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Tag Archives: 2019

Sound of Metal

Ruben (Riz Ahmed) is in a grunge-punk-metal band with his girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cook). Suddenly, Ruben loses his hearing and can no longer drum for their band. The film is about Ruben’s transition to deafness. I really loved the film, mostly because of Riz Ahmed’s performance that is very emotional and brilliantly played. There are times where he doesn’t say anything, but everything that needs to be said he conveys through his eyes and facial expressions. I also like the way the director moved his camera and changed the sounds so that you got a real sense of how Ruben …

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The Personal History of David Copperfield

Dev Patel stars as the adult David Copperfield, and the film follows the life of David from his earliest and privileged years to his years working literally as a child slave in a bottle factory and the through young adulthood. The film was fun and funny; Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton as his Aunt Trotwood, and Hugh Laurie as Mr. Dick create funny characters. Given that, though, the film for me was just so-so. I was expecting something a bit more realistic that perhaps was a bit more of a creative new retelling that is more consistent with Dickens. What emerges …

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Better Days

(Hong Kong, English Subtitles): This film about bullying is China’s entry for the 93rd Academy Award for Best International film. Nian is a high school student who is under a lot of pressure to perform well in her college entrance exams. Her mother is away a lot trying to earn money selling fake goods to support the two of them. Nian is bullied, sometimes quite viciously, by a group of other girls at school. One day, Nian witnesses Xiao, a small-time criminal, getting beaten by others, and Nian goes to help him. He later agrees to protect her from the …

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Weathering With You

This film is a follow-up to the wonderful Makoto Shinkai 2016 film Your Name. Hodaka is a 16-year-old boy who runs away from his home on one of the islands to the city of Tokyo. Tokyo is experiencing record intense and long-lasting rains. There, struggling to find his way as a minor in a big city, he meets Hina, a girl who has the ability to bring sunshine for short periods of time. When she realizes this, the two of them start a business to ensure that special events have sun. I love this film. The animation is very colorful, …

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Lingua Franca

Olivia (played by the director, Isabel Sandoval), a trans woman, is a Filipino undocumented immigrant in Brooklyn who is a caretaker for a lady who is suffering from dementia. As her options for getting a green card become fewer, she meets Alex, Olga’s grandson, and a relationship develops between the two. I enjoyed this movie. It was nice seeing a film about a trans woman directed by a trans woman who plays the lead character in the film. There are two things I enjoyed most about the film. First, it is an interesting and believable character study of what it …

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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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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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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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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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