Movies: Knives Out, Queen & Slim, Dark Waters

Movie 1:  Knives Out

This “good, old fashioned whodunit” with an A-list cast is both clever and serious at the same time.  Both the plot and the production do not take themselves seriously which adds to the entertainment value.  

We are on the fence if youngsters should see this film.  That said, there were plenty of children in our theater, most with parents or other adults in tow.

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Movie 2:  Queen & Slim

This is a most unusual film.  It’s concurrently a road movie, a fantasy, and a revenge story all at the same time.  That said it all weaves together in a way that adds rather than detracts.

The film is a visual delight.  The focus is racial justice during a period not so long ago.  It’s unique and revealing.  It’s a “must see”.

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Movie 3:  Dark Waters

The cast and their performances make this film work.  It’s a lawyer movie but it’s anything but boring.  It’s unique, relevant, and another based on true events.  Shame on you DuPont!

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Movies: 21 Bridges, Waves, Frozen II

Movie 1:  21 Bridges

The reviews of this just released film are stunning given the commentaries are as biased and off target as the accusations.  The bottom line is the good guys are as bad as the bad guys are good.  Confusing? Yes, by design.

What makes this film worthwhile is it stimulates the viewers thought processes.  Generally the acting ranges from fair to excellent.  While imperfect, it’s still a riveting film about crime, corruption and civility.

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Movie 2:  Waves

It’s an interesting title.  It seems to imply an accumulation of very poor or bad decisions impacting one or more members of the family.  But that grows in intensity as the plot unfolds.

Without giving too much away, it is also a deep dive into family dysfunctions on multiple levels.  To be fair, it’s a unique and fascinating observation of family love, acceptance and forgiveness.

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Movie 3:  Frozen II

This sequel to the first Frozen blockbuster is truly new territory for the Disney franchise.  That said, this newest rendition is stunningly beautiful filling in dozens of loose ends from the first film.  Naysayers are already nitpicking petty aspects as some form of blasphemy.  At our viewing the roughly 50% children in the audience loved it, got all the humor and cheered at all the right times.  It makes sense to us!  We loved it too.

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SPECIAL NOTE:  Starting Tuesday, November 26, we will be in Wisconsin with family,  returning to San Francisco December 28.  We will be accessible by mobile phone and or e-mail.   We wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, a joyous Christmas and a healthy Happy New Year!  J&J

Movies: Honey Boy, The Good Liar, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Movie 1:  Honey Boy

This is a fascinating film.  Reviews have been generally favorable overall.  It’s based on true events.   What make this film work is Shia LaBeouf and his deep dive into his childhood acting experience, his relationship with his father and the self healing process he experienced.

It’s not an easy watch.  But it is an insightful experience nonetheless.

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Movie 2:  The Good Liar

This is an interesting film about two older people in Great Britain exploring their way in a new relationship.  There are lots of twists and turns that make the flow a bit confusing but probably meant as intrigue.  

It’s well worth a watch, especially when two great actors deliver such worthy performances.

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Movie 3:  A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Don’t confuse this film with the 2018 release named Won’t You Be My Neighbor.  (That was a great Documentary film about the now deceased Mister Rogers.)

That said, do not miss this newest release featuring Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers.  His performance is brilliant.  There is a lot to learn about Mr. Rogers in this newest film.

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Movies: Marriage Story, Ford v Ferrari, The Report

Movie 1: Marriage Story

It’s one part thriller, one part comedy.  It has an A-list cast who deliver exceptional performances.  It’s all believable, sometimes painful to watch, but ultimately a lesson in effective communications and maintaining a durable relationship.

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Movie 2: Ford v Ferrari

First, it should be stated neither John nor I are big car buffs.  But being part of the boomer generation we have some sense on this topic.  Set in the 1960’s, Ford Motor Company was struggling to attract customers to its automobiles.

In this film Henry Ford the 2nd fails to purchase the Italian sports car line from Enzo Ferrari.  Instead Ford decides to hire Carroll Hall Shelby to design a car that will compete in the famed race of 24 Hours of Le Mans.  We found the film delightful.

Special Note!  This film was advertised in Paris when we were there recently. The title was listed as: 1966 Le Mans.

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Movie 3: The Report

It’s set in the wake of the attacks on 911 with a focus on a CIA operation that conducted “enhanced interrogation”.  It’s based on true events where CIA contractors conducted all sorts of “experiments” on behalf of the government.
The acting is excellent.  This film is most timely and relevant given current events. 
 

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Movies: The Irishman, Better Days, Midway

Movie 1: The Irishman

This film by Martin Scorsese is based on the 2004 book I heard You Paint Houses. It has a huge cast of talented actors.  The plot revolves around a truck driver who becomes a hit man, then a mobster, and eventually worked for Jimmy Hoffa of the Teamsters Union. 

This film is literally a reenactment of historical events at a time when the lines between organized crime, unions and the government was far from perfect.  Sounds familiar?!  This is sure to be nominated for several awards.  Don’t miss it!

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Movie 2:  Better Days

This drama thriller from China is a peek behind the curtains and its rapidly expanding social and cultural evolution.  “Bullying” in schools, and to some extent in society in general, is at the center of the plot. 

 

While it is intended to be a youth drama, the topic is a bit sensitive in China where authorities pulled the film from the Berlin Film Festival.  That said it is an intriguing look at the evolving social fabric of today’s China.  It’s well worth the time and quirky subtitles.

 

Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles.

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Movie 3:  Midway

This newest version of the battles between the US and Japan in 1945 is an undeniable blockbuster.  That said, we were surprised to discover an article describing errors in the movie that range from factual to revealing mistakes.

