Summer 1993

May 17th, 2018 — 4:53pm

***

Summer 1993

This is a personal story of the writer/director Carla Simon. The movie tells a story of when she was a little girl and her parents died of AIDS at the height of the HIV epidemic which in Spain was in 1993 (a little later than in the United States). She was sent to live with her uncle, aunt, and a younger cousin and had to deal with her inner turmoil at this very tender age. It was quite an accomplishment that the director/writer was able to find a seven-year-old girl, Laia Artigas to play her at this young age as well as a four-year-old, Paula Robles to play her younger cousin Anna. These child actors joined Bruna Cusi, David Verdaguer and Fermi Reixach, who play some of the other members of her family. The story line shows the everyday interactions of these two younger girls mostly with each other but also with Frida’s aunt, uncle and also with the grandparents who come to visit.

It is rare that the personal emotions of a young child are captured so well on the screen. Perhaps it is even more of a feat that the movie was made in Spain, in Catalan with English subtitles. As much as we admired the unusual cinematic accomplishments of bringing the inner feelings of young girls to the screen, we felt that the 96-minute running time to watch them play and cry may not have been worth the time spent watching it. (2018)

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

RBG

May 16th, 2018 — 3:48am

*****

RBG

When you view an outstanding documentary film such as this one, you might wonder whether it was excellent because of the subject or was it mostly due to the work of the filmmakers. In this case it was clearly both. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a remarkable woman who came from Brooklyn with the support of family and a brilliant mind. She attended Cornell University a few years before one of us was there(SB) and was one of the increasing number of her generation who was not just going to accept the traditional role of women. She was one of the few women to be accepted to Harvard Law School. She married a great guy who encouraged her career early on and throughout their lives. They were able to jointly raise their children in a very successful marriage. She even transferred from Harvard to Columbia Law School so her husband could accept the job at a New York firm. She soon found her issue which was close to her heart and which deeply resonated within her. That was the equal rights for everyone, including women. She ultimately  became the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court. 

The filmmakers, Julie Cohen and Betsy West, didn’t just tell us about her brilliance but made it come to life with film footage, of her and others discussing court decisions in addition to painting a wonderful picture of her personal life. The movie was interspersed with familiar faces such as Gloria Steinem and Nina Totenberg who were able to reflect and put her ongoing life in perspective. The viewer could experience her life and the development of her thinking almost as if we were living with her. Great job. Great film. Great person. (2018)

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 5 Stars, Documentary

Book Club

May 8th, 2018 — 7:56pm

****

Book Club

It is a rare phenomena that we will see four outstanding veteran actresses star in a film with each of them having roles portraying an in-depth character who has an arc of development and change.

Screen writer and first time director Bill Holderman teamed up with Erin Simms to co-write and co-produce this movie. They won over Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen to come together in this movie about relationships, love and sex in women of a certain age. The well-known male actors who joined this romantic film were Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson, Richard Dreyfuss, Ed Begley Jr. and Wallace Shawn. In case you are curious about the name of the book the “Book Club” was reading, it was “Fifty Shades of Grey” although the film was not R rated.

We predict that in addition to being a big hit with the older demographics, word will get around that this film will have great appeal to romantics of all generations and it will be a great success. (2018)

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

The Seagull

May 4th, 2018 — 6:07am

*****

The Seagull

This classic Chekhov story became fascinating movie with an excellent screenplay by Stephen Karam, very skillful directing by Michael Mayer, superb musical background Nico Muhly and Anton Sanko and of course an outstanding cast. This group of mostly veteran actors and actresses were top notch. They include Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle (his first film), Corey Stoll, Elisabeth Moss, Mare Winningham, Jon Tenney, and Brian Dennehy.

Chekhov and his team, which adapted his work, examine human interaction and emotion in what could be a class for students of human behavior. In particular, Ms. Bening’s character, Irina, is a textbook example of narcissistic character where her self-love ultimately destroys herself and her son. Also, there is a fascinating and penetrating study with multiple examples of unrequited love and the pain which this almost universal experience can bring. If you like this type of a psychological study, you will find this cinematic experience to be quite captivating. (2018).

 

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama, Romance

Little Pink House

May 4th, 2018 — 6:02am

****

Little Pink House

Whether you are an on-the-ground activist, a student of law, or an activist at heart, you will be drawn to this movie. It is a docudrama that tells the true story of Susette Kelo (Catherine Keener), a woman who worked as a dedicated EMT, had just been through a second divorce and found a quaint fix-up house in New London, Connecticut on the water where she decided to settle and build her life. Needless to say, the finishing touch on her hard work of fixing up the house was to paint the exterior pink (hence the film title).

And now the plot thickness. Pfizer pharmaceutical company begins to work out a plan with the town fathers to build a new large plant in New London. This has the potential to bring new revenue and jobs to this town which could well use the infusion. The viewer then becomes introduced to the term from the United States Constitution called Eminent Domain. A group of home owners, mainly elderly, are now threatened with either being forced to sell their home or be evicted.

Ms. Keener plays her character quite well as she becomes the symbol of the embattled home owners with the support of her boyfriend, Tim (Keith Rennie) and her lawyer Scott Bullock (Giacomo Baessato) against the Director of Corporate Development (Jeanne Tripplehorn), the city attorney (Jerry Wasserman), and the governor (Aaron Douglas).

Director and writer, Courtney Moorehead Balaker, leads this band of actors to the Supreme Court of The United States where the case is settled (at least for the time being). This adventure is a worthwhile cinematic experience (2018).

