Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Mr. Holmes

Just how many Sherlock Holmeses can the world sustain at once? We’ve got the Robert Downey Jr. action hero version and the Benedict Cumberbatch Aspberger’s take. And now we have a senior and somewhat senile interpretation of the perennial sleuth portrayed perfectly by the classically trained yet suddenly everywhere Ian McKellen (X-men, Lord of the Rings.) Personally, I think we should all be grateful for this embarrassment of riches. Three very different Sherlocks and all such fun to watch! This time around, the mystery dear Holmes must solve involves his final case, decades prior, before he moved to the Sussex seaside to raise bees all by his lonesome. It is the unsolved case that drove him to retire.

Steak (R)evolution

Vegetarians need not bother with this one. This gustatory documentary is lovingly prepared for steak lovers around the world. French writer-director Franck Ribière travels the globe in search of the best steak, since according to him they don’t do it well in France. (Who knew?) He flits from France to Scotland, to Argentina and Brazil, to the US and Sweden and many other out of the way spots. Along the way he talks with ranchers, butchers, food writers, and chefs. He meets their cattle and sees how and what they are fed. And he tastes all manner of great steaks, ranking the top 10 steak restaurants in the world. It is truly drool worthy!

Amy

A star is born and then she self-destructs. Amy is the utterly tragic tale of singer Amy Winehouse, who was so full of talent and entirely unprepared or more likely incapable of dealing with the fame that came with her gifts. It is yet another story of addiction and greed and media frenzy killing a young performer. This devastating documentary is like the proverbial train wreck. You know what is going to happen, and you can’t stop it, but you can’t look away.

Terminator Genisys

He’s back! In this Terminator reboot, Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his iconic T-800 cyborg, only this time he gets to age. Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones) steps easily into the role of Sarah Connor and Jason Clarke (no relation) plays a grown up John Connor. Jai Courtney (Insurgent & Divergent) is the hero Kyle Reese sent back from the dystopian future to save humanity and fall in love with Sarah. A lot of the original elements are the same, but thankfully, the writers liked playing with the concept of time travel and they serve up a new story with a lot of familiar beats. It works as a stand alone, though probably is more fun if you’ve seen the original.

Inside Out

What were the Pixar folks thinking, making a film about the conflicting emotions in a little girl’s head? It might seem like a pretty cerebral premise for a kids’ flick, but from this very unlikely subject matter comes a fun for the whole family film. I went with my nephews (ages 6, 8, and 17), my sister in law (40ish), and my mother (age 89), and we all appreciated it for different reasons depending on our ages. There are funny and thoughtful bits that only an adult will get, but the kids and the teenager were thoroughly entertained.

AFI DOCS (Days 3 & 4)

So many films, so little time. Running back and forth from DC to Silver Spring, it was impossible to see all the films that were available. Anyone who can, should go next year. I’ll let you know when, and we can see them all then compare notes! Here are my short takes on the films I saw the last two days. Trailers are below.

AFI DOCS 2015 (Days 1 & 2)

Another year, another great set of documentaries! Last year it seemed the festival had more of a theme. This time around, I saw a lot of different kinds of stories. Some were political. Several felt like advocacy pieces. There were many about music and quite a few from Middle Eastern countries. As usual, there were too many to fit in and I missed quite a few that I really wanted to see. I am hoping to get a few screeners from filmmakers that I met at the festival to rectify that situation. This post is of my first two days of viewing.

The Salt of the Earth

I’ve been a fan of Sebastião Salgado’s work for decades, probably beginning with his photographs of the gold miners of Brazil’s Serra Pelada in the mid-80s. Beyond being beautiful images, they are powerful statements about humanity and as such are incredible social documentary. The Salt of the Earth looks at his entire career and the ways that his work has influenced his life, as well as its impact on international audiences who view starving refugees in Africa or Bosnians fleeing to Croatia through his lens. He is truly one of the greatest living photojournalists and this documentary directed by Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire, Pina, Buena Vista Social Club) along with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado takes you on his incredible life journey. It is beautiful, adventure-filled, and both heartbreaking and uplifting.

Far from the Madding Crowd

What a simply horrid problem Bathsheba Everdene (Katniss’s great-great grandmother?) has to contend with! She’s young and pretty and has inherited a big old house in the British countryside with its own working farm and the money to run it, and she has three, count them, THREE men who want to marry her. The downside to her situation is that she lives in Victorian England and women are not supposed to be independent or headstrong. In this latest adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel, Carey Mulligan plays Bathsheba with a decidedly 21st century vibe. And that works because really at its core Far from the Madding Crowd is a timeless tale of recognizing the love that is right in front of you, no matter what anyone thinks.

Clouds of Sils Maria

The first I heard of Clouds of Sils Maria was the news that Kristen Stewart won the French version of the Oscar (the Cesar) for her supporting role in it, the first American ever! I just saw the film and I am scratching my head. Not that she is bad, but it just isn’t a standout role, even for her. And lest you assume she speaks French, which would be a feat worthy of a prize, the film is mostly in English with leading lady Juliette Binoche slipping into her native tongue on just a few subtitled occasions. The film is the story of the evolution of a relationship between a famous actress Maria (Binoche) and her young assistant Valentine (Stewart) as they rehearse for a revival of the play that started Maria’s career. It is an arty movie, somewhat Bergman-esque. There is a LOT of subtext and the line between the play and their real life becomes blurry at times. There are also beautiful moments and poignant scenes. And while everything is not spelled out, it is a thought-provoking look at the way our perspectives change with time.