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Latest Reviews

Dolores

Dolores Huerta joined Cesar Chavez to found the first farm worker’s union in California. For 40 years, both fought for the rights of farm laborers across the nation. The movie is the story of Dolores who most of us probably have never heard of (Bill O’Reilly in one scene says rather flippantly that he had never even heard of her) but was clearly one of the most important figures in the farm labor/woman’s rights/civil rights movements. I loved this film. I learned a lot about a person I had never heard of. It was interesting to see how much she …

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Walk With Me

This documentary is about Thich Nhat Hanh and the mindfulness meditation center he started in France after he was exiled from Vietnam in the 1960’s. This is a very different kind of documentary – it is more about observation and experience than about learning the life of the master and the monks and nuns who live in Plum Village. Benedict Cumberbatch reads, in a voice that adds a mystical quality to the film, excerpts form one of Hanh’s early works. The film provides a series of glimpses – the daily rituals, the disciples, the visitors who attend mindfulness workshops – …

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Jeremiah Towers: The Last Magnificent

I admit that I did not know anything about Jeremiah Towers before I watched the movie. He is a chef who became a celebrity in the 70’s and 80’s, first as the chef at Chez Panisse in San Francisco and then as the chef and owner of Starz, a fine-dining restaurant that was extremely successful for about 20 years. The film documents Tower’s rise and fall. During the height of his successful run, Towers suddenly walked away from Starz and disappeared, only to surface again in New York City as chef for a restaurant called Tavern on the Green. Tower’s …

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It

Bill builds a paper boat for his younger brother who goes out in the rain to see if it floats. He loses it down the sewer, and this is where we are first introduced to Pennywise (as we all know from the trailer). Bill hangs out with a bunch of boys who are part of the “loser” crowd. One of the new kids who joins the group, Ben, has been studying the history of their town and notices a pattern to the kids who have gone missing. The movie is creepy throughout; there are a lot of twists and turns …

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Tommy (Brian Cox) and his son Austin (Emile Hirsch), who is learning the trade of coroner, receive the corpse of a woman who appears to have died under mysterious circumstances. As the two work through the night to learn her story, strange things begin to happen as they uncover more and more about her past. I was really surprised at how much I liked the movie. The first half is rather creepy – several scenes that cause you to jump a bit; the chills are psychological rather than bloody. The film moves quickly with several plot twists and turns; it …

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Gifted

Chris Evans plays Frank, a single father parenting his niece Mary (McKenna Grace). Mary is extremely brilliant, which is noticed by her teacher when Frank finally ends her home schooling and sends Mary to school. Frank works very hard to try to ensure Mary has a normal schooling, and he consistently tries to downplay her gift. Mary’s grandmother (Franks mom) Evelyn suddenly comes into the picture and insists that she wants custody of Mary to ensure she gets to schools where she can actualize her gift. Why Frank is so insistent on protecting Mary from this reveals itself as the …

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Neruda (Chilean with English Subtitles)

Pablo Narrain, a Chilean film director who also directed last years ‘Jackie’ released a second film, right around the same time, about the Chilean Nobel-prize winning poet Pablo Neruda. The film starts off with Senator Neruda, a communist, being tossed from the government. The current president has issued a warrant for his arrest. I don’t know a lot about Pablo Neruda (except for some of his poetry that I have read), so I cannot speak to the complete truth of what happens next, but the government hires a detective (played marvelously by Gael Garcia Bernal) to apprehend Neruda. What follows …

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Whose Streets?

This is a documentary of the events surrounding the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. What I really liked about this film was its perspective; the story was told form the viewpoint of the activists who engaged after Brown’s death and after the grand jury verdict essentially acquitted the officer who shot him. The film contains a combination of news footage, home videos, and tweets that document the unrest that occurred in the neighborhood in which the death happened. The activists are presented not as a group of likeminded people but rather as individuals with diverse ideas on the …

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Menashe (Yiddish with English subtitles)

Menashe lives in a deeply orthodox Jewish community in New York City and has recently become widowed. He has a son Rieven who, because of strict rules that require children to be raised in two-parent households, lives with his Uncle. The rabbi allows Menashe to have one week with his son, and Menashe tries very hard to show his brother-in-law and the rabbi that he can be a good father and fit better into the orthodox community. I really loved this story. I did some reading after the fact and discovered that the director could get into a deeply orthodox …

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Marjorie Prime

At the beginning of the film, we see Marjorie (Lois Smith) interacting with a computerized version of her late husband Walter (Jon Hamm). Her daughter Tess (Geena Davis) and son-in-law Jon (Tim Robbins) help provide artificial intelligence “Walter” with background information that allows him to learn more about his history with Marjorie. This is a really intriguing and thought-provoking film. It explores the theme of AI and what some of the possibilities might be – what would it be like to have a “prime” with whom you could interact to work out personal psychological issues, or how could something like …

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