Baby Driver Review

Wow, what a ride. Baby Driver is one of those movies that truly defies description and genre pigeonholing. It’s a pulsating, frenetic, stylish, clever, violent, romantic, heartbreaking, hopeful, tense, and witty action-drama-crime-heist movie with car chases, crashes, gunfights, double-crosses, stellar performances, and a soundtrack that is a character in and of itself. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Baby Driver rev a few engines when the next awards-season rolls around – for editing, direction, cinematography, and possibly even for lead actor Ansel Elgort, best known among the YA crowd for his roles in The Fault in Our Stars and the Divergent series. Elgort nails it as Baby, an innocent-looking getaway driver eager to pay off a debt and get out of the crime business – especially after he meets his soulmate, Debora (Lily James, Downton Abbey, Cinderella) a waitress in the local diner where his mother used to work.

AFIDOCS Reviews Part Two

Saturday was a full day, and I had not thought I was choosing films with a theme, but at the end of the day I realized it was a day about strong women. And it was a day of mostly strong filmmaking. Sunday, the final day of the festival turned out to be a day of films about the importance of community. And when it was all over, I was exhausted, but as usual my head is now full of ideas and new heroes, and I’m very thankful for the Girl Power on the screen.

AFIDOCS Reviews Part One

Another Year at AFIDOCS. Four days of back to back documentary films in Washington, DC (and Silver Spring, MD, though we stayed downtown this year.) We’ve been going since 2014 and each year has a different feel. Mainstream Chick and I saw a few together, but quite a few films only one of us saw, so check back to see her takes, or head to the Cinema Clash Podcast for our post-fest discussion. This time the festival felt pared down, though there were some amazing films.  I was particularly interested in the films about women and girls and was not disappointed. There were a few happy surprises and I was left with a lot of questions and inspiration.

A Newlywed Reviews ‘Rough Night’

The Washington, DC screening of Rough Night coincided with the opening night screening and reception of the AFI Documentary Festival. Ironically, the free booze came with the latter. So while Arty Chick and I drank wine and schmoozed with documentary filmmakers at the Newseum, Guest Chick Maggie Mazzetti ventured down the road to watch Rough Night on our behalf. Maggie is a newlywed. So, really, who better to weigh in on a raucous comedy involving a bachelorette weekend than someone who recently engaged in prenuptial shenanigans (okay, hers were probably a bit more subdued and crime-free). Anyway, here’s Maggie’s take on Rough Night:

Atomic Homefront Review

This is one extremely scary movie! But it isn’t zombies or slashers. It’s invisible, and it’s killing men, women and children right here in the U S of A. And it’s a true story, an inspiring activist battle that is happening today. This is the story of a community in North Saint Louis, Missouri. And the threat to their existence is a landfill right in their back yards full of radioactive waste left over from the Manhattan Project. And it’s on fire now.

Lost in Paris Review

And the award for this year’s best slap-stick movie goes to … Lost In Paris, hands down! And though I’m not really a fan of most modern slap-stick, I loved this film. In it librarian Fiona (Fiona Gordon) who lives in the icy north of Canada receives a letter from her favorite Aunt who lives in Paris asking for her help, so she jumps at the chance and heads to France only to find Aunt Martha (Emmanuelle Riva) MIA. And then after losing all her possessions in an accidental plunge into the Seine, she meets kooky hobo Dom (Dominique Abel) who decides to help her find Martha, whether she wants him to or not. He is smitten. She’s desperate.

The Women’s Balcony Review

Right now is a great time for Israeli cinema. In the past month I’ve seen The Wedding Plan and Past Life, and now comes The Women’s Balcony. (And Wonder Woman Gal Gadot is an Israeli, too.) And what do they all have in common, besides speaking Hebrew? They’re all about strong women. And they’re all worth seeing.

Review: Megan Leavey – A True(ish) Tale about a Marine and her Dog

Megan Leavey feels like a movie that started out as a pet project, gained momentum as a pet project, and made it to the big screen as a pet project, complete with some decent actors and, in the case of the screening I attended, a heartfelt introduction from Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. His office was instrumental in helping real-life Marine corporal Megan Leavey adopt Rex, the bomb-sniffing dog that served alongside her in Iraq. If you’re a sucker for a tale about a woman and her dog, then Megan Leavey is there for ya. Hoorah.

Churchill Review

Another movie about Winston Churchill? There have been dozens over the years illuminating various eras and roles in his life. This one takes on just a few days. But what days they were! Churchill takes the audience for a behind the scenes look at the political wrangling leading up to D-day and Churchill’s reluctance to commit British troops to the Allied operation. It’s one more film that portrays him as an egotistical and difficult man, though here his wife, who was most likely his saving grace, tempers his enormous presence. You know how it ends, if you know any history, but getting there is really more psychological drama than war movie.

Past Life Review

Set in Jerusalem in 1977 and based on a true story, Past Life is a tangle of secrets. Safe in Israel after escaping the Nazis during World War II, Dr. Baruch Milch (Doron Tavori) has raised a family and is a successful gynecologist. But when his youngest daughter Sephi (Joy Rieger) is invited to Berlin to sing at a concert, his peaceful life is turned upside down. A Polish woman (Katarzyna Gniewkowska) accosts her and tells her that her father is a murderer. Back at home, she doesn’t immediately tell him about the experience, but she does tell her older sister Nana (Nelly Tagar) who’s a liberal journalist and who is determined to get to the truth of the story. The sisters have never really talked with their Holocaust survivor parents about their wartime experiences, and their sudden interest uncovers painful and sad memories and exposes the sisters’ unspoken emotions regarding their father. And throughout the girls’ investigation, you have no idea which way it’s going to go, but you can feel that Sephi is truly afraid of what she’ll find.