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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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The Prom

The Prom: Meryl Streep and James Corden Broadway stars whose recent play was panned; Nicole Kidman, an actress relegated to the chorus who dreams of being at center stage; and Andrew Rannells, a guy who attended Juilliard but is serving drinks in a Broadway theater are all down on their luck and decide that they need to adopt a cause to reinvigorate their brands. In Iowa, when the local PTA finds out that Emma is going to bring her girlfriend to the prom, the head of the PTA stops at nothing to ensure that Emma won’t be attending. The 4 …

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The Host

(Korea, English subtitles): I know that a lot of people have probably already seen this one, but I missed it, and I have been doing a Bong Joon-Ho movie-watching binge, and here we are. Kang-du is a single father of Hyun-seo; both live with his father. Kang-du appears to be narcoleptic, falling asleep at the window of the little store his father owns. One day, as he is delivering food to a customer outside, a slimy fish-lizard like creature arises from the river and creates mayhem and, at the same time, takes Hyun-seo. The remainder of the film is about …

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Okja

(Korea, subtitled, with some parts in English): Mija, a young girl living with her grandfather in Korea, has been raising a gigantic pig, Okja. The pig is one of 26 “non-genetically modified” super pigs that were spread around the world to be raised by a very bizarre corporation out to create the best sausages by pigs that grown very large and poop economically – all under the guise of being environmentally friendly. Okja has been designated as the prize pig, and Mija finds herself in the intersection between corporate and animal rights activists. The film is a rather interesting collection …

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The Personal History of David Copperfield

Dev Patel stars as the adult David Copperfield, and the film follows the life of David from his earliest and privileged years to his years working literally as a child slave in a bottle factory and the through young adulthood. The film was fun and funny; Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton as his Aunt Trotwood, and Hugh Laurie as Mr. Dick create funny characters. Given that, though, the film for me was just so-so. I was expecting something a bit more realistic that perhaps was a bit more of a creative new retelling that is more consistent with Dickens. What emerges …

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The Forty-Year-Old Version

Radha Blank wrote, directed, and stars in a film about a 40-year-old woman who was once on a list of “30 playwrights under 30 to watch” and is now teaching acting in a high school. She decides to reinvent herself as a rapper who creates songs about women who are entering their 40’s. This is a really wonderful film. It is shot in black and white, which seems fitting for the material. Blank captures the scenes and eclectic people from her neighborhood in New York City; some of those encounters are as hilarious as they are insightful into city life. …

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