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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Love & Friendship

Kate Beckinsale plays Lady Susan Vernon, recently widowed and who has a daughter Frederica. After Lady Susan’s husband passes, she goes to stay with her in-laws; ultimately her daughter, who is in school joins her there. The story is about how Lady Susan tries to find husbands for herself and her daughter. The movie is a really fun and funny period piece that takes place in a world full of wealth and beautiful people. It is well acted; Kate Beckinsale is fantastic, as is Tom Bennet, who plays a very silly Sir James Martin. Thumbs up for a movie that …

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The Man Who Loved Infinity

Dev Patel plays Ramanujan, a brilliant mathematician from India who was completely untrained in mathematics but made many contributions to pure mathematics. The film is about mostly about Ramanujan’s collaboration with mathematician G.H. Hardy (played by Jeremy Irons) at Cambridge University over a period of 5 years. The story of Ramanujan is really quite interesting. Hardy and Ramanujan were totally different personalities – Hardy was atheist and committed to rigor of proof; Ramanujan was devoutly religious and claimed to have come up with his theorems using intuition. It is fascinating that Ramanujan essentially taught himself mathematics. Unfortunately, the movie overall …

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99 Homes

Dennis (Andrew Garfield), his mom (Laura Dern) and his son have fallen behind in their mortgage payments, Rick (Michael Shannon), a real estate developer who profits on foreclosures, evicts Dennis from the home he grew up in. Living in a motel and desperate to find a job, Dennis goes to work for Rick. He starts out by cleaning a backed-up toilet that has flooded a foreclosed home. Soon, Dennis quickly gets involved in other aspects of Rick’s business. This is a really great film. It is rather different from many of Ramin Bahrani’s other films – Chop Shop, Man Push …

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The Nice Guys

In what is a combination of a “buddy-cop” movie and film noir (like Chinatown), Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling play two detectives, Jackson and Holland, who team up to solve a murder after their paths cross while looking for the same woman. Holland is a kind of a “hit man” who gets slipped some bucks from people to threaten their adversaries (brass knuckles figure a lot into his daily work). Jackson is an alcoholic private eye with daughter who is 13. The movie works for a couple of key reasons. The dialog is taut and really, really funny – there …

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Money Monster

George Clooney plays Lee Gates, who stars in his own financial advice show, “Money Monster”, and Julia Roberts is Patty, his director. During one episode of the show, Kyle, played by Jack O’Connell, sneaks into the back stage and onto the set, where he takes Lee hostage and forces him to don an explosive vest. On a previous episode, Lee told the public that they should buy stock in a company that ultimately lost 800M dollars, and Kyle lost his life savings. The movie is the story about the standoff as well as the uncovering of what happened to the …

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Sing Street

Sing Street: The new movie by the director of “Once” creates a similar kind of feeling in a very different era – 1980’s in Dublin. Connor (who calls himself Cosmo) is 15 years old, lives with his parents who are constantly fighting, a sister, and a much older brother who is a kind of music mentor to him. When he transfers to a new school, he meets Raphina and asks her to star in a music video with his band. Since Cosmo has no band, he has to put one together within a week. The rest of the movie is …

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The Family Fang

Baxter (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Nicole Kidman) are brother and sister raised by two very unusual parents who developed a reputation for creating public spectacles that involved the children and filming them as art. Their parents suddenly disappear, and it is not clear whether they are staging another show or whether the disappearance is the result of foul play. I really enjoyed this movie; the story presents a very unusual kind of family dysfunction. I could never figure out whether to be in awe of what the parents were doing or horrified. Bateman and Kidman give great performances as they …

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Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: The Civil War.  The film opens with governmental agents demonstrating how the Avengers appear to have been creating collateral damage that is hurting their reputation; the agent suggests that the Avengers come under government oversight. A rift develops when Tony Stark – Ironman – sides with the government, and Steve Rogers (Captain America) decides that they can be most effective if they go off on their own free from government oversight. Bucky, Steve’s best friend, is back in the spotlight as one of the winter soldiers who had been injected with a serum that renders them nearly indestructible.  …

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Lady in the Van

Lady in the Van – Maggie Smith plays Miss Shepherd, the lady in the van who parks her van and lives out of it in front of people’s houses. One day, Allan Bennett (Alex Jennings) a writer, moves into the neighborhood. Soon, he invites her to park the van in his driveway, and she takes up residence for the next 15 years. The film is based on a “mostly true” story, as is told to us at the beginning. Maggie Smith is great (as always) playing a cantankerous, homeless women whose story becomes evident as the move progresses. Thumbs up …

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James White

James White – James (Christopher Abbott) is a rather lost young man who is barely making it in New York City, and drinks to forget himself and his problems, including his father, who has just died, and his mother (Cynthia Nixon), who has Stage 4 cancer. The film is about the relationship between James and his mom. The acting by both of the leads is great, especially Cynthia Nixon who captures many of the physical and emotional nuances of the effects of cancer. I also loved the way the film captured the uniqueness of the mother-son relationship. Thumbs up from …

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