Category: Drama


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).

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).

 

1 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).

 

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama

My Life with James Dean

April 13th, 2018 — 7:52am

Screened at the 2018 San Francisco Film Festival

Unknown Opening date in USA

***

My Life With James Dean

This French movie with subtitles follows Geraud( Johnny Reese), a young film maker who is making the rounds of small coastal towns in France with his new film titled “My Life With James Dean.” A 15-year-old boy(Mikael Pelissler). who looks older than his stated age. is the projectionist who is smitten with Geraud who seems ambivalent about the attraction shown to him by the young man, although they end up in bed together. There also were a bunch of temporary pairings, which include a female hotel clerk with a driver and a lesbian film promoter with her girlfriend. After a while, the movie felt like a French farce or a slapstick comedy.

We met Dominique Choisy, the French film director of the movie and mentioned to him that in the United States, an adult having sex with a 15-year-old would usually be of great concern. He did not seem bothered by this and noted that in France the age of majority is 15 (2018).

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Foreign, Romance

Scarey Mother

April 13th, 2018 — 7:49am

 

 Screened at 2018 San Francisco Film Festival

Unknown opening date in USA

***

Scary Mother

This foreign film made in Estonia with subtitles of course, follows Manana(Nato Murvanidze), a married mother with three children who has just written a novel. The book, while purported to be fiction, examines her unflattering feelings about her husband(Dimitri Tatishvili) and children as well as her extreme sexual fantasies. She goes on to develop a dependent relationship with a local stationery store owner who essentially tries to be her book agent and major supporter of her writing. The story becomes more bizarre as we meet her father who has taken on the role of a translator for the book. The book she is writing and her own life become more complicated and entwined as does the film. First time director Anna Urushadze has taken on a very difficult and complicated story, which draws in the viewer but may be too much to digest (2018).

 

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

I Hate Kids

April 13th, 2018 — 7:39am

Screened at the 2018 San Francisco Film Festival

Unknown opening date in USA

***

I Hate Kids

This is a very fanciful comedy that verges on the ridiculous. Its premise made little sense to us. Mason (Julian Feder), a teenage boy raised by his foster mother, contacts a so called radio psychic (Tituss Burgess) who eventually is exposed to be a fraud. In response to the young man trying to find his biological mother, he is told by the psychic that he only knows that his biological father(Todd Everett Scott) is an author of a bestselling book I Hate Kids and he states that the author would know who is his biological mother. It becomes more convoluted as the boy is able to buy a sample of the author’s hair from a barber who saves celebrity hair. He then is able to compare it to his own via DNA identification. This confirms that the author is his father. The boy then confronts the author who agrees to try to find the boy’s mother by visiting his old girlfriends. This is all occurring a few days before the “kid hating” author is supposed to marry a woman (Rhea Selhorn) who equally does not like kids. This leads to a wild and crazy road trip visiting the author’s old girlfriends.

Director John Asher and screen writers Frank Dietz and Todd Trainer are responsible for what we thought was silly but occasionally funny interaction. Yet despite the implausible plot, there was a charm and upbeat quality that might make some of you feel that it was worth the ride (2018).

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama

Salyut-7

April 13th, 2018 — 2:31am

Screened at 2018 San Francisco Film Festival

Unknown opening date in USA

***

Salyut-7

We know this movie is based on some real events that happened in the Russian Space Program in the 1980s, but we believe it is mostly from the Russian creative team led by director, Kilim Spenko. It is in Russian with subtitles 

His story shows two Russian cosmonauts( (Lyubov Aksyonova, Ilya Andryukov) who get into dangerous trouble when they go up in space to rescue an unmanned Salyut-7 satellite that is having mechanical problems. There is an explosion, ice, oxygen problems and it is not clear whether even one of them might survive. This is a dramatic space thriller that reminds us of the dangers involved in working at the frontiers of space (2018).

 

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Foreign

Chappaquiddick

April 4th, 2018 — 12:28am

*****

Chappaquiddick

If you were around in July 1969 when Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon, you may or may not remember another big news story that took place at the same time. Senator Edward Kennedy, youngest brother of John and Robert Kennedy accidentally drove his car off a small bridge in Chappaquiddick, which resulted in the death of a young woman by the name of Mary Jo Kopechne. Up until that moment, many people felt that the younger Kennedy was destined to become President of the United States. The actions of Edward Kennedy on that evening and in the subsequent week are a fascinating study of a man at the crossroads of his life where his honesty and integrity were truly tested and his human frailties were exposed.

