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Tag Archives: 4 Stars

Peanut Butter Falcon

Zak is a man with Downs syndrome who is trapped in a retirement home and who dreams of attending wrestling school with his WWF idol, the Salt Water Redneck. One night, Zak escapes, and lands on a boat owned by rugged and rough-edged crab-pot stealing Tyler (Shia LeBeouf), who finds himself on the lam after a particularly nasty run-in with local fisherman. Begrudgingly, Tyler decides to embark with Zak on a road trip to Florida to the wrestling school and to avoid the fishermen who set out to find him. I love this film. It is incredibly quirky and well-acted. …

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Hail Satan?

This often hilarious and surprisingly insightful documentary looks at the Satanic Temple, an activist group led by Lucien Greaves that is really not at all about the devil but about activism and the strong belief in the separation of church and state. The director combines several elements to make the documentary work as well as it does. The interviews are fascinating, and she assembles a group of adherents of different colors, ages, and sexual orientations who are united in their belief in valuing all religious viewpoints. She gives us a history lesson, bringing in footage from earlier eras of the …

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Honeyland

(Turkish, English Subtitles): This film documents the story of Hatidze who lives high in the mountains with her mother who is growing increasingly frail. Hatidze is a beekeeper; she and her mother appear to be the only two people who live in the area. They live close to nature, and Hatidze walks her honey to town to sell in the local markets. One day, an itinerant family with seven children sets up home next to her. At first, the father seems interested in understanding the art of what Hatidze does, but soon he and his family upset the balance of …

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

In this newest Quentin Tarantino film Leonard DiCaprio place Rick Dalton, who we follow from the height of his career as an actor in action pictures to the status of a Hollywood “has been”. Brad Pitt is Cliff Booth, who is Rick’s long-time friend, stunt double, and who ensures that Rick gets to his rehearsals. The film is set in 1969, at the same time Charles Manson’s followers murdered Sharon Tate and her friends. Tarantino weaves Rick Dalton’s story into the story of Sharon Tate in a very interesting and entertaining blend of fact and fiction. Tarantino is an expert …

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The Farewell (Chinese with Subtitles)

The film begins with being “based on an actual lie”. The story is about a Chinese family whose matriarch (Nai Nai) is dying of lung cancer. The family decides to keep the truth from her and take on that responsibility themselves since the truth might kill her faster. Nai Nai’s children hasten the wedding of her grandson so as to bring the family together in China one last time. Although her parents told her she could not go, Billi (played excellently by Awkwafina), who has a special relationship with her grandmother, shows up anyway. I really love this film that …

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The Biggest Little Farm

This documentary follows the story of John and Molly who, evicted from their Santa Monica apartment because their rescue dog won’t stop barking, secure enough investment from family and friends to purchase a 200-acre farm northeast of Los Angeles. The film covers a period of about 8 years using real-time footage, from their beginnings on land that was essentially dead to the current business that it is (https://www.apricotlanefarms.com/). It is a remarkable story; they hired a man named Alan York who had a vision for how to build a bio-diverse farm that would sustain itself. They bought a few animals …

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Echo in the Canyon

This documentary, driven mostly by Jakob Dylan, explores the roots of the California rock scene of the mid-1960s. At that time, bands were eager to emulate the success of the Beatles, and folk music became much more electric through the music of the Byrds (the band the film points to as the beginning of that scene), Buffalo Springfield, and The Mamas and the Papas. Jakob Dylan created a concert, Echo in the Canyon, that is a kind of love letter to those bands and the interesting people who comprised them that influenced the sounds of him and many other singers …

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Midsommar

Dani has just lost her parents and sister to a murder-suicide, and her relationship with her boyfriend Christian is on the brink of collapse. Christian and his friends, all of whom are working on their Ph.D. research, are going to Sweden to visit a family summer solstice celebration. Dani invites herself to join them. They arrive at the village in the land where the summer sun does not set, and after a magic mushroom trip among the young American visitors, things very slowly begin to turn creepy. I was fascinated and engrossed in this film. The director, who also created …

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Rocketman

Taron Egerton plays Elton John in this very interesting and unusually told biopic of John’s life. While the film starts out in a rather conventional narrative away – we first see Elton John checking himself into a rehab facility wherein he starts recounting various parts of his life – it becomes quickly clear that this will be a different kind of life story. The film is really a musical; at several points, it feels like you are watching a stage play. There is one number in which Edgerton first appears as the teenage Elton John that is particularly well done). …

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Avengers: Endgame

Avengers – End Game: The story picks up from where Infinity Wars left off. Arrow’s wife and children vanish as Thanos, who has control of the six Infinity stones, makes 50% of the population of the universe disappear. Antman returns after having somehow time traveled to the present, and that event triggers the reunification of the Avengers to get back the Infinity stones. The film is very entertaining. It has several periods of comic relief (especially Thor, who has a very funny post-Avengers life), numerous scenes that are emotionally powerful, and a lot of action, particularly during the last 30 …

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