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Tag Archives: 4 Stars

Supernova

Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) have been partners for 20 years. Tusker was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers, and they decide to take a trip in a camper van to visit old haunts and family and friends. There is not much that is novel about the story, and the main point of the trip feels predictable and a bit cliché. But what really drives this movie is the outstanding performances from Firth and Tucci. There is a naturalness to the chemistry that makes their relationship, and the pain that the disease is causing them, feel real and authentic. I …

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Druk (Another Round)

(Denmark, English subtitles). Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) is a high school teacher who has hit a bit of a mid-life crisis. His classes are boring, his family life is boring, with a wife who works nights and is becoming more estranged, and two teenage sons who are off doing their own thing. He and three other teachers decide to test a theory that blood alcohol content should always be at least .05 with no drinking after 8 pm or on the weekends. Their goal is to see if it improves their professional and social lives. The test starts off well enough, …

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Mank

This biopic stars Gary Oldman as Herman Mankiewicz, who co-wrote with Orson Welles the screenplay for Citizen Kane. The film starts after a serious car accident sends Mank to Victorville, CA in seclusion to recover and to write the screenplay for Citizen Kane in 60 days. The film then moves back and forth between the present day and the era during which he became more well-known in Hollywood and the days of his friendship with William Randolph Hearst and his much younger mistress Marion (played brilliantly by Amanda Seyfried). I liked the film a lot. It is shot in black …

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Okja

(Korea, subtitled, with some parts in English): Mija, a young girl living with her grandfather in Korea, has been raising a gigantic pig, Okja. The pig is one of 26 “non-genetically modified” super pigs that were spread around the world to be raised by a very bizarre corporation out to create the best sausages by pigs that grown very large and poop economically – all under the guise of being environmentally friendly. Okja has been designated as the prize pig, and Mija finds herself in the intersection between corporate and animal rights activists. The film is a rather interesting collection …

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David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

David Attenborough, who has been studying, filming, and telling stories about the planet and its inhabitants for many, many decades now, reflects on his life’s work in meeting head-on the impending crisis of the Holocene: Climate change and its acceleration caused by humans. Throughout the film that parallels his journeys and his fascination with nature, he marks various decades with three basic statistics: Population; Atmospheric Carbon PPM; and percentage of the world that is wilderness. Human’s footprint is unmistakable, and he projects what will happen over the next 80 years (much of which is already happening today). Attenborough does provide …

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Sound of Metal

Ruben (Riz Ahmed) is in a grunge-punk-metal band with his girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cook). Suddenly, Ruben loses his hearing and can no longer drum for their band. The film is about Ruben’s transition to deafness. I really loved the film, mostly because of Riz Ahmed’s performance that is very emotional and brilliantly played. There are times where he doesn’t say anything, but everything that needs to be said he conveys through his eyes and facial expressions. I also like the way the director moved his camera and changed the sounds so that you got a real sense of how Ruben …

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Black Bear

At the beginning of the film, Alison (Aubrey Plaza) arrives at a large mansion/cabin in the woods. She is a film director, a former actress who is looking to get away to help reinvigorate her creativity. Gabe (Christopher Abbott) greets her and carries her luggage up to the house, where they are greeted by Gabe’s pregnant girlfriend Blair (Sarah Gadon). I am not going to say much about this film that takes place in two parts and is kind of a movie within a movie; saying anything about the plot would spoil the game the director plays with our minds. …

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My Octopus Teacher

This documentary follows a year in the life of Craig Foster. Having run against some difficult times, he takes to the snorkeling in the kelp beds of South Africa and befriends an octopus. Through the course of the year, Foster puts together a beautiful collage of life in the kelp beds while researching the life of the octopus. It felt a bit strange sometimes, as it seemed sometimes that the attachment was a bit closer than it should have been, almost romantic, but what stands out is the depiction of the cycle of life Foster captures with his lens. The …

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I’m No Longer Here

(Mexico, English Subtitles). Ulises is the leader of a small “gang”, Los Terkos, who dance cumbia, a musical style that emerged in Colombia during the slave trade. Ulises is forced to flee from his city of Monterrey to New York City, where he tries to establish a new life. The film hops back and forth between the story of why he had to leave Mexico and his various experiences trying to make it as an undocumented resident of the city. There is a kind of poetry here in the movie that I really liked, and how the dancing connects his …

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Better Days

(Hong Kong, English Subtitles): This film about bullying is China’s entry for the 93rd Academy Award for Best International film. Nian is a high school student who is under a lot of pressure to perform well in her college entrance exams. Her mother is away a lot trying to earn money selling fake goods to support the two of them. Nian is bullied, sometimes quite viciously, by a group of other girls at school. One day, Nian witnesses Xiao, a small-time criminal, getting beaten by others, and Nian goes to help him. He later agrees to protect her from the …

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