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Monthly Archives: August 2017

Whose Streets?

This is a documentary of the events surrounding the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. What I really liked about this film was its perspective; the story was told form the viewpoint of the activists who engaged after Brown’s death and after the grand jury verdict essentially acquitted the officer who shot him. The film contains a combination of news footage, home videos, and tweets that document the unrest that occurred in the neighborhood in which the death happened. The activists are presented not as a group of likeminded people but rather as individuals with diverse ideas on the …

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Middle of Nowhere

In an early film from Ana Duvernay (who also directed the great films 13th and Selma), Ruby’s husband has been sent to prison for 10 years with the hope that he will be released in 5 years if he has good behavior. Ruby becomes a nurse and dutifully makes sacrifices to pay for a parole attorney and to keep all documentation related to his case current. When a betrayal occurs, and when Ruby falls in love with a bus driver, she must decide how to move forward with her life. I loved the film. The acting by all is first-rate, …

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Menashe (Yiddish with English subtitles)

Menashe lives in a deeply orthodox Jewish community in New York City and has recently become widowed. He has a son Rieven who, because of strict rules that require children to be raised in two-parent households, lives with his Uncle. The rabbi allows Menashe to have one week with his son, and Menashe tries very hard to show his brother-in-law and the rabbi that he can be a good father and fit better into the orthodox community. I really loved this story. I did some reading after the fact and discovered that the director could get into a deeply orthodox …

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Marjorie Prime

At the beginning of the film, we see Marjorie (Lois Smith) interacting with a computerized version of her late husband Walter (Jon Hamm). Her daughter Tess (Geena Davis) and son-in-law Jon (Tim Robbins) help provide artificial intelligence “Walter” with background information that allows him to learn more about his history with Marjorie. This is a really intriguing and thought-provoking film. It explores the theme of AI and what some of the possibilities might be – what would it be like to have a “prime” with whom you could interact to work out personal psychological issues, or how could something like …

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Tiny Furniture

Aura (Lena Dunham) has just graduated from college with a film degree and returns home to live with her mother and sister Nadine (played by her Lena’s sister Grace), who is about the graduate from high school. The film provides a very interesting and very personal look at what it is like to be thrust into “the real world” with not a lot of prospects. She finds a job as a restaurant hostess that doesn’t last very long. She meets a man Jed who is kind of a waste and doesn’t reciprocate her interests. She fights with her mom and …

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Step

Documentary about a group of girls at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women who were the founding members of the school’s step dance team and were members of the school’s first graduating class. The film tells the stories of 3 of the girls raised in a variety of circumstances and faced their own struggles of graduating and going on to college. The girls also went a full year without winning a single competition, and they had one final chance to win a prestigious regional competition. I loved the stories and how the dancing was such a key part of …

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Ingrid Goes West

Ingrid (fabulously played by Aubrey Plaza) is a young woman who has recently lost her mother and is hooked on social media sites. She has become a bit of a stalker – at the beginning of the movie, we see her spraying mace into a bride who apparently was one of those she stalked. She happens on the Instagram posts of Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). Soon she takes the money her mother left her and heads to California to make Taylor her friend. The movie is a fascinating look at the world of social media and how social media can …

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Logan Lucky

Jimmy (Channing Tatum), Clyde (Adam Driver) and Mellie (Riley Keough) are the Logan siblings who seem to be perpetually unlucky. Jimmy just lost his job at the racetrack, Clyde lost his arm in Iraq, and Mellie has a low paying job as a hair dresser; they all live in the South having a hard time making ends meet. Jimmy gets the idea to rob the racetrack he was fired from, as he understands how the vault works. To do this, he enlists the help of several people, including Joe Bang (Daniel Craig, and what a great choice to include the …

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Beyond Food

The directors visit people who have different answers to how to get more in touch with their bodies through food, exercise, and meditation. I found the film to be interesting to see the different perspectives. However, there are several downsides to the movie. Almost none of it is research-based; these are the claims made by individuals who themselves have improved through the specific regimen they adopted. The concepts are not really explored in any depth; one example is the use of the term “biohacking”. I searched this after the film and did not get a clear understanding of how this …

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Detroit

Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film tells the story of one incident that happened at Algiers Motel during the 1967 Detroit city riots; she based the dramatization on court transcripts and documents related to the case. During that incident, 3 members of the Detroit police force held several black men and two white women at the hotel trying to force a confession; during the encounter, 3 of those were shot and killed. The strength and power of the film is most evident during the incident at the motel. What happens there is gut-wrenching, sad, brutal, and difficult to watch, but you cannot …

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