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Monthly Archives: July 2018

Eighth Grade

Kayla (Elsie Fisher) is in her last week of middle school and making the emotional transition to becoming a high school student. She lives in a world of Snapchat, texting, and YouTube videos in which she attempts to give others advice on how to survive adolescence. I really enjoyed this film. Elsie Fisher is excellent as the gawky young teenage girl trying to find herself in a social world dominated by technology and high expectations. The screenplay is well-crafted, and the writer was largely successful in reproducing this world that any of us who are parents understand – kids being …

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Leave No Trace

Will (Ben Foster) and his daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie) live off the land alone in a national part. They have been living this way for some time, as they have become adept at getting food and shelter and avoiding detection. One day, social services officials find them and take both into custody, thus disrupting their off-the-grid lifestyle. This is such a beautifully told story – really, a different take of “coming of age” stories. The cinematography is beautiful and integrates exceptionally well into the screenplay; together, they allow the background story to unfold slowly and with incredible emotional intensity. The …

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Rampage: Davis (Dwayne Johnson) is a war veteran who made a career change and became a primatologist. He communicates pretty well by using sign language with a gorilla (George). In outer space, an experiment goes awry, and an explosion results in a mysterious substance falling to earth in three different places. The substance causes genetic mutations resulting in rapid growth and increased violence. George inhaled the substance, as did two other creatures, and soon those extremely HUGE monsters descend upon Chicago. Davis serendipitously meets the person responsible for creating the substance, and together they plan to find a way to …

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Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has just been released from prison. He has a daughter who his ex-wife won’t let him see until he straightens up, gets a job, and finds a decent place to live. He is conned into engaging in a heist that seems foolproof and that he hopes will help him change his circumstances. Through a series of events that I won’t reveal, he becomes Ant-man with the ability to shrink in size at will and simultaneously exude enormous strength. While I don’t think it measures up to the best of the Marvel comics films, such as the …

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

The fifth movie in the franchise finds the tyrannosaurus dinosaur to be bigger, badder, smarter, and harder to kill than the in the previous sequels. Chris Pratt is back as Owen, a dinosaur trainer. He and his maybe-girlfriend Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) return to the island to try to rescue the dinosaurs that have been roaming the island freely since the demise of the Jurassic World theme park in the previous sequel. A volcano has begun erupting and threatening to send the dinosaurs back into extinction. The rescue of several of the dinosaurs includes bringing some of them back to …

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Dan Kokotajlo, who was raised in the Jehovah’s Witness faith and left in his early 20’s, directs a very compelling story about Ivanna and her two daughters, Luisa and Alex. Ivanna is raising her daughters strictly in the Jehovah’s Witness faith (“the Truth”). Alex had a blood transfusion when she was an infant, and she has been apologizing for it ever since. Luisa is very vocal and begins to question the teaching of the elders. Two separate crises involving the daughters that hit the family challenge their faith. We found the movie to be equally fascinating and disturbing in its …

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The Cakemaker

(Hebrew, German, and English with subtitles): This film from Israel is the story of Thomas, who owns a bakery in Berlin. Thomas is having an affair with Oren, a married man from Jerusalem. Oren is killed in an accident in Jerusalem, and Thomas goes there to learn more about Oren. He takes a job in the café run by Oren’s widow. I absolutely loved this film and the way the complete story unfolds. It is a very moving and unusual love story, and kudos to the screenplay writer (who is also the director) for crafting a story that comes together …

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Three Identical Strangers

In 1980, one of the boys, Robert, goes to college where everyone confuses him with a guy named David. David and Robert meet, and their story becomes national news. As a result of the news coverage, Eddy realizes that they look just like him.  In 1961, three boys were separated given up for adoption to three different parents. I won’t say anything more, and I strongly recommend if you plan on seeing the movie to not read anything about it beyond the basic premise. It is one of the most fascinating documentaries I have seen in quite some time. It …

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