Category: Drama


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

Pad Man

January 4th, 2022 — 5:32am

Pad Man. nf
****

This is a quite remarkable story, and as usual truth can be stranger than fiction. Here we have a young man living in India who is concerned that his wife uses a dirty cloth during per periods who goes to the store and picked up a napkin for his wife for her to use during her menstruation and is amazed to find out how expensive it is and how rejected it is by the women of the town. This leads him to see if he can make a similar product by hand that might even be better, safer and cheaper! He goes through all sorts of trials and tribulations to do this. Of course, even discussing the menstrual period is usually taboo. His wife and family and friends and neighbors as well as other people cannot deal with his obsession to make a safer, less expensive and more effective product. His concerns about using a pad instead of the dirty rags that women generally use makes him a particularly aberrant and shunned indidividual

This film came out four years ago in 2018. It is in Indian Hindi language. It is a dramatic film with English subtitles, which recreates a true story about Arunachalam Muruganantham. It is written and directed by R. Balki and features Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, and Radhika Apte. The persistence and dedication of the main protagonist and his product and his belief that this would be revolutionary for women, (which it was) comes up against the cultural belief that this natural biological occurrence should never be openly discussed, especially by men.

There is a very engaging storyline as “Pad Man” tries to get various women to “test” his product. Ultimately not only does he produce a revolutionary pad, which is a safer and more sanitary product and probably save untold lives (who might have come down with infections and died), but he also has created a new industry for the production of his product, in which thousands of women are able to participate. It is amazing to contemplate that prior to the effective, safe and inexpensive production of this product about five days a month for women were eliminated from their lives as they would isolate themselves and certainly would not interact with men. The film deserves the recognition, which it appears to be getting and it is of note as was shown in the film, the Pad Man ultimately received worldwide acclaim and recognition for his accomplishment.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Arunchalam Murugaanantham, Drama, Foreign, Indian Hini language, Politics, Radhila Apte

The Power of the Dog

January 4th, 2022 — 4:49am

The Power Of The Dog–nf
****

This is an American Western that takes place in the mid-1920s. We see ranchers, cowboys, and lots of horses, but there is an occasional 1920s automobile. We meet two brothers who have a large ranch with lots of cowboys working there. One of the brothers, more of the city refined type, marries a widow who has a son in his late teens or early 20s. The other brother is a rough-and-tumble cowboy who does not easily accept these interlopers into his family and the family business.

The film is written and directed by Jane Campion and is based on the 1967 novel by the same name by Thomas Savage. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

The film is a spellbinding example of magnificent character development. To brothers own the ranch where the action takes place. They are seen as quite different and yet quite complex. George marries a woman who hides her own personal problems. She has a son who appears to be somewhat effeminate and is actually a medical student studying to be a surgeon. The other brother Phil is as rough and tough as a cowboy can get. We learn about his hero “Bronco Henry,” who we never meet but is depicted as even more tough, if that were possible. These characters are not always who they seem to be as the story slowly reveals, and that is the magic of this movie.

This film was named as one of the best movies of 2021 by the American Film Institute and received seven nominations at the 70th Golden Globe Awards including best drama as well as many other nominations. After you have seen the film, if you want to try to understand the title, go to:

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Romance, Western

Don’t Look UP

December 28th, 2021 — 4:49am

Don’t Look Up – nf
***

Great story, fantastic plot, unbelievable cast, and fair to good movie.

An astronomy graduate student (Jennifer Lawrence) shows her professor (Leonardo DiCaprio) that she has discovered a large comet heading towards the Earth on a path which would be expected to completely destroy our planet. They ultimately have a meeting with the President of the United States (Meryl Streep) and her advisors. The usual politics overshadow the threat to the world. There is a possibility of diverting the deadly threat. There are also romances and affairs. In a sense, we are reminded of the current world situation where our planet and civilization are threatened with the destruction of the world as we know it, due to the deadly pandemic or climate change. The squabbles and politics seem to cloud full appreciation of this threat and how we can act together and save our planet.