This was a very well done script, which was written by Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan who were too young to have remembered or experienced this event as it unfolded in this country. They apparently reconstructed the story mainly from the voluminous record of the inquest of the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.

Jason Clarke was outstanding as Edward Kennedy and the supporting cast was excellent including Kate Mara as Mary Jo Kopechne and a superb performance by Ed Helms who played Kennedy’s cousin who was a key player in the aftermath of this tragedy. Credit must also go to director Joe Curran for recreating a very realistic depiction of the events of this tragedy as well as an in depth character study. The story also shows an insight into the dominant role that the patriarch Joe Kennedy (Bruce Dern) had on his family even in the later years ,of his life.

We had the pleasure of meeting two of the producers of this film, Mark Ciardi and Campbell McInnes who tried very hard to bring to the screen this even-handed view of the events of this major news story and historic event. It appears that they may have gotten very close to the truth, but we probably will never know for sure.

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama, History, Politics

Beirut

March 27th, 2018 — 11:23pm

****

Beriut

Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm), a mid-east expert who is called back to Beirut where he hasn’t been for ten or so years to negotiate a high profile kidnapping case which he has some personal connections and past relationships. Rosamund Pike is an American agent who fearlessly assist Skiles with his mission.

The other stars of the film in addition to the Director Brad Anderson and writer Tony Gilroy are the producers, director of photography and production designers etc. who recreated Beirut of 1982, as a city in shambles with bombed out houses and realistic and scary-warring factions all over the place. We understand that they used Tangiers and Morocco as the locations to recreate Beirut. But, however they did it, the viewer could not help feeling that we were in a dangerous place with an exciting story unfolding before us. Occasionally we lost the beat and we weren’t sure who was who and what side they may be on. No matter, because the main focus was on Hamm’s character, who held our attention, and should hold yours, if you get a chance to see this film. (2018)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Action, Drama

I, Tonya

March 2nd, 2018 — 9:40pm

*****

I, Tonya

This is a fascinating well-done but very sad movie. If you were on the planet in 1994 and vaguely aware of current events, you would have some idea of who Tonya Harding is and how she is linked to another ice skater by the name of Nancy Kerrigan. The story, which unfolds in this movie, presents an in-depth understanding of the character and the development of Ms. Harding from childhood to the present. Tonya is played by Margot Robbie. There are some younger versions of Ms. Harding also shown as well as some footage of what must have been the real Ms. Harding doing her jumps and twists. A key player in this movie is the “mother from hell” magnificently portrayed by Allison Janney who is up for an Oscar for her performance. While it is possible to generate a touch of sympathy for this horrific mother, we wouldn’t wish her on anyone. But we have to grant that her unflinching determination with no sympathy for her daughter’s feelings is what made Tonya a magnificent skater who was the first to land a triple axle jump in American Figure Skating competition.

There is also Jeff Gillooly (Stan Sebastian) who is Tonya’s boyfriend, then husband and then ex-husband. He is depicted as a violent lover of Tonya who ultimately wanted to scare Tonya’s Olympic opponent but supposedly didn’t really want to hurt her. There is also Shawn (Paul Walter Hauser) the “brains” behind the plan to do damage to Ms. Kerrigan” but really is depicted as not very bright. This film also raises the underlying question of what was the role of Tonya in the terrible deed. Perhaps as it was shown, she didn’t know about the plan but alas she didn’t say anything about it when she found out after it had occurred. In any case, Tonya was the big loser in court and essentially in life. She lost her skating career.

While we can’t say if the script got it exactly right, but in this movie we certainly come to understand Tonya and what made her Tonya. We also have insight to how the “big incident” may have gone down and would say a pretty good feeling for the struggle that people go through when they try to become the best in a sport from no matter where they may start.

Director Craig Gillespie and writer Steven Rogers and screenwriter Steven Rogers deserve the credit of putting together a complicated and intriguing story that still is as fascinating as it was when the real event took place more than 20 years ago. (2018)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama, History, Sport

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