Review: 12 Strong

Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Review: Beauty and the Dogs

Beauty and the Dogs is a very timely and very taut Tunisian #MeToo movie. The entire film is just nine shots, each a slice of the harrowing story of a young woman raped by policemen and trying to bring charges against them for it. There is a very Kafka-esque feeling to the whole ordeal. She can’t get medical attention without her ID, but she lost it during the rape, and she has to go to the police station to report it before she can go to the doctor, and everyone along the way just wants her to let it go for any number of reasons. It is horrifying, but she’s a fighter and so it is ultimately a #GirlPower flick!

Review: Oh, Lucy!

Without doubt one of the quirkiest movies I’ve seen in a long time, Oh, Lucy! is by turns hilarious and sad and brutally honest. The central character is Setsuko, a 40-something Japanese woman, who’s bored beyond belief with her life when her niece Mika (Shioli Kutsuna) talks her into taking a “free trial” English lesson. And what a class that is! The first clue that this will not be a normal school is that it’s set in a massage parlor. Then there’s the cute teacher John (Josh Hartnett, Penny Dreadful) who employs some “innovative” pedagogical techniques including decking his students out in wigs and doling out copious hugs. He christens Setsuke “Lucy” for the class, and though she was only going to check it out, she has so much fun that she decides to do the classes for real. But when John suddenly heads home to the States, along with her niece Mika, Lucy decides to follow them, and her stuck-up sister Ayako (Kaho Minami) tags along. What follows is Lucy’s Southern Californian odyssey of self-discovery.

Review: Leaning Into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy

If you don’t know about British artist Andy Goldsworthy, this documentary is a great way to get your feet wet. He’s hard to classify artistically, since there are not a lot of others doing what he has been doing so beautifully for decades, collaborating with the natural world in sculpture, temporal pieces, and photographed performances, using found materials, stone, even his own body. I’ve loved his work for ages, and this film takes you on a 3 year walkabout with him as he creates his magical experiences. There was actually a moment during the film when I was in awe. This is a must see for art lovers!

Review: They Remain

This psychological horror flick relies heavily on sound effects and music to take a walk in the woods to a very scare place. Adapted from Laird Barron’s short story “30”, the main plot revolves around two biologists hired by an unnamed corporation to investigate some strange animal behavior on a remote tract of land they bought. The land also just happens to be the site where a Manson-like cult ended up in a bloodbath years earlier. Keith (William Jackson Harper, Paterson and The Good Place) and Jessica (Rebecca Henderson, Manhunt: Unabomber) spend their days setting up motion controlled cameras and taking soil samples to try and find out if there is anything particularly supernatural about the place, though you never know exactly what the corporate overlords are looking for. And of course strange things do start happening. And the question becomes, what’s real and can this possibly end well?

Review: Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

She was considered the most beautiful woman in the world when she came to Hollywood in the 1930s from her native Austria. She forced Louis B. Mayer to sign her to a high-dollar contract simply by walking through a room. No one could take their eyes off her. And she became a huge star during Hollywood’s Golden Age, but what Hedy Lamarr loved most was inventing. From childhood, she lived to take things apart and figure things out. She had a brilliant mind, but her beauty was all anyone cared about. And as this eye-opening and frustrating documentary shows, her ideas changed the world, even as she got no credit for them. That is, until now.

Mini-reviews: The Oscar Nominated Shorts 2018 (Animation & Live Action)

Another year, another batch of short films. This year, there were none I was absolutely in love with. Last year was full of punch you in the guts social issues and deep storytelling. This bunch felt kind of predictable to me. Nonetheless, there were a couple that I’ll remember and that I hope people get to see in a theater, since that’s how movies ought to be viewed. Here are my synopses and trailers. Mark your ballots accordingly.

Mini-reviews: The Oscar Nominated Shorts 2018 (Documentary)

Last year was all about war and refugees and people in peril a world away. This time it’s all about people here at home though still in peril. The films are slices of life. A mentally ill artist. A pair of star-crossed nonagenarians. A victim of police brutality. A town full of overdosing junkies. A culinary program for people just out of jail. Some are uplifting, but together they paint a pretty bleak picture of the U S of A. Try and see them on a big screen.

Review: Human Flow

The world is awash in people who cannot stay in their homes because of war or famine or climate or any number of other tragedies that might make remaining impossible. Who are they and what happens to them once they strike out to find a safe place? That’s what this sprawling documentary from Chinese activist artist Ai Weiwei attempts to tell us. It’s not a pretty picture (though there is some gorgeous cinematography), and there is no solution given to the heartbreaking international crisis. But if anything the film is a call for the world to wake up and deal with a problem that will not go away on its own.

Review: The Insult (L’insulte)

Since most of what we’re fed about the Middle East is about war and strife, it’s always good to see a film about regular people set there. And since Lebanon is relatively missing from the news cycle these days, it’s illuminating to see one of their big films. The Insult isn’t lacking the political element though. It’s the story of two proud men, one a Lebanese Christian and a one Palestinian Muslim, who turn a small incident into a personal war that ripples through modern day Beirut. It’s a tense story exploring the rifts in the civil society of Lebanon, with Palestinian refugees being the outsiders and Christians in power, that turns into an edge of your seat courtroom drama and a case that rests on the power of words. And it’s Lebanon’s very worthy Oscar contender this time around.

Review: Molly’s Game

Molly’s Game is based on the true story of Molly Bloom, a competitive freestyle skier who famously blew her Olympics chance and then rose to the pinnacle of the high stakes poker world running the most exclusive games in the country. The film is writer extraordinaire Aaron Sorkin’s (West Wing, The Social Network) directorial debut. And it’s intense. Jessica Chastain is outstanding as Molly. She’s smart and driven and living large. And Idris Elba is very easy on the eyes as Charlie Jaffey, the high-powered lawyer she hires to save her when it all comes crashing down and the FBI comes after her.