Steal A Pencil For Me

May 22nd, 2021 — 1:00am

Steal A Pencil For Me-nf
****

As have so many stories about the holocaust, this film produced by Michel Ohayon has touched our hearts. It tells a true story about a man Jac Polak and woman Ina Soepwho met in Holland shortly before the Nazis took over. He was infatuated with her although he was married to someone else. When their time came and they were deported to a concentration camp, they kept in touch with each other through clandestine letters and notes (hence the movie title). Through this continued relationship (along with film clips of various cattle cars whisking the Jews away and pictures and clips of the horrors that went on during those terrible years), we ultimately learned that this unusual couple never lost hope that they might reunite. Sure enough after liberation, they found each other and have had more than 60 years of marriage. It is no surprise that this is a moving story that not only tells about enduring love, but reminds us about history that we must never forget.

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 4 Stars, Documentary, History, Romance

The Center Will Not Hold

May 18th, 2021 — 1:58am

May 16, 2021
The Center Will Not Hold
***

This is a 2017 biographical film about the story of the iconic writer, Joan Didion. It is directed by her nephew actor, Griffin Dunne, and was produced by her cousin, Annabella Dunne. This probably explains why the filmmakers appeared to have such easy access to the main subject as well as so many personal videos and footage of her life. While we are contemporaries of the main subject and we are familiar with the various cities where she has lived on both coasts, our lives have been quite different. We were in San Francisco at the same time as she was. While one of us was a newly married intern at San Francisco General Hospital and the other was a newly minted social worker, Ms. Didion was at parties with Janis Joplin, Harrison Ford, Brian De Palma, Martin Sarkozy, and Steven Spielberg. The film gives us a very intimate portrait of this amazing talented writer who is married to John Dunne, a very talented writer himself. Whereas some well-matched couples can finish each other sentences, this dyad were able to edit and finish each others manuscripts.

It is clear that Ms. Didion was an extremely talented sought after writer from top magazines such as Vogue and has written some very well received novels. Her personal experiences and her emotional life is clearly captured and reflected in this film and includes the very meaningful relationship that she had with her husband and her adopted daughter who died at the age of 39 shortly after the death of her father and Ms. Didion’s beloved husband.

What makes this movie a meaningful cinematic experience is not only the words and life story of the main subject, but how well personal film and video footage is weaved into the storyline along with contemporary clips reflecting the times and life of this amazing woman.

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 3 Stars, Biography, Documentary

The Father

May 5th, 2021 — 6:48am

The Father
****

It is easy to see why Anthony Hopkins was recently awarded this year’s Academy Award for Best Actor. He is magnificent as an old man with a fading memory in this film. The movie is presented in a manner that the viewers experiences the memory lapses and subsequent episodes of confusion as if it were happening to us. Hopkins’ facial expressions, voice, movements, and interactions with the other characters are near perfect. He moves easily between anger and fury to softness and sadness.

The film was written and directed by Florian Zeller who has adapted his prize-winning French play of the same name along with Christopher Hampton. Interestingly, the main character’s first name is “Anthony”. His daughter is played by Olivia Colman who also turned in an outstanding performance. To make things even more interesting, Anthony’s daughter is also played at a different age by Olivia Williams who physically resembles Ms. Coleman. There were several clever manipulations of the setting all adding up to a somewhat unique cinematic experience.

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

Pieces Of A Woman

March 21st, 2021 — 5:35am

PIECES OF A WOMAN
***

This film, directed by Kornel Mundruczo with screenplay by Kata Weber, is about a couple’s decision to have their first child delivered by a midwife at home. Things do not go as planned. We become immersed in the postpartum struggle, mainly of the woman (Vanessa Kirby) as she deals with the intricacies of relationships with her husband(Shia Saide LaBeouf), mother (Ellen Burstyn), and other people in her life. We have to consider how there can be intense grief for someone you have never known. There is even a dramatic court room scene interspersed in the storyline but who is the real victim and who is the perpetrator? You may also want to ask yourself if home deliveries should be legal? Vanessa Kirby was nominated for an Oscar this year 2021 for her performance in this film.

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

The White Tiger

March 17th, 2021 — 6:09am

The White Tiger
****

Unfortunately, we do not clearly remember the book upon which this film was made, which we read about 12 years ago and one of us wrote up in his book blog. We also had to see it again for the story to clearly register with us although we first saw it several weeks ago. It is obviously a well-done film, which holds your interest as the story develops. We are watching a young man from a very poor lower class caste in India attempt to put himself up to a slightly higher level by manipulating things so he can become the main driver for a wealthy Indian family. As we view his journey, we come to appreciate the contrast between the very rich and the very poor and the near impossible odds against any upward mobility.

Baked into the plot at the beginning and at the end of the film is the contrast between India, a so-called democracy, and China, a so called socialist regime (obviously Communist). This is accomplished by hearing the letter that one of the Indian main characters is writing to the premier of China. There is also an apt analogy to a rooster coop where in this case people are borne into servitude and cannot usually even contemplate another way of living. There is always the possibility of someone being a “White Tiger,” an unusual form of the animal that appears possibly once in a generation. In the film this seem to be the metaphor for a person who is able to break out of his expected destiny.

In addition to the political messages that are being given, we are also experiencing a well-done drama with suspense and unexpected twists and turns and a deep dive into the various characters.

