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Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Review: Resisterhood

Resisterhood begins in the aftermath of the 2016 election as women (and men) gather in Washington to march on Day One of the Trump presidency. There we meet the six resisters the documentary follows for the next two years – Psychologist Jean Gearon, 84-year-old Margaret Morrison, Congressman Luis Gutiérrez and his wife Soraida, lesbian soccer star Joanna Lohman, and Muslim grandmother Mimi Hassanein. The film traces each of their political evolutions from the march until the 2018 mid-term elections. While it is a film that will mainly be preaching to the choir, it’s also an inspiring story that may give people on the fence a reason to get out and vote. And for that alone, I hope a lot of people will see it.

Review: Paper Spiders

I’ve always enjoyed the performances of Lili Taylor starting with Mystic Pizza. And reading her bio on IMDB probably explains why. One of her quotes reads, “I guess the characters I play may be at the more destructive edge of the spectrum, more damaged or whatever, but I find a lot of female roles uninteresting. I would rather play someone who’s fucked-up and deep than someone who’s one-dimensional and invisible. I would rather drive something and be crazy than be forgotten and nothing.” And her latest role is totally in that vein. In this mother-daughter, coming-of-age drama she plays Dawn, a woman with delusional disorder who’s convinced that the new next door neighbor is out to get her. Meanwhile her daughter Melanie (Stefania LaVie Owen) with whom she has a close and loving relationship is just trying to get through her senior year so she can head off to college. And as Dawn spirals out of control, Melanie tries to find a way to save her from herself despite her complete denial.

Review: Critical Thinking

For his theatrical film directing debut actor John Leguizamo took on the real-life inspirational story of a group of students at an inner city Miami school who joined a class to learn chess and ended up winning the 1998 U.S. National Chess Championship. Leguizamo also plays the teacher Mr. Martinez who is equal parts mentor, teacher, and cheerleader for the team. It’s a familiar underdog story, but it works. You’re pulling for this rag-tag team all the way.

Quickie Review: Killed My Wife

In this Korean thriller, a man wakes up from a drunken night. His clothes are covered in blood and he has no memory of how they got that way. But he soon finds out that his wife was murdered and he’s the chief suspect. Of course, he can’t say for sure he didn’t do it. And he’s suddenly on the run, as the memories of the previous night slowly return, and he has to figure out what exactly happened before the police can catch up to him.

Review: The Mole Agent

The Mole Agent feels very much like a narrative film even though it’s a documentary, and that’s a good thing. It tells the story of Sergio, an 83-year-old man recruited by a private investigator in Chile to go undercover in a nursing home. The daughter of one of the residents thinks her mom may be suffering abuse there. But rather than becoming a film about the evils of institutional care for the elderly, it’s a warm and humorous take on a community of old people who Sergio can’t help but grow to care for.

Review: The Bare Necessity (Perdrix)

This French comedy is definitely for those who like their films on the quirky side. In it a young woman named Juliette (Maud Wyler, Blue Is the Warmest Colour) is passing through a sleepy French town when her car is stolen by a naked woman. At the police station she meets Police Captain Pierre Perdrix (Swann Arlaud) who explains that the town has a problem with revolutionary nudists, as if that’s as natural as the sun coming up every day. Meanwhile there are tanks in the street because there’s about to be a WWII reenactment with Nazis. But since she has nowhere to go and everything she owned was in the car because she was “migrating,” she crashes with Pierre and his odd family. Think Wes Anderson only less stylized. And it’s a given that Pierre and Juliette will end up together.

Review: Driven to Abstraction

As the saying goes, when something seems to good to be true, it probably is. Driven to Abstraction is a documentary about the biggest art scandal of this century. I remember being fascinated by the story when the news first hit in the early 2000s. One of the oldest art galleries in America was accused of selling dozens of fake paintings by many of the greats of the Abstract Expressionist period – Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko, Motherwell, Deibenkorn. The scam was exposed when one of those Pollocks was examined and the buyer was informed that it was a forgery. From there others began checking the paintings they’d bought from Ann Freedman, the highly-respected president of the gallery. And before it was over at least 40 other modern masterpieces turned out to be forgeries, and the Knoedler & Company gallery was forced to shut its doors after 165 years. At the center of the doc is the still unanswered question, was Ms. Freeman a greedy and willing participant or was she duped by a great scam artist?

Review: American Street Kid

In this powerful documentary, director Michael Leoni headed to the streets of Los Angeles to see what it’s like to be a homeless kid. Initially he was planning on shooting a PSA, but he got sucked in and ended up becoming much more than a filmmaker. American Street Kid is about his relationship with a group of young people who came to rely on him and who he was bound and determined to save. It’s both an advocacy piece for building an infrastructure to help young people escaping abusive homes and a cautionary tale about documentarians who get too close to their subjects. And it’s equal parts heart-breaking and heart-warming.

Review: Tesla

I’ve been interested in inventor Nikola Tesla’s life and work for ages, so I was excited that a feature film was going to take him on. And I love Ethan Hawke who’s been getting better and better the last few years. (The Truth, First Reformed, Juliet, Naked, Maudie) Seemed like a great idea. But Telsa is anything but a standard biopic. It’s a jumble of scenes set in last days of America’s Gilded Age, the period when Tesla was warring with Thomas Edison (Kyle MacLachlan) over the best way to deliver electricity to the masses — Direct vs Alternating Current. (AC v DC. – spoiler, Tesla was right) Narrated by J.P. Morgan’s daughter Anne (Eve Hewson, Bridge of Spies), Tesla is a hybrid – documentary, experimental film, and period drama. Some of it works, and some is just weird.

Quickie Review: The Prey

Human hunting movies seem to be the thing right now. Early this year there was the controversial American film The Hunt that disappeared onto Netflix in the blink of an eye for political reasons. Then came Bacurau, a strange dystopian class struggle Western set in Brazil. And now we have an action movie from Cambodia that takes us down the same road. This time the wealthy elite are hunting a group of prisoners plucked from a jail run by a sadistic warden (Vithaya Pansringarm). But one of those prisoners Xin (Gu Shangwei) is a Chinese Interpol agent who was caught up in an undercover operation. It’s no surprise that he’s got more survival skills than the rest of the prey. What follows is just as you’d expect, a cat and mouse game punctuated by martial arts fight scenes and gun play. There’s not much in the way of character development, but then that’s par for the course with action films, isn’t it?