You People, Narvik, Good Luck to You Leo Grande

Movie 1: You People

This is a modern love story that deals with race, parental expectations and generational differences. The writing and humor are very fresh, intelligent and timely. Topics from Louis Farrakhan to the Holocaust are talked about. Fun to see Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis-Drefyus. On Netflix and in theatres.

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Movie 2: Narvik

This is a true story about the Norwegian port city of Narvik, where Hitler had his first WWII defeat. This small port, the source of much needed iron ore, was heavily defended by both British and German troops, despite Norway’s neutrality. Very well done. In Norwegian, but we watched the dubbed English version. On Netflix.

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Movie 3: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

This is a brilliant comedy-drama about an older woman who hires a male prostitute for more than companionship. Emma Thompson is absolutely terrific and has a well-earned BAFTA nomination for her performance. The charisma between the two main characters is perfect. Very limited theatrical release (we saw it in Paris) but also on Amazon Prime.

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Missing, When You Finish Saving the World, M3GAN

Movie 1: Missing

This is a very good thriller/mystery with lots of twists and turns. A teenage girl’s mother goes missing during a vacation to Colombia. The technology savvy daughter tries to find her. Currently in theatres and streaming on Hulu.

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Movie 2: When You Finish Saving the World

This is a quirky little movie that is very smart and well done. A completely dysfunctional family just tries to get through life. Julianne Moore is perfect in her role. Jesse Eisenberg wrote this very insightful, interesting, and at times charming, screenplay. He also directed. Currently in movie theatres.

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Movie 3: M3GAN

We were prepared not to like this film at all. To our pleasant surprise it is really well done and intelligent (for the genre). Robotics engineers create a life like doll, and then things go very wrong. If you are a fan of science fiction/horror movies, you might enjoy this movie. In theatres worldwide (we saw it in Paris).

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A Man Called Otto, Broker, Plane

Movie 1: A Man Called Otto

This is a remake of the 2015 Swedish film A Man Called Ove. Tom Hanks plays a recent widower who is having a hard time finding a purpose for living, until new neighbors move in. Tom Hanks is perfectly cast as the curmudgeon. While not reading the novel nor seeing the Swedish film, we found this movie absolutely charming.

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Movie 2: Broker

This is a Korean drama/comedy about a young woman who gives up her baby for adoption to a child trafficking ring. This is ultimately about a group of people, brought together by fate, who form an odd family who help each other get through life. This gem of a movie is receiving wide critical acclaim. Limited release in theatres. Korean with English subtitles.

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Movie 3: Plane

A passenger plane makes an emergency landing on a remote Philippine island that is run by separatists and militias. This is a very smart, old school action thriller with a story that focuses on people. Once again Gerard Butler does not disappoint. Very entertaining.

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Woman Talking, The Swimmers, Aftersun

Movie 1: Woman Talking

The woman of an isolated, ultraconservative Mennonite community grapple with the everyday physical and sexual violence from the men in their lives. This is a powerful movie. Beautifully written, filmed and mesmerizingly acted. It deserves all the accolades it’s receiving. Try not to miss this one.

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Movie 2: The Swimmers

Based on the true story of two Syrian sisters who want to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics but get caught in the Syrian war. But to compete they must escape their war-torn country and be accepted as refugees in Germany. It is a wonderfully told story that highlights the everyday struggles and dreams of refugees. On Netflix. English and Arabic with English subtitles.

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Movie 3: Aftersun

This is a very moving story about a father and daughter relationship. Filmed in Turkey while they are on holiday together. It alternates very well between being melancholy and upbeat. In theatres and also on You Tube.

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Living, Corsage, Bones and All

Movie 1: Living

Living is a wonderful British drama set in 1953 London as the city struggles to rebuild from WWII. Bill Nighy plays an aging civil servant, leading a mundane and lonely life until a medical condition forces him to start living. The screenplay is adapted from the 1952 Akira Kurosawa classic Ikiru. This is a marvelous vehicle for Bill Nighy’s considerable talents. He is finally getting his just accolades with an Oscar nomination all but assured. Limited release in theatres.

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Movie 2: Corsage

Based on the true story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria who rebelled against her life of strict rules and meaningless ceremonies. Beautifully filmed with sets, costumes and scenery, we nonetheless found the movie slow and at times confusing. Vicky Krieps as the Empress gives a stunning performance. German, Hungarian and English with English subtitles. Currently in theatres but oddly enough was showing on our Lufthansa flight home from Munich this week.

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Movie 3: Bones and All

We knew nothing about this movie before we saw it in Paris last week, other than it played at home for a couple months. We were more than a little surprised to realize it is basically a cannibal love story/road trip across America. While there are definitely disturbing scenes and content, there is an oddly enduring quality between the main characters. Part of the appeal to see the movie is the outstanding cast. Oscar nominees and/or winners all. A truly unique vehicle to showcase the talent of Mark Rylance. But a movie not for everyone. Will be on several streaming services later this winter.

