Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.
Posted on November 23, 2013
Dallas Buyers Club is another of the “based on a true story” flicks this season vying for some awards love. It’s all about hard-partyin’, rodeo ridin’ Texas cowboy Ron Woodroof who was shocked to be diagnosed with AIDS in 1985 because it was then considered a “gay” disease. Shunned by his friends and unable to find the any treatment that would save him, he did his own research and found a doctor in Mexico with an effective drug combination. And when it worked for him, he recognized a great business opportunity in importing it for other AIDS patients. Matthew McConaughey starved himself into skeletal shape for the role, but fortunately his portrayal is much more than skin deep. It’s definitely an Oscar worthy turn!
Posted on November 20, 2013
This is a movie unlike any other in many ways. There is just one actor whose entire dialogue could fit on an index card. We find out nothing about his back-story — not his name, or why he is all alone on a sailboat in the middle of the Indian Ocean, not even a hint of family or friends. He is no one and everyman listed in the credits simply as Our Man. And Our Man is Robert Redford, still more than capable of commanding an audience’s attention despite the loss of his Sundance Kid beauty. All is Lost is the age old story of man-against-nature, and though it may not be for everyone, it is a surprisingly compelling film.
Posted on November 9, 2013
12 Years a Slave is a film based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a free middle class black musician who lived in upstate New York in the first half of the nineteenth century. It is the nightmare tale of his abduction and sale into slavery, and his 12-year fight to survive and rejoin his family. The film is filled with ugly brutality and Northup, who is forced by the slave traders to go by another name, is systematically dehumanized and has to hide his true educated self, since that could mean a death sentence for him. A lot of it is hard to watch, but the violence is integral to the story, and it is definitely graphic but never gratuitous.
Posted on October 20, 2013
Robert Reich is the star of this documentary that examines the current enormous and ever widening income gap in the United States and the demise of our middle class. If you don’t know why the economy tanked in 2008, you must see this film and take anyone else who is uninformed about our economy with you. Reich is a Rhodes scholar who was the Sec. of Labor under Clinton, served in the Ford and Carter administrations, and has taught policy at Brandeis, Harvard and Berkley, so when he talks about the economy and the policy choices that got us where we are today, he has more than a bit of gravitas. The strength of the documentary is that it isn’t a partisan screed, but an engaging lesson in how we came to be in this fix and what has to change for our country to have a functioning middle class again.
Posted on October 11, 2013
Roger Ross Williams’ powerful documentary God Loves Uganda shines a light on the American evangelical Christian group that instigated Uganda’s horrid anti-gay movement. Focusing on the Kansas City church called International House of Prayer (yes, IHOP), the film follows a group of fresh-faced idealist missionaries as they head out to spread the Word a world away from home. They truly believe that they are doing good and in many ways they are. They bring medicine and schools, but serve a heavy dose of indoctrination alongside their philanthropy. Right there beside their love of Jesus is their demonization of homosexuality and a call for the local community with a high rate of HIV/AIDS to stop using condoms. And this same movement, along with other American evangelicals, is able to have a disproportionally large influence on Ugandan government policy. It is all very scary.
Posted on September 29, 2013
Joseph Gordon-Levitt took on a pretty dicey subject for his filmmaking debut (he wrote, directed and stars!), and came up with an unusual and entertaining film. Starring as the title character, Jon, a porn addict who is looking for love in all the wrong places, Gordon-Levitt brings a depth to his character that could easily have been pretty off-putting. On the surface, Jon is just a working class Jersey boy who likes to hang with his buddies and pick up girls for one-night stands, objectifying them all and comparing their hook-ups with his ideal women on the web. That is until he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johannson.)
Posted on September 22, 2013
Love Jane Austen novels and always imagined yourself finding your very own Mr. Darcy? Then you may enjoy this trifle of a flick about a lovelorn young woman named Jane (Keri Russell) who spends her last penny on a vacation where she is promised she can live the “Jane Austen Experience.” Despite her friend’s protestations that she is letting her Austen obsession ruin her life, she heads to England where she and a couple of other women immerse themselves in a recreation of the world of Austen, with the beautiful period clothes and accoutrements of the time, in a fancy manor house following the rules of Regency-era society, with a selection of hunky suitors vying for their affections. It’s very Bachelor circa 1800.
Posted on September 4, 2013
This one sneaked past us while it was in the theaters, but it feels like a “stay home with a big bowl of popcorn” kind of movie anyway. It’s basically a pleasant flick in search of a genre. It’s not really a comedy or a romance or a romcom or anything else. It has a good cast, but there is no chemistry between the two leads, Paul Rudd and Tina Fey. And even though the characters are likeable, they are not given a whole lot to do. Perhaps the problem lies with the setting, the Admissions Office at Princeton University, not the first place you think of for hilarity and romance.
Posted on August 25, 2013
What if Bernie Madoff was a younger, better looking man who left behind a beautiful yet clueless wife to fend for herself? That’s the basic premise of Woody Allen’s latest, Blue Jasmine. In this case the wife, Jasmine French, late of Park Avenue, is brilliantly played by Cate Blanchett who brings an amazing range of emotional states to the role as Jasmine throws herself on the mercy of her working class sister in San Francisco. She’s lost everything, but can’t seem to grasp the situation she is in or give up the lifestyle and pretense she’s grown so accustomed to, because it is who she is. A modern day Blanche DuBois (a role Blanchett played to stellar reviews off-Broadway not so long ago), Jasmine is ill-equipped for the life she’s been suddenly thrust into and has already begun to lose her grip on reality.
Posted on August 11, 2013
Set in the year 2154, Elysium is a hero’s tale about one simple man saving the world’s poor from the evil grips of the moneyed elite. The über-rich have moved off earth and live on an idyllic space station known as Elysium, looking down on the earth where the retched poor live a horrid life under the control of all watching ‘droids. Matt Damon plays Max, one of the 99% earthbound masses, who works in an android factory and is just trying to keep keep his head down and stay away from the criminals who he used to run with. But that plan is thrown for a loop when he is the victim of a radioactive industrial accident that will kill him unless he can get up to Elysium and use one of their miraculous medical machines that can cure any and all illnesses. And of course the only ones with the wherewithal to get him there are those bad guys he was trying to stay away from. Damn it!