Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Mia Madre

This is not a film you will enjoy, but you may relate. The main character Margherita (Margherita Buy) is a film director who’s life is falling apart around her. Her relationship with her significant other is over, the film she is directing is being ruined by an actor (John Turturro) who can’t remember his lines, and to top it off her mother is in the hospital dying. Apparently, the film is autobiographical as Nanni Moretti, the writer/director and actor playing the director’s brother Giovanni, lost his mother while shooting his last film. Mia Madre balances the quiet drama of watching the mother go downhill with the silly comedy of Turturro’s Barry Huggins, who has a rich fantasy life including having worked for Kubrick and dreaming that Kevin Spacey is trying to kill him. Unfortunately, the wacky actor from America really steals the show.

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World

Anyone who knows me knows I am a HUGE Werner Herzog fan. So when we went to AFI DOCS and could only get one ticket to the Guggenheim Symposium, where Werner would be interviewed and show his new documentary, I was thrilled to be the one to go. The interview was wonderful, and Herr Herzog did not disappoint in his storytelling laced with wry jokes. But the film? Sadly, I was not blown away. The film is essentially a primer on the Internet, its history, its promise, its dangers, its future. It is told in chapters, some interesting, some no so much, with titles like, “The Glory of the Net” and “The Internet of Me.” As the title suggests, it is Herzog’s musings and we are along for the ride.

Into the Forest

What would happen if the electricity and all the things it powers were to disappear? No Internet. No radio. No cell phones! No way of knowing what caused it and when or if it would come back. And what if you were living in some remote locale where just getting into a town that might have some information was nearly impossible since there’s no gas for the car? That is the premise of Into the Forest, starring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood as sisters, left alone way out in the woods in a semi-finished house to fend for themselves as their isolation puts enormous strains on their relationship. It’s a quiet post-apocalyptic film with flashes of violence that force them into life-changing choices about their future.

Little Men

Little Men is a small film with a simple story. Two adolescent boys Jake (Theo Taplitz) and Tony (Michael Barbieri) become best buds when Jake’s grandfather dies and his family moves into his Brooklyn apartment. Tony’s mother Leonor (Paulina Garcia, Gloria) runs a shop downstairs in the building, but when Jake’s father Brian (Greg Kinnear) and his sister Audrey decide to raise her rent, the ensuing arguments between the parents threaten the boys’ relationship.

Demon

Demon is a strange little Polish horror flick that mostly takes place during what I’d call a blow-out wedding. Handsome young couple Peter (Itay Tiran) and Zaneta (Agnieszka Zulewska) have been given a house in the country that they’re planning to rehab. Prior to the wedding Peter begins some of the work, digging up the yard where they will be building a summer house and/or a swimming pool. But when he hits something and discovers bones, everything changes.

Cafe Society

Woody Allen’s latest feels very familiar and not terribly original. It’s like he has a drawer full of ideas for film scenes and he just grabbed a hand full and shot. It has a bittersweet love story at the center, set in Golden Age Hollywood and New York, and the usual Woody stand-in character. This time it’s Jesse Eisenberg playing Bobby Dorfman, a nice Jewish boy from the Bronx who comes to LA to work for his “Agent to the Stars” Uncle Phil (Steve Carell) and falls for his beautiful secretary Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), but eventually returns heart-broken to New York, takes a job with his mobster brother, and marries shiksa goddess Veronica (Blake Lively). The first part in Hollywood is kind of fun, but sadly it runs out of steam when it gets back to New York, almost like it’s two different movies.

Star Trek Beyond

The third installment of the Star Trek reboot is for me the weakest yet, relying on big battles and CGI more than the characters and stories that made the first two so much fun. Which is not to say it isn’t entertaining. I mean it is Star Trek! There is still witty repartee between the crew, and lots of derring-do, mostly by Kirk. And an evil nemesis, this time a scaly alien named Krall (Idris Elba). And the future of the universe does hang in the balance. So it has all the elements you expect. But J.J. Abrams is not at the helm of the franchise this time, and Justin Lin (Fast and Furious) doesn’t quite manage the same balance of adventure and comedy. Nevertheless, as escapist entertainment goes, it works.

Microbe & Gasoline (Microbe et Gasoil)

Sounds like a science flick, but it’s actually a sweet little French coming-of-age film. Theo meets Daniel when he transfers into his school, and as two outcasts often do in movies, they immediately hit it off. Théo (Théophile Baquet) is into tinkering around with motors and has a distinct odor, hence the kids dub him Gasoline, and Daniel (Ange Dargent) is pretty small for his age and known as Microbe. Gasoline is tougher and takes shy Microbe under his wing, helping him meet the girl of his dreams and even exhibit his drawings in a gallery. But when summer comes around, they hatch a plan to get away from their dysfunctional families and adventure ensues.

The Innocents

The Innocents is a brutally beautiful film based on the true story of a young woman doctor sent to Poland with the French Red Cross to aid survivors of the concentration camps after WWII. She reluctantly agrees to help a local nun only to discover a convent filled with pregnant sisters, shamed victims of the victorious Soviet soldiers’ horrifying gang rapes. Co-written and directed by Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Channel) the film is a multi-layered exploration of faith tested to its limits. But fear not! It is not a downer flick. It is thoughtful and ultimately uplifting.

Wiener-Dog

Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness) doesn’t make mainstream movies. They’re dark and quirky and you either buy into his sad worlds or you don’t. In this one, he uses a dachshund to connect four tales of people at different stages in life grappling with meaning and mortality, as the dog moves mutely from owner to owner.