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Brittany Runs a Marathon

This film is based on a true story of Brittany, a woman in her late 20’s whose life isn’t really going anywhere; she parties her nights away, is perpetually broke, and her closest “friend” is completely self-absorbed. One day she gets a “wake-up call” from her doctor; she has high blood pressure and needs to lose weight. Brittany forces herself into sweats and runs one block, and she decides that she is going to train for the New York marathon. This is a really inspiring story. Jillian Bell, who plays Brittany, is great in her role; she is funny, incredibly …

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Blinded by the Light

Javed is 16 and yearns to be a writer. He writes poetry and keeps a journal to the dismay of his father, who emigrated to the UK from Pakistan to have a better life for his family. The film takes place in Thatcher’s England of the 1980s when economic woes rocked the country and jobs were hard to find. One day, Javed discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen, and his world completely flips. The topics the film covers, such as generational culture clash, racism, and economic blight, aren’t particularly new. What makes this film singularly stand out are two things. …

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

In this newest Quentin Tarantino film Leonard DiCaprio place Rick Dalton, who we follow from the height of his career as an actor in action pictures to the status of a Hollywood “has been”. Brad Pitt is Cliff Booth, who is Rick’s long-time friend, stunt double, and who ensures that Rick gets to his rehearsals. The film is set in 1969, at the same time Charles Manson’s followers murdered Sharon Tate and her friends. Tarantino weaves Rick Dalton’s story into the story of Sharon Tate in a very interesting and entertaining blend of fact and fiction. Tarantino is an expert …

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The Farewell (Chinese with Subtitles)

The film begins with being “based on an actual lie”. The story is about a Chinese family whose matriarch (Nai Nai) is dying of lung cancer. The family decides to keep the truth from her and take on that responsibility themselves since the truth might kill her faster. Nai Nai’s children hasten the wedding of her grandson so as to bring the family together in China one last time. Although her parents told her she could not go, Billi (played excellently by Awkwafina), who has a special relationship with her grandmother, shows up anyway. I really love this film that …

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Yesterday

In Danny Boyle’s latest film, Jack Malik plays a young singer/songwriter who cannot seem to find success. He plays in small venues with a handful of listeners (mostly his friends). One night, he is riding his bike home and is hit by a bus. He soon discovers that no one has ever heard of the Beatles, and he soon discovers what it is like to be famous as he releases their songs. From a technical perspective, the film is mediocre. There is not a lot of control over the script, and sometimes the story goes to strange places that don’t …

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Booksmart

The story is about two girls who spent their entire high school life studying and making the best grades so that they can get into the best colleges. On the day before graduation, after a scene in the bathroom, Molly realizes that she and Amy have probably missed out on an important part of high school life. They decide to go all out on their last night before graduation and have the experience they missed. What results is mostly hilarious as the two find themselves trying to find rides and finding themselves at different parties thrown by very different people …

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Shazam!

14-year-old orphan Billy is unhappily assigned to another foster home, and he is not happy. One day, he becomes the guy designated to become Shazam: A superhero who can go into and out of his role by proclaiming Shazam! He encounters Sivana, the older man version of the boy who first stumbled into the Wizard realm and was not deemed worthy to have Shazam’s power. The movie is sweet but too much so. Most of it is rather cliché; we have seen the story of the guy who doesn’t know how to harness his powers, the guy who overcomes personal …

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The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

After several years of relative calm after Bricksburg was originally saved by Lucy and Rex, a new threat comes from invaders from outer space. Lucy is captured by the invaders, and it is up to Rex find Lucy and for both of them to once again save their city. I will start by saying that I don’t think this film worked nearly as well as the first one. My daughter called it right: the movie tries way too hard for its laughs. But at a deeper level, the laughs will come to those who are very young and respond to …

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Thunder Road

This movie popped out of nowhere on a 2018 best movies list in one of my FB film groups. I had never heard of it and to my knowledge got very little if any press, although it has picked up a number of awards on the independent film circuit. Jim Cummings plays Jim, a man whose life seems to be falling apart around him while he valiantly tries to keep all of the pieces propped up. In the opening scene – which is one of the best I have seen – Jim is giving a eulogy for his mother who …

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The Upside

In this remake of the French film Intouchables (2012), Phil (Bryan Cranston) is a millionaire who was in an accident that left him a quadriplegic. During his search for a caretaker, Dell (Kevin Hart) barges into an interview being overseen by Phil’s business manager Yvonne (Nicole Kidman); he really doesn’t want the job, he just needs a signature to prove he is looking for work. Phil decides to hire Dell, which is the beginning of their friendship. This is based on the true story of a friendship of two very different men with different backgrounds. The film is okay; the …

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