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Monthly Archives: April 2018

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World

The subject of this documentary is the story of Native Americans who influenced various genres of American music. Musicians with Native American ancestry Included are, among others, Charlie Patton, generally recognized as the father of Delta blues; Link Wray, rock guitarist noted for his instrumental piece, Rumble; Jimi Hendrix; folk singer Buffy Saint-Marie; Robbie Robertson; and the jazz singer Mildred Bailey. I loved this film. There are a lot of music and concert clips that introduce us to many of the different sounds that I either did not know, had forgotten, or did not realize were from Native American musicians. …

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Bombshell: The Heddy Lamarr Story

This documentary relates the story of Heddy Lamarr’s life as told through her children, various friends, and Hollywood acquaintances. I didn’t know much about her, so I found the film to be informative. What I was expecting from the trailers was a richer and deeper story of her knack for invention. The movie is a very linear telling of her life in which her invention of shifting frequencies (initially designed for “smart torpedoes” during WWII and has a number of important applications today) was a small part. I learned a lot about Lamarr as an actress and as a woman …

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A Quiet Place

Lee (John Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and their three children (one of whom is deaf and ends up being central to the plot) live in a world in which everyone has to maintain absolute quiet. They craft a world that will ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that silence can be maintained; for example, putting sand on the paths to muffle noises and heavily insulating the walls of their home.  Early in the film, we discover what happens when someone makes even the slightest noise. I won’t say much more about the story; even small tidbits of information would …

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Beirut

Jon Hamm is Mason Skiles, a former diplomat to Beirut. At the beginning of the film, we see him in 1972, at the height of his work, when gunmen storm the diplomatic house/headquarters, take a 13-year-old boy Palestinian boy who has become part of the family, and kill Mason’s wife. Fast forward 10 years and the story follows a somewhat familiar pattern: Mason has become an alcoholic who has relegated himself to small-time mediation jobs. One day, alcoholic Mason is given a ticket and passport to Lebanon under the guise of a “speaking engagement”; he is actually summoned to mediate …

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Isle of Dogs

This latest from Wes Anderson is a stop-motion, animated feature about a young boy who sets off to find his dog Spots after all dogs were quarantined, due to an outbreak of canine flu, to Trash Island by the boy’s uncle, mayor of Nagasaki. After crash landing his plane on the island, the boy is befriended by a pack of dogs who vow to help him find Spots. There are a lot of strengths in this film. The stop-motion animation is beautiful to behold, and one can tell throughout that Anderson has an eye for meticulous details; the story is …

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Finding Your Feet

Sandra (Imelda Staunton) and her husband are set to retire in a nice home and quiet life when she discovers her husband has been having an affair with one of her friends. Sandra moves out and into the home of her sister Bif (Celia Imrie) with whom she has had a distant relationship. Bif belongs to a dance club, and she convinces Sandra to attend with her. The film is about how Sandra moves beyond her marriage. The film is sweet; there is nothing really earth-shattering here, just a nice story about women and the quest to find healthy relationships. …

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The Death of Stalin

This film is a farce about the jockeying for power after Joseph Stalin dies. It is a hard film to describe. First, I am not familiar with this part of history, so I don’t know how much of this is true (although it seems to be based on facts). Second, the film is hilarious; the one-liners flow fast and furious as each of the key characters around Stalin (Kruschev, played by a very funny Steve Buschemi, the general of the army, the head and convener of the Party, his children, and a host of right-hand men) try to outdo the …

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You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really Here: Joaquin Phoenix is Joe, an emotionally and physically scarred man who makes his living finding missing girls. His latest assignment involves the teenage daughter of an elected official who has been seen in a prostitution house.  The film is a technical marvel. The director expertly moves from inside of Joe’s head, and his memories, to the present day and back; the flashback scenes are jarring and add to the depth of the damage done to Joe as a kid and as a war veteran. The script is 89 minutes, and there is not a single …

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Loveless

(Russia with English Subtitles): The story centers on two parents, Zhenya and Boris, who are divorced after what clearly was an extremely bitter separation. They both still live together formally, although each has taken on new relationships. In the middle is their 12-year-old son Alyosha, who one day goes missing. This is an expertly executed film. The acting from everyone is terrific. The two parents are about the most despicable, self-absorbed and “empty” people I have seen on screen; actors have to be excellent to be this bad. The boy who plays Alyosha is only in a few scenes, but …

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