Review: Styx

Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Review: The Invisibles

There are plenty of films about the Jews who lost their lives to the Nazis, but this is the first I’ve seen about those who hid in plain sight in Germany through the war and survived. Part narrative feature and part documentary, The Invisibles tells the stories of four young people who refused to leave Berlin, and through their own smarts and the kindness of others, lived to tell the tale. All four of them in their old age are interviewed throughout the film, and since you know they lived, you also know that no matter how close it comes to them getting caught, they won’t be found out. Nevertheless, it is an audacious story about four exceedingly brave young people.

Review: The Wedding Guest

You might expect from the title that this is another of director Michael Winterbottom’s light comedies as in The Trip series, and that it has something to do with nuptials, but you’d be sorely mistaken. There’s no wedding and no guest, though the main character Jay (Dev Patel – Slumdog Millionaire, Lion) does pose as one early on in the movie. But given the fact that his shopping list for the trip included duct tape and a couple of guns, you know he isn’t probably going there for the happy day’s celebration. He’s actually come all the way from England to a dusty village in Pakistan to kidnap the bride. But of course things don’t go exactly as planned. And that propels him and the bride Samira (Radhika Apte) on a danger-filled journey criss-crossing Pakistan and India as the relationship between kidnapper and hostage morphs into something entirely different.

Review: Styx

Styx is the story of intrepid German ER doctor Rike who’s on a solo sea voyage when she’s suddenly sucked into a life or death situation. What begins as a peaceful vacation taking her from Gibraltar to Ascension Island way out in the Atlantic Ocean, quickly turns into a riveting, edge of your seat morality story when she comes across a shipping trawler adrift carrying desperate refugees.

Quickie Review: Minding the Gap

I’m not a big fan of the skateboarding scene and when I heard this documentary was one of the five Oscar nominees, I knew I had to watch, but I wasn’t planning on getting into it much. But wow! Yes, it is set in the skateboard dude world, but it’s more than that. It’s a coming of age story of three boys/men in the depressing town of Rockford, Illinois, where skateboarding is the only good thing they have in their lives. Bing Liu is the filmmaker and one of the three. He started out just shooting for the fun of doing skate videos for YouTube, but found the stories of his two best friends resonated with his own and continued for more than a decade, ending up with a sobering take on toxic masculinity and its effect on sons. It’s not easy to watch, but it is an amazing film.

Review: I Am Not a Witch

In this odd little satirical film from Zambian-born director Rungano Nyoni, 8-year-old Shula (Maggie Mulubwa) is branded a witch and sent away to the camp where all the other witches are kept. It’s a strange place that tourists are brought to to see the women (yes, they’re all female) all tied to enormous spools of white ribbon, which allow them only limited freedom to roam and keeps them from flying away. Shula is told she can either accept the spool or be transformed into a goat. She grudgingly takes on the spool.

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.

Review: Oscar Nominated Short Films 2019

I always look forward to watching the shorts. (Short being 40 minutes or less, so some of them aren’t all that short.) This year’s crop had clear winners and losers for me in each of the categories. Some of them felt like films I’d already seen. And overall, I think there have been stronger years for shorts.  However, they’re always worth seeing.  And as I do each year, I will renew my call for theaters to start showing them before the features.

Trailers to this year’s shorts can be found here.

Quickie Review: In Like Flynn

In Like Flynn is all about swashbuckling Errol Flynn in the days before he became a star, when he was traveling around the South Seas looking for adventure and getting in trouble. The film is loosely based on Flynn’s autobiography “Beam Ends,” and the movie was co-written by Luke Flynn, Errol’s grandson. But who knows how much of it is true? It opens with the proviso, “A Mostly True Account of the Hollywood Star’s Early Adventures.” And in the end, it doesn’t really matter. It’s a romp, and a light weight one, at that.

Quickie review: Don’t Come Back from the Moon

This quietly meditative indie sells itself on James Franco’s involvement, but truth be told, he’s only in it for a moment before he, like all the other fathers in town, disappears following the closing of the local factory. And that’s okay, since the kids who are left behind are the real story anyway. Based on a book by Dean Bakopoulos, the story centers on a group of young adults who are coming of age in a desert town on the edge of a dying lake. When their fathers abandon them, there is initially a sense of kids gone wild before they settle into the reality that they need to step up and take care of each other.

Review: Cold War

In this passionate love story set in Soviet-era Poland, Zula, a young singer with a past, enters a state-run performing academy where she meets the love of her life, Wictor, the pianist-musical director of the program. The film follows their on-again and off-again relationship across decades as they escape the Iron Curtain and ultimately return. Music is a key element of the story. There is one folk song that is sung first as an audition piece, then as a chorus in concert, then as a Polish jazz song, then translated into French. And Joanna Kulig’s performance as Zula is particularly powerful. Not only does she sing beautifully, but her face lights up the screen.