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Tag Archives: 4 Stars

The Hand of God

(Italy) This is a coming-of-age story centered around Fabietto, a young man who is trying to figure out what to do with his life. The film is essentially in two parts. The first is a rather slow and meandering look at Fabietto’s direct and extended family, including an aunt, Patrizia, to whom he has an odd attraction – a clearly physical one, but also one that is sympathetic to her condition. The family is full of characters – some cranky, some loving, and some rather mean-spirited – but they are all a family. A startling event ushers in the second …

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Coda

Ruby (Emilia Jones), 17 and a senior in high school is the only hearing child of deaf adults (CODA). She spends her days working with her father and brother on their fishing boat off the Massachusetts coast and being the bridge between their world and the hearing world. The parents depend on her to be this bridge, while her brother resents her for it and wants, as the older brother, to take responsibility for their success. Mr. Villalobos, the choir teacher, takes an interest in Ruby when he discovers that she is a talented singer and has the potential to …

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The Last Duel

This is not a movie that I would have necessarily placed on my priority list; I didn’t even know until I started watching it that it is based on a true story of the last sanctioned duel in France. The setting is the 100-Years War. The film centers on three people: Jean De Carrouges (Matt Damon), a knight known for his bravery and ferocity in battle; Jacques LeGris (Adam Driver), who in the beginning was a close friend of De Carrouges but becomes his most bitter enemy; and Margerite de Carrouges, wife of de Carrouges who accuses LeGris of raping …

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The Lost Daughter

Olivia Colman is Leda, a college professor who is on a working vacation on a Greek island. While she is on the beach, she encounters a woman and her daughter; the two of them appear to be having a power struggle, with the mother losing out. The encounter sets off a chain of memories of Leda’s own life as a mother of two daughters trying to raise them and start her career. This is a very good film that examines the feelings of a woman who struggled with being a mother and made choices that she doesn’t seem to entirely …

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Lamb

(Iceland): Ingvar and Maria are sheep ranchers who live an isolated life. The opening scenes, which are mostly silent and expansive, reinforce a sense of loneliness, and you feel an underlying sadness to the daily routine the two find themselves in. One day, they are aiding one of the sheep in giving birth, and there is something different about the lamb; we don’t know what it is, but the two quickly swaddle it and bring it into the house. Over the next months, the two raise it as their own child. The movie premise is very strange, but the story …

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Titane

(France) As a young girl, Alexia was in a car accident that resulted in a titanium plate screwed onto her skull. Cut to adulthood: Alexia is heading to her shift at an auto show, a place where women dance erotically around cars for men who give them tips for their performances. A man follows her and wants her autograph, then a kiss, then tries to force himself on her. She stabs him through the ear with her metal hairpin, killing him. Next, she has sex with a car and becomes impregnated. And the absurdities continue – it turns out she …

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Nightmare Alley

Guillermo del Toro’s latest stars Bradley Cooper as Stanton, a drifter who finds his way into the circus and learns the craft of mindreading. Once he perfects his craft, he runs away with Molly (Rooney Mara), and the two of them start a traveling mind-reading business. Stanton meets Doctor Ritter (Cate Blanchett), and the two of them set in motion a scheme that will alter the course of Stanton’s life. I am a fan of del Toro’s filmmaking style; he has a perfect command of direction, and the cinematography of his movies is always stunning. This film is no exception. …

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Licorice Pizza

  This is a very different Paul Thomas Anderson film. In earlier works, like There Will be Blood and Phantom Thread, every scene is controlled and precise. In this film, it is as if Anderson threw caution to the wind and let himself be carefree and let the actors reflect that freedom. This coming-of-age story is set in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s. Cooper Hoffman (Philip Seymour Hoffman’s son!) is Gary, a 15-year-old high school student, child actor, and successful entrepreneur who seems to believe himself to be much more important than he actually is, is getting his …

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Red Rocket

Simon Rex is Mikey, a washed-up porn star who makes his way back to his hometown of Texas City, Texas to figure out a new direction. He shows up, all smiles and optimism, on the doorstep of his ex-wife and mother-in-law. Most of the town doesn’t seem terribly enamored with his return, including the wife he left when he ventured to Los Angeles. I really enjoyed this film. It is a very typical Sean Baker movie in that he beautifully captures the mood and sense of place associated with characters who occupy a marginal slice of society. Here, he captures …

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The French Dispatch

The subject of Wes Anderson’s latest film is the French Dispatch, a supplement to the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun written by correspondents from a small town in France. The purpose of the supplement was to bring the world of a small French town to the midwestern readers. The film brings to life 3 stories republished in this last issue of the Dispatch – one from Arts and Leisure, one from Politics, and one from Dining (those may not be the exact titles). My favorite is the first story, The Concrete Artist, as it works the best at telling the story …

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