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Tag Archives: 4 Stars

The Mustang

The Mustang tells a story of Roman, an incredibly angry man who has served a very long time in prison, and what happens to him when he participates in a prison program to break wild mustangs. In the beginning, we are told that there are about 100,000 mustangs roaming in the wild, and the Bureau of Land Management periodically rounds them up and sends them to prisons. Ultimately, they are auctioned off.  The story is one that has been told in a number of different ways, but this one works really well. The acting by Matthias Schoenaerts (Roman) and Bruce …

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Us

This is Jordan Peele’s second movie following his big horror hit from last year, Get Out. In this story, a young girl strays from her father and finds herself in a room of mirrors at an amusement park on the California coast. She turns around and finds herself staring at herself. Fast forward to the present day, she is married with two children, and she is talked into going to the beach by her husband who doesn’t know her history at that beach. One night, after a day at the beach, the family discovers 4 intruders on their property – …

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What Will People Say?

(Norwegian) Nisha is a Pakistani teenager growing up with her family in Norway. At home, she conforms very closely to what is expected of her by her family and culture; away from home, she is the typical, westernized teenager. One night, her father discovers that she has her boyfriend in her room, and the price for this is that she is shipped off to Pakistan to live with her distant relatives. This is a really fine film with wonderful acting, especially by the actress who plays Nisha (this appears to be her first acting role) and the actor who plays …

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Thunder Road

This movie popped out of nowhere on a 2018 best movies list in one of my FB film groups. I had never heard of it and to my knowledge got very little if any press, although it has picked up a number of awards on the independent film circuit. Jim Cummings plays Jim, a man whose life seems to be falling apart around him while he valiantly tries to keep all of the pieces propped up. In the opening scene – which is one of the best I have seen – Jim is giving a eulogy for his mother who …

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Madeline’s Madeline

Madeline (Helena Howard, in her first appearance) has joined an experimental theater group. Still in high school, she lives with her mom (Miranda July), and their relationship is strained; they do not get along, and Madeline feels that her mom doesn’t understand her. She takes to the director of the theater group Evangeline (Molly Parker), who seems to be a “surrogate mother” to Madeline as she exploits Madeline for her own interests. I really enjoyed the film; it is intriguing to see an experimental theater setting embedded in a rather experimental film. During the film, the lines between what is …

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At Eternity’s Gate

Willem Dafoe plays Vincent Van Gogh in the later and more prolific years of his life. Julian Schnabel, who has brilliantly featured the lives of artists in previous films, does an amazing job of helping us to imagine what it would have been like to be inside the mind of Van Gogh during periods of his life that were incredibly dark and tormented. Dafoe gives a brilliant, award-worthy performance that may be the best of his career. He looks like van Gogh, and it is amazing to see the character that Dafoe commands through is eyes and facial expressions. Schnabel …

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Mission Impossible: Fallout

Tom Cruise continues as Ethan Hunt, a secret agent whose last mission went wrong and set in motion a sequence of events that will lead to nuclear catastrophe if he doesn’t correct his wrong. This installment is completely entertaining even if the plot is a bit ridiculously predictable. The action scenes are long and harrowing – it seems that Hunt finds himself in one extremely precarious situation after another, with nary a pause, and the director shoots the film in a way that keeps the suspense going from the beginning to the very end. I was never bored and completely …

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The Favourite

This film is the newest from Yorgos Lanthimos, who is the director for the Lobster and Sacred Killing of Deer. His films are an acquired taste for many, and this is no exception. Set in the 18th century, England and France are at war. England is headed by Queen Anne (played by Olivia Colman in a masterful performance), who is sickly and rules England primarily through her friend/lover Lady Churchill (played by Rachel Weisz). One day, Abigail (Emma Stone in a brilliantly devious performance), who is Lady Churchill’s cousin, shows up and soon captures the affections of Anne. The movie …

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The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give: Starr Carter is a high school student who lives in Gardner Heights, the area of the city where primarily Black and African-American families live but who attends a mostly White high school, Williamson Prep, in a more affluent neighborhood in the city. Starr feels that she has to straddle two different worlds, changing the way she looks and speaks to fit into each. The complexity of that negotiation comes to a head when she witnesses her long-time childhood friend shot by a police officer during a “routine” traffic stop. This is an excellent film, perhaps stronger than …

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Monsters and Men

This film tells the stories of three different men after the shooting of an unarmed black man in a bodega in New York City. Manny, who is friends with Darius, a popular street hustler, witnesses his shooting and records it on his camera. He wrestles with what to do with the film and the impact that it will have on his mother, girlfriend, and daughter. Dennis is a Black police officer who finds himself caught, especially in conversations with his wife, between acknowledging what happened and his need to defend what the police do. Finally, Zyric is a 17-year old …

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