Home / Tag Archives: 3.5 Stars

Tag Archives: 3.5 Stars

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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River of Grass

This is Kelly Reichardt’s directorial debut. The more recent films that I have seen are incredible, so I wanted to go back and try to look at her earlier filmography. River of Grass tells the story of Cozy, a bored housewife trapped inside of her own head and who fantasizes about a more exciting kind of life. One night she leaves her kids and walks toward somewhere; when she reaches the road, she is nearly run over by Lee Roy. A bit later, they meet up in a bar, and Cozy’s world seems to perk up; she sees a man …

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What Happened Miss Simone?

Nina Simone wanted to be the first classical pianist to play Carnegie Hall, but events in her life were such that she started playing in jazz clubs and developed a long career as a singer and songwriter. The film reviews her life, through interviews with her daughter, ex-husband, and her lead guitarist, among others, as well as through her diary writings and recorded interviews. I think what is most fascinating and makes the film completely worth it is the concert footage. You get to hear a lot of the songs that made her famous as she sang them in various …

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The Old Guard

Andy (Charlize Theron) leads a small band of superheroes who possess the inability to die. They march across the centuries trying to help the evolution of humanity in positive ways. Andy doesn’t think that the work they do makes a difference. The band discovers a new person Nile, a soldier in Afghanistan, who also cannot die (played by Kiki Layne). Nile joins the team as they fight against a corporation that is trying to capture them for their DNA that will help to cure previously incurable diseases. I enjoyed the film. It has a lot of emotional depth along with …

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Father Soldier Son

Brian Eisch is a single parent who is deployed to Afghanistan. His sons, approximately 10 and 12 at the beginning of the film, love and admire him as a hero who is serving their country. The film explores what happens to the family over the next 10 years after Brian is permanently disabled as a result of a war injury. I liked the film mostly for the way it shows how the “tough man” aspect of masculinity is transmitted through the family culture. The film could have explored more deeply the impact that the father’s injury had on the sons …

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The Truth (La Verite)

(French): Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, and Ethan Hawke star in the latest film by Hirokazu Koreeda, who has given us some brilliant films like The Shoplifters, Like Father, Like Son, and After the Storm. I think that this is his first French-language film. Fabienne is a strong if self-centered actress who has published her memories. Her daughter Lumir comes to France with her husband and daughter. When Lumir reads the book, she realized that many of the things her mother wrote are not factual. This sets off a sometimes-humorous war of wits between mother and daughter. I liked the film …

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The Willoughby

The Willoughby children live with probably the world’s most selfish parents. The children are left to fend for themselves while the parents feast on lavish meals; mom spends her evenings knitting silly things, and the father watches. When the children decide they have had enough, they hatch a scheme to send their parents on a trip around the world that they likely won’t survive. I liked the movie, but not as much as I thought I would. The premise is unusual for an animated movie. The film is full of vibrant colors and fun action sequences. And, it is a …

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The Infiltrators

This documentary is about members of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) who had themselves detained by an ICE facility in Broward County, Florida in order to help from the inside those who were being inappropriately detained. Using a combination of interviews with the real NIYA members and actors who reenacted the operation, the film explores how they were able to get inmates connected to NIYA members on the outside who helped to secure their release. As a documentary, there is nothing novel or innovative here, and the shift from actual people to reenactments is a bit jarring at times, …

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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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Saint Frances

Bridget is a 30-something whose life seems headed to nowhere: she went to college but is employed as a food service worker and is in a relationship with a sensitive guy but with whom she is unsatisfied. She lands a job as a nanny for 6-year-old Frances, the daughter of two moms, and one of the moms has just had another baby. The film is about the relationship that develops between Bridget and Frances and Bridget’s journey of self-discovery. I liked the film, particularly the actress who played Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan, who also wrote the screenplay). The screenplay for the …

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