Category: Drama


After The Wedding

August 7th, 2019 — 8:49pm

***

After the Wedding-sp

This movie deals with hidden secrets and family relationships, a topic that has been dealt with from time to time in a variety of films. In this case, it is about a woman (Michelle Williams) who is confronted with her long-lost relative and her parents (Julianne Moore and Billy Crudup). Hidden secrets emerge including a fatal one. The setting of the film ranges from a poor orphanage in India to a posh office in New York City and a mega mansion in the suburbs. Julianne Moore (who in real life is married to the director of this film Bart Freundlich) is at the top of her game with a full range of emotions from the very subtle to the near hysteria. Michelle Williams, we thought was somewhat constrained but perhaps, that was hers or the director’s interpretation of her role. The film was well done on a delicate topic but we felt it fell short in believability and realism. (2019)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

The Peanut Butter Falcon

July 31st, 2019 — 5:41am

****

The Peanut Butter Falcon – sp

Just as interesting as this film, is the story how it came to be made. Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz are two young filmmakers who have previously only made short films and certainly had never made a full-length feature. They met and befriended Zack Gottsagen, a young man with Down Syndrome who had a burning ambition to someday become an actor. The filmmakers decided to write a full-length movie script which would feature such a person and recruited Mr. Gottsagen to be the star. The script was intriguing enough to entice a team of producers who had the connections to bring in Dakota Johnson, Shia LaBeouf, Bruce Dern, Jon Bernthal, and some other very fine actors. The setting was the banks of North Carolina but it was filmed in the marshlands of Georgia.

Zack and Tyler connect after Zack escapes from a nursing home where he was being cared for since he did not have a family. He meets Tyler who has his own back story, Eleanor who was sent by the nursing home to find Zack connects with the two of them and there is certain chemistry between her and Tyler. Circumstances lead the three of them to go on what is usually called a road trip except that this adventure occurs on some makeshift boats. The three of them make quite an interesting trio and the story allows the viewer to have empathy for these unlikely characters. The people they meet along the way are quite unique and will capture your attention. The result is a very enjoyable, interesting, and touching movie that is well worth seeing. (2019)

 

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Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

Farewell

July 31st, 2019 — 5:21am

****

Farewell-rm

This film written and directed by Lulu Wang is mostly in Chinese with English subtitles. A young woman (played by Awkwafina known for her performances in Crazy Rich Asians and other films) joins her American family as they descend upon nai-nai (grandmother) who lives in China and whom they believe has a fatal diagnosis of cancer). However, the family is set on keeping the information about the deadly prognosis from grandmother because they believe it is the fear that would facilitate her demise. The American relatives join the Chinese relatives in China in what the grandmother thinks is a wedding celebration for her grandson who is supposedly getting married. But really the American family has flown over to China in order to see grandma who they understand has a fatal prognosis. The love and tenderness for grandmother is quite touching as is the extent the family will go to, to keep the fatal prognosis from her.

There is singing, as well as speeches by many family members mostly in Chinese but some in English (but all are translated into English on the screen). There is a rich depiction of Chinese culture. The respect and love for elders permeates the film and is quite touching. Time goes by quite quickly as it does in real life when we believe our time with a loved one is limited. Also, to the backdrop of this family crisis, other family issues emerged. We appreciate the underlying feelings when some family members leave their homeland to immigrate to another country while other members stay behind. Also, family issues seem more intense when we believe we are about to lose a loved family member.

