Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Menashe Review

Most of us will never see the Ultra-orthodox Hassidic Jewish culture from the inside. Menashe is one such opportunity. Shot in Brooklyn and almost entirely in Yiddish, it’s the story of a widower named Menashe (Menashe Lustig) who seems destined to fail in the eyes of his community, leaving him all alone while his young son Rieven (Ruben Niborski) is forced to live with his brother-in-law. It’s really a simple story of a father struggling to get his child back while living within the strictures of his faith, which is not easy for him to do.

Ingrid Goes West Review

This is an odd and uncomfortable indie comedy. The Ingrid of the title has serious social/mental problems. Played by Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) she lives very much alone but online, and actually thinks people are her besties because she follows their social media feeds and knows all about them. In the first scene of the movie, Ingrid crashes a wedding she wasn’t invited to, assaulting the bride who she felt so close to because she’d seen and “liked” all the wedding plans on Instagram. But once that “relationship” has turned sour, she goes back online and finds her next victim/best friend who just happens to live in Los Angeles, and she’s off to insinuate herself into her life. Taylor Sloane played by Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene) is a lifestyle star on Instagram and is soon real life friends with Ingrid. But you are constantly worrying that she’s going to figure out she’s being stalked.

Lady Macbeth Review

No, it’s not Shakespeare’s play. But the lady in question does end up with a lot of blood on her hands. The film Lady Macbeth is an adaptation of a Russian novella, but set in a very isolated part of England in 1865. Young Katherine (Florence Pugh), is sold into marriage with an older man and seems destined to spend her life in crushing boredom. There are no people for her to interact with except her cold husband, his controlling father, and some servants. She’s forbidden from going out of the house, there doesn’t seem to be a library or a book anywhere, her marriage is sexless, and you can tell she’s about to go insane. But then her husband and his father are called away, and she not only ventures out of the house, but she begins a torrid affair with Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), a groom on the estate, which develops into a dangerous obsession for everyone involved.

Maudie Review

Based on a true story, this biopic is both sweet and disturbing at times. It’s the story of Maud Lewis, a folk artist who lived in Nova Scotia. It starts in the 1930s where Maud (Sally Hawkins) is a struggling young woman. Her brother has just sold her parents’ house out from under her, and she is destined to live with her strict Aunt Ida. But Maud wants to live and have fun and paint, despite some crippling birth defects that left her with gnarled hands and a bad leg. So when things get too stifling with Ida, she goes out looking for a way to support herself, and she finds a notice for a live-in maid. What follows is the often uncomfortable love story between Maud and her employer, the misanthropic fishmonger Everett (Ethan Hawke).

The Midwife Review

France’s two greatest female stars unite in this bittersweet drama about unfinished relationships. Catherine Deneuve is hard-living Béatrice, who’s been living out of a suitcase for decades making a living as a gambler. She reenters Claire’s (Catherine Frot, Marguerite) life just as both their lives are about to change drastically. Claire is a midwife who’s clinic is about to shut down and it’s the one place she’s really alive. Béatrice disappeared from her life without explanation many years early, but suddenly wants to be a part of it again? Claire isn’t so sure. Though there are other storylines in the movie, the center is these two starkly different women growing to rely upon one another.

Okja Review

In his audacious new film, Bong Joon Ho (Mother, Snowpiercer) pits a little Korean girl and her beloved super-pig against a corporate food mogul (Tilda Swinton). Okja is the name of a giant pig hybrid that little Mija (Seo-hyeon Ahn) has brought up for ten years high in the mountains of South Korea. That Okja is a GMO experiment makes no difference to her. He’s just her enormously fun pet. And in the opening scenes of the film, they do have big fun. But when the owner of the pig sends an envoy to give Mija’s grandpa a prize for best pig and decides to take Okja back to the US, Mija isn’t having it. She’s out to save her best friend. It’s wacky and the second half doesn’t entirely work, but at its heart it’s a sweet story of a girl and her super-pig.

The Beguiled Review

When I heard this film was being done, my first thought was, “A remake of the 70s Clint Eastwood flick? Why?” But fortunately it’s not a remake. Sophia Coppola has turned the previously digested source material into her own sensually atmospheric historical drama. Starring a very talented bunch, including Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, and Colin Farrell, it’s a psychological tableaux set in the waning days of the Civil War at an isolated girls’ school in Virginia. When a wounded Union soldier (Farrell) is brought into their midst, their routine life is disrupted, they each begin to vie for his attention, and you just know it can’t end well.

AFIDOCS Reviews Part Two

Saturday was a full day, and I had not thought I was choosing films with a theme, but at the end of the day I realized it was a day about strong women. And it was a day of mostly strong filmmaking. Sunday, the final day of the festival turned out to be a day of films about the importance of community. And when it was all over, I was exhausted, but as usual my head is now full of ideas and new heroes, and I’m very thankful for the Girl Power on the screen.

AFIDOCS Reviews Part One

Another Year at AFIDOCS. Four days of back to back documentary films in Washington, DC (and Silver Spring, MD, though we stayed downtown this year.) We’ve been going since 2014 and each year has a different feel. Mainstream Chick and I saw a few together, but quite a few films only one of us saw, so check back to see her takes, or head to the Cinema Clash Podcast for our post-fest discussion. This time the festival felt pared down, though there were some amazing films.  I was particularly interested in the films about women and girls and was not disappointed. There were a few happy surprises and I was left with a lot of questions and inspiration.

Atomic Homefront Review

This is one extremely scary movie! But it isn’t zombies or slashers. It’s invisible, and it’s killing men, women and children right here in the U S of A. And it’s a true story, an inspiring activist battle that is happening today. This is the story of a community in North Saint Louis, Missouri. And the threat to their existence is a landfill right in their back yards full of radioactive waste left over from the Manhattan Project. And it’s on fire now.