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Monthly Archives: February 2018

2018 Oscar Nominated Shorts (Animation)

What a fun lot of animated shorts! Four of them timed at 7 minutes or less, and one was 29 minutes, but each of them tells an interesting story using very different animation styles. Dear Basketball (USA; https://www.go90.com/videos/261MflWkD3N), voiced by Kobe Bryant, is his ode to a long and successful career in the sport that he loved. The animation is a series of pencil sketches and with splashes of purple and gold. Lou (USA/Pixar) tells the story of a schoolyard bully who turns a corner when he comes into contact with the creature from the lost and found box. Revolting …

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Columbus

The lives of two people, one the estranged son of a well-known architect, and the other a young woman who graduated from high school but hasn’t been able to move away from Columbus, intersect with the son’s father has a catastrophic medical condition that has left him in a coma. While I never quite felt the chemistry between the two, I did enjoy watching the slow development of their friendship and the ways they challenged each other. What is beautiful is the cinematography; nearly every frame is an expert photograph. The film captures the beauty in the mix of ultra-modern …

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2018 Oscar Nominated Shorts (Live Action)

I have learned to enjoy the short films; it is a challenge to tell a story that could consume a full-length movie in an abbreviated period. This year’s nominations come from 4 different countries: United States; Australia; Germany; and the United Kingdom. “Dekalb Elementary” relates the story, inspired by an actual 911 caller, of an armed shooter who enters an elementary school. “The Silent Child” is the story of a young deaf girl neglected by her family who establishes a friendship with the social worker who engages her. “My Nephew Emmett” relates the true story of a man who watched …

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2018 Best Actors, Actresses, Director, and Ensemble

I never try to predict who will win, but here are my favorites for 2017. I also include a section at the end for ensembles, because this year, more than others I recall, films were great because of the combination of superb acting and directing. Best Actor: I loved Timothee Chalamet’s performance (Call Me by Your Name), but his best (and IMHO most stunning) scenes came at the end. Gary Oldman’s performance was solid (Darkest Hour), but the movie felt scattered and left me mostly uninterested. I felt similarly about Denzel Washington’s performance (Roman J Israel, ESQ) as a lawyer …

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Black Panther

I loved this film! Chadwick Boseman plays T’Challa (the Black Panther). At the start of the film, he goes back to his home country of Wakanda to assume the role of King after his father dies. The film chronicles his quest to retain leadership over the country once he encounters an old nemesis. There is no question that the film represents a defining moment in the Marvel Comics (MC) enterprise and (okay, maybe just a bit hyperbolic) even in cinema. While its action scenes are satisfying and the special effects impressive, what elevates Black Panther are its well-developed characters and …

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2018 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Documentary

This excellent selection of 5 documentary short films, all from the United States, represent various social issues impacting our society. Traffic Stop uses a combination of police video cams and personal narrative to describes what happens when a Black woman is stopped for speeding. Edith + Eddie examines how family members disrupt the lives of two people who chose to marry at 95 and 96 years of age. Heroin(e) features the work of three women – a deputy fire chief, a district court judge, and a Christian mission worker – who are on the front lines of the opiate addiction …

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My Favorite Films of 2017

Several films clustered right at the top for me, making it challenging to pick what I thought was the best. I rated the best as 4.5 or 5 Stars, and my final decision on the top 15 rests on how much of an impact the film made on me. Exemplary acting, music, screenplay, cinematography, are essential and taken for granted in these selections; however, movies I thought about days, weeks, and even months afterward are what topped my list. So, here are my favorites: Phantom Thread: Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis again team up to create a surprising, weird, …

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Happy End

(French with English subtitles): This latest film from Michael Haneke (director of the wonderful Amour) stars Isabelle Huppert (as Anne) in a family dysfunction film. Everyone has issues. Anne is trying to turn her family’s business around. Her brother suddenly becomes the full-time parent of his daughter after her mother slips into a coma. Anne’s son cannot seem to rise to the responsibility as manager in the business. Anne’s father is not particularly happy with life. Haneke weaves the story in unexpected ways – he leads you to think one outcome is coming and then suddenly takes you down a …

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Last Flag Flying

Doc (Steve Carell), Sal (Bryan Cranston) and Richard (Laurence Fishburne) fought together in Vietnam, and each has carved out a very different life for himself. Doc brings the three together and asks them to go with him to bury his son, who was killed in Iraq. Overall, I liked the film. The three actors do a wonderful job playing their characters. Through its dialog, the movie wrestles with questions of war, patriotism, and loss. This film is the latest from Richard Linklater. I think he was trying to achieve the ease of conversation that takes the listener into places of …

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American Made

Tom Cruise plays Barry Seal in a movie that appears to be based very loosely on the story of a man who was a pilot for TWA, was fired for conspiracy to smuggle explosives, became a drug smuggler, then an informant for the DEA. In the movie, Seal leaves TWA after being offered a job to fly reconnaissance missions to Honduras and Nicaragua. At some point, he begins smuggling drugs; the principal part of the movie portrays his life as a smuggler and arms carrier. Cruise does a satisfactory job of acting, but his character seems to be more charismatic …

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