The movie has a certain universality, which will appeal to many viewers and make us contemplate the importance of family and what a potential loss of a loved one would mean to each of us. It is also an opportunity to reflect how when a young person immigrates to the United States for opportunity, there is a cost of being a stranger in a strange land and not having the support of your loved ones who are left in your homeland. All and all, this film will touch your heart as well as telling you an interesting story. (2019)

 

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Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Foreign

Hacksaw Ridge

July 26th, 2019 — 6:58pm

*****

Hacksaw Ridge-rm

I always thought that my favorite World War II action films were Sands of Iwo Jima with John Wayne and Battleground with Van Johnson, both of which I must have seen as a youngster; however, today many years later on an international plane flight, I chose to watch Hacksaw Ridge. This movie certainly had as realistic and action packed World War II battle scenes that I have ever seen. The director was an action movie star himself, Mel Gibson. Interestingly, however, is the fact that the hero of this film is not a combat soldier but a conscientious objector who enlisted to fight in World War II, not with the gun, but as a medic, which he was finally allowed to be after almost being court-martialed for refusing to train with the weapon. The film also included a romantic element as the young man fell in love with his first girlfriend. The most amazing part of this movie is that it is a true story. The hero, Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), the medic solider, was a real person who ultimately was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery. He and some of the soldiers portrayed in this film were shown at the conclusion of the film adding to the outstanding cinematic experience (2016).

 

Comment » | 5 Stars, Action, Drama, History, War

Blinded By The Light

July 26th, 2019 — 6:43pm

*****

Blinded By The Light-sp

If you have ever been moved and inspired by the music of Bruce Springsteen, this film will touch and perhaps hit in your gut. It is based on the life experience of co-screenwriter, Sarfraz Manzoor, who grew up in a Pakistani family in a small city in Great Britain. He was inspired by the words and music of Springsteen, which made him rebel from the traditional cultural expectations of his Pakistani family. The story also highlights the painful discrimination that can exist against minority groups not only in Great Britain but in other parts of the world including, obviously, the United States.

The director, Gurinder Chadha, in her previous work, which includes Bend It Like Beckham, has highlighted the convergence of traditional and modern culture. The music and of course the words of Springsteen can very powerful and inspiring. In this film, we not only hear the lyrics, but at times they graphically explode onto the screen.

The young man who plays Javed (Viveik Kalra) is captivating on the screen and the supporting actors are excellent, but it is the music and words of Springsteen which continue to inspire young people and emotionally touch the older generation, who will be reminded of their earlier turning points in life, that will make this movie a success. It is highly recommended to both the young and old who will understand the universal feeling to run free (2019).

To purchase the music of Bruce Springsteen and other items related to him on Amazon, please click here

 

1 comment » | 5 Stars, Drama, Musical

Late Night

June 17th, 2019 — 7:11pm

****

Late Night-sp

The premise here is that there was no Johnny Carson but rather the star of late-night television has been Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson). She is the first female host of a major late-night television show which she has hosted for 10 years. Her ratings however are now falling and the network is planning to replace her with a male comedian. Ms. Newbury has an all-white male writing staff, some of whom she has never met in person. She gets it into her head that she needs another point of view and hires Molly (Mindy Kaling) who works in a chemical planat, is a stand-up comedian and a self-proclaimed writer. She also happens to be an Indian woman of color. Although not having much experience, she speaks her mind and is able to confront, not only her new boss, but her nine male white co-writers, many of whom are played by very familiar faces and include Hugh Dancy, Reed Scott, Denis O’Hare, Max Casella, and Paul Hauser.

In this fast-moving comedic drama, many issues are confronted such as gender discrimination, ageism, and of course elitism. The co-star and screenwriter, Mindy Kaling may be drawing upon her own observations and experiences as she had been an actor in the hit tv show, “The Office” for many years, as well as producing and starring in her own show, “The Mindy Project.”

It is easy to get caught up with the story line. You are rooting for all to end well. The jokes are clever and the acting is excellent and we should add that Ms. Newbury’s husband is played a well-known actor who brings sensitivity to all his roles and that is John Lithgow.

We judged this film to be a clever, timely, funny, very well acted and directed . It was done on a low budget with only 25 days of shooting. Obviously, the movie was made for the love of the story and not for love of money but it is well worth seeing. (2019)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Drama

The Reports on Sarah and Saleem

June 13th, 2019 — 1:12am

*****

The Reports On Sarah And Saleem

This film is an exciting drama with romance and intrigue. It is set in Israel. It is built around an affair between Palestinian man (Adeeb Safadi) and a Jewish Israeli woman (Sivane Kretchner) who happens to be married to a high up member of the Israeli security force. The movie is produced by two Palestinian filmmakers who are brothers, Muayad Alayan, the director and Rami Alayan, the screen writer.

