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Tag Archives: 4.5 Stars

Tell Me Who I Am

Netflix documentary about two twin brothers. Alex was in a serious motorcycle accident that caused him to lose all memory of anything before the event: the only thing he remembered was that Marcus was his brother. Marcus spent the next several years teaching Alex how to ride a bike, tie his shoes, and rebuilding Alex’s childhood. I won’t say too much more about the film as not to give anything away, as watching how the story unfolds is part of what makes the film so powerful. It is beautifully filmed, using archival video footage and family photographs interspersed with both …

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The Lighthouse

Willem Dafoe’s character Thomas is a lighthouse keeper, and Robert Pattinson’s Winslow is the new guy assigned to assist Dafoe for a 4-week duty period. This is Winslow’s first gig; he is a drifter who moves from job to job. Both men have histories, and as the weather turns nastier and both men become cooped up in their house on the island, both slowly slip into madness. This is an excellent film that is a credit to its craft. The film is shot in black and white and, combined with a great score, gives the overall film a moody, claustrophobic, …

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JoJo Rabbit

JoJo (played by Roman Griffin Davis, a young actor we will be paying attention to) is a young 10-year old boy who has joined the Hitler Youth. He is small and scrawny and lonely; he lives only with his mother, as his father is off at the war and his sister is no longer with them. He has the help and camaraderie of an imaginary friend to guide him to be the ideal German Nazi youth: Adolf Hitler, played by the director (Taika Waititi). When JoJo discovers his mother’s secret, JoJo sets off on a discovery of what it means …

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Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice

This film documents the long and successful career of Linda Ronstadt, whose career was cut short in the late 2000s when she came down with Parkinson’s disease and lost the ability to control her voice. I loved the movie. I was a fan from the first time I remember hearing “You’re No Good”. I loved that she could sing and make a song her own in nearly every genre; the film takes us through her explorations of rock and folk-rock, country, new wave, jazz, and classical using concert footage and interviews with the musicians with whom she sang. One of …

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The Joker

Gotham City is fracturing; people are overly hypervigilant and suspicious of and violent toward one another. By day, Authur Fleck (played by Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely clown who has mental illnesses and struggles to get by; at night, he keeps a journal, trying to make it as a stand-up comic, and takes care of his mother. Near the beginning of the film, we see Arthur being beat up by a group of teenage boys. Over time, one setback occurs after the other, and the film takes us through the evolution of the person who will become the Joker. I …

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American Factory

This documentary is set in Ohio and begins with the closing of a GM plant near Dayton in 2008. Fast forward to 2015, when a Chinese billionaire buys the building and opens Fuyao, which makes windshields for cars. The film is a fascinating analysis of what happens when two cultures collide in the workplace – two cultures with different ideas of worker’s rights and expectations regarding productivity.  Everything starts out well enough. There are high hopes for those who lost their jobs at GM. However, it doesn’t take long for problems to appear: the low pay – less than half …

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Blinded by the Light

Javed is 16 and yearns to be a writer. He writes poetry and keeps a journal to the dismay of his father, who emigrated to the UK from Pakistan to have a better life for his family. The film takes place in Thatcher’s England of the 1980s when economic woes rocked the country and jobs were hard to find. One day, Javed discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen, and his world completely flips. The topics the film covers, such as generational culture clash, racism, and economic blight, aren’t particularly new. What makes this film singularly stand out are two things. …

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The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Jimmie Fails wrote and plays himself in this autobiographical account of growing up in San Francisco. Jimmie and his friend Mont (Jonathan Majors) are inseparable, and Jimmie stays with Mont and his blind father (played by Danny Glover). Mont works in a fish market but spends a lot of time observing people and dialog in hopes of writing a screenplay. Jimmie is obsessed with the house that his grandfather built 70 years ago in the Fillmore district. When the current owners are gone, Jimmie and Mont go over to the house and do improvement work, such as weeding the gardens …

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Burning

(Korean): Burning tells the story of three people. Lee, an unemployed writer, and recent college graduate, accidentally meets up with Shin, a young woman who is working at a department store. Shin claims she knows Lee, but Lee seems rather disinterested, yet he agrees to have dinner with her. They have sex, and she soon goes away on a trip to Africa; she asks Lee to watch her cat. Shin comes back with Ben, a guy who seems to come from a lot of money and who she met while stranded in an airport. The film is about the odd …

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Never Look Away

(German) This film is described as being loosely based on the life of abstract artist Gerhard Richter. It tells the story of Kurt Barnert’s life over about 30 years, beginning when he was a little boy just as the Nazis were coming to power and his beloved Aunt Ellie was taken away, through the beginnings of adult life in communist East Germany as a painter of propaganda murals, his falling in love with and marriage to Ellie, and his later years once his art career began to take off. I loved the film. The cinematography is breathtaking, and the score …

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