the more dramatic anecdotes never happened, yet the book was first portrayed as a memoir. Regardless of the true-life events, this film about recovery is touching, edgy and has a great cast. Watching the extras on the DVD was very interesting. Good rental.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Ace in the Hole

In the film Ace in the Hole a big-city journalist adjusts to a more rural beat. This film was recommended after Kirk Douglas passed. He plays both the hero and the antagonist in an interesting story involving crisis, drama and media. Good rental. Classic.

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Last Movie Star

In The Last Movie Star we explore fandom, lifetime "so far" achievement, Hollywood, aging, love and sincerity. I liked the editing and performances. In the end they say "the best is yet to come." This is a good rental.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wild Nights with Emily

Relationships in the life of Emily Dickinson are central to the film Wild Nights with Emily. Her family, her neighbors, her friends, her words. Good rental.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Miss Americana

I enjoy documentaries about musicians and the film Taylor Swift: Miss Americana delivered for me. This is a very personal look at her process and her struggles in the industry. She is very open about her feelings of fairness of how she has been treated both personally and professionally. I liked this inside look at a very layered artist. Good doc.

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

Top 2019

This is a list of my favorite films from 2019

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Apollo 11
Avengers: Endgame
Blinded by the Light
Booksmart
Captain Marvel
The Dead Don't Die
The Farewell
Fighting with My Family
Ford v Ferrari
Frozen II
Hustlers
The Irishman
The Kitchen
Knives Out
The Last Black Man in San Fransisco
Little Women
Maiden
Marriage Story
Midsommer
Neureyev
Once Upon a Time...In America
Pain & Glory
Parasite
The Peanut Butter Falcon
The Pieces I Am: Toni Morrison
Spiderman: Far From Home
Toy Story 4
Uncut Gems
Us
Vault
Western Stars

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.