This movie is directed by Adam McKay who co-wrote the story with David Sirota. Rounding out the cast are Timothée Chalamet, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Matthew Perry, Tyler Perry and many other familiar faces. The music by Nicholas Britell is appropriately grandiose and the special effects are done well obviously utilizing the film’s $75 million budget.

Perhaps this cinematic experience is a little over the top- or is it?

Comment » | 3 Stars, Action, Drama

Passing

November 22nd, 2021 — 10:09pm

Passing – nf
****

This is a complicated subtle film which deals with a very sensitive subject.

We meet two women who are apparently old friends but have not seen each other in a long time and come upon each other in a chance meeting. They are both light-skinned black women who have gone on different paths since they were friends in the past. Irene (Tessa Thompson) identifies as being black and is married to a black physician(Andre Holland). They have two sons and live in an upper-class lifestyle in Harlem in Manhattan. Clare (Ruth Negga) on the other hand, while similarly light skinned has identified as white and is married to a white man (John Skarsgard) who not only does not know about her true black identity but is openly bigoted against anyone black. By the appearance of the cars shown, the time period is the 1930s.

Unbeknownst to her husband, Clare attends some social gatherings with Irene and her husband, where she can identify as being black. There is a suggestion of an attraction or perhaps an affair between Clare and Irene’s husband as well as a hint of a sexual attraction between the two women. Things culminate where both couples attend another social gathering and things come to a fatal ending.

The film, based on a novel of the same name operates on multiple levels of the theme of “passing”. The main depiction is shown in the term used for a black person who is “passing” as a white one. It is also noted in the possibility of a gay man “passing” as straight. We see, also, a fraught relationship “passing” as a strong one. As one of the characters, thoughtfully states, “things are not always what they seem.”

It is interesting that Director Rebecca Hall is a white woman with a Black Grandfather who passed as white or Native American and this may have been part of her motivation to deal with this sensitive, contemporary and important subject.

The film is well worth seeing.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

Death in Venice

November 18th, 2021 — 8:39am

Death in Venice nf
***

This 1971 movie, which is more than two hours long, is based on a 1930 novella by Thomas Mann and is filled with classical music by Mahler, Beethoven, Mussorgsky, and Gill. The director and co-screenwriter was Luchino Visconti.

The main character is a composer Gustav von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde), who travels to Venice by himself for a vacation and rest due to health concerns. It is interesting to note that the city was then experiencing a pandemic due to cholera. Aschenbach becomes obsessed and attracted to an adolescent boy named Tadzio who is staying with his family at the same hotel. Most if not the entire film shows the struggle of this older man with his feelings of attraction towards Tadzio, although they never interact. The facial expressions of the main character and the strong musical background define this film leading to the ultimate fatal ending.

While the scenes are beautifully shot and it feels as though you are watching paintings on the screen, the film doesn’t really engage the viewer. The dearth of dialogue and the overall ambiguity is off putting and somewhat unsatisfying. While a unique film, it doesn’t seem worth the time for most people.

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Foreign

Belfast

November 18th, 2021 — 8:27am

Belfast. sp
***

This film has received much publicity before its opening and the opportunity we had to see it in preview. One of the major underlying themes is the conflict in Northern Ireland between Protestants, and Catholic factions. We do not fully appreciate the fine points of the deep-seated antagonism between these two groups nor the many variations of thought within them. However, we could identify with the 9-year-old boy Buddy (Jude Hill) who is part of an Irish family living in Northern Ireland. His dad (Jamie Dornan) would go to London for work for periods of time while the family was feeling increasing tension in Belfast in Northern Ireland where they lived. This is obviously the story of writer-director Kenneth Branagh who grew up in Northern Ireland. We do not get much insight into the political underpinnings of this conflict, but we do see how it totally preoccupied this family. We see deadly violence all around them and are touched by the loving care in this family, which includes Judi Dench as the grandmother. The appropriate musical background was provided by Van Morrison. This is a well done movie, which brings the overwhelming tragic political situation down to its impact upon the members of one family living through it.