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Hunt, Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody, Puss in Boots the Last Wish

Movie 1: Hunt

This is a spy thriller full of twists and turns. A North Korean mole infiltrates the South Korean Secret Service in order to assassinate the South Korean president. At times a bit confusing, but overall, very well done. The South Korean film industry is very, very impressive. Korean with English subtitles.

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Movie 2: Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody

If you are a Whitney Houston fan you will very much enjoy this impressive movie. This biopic is based on her life and her music, her career highs and her personal lows. While we don’t learn anything new, just listening to the soundtrack is a lot of fun.

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Movie 3: Puss in Boots the Last Wish

The last Puss in Boots was more than a decade ago. This rendition has Puss losing eight of his nine lives and searching in the Black Forest to get his final wish of regaining those lives. The animation is beautiful and the voice overs very effective. Our audience was about 85% full (very odd for theatres post covid) with the majority very well-behaved kids. A movie the entire family will enjoy.

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Babylon, The Pale Blue Eye, The Whale

Movie 1: Babylon

Where to begin?? This is an epic story set in 1923 Hollywood as silent films are ending and talkies just starting. It’s also an interwoven story about how everyday folks could become Hollywood legends and how they lose everything trying to make movies with speaking parts. It is visually over the top. The ensemble cast is terrific. A word of caution: if you do see this movie, and don’t walk out in the first ten minutes, then buckle up and enjoy the ride. It will be intense.

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Movie 2: The Pale Blue Eye

This is a mystery, thriller set in 1830 West Point New York. It is based on the 2003 novel of the same name by Louis Bayard. Christian Bale plays a renowned detective investigating a series of military murders with the help of a young Edgar Allen Poe. The acting, costumes, winter sets and directing are very good. A bit slow at times, but very interesting. In theatres now and on Netflix later in January.

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Movie 3: The Whale

A morbidly obese online college English professor tries to restore his relationship with his rebellious teenage daughter. This is not easy to watch, but the humanity is palpable. Brendan Fraiser is absolutely transformative in what is the best performance of the year. There was a well-earned 15-minute standing ovation for him at the Cannes Film Festival. There may be an Oscar with his name on it.

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The Banshees of Inisherin, The Chalk Line, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone

Movie 1: The Banshees of Inisherin

This is an odd and melancholy little film, set in 1923 Ireland, about two best friends until one of them decides to end the friendship. Dire consequences follow. This movie is beautifully filmed and haunting. Critics are raving about this film. It has already garnered numerous Golden Globe and British award nominations. The Academy Awards will undoubtedly do the same. Colin Farrell’s best performance since In Bruges.

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Movie 2: The Chalk Line

A young girl is found wandering on a lonely road at night. She is traumatized and unable to speak. The couple that finds her takes her in until her parents can be found. This is a dark thriller with several twists and turns. On Netflix originally in Spanish. We watched the dubbed English version.

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Movie 3: Mr. Harrigan’s Phone

Based on the short story by Stephen King, a young boy befriends an older billionaire. He spends three days a week reading books to him and explaining how to use an iPhone. The ‘coming of age ghost story’ is slow to develop but keeps your interest. Always good to see Donald Sutherland who does not disappoint. On Netflix.

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EO, Greenland, Avatar: The Way of Water

Movie 1: EO

This is a story about a gray donkey with very sad eyes who wanders around Poland and Northern Italy. We aren’t exactly sure why he is wondering but he does meet some good and very bad people along the way. We really wanted to like this movie. It’s beautifully filmed. But ultimately it is just an artistic mess. Polish, and some Italian, with English subtitles.

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Movie 2: Greenland

This is a disaster thriller film that’s done really well by adding social commentary to the plot. Asteroids collide with Earth that cause an extinction event. Gerard Butler generally gives good performances while making pretty good movies. We watched this 2020 film on TNT on Demand.

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Movie 3: Avatar: The Way of Water

As with the first Avatar more than 13 years ago, this film is spectacular. The visual effects and cinematography, especially the underwater scenes, are totally off the charts. Just amazing. The story line pretty much picks up where the first movie ended. The three hour and twelve minute run time almost flies by. There are several Academy Awards in its future.

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Decision to Leave, Prisoners, Matilda the Musical

Movie 1: Decision to Leave

This is a film noir murder mystery and romance rolled into one. Beautifully filmed, acted and directed. Nonetheless, we found this movie confusing and not visually cohesive. This is South Korea’s official entry for the 2023 Oscars and just today earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Korean with English subtitles.

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Movie 2: Prisoners

This 2013 film is currently on Netflix. Two young girls in Pennsylvania are kidnapped on Thanksgiving. Police arrest and release a suspect as the girl’s parents actively search for the kidnapper. The all star cast give excellent performances. We have watched this movie twice in the last few years and both times found it fascinating.

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Movie 3: Matilda the Musical

This is a wonderful family musical. A young, gifted British girl with an extraordinary imagination confronts the wicked old school head mistress. Fun songs, acting and great cinematography. Emma Thompson is marvelous as the head mistress. Currently in theatres in the US and UK, and on Netflix starting Christmas Day.

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