Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Review: The Whistlers (La Gomera)

A beautiful woman. 30 million euros. A detective who’s tired of his job. All the elements of a classic thriller are present in this Romanian film noir. Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) is a cop in Bucharest. Gilda (Catrinel Marlon) is the femme fatale whose boyfriend Zsolt (Sabin Tambrea) is behind bars and knows where the money is hidden.  To that end she enlists the not so honest cop in a scheme that involves traveling to the Canary Islands to learn a whistling language called El Silbo Gomero that was invented by the locals and is used by the mobsters to communicate without the cops being able to understand. The plan is to use it to get the boyfriend out and make off with the dough. But of course, Cristi falls for the dame, and things don’t go exactly as planned.

Review: Bacurau (Nighthawk)

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Brazil is a village called Bacurau. It’s cut off from the world. They have to truck in water and supplies. But the people live their everyday lives pretty normally. Then strange things start to happen. The town disappears from maps. Their cell signal is gone. Their water supply truck arrives with bullet holes in it. And then a couple on motorcycles appear. Turns out they’re part of a gang of blood-thirsty tourists who aim to use the town for target practice. They chose the wrong town.

Review: Extra Ordinary

This seems like the perfect time for a horror romcom and this light little film from Ireland will surely transport you away from the world of campaigns and viruses for 93 minutes. The plot revolves around sweet Rose (Maeve Higgins) who’s a driving instructor trying her best to ignore her supernatural ability to see ghosts. But when she’s asked to help a family exorcize the wife/mother who’s making them crazy, she meets handsome widower Martin Martin (Barry Ward). Unfortunately, his daughter is kidnapped shortly afterwards by a satanist who needs a virgin sacrifice, and so Rose and Martin team up to save her from the evil clutches of one-hit-wonder and Satan’s disciple Christian Winter (SNL’s Will Forte) who’s only doing the evil deed because he wants another number one hit. It’s all very silly and a fun ride.

COVID-19 Streaming List

Just in case you’re caught at home wondering what you can do to pass the time, here’s a list of films that, if you haven’t seen, you should, and if you have you might want to watch again. There’s something for everyone. All of these are streaming right now and we’ll post more later, if need be.

Review: Corpus Christi (Boze Cialo)

Based on a true story, Corpus Christi is the tale of 20-year-old Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia) who, just sprung from a violent juvenile detention center and heading for a new job, decides to visit the local church and stumbles into becoming the new priest for the small Polish town. It’s the story of his redemption, but also that of his new flock, a community healing from a tragedy that has divided them against themselves. Once he’s committed to the ruse as the impostor Father Tomasz, Daniel slips into the cassock and wings it well enough to fool the whole town. It’s not a con, so much as a calling. And you’re just wondering how long he can get away with it.

Review: Swallow

This R-rated psychological thriller was a complete surprise to me. In a good way. It’s a Stepford Wives meets #Girlpower story that has you yelling at the screen and wondering what will happen next right up until its satisfying ending. Haley Bennett (Girl on the Train, The Magnificent Seven) is mesmerizing as Hunter, the gilded cage wife of a wealthy financier. She seems to have it all, but there’s definitely something missing, and she fills her days in an OCD housecleaning fog. But when she gets pregnant, she develops “pica” – the compulsion to consume inedible objects and materials. Of course there’s a deeper psychological reason for her mental state, and as the film progresses Hunter is forced to confront a dark secret to break free.

Review: Incitement

Talk about a film that is hard to watch! In this political thriller, you’re watching the evolution of assassin Yigal Amir (Yehuda Nahari Halevi), a law student who decides that it is religiously justified to murder Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin because he is signing a peace treaty with the Palestinians. It was in September 1993 that Rabin sat down with PLO Chairman Arafat and President Clinton and hammered out the Oslo Accords, sending the Orthodox Israelis into the streets to protest the agreement because it was giving up territories they believed were theirs by God-given right. Incitement is a film that takes you inside the ultra-Orthodox community where all question of right and wrong are vetted by rabbis, and their view is that Rabin is a traitor to the Jewish people and murder is justified. And while it may take place a couple of decades ago, it doesn’t seem like much has changed in Israel or many other places around the world where extremist ideology can subvert democracy. It’s a scary movie.

Review: Balloon (Ballon)

Seems like all I’m seeing lately are film based on true stories. In this one, two families living in Cold War East Germany in 1979 plan a daring escape to the West in a homemade hot air balloon with a Stasi officer hot on their tail. It’s one of those films where you’re holding your breath and hoping for the best, since the first scene is of a group of border guards being instructed to shoot to kill. What follows is an entertaining political thriller set in the horrifyingly claustrophobic surveillance state where everyone you meet might be the informer who gets you killed.

Review: Beanpole (Дылда)

War is hell. And life after war is, too. Most war films concentrate on the effects that the carnage has on men, but this Russian melodrama looks at how the women are scarred, too. Set in Leningrad just after World War II has ended, when the Siege may be over, but the people are still dealing with the hunger and deprivation, Beanpole is a character study of two young women, friends from the battlefield, both trying to make sense of their lives after the war.  Iya affectionately known as Beanpole (Viktoria Miroshnichenko) works in a hospital tending the wounded. She has a cute little boy at home that she dotes on. But she is afflicted with a condition caused by an explosion that makes her “freeze” from time to time – staring into space and making tiny clicking sounds until she comes back to life. And it causes her to make a tragic mistake. But then her wartime buddy Masha (Vasilisa Perelygina) arrives back from the front, and though it begins as a warm reunion, their relationship takes some very dark turns.

Mini-reviews: 2020 Oscar-Nominated Short Films

If you’re planning to watch the Academy Awards this weekend, chances are you haven’t had a chance to catch the shorts. I mean, who does? Unless you’re lucky enough to go to a lot of the festivals where they’re shown or search out the few that are streaming online, you only have a week in the theaters before you have to fill in a ballot at your Oscar party. And how are you supposed to win that pool without a bit of help?

There are three categories – Live Action, Animation, and Documentary. And short is really a misnomer for some of them. They can be up to 40 minutes and several of them are right at the limit. But I always enjoy watching them, and this year’s were a more diverse selection than the last few years. So here’s my yearly plea to theater owners out there: “Please start showing a short before the feature!”

And here’s my rundown/cheatsheet for Oscar night: