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Latest Reviews

Ford v Ferrari

Ford v Ferrari:  Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and Ken Miles (Christian Bale) are racing friends. Carroll has since retired due to a heart condition and designs and sells cars; Ken works in an autobody shop, barely making ends meet and racing for little or no money on the side. He knows the heartbeat of a racecar like no one else. Ford approaches Shelby about making a racing car; their goal is to have one of their cars win one of the Grand Prix events of auto racing, the Le Mans in France. I really enjoyed this film. Bale and Damon …

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Richard Jewell

Richard Jewell (in a strong performance by Paul Walter Hauser, who I remember as the bumbling confederate in the I Tonya) is a wannabe police officer who is working as a security guard at the Atlanta Olympic games. He discovers a bag with explosives and is briefly labeled a hero for saving more people from injury. Soon after, the FBI manufactures a case identifying Richard Jewell as the one who planted the bomb. The story is interesting, although the movie is rather uninteresting. I liked the performances by Hauser and Kathy Bateman, who plays his mother. The part of the …

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A Hidden Life

Terrence Malick’s latest film is based on the true story of a conscientious objector in the era of Hitler. Franz owns a farm in Austria and is married to Franziska; they have three daughters. Franz goes off to basic training, and when he comes back, he decides that he cannot take the Hitler loyalty oath. As with most Malick films, this one requires patience. The film is long, at over 3 hours, and it is exquisitely shot and scored. I was bracing myself for a long film, but it seemed to fly by. Malick is known for his heavy themes, …

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Lloyd (Matthew Rhys) is a journalist who tends to ravage his subjects in magazine articles. His boss assigns him a topic out of his comfort zone: Write a piece about Mr. Rogers for a magazine article on American heroes. The film is about the friendship that develops between Mr. Rogers (played by Tom Hanks) and Lloyd, based on a real-life friendship between Mr. Rogers and the journalist. I liked the movie but did not love it. It felt too “Hallmark Channel” in a field of films this year that soar. Most of the film …

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The Two Popes

Cardinal Bergoglio (played by Jonathan Pryce) who would later become Pope Francis, goes to the Vatican in 2012 to submit his request for retirement to Pope Benedict XVI (played by Anthony Hopkins). As it happens, at the same time, Benedict summons Bergoglio to the Vatican to tell him some important news: That he wants to resign as Pope and recommend Bergoglio as his replacement. The film uses that fictionalized meeting as a stage for a dialogue between the two men that illuminates their philosophical differences (and similarities). I really enjoyed the film. The dialogue between the two men is engaging, …

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Dolemite is My Name

Eddie Murphy plays Rudy Ray Moore, a struggling comedian who has an ear for the kind of comedy Black America wants to hear (definitely a counter to Bill Cosby) and turns that into a moderately successful comedy album career. Rudy then decides to make a Shaft-like movie that has women, fighting, and sex. The film is about how he cobbles together the resources to put together a film that would go on to gross 10 million dollars and the box office and establish the “blaxploitation film” era. The movie is very funny; Eddie Murphy is great in the lead role. …

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Monos

(Colombia): This is a fascinating character study of a group of teenage soldiers, named Monos, who report to a higher-order group called the Organization. The children are living in an old military fort and have responsibility for a hostage, an engineer they call Doctora. Things go well until one of the kids accidentally shoots a cow they were provided by the Organization; the leader kills himself, thinking he will be blamed. Unable to determine how to explain this to the Messenger (the Organization’s representative), things begin to turn more sinister as the child soldiers make their own way. There have …

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The Souvenir

Julie (played by Honor Swinton Byrne, Tilda Swinton’s daughter) is a 25-year-old film school student who is making a film about a boy who is dying and has an unusual attachment to his mother. Julie’s mother (Tilda Swinton) pays the rent and provides money when needed. Julie meets Anthony (Tim Burke), a mysterious guy who has a job in the “foreign office” and who right away gets under your skin; there is something not right about him. There is a lot to admire in the film. The acting by Byrne and Burke is remarkable; Byrne plays Julie as a quiet …

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I Lost My Body

(France) (The version on Netflix right now is dubbed English): This is the most unusual and creative animated film about a hand, which was detached from the body of Naoufel, a teenager who is living with his uncle and rather mean cousin. Two stories are intertwined: The first is the hand, which escaped from the laboratory and embarks on a rather perilous journey through Paris trying to find the rest of its body. The second is the story of Naoufel, who falls in love with a woman who he only knows through the apartment speaker after a botched pizza delivery. …

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Chernobyl

This 5-part HBO miniseries is a historical fiction based on the actual events leading up to and after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Russia. It is quite a stunning piece of work. With the exception of a few minor scientific details, the film appears to be an accurate depiction of what happened. There is so much to be said about the artistry: The great writing and acting in which situation after situation arises in which complex moral and ethical decisions come into play; the pace of the film that creates a lot of suspense as the lead scientists unravel what …

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