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Gary Burkholder

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield play Tammy Faye and Jim Baker. Those of us of a certain age will certainly remember them as the founders of the PTL Club (The Jim and Tammy Show) who amassed a fortune in their evangelism ministry and then lost it all quickly in a major corruption scandal (and, of course, infidelity). The best thing about the film is Chastain: She is remarkable as Tammy Faye in the singing voice, all the make-up – she is the reason that you are so drawn into the movie. Andrew Garfield is good as well, but Chastain steals …

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Parallel Mothers

(Spanish) Almodóvar’s latest film concerns two women – Janis, who is in her 40’s, and Teresa, who is a teenager – who strike up a bond while sharing a hospital room as both are preparing to give birth. That connection and how it happens is one storyline. In another storyline, Janis, a photographer, has an affair with Arturo, an archeologist who specializes in digs related to Spain’s civil war. Janis asks him to help her to organize a dig of a plot of land where many of her male relatives were murdered and buried. These two stories are woven together …

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The Batman

Robert Pattinson is the latest to don the cape and play the Batman. There is absolutely no disappointment in that choice. The film is different from previous Batman films in its very film-noir approach to the subject. In this film, Gotham City has been taken over by gangsters, drug lords who rule the city; major politicians and most of the police department has been bought off. I loved the characterization of the city, its darkness and the chaos. The filming in this regard is fantastic. The Batman is widely despised by the city and is characterized as a villain by …

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Its a Sin (Limited Series)

I don’t always weigh in on limited series, but I was particularly captivated by this one (5 episodes). Three young and very different men – Ritchie, Colin, and Roscoe – all are 18 and move to London to explore their lives as gay men. It’s a Sin spans the decade between 1981 and 1991, the time when AIDS, a then-unknown disease that was affecting primarily gay men, was casting a shadow over the lives of many, gay and straight alike. It is a bit like the Boys in the Band but from the perspective of the UK. Those of us …

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The Tragedy of Macbeth

To preface this short summary, I have never seen any other version of this story, either play or screen; I recall having read it once in college, but alas, I have always struggled with the language of Shakespeare. So, I refreshed my memory of the story before watching the film. I loved it. I had a hard time with the language – I am glad I had subtitles to catch it all (part of it is just getting older and the mind is less efficient at keeping up with the abstract talking). A part of me wished it had been …

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The Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

This wonderful documentary comes from the summer of 1969, the same year of Woodstock when there was another big cultural event that summer: A concert series at Mount Morris Park. That summer, across several Sundays, the Harlem Culture Festival featured some of the biggest names among Black singers of the era. According to the film, nearly 50 hours of film were shot, and most of it was locked away in a basement for about 50 years, as no one at the time felt that it was worthy of a film. The movie includes a combination of this lost footage and …

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The Hand of God

(Italy) This is a coming-of-age story centered around Fabietto, a young man who is trying to figure out what to do with his life. The film is essentially in two parts. The first is a rather slow and meandering look at Fabietto’s direct and extended family, including an aunt, Patrizia, to whom he has an odd attraction – a clearly physical one, but also one that is sympathetic to her condition. The family is full of characters – some cranky, some loving, and some rather mean-spirited – but they are all a family. A startling event ushers in the second …

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Coda

Ruby (Emilia Jones), 17 and a senior in high school is the only hearing child of deaf adults (CODA). She spends her days working with her father and brother on their fishing boat off the Massachusetts coast and being the bridge between their world and the hearing world. The parents depend on her to be this bridge, while her brother resents her for it and wants, as the older brother, to take responsibility for their success. Mr. Villalobos, the choir teacher, takes an interest in Ruby when he discovers that she is a talented singer and has the potential to …

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The Last Duel

This is not a movie that I would have necessarily placed on my priority list; I didn’t even know until I started watching it that it is based on a true story of the last sanctioned duel in France. The setting is the 100-Years War. The film centers on three people: Jean De Carrouges (Matt Damon), a knight known for his bravery and ferocity in battle; Jacques LeGris (Adam Driver), who in the beginning was a close friend of De Carrouges but becomes his most bitter enemy; and Margerite de Carrouges, wife of de Carrouges who accuses LeGris of raping …

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The Green Knight:

Dev Patel plays Gawain, the nephew of King Arthur. To prove himself as a capable knight, he accepts a challenge from the Green Knight by cutting off the Green Knight’s head, with the stipulation that he return the following year for the same treatment at the hand of the Green Knight. For a year, he passes the time, seemingly without a care, and then at the end of the year, he sets off on the journey to meet his fate. I will say first that I am not familiar with this literature, but I have read that the movie is …

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