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The True History of the Kelly Gang

This very interesting Western out of Australia is an interpretation of the life of Ned Kelly, a real person of Irish descent who lived in Australia in the late 19th century. He was notorious for fighting against the English police and their injustice against the Irish immigrants. I have not seen other versions of this story nor read the book on which it was based. However, the film itself is unusual in its approach. In the film, Ned’s father wore frocks (women’s dresses) while engaging in raids on the English in order to catch them off guard. Ned, his brother, …

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Bad Education

This film is based on the true story of Dr. Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) and Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney) who were convicted of embezzling millions of dollars from a school district in Long Island that Dr. Tassone had helped build into one with a high reputation for getting seniors admitted to prestigious colleges. There is not a very deep examination of the years of scheming that led to this happening; the film starts off when Gluckin is caught embezzling money to finance home remodeling and is really about the downfall of both. The film is smartly made. Janney and Jackman …

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Shirley

Elizabeth Moss plays Shirley Jackson, the acclaimed horror author who is probably best known for her short story, The Lottery, and her novel, The Haunting of Hill House. The film takes place later in her career as she is struggling to write her next novel. Her husband Stanley, a womanizer who is incessantly patronizing, invites a young professor, Fred, who is newly hired by Stanley’s university, and his wife Rose to stay with them, partly to help look in on Shirley, who is beginning to suffer from anxiety. Rose and Shirley develop an odd friendship that becomes the inspiration for …

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Capone

Tom Hardy plays Al (Fonso) Capone during the last year of his life. At this point, syphilis has caused extensive neurological damage resulting in worsening dementia. After prison, he lives his final years in an exquisite estate in Florida with his close family and the FBI listening in on all of his phone calls. Capone believes he has hidden 10 million dollars somewhere on the property, but he cannot remember where it is at, and various people around him, including the FBI, are very interested in the money’s whereabouts. The film is rather strange, and not always in a good …

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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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Unbelievable

This Netflix miniseries that begins with a young woman living in the Seattle area, Marie (Kaitlyn Dever) who was raped, reports it and then, under pressure from the local police, withdraws her allegation. This further alienates this young woman, who spent many of her childhood years moving from one foster home to another. Meanwhile, about 5 years in the future, two detectives (played by Toni Collette and Merritt Wever) are investigating a series of sexual assaults that appear to be connected. The film moves back and forth across the 8 episodes between the two stories. Overall, I liked the film. …

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Just Mercy

This is an adaptation of one of the most inspiring books I have read recently by the same name. Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer in Alabama who has spent his entire career helping get people released from death row who have been wrongfully convicted. The film focuses mostly on the story of Walter McMillan (Jamie Foxx), who was arrested for a murder of a white 18-year-old woman. The film follows Stevenson (played very well and convincingly by Michael B. Jordan) and his journey to get McMillan free. I liked the film; the story is incredibly compelling and provides some real …

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Bombshell

This film is based on the story of how Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) filed a lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) for sexual harassment. Her cause was bolstered by Fox News host Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron). I will start with what I thought was good. The makeup – incredible. These three actors look so much like the people they are playing. Charlize Theron’s impersonation of Megyn Kelly is uncanny. The acting is excellent by all. I particularly liked Charlize Theron who just always looked and seemed like Megyn (I don’t think there is any role she cannot …

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The Irishman

Martin Scorcese’s latest film, based (probably loosely) on the life of Frank Sheehan (played by Robert DeNiro), an associate of the mob and of Jimmy Hoffa, is very impressive. There are two narrative strands that weave to form the overall story and narrated by Frank Sheehan in the present from his nursing home: The road trip that was taken by him and his mob boss Russell Buffalino (Joe Pesci) to attend a wedding and meet with Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) and the story of how Sheehan rose in the ranks as he did. The acting overall is great, but the …

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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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