Category: 4 Stars


May 16th, 2022 — 12:55am

Summerland- nf

The setting of this story takes place in England during World War II . We meet a woman (Alice Artion) who is living in the countryside as the war and the bombings of London and other cities rages on. She is always writing her story and typing away on her period typewriter. Her village takes care of. young children who are sent to the countryside by their parents to help them survive. We meet young Frank (Lucus Bond) whose father is an air force pilot and his mother has a wartime job in London. Young Frank is assigned to live with the writer who reluctantly takes him on as little does she know how she is linked to him and his mother. While the underlying story line gets to be complicated, the beauty and the success of this film is the development of the relationship between boy and his caretaker mother figure. Screenplay writer and director Jessica Swale has produced a touching story that has depth and emotion and has brought the interesting storyline and excellent character portrayals all together for an
a most enjoyable cinematic experience

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Family / Kids

Drive My Car

March 28th, 2022 — 9:40pm

Drive My Car-nf

This three-hour film may be difficult for you to handle. It is mostly in Japanese with a little English and some sign language and of course with English subtitles. The story unfolds as we meet a Japanese couple, he a theater director and she a playwright. They seemed to be very much in love although he has good reason to doubt her fidelity. Sadly, she dies of a stroke at a young age. The complicated emotions of grief and anger unfold as he is asked to put together and direct the classic theater production of Uncle Vanya. The automobile in which a good deal of the action and dialogue takes place is actually a Swedish Saab and not a Japanese brand. Most of the action takes place in the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Even more important is the relationship which the talented and grieving director develops with the young woman who was assigned to drive him around and essentially be his chauffer.

The film is written and directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi based on a short story by Haruki Murakami. Although the names of this cast may not ring a bell with American audiences, they deserve credit. They are Tōko Miura, Reika Kirishima, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Sonia Yuan, and Masaki Okada.

This film has received four Oscar nominations and it won the Oscar for best International Film. It is the first Japanese film to be nominated for best film. Other Oscar nominations were for best director and best adapted screenplay.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Foreign, Uncategorized

Parallel Mothers

March 22nd, 2022 — 2:42am

Parallel Mothers
How important is it to you to know who are your biological ancestors? If you learned that some ancestor was murdered by the Nazis or some other dictator and thrown into an unmarked grave and there was now a chance to identify him or her and take their remains and give it a proper burial, would you be intent on doing it? Since we are trying to ask some challenging questions, let us ask you some additional contemporary questions, which other films in addition to this one have brought up. If you were to get a notice from the hospital where one of your children was born that notified you that they were computerizing their records and they determined that your child was accidentally switched at birth, would you want to meet your biological child? Would you tell your grown child or children? What if you learned about this error several weeks after you took your child home from the hospital? What would you do? How would you react? In these days of modern DNA testing, true maternity and paternity can be determined. The first and latter hypotheticals are a part of the theme of this film. It is from Spain and stars Penelope Cruz and Milena Smit as the “Parallel Mothers.” It is directed by Pedro Almodóvar. The movie is very well done, and we believe will stimulate the kind of questions that we raised above. Earlier films that have dealt with variations of this theme are:

Like Father Like Son – a Japanese film where the parents learned that their child was switched at birth when the child is 6 years old.

Philomena – deals with the Catholic Church and unwed mothers and what happens to their babies.

The Kids Are All Right – grown children track down their sperm donor biological father.

People Like Us – encountering siblings that you never knew existed.

Mother And Child – yearning for a connection with biological parents that you never knew.

Parallel Mothers is a griping tale of mothers and children and even generational trauma. It is not only well worth seeing but will also stimulate discussion as have these other films that have dealt with related subjects. It is a very good contender for Best International Film for the 2022 Oscars that are coming up in a week from when this is being written.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