The plot is layered and unpredictable. The acting is excellent. You soon forget that you are reading subtitle. We met the filmmakers via Skype in a post-screening discussion. They related how it was somewhat tricky to film this picture on location in Jerusalem and on the West Bank as they had to work in small groups to remain inconspicuous. The net result is a top notch film, well worth seeing (2019).

 

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama, Romance, Thriller

The Souvenir

June 5th, 2019 — 1:43am

**

The Souvenir-sp

This movie is about a young woman filmmaker (Honor Swinton Byrne) who establishes a relationship with a somewhat older man. She appears to fall in love with him and he turns out to be a liar, drug addict, and to be promiscuous in the age of HIV/AIDS.

The storyline keeps returning to the main character’s attempt to make her film. Perhaps the writer/director, Joanne Hogg, is drawing upon her own experiences or observations. The film certainly conveys a negative view of men especially in the treatment and demeaning of women.

It is interesting that the mother of the main character is actually played by the actress’s real-life mother, the esteemed actress, Tilda Swinton, but there are no real dramatic interactions between them. The main male lead is well done by Tom Burke.

Despite the beautiful photography (by David Raedeker) and excellent acting, we felt that the story line was drawn out and pretentious. We understood the characters and we were looking for a storyline with more depth, more surprises, and even more emotion in our two-hour visit with them, but alas, we didn’t find it. (2019).

Comment » | 2 Stars, Drama, Romance

The Tomorrow Man

May 15th, 2019 — 5:56am

***

The Tomorrow Man

Noble Jones is an experienced cinematographer who wrote the screenplay for this movie and which he was given the opportunity to direct. He also chose to take the dual job as cinematographer of it. The movie was beautifully filmed and it was visually close to a work of art.

The storyline was quite original and the two star roles could not have been better chosen. John Lithgow and Blythe Danner played two now single folks “on the wrong side of 60.” He is self-identified as a “planner” who also might be called a “survivalist” as he accumulates all sorts of things in preparation for some future cataclysmic event. She is a “hoarder”, as she saves nearly everything because she cannot part with anything. In a post-film discussion, Jones, the writer/director, pointed out that the only difference between these personalities is “neatness” which he has and she doesn’t possess.

It is nice to see senior folks falling for each other, but we felt that there was no real development of the back story of the characters. We only learned a little bit about their past lives later in the film and there are no great insights or interesting complications in the plot. We are sorry to say that we felt that the story dragged on with a mildly interesting ending, but we didn’t feel it was worth the ride. (2019)

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Romance

The Mustang

April 17th, 2019 — 1:00am

**

The Mustang-rm

There is a program in a western U.S. maximum-security prison where inmates can learn how to train a wild mustang horse. If they succeed the horse can be sold at auction. Horses that can’t be tamed are often euthanized.

We meet Roman Coleman (Matthias Schoenaerts) a somewhat taciturn violent prisoner who becomes involved in this program. There are interesting well-photographed scenes where we see the trials and tribulations of men working with their horses. There are short but well-done supporting roles by Connie Britton a prison psychologist and Bruce Dern who plays the old guy who tells the prisoners how to train their horses.

Unfortunately, we learn very little about the previous background of the main protagonist as we are just given fleeting glimpses of what happened to him and his relationship with his adult daughter (Gideon Adlon) who visits him periodically in the prison. We learn essentially nothing about the other prisoners who are participating in the program and must have stories to tell.

Seeing a wild horse show some recognition to the human trying to train him is a touching emotional experience but is not enough to carry this film and make it worthwhile. We feel that the storyline failed and therefore the movie failed, however, well directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. Even though there were some great scenes of horses running wild or even cozying up to their trainer, we just cannot recommend this movie. (2019)

Any comments are welcome in the section below 

2 comments » | 2 Stars, Drama

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