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Monthly Archives: March 2020

Bacurau

(Brazil): Teresa returns to her hometown for the funeral of her grandmother Carmelita. After Carmelita’s death, strange things begin to happen: The town of Bacurau disappears off the map; cell phone service suddenly vanishes; the water truck returns to town with a number of bullet holes; and a flying saucer hovers overhead. During the first hour, we get introduced to the town and its inhabitants and a slimy major from the next town over who is running for reelection. For the second half of the film, everything goes south. This film is wonderful but very strange. There are similarities to …

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Corpus Christi

(Poland): Daniel is a young man who, while in juvie, has a sort of spiritual transformation. He wants to become a priest, but his crime makes that not possible. Once released, he is sent to a small town to transition back as a factory worker. He stops in the church and speaks to a young woman who asks him what he is, and he replies, “a priest”, and pulls a clerical collar from his bag. By accident, he becomes the town’s priest. The film is carried by the brilliant acting of its lead (Bartosz Bielenia) who literally embodies a Christ …

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My Life as a Zucchini

I missed this film in 2017, which was nominated for a best animated film Oscar that year. Ikar, who likes to be called Zucchini, lives at home with his alcoholic mother. After an unfortunate accident, Zucchini ends up in an orphanage with other kids like him who were abandoned or orphaned by their parents or removed from their homes. This is such an adorable movie. The stop-motion animation is fantastic; those big heads on the kids’ bodies are so full of emotional expression. It is amazing how such a range of emotions can be captured in an animated format. There …

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Zombieland: Double Tap

Well, I seem to have a bit more time in the evenings these days to catch up on some movies! I loved the first Zombieland, so I thought I would check out the sequel. All of the leads – Woody Harrelson (Tallahassee), Abigail Breslin (Little Rock), Emma Stone (Wichita), and Jesse Eisenberg (Columbus) – are back, now battling new variants of zombies that get harder and harder to kill. When Little Rock runs off with a new age stoner (Berkeley), the three of them hit the road for what turns out to be a sometimes-hilarious road trip. Two of the …

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América

(Spanish, Subtitled): This documentary, set in Colima, Mexico, tells the story of three brothers (Diego, Bruno, and Rodriguez), two of whom have returned to take care of their grandmother,  América who, in her 90’s, is frail and appears to be suffering from older-age dementia. After she suffered a fall and the neighbors called the police, her son (their father) was sent to jail for neglect. It is a really endearing story, these young men who give up their lives away from Colima to return to help her. Her care causes tensions among them – they fight over her care, money, …

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Hard Eight

It was time to ensure that I had seen all of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films, so I went back to his first feature film, Hard Eight. Philip Baker Hall plays Sydney, a well-off gambler who chances upon John (John C. Reilly), a bum who is sitting outside a restaurant trying to figure out how to get money for his mother’s funeral. Sydney takes him under his wing and to Vegas where John learns the trade. The film doesn’t have the same sophisticated narrative structure that his later films would have, but what it does have is some really fascinating and …

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Dark Waters

The latest Todd Haynes (Carol, Far From Heaven, Safe, I’m Not There) is based on a true story about a lawyer (Mark Ruffalo) who discovers that Dupont has been poisoning the drinking water of a community in West Virginia. The film is well-acted, particularly by Ruffalo who does an excellent job of playing a guy whose passion exhausts him, his family, and his law practice. I have always really liked Todd Haynes films; he is a meticulous director who has a penchant for detail and can tell a really great story. It is a story that is infuriating but also …

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Super Deluxe

(India). The film comprises four intersecting stories. An unhappy woman has a sexual encounter with a former lover who dies during the act; a father, who left home suddenly 7 years prior, returns as a transgender woman; four boys are watching a porno when one of them discovers his mother is the star, and a man who believes he is the sole survivor of a tsunami believes he has the power to heal people. I loved this film. It reminded me a lot of two other films I really liked: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia and Robert Altman’s Short Cuts. In …

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