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Boy

This is an early film by Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople; What we Do in the Shadows; JoJo Rabbit) centers Boy, a young boy of about 12 or 13 years. He lives with his younger brother Rocky and a variety of young cousins. He serves as the male caretaker of his bother and cousins while their nan is away. Boy idolizes his father, who he hasn’t seen in 7 years since his father went to prison, and Michael Jackson. When his father suddenly shows up, he is forced to reconcile his worship of an idealized father with the one …

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The Gentlemen

In this new Guy Ritchie film, Michael (Matthew McConaughey) has created a multimillion-pound marijuana growing and selling operation in London. When he decides to sell the business, there are several characters who try to figure out ways to take the business from him. This is a weird movie. The dialogue is for the most part really corny and bad; I am not quite sure if it was intended that way (I think it was), but in many cases,  it isn’t funny. To Ritchie’s credit, when his brand of craziness works, it is really funny. The only saving grace for me …

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Saint Frances

Bridget is a 30-something whose life seems headed to nowhere: she went to college but is employed as a food service worker and is in a relationship with a sensitive guy but with whom she is unsatisfied. She lands a job as a nanny for 6-year-old Frances, the daughter of two moms, and one of the moms has just had another baby. The film is about the relationship that develops between Bridget and Frances and Bridget’s journey of self-discovery. I liked the film, particularly the actress who played Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan, who also wrote the screenplay). The screenplay for the …

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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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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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Cake

(Pakistan): This film is about three siblings who return home to Kabul after their father suffers from congestive heart failure. The return home surfaces a number of interpersonal struggles and family secrets that risk fracturing the family. At first glance, it seems like a standard “dysfunctional family dynamics” film. However, the film is really well constructing. The ensemble acting is great. The screenplay is very well crafted, frequently very funny, and keeps coming up with more surprises; I didn’t find it at all predictable. I am impressed with the music; I don’t know anything about Pakistani pop music, but it …

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Paddleton

Michael (Mark Duplass) and Andy (Ray Romano) are two best friends who live next to each other. Michael is diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer, and he asks Andy to help him to end his life early before the worst of the illness sets in. The film follows their story after Michael’s decision. I really loved this film. It isn’t perfect – there is one part in particular that seemed not necessary to the overall story – but the film reminded me of Sean Baker films that focus more on character development than plot. Duplass and Romano are excellent and have …

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Jallikattu

(India): I watched this film with no expectations, and I have to say it was one of the most thought-provoking, interesting, and surprising (in a great way) films I have seen this year. It is the kind of film I am attracted to – creative and unique in its vision and storytelling and one whose premise initially seems like it cannot work but executes brilliantly. It opens with a montage of men who live in the village; we are introduced to some of the key characters, quick glimpses of their faces and activities during a typical day. After a brief …

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Kumbalangi Nights

(India) This film was interesting for me to watch. This is probably the first film out of India I have seen that doesn’t look like it was made for an international audience. Four brothers live together in an old house in a poor part of town. The brothers don’t all get along well together, and it is clear from the beginning that there is a history that we will discover as the film progresses. I was fascinated watching this, as it is a very different film than the kind that are typically produced in the United States. I will claim …

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In Fabric

In this British thriller, a woman who is recently separated, lonely, and struggling to raise a rebellious teenage boy, wanders into a dress shop and purchases a striking red dress for a date with someone she has met through a local newspaper singles site. After she buys the dress, a number of strange things begin to happen to her; it is clear that her purchase unleashes some kind of evil force that affects her and others who come into possession of the dress. This is a rather interesting film. It is kind of a horror film but without a lot …

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