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Tag Archives: 5 Stars

Soul

In this latest animation effort from Pixar studios, Joe Gardner is a music teacher at a public school in New York City who is a piano player constantly dreaming about jazz music. One day, he gets his break when he gets an opportunity to play with Dorothea Williams, a renowned musician. On the way to his debut, he suffers an accident and, through a series of events, finds himself assigned as a mentor to a particularly precocious spirit who can’t seem to find his way to becoming a body on Earth. The film is quite stunning. The animation is superior; …

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Quo Vadis, Aida?

(Bosnia and Herzegovina, English Subtitles): This historical film is based on the massacre of thousands of men and boys in an ethnic cleansing operation in Bosnia in the mid-1990s. The event is told through the experience of Aida, a translator for the United Nations peacekeeping forces assigned to monitor a temporary cease-fire between the Bosnian Serbs and the Bosnian Muslims. Aria knows more about what is going on and what is about to happen, but she finds herself torn between the needs of her people and the activities of the UN overseers as well as the need to save her …

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The Father

Anne (Olivia Coleman) is caring for her father Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) who has advanced dementia. As Anthony is rapidly losing his way, Anne is trying desperately to hang on and cope as his mind deteriorates. I have seen a lot of films about dementia (and have like most all of them), but this is the first time I have seen a film portray what it is like in the head of someone who has dementia rather than what the people outside him see. The effect and emotional impact are incredible. Both Coleman and Hopkins give exceptional and award-worthy performances, but …

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Memories of Murder

(Korea, English Subtitles). One of Bong Joon-Ho’s first big hits is now available for rent on Amazon Prime! The film, based on a true crime story that was not solved at the time of the film’s original release, is about the efforts of some local detectives to find a serial killer. Two detectives from a local police department, one of who has anger control issues, and the other who seems to have gotten his training from crime detective television shows, are joined by an educated detective from Seoul. The first half of the film is very funny watching Detective Park …

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Queen’s Gambit

I don’t typically write reviews on limited series, but this one is so good that I couldn’t help myself.  Most everyone has seen it by now: A young girl who ends up in an orphanage when her mother dies in a car accident discovers that she has a proclivity toward chess. The series, based on a novel by the same name that I understand is quite good, follows her rise over 7 episodes in the chess world as she simultaneously battles various addictions. Every now and then a limited series comes along that is really special; last year, it was …

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Winter Sleep

(Turkey, English subtitles). Ayden a former stage star who is wealthy and owns a hotel in Anatolia. He lives there with his sister Necla, who is divorced and has regrets about the dissolution of their marriage, and with his much younger wife Nihal. As winter approaches, the hotel customers become much sparser and the tensions among the three find new life. This is an amazing film. It is over 3 ½ hours in length, but it never feels that long, and it felt like it could have gone on longer. This is a dialog film, and patience is rewarded as …

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Crip Camp

Beginning in the early 1950s, Camp Jened, in upstate New York, was a place where teenagers with disabilities could go and experience, many for the first time, a place where they could be teenagers and live freely with people like them with disabilities. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, the camp was run by hippies, so there were a lot of freedoms provided that the kids did not get elsewhere. Many of these summer campers ended up migrating to the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, an innovative center focused on providing services to the disabled. It was here …

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First Cow

Kelly Reichardt’s new film is set in the Oregon territory in the middle 19th century as Americans are beginning to trek westward for a better life. Cookie (John Magaro) has done exactly this and is serving as a cook for a small group of trappers. One day, he meets a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee) who is naked and evading a group of Russians who are looking for him. The two strike up a friendship that ultimately leads to a business venture that involves the cow of a wealthy businessman in the area. This is a very typical Reichardt film with …

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Hamilton

The Disney Channel brings Hamilton to the big screen! Having seen this on stage, but not with the original cast, I was eager to see the movie version that captured one of the early performances. I was not disappointed; in fact, I was surprised at how well the film captured the energy and excitement of the stage play. The editing work is exceptional –different angles of the stage are captured with all of its intense motion and energy, with lots of close-up shots – it is like you are sitting in orchestra and your eyes move to where they want …

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LA92

This documentary chronicles the events that let up to the riots in Los Angeles in 1992 as a result of the exoneration of 4 LAPD officers who beat a Black man after a traffic stop. I watched this film right after Let it Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992, and the difference is that LA92 focuses much more on the days during which the riots occurred. It is a powerful and sobering look at the simmering pot of race relations in the United States. There is so much footage available here; the way it is cut, you actually feel like you are …

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