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TV actress Pepa Marcos is depressed after her boyfriend Iván disappears. The apartment is filled with animals. She accidentally sets the bed on fire. She puts sleeping pills in her gazpacho. Her distressed friend Candela shows up. Iván's son Carlos (Antonio Banderas) also shows up with girlfriend Marisa who are apartment hunting. Carlos' mother is crazy Lucía. Candela tries to jump off the balcony. She had an affair with an Arab who turned out to be a terrorist and she fears the police. It's a series of chaotic intertwining characters. It's a lot of wacky crazy chaos. It's a little hard to follow at times. It has some fun. It's got the Pedro Almodóvar style. I'm sure that I missed half of the jokes due to the language barrier. Still, it's wacky fun.
Rita Mancuso's father is beloved Don Michele in Balata, Sicily. He
orders the death of Bellafiore who murdered innocent peasants. A
prosecutor arrives to confront him but the villagers support the Don
rather than the corrupt incompetent police. Six years later, Rita is 17
and the village is awash with drugs. Her brother Carmelo gets killed
and Rita brings in her evidence to the prosecutor who actually got her
father's respect. She testifies against the Sicilian mob as revenge for
her family's murders.
The story is somewhat muddled. Veronica D'Agostino is good as the fierce heroine. She isn't a pretty little thing but she has a nice vulnerability. Gérard Jugnot is also good. The material is there but the intensity is dispersed. The tension comes and goes. This should be a great character study of the Girl but the final ending should not be as confused.
Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) is a kind helpful mother and wife to a
working-class family. She invites Reg (Eddie Marsan) for dinner and
sets him up with daughter Ethel (Alex Kelly). Reg served in the war as
well as her husband (Phil Davis) and son (Daniel Mays). She helps the
local women with abortions. Unbeknownst to her, black marketeer Lily
(Ruth Sheen) charges those women. In a parallel story, Vera also cleans
the house of a government minister. The shy daughter Susan (Sally
Hawkins) is raped during a date. She is desperate to get rid of her
pregnancy and her friend directs her to a higher cost abortion where a
psychiatrist uses her aunt's suicide as grounds to terminate.
Mike Leigh delivers a movie full of humanity. Imelda Staunton is simply brilliant. I would have liked Susan's story to be more connected with Vera. Obviously, Leigh is making a point about the state of abortion for the different classes but it's not quite clear enough. Overall, Staunton overwhelms this movie with her humanity and kindness.
It's October 1944 Auschwitz-Birkenau. Saul Ausländer is a Hungarian Jew
working as a Sonderkommando member. They clean up the gas chamber,
clear the bodies, and collect the prisoners' belongings. One boy
manages to survive the gassing. The Nazi doctor suffocates the boy and
orders an autopsy. Saul steals the body and tries to recruit a rabbi to
give the boy a proper burial.
This is a harrowing tale. It is unrelenting and unforgiving. The point of view camera style takes the audience right into the horrors. It gives the audience a front row seat. One could almost smell the sick in the gas chamber. This movie takes hold and never lets go.
Jake Taylor and Roger were the best of friends. Roger even saved Jake's
life once which left Roger with a permanent limp. The boys drift apart
during high school. Jake becomes the basketball star and starts going
with cheerleader Amy Briggs. He abandons Roger to loneliness and
bullying for his limp. Roger takes a gun to school and commits suicide.
Jake feels guilty and lost despite getting a full college scholarship.
Amy doesn't understand. His friend Doug pranks loner Jonny. Youth
pastor Chris reaches out to Jake. Roger had gone to church but Chris
failed to talk to him. Jake starts going to church and befriends Andrea
which alienates Amy and his friends. Danny is the weed smoking cynical
slacker son of the lead pastor. Jake's parents are getting a divorce.
Amy is pregnant with Jake's baby. A date between Jonny and Andrea goes
badly and he goes back to cutting. Danny overhears Amy's pregnancy and
spreads the news in school. Next Danny pranks a fake bomb threat from
Jonny getting him arrested.