The film was released more than 10 years after the book came out. It stars Adarsh Gourav as Balram, the driver and also features excellent performances by Rajkummar Rao and Priyanka Chopra. It is directed by Ramin Bahrani who wrote the screenplay based on the book by Aravind Adiga. It was Oscar nominated as the best adapted screenplay.

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Politics

Mank

March 11th, 2021 — 6:26am

Mank
***

To fully appreciate this film, you probably need to be a Hollywood insider and know the history of the real characters. It is the story of Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) who apparently had been a successful playwright and is now working on a script for the movie Citizen Kane, which is the story of William Randolph Hearst. Mankiewicz who had been recognized as a terrific writer is now an alcoholic and recently broke his leg in an accident. He is working with a younger Orson Welles who would be the director of the Citizen Kane movie. Mank is directed by David Fincher, which is based on a screenplay by his late father Joseph Fincher. Although it was interesting and certainly well acted, we did not feel that we appreciated the subtleties of this movie by apparently not really knowing the story behind many of the characters.

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 3 Stars, Biography

Nomadland

March 11th, 2021 — 6:01am

Nomadland
***

After the economic collapse of a company town in the west during the Recession, we meet Fern (Frances McDormand), a widow who now lives in an old van that she has customized. She travels around the western part of United States, stopping at RV Parks where she gets to know various people and develops friendships. Apparently, some of the actors in the film were actual nomads who were immersed in this lifestyle. The film was directed by Chloé Zhao who is receiving acclaim for capturing the persona of the main character. We could feel the emotional tone of this woman and what the lifestyle meant to her, but it really was not our cup of tea.

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

I Care A Lot

March 11th, 2021 — 3:17am

I Care A Lot
**

While we both agree this film was quite engaging and held our interest, we find it very difficult to accept the premise of the film and ultimately cannot really recommend it.

A seemingly competent caring woman (Rosamund Pike) along with her business partner and lover (Eliza Gonzalez), run a con game where she arranges to have an older unattached elderly individual declared incompetent and a ward of the state and then she becomes their legal guardian. She is therefore able to arrange for these persons to be isolated in a fancy nursing home while she gains all their assets. However, she runs into a difficult situation when her latest prey, Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) appears to have a son who is a dwarf (Peter Dinklage) and is part of the Russian mafia. There is a great deal of intrigue with murders and unbelievable almost murders. In the end, it was quite an adventure, but we do not recommend the ride (2020).

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 2 Stars, Crime, Drama

Juddas and the Black Messiah

February 21st, 2021 — 8:43am

Judas and the Black Messiah – HBOMAX
****
This is a very powerful film, which examined the rise of the Black Panthers in Chicago and the underlying story of a double agent black man who is recruited as an informant for the FBI after he was caught committing a crime and chose being “Judas” rather than going to jail. The story provides insights into the men and women who developed and coalesced into the Black Panthers mostly from several black groups centering in Chicago. LaKeith Stanfield plays the Judas and there are outstanding performances by many of the stars, but of particular note was Daniel Kaluuya who played Fred Hampton, the Black Panther leader, and his girlfriend Deborah Johnson played by Dominque Fishback. Of note also was the performance of Martin Sheen who plays J. Edgar Hoover in a relatively small but quite effective role.

There is violence, suspense, and murder throughout the film. The movie captures the anger and revolutionary nature of a coalescing black power movement. The storyline reminds us that it was not a single black group that demanded the equality which they deserved, but several rival groups and gangs, the Crowns, Young Lords, and the Patriots that all came together in an uneasy truce to face the violent oppression, which they encountered daily.

The film showed the work of the Black Panther organization as being mostly about self-help for the community. They created breakfast programs as well as working to set up a medical clinic. Most important to the group was bringing together all the varied factions within the community who had felt unheard, discriminated against and marginalized. The film showed how important it was for the Panthers to be able to defend themselves from the constant, unprovoked assaults by the police and the ongoing attempts to crush them completely by J. Edgar Hoover and the F.B.I.

The plot was intriguing and the historical truth was revealing. The acting was great and the directing by Shaka King and the outstanding production was deserving of the many awards that are now being discussed for this movie. (2021).

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, History

One Night in Miami

February 1st, 2021 — 10:29pm

One Night in Miami (Amazon)
****

This imaginative story of the fictional meeting of four black icons caught us by surprise. The film is supposed to have taken place in 1964 when we were in our 20s and while very much aware of the civil rights movement but we were not intimately cognizant of the role that each of these well-known persons were playing at that time.

Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), the great heavy weight boxer, had just become the world heavy weight champion by knocking out Sonny Liston. He was probably the youngest man in the foursome and was about to become a follower of the Nation of Islam and become a follower of its leader Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir). However, Malcolm X was about part ways with this organization and make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Jim Brown (Adis Hodge) was a great football player who seemed to be the least developed character in this film. We most enjoyed the character of Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom, Jr.). We had a fond memory of his feel good music and the change that was developing and black awareness in this character as well as in the entire country was reflected in his interchanges with Malcolm X.

The film was directed by Regina King with the screenplay by Kemp Powers based on his book.

The movie ends with a note that Malcolm X would be assassinated shortly after this story was to have taken place reminding us that this was just beginning of the ongoing Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movement. It is rare that such a totally imaginative interchange between relative contemporary figures can capture the essence of their historical significance. It is also painful to know that over fifty years later, the fight for equality and justice needs to continue to be waged. (2020).

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, History, Politics

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