Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Review: Once Upon a Time in Venezuela

This immersive documentary was seven years in the making. It takes place in Congo Mirador, a small village bordering Lake Maracaibo in northern Venezuela. At one time it was a thriving little town, but sedimentation and pollution from the country’s oil drilling industry have killing the fishing industry and people are either starving or moving away. Against this backdrop two women are in a personal political fight. Mrs. Tamara is a die-hard Chávista, and so backs Chávez’s successor Maduro and sings the government’s praises, despite how clearly it is not working for Congo Mirador. She’s also the elected representative of the town. Natalie is a schoolteacher who is vocal about her opposition to the current government, risking her job, but defiant. One of them will not come out the winner. 

Arty Chick’s Seven Picks: Week 8

This week’s picks include classics and cult faves. There’s only one foreign film in the bunch for a change of pace. Two of the films come from the same director, though one is a frightening drama and the other is a sci-fi. There’s a screwball detective comedy and a Spanish psychopath on the Amazon drama. It’s heavy on the 30s and the 70s.

 

The films are: Aguirre Wrath of God, It Happened One Night, Don’t Look Now, Notorious, Fight Club, The Thin Man, The Man Who Fell to Earth

 

Review: One Night in Miami

Academy Award winning actress Regina King’s extraordinary directorial debut is an adaptation of a play that tells the story of one evening in 1964 when four African-American icons get together in a small motel room in Miami. Those men are Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir, “Peaky Blinders”, “High Fidelity), Cassius Clay, soon to become Mohammed Ali (Eli Goree, Race, “Ballers”), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge, Hidden Figures, The Invisible Man), and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr., Hamilton‘s Aaron Burr). They come together to celebrate their friend Clay’s upset victory over world heavyweight boxing champ Sonny Liston. But amidst the revelry their conversations turn to the power and responsibility of being a celebrity in the Black liberation movement’s early years. What’s great about the script is that it isn’t dogmatic or preachy. It’s the kind of conversation old friends might have, peppered with jokes and digs and a heated disagreement or two along the way.

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 7

This week’s picks won boatloads of Oscars and had nominations galore. They hail from France, and Italy, and Germany, and Spain, and one has no dialogue.

When I put together the list I was just choosing a favorite film a day with no overall agenda, but this week’s turn out to be heavy on male characters, from a movie star to a boxer, a mime to a brute, an angel to a hard boiled detective. And five of them are in black and white.

The films are:

The Artist; Raging Bull; Biutiful;  Les Enfants Du Paradis; Chinatown; Wings of Desire; La Strada 

 

Review: Da Five Bloods

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to watch this one, but since awards season is sneaking up and screeners are flying into my mailbox, I finally bit the bullet. And I am glad I did. Spike Lee has created another powerful film with a foreground story about four Vietnam vet buddies returning to Nam to retrieve some gold they left behind and also to repatriate the remains of the fifth Blood buried in a remote jungle. The film is underpinned with a history of the US government’s racist treatment of Black soldiers and it’s not a stretch to see how much of that has not changed. Lee has never been one to sugar coat anything. It’s an entertaining movie with some great performances, though it could have been cut down a bit without losing its way.

Review: Small Axe: Mangrove

The first film of Steve McQueen’s (12 Years a Slave) Small Axe anthology sets a high bar for the 5-part series.  Mangrove tells the true story of a group that would come to be called The Mangrove Nine. Centered on a restaurant in the Notting Hill neighborhood of London where the West Indian diaspora gather, it’s a harrowing indictment of the Metropolitan Police’s violent systemic racism and a powerful story of the community’s push-back that landed nine of them in a high profile court case. And while there are nine defendants, the film’s heart is with Frank Crichlow (Shaun Parkes, “Lost in Space”), the owner of the Mangrove restaurant who is one policeman’s favorite target. The film boasts great performances, intense action, and a yell at your television story.

Review: The Midnight Sky

Not sure what George Clooney thought he was making, but this post-apocalyptic drama is a slog. In it a heavily bearded Augustine Lofthouse (Clooney) is left behind at an arctic research outpost by choice after everyone else evacuates. He’s got only one goal and that is to alert Sully and the rest of the astronauts on a distant space mission that they can’t come back to earth because an unnamed disaster has made it uninhabitable. But he can’t reach them. And then he finds a cute little girl named  Iris (Caoilinn Springall) who’s been left behind and the two of them have to make it to another research station across the unforgiving frozen landscape to get to a stronger antenna. Meanwhile, up in space Sully (Felicity Jones) and her crew that consists of her husband Tom (David Oyelowo), Sanchez (Demian Bichir), Maya (Tiffany Boone), and Mitchell (Kyle Chandler) are happily heading home from a mission to scout out a habitable planet, oblivious to what’s happened back home, but growing more concerned each day that they aren’t able to reach NASA – or anyone else for that matter.

Arty Chick’s Seven Picks: Week 6

This week’s picks include two French films that couldn’t be more dissimilar, one a psychological thriller, and the other a magical story set in Paris. There’s an Italian ode to the world of movies, a story of a man drunk on celebrity, another of a simple man who finds celebrity without knowing it, a bureaucrat caught in a dystopian nightmare, and an undercover Hollywood director searching for the authentic America.

A couple of them won Oscars. All of them were worthy of the accolades they received.

This week’s picks are:  Monsieur Hire;  A Face in the Crowd; Sullivan’s TravelsBrazil Being There ; Cinema Paradiso; Amelie

Review: News of the World

Why does Tom Hanks make everything just a bit more comforting? In his latest, he plays Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a Civil War veteran who travels from town to town in 1870 Texas reading the news to crowds as a form of entertainment. But one day between towns he comes upon a stagecoach that has crashed and he finds the only survivor, 10-year-old Johanna (Helena Zengel), with a note about how she was taken from her parents six years ago by the Kiowa, but that the government has taken her back. Kidd escorts her to the nearest town to hand her over to the authorities, but they won’t take her. And it becomes his job to deliver her to a family 600 miles away who she doesn’t know. She speaks no English, she’s somewhat feral and she’s not sure she trusts him, but as they make their way across desolate Texas, they grow closer while fending off bad guys, dealing with life-threatening weather, and learning bits of each other’s languages. It’s a familiar feeling story, but with Tom Hanks at the rudder, it makes for a solid family-friendly ride.

Review: First Cow

Sometime in the early 19th century somewhere in the Pacific Northwest two men meet in the woods near a trappers’ encampment. One of them is naked. What follows is the story of their friendship and entrepreneurial malfeasance. It’s a tender tale in about a couple of kindred spirits in an inhospitable place helping each other get by with their wits and their hearts.