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Tag Archives: 2017

Logan

Hugh Jackman plays Logan in the year 2029. Most of the mutants are gone now, and Logan, Professor X, and Caliban are hiding in the desert. All of them are getting sick and losing their abilities to heal themselves. One day, a woman approaches Logan with a request to protect a young girl by taking her to North Dakota. Reluctantly, Logan agrees only at the insistence of Professor X. I did not watch the two other Wolverine films, so I am sure I have lost parts of the backstory; however, it turns out that the film stands on its own. …

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1945

(Hungarian, with English subtitles): World War II has ended on the continent. As residents of a tiny village in Hungary prepare for a wedding, two Orthodox Jewish men, father and son, enter town on the train with two boxes noted to contain perfumes. They begin their journey toward town. Their arrival forces the villagers to confront their history with the war. This is a really well-crafted film. It is shot in black and white, giving you the feeling of the era. The cinematography is interesting –there are wide panorama shots alternated with close-ups of the villagers that help tell their …

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Apostasy

Dan Kokotajlo, who was raised in the Jehovah’s Witness faith and left in his early 20’s, directs a very compelling story about Ivanna and her two daughters, Luisa and Alex. Ivanna is raising her daughters strictly in the Jehovah’s Witness faith (“the Truth”). Alex had a blood transfusion when she was an infant, and she has been apologizing for it ever since. Luisa is very vocal and begins to question the teaching of the elders. Two separate crises involving the daughters that hit the family challenge their faith. We found the movie to be equally fascinating and disturbing in its …

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The Breadwinner

Parvana is a young girl growing up in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. Girls and women are expected to be fully covered at all times and not to be seen in public without a husband or close relative. One day, while they are on the street selling possessions to pay for food, her father makes one of the young Taliban soldiers angry, and the next day they arrest him and send him to prison. Parvana decides to cut her hair and pass as a boy to support her family and get her father out of prison. This film is exceptional; …

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You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really Here: Joaquin Phoenix is Joe, an emotionally and physically scarred man who makes his living finding missing girls. His latest assignment involves the teenage daughter of an elected official who has been seen in a prostitution house.  The film is a technical marvel. The director expertly moves from inside of Joe’s head, and his memories, to the present day and back; the flashback scenes are jarring and add to the depth of the damage done to Joe as a kid and as a war veteran. The script is 89 minutes, and there is not a single …

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Loveless

(Russia with English Subtitles): The story centers on two parents, Zhenya and Boris, who are divorced after what clearly was an extremely bitter separation. They both still live together formally, although each has taken on new relationships. In the middle is their 12-year-old son Alyosha, who one day goes missing. This is an expertly executed film. The acting from everyone is terrific. The two parents are about the most despicable, self-absorbed and “empty” people I have seen on screen; actors have to be excellent to be this bad. The boy who plays Alyosha is only in a few scenes, but …

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2018 Oscar Nominated Shorts (Animation)

What a fun lot of animated shorts! Four of them timed at 7 minutes or less, and one was 29 minutes, but each of them tells an interesting story using very different animation styles. Dear Basketball (USA; https://www.go90.com/videos/261MflWkD3N), voiced by Kobe Bryant, is his ode to a long and successful career in the sport that he loved. The animation is a series of pencil sketches and with splashes of purple and gold. Lou (USA/Pixar) tells the story of a schoolyard bully who turns a corner when he comes into contact with the creature from the lost and found box. Revolting …

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Columbus

The lives of two people, one the estranged son of a well-known architect, and the other a young woman who graduated from high school but hasn’t been able to move away from Columbus, intersect with the son’s father has a catastrophic medical condition that has left him in a coma. While I never quite felt the chemistry between the two, I did enjoy watching the slow development of their friendship and the ways they challenged each other. What is beautiful is the cinematography; nearly every frame is an expert photograph. The film captures the beauty in the mix of ultra-modern …

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2018 Oscar Nominated Shorts (Live Action)

I have learned to enjoy the short films; it is a challenge to tell a story that could consume a full-length movie in an abbreviated period. This year’s nominations come from 4 different countries: United States; Australia; Germany; and the United Kingdom. “Dekalb Elementary” relates the story, inspired by an actual 911 caller, of an armed shooter who enters an elementary school. “The Silent Child” is the story of a young deaf girl neglected by her family who establishes a friendship with the social worker who engages her. “My Nephew Emmett” relates the true story of a man who watched …

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2018 Best Actors, Actresses, Director, and Ensemble

I never try to predict who will win, but here are my favorites for 2017. I also include a section at the end for ensembles, because this year, more than others I recall, films were great because of the combination of superb acting and directing. Best Actor: I loved Timothee Chalamet’s performance (Call Me by Your Name), but his best (and IMHO most stunning) scenes came at the end. Gary Oldman’s performance was solid (Darkest Hour), but the movie felt scattered and left me mostly uninterested. I felt similarly about Denzel Washington’s performance (Roman J Israel, ESQ) as a lawyer …

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