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Tag Archives: 5 Stars

Pain and Glory

(Spanish) Salvador Mallo (played by Antonio Banderas) is an aging film director who is long past the zenith of his career. He suffers from numerous physical and psychological maladies and has turned to using heroin to dull the pain. The film explores Salvador’s life at four key points in time: His early childhood with his mother, a defining romantic relationship in his life, his relationship with his mother at the end of her life, and the present. The way Almodovar weaves the stories together is exquisite. He uses flashbacks but also does something unique in using the stage to tell …

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Parasite

(South Korea): The Kim family lives in a basement apartment and struggles to make ends meet by folding pizza boxes (something so simple that they cannot seem to do right); the family is destitute but otherwise happy. The son Ki-woo lands a job as an English tutor for the daughter in the uber-wealthy Kim family, and through a series of schemes, the entire family is working there. Everything runs smoothly until one of the displaced servants shows up unexpectedly when the Kim family is away on a camping trip. The movie is fantastic; the performances by all are great, but …

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Apollo 11

Using archival audio and video footage, we are transported back to 1969 when Armstrong and Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon. I absolutely loved this film. Everything is stitched together into one neat story; we see what the astronauts saw, hear conversations between Armstrong, Aldin and Collins and ground control, and experience what those on the ground must have felt at every milestone of that mission. At 9 years old, I don’t really remember those days at all, so to be able to watch this as though I were watching the news was fantastic. The music …

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When They See Us (Netflix Mini-Series)

In 1989, 5 young African American and Latino boys, ages 14-16, were accused of beating and raping a white jogger in Central Park New York. After serving between 6 and 13 years in prison, they were exonerated after a fellow prisoner serving time with one of the five confessed to the crime.  In this Netflix mini-series, Ana DuVernay provides a perfect complement to the Sarah Burns documentary Central Park Five from 2012; DuVernay presents the story completely from the viewpoint of the 5 teenagers. She takes us up close and personal into what it was like for these boys to …

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They Shall Not Grow Old

Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings Trilogy fame creates a technically marvelous documentary by using 100-year-old footage from World War I and telling a story about what it was like for the soldiers who enlisted and went to the front lines. He does this in a very innovative way by colorizing the film (the scene where he switches to color is breathtaking), slowing it down to real-time, and overlaying stories told by WWI vets in the 1960s and 1970s. His team also incorporates many of the posters of the era and overlays moving footage, which creates a very unusual …

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The Guilty

(Denmark):  Asgar has been assigned from patrol to a desk job answering 911 calls. He clearly doesn’t want to be there, has a chip on his shoulder, and doesn’t seem to care about the fate of the callers. Then a woman named Iben calls and claims she has been abducted. The entire film is shot in the police station where he takes the calls, and for almost the entire movie, Asgar is the only one you see. This is an amazing piece of film crafting. The film most closely resembles Locke, shot entirely in the car as Locke is driving; …

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Cold War

Polish, English subtitles: Wiktor is a musician who travels post-War Poland to assemble a touring group who will perform Polish folk songs throughout the country. He discovers Zula, a headstrong young woman with a beautiful voice. The movie, inspired by the director’s own parents, follows their love affair across multiple countries – Poland, Russia, France – in Cold-War Europe. The film is a masterpiece in every way. The cinematography is gorgeous; as in the director’s previous film Ida, every scene is by itself an exemplar of light and shadow and composition. The use of black and white helps bring a …

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I wasn’t totally sure about this movie – an animated version of Spider-Man that was reviewed well, but I couldn’t imagine how this could top the other Spiderman films (especially my favorite, Spider-Man 2). Well, I think this has become my favorite. This movie is incredible. First, it has exceptional animation, and it is filmed in such a way that you feel like you are inside a moving comic book. Every scene is fresh and takes you somewhere you don’t always expect to go. The film follows the traditional Spiderman story but brings to it a fresh twist with a …

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Free Solo

This documentary film tells the story of Alex Honnold’s success as the first person to scale El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without ropes. This is an amazing, multilayered film that gives us much more than just the big climb. We get to really know Alex, who is rather quirky, what drives him to climb, and the ways his love of the sport impacts his relationships. We get to see how cameramen who are also experienced climbers prepare to film a dangerous event of such magnitude and the psychological aspects as well; they all know that they could be filming …

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2001: A Space Odyssey

This film has been re-released in a 70 mm format created from the original negatives. The result is supposed to be a film that looks like it did when it first came out. I don’t remember seeing it when it first came out, but I have to say that I was completely blown away by the beauty and intensity of the film. The basic story begins with a story of the dawn of man when apes first became upright. A mysterious black box appears in the landscape. Cut forward to the future when a spaceship is headed to Jupiter to …

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