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Tag Archives: 3.5 Stars

Don’t Look Up

Adam McKay’s latest film is a story of science and politics. Dr. Mindy (Leonard DiCaprio) is a scientist, and his doctoral student Kate Diabiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers, nearly by accident, that there is a comet heading toward Earth and threatens to send the planet into extinction. Dr. Mindy and Kate are invited to speak with the President (Meryl Streep) and her son and Chief of Staff (Johah Hill). The question is, will science win the day? This is an Adam McVay film, so we know the answer, but he has a lot of fun getting us there.  It is amazing …

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Becoming the Ricardos

This biopic focuses on one week in the life of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as they are filming an upcoming episode of I Love Lucy. Overall, I enjoyed the movie but, for me, it was uneven. It was interesting to see some of the backstories behind the friendships between Lucy, Desi, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley. I also did not know that Ball was the subject of a controversy around her potentially being affiliated with the communist party. I also found that the flashbacks and flash-forwards help provide a richer history of her life and how the show came …

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Belfast

Kenneth Branaugh directs this semi-autobiographical story of young Buddy growing up in Belfast in the 1970s, an era characterized by enhanced violence between Protestants and Catholics. Buddy’s dad works in England and returns home every two weeks to be with his family. In between, Buddy navigates, with the help of his mother and grandparents, the political uncertainty around him, as well as his first love and the growing discontent between his parents. I liked the movie. It reminded me a lot of Roma, Alfonso Cuarón’s look back at his own childhood, in that both directors used black and white to …

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Onward

In this animated film from Pixar, Ian and Barley, two brothers who lost their father to an illness, are given the opportunity to have their father back for one day through the use of an old magic wand. When the spell becomes botched, the brothers set off on an adventure to find the magic stone that will result in being able to see their dad. I liked the movie mostly for its message about parenting and being about to recognize the amazing things we do without even realizing how amazing they are. I would not consider this a film that …

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News of the World

Tom Hanks stars as Captain Kidd, a Civil War veteran whose job post-war is to travel from town to town, telling stories and reading the news from papers from different parts of the country. On his travels, he encounters Johanna, a young Kiowa Indian girl who was kidnapped from her parents 6 years previously and was essentially raised as a Kiowa girl. Her Kiowa parents had perished, and the Black man who was taking her back to her relatives in the South was ambushed and hung from a tree. Captain Kidd agrees to take her to her family, and the …

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The Mole Agent

(Chile, English Subtitles). The subject of this documentary is Sergio, a widower of 83 years, who applies for a job to go undercover in a nursing home. The private investigator has been hired by the daughter of one of the residents who believe the nursing staff is stealing from her. Sergio takes the job as a way to help deal with the loss of his wife. The film provides an insider look at life in the nursing home. It is rather sad, for the most part, how Sergio engages several of the residents and learns of the loneliness that many …

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The Dig

Carey Mulligan plays Mrs. Pretty, a widow of significant means, who hires Basil Brown, played by Ralph Fiennes, to conduct an archeological dig on her property. There are several mounds on the property, one of which she feels particularly drawn toward. Mr. Brown’s discovery of an ancient sailing vessel creates a lot of commotion in the local and archeological community. The film is a visually beautiful period piece. Mulligan and Fiennes give characteristically strong performances. I have always really loved the naturalness of Mulligan’s performances, and this one is no exception. I found the story interesting, although the screenplay could …

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Funny Boy

(Sri Lanka, some parts in English and English subtitles): This film is a coming-of-age story of a boy, Arjie, growing up gay in Sri Lanka during the civil war between the Tamil and Sinhalese ethnic groups. We see him first probably around 8 years old, in a mock wedding in which he is dressed up as the bride and another girl from the neighborhood is the groom. While his father is concerned about him being a “funny boy”, his Aunt Radha encourages his differentness. The film then jumps to Arjie as a teenager attending a preparatory school, where the tension …

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Driveways

In Brian Dennehy’s last film, he plays Del, a recently widowed war veteran. He lives next door to a woman who dies suddenly. Her sister Kathy and 8-year-old son Cody show up to take care of her estate. Cody, who tends to keep to himself and doesn’t easily take to the two teenagers who live down the street, goes over to Del’s after one particularly nasty encounter, and the two of them begin to form a friendship. The film is a character study, and the three leads help elevate the story into something that feels fresh, real, and relevant. I …

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Mother

Japan, English Subtitles: Akiko (Masami Nagaswa) is mother to Shuhei (Daiken Okudaira). In the beginning, we see Akiko (who is 7) and Shuhei playing; his mom allows him to play hooky from school so that they could spend the day together. As the film progresses, we begin to see more clearly who Akiko is: She is a mess, a woman who has drinking problems, a chronic gambler who constantly loses any money she has, is narcissistic, and manages to find ways to get Shuhei to do what she wants – begging for money and food, staying by himself eating uncooked …

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