Cinema Clash Podcasters talk Darkest Hour, The Shape of Water, Wonder Wheel, and the DC Film Critics Awards
Mini-Reviews: I, Tonya
Review: Mudbound
Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Mainstream Chick with Greta Gerwig @Middleburg

Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Arty Chick’s Middleburg Festival Download

What a great festival! It’s my first year at Middleburg, now in its 5th year, but I was truly impressed by their  selections. It’s a small festival, as yet pretty unknown, but not for long, I suspect. In all I went to 14 films in just over 3 days. It was exhausting, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Films included here are: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ; Mudbound; Last Flag Flying; Faces/Places; I, Tonya; In the Fade; The Divine Order; Lady Bird; Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold; Meltdown; Loveless; Darkest Hour; The Other Side of Hope; and Hostiles.

Review: Faces Places

Looking for a quirky fun film? How about a film where an 80-something-year-old New Wave film director takes an art filled road trip around France with a famous young muralist? Faces Places is a film like no other. It’s a buddy film, a travelogue, an art documentary, and a brilliant performance art piece. And it’s above all just a whole lot of fun watching this odd couple of the decade, tiny Agnes Varda with her two-tone hair and hip young JR with his penchant for wearing dark glasses 24/7, as they tool around rural France in his photo booth van, connecting with locals and leaving them with fabulous art installations.

Review: I Am Another You

Nanfu Wang is a very gutsy documentarian. In her previous film, Hooligan Sparrow, she put herself in extreme danger by documenting one of China’s most famous women’s rights activists taking on the government. In her latest film, she risks less, but still makes herself central to the story. I Am Another You is her story of getting to know a young homeless man named Dylan. He’s handsome, charming, and open to having her hang out with him as he lives on the streets in Florida. She’s initially fascinated by his lifestyle choice and his take on freedom, but she eventually realizes that he is not the lucky free spirit she thought he was. This smart and eye-opening film takes you on her journey of discovery as it reveals Dylan’s sad truth.

Review: Victoria & Abdul

20 years ago Judy Dench was nominated for her role as Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown, a retelling of the Queen’s unconventional relationship with her Scottish groom. Victoria & Abdul is almost a sequel to that film. In it she develops another unorthodox friendship, this time with a handsome, young man named Abdul who has come from India to England for her Golden Jubilee.  Initially hired as a waiter, he quickly becomes her closest confidant and teacher (Munshi), which doesn’t sit well with her family, nor with her government. The film opens with “based on real events – mostly”, and it is that vein that you should view the history in it. Go for Dench’s performance and the warm story.

Review: Lucky

Indie flick alert! Don’t go to see Lucky expecting a real story. Not much happens in it. Go expecting a series of scenes with quirky characters saying meaningful things. And mostly go to see Harry Dean Stanton’s wonderful final performance as an oddball loner looking mortality and life in the face and soldiering on.

Review: Te Ata

Te Ata was the stage name Mary Thompson Fisher took on in 1919 when she left her Chickasaw home in Oklahoma to pursue a career in acting. The film is the inspiring story of her journey to becoming a renowned storyteller who brought the stories of Native Americans to the white population. Played beautifully by Q’orianka Kilcher, Te Ata was a true pioneer, breaking barriers and humanizing her people at a time when the government was still actively trying to suppress their culture. The film lays the racist politics out clearly, but focuses on the story of the unheralded hero. Girl power!

Review: Blade Runner 2049

Thirty-five years after the original Blade Runner comes a sequel. Wow! It is a continuation of the original story 30 years on, and it is amazingly faithful to the world of the former while incredibly innovative. I LOVED the first one, and the only thing I miss this time around is Rutger Hauer. But fortunately in the new one, the replicant longing to be human is played by the talented Mr. Ryan Gosling. And it is his story that takes center stage. This is a hard one to review because the story has several twists that you don’t want to know going in. Or I wouldn’t, so here’s the gist: LAPD Officer K (Gosling) is out doing his Blade Runner job, hunting down and eliminating old replicants, when he stumbles upon an impossible secret that could change the world. And to get to the truth he has to track down former Blade Runner Deckard (Harrison Ford), which puts them both in the cross-hairs of some extremely powerful people.

Review: So B. It

Adapted from Sarah Weeks’s YA novel, So B. It is the story of a 12-year-old girl named Heidi (Talitha Eliana Bateman) who lives in Reno with her severely autistic mother (Jacinda Barrett) and a mother-figure neighbor Bernadette (Alfre Woodard) who suffers from agoraphobia. She knows very little about her past or her family since her mother cannot tell her and there’s no one else to ask. But when she stumbles upon an undeveloped roll of film and prints it, she finds the key to her mom’s history. It points her to Liberty, New York, and so she takes off on a cross-country journey to discover who she really is. It’s a heartwarming coming-of-age story, though more ABC After School Special than must-see in a theater.

Review: May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers

This is from one of our occasional Guest Chick reviewers who just happens to be a big Avett Brothers fan. Thanks, Marcianne Miller. In this heart-tugging, intimate portrait of the country’s wildly popular folk-rock act, the music is accessible and clear — and the message that echoes after the film is over– is a welcome reminder that in a few entertainment families, love and appreciation of one another weigh out over ego and fame. Cynics call such a message corny. For me and millions of the Avett Brothers fans, it’s a message worth clinging to and a film that merits repeat viewings.

Review: Year by the Sea

I know there are not enough great roles for women of a certain age, but could someone please write something good for Karen Allen (Indiana Jones, Starman) to act in. Year by the Sea isn’t it. She is so much better than this. In it, she plays a cliched wife/mother whose son just got married and whose husband sells the house without telling her he’s been relocated, just expecting she’ll go along. And so she feels very unmoored and decides to “find herself” by moving to a cabin on an island somewhere up on Cape Cod. Based on a book of the same name, the film is a jumble of tired tropes on menopausal women and empowerment, set against a soundtrack of the songs you were happy to have forgotten from your youth. I cannot imagine why it was made.