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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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Don’t Look Up

Adam McKay’s latest film is a story of science and politics. Dr. Mindy (Leonard DiCaprio) is a scientist, and his doctoral student Kate Diabiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers, nearly by accident, that there is a comet heading toward Earth and threatens to send the planet into extinction. Dr. Mindy and Kate are invited to speak with the President (Meryl Streep) and her son and Chief of Staff (Johah Hill). The question is, will science win the day? This is an Adam McVay film, so we know the answer, but he has a lot of fun getting us there.  It is amazing …

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Licorice Pizza

  This is a very different Paul Thomas Anderson film. In earlier works, like There Will be Blood and Phantom Thread, every scene is controlled and precise. In this film, it is as if Anderson threw caution to the wind and let himself be carefree and let the actors reflect that freedom. This coming-of-age story is set in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s. Cooper Hoffman (Philip Seymour Hoffman’s son!) is Gary, a 15-year-old high school student, child actor, and successful entrepreneur who seems to believe himself to be much more important than he actually is, is getting his …

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Red Rocket

Simon Rex is Mikey, a washed-up porn star who makes his way back to his hometown of Texas City, Texas to figure out a new direction. He shows up, all smiles and optimism, on the doorstep of his ex-wife and mother-in-law. Most of the town doesn’t seem terribly enamored with his return, including the wife he left when he ventured to Los Angeles. I really enjoyed this film. It is a very typical Sean Baker movie in that he beautifully captures the mood and sense of place associated with characters who occupy a marginal slice of society. Here, he captures …

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The French Dispatch

The subject of Wes Anderson’s latest film is the French Dispatch, a supplement to the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun written by correspondents from a small town in France. The purpose of the supplement was to bring the world of a small French town to the midwestern readers. The film brings to life 3 stories republished in this last issue of the Dispatch – one from Arts and Leisure, one from Politics, and one from Dining (those may not be the exact titles). My favorite is the first story, The Concrete Artist, as it works the best at telling the story …

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Onward

In this animated film from Pixar, Ian and Barley, two brothers who lost their father to an illness, are given the opportunity to have their father back for one day through the use of an old magic wand. When the spell becomes botched, the brothers set off on an adventure to find the magic stone that will result in being able to see their dad. I liked the movie mostly for its message about parenting and being about to recognize the amazing things we do without even realizing how amazing they are. I would not consider this a film that …

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Soul

In this latest animation effort from Pixar studios, Joe Gardner is a music teacher at a public school in New York City who is a piano player constantly dreaming about jazz music. One day, he gets his break when he gets an opportunity to play with Dorothea Williams, a renowned musician. On the way to his debut, he suffers an accident and, through a series of events, finds himself assigned as a mentor to a particularly precocious spirit who can’t seem to find his way to becoming a body on Earth. The film is quite stunning. The animation is superior; …

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Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm

Sasha Baron Cohen, imprisoned for bringing shame to Kazakhstan and which is I think probably how the last movie ended, in exchange for a trip to America to restore the honor of the country. When he gets to America, he finds that his daughter has stowed away, and the two of them embark on a mission to get her married to Mike Pence (at least I think this is how the story went). Some parts of the movie were funny in illuminating issues of cultural difference and what our political system probably looks like from an outsider. However, I found …

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Promising Young Woman

Cassie (Carey Mulligan) is a young woman just approaching her 30th birthday. She still lives at home with two lackluster parents. By day, she works in a coffee shop, and at night, she is prowling the bars. Early in the film, you kind of get the sense she is going nowhere, but it doesn’t take long to recognize her cunning and cleverness. I won’t say much about the story, because you really need to watch it and let the various twists and surprises happen to really appreciate Cassie and the well-crafted and entertaining story. The movie feels like the ultimate …

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Druk (Another Round)

(Denmark, English subtitles). Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) is a high school teacher who has hit a bit of a mid-life crisis. His classes are boring, his family life is boring, with a wife who works nights and is becoming more estranged, and two teenage sons who are off doing their own thing. He and three other teachers decide to test a theory that blood alcohol content should always be at least .05 with no drinking after 8 pm or on the weekends. Their goal is to see if it improves their professional and social lives. The test starts off well enough, …

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