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

The Rider

April 13th, 2018 — 7:59am

Screened at the 2018 San Francisco Film Festival

Opens in U.S. April 13, 2018

***

The Rider

 

This film almost looks like a documentary, but it is actually a hybrid as the movie focuses on life crisis of a rodeo competitor Brady Blackburn. We meet him as he is recovering from a life threatening head injury, which we realized happened during his brilliant but very daring and dangerous competitive riding, which occurred on top of wild untamed horses. We come to understand his love of horses and his uncanny connection to them. He knows he is supposed to stay away from the sport as his brain and body must heal. We are given insight into his character as we see his relationship with a very good friend, who is a like brother to him and is now in a hospital brain damaged after being thrown from a horse. We also see his caring tender relationship with his younger sister who appears to have a developmental disability as well as his interactions with his caring father who had been very rough on him. The movie is directed by Chloe Zhao who met the star of the movie on an Indian Reservation while filming a 2014 movie titled Songs My Brothers Taught Me. This director certainly achieved some very interesting footage particularly as the star interacts and trains his horses.

To many people rodeo competitive riding and the heroes who participate in it is as captivating as competitive football is to many other Americans. It occurred to one of us that the movie could have very well been highlighting the dilemma of those football stars who are faced with life threatening head injuries from the sport that they also love (2018).

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

Kodachrome

April 13th, 2018 — 7:58am

Screened at 2018 San Francisco Film Festival

Opens April 20, 2018 in the United States

****

Kodachrome

When a movie tries to examine an estranged relationship between the parent and a grown child, it usually has the potential to be an emotionally laden interesting film. This movie was no exception.

A famous and now dying photographer (Ed Harris) and his loyal and beautiful nurse (Elizabeth Olsen) contact his son(Jason Sudeikis) who is a music businessman and has not spoken to his father in many years for good reasons . They ask him to go with them on a car trip to Kansas to develop some old roles of Kodachrome film. (The father can’t fly because health reasons.) The last existing processing company is going out of business and there is some urgency to this task. The details and reasons for the estrangement unfold as does the expected deep seated underlying feeling that each has for each other. Just about every key point in the plot was easily predicted but yet the movie, directed by Mark Raso, held our attention and we recommend it for a meaningful emotional ride (2018).

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

Tully

April 13th, 2018 — 7:57am

Screened at 2018 San Francisco Film Festival

Opens in United States on May 4, 2018

*****

Tully

We saw this film at the San Francisco Film Festival where there was a special tribute paid to Charlize Theron for her body of work. Subsequently, this movie was shown.

In the film, we meet Marlo (Charlize Theron) as she is in the late stages of her third pregnancy while dealing with the trials and tribulations of raising two children and allowing her husband to sleep through the night and get on with his job. Her rich brother (Mark Duplass) offers to get her a night nanny to help with the new born. This nanny, Tully, (Mackenzie Davis) symbolically happens to have her maiden name, Tully, that she had when she was young and free.

Screen writer Diablo Cody collaborated with writer-director Jason Reitman who helped to provide the symbolism and synergy to show the struggle that a young woman might have in moving from a young, free as a bird, woman to a nursing, dedicated, but overwhelmed and depressed mother. The movie reminds us of the need to “let go” sometimes in order to “move on” as well as a hint of some issues involved in post partum depression. Theron leads an outstanding supportive cast, which includes a great script and a very competent director (2018).

 

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama

A Kid Like Jake

April 13th, 2018 — 7:55am

Screened at 2018 San Francisco Film Festival

Opens in United States June 1, 2018

*****

A Kid Like Jake

This film is not very much about Jake but is all about his parents, Alex (Claire Danes) and her husband Greg (Jim Parsons), as they begin to realize that their little boy may actually identify as being a little girl. This New York couple first came to this awareness as they were trying to make applications to a private school for their youngster. They met with the director of their son’s preschool (Octavia Spencer), who tried to suggest that their son showed “gender variant play.” Claire Danes is outstanding as she painfully resists the insight that her husband is more willing to discuss.

We saw this movie as the opening film at the San Francisco 2018 Film Festival. We met director Silas Howard who openly discussed how since he himself is transgender, it was important to him to try to show the impact on the parents since that will ultimately determine how such a child can adjust to his or her identity. The subtle implications to both parents are played out in their interactions with each other as well as with their friends, the grandmother (Alex’s mother), and the school director.

This movie did a masterful job in presenting a difficult and important subject. It has the potential to be a classic film in this area (2018).

 

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

April 13th, 2018 — 7:54am

Screened at 2018 San Francisco Film Festival

Open in the United States on June 8, 2018

*****

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Film maker Morgan Neville did an extraordinary job in delving into television archival material to reconstruct the story of Mr. Rogers. If you were a child watching television in the 1960s and 70s or thereabouts or are a parent of such a child, then you must know who is Mr. Rogers is and have very warm feelings about him. He had a unique approach to children and spoke with them on their level. He was able to convey that each person has self-worth and should be treated that way. He practiced what he preached not only because he himself had graduated from a seminary but because he truly respected children of all ages.

The film was beautifully put together to give great insight into Fred Rogers. It showed how seriously he took striving for equality and mutual understanding and how that always came across.

Viewing this film was like meeting an old beloved friend from many years ago. It will be interesting to see if millennials will be able to relate to this movie when they met Mr. Rogers for the first time.(2018)

 

 

Readers are encouraged to put any opinions or comments about the film and this review. - Comment » | 5 Stars, Documentary

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