BIG HELLO to everyone! We are finally back home from our five weeks in Europe. Exhausted, refreshed, inspired, thankful, and content! Thanks to all for the wonderful comments and updates along the way. We truly feel like we live in a global family!!
It’s with apologies we are behind on our movie reviews. We managed to see nine movies while on the road. The first three have already been published. The next six will be posted over the next few days in two separate posts.
A quick list of things that surprised us:
We were surprised to see films released in Europe before the US including Port Authority, Terminator: Dark Fate, and A Rainy Day in New York.
The multiplex in Bratislava, Slovakia offers snacks like nachos with Vodka shots!
One massive Paris complex had 32 screens, all underground. Most theaters 75 to 95% full.
We saw the most popular films shown in VO (version original) that means the language of the films origin. We only saw English language films, some had subtitles in two or three languages.
Movie 1: Joker
Movie 2: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Movie 3: Terminator: Dark Fate
This was better than we expected. After all the last three editions were a bit bleak. This version was inventive, adding just enough new twists to keep it fresh while respecting the franchises’ history. It’s well worth the watch if you are already a fan.
What a remarkable film. It’s about space, an astronaut and his father, also an astronaut who is lost in space. It’s powerful, beautiful, challenging, occasionally confusing and arguable the best space film in quite some time. We saw it in a massive IMAX theater with a great Dolby sound system, well worth the extra cost.
Movie 2: Ms. Purple
Set in Koreatown, Los Angeles, sister Kasie and brother Carey come together and struggle to care for their dying father.
Both under employed and struggling under weighty demands as caretakers, the two manage to keep their heads above water. It’s a unique story and a hit at both Sundance and the 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. English and Korean with English subtitles.
Bonus! Our screening included a Q & A with the lead actress Tiffany Chu.
Movie 3: Rojo
It was a unique view of pre-coup Argentina in the 1970s. South America of the era was struggling with establishing a ‘new world’ society.
It delivers its story as an unraveled thriller. It’s also a bio on the corruption and chaos of the time. Spanish with English subtitles.
Special note: A hearty HELLO to all our viewers! First, we so appreciate your support. We value your comments and feedback.
Our big news of the day is…tomorrow we depart for London and destinations beyond. We will explore much of Europe for the next 5 weeks, including visiting long time friends in Switzerland.
When and if we are able to view films, we will send reviews. If possible we will send pictures along the way. Love to all and cheers! J&J
This French film by Actor/Director Louis Garrel checks most boxes for French films released in the US. Good acting, an interesting screenplay and a “peculiar thicket love quadrangle”. It’s a bit “too much information” as the film softly comes to an end. French with English subtitles.
Movie 2: Before You Know It
Reviews like “charming and quirky” don’t quite describe this drama/comedy. Set in New York City, a compact family who operate a small theater, discover their “thought dead” mother is alive and acting as a soap opera star. It’s wacky but watchable. Judith Light is a hoot.
Movie 3: Downton Abbey
The long awaited release of Downton Abbey follows the television series by the same name. It’s set in 1927 in the Yorkshire countryside.
It’s a complex story to describe. Imagine the dynamic of the traditional monarchy, the King, Queen and their court on a tour of the country that instantly spawns conflicts of class, authority, influence, integrity, and arrogance. That said, it does not disappoint! High points: set decoration, cinematography and costume design.
Movie 1: Raising Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins
This is a documentary film about Molly Ivins. She was a national political columnist from Texas and described herself as a Liberal.
She was funny, mean, clever and sincere, often all at the same time. She was enormously popular nation wide. It’s timely given the tumultuous state of current affairs. It’s in very limited release. If possible, don’t miss it.
Movie 2: Hustlers
This film, based on true events, has managed to attract large audiences, especially young adults. It’s about a group of young strippers in 2007 at a Manhattan strip club catering to Wall Street clientele.
While the story was executed well, it wasn’t long before the topic became tedious. The film relies heavily on the “underdog” factor but there is no apology for the collusion and damage caused. Jennifer Lopez delivers a standout performance.
Movie 3: Monos
Set on a remote mountain in Columbia, South America, this is a bizarre story about eight teenage guerrilla fighters, a cow and an American woman hostage. The group embraces cult rituals and takes instruction by radio.
