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Latest Reviews

The Father

Anne (Olivia Coleman) is caring for her father Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) who has advanced dementia. As Anthony is rapidly losing his way, Anne is trying desperately to hang on and cope as his mind deteriorates. I have seen a lot of films about dementia (and have like most all of them), but this is the first time I have seen a film portray what it is like in the head of someone who has dementia rather than what the people outside him see. The effect and emotional impact are incredible. Both Coleman and Hopkins give exceptional and award-worthy performances, but …

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One Night in Miami

Regina King directed this film that provides a fictionalized account of a celebration meeting between four Black men – the singer Sam Cooke, who was at the height of his career; Cassius Clay (aka Muhammed Ali), who that night had become the world heavyweight boxing champion at 22; Malcolm X, who was in the middle of his rift with the Nation of Islam and its leader Elijah Muhammed; and James Brown, the best running back of his time (and now widely viewed as one of the greatest of all time). The film uses the meeting of these four men as …

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Nomadland

Fern (Frances McDormand) finds herself out of work when the sole industry in Empire, Nevada, closes down. She outfits a van and hits the road, traveling around the Western United States. She takes on various jobs, including seasonal (Christmas) work in Amazon warehouses, restaurants, and as a park caretaker; she is too young to retire and is not ready to stop working. She meets other nomads along the way, most of whom are not trained actors and actual people who are on the road for a variety of reasons. I loved the movie. McDormand is amazing; she disappears into her …

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Minari

(Much of the film is Korean with English subtitles): Jacob, Monica, are Korean – American immigrants and move from California to Arkansas with their two young children. They arrive at the property that has several acres with no irrigation, and an old trailer. Jacob is looking to find success in creating a niche farming Korean vegetables and not have to make money in the chicken houses “looking at chicken butts”. There is something very special about this film that is based on the experiences of the director as a child. While the film is from an immigrant point of view, …

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Supernova

Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) have been partners for 20 years. Tusker was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers, and they decide to take a trip in a camper van to visit old haunts and family and friends. There is not much that is novel about the story, and the main point of the trip feels predictable and a bit cliché. But what really drives this movie is the outstanding performances from Firth and Tucci. There is a naturalness to the chemistry that makes their relationship, and the pain that the disease is causing them, feel real and authentic. I …

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The Dig

Carey Mulligan plays Mrs. Pretty, a widow of significant means, who hires Basil Brown, played by Ralph Fiennes, to conduct an archeological dig on her property. There are several mounds on the property, one of which she feels particularly drawn toward. Mr. Brown’s discovery of an ancient sailing vessel creates a lot of commotion in the local and archeological community. The film is a visually beautiful period piece. Mulligan and Fiennes give characteristically strong performances. I have always really loved the naturalness of Mulligan’s performances, and this one is no exception. I found the story interesting, although the screenplay could …

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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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Pieces of a Woman

Martha (Vanessa Kirby) and Sean (Shia LaBeouf) are expecting their first child, and they have decided to have the delivery at home. The final moments turn tragic, and the film is about how Martha, Sean, and her mother domineering mother Elizabeth (Ellen Burstyn) deal with the tragedy. The first quarter of the film is pretty amazing, as the camera captures the entirety of the birth process, and Vanessa Kirby is brilliant. Unfortunately, the rest of the film quickly loses focus. It quickly becomes unclear who is the focus. At first, you think that the focus is on Martha and Sean, …

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Funny Boy

(Sri Lanka, some parts in English and English subtitles): This film is a coming-of-age story of a boy, Arjie, growing up gay in Sri Lanka during the civil war between the Tamil and Sinhalese ethnic groups. We see him first probably around 8 years old, in a mock wedding in which he is dressed up as the bride and another girl from the neighborhood is the groom. While his father is concerned about him being a “funny boy”, his Aunt Radha encourages his differentness. The film then jumps to Arjie as a teenager attending a preparatory school, where the tension …

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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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