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Monthly Archives: December 2019

Uncut Gems

Adam Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a rather shady Jewish jeweler whose life is not working out from any angle. His marriage is ending; he is in a rocky relationship with a girlfriend, and he owes money – lots of money – to various loan sharks. He is constantly “robbing Peter to pay Paul” to keep just a half a step ahead of his creditors. He gets a rock from Africa that contains large precious stones – uncut gems – that he expects is going to turn his life around. The directors create a dizzying pace that never lets up and …

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Kingsmen: The Golden Circle

After his mansion is blown into smithereens and several Kingsmen are lost, Eggsy and Merlin end up in Kentucky to try to uncover who was responsible for the destruction. The film descends into goofy mayhem as they find themselves in the middle of whiskey country and confront a global threat instituted by Poppy, who has created a virus that leaves people paralyzed. The film seems to be a parody of itself; whereas the original Kingsman was fresh and moderately innovative, this one veers into silly comedy involving meat grinders and – yes, Elton John, who seems to be at Poppy’s …

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The latest film brings conclusion to a nine-part movie series. I am not quite sure how to describe the film. We did enjoy it and thought it to be a satisfying end to the series. To get there, however, meant sitting through some rather corny dialog, odd music, and a lot of visits with characters from previous episodes; the film seemed more interested in paying homage to the series than creating anything new and exciting. The story also felt rushed to me. I did like how it brought resolution to the question that started it regarding the power of good …

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Little Women

This is Greta Gerwig’s latest film about 4 young women coming of age and living in pre-Civil War Massachusetts. I have not read the original novel, nor have I seen any of the previous versions of this, so I watched the film with no preconceptions. When I watch a Gerwig film I feel like I am being guided into a special place, and this film is no exception. She is a brilliant director who gets the most from her actors in this film about these 4 women finding their voices in the 19th century but feels relevant. Jo March (Saoirse …

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Ford v Ferrari

Ford v Ferrari:  Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and Ken Miles (Christian Bale) are racing friends. Carroll has since retired due to a heart condition and designs and sells cars; Ken works in an autobody shop, barely making ends meet and racing for little or no money on the side. He knows the heartbeat of a racecar like no one else. Ford approaches Shelby about making a racing car; their goal is to have one of their cars win one of the Grand Prix events of auto racing, the Le Mans in France. I really enjoyed this film. Bale and Damon …

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Richard Jewell

Richard Jewell (in a strong performance by Paul Walter Hauser, who I remember as the bumbling confederate in the I Tonya) is a wannabe police officer who is working as a security guard at the Atlanta Olympic games. He discovers a bag with explosives and is briefly labeled a hero for saving more people from injury. Soon after, the FBI manufactures a case identifying Richard Jewell as the one who planted the bomb. The story is interesting, although the movie is rather uninteresting. I liked the performances by Hauser and Kathy Bateman, who plays his mother. The part of the …

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A Hidden Life

Terrence Malick’s latest film is based on the true story of a conscientious objector in the era of Hitler. Franz owns a farm in Austria and is married to Franziska; they have three daughters. Franz goes off to basic training, and when he comes back, he decides that he cannot take the Hitler loyalty oath. As with most Malick films, this one requires patience. The film is long, at over 3 hours, and it is exquisitely shot and scored. I was bracing myself for a long film, but it seemed to fly by. Malick is known for his heavy themes, …

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Lloyd (Matthew Rhys) is a journalist who tends to ravage his subjects in magazine articles. His boss assigns him a topic out of his comfort zone: Write a piece about Mr. Rogers for a magazine article on American heroes. The film is about the friendship that develops between Mr. Rogers (played by Tom Hanks) and Lloyd, based on a real-life friendship between Mr. Rogers and the journalist. I liked the movie but did not love it. It felt too “Hallmark Channel” in a field of films this year that soar. Most of the film …

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The Two Popes

Cardinal Bergoglio (played by Jonathan Pryce) who would later become Pope Francis, goes to the Vatican in 2012 to submit his request for retirement to Pope Benedict XVI (played by Anthony Hopkins). As it happens, at the same time, Benedict summons Bergoglio to the Vatican to tell him some important news: That he wants to resign as Pope and recommend Bergoglio as his replacement. The film uses that fictionalized meeting as a stage for a dialogue between the two men that illuminates their philosophical differences (and similarities). I really enjoyed the film. The dialogue between the two men is engaging, …

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Dolemite is My Name

Eddie Murphy plays Rudy Ray Moore, a struggling comedian who has an ear for the kind of comedy Black America wants to hear (definitely a counter to Bill Cosby) and turns that into a moderately successful comedy album career. Rudy then decides to make a Shaft-like movie that has women, fighting, and sex. The film is about how he cobbles together the resources to put together a film that would go on to gross 10 million dollars and the box office and establish the “blaxploitation film” era. The movie is very funny; Eddie Murphy is great in the lead role. …

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