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Review: The Guilty

This Danish thriller aka Den skyldige is simply amazing. There is just one man on camera through almost all the film’s 85 minutes, and you can’t look away for a second. Asger (Jakob Cedergren) is a cop who’s been put on desk duty. Tomorrow is a trial and its outcome will decide if he’s back out with his partner. In the meantime, he’s answering the phone at 211 (Danish 911) and counting the minutes until he’s gone. That is until he answers a call and it’s a woman who’s being kidnapped.

Quickie Review: Halloween

The world is a scary place. So do we really need a movie about a homicidal maniac on the loose? Apparently, we do. At least, that’s what Hollywood is counting on with this sequel to the 1978 classic Halloween starring Jamie Lee Curtis. This time around, Curtis – reprising her role as Laurie Strode – is again confronted by Michael Myers, the shadowy masked figure who nearly killed her 40 years ago.

Review: First Man

I love Ryan Gosling (La La Land, Drive, The Notebook). I love space dramas, and true stories, and American heroes. I’m a big fan of director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land). But I just didn’t love First Man – much as I really, really wanted to. It’s a solid flick, for sure, with some great visual effects and a moving narrative about the risks and sacrifices astronaut Neil Armstrong (and many others) took in one way or another to advance our exploration of space. I was a mere toddler when Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, but I can assure you I was plopped in front of the TV along with half the planet to watch history unfold. No #FakeNews here! President John F. Kennedy issued a challenge, and we sent a man to the moon. How awesome is that? This is the stuff of movies! Which brings me back to… First Man.

Review: Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable

Garry Winogrand was one of the masters of street photography. He spent decades roaming New York, and later Texas and California, freezing the moments that made statements about the time and place. He died in 1984, leaving behind thousands of unprocessed rolls of film and unprinted photographs. But his work starting in the 1960s had already secured his place in the photography canon, thanks in large part to MOMA curator John Szarkowski. Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable is a loving portrait of the man and his art, and a visual treat for street photography aficionados.

Review: All About Nina

Nina (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a foul-mouthed comedienne in New York struggling to make her mark. And she’s in a sick relationship with a married man. Something’s gotta change. Her only hope is a move to LA where there’s a competition that, should she win, she’ll get a one hour special all her own on a hit show called Comedy Prime. So NY girl heads to the coast. And she meets nice guy Rafe (Common) there. Only she’s really not that good at healthy relationships because she has all this baggage. So will she win the competition and figure out how to be with a guy who treats her right?

Manhattan Short Film Festival

To call it a festival is a stretch, but it’s a cool idea. A panel somewhere looks at a ton of short films from around the world and somehow chooses just 9 films to be watched and judged by everyday viewers like you and me. Their publicity says this is the 21st year! And I only heard of this a few weeks ago. There were screenings around the globe over a week and a half. Mine was at the local library, and I’d have preferred a real cinema, but…

Review: Venom

I don’t think the trailer does this film any favors. It makes Venom look way worse than it is, at least for anyone (like me) who doesn’t have a clue about this Marvel Comics character that is part human, part superhero, part alien blob. Don’t get me wrong. The film is a hot mess if you try to add up the sum of its parts. But a few of the parts are surprisingly entertaining. Okay, one part is surprisingly entertaining: Tom Hardy as disgraced investigative reporter Eddie Brock and his parasitic alter-ego Venom. When the two chat internally amongst themselves, the film is downright funny. Is it supposed to be? No clue.

Review: Tea With the Dames

The Dames in question are Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Eileen Atkins, four of England best actresses and life-long friends who meet up regularly at Plowright’s country home. This time director Roger Mitchell (Notting Hill) has brought a film crew and prods the ladies to tell their tales of the theater and the cinema. Chock a block with archival footage that takes us through their illustrious careers and lives, the documentary takes each Dame from childhood to old age with gossip and silly tales from beginning to end.

Review: The Sisters Brothers

It seems the western will never die. The allure of rugged men out there slinging guns and making their fortunes panning for gold was too much for French director Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone, The Prophet) to pass up. And he didn’t’ even have to come to the US of A to shoot this his adaptation of Patrick deWitt’s rambling, sometimes funny novel. Who knew Spain and Romania could stand in for the American West? What The Sisters Brothers has going for it mainly is a great cast — Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly and Riz Ahmed — and you’ll have to decide for yourself if that’s enough to make it worth your while.

Review: A Star Is Born

About a week after I first saw the latest version of A Star Is Born, I took advantage of a rainy weekend to catch up on the 1937 original, the 1954 remake, and the 1976 remake of the remake. Then I watched the latest version again. And I can honestly say, the newest one is my favorite, in part because it draws on the best parts of all its predecessors while bringing the classic tragic love story into present-day context, complete with an awesome original soundtrack. We’ll surely be hearing at least one of those songs at this year’s Oscars.