Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Review: Britt-Marie Was Here

We’ve seen this one before. An older woman finds out her husband has been having an affair and leaves him. First she struggles with it and then she finds herself. Last year’s Finding Your Feet explored this topic nicely. And now comes the Swedish version Britt-Marie Was Here, based on a novel by the same author that brought us the wonderful A Man Called Ove back in 2016. He certainly excels at writing older characters. Britt-Marie is no Ove, but it’s a pleasant enough little self-discovery flick for a matinee with some gal pals.

Review: Ms. Purple

This stylish drama set in L.A.’s Koreatown tells the story of a young woman’s dedication to family at the expense of her own happiness and her gradual return to a fulfilling life. Tiffany Chu stars as Kasie, a 23-year old first-generation Korean American who’s stuck working as a hostess/call girl in a karaoke bar so she can take care of her comatose father. But when her home health aide abruptly quits, she calls on her estranged brother Carey (Teddy Lee) for help, and she begins to reexamine her relationship with him and with the life she’s been living. It’s a slow, but beautifully wrought tale.

Review: Midnight Traveler

Stories of refugees and immigrants are all over the news these days. But mostly they’re about numbers and policy while the people are faceless and nameless. What this gritty documentary does is put names and faces on a family who are forced to flee their home and navigate the horrid landscape of the refugee system to find a safe place. Shot entirely on their smart phones, it’s the story of Hassan Fazili, an Afghan filmmaker who was marked for death by the Taliban and escaped with his family, crossing border after border to find a home in Europe. It’s a day by day chronicle of what a family has to endure to satisfy the requirements of various immigration systems. From leaving Afghanistan to finally getting asylum in Germany, they filmed themselves for almost two full years on their 3,500-mile journey.

Review: Neither Wolf Nor Dog

This ever so indie film was funded with a Kickstarter campaign and then self-distributed. And right now it is the longest-running US theatrical release in more than a decade, having premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival back in 2016. And it’s finally making its way to the big cities now. Set in Lakota Sioux country, the film takes a white author on a coerced road through Native America as an elder and his friend impart their wisdom to him. The elder is played by the late Dave Bald Eagle who gives the film its deep resonance. Adapted from a semi-autobiographical book of the same name, Neither Wolf Nor Dog isn’t destined to be a blockbuster, but its message from the Native American community is one that should be heard.

Review: Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins

If you don’t know who Molly Ivins was, you’ll be a fan by the end of this doc. If you do remember her, you’ll fall back in love. And after watching it, everyone will wish there were a journalist of her intellect and humor around today to take on the political class in America and abroad. Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins is a pretty straightforward telling of her life and times. But what times they were. She tackled some of the big stories from the late 60s to the era of W (she coined that moniker) with such a keen eye for people and their motivations, and she pulled no punches. The film is by no means the definitive story of her very full though cut short life, but it is a hell of a lot of fun to be with her for its 93 minutes.

Review: This is Not Berlin

In this coming-of-age film set in Mexico City in the 80s, 17-year-olds Carlos and Gera are on the cusp of adulthood. And when they’re invited to the coolest club in town, they’re suddenly thrust into the dizzying world of punk rock and drugs and unbridled sexuality, and everything changes, especially their friendship. This is Not Berlin is a paean to rebellious youth and the urge to find your tribe, seen through the eyes of an inquisitive young man. It’s an emotionally absorbing ride.

Review: Vita & Virginia

Vita Sackville-West was a British socialite and a popular writer in the 1920s. She was also fond of scandalizing the society in which she lived, especially with her female lovers. Virginia Woolf was also a writer at the time, though less popular, but Lady Sackville-West set her sights on her after meeting at a dinner party. What followed was a relationship that lasted a decade and was responsible for one of Woolf’s greatest books, “Orlando.” Vita & Virginia is the story of these two women as they come together passionately for a while and then remain friends for a while. The film feels a lot like the lost lesbian episode of Downton Abbey, and while the performances are quite good, the costumes gorgeous, and the sets to die for, this telling of the famous literary romance does leave you less than satisfied and wishing Julian Fellowes had had a hand in it.

Review: Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché

She was there at the very beginning of the film industry. She directed hundreds of popular films and built her own studio that rivaled all the others of the day. She wrote and produced her films in Europe and the US. And yet, few filmmakers today know about her. Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché aims to correct that oversight. Guy wasn’t just the first female filmmaker, she was the first person to make a narrative film. When the moving picture was invented, it was used to shoot daily life or documentary, but she was the first to see the potential for stories to entertain. And because she was a woman, despite her groundbreaking work, she was lost to history. But no longer!

Review: The Peanut Butter Falcon

Most movies with Down syndrome characters treat them with kid gloves, painting them as lovable but limited people. But in The Peanut Butter Falcon Zak (Zack Gottsagen) is anything but a sweet sidekick. He’s a young man with a dream of becoming a pro wrestler, and to that end he escapes from the residential home where he’s being housed, and teams up with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) a man on the run from some pretty angry people he’s wronged. What follows is a funny odd couple/road flick with lots of heart as Zak and Tyler elude their chasers and share an adventure in the wetlands of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Review: Cold Case Hammarskjold

In this thoroughly odd documentary, Danish filmmaker Mads Brügger heads to Zambia after hearing conspiracy theories and tall tales about how UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold was murdered in 1961. In his search for the truth he’s joined by Swedish aid worker and part-time detective Göran Björkdahl, and as they dig both figuratively and literally, they begin hearing about a secret society of spies and assassins from South Africa who may have been the perpetrators of the killing. At first it sounds entirely outlandish, but as the story widens, it seems there actually is some nefarious group called the South African Institute for Maritime Research (SAIMR) and one of their members tells the tales of their many bad deeds on behalf of corporations and governments. And it’s gripping.