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Monthly Archives: September 2017

Grandma

Elle (played by Lily Tomlin) is a somewhat bitter feminist who has just thrown her girlfriend out of the house. Right afterwards, her granddaughter Sage appears needing $600 for an abortion. With no money, Elle and Sage take to the road to try to muster the money so that she can keep her 5:45pm appointment. Along the way, Elle’s story is revealed – we learn about her past relationships as well as her relationship with her daughter Judy (Sage’s mom). I enjoyed the movie, although I did not think it great. I liked Lily Tomlin’s performance; this was an excellent …

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It

Bill builds a paper boat for his younger brother who goes out in the rain to see if it floats. He loses it down the sewer, and this is where we are first introduced to Pennywise (as we all know from the trailer). Bill hangs out with a bunch of boys who are part of the “loser” crowd. One of the new kids who joins the group, Ben, has been studying the history of their town and notices a pattern to the kids who have gone missing. The movie is creepy throughout; there are a lot of twists and turns …

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Jesus Camp

This documentary provides an enlightenting examination of “Kids on Fire”, an Evangelical summer camp for Christian children and their parents, the children who attend, and Becky Fisher, the woman who started the camp. Some of the images are memorable – kids crying, speaking in tongues, and being provided “instruction” on the immorality of abortion. There is one scene with a cutout of George Bush Jr. that is rather bizarre. My immediate reaction was “indoctrination”, but is it really indoctrination? I think it is a credit to the film that it provides a pretty balanced look at the experience and the …

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Tommy (Brian Cox) and his son Austin (Emile Hirsch), who is learning the trade of coroner, receive the corpse of a woman who appears to have died under mysterious circumstances. As the two work through the night to learn her story, strange things begin to happen as they uncover more and more about her past. I was really surprised at how much I liked the movie. The first half is rather creepy – several scenes that cause you to jump a bit; the chills are psychological rather than bloody. The film moves quickly with several plot twists and turns; it …

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Betting on Zero

This documentary tells the story of Bill Ackman, a hedge fund manager, who shorted Herbalife shares with the intention of demonstrating that the company is nothing more than a pyramid scheme. It was interesting to have a glimpse into the daily activities of a billionaire who considers himself to be an engaged activist. The film provides a critical examination into the practices of Herbalife and the people’s lives, primarily low-income Hispanic, who lost their investments in the company. For many, the money invested primarily went to those higher in the hierarchy, while the smaller investors failed to realize profits from …

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Gifted

Chris Evans plays Frank, a single father parenting his niece Mary (McKenna Grace). Mary is extremely brilliant, which is noticed by her teacher when Frank finally ends her home schooling and sends Mary to school. Frank works very hard to try to ensure Mary has a normal schooling, and he consistently tries to downplay her gift. Mary’s grandmother (Franks mom) Evelyn suddenly comes into the picture and insists that she wants custody of Mary to ensure she gets to schools where she can actualize her gift. Why Frank is so insistent on protecting Mary from this reveals itself as the …

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Sugar Coated

This is a very interesting documentary detailing how, over half a century, sugar has become a principal ingredient in most processed foods. The film describes the rise of the sugar industry and its lobbying efforts and its failure to take any responsibility in the growing diabetes and overweight epidemics. The director, I think quite convincingly, makes that case the sugar industry is what the cigarette industry was only a few decades ago: consistently denying the science, and developing marketing campaigns that capitalize on uncertainty to market their products. In the meantime, doctors are treating the first cases of children with …

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Neruda (Chilean with English Subtitles)

Pablo Narrain, a Chilean film director who also directed last years ‘Jackie’ released a second film, right around the same time, about the Chilean Nobel-prize winning poet Pablo Neruda. The film starts off with Senator Neruda, a communist, being tossed from the government. The current president has issued a warrant for his arrest. I don’t know a lot about Pablo Neruda (except for some of his poetry that I have read), so I cannot speak to the complete truth of what happens next, but the government hires a detective (played marvelously by Gael Garcia Bernal) to apprehend Neruda. What follows …

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