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Monthly Archives: October 2017

One of Us

This documentary follows the stories of 3 very different people who chose to leave the very conservative Hasidic Jewish community. One is a young mother of 7 children; the second an 18-year-old man; and the third, a 20-something Uber driver who moved to Los Angeles to try to start his acting career. Each had his or her own reasons for leaving and consequences resulting from that decision. What was most intriguing to me was following their experience of feeling “lost” after having spent their entire lives in a very closed community. There is a support group called Footsteps dedicated solely …

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God’s Own Country (Great Britain)

Johnny lives with his mum and dad on a farm in northern England. His dad has had minor stroke, leaving him with much less mobility and the running of the farm to Johnny. Johnny is rather “rough around the edges”; he does a bad job of managing the farm. He spends his nights drinking himself sick and having casual sex. Johnny’s dad hires a migrant worker from Romania, Gheorghe, to help manage the farm. The film is beautifully shot, with its views of England details of farm life, and it is very well acted. The overlay of the sights and …

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BPM (Beats per Minute) (French with English subtitles)

This historically-based drama portrays the rise of ACT UP, the AIDS activist movement responsible for redefining the way activism is done, in France. Nathan is a new member to the group – HIV negative but eager to help mobilize the government and the pharmaceutical industry to expedite finding a cure and making experimental treatments available to those who have no other hope. He falls for Sean, HIV positive, one of the founders of the group who seems to be at odds with the direction the organization is going and has his own unique style of activism. There was a good …

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Human Flow

This documentary examines the state of human migration around the world and its consequences for migrators and well as those countries to which people migrate. The film includes a lot of very interesting statistics; one of the first ones is that 65 million people have been involved in migrations and that 34,000 people per day migrate due to famine, political turmoil, and war. The director travels to areas around the world most impacted by these migrations – Iraq, Jordan, Afghanistan, Africa, Greece, Germany, Gaza among others, and even the United States with its border wall. The images are striking, and …

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The Florida Project

Moonee (Brooklyn Prince, who I will be watching for in future films) is a precocious girl who lives with her mom Haley (Bria Vinaite, who also appears to be a newcomer) in a Florida near the entrance to the Magic Kingdom in a hotel where clients pay by the week. The hotel is managed by Bobby (Willem DaFoe). Moonee spends the days with a couple of friends who manage to find ways to irritate Bobby and to just fill in the hours of the day with play and trouble.   This is a wonderful movie. While it does not really have …

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Tangerine

Sean Baker apparently shot this little gem of a film using primarily an iPhone. He captures a day (Christmas Eve) in the life of two transgender street workers living in West Hollywood. Sin-Dee is just out of prison and on parole, and Alexandra is her best friend. All is well on Sin-Dee’s first day out of prison until she finds out that her pimp boyfriend Chester cheated on her while she was inside. What follows is a hilarious romp through the streets of West Hollywood as Sin-Dee tries to track down Chester to seek revenge. This was my first exposure …

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Lucky

Harry Dean Stanton has been a character actor in so many movies over a long career. In this film, he is the lead and plays Lucky, an old and worn guy who seems to have a diet of coffee and milk, smokes a ridiculous number of cigarettes, and is hooked on game shows. He has a routine that he follows every day, and the film follows him over several days and the people he interacts with every day. I really enjoyed this film. It is a character study – there is no plot, nor is there a lot of action. …

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Loving Vincent

I have been waiting for about 3 years for this movie to come to the screen, and it was well worth the wait! This was originally a Kickstarter campaign that was used to raise money to help actualize the project. It is hard to fathom, a film that has a narrative structure to it and that is entirely painted – over 100 artists created paintings that were used to bring Van Gogh’s paintings into motion. The story begins with a postman who discovers a letter from Vincent to his brother Theo; he asks his son, who seems to be routinely …

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The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

This is the new movie from Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha, Squid and the Whale) who gives us another very insightful movie about family dysfunction and how its members deal with it. There are three siblings – Danny (Adam Sandler), Jean (Elizabeth Marvel), and Matthew (Ben Stiller), who is actually a half sibling to the others. All are dealing with their cantankerous father Harold (Dustin Hoffman), a has-been sculptor who has been married 4 times. The film is told in stories in which one of the siblings is the focus and that examine the relationships each has with Harold. This is …

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Blade Runner 2049

Ryan Gosling is Agent K, a newer version of replicants, which are bioengineered humans who are created to be laborers. Agent K is a blade runner, a replicant whose task it is to search out and destroy older models of replicants who have “gone rogue”. When K sought out and killed one of these replicants, he discovered the bones of an infant.  Since replicants were not engineered to become pregnant, K set off on his own to figure out what happened. This film is wonderful on multiple levels. The scenes of Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas in this …

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