The Lost Daughter

March 19th, 2022 — 5:59am

The Lost Daughter-nf

This is an intense film about the various dimensions of motherhood that might be best understood by a mother looking back at the pulls and pushes she has experienced. Leda is a woman in her late 40s who by herself goes to a Greek Beach Resort. She interacts with a woman and her family that she meets there who reminds her of herself when she was a younger mother of two young girls. We see her as a young academic, who translates written materials, in a marriage where her needs and wishes are subsumed by those of her husband, who takes for granted that she is always there to pick up the pieces. We see her frustration and exhaustion from the relentless demands of her children. We also watch as she goes to a professional conference where she is seduced by a well-respected professor and who values her intellect as well as being physically attracted to her. The cinematic experience allows the viewer to understand the love and devotion that she has to her children yet how she leaves them to achieve a certain degree of self-fulfillment. She returns three years later but carries the guilt of her actions as an ever-present burden

On one level, the viewer feels that we are watching bad parenting as loving children are abandoned for periods of time, but on the other hand, there is never any doubt that in her heart she loves the children but is struggling with her own conflicts.

Olivia Colman is terrific as the older middle-aged Leda and Jessie Buckley as the somewhat young Leda who not only captures her role but seems to have a strong physical resemblance to her older self. Both women are nominated for Oscars as best actress and best supporting actress respectively.

Maggie Gyllenhaal directed and wrote the screen play based on the story by Elena Ferrante and one cannot help feeling that these women have the capacity to identify with the main characters in the film. It is also impressive when a director achieves such realistic performances by the young children in the film as was done in this film.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

March 6th, 2022 — 6:57am

The Eyes of Tammy Faye


Even if they are not our religious cup of tea, we all have heard about the famous TV evangelists such as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, and, of course, Jim Bakker and his wife Tammy Faye. This film, directed by Michael Showalter, takes a deep dive into the lives of this duo played by Andrew Garfield and Jessica Chastain. They both were fantastic in their roles and Ms. Chastain is being recognized with an Oscar nomination. She clearly was able to sing, be the voice of puppets and play the role of a wife demonstrating the complicated relationship with her husband as well as their work as a famous religious duo.

This film gives us a view of the behind the scenes evangelical politics. The storyline traces Tammy Faye’s life from being a little girl, to becoming part of this famous couple and of course her very complicated interaction with her husband. The film allows us to get some insight into the politics, corruption, infidelity, and many other fascinating aspects of their lives. Interestingly, we know very little about the two children of this couple. We see her giving birth to her children, but there is no further mention of them during the film

The movie is unique, well done, and we strongly recommend it.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Documentary, Drama

West Side Story

March 1st, 2022 — 7:31am

West Side Story
One of our all time favored Broadway musicals as well as the subsequent motion picture was West Side Story. It first hit the Broadway stage in 1957, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins based on a book by Arthur Laurents and inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The music is by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. In 1961 there was the first film adaptation staring Natalie Wood, which we saw as a newly engaged couple.

There were numerous revivals on the Broadway stage as well as by many touring companies and now there is a new motion picture that had a $100,000,000 budget for this great musical production directed now by Steven Spielberg, starring Rachel Zegler as Maria and Ansel Elgort as Tony.

The storyline highlights the turf battle between the whites and the Puerto Ricans on the streets of Manhattan on the Upper West Side. It features interracial love, gang violence, and a lot more weaved into a fantastic memorable music and dance production. The film not only showed the disrespect that various ethnic groups had for each other but also showed the insensitivity of the police at that time.

While this was an excellent film, we do feel that some of the changes made did not serve to enhance the production. For example, the classic scene which took place in a gymnasium where the two groups were in conflict, which had lots of dancing seemed less ebullient than the original.The scene where the Puerto Rican girls were dancing and singing the praises of America with counterpoint by the Puerto Rican boys yearning for their former home was in memory from the original film, a perfect blend of choreography, color and longing contained on a rooftop setting. In this version, the whole number is opened up, taking place on the streets of Manhattan with a growing number of onlookers joining the dance. Somehow, it felt diluted in its new form and lost the punch of the original. Also, some of the emotional scenes were not as intense as we recall from the original. Nevertheless, we would strongly recommend this classic musical experience. The music, the lyrics, the dancing and the story can’t fail to grab you and keep you engaged. West Side Story continues to be magnificent, beautiful, painful and important.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Musical, Uncategorized

Te Alta

March 1st, 2022 — 7:10am

Te Ata

Generally, there is not as much attention paid to the historical treatment of Native Americans as there is to other groups. This film focuses on a young girl growing up in Oklahoma in a small poor town made up mostly of Native Americans from the Chickasaw Nation tribe. Orianka Kilcher inhabits this character magnificently. As we see her growing up, she is drawn to acting and story-telling. She convinces her parents to let her go to a college in Oklahoma on a scholarship, where she comes under the tutelage and encouragement of some of her teachers. She develops a mission to tell the story of her people and does it extremely well. The trajectory from a poor Native American girl to an actress who appears on Broadway and eventually performs at the White House for the President of the Unites States is heartwarming and unforgettable.