It’s enormously confusing and quite violent. While the story is occasionally stunning visually, the violence and extreme hazing plunge this film into a bizarre abyss. Spanish with English subtitles and in very limited release.
What a unique and intriguing documentary film. It’s about a photographer who lived most of his career in a six story, 35,000 square foot former bank building in New York City’s Bowery neighborhood. He agrees to sell the building for $55 million and needs to move.
It’s quirky, often funny, occasionally goofy. It’s sometimes a bit dull but at the same time it can be inspiring and entertaining. We loved it!
Movie 2: Brittany Runs a Marathon
This film was a hit at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival winning the Audience Award. This dramedy is sometimes funny but more times it’s just a peek at someone’s personal mess.
We think it is supposed to be inspiring but it falls flat in the middle and struggles to get back into positive territory.
Movie 3: The Goldfinch
This is the story of one mans life from the age of 13 well into his adult years. His mom dies when he is 13 and his immediate family experience is less than ideal.
That said, it’s a unique story with several plot twists that keep it interesting. It’s based on the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It’s worth a watch.
This is a powerful story delivered by an exceptional cast and a unique script. To be fair it’s flawed by a corruption subplot, too much violence and a supernatural element that fails.
Nonetheless, the story ends with a surprise ending. We felt the overall package deserves larger audiences.
Movie 2: Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice
WOW! For anyone who is a fan of the contemporary music scene, especially the most successful female singers of the 20th century, this is a must see. Linda Ronstadt is an icon among 20th century vocalists.
Add rare footage of performances and insider footage and you can understand why this film is attracting sold out audiences nationwide.
Movie 3: Vita & Virginia
This is a historical piece that is a bit confusing but ultimately satisfying. It’s loosely based on a famous socialite, Vita and the infamous Virginia Woolf . The collateral fallout and story make it interesting but hardly compelling.
The production quality makes it worth watching but be advised the script drags on and on. On the up side, it is unique, and a fascinating peek at an iconic piece of history.
This is an odd little film that is showing in limited release. Adam just finished his Junior year in High School. With no plans for the summer, Adam manages to tag along with his older sister to New York in hopes of meeting a girl…
Adam ends up involved with a group of LGBTQ in his age group and quickly makes friends he is ill-equipped to engage. That’s where we lose interest. It’s one part comedy but a larger part tragedy.
Movie 2: Aquarela
This film is also in limited release. It is well worth seeking out. It’s a Russian Documentary about the earth’s water, it’s ice and the evolving climate change.
What makes this a must watch film is first its staggering beauty. Overall, there is virtually no soundtrack except for wind blowing, ice cracking and an annoying heavy metal episode. Otherwise it’s masterful film making.
Movie 3: Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles
This is a Documentary film that chronicles the history and background of the stage musical that opened on Broadway in 1964. It’s perhaps one of the best of the best to date: Fiddler on the Roof.
It’s a classic, a religious celebration, a legendary miracle, a social commentary, and a historic phenomenon. It has reached universal status and not to be missed.
This is a remarkable documentary about China’s “one -child” policy in effect from 1979 to 2015. Moreover, this is a film about forced sterilizations, abortions, kidnappings and unknown numbers of newborns left to their deaths.
Be forewarned. This film is painfully difficult to watch. It unflinchingly exposes the systemic and institutional exportation of children to other countries. Mandarin and English with English subtitles.
Movie 2: The Other Story
Where to begin…First, it’s unique. It’s a film that is one part suspense, one part light comedy, one part tragedy and one part commentary on modern life in Jerusalem, Israel.
It’s filled with tension and conflict, confusion and angst. While it is a challenge to watch, it is also a rare peek behind the curtain to the current reality for many in Israel today. Hebrew with English subtitles (the subtitles flew by!).
Movie 3: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Set in Mill Valley, Pennsylvania (and NOT our beloved Mill Valley, California) this inventive and effectively eerie film begins on Halloween night at a drive in theater.
It’s unique, clever, creepy, demonic with just the right amount of tension. It has all the right elements for the Mystery/Thriller PG-13 rating although we strongly feel this is not appropriate for children.