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Tag Archives: 3.5 Stars

Judy

At the age of 46, and one year before she died, Judy Garland \agrees to do a concert tour in London as a way to raise money to provide a stable home for her children, Lorna and Joey. The film uses the concert tour and flashbacks to tell the story of her last big tour. Renee Zellweger does a fabulous job of capturing the mannerisms of Garland. I am not quite old enough to know Garland well, beyond my memories of seeing her on television and hearing her songs. But Zellweger captures Judy Garland’s essence and mannerisms incredibly well, and …

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Brittany Runs a Marathon

This film is based on a true story of Brittany, a woman in her late 20’s whose life isn’t really going anywhere; she parties her nights away, is perpetually broke, and her closest “friend” is completely self-absorbed. One day she gets a “wake-up call” from her doctor; she has high blood pressure and needs to lose weight. Brittany forces herself into sweats and runs one block, and she decides that she is going to train for the New York marathon. This is a really inspiring story. Jillian Bell, who plays Brittany, is great in her role; she is funny, incredibly …

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Skin

This film is based on the true story of Byron Widner (played fantastically by Jamie Bell), a white supremacist who eventually works with the FBI and leaves the supremacist group he co-founded. Caught between his “parents” who adopted him at a young age and a woman and with three children with whom he falls in love, Widner had to navigate the extreme violence represented by his family and the life he wanted to lead with Julie and her daughters. The film is well-acted, particularly by Jamie Bell, who gives a performance of surprising depth; Danielle MacDonald, who plays Julie, and …

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Wild Rose

Rose-Lynn has just been released from a 12-month prison sentence for transporting drugs. She is a hell-raising Scottish mother of two children who hardly know her. What drives Rose is her desire to become a Nashville country (not “country-western”) singing star. The movie is about her struggles to balance drinking, singing, and motherhood. The storyline is not unfamiliar; it is similar to the many other films that examine the struggles to make a name in the music business. As such, it is pretty predictable. However, what makes this film work is Jessie Buckley, who plays Rose. She brings a raw …

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Booksmart

The story is about two girls who spent their entire high school life studying and making the best grades so that they can get into the best colleges. On the day before graduation, after a scene in the bathroom, Molly realizes that she and Amy have probably missed out on an important part of high school life. They decide to go all out on their last night before graduation and have the experience they missed. What results is mostly hilarious as the two find themselves trying to find rides and finding themselves at different parties thrown by very different people …

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Chapter 3 picks up where Chapter 2 left off – John Wick, who commits the ultimate crime of killing an enemy at the Continental Hotel, which is off-limits for killing of any sort, has been granted one hour to make himself scares before he officially becomes excommunicated from the underworld syndicate. The film starts at approximately T minus 20 minutes. The corporate office, which runs on old typewriters and telephone exchanges, is getting ready to pull the trigger and set the 14M prices for his head. We already know that the chances anyone is going to kill John Wick are …

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Everybody Knows

(Spanish) In this new film by two-time Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi (A Separation; The Salesman), Laura (Penelope Cruz) and her two children travel to Spain to attend the wedding of her sister. At the wedding, her daughter goes is kidnapped with only a note that no one should go to the police or her daughter will be killed. An old family friend Paco (Javier Bardem) becomes deeply involved in trying to find Laura’s daughter as well. While they search frantically for Laura’s daughter, personal secrets and family dynamics unfold. I really enjoyed the film. For the most part, the story …

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MId90’s

In Jonah Hill’s first hand at directing and screenwriting is the story of Stevie (“Sunburn”), played by Sunny Suljic, who lives in Los Angeles and is frequently beaten up by his older brother. Stevie finds a new set of older role models in a skater group. The boys of mixed ages introduce him to skating and usher him into adulthood in a way that his family can’t. Overall, I liked the film. The writing and the directing reminded me of Richard Linklater’s earliest films like Slacker; the camera works to merely observe without complicated plot and without judgment. I was …

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Ben is Back

Lucas Hedges plays Ben Burns, who on Christmas Eve shows up unexpectedly at home to spend 24 hours with his family; the reason he gives is that his sponsor said he was doing so well that he could take a day away from his drug treatment facility. His mom (Julia Roberts) is happy but also conflicted. The film is the story of his 24 hours at home and the various twists and turns the visit takes. I have mixed feelings about the film. Julia Roberts gives an emotionally intense performance in what is probably one of the best of her …

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The Green Book

Don Shirley (Mahershela Ali) was a brilliant pianist who headed the Don Shirley Trio. In 1961, he decides to take his band into the deep South and hires Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortenson), a bouncer, to drive him. Shirley had hoped that his concert tour would help change the racist practices. “Inspired by true events”, the movie tells the story of the friendship that develops between Shirley and Vallelonga. There has been a fair amount of controversy surrounding the film, given that the director admittedly did not consult with Shirley’s family to verify the events portrayed in the story (and the …

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