This is the true story of Mary Thompson Fisher, best known as Te Ata. She is shown as a beautiful person who is portrayed magnificently by Ms. Kilcher in an unforgettable performance. Both mind and heart are captivated by this important film.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Biography, Documentary, Drama


February 4th, 2022 — 6:57am


As a CODA (child of deaf adults), Julie is the only one of a family, which includes her parents and brother, who has hearing. They live in a fishing village. Julie, aside from working on the family fishing boat, attends high school, and is developing into a talented singer. This gives her the opportunity to audition for scholarship to the famed Berklee School of Music. There is romance, suspense, drama, music, family conflict, and family love.

Julie is played by Ruby Rossi, who obviously mastered sign language, with which her character was quite facile. The film was well received and broke records at Sundance. The actors playing her family members were obviously also skilled in sign language. Her brother and parents in the film were actually deaf and they are Daniel Durant, Troy Kotsur, and the well-known deaf actress Marlee Matlin.

There was much to navigate and negotiate for this complicated movie production and much of the credit goes to director Sian Heder. The movie is well worth seeing. It is available on Apple TV+ who paid over $25 million to create this film.

While from a different perspective, this is a tale of obstacles and setbacks met with love and resilience. It is one of those films that engages you and allows you to feel both anguish and joy.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

The Tender Bar

January 28th, 2022 — 1:41am

The Tender Bar

As this movie was unfolding, we could not help but think that it must be based on an autobiographical experience. We later learned that the story was written by journalist J. R. Moehringer who incidentally was recently chosen by prince Harry of England to co-write his autobiography.

We meet a young boy who was being raised by his mother with the help of his uncle. He knows little about his biological father who is a radio personality in a distant city. He is destined to live out the fantasies and expectations of his loving mother and this leads him to attend Yale University. He falls in love and becomes successful in his work. The details of this film are quite unique and intriguing and allowed the viewer to believe that it had come from real life. Special kudos to the actors who played the young man, Daniel Ranieri, who portrays him as a young boy and Tye Sheridan who has the role of him as a young man. Their acting and the overall cinematic experience reflects the outstanding work by the director George Clooney. Also, compliments to Ben Affleck as the uncle and Lily Rabe as the mother. Another familiar face in the film was Christopher Lloyd as the grandfather.

This is one of those films that is captivating, enlightening and even allows the audience to “feel good” at its conclusion!

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Uncategorized

King Richard

January 8th, 2022 — 8:00am

King Richard

Will Smith not only produced this film but played Richard Williams, the ambitious father of tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams. We follow this family of five girls from their early days in Compton, California to the world stage where they became the number 1 and number 2 world tennis stars. It is hard to believe this was the plan of Richard, the father, who not only dreamed of their great career from their early ages but trained them and then made decisions and arrangements for their coaching that led to their amazing success.

Aunjanue Ellis plays the mother, Demi Singleton is Serena, and Saniyya Sidney is Venus. The film is very skillfully directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green. There are wonderful tennis action scenes intergrated into the interpersonal dialogue. This cinematic magic is seen throughout the film from their early days of learning to play tennis to the dramatic world championship action. The skillful editing of tennis action involved throughout the film certainly will be considered for film awards as well the entire movie.

This is a heartwarming drama which provides insight into the marriage as well as the upbringing of five girls two of whom achieved worldwide acclaim.

It is interesting to learn that the two real tennis greats did not see the film until it was completed and previewed for them. They approved wholeheartedly of the final result. We think you will also provide thumbs up for the movie and the 2 hours and 18 minutes will zip by as a lightning fast tennis match.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Biography, Drama, Family / Kids, Sport, Uncategorized

Back to top