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Tag Archives: 2015

I’ll See You in my Dreams

Blythe Danner is Carol, a middle-aged widow and former musician who leads a monotonous life since her husband died in a plane crash. Encouraged to break out of her routine by her girlfriends, Carol establishes a friendship with her pool man Lloyd, a romantic relationship with Bill (played by Sam Elliot) at the senior center at which she plays cards with her girlfriends and reconnects with her daughter. The movie was barely tolerable. I tend to like Blythe Danner, but in this film, she is working with a script that is not well executed. The character development is shallow; I …

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Ant-man

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has just been released from prison. He has a daughter who his ex-wife won’t let him see until he straightens up, gets a job, and finds a decent place to live. He is conned into engaging in a heist that seems foolproof and that he hopes will help him change his circumstances. Through a series of events that I won’t reveal, he becomes Ant-man with the ability to shrink in size at will and simultaneously exude enormous strength. While I don’t think it measures up to the best of the Marvel comics films, such as the …

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Mommy

This French-Canadian film (with English subtitles) won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2014. Steve is a young adolescent who has ADHD (but after seeing the movie you will likely agree that it is something else) who lives with his widowed mother, Diane. At the beginning of the film, the viewer is told that there is a law passed in Canada in 2015 that allows parents to commit their children against their will. We also see that Diane has come to collect Steve from an institution; the officials there refuse to let him stay after he sets a fire and …

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The Salt of the Earth

This documentary follows the life of the photographer Sebastião Salgado. Salgado was rained in economics but soon after graduating discovered a love for photography. In partnership with his wife, he spent the next several decades traveling the world photographing the changing human landscape. Wim Wenders and Salgado’s son, Juliano, directed the film, and it serves as kind of a love letter to his father’s work. The film is stunning in its documentation of the development of Salgado’s career, its portrayal of how a gifted artist views his subjects, and the presentation of a selection of his best and most moving …

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Maestro

This documentary, with a very sleek 80-minute run time, follows the conductor Paavo Jarvi as he gives performances in countries around the world. Along with this are interviews with several top classical musicians. I absolutely loved this film – it is the first time I have seen a film that examines the creative process involved in conducting a classical music orchestra. What I was left with is a much deeper appreciation for the roots of classical music, how it was, in its time, revolutionary, and how the best conductors can bring the music from the instruments of the best talent …

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Tangerine

Sean Baker apparently shot this little gem of a film using primarily an iPhone. He captures a day (Christmas Eve) in the life of two transgender street workers living in West Hollywood. Sin-Dee is just out of prison and on parole, and Alexandra is her best friend. All is well on Sin-Dee’s first day out of prison until she finds out that her pimp boyfriend Chester cheated on her while she was inside. What follows is a hilarious romp through the streets of West Hollywood as Sin-Dee tries to track down Chester to seek revenge. This was my first exposure …

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Sugar Coated

This is a very interesting documentary detailing how, over half a century, sugar has become a principal ingredient in most processed foods. The film describes the rise of the sugar industry and its lobbying efforts and its failure to take any responsibility in the growing diabetes and overweight epidemics. The director, I think quite convincingly, makes that case the sugar industry is what the cigarette industry was only a few decades ago: consistently denying the science, and developing marketing campaigns that capitalize on uncertainty to market their products. In the meantime, doctors are treating the first cases of children with …

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In Defense of Food

Directed by Michael Schwarz, this documentary is based on the book of the same name by Michael Pollan. In it, he argues against nutritionism, a term he popularized. Nutritionism seeks to understand the basic components of food as healthful rather than understanding food more holistically. The film crafts a pretty convincing argument regarding our relationship to food, how we have grown away from the origins of our food, and how we continually seek a miracle nutrient or drug that will fix our ills. He includes testimony from scientific experts in nutrition and weaves into the film a brief history of …

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Walking Distance (Spanish with English subtitles)

Fede is a terribly obese man who has trouble getting around and rarely ever leaves his apartment. One day his brother-in-law Ramon brings over his camera and shows him pictures from a recent vacation. Fede finds an old camera and brings the film to Paolo, a lonely, comic-book obsessed teenager, to develop. Inspired, Fede buys a camera. This is a very nice story about how the camera and his new obsession with photography changed his life. I really liked the story and how the three male characters found friendship with each other. Thumbs up for a movie that doesn’t really …

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Gueros (Mexican with English Subtitles)

Two young men, Sombra and Santos, are in college writing their theses; however, the university has been taken over by protesting students, and they have no classes. The both seem to be a couple of slackers, not really sure how to fill their days while there is no school. Tomas, the brother of Sombra, shows up one evening at their apartment. He gets into trouble a lot, and his mother can’t manage him any longer and sent Tomas away to spend time with his brother. Once there, he convinces them to help find a singer who has special meaning for …

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