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Monthly Archives: September 2018

Alpha

Kodi Smit-McPhee is Keda, a young man who is next in line to become the chief of his tribe. His father has been pushing him to success, but Keda is not really a hunter. One day, Keda and his father go out with the other males from the tribe in what will be his initiation as a successful hunter. While rounding up a herd of bison, Keda finds himself separated from the others and facing a charging bison. The bison ejects Keda over the cliff, and his father believes him to be dead. After befriending a wolf who was abandoned …

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Searching

John Cho is David Kim lost his wife to lymphoma. He is the single parent of a teenage daughter Margot (Michelle La). One night, she tells her Dad that she is studying for biology finals at a friend’s house, and then she goes missing. To help investigate the case, Detective Vick (Debra Messing) joins the case. What sets this story apart from other missing teenager films is that it is told almost entirely through technology. Kim mines content on his daughter’s computer from apps such as Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram as well as text messages to try to figure out …

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Love, Gilda

This is a documentary of the life of Gilda Radner, one of the original Saturday Night Live comedy crew and who died young from ovarian cancer. The film uses a lot of archival footage of home movies to show her growing up in Detroit and footage from several of her best Saturday Night Live moments. The film also examines some of her demons, including her struggling with an eating disorder. I really liked the movie; her story deserves to be told for a younger generation that may not understand how groundbreaking her work was. Several more contemporary SNL comedians, including …

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Bisbee ’17

In 1917, nearly 1200 mostly immigrant miners (and many were neither strikers nor miners) were rounded up at gunpoint in Bisbee, Arizona and were dropped off in the middle of the desert in New Mexico. This documentary is the story, told partly by a narrator and partly through the words of the Bisbee locals, of that event. To commemorate the centennial, the town re-enacted the event; the documentary in effect becomes a “movie within a movie”. I enjoyed the film, mostly because this was a story with which I was not familiar but has such contemporary relevance. The movie represents …

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Mandy

Nicholas Cage is Red Miller, a lumberjack who lives in the woods with his girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). One day, while Mandy is walking along the road, she catches the eye of Jeremiah (Linus Roache, in a really creepy performance), the leader of a religious, Charles Manson-like cult. One evening, Jeremiah’s followers and some motorcycle gangsters from another world come to their cabin and eventually burn Mandy. The rest of the movie is pure revenge. I am still scratching my head over this one but in a good way. Visually, it is quite striking, with its fade-out imagery, beautiful dream …

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Blaze

This excellent biopic is about someone that probably almost no one has heard of (certainly not me). Blaze Foley (played by Benjamin Dickey), born Michael David Fuller, was a country/folk songwriter who foreshadowed the rise of outlaw country stars like Merle Haggard, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Willie Nelson. Under Ethan Hawke’s careful direction, the film examines Blaze’s life at three periods of time: When he was courting and married to Sybil Rosen (who co-wrote the screenplay with Hawke); during the last day of his life; and a radio interview with his friend and sometimes collaborator and fellow country/folk singer-songwriter Towns …

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Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

This documentary is about Scotty Bowers and based on his book, “Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars.  Scotty is a World War II Marine Corps veteran who went to Hollywood after the war and became the confident (and lover) of many well-known actors and actresses. The gas station at which he worked became a front for helping them to connect with same-sex lovers at a time when people involved in Hollywood motion pictures were bound to strict ethics codes. The movie should have been very interesting; I was expecting a movie complementary …

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McQueen

This film tells the story of fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen, a young man who came out of blue-collar England and rose to international acclaim and worked as the chief fashion designer for Givenchy and, later for his own brand when Gucci acquired majority ownership. Before seeing the film, I had no idea who he was; after it, I am really glad that I now know. He is one of those people who never looked the part of a fashion designer; he looked more like a factory worker than creative visionary. The way McQueen’s story is told is very moving, …

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1945

(Hungarian, with English subtitles): World War II has ended on the continent. As residents of a tiny village in Hungary prepare for a wedding, two Orthodox Jewish men, father and son, enter town on the train with two boxes noted to contain perfumes. They begin their journey toward town. Their arrival forces the villagers to confront their history with the war. This is a really well-crafted film. It is shot in black and white, giving you the feeling of the era. The cinematography is interesting –there are wide panorama shots alternated with close-ups of the villagers that help tell their …

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Juliet, Naked

Annie (Rose Byrne) lives with her boyfriend Duncan (Chris O’Dowd), an academic who is obsessed with a has-been musician Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke). One day, Annie and Duncan receive a disc containing pre-recorded versions of an older Crowe album. The lives of Crowe, Annie, and Duncan become interconnected through Duncan’s ongoing blog about Crowe. This is a light, fun film. The acting from the three main characters is solid, and the film is very funny (especially Hawke who seems to have children who keep appearing from nowhere and O’Dowd, whose obsession keeps resulting in his foot getting stuck in his …

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