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Tag Archives: 4.5 Stars

Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You

This film is a companion piece to Springsteen’s new album, Letter to You. It is partly an extended music video that shows Springsteen and the E Street Band playing many of the songs on the album, but it also is a documentary in which Springsteen looks back on his life, his early influences, and the periods in his life that inspired his current work. I really enjoyed how the concept worked. The film is all shot in black and white, and some of the images are incredibly beautiful to look at. I love the almost poetic reflections that he narrates …

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His House

A couple and a child make an escape from Sudan and end up as refugees in London. En route, the child is lost at sea. The couple is given a place to live while they are waiting for their request for asylum to be processed. The apartment, which is very run down (the front door falls off when they enter), appears to have an evil presence. This is a really well-crafted horror film. Like the best, this horror film roots the couple’s experiences in their own guilt and fear. The couple experiences various forms of racism; is at the mercy …

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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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The Social Dilemma

This part documentary, part dramatization piece examines the impact that social media is having on us and on our society. The documentary piece consists of a lot of talking heads, former executives, and designers for the major tech platforms such as Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, and others. These are (mostly) young people who have been on the inside of the strategies to grow the social media empires. The dramatization, which I particularly liked, uses a family of varying levels of technology adoption and three humans who are acting as the information signals that are sent to us from AI computers …

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I Am Thinking Of Ending Things

This is Charlie Kaufman’s latest film (Screenwriter for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation; Director for Anomalisa and Synecdoche, New York). At the start, we are with a couple who are in a new relationship who are on their way to meet his parents; the woman (Jessie Buckley, who was great in Wild Rose) is thinking to herself, “I am thinking of ending things”. Her boyfriend (Jessie Plemons) seems to be reading her mind and asks her if she said something. That is the start of a very strange yet highly creative film. I won’t even …

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The Wild Pear Tree

(Turkey, English Subtitles): Sinan has just graduated college and returns home to a small and more rural town, hoping to publish his first book that he refers to as an “auto-fiction meta novel” (which in itself reflects the film’s ability to get you to constantly try to unpack the narrative). His father is a schoolteacher who has gambled away the family home. He is close to retiring, and at the beginning of the film, he is trying to dig a well on a family plot that everyone says will never run. The film is partly a father-son relationship journey, but …

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Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Autumn (played by first-timer Sidney Flanigan) is a teenage girl who becomes pregnant. Abortions are not allowed in Pennsylvania without parent consent, so she and her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder, also a first-timer) make the trip to New York City for the procedure.  This is a very different kind of road trip that explores the nature of friendship of these two cousins and the incredible determination these two young women possess. The storytelling is slow and methodical, and through it, the director captures so many details that make every moment of Autumn’s journey completely believable. The film is about abortion, …

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Becoming

This Netflix documentary is based on the life of Michelle Obama as told in her autobiography of the same title. When I read the book, I thought it was good but way too long; I kept telling myself that she needed a better editor. But I am glad that I saw the film. It was much more concise yet told the story of how she not only became First Lady of the United States but, through that experience, has found her own voice and power independent of her husband. The film is a montage of guest appearances through which she …

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Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen

This Netflix documentary, told exclusively from the perspective of trans male and female actors, writers, and activists, documents the history of how trans characters have been shown on the main screen and television and how those depictions have controlled the narrative of how the mainstream (and trans people themselves) views transgender. What is particularly powerful is how the intersectionality of trans and race has been portrayed on screen, starting with the first full-length feature film, and probably one of the most racist, Birth of a Nation, and taking us through current trans-positive depictions such as those contained in shows like …

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The Invisible Man

Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) is in a controlling marriage. She escapes and soon after gets a notification that her husband has committed suicide. Strange things happen, and Cecilia believes that her husband is following her. I really liked this movie. It is a great way to update the original (and also wonderful, though different) Invisible Man into something that is contemporary. Elizabeth Moss is excellent; I really gained an appreciation for her acting skills while watching this film. The screenplay is slick and the score unsettling; this, and incredible acting, make for a film that is suspenseful and scary. I loved …

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