There is no doubt that this movie tries to cover too much area with too many movie-teen issues. I do like how most of the issues are handled but there is simply too many of them. As far as Christian films go, this is better than most. The actors are somewhat charismatic. If the issues could be cut in half, this would allow more time for each issue to develop and resolved in the Christian way. It would also allow the movie to be a more manageable ninety minutes.
The Joneses move into an upper-class suburb with the newest gadgets and
the best style. Kate (Demi Moore) and Steve (David Duchovny) seem like
a perfect couple but they don't have any chemistry in private. Mick
(Ben Hollingsworth) is hiding his homosexuality. Jenn (Amber Heard) is
slutty and tries to sleep with Steve. They are actually professional
salespeople promoting their products. KC (Lauren Hutton) is their boss.
Their neighbors Larry (Gary Cole) and Summer Symonds (Glenne Headly)
start racking up debts to keep up with the Joneses.
This is an intriguing concept but there is a decreasing return. The idea gets repetitive. The family members' personal drama is more compelling. Mick's relationship with Naomi could be interesting but his gay character can't have the easier romantic drama. It doesn't get the comedy but some of the drama works.
Larry Wilmore takes over the spot behind The Daily Show after Stephen
Colbert leaves for his CBS late night talk show. Eight months after the
debut, Jon Stewart leaves The Daily Show and replaced by Trevor Noah.
The show is canceled before two complete seasons.
It's surprising that his show got Unblackening before the White House. It's not surprising that the show got canceled eventually. It started off badly. Honestly, I stopped watching after two episodes. I reconnected later on and appreciated its point of view. The Colbert Report is a tough show to replace. The Nightly Show is never going to measure up. I do like this more than Trevor Noah. Wilmore is not a natural performer and his monologue is not the best. His most notable performance may be calling the President n-word. It's the show's black-centric take that gives it its unique flavor.
Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki tackles a big question. It takes the name from
Frank Capra's propaganda series "Why We Fight". It uses Dwight D.
Eisenhower's Military Industrial Complex speech as the launching point
culminating in the George W. Bush's Iraq War. It looks at the Bush
doctrine of pre-emptive war, the concept of blow back, and Dick
Cheney's Halliburton military contracts.
The question may be too big. A smaller question of "Why We Fight in Iraq?" is a better option. This is a movie with a lot of talking heads. Some are more compelling than others. Some of them make very broad assertions that are dubious. One guy claims that Japan was ready to surrender but Truman deliberately dropped the bomb to threaten the Russians. There are other claims that are broadly true but lacks the nuance of a real discussion. This is a documentary with a left wing view point and may be fittingly named after a WWII propaganda series. It's also not much in terms of investigative reporting. It's a retread of plenty of anti-war material.
Young Nigel Slater loves his mother although the only thing she can
cook is toast. She is utterly hopeless in the kitchen and his father
(Ken Stott) is dismissive of his son. They drive away his older friend
Josh. His mother gets sick and dies. His father hires Mrs. Potter
(Helena Bonham Carter) to clean. Nigel dislikes her unrelenting
flirtations with his infuriating father but he has to admire her
cooking. In his teen years, Nigel (Freddie Highmore) starts to cook as
competition heats up against Mrs. Potter.
Nigel Slater is a British celebrity chef. There are some complaints about accuracy but I don't see any value with being accurate about a celebrity chef. The main problem for me is a failure to get to the central conflict of the story quickly enough. Helena Bonham Carter comes in around the midpoint and Freddie Highmore is only there in the last third. To me, that's the best conflict and the most fun part of the movie. His early childhood has some drama but could easily be cut in half. The movie could also give more time for his relationship and some friends in his own age. It also may help to know Nigel Slater as a celebrity.
Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark Hobson (Thomas Jane) are recovering
from the death of their son. They adopt Cody (Jacob Tremblay) who is
obsessed with butterflies. Natalie (Annabeth Gish) is his case worker.
Strange things happen and it's soon discovered that Cody's nightmare
can become deadly real.
Mike Flanagan delivers a well-shot film. As a horror, it's not scary. Jacob Tremblay has a charisma about him. Kate Bosworth is fine. I don't think butterflies are scary and the nightmares are not nightmarish enough. There is nice reveal of the origins of his nightmares and there is a poetry to the story. Although it's just not scary.
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