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Pain and Glory

(Spanish) Salvador Mallo (played by Antonio Banderas) is an aging film director who is long past the zenith of his career. He suffers from numerous physical and psychological maladies and has turned to using heroin to dull the pain. The film explores Salvador’s life at four key points in time: His early childhood with his mother, a defining romantic relationship in his life, his relationship with his mother at the end of her life, and the present. The way Almodovar weaves the stories together is exquisite. He uses flashbacks but also does something unique in using the stage to tell …

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Parasite

(South Korea): The Kim family lives in a basement apartment and struggles to make ends meet by folding pizza boxes (something so simple that they cannot seem to do right); the family is destitute but otherwise happy. The son Ki-woo lands a job as an English tutor for the daughter in the uber-wealthy Kim family, and through a series of schemes, the entire family is working there. Everything runs smoothly until one of the displaced servants shows up unexpectedly when the Kim family is away on a camping trip. The movie is fantastic; the performances by all are great, but …

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Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice

This film documents the long and successful career of Linda Ronstadt, whose career was cut short in the late 2000s when she came down with Parkinson’s disease and lost the ability to control her voice. I loved the movie. I was a fan from the first time I remember hearing “You’re No Good”. I loved that she could sing and make a song her own in nearly every genre; the film takes us through her explorations of rock and folk-rock, country, new wave, jazz, and classical using concert footage and interviews with the musicians with whom she sang. One of …

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Judy

At the age of 46, and one year before she died, Judy Garland \agrees to do a concert tour in London as a way to raise money to provide a stable home for her children, Lorna and Joey. The film uses the concert tour and flashbacks to tell the story of her last big tour. Renee Zellweger does a fabulous job of capturing the mannerisms of Garland. I am not quite old enough to know Garland well, beyond my memories of seeing her on television and hearing her songs. But Zellweger captures Judy Garland’s essence and mannerisms incredibly well, and …

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The Joker

Gotham City is fracturing; people are overly hypervigilant and suspicious of and violent toward one another. By day, Authur Fleck (played by Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely clown who has mental illnesses and struggles to get by; at night, he keeps a journal, trying to make it as a stand-up comic, and takes care of his mother. Near the beginning of the film, we see Arthur being beat up by a group of teenage boys. Over time, one setback occurs after the other, and the film takes us through the evolution of the person who will become the Joker. I …

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  • Midsommar

    Dani has just lost her parents and sister to a murder-suicide, and her relationship with her boyfriend Christian is on the brink of collapse. Christian and his friends, all of whom are working on their Ph.D. research, are going to Sweden to visit a family summer solstice celebration. Dani invites herself to join them. They arrive at the village in the land where the summer sun does not set, and after a magic mushroom trip among the young American visitors, things very slowly begin to turn creepy. I was fascinated and engrossed in this film. The director, who also created …

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  • The House that Jack Built

  • Mandy

  • Teeth

  • The Shape of Water

    Set in the early 1960’s during the height of the Cold War, Eliza (Sally Hawkins), who is mute, and her friend Eliza (Octavia Spencer) work for a high-security government laboratory as cleaners. Strickland (Michael Shannon, doing his characteristically fantastic job of playing a creepy guy) has recently arrived to safeguard a high security “asset,” an amphibious, human-like creature. Eliza, who is lonely and lives with her gay friend Giles (Richard Jenkins), finds ways to communicate and strike a friendship with the asset through music and sign language. This is visually beautiful and is a beautiful love story as well – …

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