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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Toni Erdmann (German with English Subtitles):

Winifred lives with his brother and a dog who is very old and completely blind. His mother lives in an assisted living facility, and we find out very soon that he has a daughter from whom he appears to be estranged. After a very awkward visit with his daughter at a party, Winifred suddenly shows up in Bulgaria where his daughter is working in a high-powered job trying to impress a client. The film is a very comical and serious exploration of their relationship. This is one of the funniest German movies I think I have seen. I didn’t want …

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The Salesman (Persian with English Subtitles)

At the start of the film, Emad and Rana, a married couple, are forced to find a new apartment after the one they are living in begins to collapse due to nearby construction. They move into one whose previous tenant still has possessions there. One night, Rana is assaulted in the apartment after she opens the security door thinking it is Emad. Since Rana does not want to go to the police, Emad hunts down the assailant. I really love the work of this director (Farhadi, who also directed The Past and A Separation); he is a master storyteller who …

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Julieta (Spanish with English Subtitles)

At the beginning of the film, we see Julieta, seemingly happy and ready to move to Portugal with her lover Lorenzo. While walking to the market, Julieta bumps into Beatriz, who says that she just saw Juliet’s daughter Ava and her children. Julieta’s mood suddenly changes, and she decides not to leave Madrid. The film tells the story of Julieta and Ava in flashback. Aldomovar does a few things really well in his movies: He uses a lot of color, particularly red, that makes the films stylish and visually appealing; he tells a really good story; and he has a …

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The Red Turtle

Animated fable that starts off with a young man lost at sea, battling a fierce ocean storm. He washes up on a small island. So far, it sounds a bit like Animated Castaway. What starts of so simply evolves into a deep and lovely story about life – partnering, having children, children striking on their own, growing old. The film is gorgeous to look at, and the music is absolutely lovely. The details on the island, down to the little crabs that scamper on the beach throughout the movie, give a magical quality to nature and its beauty. Huge thumbs …

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Elle (French with English Subtitles)

Isabelle Huppert (in a mesmerizing performance) plays Michele, a highly driven leader of a gaming company that makes gory and erotic video games.  At the beginning of the movie, we see her in her home being sexually assaulted by an intruder, and how she handles it sets the stage begins to give clues about the kind of person she is. She doesn’t report it to the police; it is clear there is some history of why she won’t go there. The film explores the effects of that event as she tries to discover who her attacker is and, over its …

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Hidden Figures

Film based on the stories of three Black women who were instrumental in helping NASA to put John Glenn into space, orbit around the earth, and land safely at sea. Katherine Johnson (Taraji Henson) is a math whiz who can do complex calculations in her head; Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) works as a supervisor without the title of the color women who work in the west wing; and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) is a woman who aspires to be an engineer. The film tracks the three stories as they participate in the race into space. There are so many really …

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Split

James McAvoy plays Barry/Dennis/Patricia/Hedwig/the Beast/Kevin Wendell Crumb, a person with dissociative identity disorder who has 23 different personalities (altars). Since Kevin is the one we see first and fairly regularly, I will refer to the being as Kevin. Kevin kidnaps three teenage girls, and they wake up to find themselves locked in a room. One of them, Clare, begins to engage with him as she becomes aware that he has multiple personalities. Kevin also tells the ladies that he kidnapped them for a special purpose that will become evident in the upcoming days and will involve a new 24th altar. …

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20th Century Women

Annette Bening plays Dorothea, 55 and a single mom raising her 15 year old son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) in Santa Barbara in 1979. Dorothea decides that she needs help raising Jamie and enlists the aid of her tenants, Abbie (Greta Gerwig, a photographer-punk rocker who is dealing with cancer) and William (Billy Crudup), an auto mechanic, as well as Julie (Elle Fanning), who Jamie has known most of his life and who sneaks over to the house regularly to sleep with Jamie (strictly platonic). The movie doesn’t have much of a plot, but oh my, it is really wonderful …

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Silence

Father Rodriguez (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garupe (Adam Driver) gain permission to go to Japan in the 17th century to discover the fate of Father Ferreira (Liam Neesan).  Ferreira disappeared and was rumored to have publically renounced his Catholic faith in the midst of a government crackdown on Christianity in Japan. Rodriguez and Garupe go to China and secure the services of a Japanese citizen to smuggle them into Japan. Once there, they find communities of Christians who profess their faiths in secret and are always fearful of visits by the government officials (the Inquisitor). The film is the story …

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Train to Busan (Korean, English Subtitles)

For all of you who like Zombie movies, definitely check out this South Korean addition to the genre – you won’t be disappointed! Seok-Woo is a divorced, selfish, self-absorbed stock trader who doesn’t seem to have much time for his daughter, Su-an. Seok-Woo finally gives in and promises to take Su-an on the train to see her mother. At the same time, a strange virus is turning people into zombies, and one of them finds its way on the train to Busan. The rest of the film is about the harrowing train ride to Busan. There were a lot of …

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