Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Review: Love, Gilda

I loved Gilda Radner! She’s the only celebrity whose death has ever made me weep. So when I heard there was going to be a documentary about her, I was thrilled. But while Love, Gilda is a nice walk down memory lane, it doesn’t really capture the magic that made so many of us adore Gilda. It’s a fairly chronological telling of her life story with a wealth of of archival footage and audio. And a lot of the film, despite being about one of the funniest, most joyful people ever, is kind of a buzz kill. But maybe it works best for people who didn’t know and love her from way back, with no memory of her boundless heart, like the director herself who only came to appreciate her after doing fundraising videos for Gilda’s Clubs, the cancer support centers started by Radner’s  husband Gene Wilder after her death.

Review: Kusama: Infinity

This documentary was full of surprises for me. I’ve been an art lover for as long as I can remember, but somehow missed knowing one of the most critically acclaimed artists of our time. Her name is Yayoi Kusama, and this film about her is eye-opening, even if you’ve seen her work in museums (as I apparently had without remembering her name.) Now in her late 80s and still working, her installations and retrospectives regularly sell out at top museums and galleries around the world. But her journey to acceptance was anything but easy. Hers is a story of overcoming personal trauma by turning it into a life’s work and embracing her unstoppable creative genius. It’s well worth seeing.

Review: Puzzle

Directed by Marc Turtletaub, who produced Sundance faves Little Miss Sunshine and Sunshine Cleaning, Puzzle is the story of Agnes, a woman in her 40s who has yet to push the limits of her proscribed identity of wife and mother. Her life consists of taking care of her husband and two college-age sons and taking part in her local Catholic church. But when she receives a jigsaw puzzle for her birthday, it leads her to begin venturing out and finding that life has a lot more to offer. Kelly Macdonald (No Country for Old Men, Boardwalk Empire ) is simply perfect as the awakening protagonist, putting together the pieces of her new life and realizing her own worth. It’s not a big film, but it is satisfying.

Review: Leave No Trace

Eight years ago writer/director Debra Granik introduced us all to Jennifer Lawrence in the amazing Winter’s Bone. She’s finally made another movie after way too long, introducing us to the next young actress we should probably keep an eye on, Thomasin McKenzie, who plays 13-year-old Tom in this gem of a film. Like Winter’s Bone, Leave No Trace is not about people living conventional lives with ordinary choices to make. Tom and her dad Will (Ben Foster, Hell or High Water) have chosen to live out in the woods in an Oregon park, taking care of themselves, and living a fairly isolated but full life together. But when they’re discovered by rangers and social services gets involved, the question of what is home and what is normal is pushed to the fore.

Review: BlackkKlansman

Spike Lee’s latest joint is about as far fetched as you could imagine. Set in the early 70s, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) becomes Colorado Springs, Colorado’s first African-American cop. While still a rookie, he infiltrates the KKK and fools Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace) into welcoming him into the fold. But it’s a true story and one that resonates all the more loudly in our current political world with David Duke and his minions then as now proclaiming “America First.” It’s a deadly serious, yet at times hilarious story, and it’s scary how much has not changed in the intervening years.

Review: Custody (Jusqu’à la garde)

Custody begins as a separated couple, Antoine (Denis Ménochet) and Miriam (Léa Drucker), sit before a magistrate who will decide the fate of their children. Their daughter Joséphine (Mathilde Auneveux) is nearly grown, so their 11-year-old son Julien (Thomas Gioria) is really the bone of contention. And he doesn’t want to see his abusive father. But the court grants the father weekend visits anyway. And it is immediately apparent that the court made a huge mistake. What follows is like watching the fuse on a bomb slowing burning down. You’re wait for the explosion, but hoping that someone comes along to defuse it, even though you know that is unlikely. It’s harrowing!

Review: Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

Director Gus Van Sant has brought us some very powerful films in the past — Milk, Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, to name just a few — and he frequently pushed the envelope in the way he tells a tale — To Die For, My Own Private Idaho — but his latest is a pretty straight forward bio of alcoholic cartoonist John Callahan. Played by chameleon Joaquin Phoenix, the arc of the tale is Callahan’s coming to terms with himself after a life-changing accident while getting sober at the same time. There are some funny moments for sure, and an odd romance, and also some insightful AA bits. And it is a pleasant entertainment, though not terribly memorable.

Review: Sorry to Bother You

One of the best films I’ve seen lately, Sorry to Bother You doesn’t fit neatly into any of the usual genres. It’s an audacious anti-capitalist sci-fi comedy set in an alternate Oakland. The number one TV show has people getting punched in the face for money, and a nefarious mega-corporation called WorryFree has set up a program where people are being willingly enslaved. The central character is Cassius Green (LaKeith Stanfield, Atlanta, Get Out) known to his friends as “Cash” who lands a job as a telemarketer for WorryFree and quickly masters the secret key to success, moving him upstairs to become a power caller, where the pay is unbelievable if you can just get over what you’re doing. Meanwhile his friends, co-workers, and girlfriend downstairs are organizing a strike to force WorryFree to pay them what they’re worth. And Cash has to decide where his loyalties lie.

Review: The Captain (Der Hauptmann)

The Captain is not for the faint of heart. It’s the true story (or some version of it) of a German deserter in World War II, who finds a suitcase containing a Luftwaffe captain’s uniform and assumes the role, building his own band of brothers from deserters he finds along the way, and committing truly horrifying acts in the name of the Führer in the waning days of the war. Pvt. Willi Herold (Max Hubacher) simply by virtue of a uniform becomes a sadistic leader. Inventing a mission straight from Hitler himself, he quickly loses his fear of being caught and tests the limits of his own brutality. And there are no limits.

Review: Love, Cecil

I’d known about Cecil Beaton as a photographer for decades, but had no idea the breadth of his creative talents. Love, Cecil is a beautifully crafted documentary about him that blends his own interviews with those of his many admirers and friends (and a few enemies) with readings from his many diaries by Rupert Everett, and most importantly showcases his prolific output. From photographing the Royal family for decades to art directing My Fair Lady, to changing the way fashion was portrayed in print, he seemed to never stop working. Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland (Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict), the film wisely lets Beaton’s art take center stage and could more aptly be titled, “I love Cecil!”