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Review: A Private War

You simply can’t paint all journalists and all of journalism with the same broad brush. A Private War reminds us of that. The film follows the last ten years in the risk-fueled life of the Sunday Times of London foreign affairs correspondent Marie Colvin. The American-born journalist dedicated most of her adult life to exposing the human atrocities of war across the globe, up to the very moment of her untimely death in the besieged city of Homs, Syria on February 12, 2012. She was 56. A Private War pays homage to Colvin’s bravery, tenacity and bravado, while also exposing the physical and psychological trauma that resulted from the choices she made. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, Beirut, Hostiles) plays Colvin with admirable precision, nailing her unique voice and mannerisms; and Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades, Anthropoid) delivers a strong supporting performance as Colvin’s frequent partner in the conflict zones, British-soldier-turned-photojournalist Paul Conroy.

War Horse

A boy and his horse are at the center of this Steven Spielberg family drama, adapted from the Tony winning stage play, which was an adaptation of a children’s book. It is a typical Spielberg film, tugging on your heartstrings to the emotive strains of John Williams. Set in the beautiful English countryside, a strapping young lad, Albert, witnesses the birth of an amazing horse and watches as he matures into a gorgeous thoroughbred. Then in a stroke of luck, when he comes up for sale, Albert’s father is crazy enough to buy him, instead of a plough horse, which is what they really need. But unfortunately, World War One soon separates the young man from his beloved steed named Joey, and the film follows this incredible animal’s odyssey through the war and finally (and miraculously) back to his favorite human.

Review: Radioactive

Who coined the term “radioactivity”? Who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize? Who was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes? What husband and wife duo shared a Nobel Prize in chemistry? Who are the first mother and daughter Nobel Laureates? The answers have one common denominator: Marie Curie.

Quickie Review: Girls of the Sun

In our #Girlpower era, a film about battalion of Kurdish women fighting ISIS in North Kurdistan should be a slam dunk. But somewhere between idea and execution Girls of the Sun got a bit lost. Part of that may be that it is framed as being about a French war correspondent who embeds herself with this group of women and her story is a distraction. I was never sure why I should care about her. After all, the women she’s with have lived through absolute hell. The more interesting story is that of the female commander Bahar (Golshifteh Farahani) who lost her husband and son to ISIS and has a reason to be fighting the fight.

Quickie Reviews: The Isle; Untogether

The Isle is for the horror flick lovers out there. It’s set in 1846 on an island off the coast of Scotland that is shrouded in mist. Three survivors of a shipwreck row ashore to find it nearly abandoned. But then they meet the only four people still living there, a couple of women and a couple of men. And they can tell that things are not normal, and the island folks are not opening up about what happened to all the others who lived there, and the 3 men really want to get off the island, but can’t seem to find a way. Then they start dying. It takes some time for the men to figure what’s happening, and once they do, they’re powerless against it.

Arty Chick’s Best of 2018 list

This was a hard year to choose my favorites. There were great movies in a lot of categories that deserved attention. It was a GREAT year for foreign films and documentaries, as well as some big and small features. I skew to the arty side, so I was not a big fan of most of the blockbusters, but there are a few. Here’s my oh-so-personal, definitely-not-an-Oscar-prediction list.

Mainstream Chick’s Top Picks of 2018

It’s insanely difficult to do a “Top 10 Movies of 2018” list when you’ve seen about 200 movies in 365 days – everything from blockbusters, to arthouse films, to documentaries, to films that simply defy classification. I reviewed some of them for Chickflix; others I just bantered about on the Cinema Clash podcast; still others I never got around to reviewing, ‘cuz sometimes, Life happens and the catch-up game aint worth playin’.

Movies are subjective – and so is my list. And no movie is a “bad movie” if somebody out there “gets” it and likes it. My list is different today than it was yesterday. And it will surely be different tomorrow. But at this particular moment in time – as we enter 2019 – this is where I stand with my top picks, and why.

Arty Chick’s Middleburg Film Festival Download 2018

Another year at a fabulous festival! I wonder how long this little Virginia horse country festival can keep it up. It’s sure to burst its seams soon. This year’s slate was amazing, as usual. I was only able to fit in 10 of the 29 films offered in my three days of the festival and missed quite a few I really wanted to see. But what I saw was impressive. The big winner for me (it won the audience award, too) was Peter Farrelly’s Green Book, which will certainly be vying for the Oscar. But there really were quite a few standout films. Here’s my list with trailers and my preliminary impressions. Full reviews of select films will come later, so check back.

Review: The Mole Agent

The Mole Agent feels very much like a narrative film even though it’s a documentary, and that’s a good thing. It tells the story of Sergio, an 83-year-old man recruited by a private investigator in Chile to go undercover in a nursing home. The daughter of one of the residents thinks her mom may be suffering abuse there. But rather than becoming a film about the evils of institutional care for the elderly, it’s a warm and humorous take on a community of old people who Sergio can’t help but grow to care for.

Review: The Gentlemen

The Gentlemen is a stylish crime caper with writer/director Guy Ritchie’s fingerprints all over it. It’s very much a “Guy” movie – and a “guy movie”, with a splash of estrogen provided by Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) in some lethal-looking Christian Louboutin stilettos. She’s surrounded by an A-list cast of chaps including Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant winding their way through a witty and wily narrative about drug syndicates, blackmail, bribery, murder and all-around mischievousness. The plot thickens, and thins, simmers and boils over to yield a dish that’s a bit messy, but still tastes good.