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Monthly Archives: November 2017

Lady Bird

Soairce Ronan plays Lady Bird (not about Ladybird Johnson!), a 17-year old free spirited girl who seems to regularly butt heads with her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf). She is a girl who feels trapped in Sacramento and who desperately wants to go to college in the East. Not getting much support or encouragement from guidance counselors or her mother, she sucks at mathematics, applies to colleges, tries to fit in socially and academically at school, and navigates the world of boys and sex. I enjoyed this film as part coming of age story and the struggles of emerging adulthood and …

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The Square

(Sweden; most of the film is in English): Christian (Claes Bang, who appears to be a newcomer and is quite good) is a curator of a museum, and his latest showing, the Square, is meant to be a provocative piece about trust: “The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it, we all share equal rights and obligations.” At the beginning of the film, he is interviewed by Anne (Elizabeth Moss) and asked about a quote from the museum’s website, which is a long, abstract piece of artistic “culturebabble” that he doesn’t understand either and makes up an …

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The Divine Order

(Switzerland with English Subtitles): In the late 1960s, the women’s liberation movement around the world was making progress toward women’s rights. In Switzerland, women still did not have the right to vote, and men made the decisions about how women would spend their time. Nora is a housewife married to the love of her life, Hans. They have two young boys. Every morning, they take the boys to school, and she goes off to clean house. Hans dutifully pays her to tend to the household. One day, Nora tells Hans that she wants to go to work, and she finds …

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A Fantastic Woman

(Chilean with English Subtitles): Orlando, recently divorced, has fallen in love with Marina (Daniela Vega), a transgendered waitress and a nightclub singer. The film opens with them having dinner and celebrating her birthday, where he surprises Marina with a trip for them. That night, Orlando suddenly falls ill and dies from a brain aneurysm. The film is about how she deals with Orlando’s family, the police, and her own emotions.  The film is beautifully shot and richly textured with colors. It is the on-screen charisma of Daniela Vega that carries the film. She brings such depth of expression of joy, …

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Mudbound

This Netflix film (that is also playing on Netflix) tells the story of two families living in Mississippi. Henry (Jason Clark) marries Laura (Carey Mulligan) and moves them to Mississippi to manage a farm (Henry has always wanted to own a farm but fails to tell Laura this). Henry’s racist father Pappy moves with them. Hap (Rob Morgan) lives with his wife Florence (Mary K Blige) and children on the farm as tenant farmers who one day hope to own the land they are working. Hap’s son Ronsel (Jason Mitchell) and Henry’s brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) go to serve in …

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Three Billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri

Mildred (Frances McDormand) is grieving the loss of her daughter who was murdered several months back. She feels that the police are not spending enough time trying to solve the case. To get the attention of the police chief Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), she rents three billboards just outside of town with a provocative message for Willoughby. Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) happens to drive down the little-traveled road one day and sees the signs, and the “war” is on.  My favorite of the year so far, this film has so much going for it. First, the acting is superb by …

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Wonderstruck

Ben lives in Gunflint, Minnesota in 1977. His mother has just died, and he is living unhappily with his aunt and cousins. In a freak accident, he loses his hearing, escapes from the hospital and ends up on the streets of NYC. Rose lives in Brooklyn in 1927, is deaf and mute, and lives with her father, who clearly does not want her. She runs away to NYC as well and finds her brother. The two people are connected, and the film tells their stories and over time weaves their destinies together. Ben’s story is filmed in the rich colors …

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Only the Brave

The film is based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a 20-member firefighting team based out of Prescott, AZ. All but one of the team lost their lives in an Arizona fire that suddenly switched directions. The story is told primarily from the perspectives of Eric, the Supe (Josh Brolin) and Donut (Miles Teller), a new recruit with a history of drug addiction issues who joined to try to clean up his life. This is a really well-crafted movie that tells the story of their camaraderie as well as the hard and dangerous work that forward-deployed firefighters …

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Thank You For Your Service

Adam (Miles Teller), Solo and Billy return to civilian life after deployments in Iraq. Adam suffers from PTSD and recurring nightmares; Solo has a brain injury that has caused problems with his memory; and Billy returns to find his home empty. The film, based on a non-fiction book inspired by true events, chronicles the struggles these men have in their adjustment to civilian life and the toll the war has taken on them and their families. While the film was a bit heavy-handed in places, I liked the overall story. The acting is very good, especially by Teller, who seems …

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The Beguiled

Colin Farrell plays John McBurney, a Union solder who is injured and discovered by one of the girls belonging to girls boarding school deep in Confederate country. Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman), the director, agrees to hide and care for McBurney only as long as is needed for his wounds to heal. A love / desire triangle evolves between McBurney, Farnsworth, Carol (Elle Fanning) and Edwina (Kirsten Dunst). The film explores the implications of desire on McBurney and the women involved. The film is impeccably directed (Sophia Coppola won the Best Director award at Cannes, and one can see why); there …

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