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Winter Sleep

(Turkey, English subtitles). Ayden a former stage star who is wealthy and owns a hotel in Anatolia. He lives there with his sister Necla, who is divorced and has regrets about the dissolution of their marriage, and with his much younger wife Nihal. As winter approaches, the hotel customers become much sparser and the tensions among the three find new life. This is an amazing film. It is over 3 ½ hours in length, but it never feels that long, and it felt like it could have gone on longer. This is a dialog film, and patience is rewarded as …

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I Am Thinking Of Ending Things

This is Charlie Kaufman’s latest film (Screenwriter for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation; Director for Anomalisa and Synecdoche, New York). At the start, we are with a couple who are in a new relationship who are on their way to meet his parents; the woman (Jessie Buckley, who was great in Wild Rose) is thinking to herself, “I am thinking of ending things”. Her boyfriend (Jessie Plemons) seems to be reading her mind and asks her if she said something. That is the start of a very strange yet highly creative film. I won’t even …

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Relic

Kay (Emily Mortimer) and her daughter Sam (Bella Heathcoat) return to Kay’s family home when her mother Edna (Robyn Nevin) has been missing for an extended time. The find a house of a woman who is suffering from Alzheimer’s with the Post-it note labels. Edna suddenly returns home, and several mysterious incidents take place, and it seems that there is some other presence in the house with them. I really liked this film. The director creates an old-school spooky horror film with a twist: She has woven into the story a narrative about what it is like to lose someone …

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The Wild Pear Tree

(Turkey, English Subtitles): Sinan has just graduated college and returns home to a small and more rural town, hoping to publish his first book that he refers to as an “auto-fiction meta novel” (which in itself reflects the film’s ability to get you to constantly try to unpack the narrative). His father is a schoolteacher who has gambled away the family home. He is close to retiring, and at the beginning of the film, he is trying to dig a well on a family plot that everyone says will never run. The film is partly a father-son relationship journey, but …

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Crip Camp

Beginning in the early 1950s, Camp Jened, in upstate New York, was a place where teenagers with disabilities could go and experience, many for the first time, a place where they could be teenagers and live freely with people like them with disabilities. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, the camp was run by hippies, so there were a lot of freedoms provided that the kids did not get elsewhere. Many of these summer campers ended up migrating to the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, an innovative center focused on providing services to the disabled. It was here …

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The True History of the Kelly Gang

This very interesting Western out of Australia is an interpretation of the life of Ned Kelly, a real person of Irish descent who lived in Australia in the late 19th century. He was notorious for fighting against the English police and their injustice against the Irish immigrants. I have not seen other versions of this story nor read the book on which it was based. However, the film itself is unusual in its approach. In the film, Ned’s father wore frocks (women’s dresses) while engaging in raids on the English in order to catch them off guard. Ned, his brother, …

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Boy’s State

This documentary follows one class of Texas Boy’s State participants in 2018. Boy’s State is a program sponsored by the American legion that has been bringing high school junior boys together since 1935 (there is a Girl’s State equivalent that has been running since 1937). At the very beginning, we see that Bill Clinton, Rush Limbaugh, Cory Booker, and Dick Cheney were all previous participants. The boys are randomly assigned to two parties, and for a week create a government and participate in elections, with the most coveted office being that of Governor. There are also talent shows, and they …

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John Lewis: Good Trouble

This documentary is about the life of John Lewis, congressman and civil rights icon. The film uses interviews (many of them with Lewis as a much older but still committed fighter for civil rights) and archival film and photo sources to tell his story. It is a pretty “standard” documentary; there is nothing extraordinary about the filming or the approach. However, it is an inspiring story about a man who marched with Martin Luther King Jr and found himself arrested and sometimes beaten in his fight for civil rights. He became famous for saying that people should get into “good …

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She Dies Tomorrow

Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) calls up her friend Jane and needs to see her; when Susan finally does come over, Amy tells her that she is going to die tomorrow. Susan just chalks it up to drinking relapse, but when she gets home, she hears voices and also believes she is going to die tomorrow. The thought that the person will die tomorrow spreads like a virus – a psychological virus. At one hour and 24 minutes, the screenplay is pretty tight and is paced quickly. One the one hand, this is a sort-of horror film permeated with spookiness and …

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Bad Education

This film is based on the true story of Dr. Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) and Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney) who were convicted of embezzling millions of dollars from a school district in Long Island that Dr. Tassone had helped build into one with a high reputation for getting seniors admitted to prestigious colleges. There is not a very deep examination of the years of scheming that led to this happening; the film starts off when Gluckin is caught embezzling money to finance home remodeling and is really about the downfall of both. The film is smartly made. Janney and Jackman …

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