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Latest Reviews

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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Emma

In this newest adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, Emma (Anna Taylor Joy) lives in a ridiculously rich world in which she does not want for anything. She has shunned the institution of marriage, yet Emma feels the need to serve as a matchmaker (or match breaker) for those around her, especially her friend Harriet (Mia Goth). She is young and inexperienced but perceives herself to be more worldly than she really is, and in her stubbornness is blind to her own feelings, in this case for George (Johnny Flynn). I was rather surprised that I enjoyed the film as much …

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The Old Guard

Andy (Charlize Theron) leads a small band of superheroes who possess the inability to die. They march across the centuries trying to help the evolution of humanity in positive ways. Andy doesn’t think that the work they do makes a difference. The band discovers a new person Nile, a soldier in Afghanistan, who also cannot die (played by Kiki Layne). Nile joins the team as they fight against a corporation that is trying to capture them for their DNA that will help to cure previously incurable diseases. I enjoyed the film. It has a lot of emotional depth along with …

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Father Soldier Son

Brian Eisch is a single parent who is deployed to Afghanistan. His sons, approximately 10 and 12 at the beginning of the film, love and admire him as a hero who is serving their country. The film explores what happens to the family over the next 10 years after Brian is permanently disabled as a result of a war injury. I liked the film mostly for the way it shows how the “tough man” aspect of masculinity is transmitted through the family culture. The film could have explored more deeply the impact that the father’s injury had on the sons …

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First Cow

Kelly Reichardt’s new film is set in the Oregon territory in the middle 19th century as Americans are beginning to trek westward for a better life. Cookie (John Magaro) has done exactly this and is serving as a cook for a small group of trappers. One day, he meets a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee) who is naked and evading a group of Russians who are looking for him. The two strike up a friendship that ultimately leads to a business venture that involves the cow of a wealthy businessman in the area. This is a very typical Reichardt film with …

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Hamilton

The Disney Channel brings Hamilton to the big screen! Having seen this on stage, but not with the original cast, I was eager to see the movie version that captured one of the early performances. I was not disappointed; in fact, I was surprised at how well the film captured the energy and excitement of the stage play. The editing work is exceptional –different angles of the stage are captured with all of its intense motion and energy, with lots of close-up shots – it is like you are sitting in orchestra and your eyes move to where they want …

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We Are Little Zombies

(Japan) Four kids meet and become connected when their parents are being cremated. The film starts out with the stories of what happened to their parents. Unable to deal with the grief associated with their loss, the kids form a band, Little Zombies. This is a film that is hard to describe adequately. It is a coming of age story. It is a film about young kids trying to deal with their feelings in the face of significant loss. It is also one of those movies about kids who form a band, create tunes that you cannot shake from your …

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The Truth (La Verite)

(French): Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, and Ethan Hawke star in the latest film by Hirokazu Koreeda, who has given us some brilliant films like The Shoplifters, Like Father, Like Son, and After the Storm. I think that this is his first French-language film. Fabienne is a strong if self-centered actress who has published her memories. Her daughter Lumir comes to France with her husband and daughter. When Lumir reads the book, she realized that many of the things her mother wrote are not factual. This sets off a sometimes-humorous war of wits between mother and daughter. I liked the film …

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