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Drama

Da 5 Bloods

Spike Lee’s latest film follows 4 African American Vietnam war veterans who return to Vietnam to find the remains of the 5th Blood and secure some gold that they came into and buried before they escaped after their aircraft crashed in the jungle. There are some parts of the film that are well done. Spike Lee’s signature of educating us about the era from the perspective of Black history, what the war was like for African American soldiers, and the immorality of the war and how it lasts into the present is really good. When you see a Spike Lee …

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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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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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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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Tigertail

(Taiwan-American): The film spans three generations centered on Pin-Jui: Pin-Jui’s childhood and young adulthood; his married years, and his children. The screenplay bounces back and forth in time to tell the story of how Pin-Jui followed his dream and moved to America from Taiwan. It is a story about the choices we make and their ramifications. I liked the film, although I did not think it great. While it is a nicely told story, it lacks the emotional depth needed to connect with the characters. So many of the stories are half-told, and it all felt rushed (one example is …

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Bull

Kris and her sister live with her grandma in a poor neighborhood in Houston, TX while her mother serves a prison sentence. Abe, Kris’ neighbor, used to ride bulls on the Black rodeo circuit but, due to injuries now works on the circuit as the guy who deflects the bulls when riders fall off. Kris and her friends break into Abe’s house while he is gone, drink his booze, and trash his house. Rather than send her to juvie, he agrees to allow her to clean up his house and work for him in exchange. The film is about the …

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Ordinary Love

Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville are Tom and Joan, a retired couple who have settled into an easy routine that couples who have been together for decades can; their lives are in every sense ordinary. The film is about how their relationship is tested when Joan is diagnosed with breast cancer. What makes this film work is that it gives a close-up view of life; there is no complex plot here, just the day-to-day experiences of a married couple who are coping with a cancer diagnosis. Both actors are wonderful together, but I thought that Manville’s performance was superior, one …

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Swallow

Haley Bennet is Hunter, wife of Ritchie, the son of very wealthy parents and in line to manage the family business. On the surface, Hunter appears to have everything going for her – a very successful husband, money, and a new home.  However, as she feels more diminished by Ritchie’s success and treated as an object by her in-laws, Hunter develops pica, an uncontrollable urge to swallow objects. The progression of her condition and understanding why forms the core of the story. Haley Bennett is superb; she manages through facial expressions to convey the reality of a woman whose world …

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The Way Back

Ben Affleck is Jack Cunningham, a former high school basketball star who is recently separated and an alcoholic. When his former school’s coach is incapacitated, the father who heads the school reaches out to see if he would step in as coach. I think the movie is just okay, mostly because Affleck gives a very convincing performance. The script leaves a lot to be desired. There are a lot of films, such as Hoosiers, that give better treatment to the subject matter. This film ends up being predictable, and the revelation of his various demons comes too late in the …

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The Assistant

The Assistant: Julia Garner is Jane, an assistant for a producing company. Recently graduate from college, she has been on her job for about two months and hopes that this job will get her started on her career. The film happens during the course of one workday, from when she checks arrives at work before sunrise and leaves after dark. This is a really powerful film about the workplace harassment, a much more realistic one that last year’s Bombshell. The toxicity of the workplace unfolds slowly; it is small things that you notice and then brush aside. But as the …

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