Review: 12 Strong
Cinema Clash Podcasters talk Darkest Hour, The Shape of Water, Wonder Wheel, and the DC Film Critics Awards
Mini-Reviews: I, Tonya

Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Mini-reviews: The Oscar Nominated Shorts 2018 (Animation & Live Action)

Another year, another batch of short films. This year, there were none I was absolutely in love with. Last year was full of punch you in the guts social issues and deep storytelling. This bunch felt kind of predictable to me. Nonetheless, there were a couple that I’ll remember and that I hope people get to see in a theater, since that’s how movies ought to be viewed. Here are my synopses and trailers. Mark your ballots accordingly.

Mini-reviews: The Oscar Nominated Shorts 2018 (Documentary)

Last year was all about war and refugees and people in peril a world away. This time it’s all about people here at home though still in peril. The films are slices of life. A mentally ill artist. A pair of star-crossed nonagenarians. A victim of police brutality. A town full of overdosing junkies. A culinary program for people just out of jail. Some are uplifting, but together they paint a pretty bleak picture of the U S of A. Try and see them on a big screen.

Review: Human Flow

The world is awash in people who cannot stay in their homes because of war or famine or climate or any number of other tragedies that might make remaining impossible. Who are they and what happens to them once they strike out to find a safe place? That’s what this sprawling documentary from Chinese activist artist Ai Weiwei attempts to tell us. It’s not a pretty picture (though there is some gorgeous cinematography), and there is no solution given to the heartbreaking international crisis. But if anything the film is a call for the world to wake up and deal with a problem that will not go away on its own.

Review: The Insult (L’insulte)

Since most of what we’re fed about the Middle East is about war and strife, it’s always good to see a film about regular people set there. And since Lebanon is relatively missing from the news cycle these days, it’s illuminating to see one of their big films. The Insult isn’t lacking the political element though. It’s the story of two proud men, one a Lebanese Christian and a one Palestinian Muslim, who turn a small incident into a personal war that ripples through modern day Beirut. It’s a tense story exploring the rifts in the civil society of Lebanon, with Palestinian refugees being the outsiders and Christians in power, that turns into an edge of your seat courtroom drama and a case that rests on the power of words. And it’s Lebanon’s very worthy Oscar contender this time around.

Review: Molly’s Game

Molly’s Game is based on the true story of Molly Bloom, a competitive freestyle skier who famously blew her Olympics chance and then rose to the pinnacle of the high stakes poker world running the most exclusive games in the country. The film is writer extraordinaire Aaron Sorkin’s (West Wing, The Social Network) directorial debut. And it’s intense. Jessica Chastain is outstanding as Molly. She’s smart and driven and living large. And Idris Elba is very easy on the eyes as Charlie Jaffey, the high-powered lawyer she hires to save her when it all comes crashing down and the FBI comes after her.

Review: Downsizing

Downsizing starts with a fun premise: What if you could make humans really small so our impact on the earth is also really small? It’s a great jumping off point for a silly comedy, but what makes Alexander Payne’s (Nebraska, Sideways) new film Downsizing work is that it winds up being more than that. Matt Damon stars as everyman Paul Safranek who’s convinced that he and his wife (Kristen Wiig) can have a better life as tiny people. More money, a bigger house, more leisure, (and yeah, save the planet.) But after he’s already downsized, she backs out and he’s left all alone in tiny town. Fortunately for the audience, he soon meets two new friends: the irrepressible Dusan (Christop Waltz, Inglourious Basterds), his upstairs neighbor and man of multiple schemes, and Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau Treme, Inherent Vice), a former Vietnamese dissident and now Dusan’s one-legged housekeeper who drags Paul into a more interesting life. Not that Matt Damon isn’t good, it’s just that these two steal the show.

Review: The Post

It’s the most timely film of the year without a doubt, with the most respected lead actors on earth, directed by one of America’s favorite directors. It’s a political thriller and a #GirlPower drama all rolled into one. And it’s a true story. Meryl Streep stars as Kay (Katherine) Graham, publisher of The Washington Post. And Tom Hanks plays editor Ben Bradlee. The Post is the story of their decision in 1971 to print the Pentagon Papers, a secret 47 volume Defense Department study that revealed decades of government lies about the Viet Nam War. The New York Times had broken the story, but the Nixon White House shut them down with threats of prosecution for espionage. So The Post decided to use the Times’s demise to run with it and print even more of the inflammatory facts. The central question which drives the story is will they get it to print before the Justice Department shuts them down, too.

Review: Call Me by Your Name

What a beautiful film! It’s a coming-of-age story set in 1983. Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is 17-years-old, living in the bucolic Italian countryside with his parents in their 17th century villa. His father is an archeology professor who invites an American student to come work with him each summer. This summer’s student is the handsome and charming Oliver (Armie Hammer). Elio is initially put off by Oliver’s ease and charm, and by the fact that he took his room for the summer, but slowly the two of them become friends, and then much more. It is set in the years before men could be open about such things, even to one another.

Mini-Reviews: I, Tonya

Both of us chicks saw this one at Middleburg. Both of us liked it. Here are our mini-reviews:

Review: The Divine Order

The Divine Order (Die göttliche Ordnung) tells the story of women’s suffrage in Switzerland. I had no idea that the women there didn’t get the right to vote until 1971. As to the title, Swiss political and religious leaders of the time actually cited “the divine order” as the reason to keep them voiceless. Unbelievable! But fear not, this is not a heavy feminist screed, it’s a warm character driven dramedy about a group of women who buck the patriarchy and force their husbands to wake up and give them the vote. The film is Switzerland’s foreign-language Oscar entry and it’s a totally eye-opening and fun #GirlPower flick!