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Tag Archives: 4 Stars

Annette

In this very odd rock opera, Adam Driver plays Henry, a comedian who has an unusual style that includes mocking the audiences that seem to not be able to get enough of him. Ann (Marion Cotillard), a rising opera singer, is his lover. As his career begins to decline and hers rise, they have a baby Annette; if you haven’t read much about the story, I will leave the story of Annette to your own viewing and interpretation. This film was perplexing. The opening scene was fantastic, and the music was some of the best in the film. However, I …

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The Man Who Sold His Skin

(Syria, English subtitles): This film, which was Syria’s entry to the Oscars and made the shortlist, centers on Sam Ali, a refugee who agrees to have his back tattooed as a form of art in exchange for money, freedom, and a visa to Europe, where his girlfriend is betrothed to a member of the embassy. While uneven in its execution, the film works best as a commentary (and perhaps even satire) on the question of art and its commodification (as well as the commodification of Sam). Sam exchanges his back for his freedom, but he comes to realize that he …

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Black is King

This feature-length film, a visual album by Beyonce, uses her music and the medium to retell the story of the Lion King from the perspective of the Black experience. The film is impressive and showcases Beyonce’s incredible talent and vision. Filming took place in Africa, Europe, and the US and features a lot of unknown actors. The visual imagery stunning, some of the images with their juxtaposition of color and sound are breathtaking. The costuming is equally gorgeous and reflects the many aspects of the African and African American experiences. The film is a celebration of Black pride, Black beauty, …

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Collective

(Romania, English subtitles): This fascinating documentary follows a sharp investigative journalism team that began by investigating a fire at a nightclub in Romania that killed about two dozen young people but went on to claim nearly 40 additional lives. This movie reminded me of the wonderful film Spotlight several years ago based on the team who cracked the story about one of the cardinals accused of sexually abusing boys. While that was a reenactment of the story, Collective is a documentary that follows the team as piece together several seemingly unrelated events – the nightclub fire, the resignation of the …

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Dear Comrades!

(Russia, English Subtitles): The film, based on a true story, takes place in 1962, when workers in a factory, complaining about high prices of food, food shortages, and low wages, went on strike. To break the strike, the government fires on the protesters, killing several, and went to extreme measures to cover up the murders. The film is shot in black and white, which gives it an interesting air of history and the times when most broadcasts were in black and white. It is a commentary on the extent that governments go to hide the truth, but the best part …

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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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