None of these details diminish the overall production value or the viewing experience.  The history from Pearl Harbor to Midway and the South Pacific remains one of the most important stories in American history.  The movie is visually stunning.  English, and some Japanese with English subtitles.  

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Movies: Motherless Brooklyn, Where’s My Roy Cohn?, Doctor Sleep

Movie 1: Motherless Brooklyn

If you are in the mood for a 1950’s genre Brooklyn, New York setting Drama with an A-list dozen actors, and you have a couple of hours to spend, this just might be your next movie experience.  

Add a jazz club in Harlem, a few New York power brokers, a few thugs, and a  young love interest.  It’s well worth the 144 minutes.

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Movie 2: Where’s My Roy Cohn?

This is a fascinating, albeit aggravating, documentary about Roy Cohn, known as a ruthless lawyer who gained fame during the McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s.  Until his death in 1986 he was known as a corrupt lawyer, a skilled attack dog and a horrid human being.

More importantly, this film chronicles the life and times of a self hating homosexual whose life was filled with gilded trappings, amoral behavior and fueled by insidious actions.  

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Movie 3: Doctor Sleep

First, this is a fascinating follow-up to Steven King’s Shining, only 40 years later.  This is mostly a softer version that replaces shock with subtlety.  It’s inventive, thought provoking and an instant classic.

Take a snack or an early lunch/dinner to bridge the 151 minute run time.

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Movies: The Lighthouse, Frankie, Last Christmas

Movie 1: The Lighthouse

The Movie Database shows about a dozen films over the recent decades by the same name.  You won’t find one quite like the most recent release starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe.  Let’s just say their performances are intense, disturbing, and at times horrific.  There is only one other actor, Valeriia Karaman as the Mermaid, and that scene is quite unpleasant.  It’s really a shame.

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Movie 2:  Frankie

Isabelle Huppert delivers a solid performance as an actress in the twilight of her career.  The stunning setting in Sintra, Portugal is perfect.  However, the extensive cast of characters are offset by a convoluted plot.  The result is a tedious experience for the moviegoer.  English and French with English subtitles.

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Movie 3:  Last Christmas

Well…wouldn’t you know this film has been called “the best bad movie of the year” by several sources.  That said, we think the general condition of the global movie industry has lost its moral compass and common sense!  We really enjoyed this movie.

Since when has love and humor in a Christmas themed movie, with good acting, become such an easy target for so many ‘wanna be critics’!  The George Michael soundtrack is pretty good too.

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Movies: The Current War: Director’s Cut, Harriet, By the Grace of God

Movie 1: The Current War

What should have been a great blockbuster about the early development of the electricity industry and it titans: George Westinghouse, Thomas Edison and Nikolai Tesla, unfortunately spiraled helplessly under its own weight. It could have been a great film if it hadn’t gotten bogged down with too much detail and confusing plot twists.  The “Director’s Cut” did nothing to improve the theater experience.

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Movie 2: Harriet

DO NOT miss the opportunity to see this film.  It’s a chronicle of slave Harriet Tubman’s life story, one of the most acclaimed icons of the Freedom Fighters during the Civil War era and its Underground Railroad. 

In honor of her legacy, her image has been selected to appear on the next generation of $20 bills. 

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Movie 3: By the Grace of God

This film tells the “mostly true story” about child molestation that took place in the Archdiocese of Lyon, France.  It was often difficult to watch the life long trauma so many young people were burdened with for so long.   

Fortunately the focus of the film is more about the resilience of its victims and less about the ultimate conviction in 2019 of Cardinal Barbarin of Lyon.  French with English subtitles.

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Movies: Parasite, Jojo Rabbit, Pain and Glory

Movie 1: Parasite

It’s an interesting title from a brilliant Director, Bong Joon-ho.  It takes more than a minute or two to sort out what’s happening.  Is it a satire?  Is it a comedy?  The audience is held in suspense.  It’s inventive, refreshing, off putting and sometimes all at the same time.  It’s completely unique and likely to garner several nominations come awards season.  Korean with English subtitles.

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Movie 2: Jojo Rabbit

WOW!  This is totally unique film making.  It’s a farce, fantasy and drama concurrently.  It’s also a holocaust drama.  There are great subtleties in play.  Apparently it’s intended as a satire but the hard reality of the holocaust is thinly veiled just below the surface.  It’s hard to watch.  It’s audacious to a fault.

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Movie 3: Pain and Glory

This latest film by Pedro Almodovar is a reflection on life, memory, loss and passion.  It appears at first to be somewhat biographical but it also seems a reflection on several character’s life journeys.  We liked that it’s arguably “the most emotionally naked film this Director has ever made”.  Spanish with English subtitles.

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Movies: Sorry We Missed You, Gemini Man, Judy

Movie 1 Title: Sorry We Missed You

Set in Suburban London and the financial crash of 2008, this is the story of an average family and the layered challenges they endure just trying to make ends meet.

Just as important the script is laser focused on the character development and the erosion that slowly tears the family apart.  Excellent on all fronts. It was a favorite at Cannes.  Seek it out if you can. 

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Movie 2 Title: Gemini Man

Lots of critics panned this film as “a clever gimmick”, “tedious”, and a “muddled misfire”.  We are not sure they were watching the same film we did.  We felt it was engaging, thought provoking and well executed.  Add a new state of the art CGI (computer generated images) technology and we may be seeing a lot of inventive stories in the near future. 

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Movie 3 Title: Judy

Rarely does a performance come along that depicts its character so perfectly that one forgets who is whom.  In this film, Renee Zellweger not only plays Judy Garland, she morphs into Judy Garland.  

Overall, its an extraordinary look at a legendary performer in the twilight of her career and life.  If you are a fan, we are pretty sure you will like this film. 

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