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Foreign, Politics

Confetti

August 20th, 2021 — 7:43pm

Confetti

****

We would not have expected this film to grab and hold our attention as it did throughout the entire cinematic experience. It is the story of a young school age Chinese girl who was diagnosed by a visiting American teacher as having dyslexia, which means difficulty in reading. Her mother is determined to get help for her child so she can learn to read. When there appears to be no place in China where she can get the assistance that she needs, she learns that there is a specialized school in the United States. The girl and her mother, both of whom only speak a few words of English, take the assistance of the American teacher to stay with his wheelchair-bound mother in New York while they seek a specialized school in order for her to learn how to read. This very cute little girl and her attractive mother capture the screen as they encounter various roadblocks and rejections along the way. This is the essence of this movie and there were no big surprises. As we recount the plot, it does not seem to be particularly intriguing, but yet it held us spellbound as one of the best films we have seen this season. The movie was filmed in both China and in United States (New York). The filmmaker put together a cross-cultural team that carried off this remarkable accomplishment.

One of us (MB) has worked with Tierra del Sol, which is an organization for developmentally disabled and helps youngsters and young adults with variations of this handicap succeed in school, work, and in artistic endeavors. We know that it requires a dedicated team of professionals, supportive family and persistent fund raising to help these handicapped people have meaningful lives. So perhaps the story of this film is misleading or oversimplified or maybe it is a metaphor for what can be done for youngsters who come to the world at a disadvantage, which they can overcome. Kudos to the director and screen writer, Ann Hu and the America/Chinese team that made this film and, of course, the outstanding actors Zhu Zhu, Yanan Li, and American veteran actress, Amy Irving as well as the entire outstanding Chinese and American cast and the film team that brought this to life.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

Swan Song

August 8th, 2021 — 9:00pm

Swan Song

****

We initially meet Pat Pitsenbarger in a senior living facility where he appears to be in the final stages of his life. It appears that this is going to be a character study of this elderly man, but we soon realize that the journey we are about to undertake with the main character is going to be a much more complicated. It provides insight into the struggle of a gay man and the vibrant life of this man in the gay community that existed in the small mid-western town of Sandusky, Ohio. Pat Pitsenbarger was a real person who was a hairdresser in this town and he also performed at the gay night club that existed here. We soon begin to realize how his life touched so many others through his skill as a hairdresser as well as his sensitivity and caring for others. He did not realize it, but he was a role model for many other people.

In a discussion with the filmmaker, Todd Stephens, we are told that the story is based on a real person who lived in the town where the filmmaker grew up. This film is a moving, insightful examination of this character and his lifestyle. It is done extremely well. It will touch your emotions and provide an understanding of this man and his lifestyle, as well as being quite entertaining and enlightening. Many universal themes are on display and explored including love, loyalty, tolerance, understanding and forgiveness. It feels genuine and draws you in. This also adds up to an excellent cinematic experience and a highly recommended film.

Comment » | 4 Stars, Biography, Drama

Enemies of the State

August 8th, 2021 — 8:52pm

***

This is an unusual documentary film, which not only recounted the story from actual film clips but was interspersed with some reenactments based on actual events. The main character is a young man by the name of Matt DeHart who is a known hacker with ties to WikiLeaks, which is an international non-profit organization that publishes news leaks and classified documents provided by anonymous sources. The question that is raised is whether this young man is antagonizing the US government by publishing secret documents and is the US government spreading false information that Mr. DeHart is involved in child pornography? We meet this young man and his family who support him and believe he is being set up by the government. The viewer is torn between these two possibilities as we ponder what is the truth. Sonia Kennebeck is the director and producer and has masterfully weaved this story together. We have our own opinion who is telling the truth and as realistic as the film may have been, we did not think it was worth the hour and 45 minutes.

Comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary, Drama

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