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Latest Reviews

The Gentlemen

In this new Guy Ritchie film, Michael (Matthew McConaughey) has created a multimillion-pound marijuana growing and selling operation in London. When he decides to sell the business, there are several characters who try to figure out ways to take the business from him. This is a weird movie. The dialogue is for the most part really corny and bad; I am not quite sure if it was intended that way (I think it was), but in many cases,  it isn’t funny. To Ritchie’s credit, when his brand of craziness works, it is really funny. The only saving grace for me …

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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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Circus of Books

This documentary is about Karen and Barry Mason, a heterosexual married couple with children who found themselves owning the Circus of Books, a store that sold gay pornography and that was a congregation place for the gay community in the ’80s and ’90s. The film is really fascinating. It provides an interesting slice of the history of the gay community in an era when pornography was illegal in many states and during the height of the AIDS epidemic. What is more fascinating is the story of how these two came to own the bookstore (there were two of them) and …

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Away

Latvia: This is probably one of the most unusual animated films I have seen. It reminded me a lot of the wonderful Red Turtle that came out a few years ago in that there is no dialog at all. The film, told in 5 chapters, starts out with a boy, probably a teenager, who is dangling from a parachute in a tree. When he regains consciousness, he is confronted by a large, menacing figure who pursues him throughout the film. The boy discovers a map that will take him to the other side of the island where civilization is, and …

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Sorry We Missed You

This is a new film by Ken Loach (I, Daniel Blake), which like the previous film, is focused on the working poor.  Ricky has had his share of troubles: He and his family (wife Abby, son Seb, and daughter Lisa) lost their home as a result of the 2008 crash, and they have struggled to make ends meet. His wife works in a low-paying home health aide position, and he has not been able to get a decent paying job. One day, he applies and joins a parcel delivery company that promises that “he won’t work for the company, he …

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Beanpole

(Russia). Iya returned home early from the war (World War 2) to Leningrad, having suffered some kind of concussion that results in her lapsing into occasional catatonic states. She is working for a hospital treating war casualties and trying to care for her son. Her best friend Masha returns later, and the film takes up the story of both women, as different as night and day, trying to survive in post-war Leningrad. There is one scene early on that is heartbreaking, and Iya’s reaction to it defines their worlds.  The film is as psychologically intense as it is tragic. Iya’s …

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Saint Frances

Bridget is a 30-something whose life seems headed to nowhere: she went to college but is employed as a food service worker and is in a relationship with a sensitive guy but with whom she is unsatisfied. She lands a job as a nanny for 6-year-old Frances, the daughter of two moms, and one of the moms has just had another baby. The film is about the relationship that develops between Bridget and Frances and Bridget’s journey of self-discovery. I liked the film, particularly the actress who played Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan, who also wrote the screenplay). The screenplay for the …

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Wild Goose Lake

(Chinese): Zhou is part of a rival gang of motorcycle stealers. At the beginning of the film, we meet Liu, who is there “in place of Zhou’s wife”; the reason for this becomes apparent as the film progresses. He tells Liu that he has upset a rival gang, who is after him, and inadvertently shot a police officer, and the police force is after him as well. The film, told in flashbacks, build Liu and Zhou’s stories. The film is like a film noir; it is mostly set at night in Wuhan, and the lights and neon of the city …

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Bacurau

(Brazil): Teresa returns to her hometown for the funeral of her grandmother Carmelita. After Carmelita’s death, strange things begin to happen: The town of Bacurau disappears off the map; cell phone service suddenly vanishes; the water truck returns to town with a number of bullet holes; and a flying saucer hovers overhead. During the first hour, we get introduced to the town and its inhabitants and a slimy major from the next town over who is running for reelection. For the second half of the film, everything goes south. This film is wonderful but very strange. There are similarities to …

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Corpus Christi

(Poland): Daniel is a young man who, while in juvie, has a sort of spiritual transformation. He wants to become a priest, but his crime makes that not possible. Once released, he is sent to a small town to transition back as a factory worker. He stops in the church and speaks to a young woman who asks him what he is, and he replies, “a priest”, and pulls a clerical collar from his bag. By accident, he becomes the town’s priest. The film is carried by the brilliant acting of its lead (Bartosz Bielenia) who literally embodies a Christ …

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