Currently browsing the "Adaptation" category.

Quickie Review: Motherless Brooklyn

Motherless Brooklyn is the type of film that evokes a general sense of post-viewing contentment, and a lingering feeling that it could have been more. Perhaps with a bit more drama, or a bit more emotional pull, it could have escaped the somewhat bland “yeah, it was good” category, i.e. perfectly fine for streaming or watching on an airplane or killing time if Terminator films are not your speed. Motherless Brooklyn operates at a slow, stylized pace. The story is interesting and relevant. The actors are all very good, and the noir production design and cinematography casually and convincingly immerses the viewer in 1950s New York. Motherless Brooklyn is a crime drama with a gumshoe aesthetic and a unique twist. The main character Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton, Birdman) is a private investigator with Tourette’s Syndrome, a disorder involving the nervous system that causes involuntary tics, sounds and movements. His condition results in some awkward situations as Lionel attempts to solve the murder of his boss, mentor and only friend Frank Minna (Bruce Willis).

Arty Chick’s Middleburg Film Festival Download 2019

Another super tiring weekend in the bucolic Virginia hamlet of Middleburg watching more films than I should! I predicted early on that this festival would outgrow itself and I think it has come to that point. Too many people know about it and the growing pains have become chronic overcrowding at venues without room for expansion. I’m already searching for another festival for next year. (All suggestions are appreciated.) I saw fewer films this year, too, just nine — Marriage Story, The Capote Tapes, The Aeronauts, Frankie, Waves, The Report, The Two Popes, Atlantics, and Knives Out. I only gave one of them four stars and several were surprising disappointments. For too many it was great cast and great performances in an otherwise just okay movie. Here’s my list with trailers and my preliminary impressions. Full reviews of select films will come later, so check back.

Review: Jojo Rabbit

Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be a new way to tell a World War II / Nazi story on film, along comes Jojo Rabbit, to serve as both a reminder of a twisted chapter in our not-so-distant past, and a contemporary cautionary tale. In some ways, there’s more to unpack here than in the controversial Joker, though I suspect way fewer people will see it or ‘get it’. Yes, Jojo Rabbit is a strange flick. But it’s also quite thought-provoking and weirdly entertaining, thanks to the direction of Taika Waititi (who pulls triple duty as screenwriter and actor) and a first-rate cast.

Review: Britt-Marie Was Here

We’ve seen this one before. An older woman finds out her husband has been having an affair and leaves him. First she struggles with it and then she finds herself. Last year’s Finding Your Feet explored this topic nicely. And now comes the Swedish version Britt-Marie Was Here, based on a novel by the same author that brought us the wonderful A Man Called Ove back in 2016. He certainly excels at writing older characters. Britt-Marie is no Ove, but it’s a pleasant enough little self-discovery flick for a matinee with some gal pals.

Review: JUDY

Renée Zellweger is the total package to play legendary performer Judy Garland. Zellweger is an actress who can sing (Chicago), do drama (Cold Mountain) and deliver a punchline (Bridget Jones). She leverages all of the above to bring life and star power to what might otherwise be a rather dry biopic about the singer and actress who rose to fame as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and died some 30 years later of an accidental drug overdose at the age of 47.

Review: Neither Wolf Nor Dog

This ever so indie film was funded with a Kickstarter campaign and then self-distributed. And right now it is the longest-running US theatrical release in more than a decade, having premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival back in 2016. And it’s finally making its way to the big cities now. Set in Lakota Sioux country, the film takes a white author on a coerced road trip through Native America as an elder and his friend impart their wisdom to him. The elder is played by the late Dave Bald Eagle who gives the film its deep resonance. Adapted from a semi-autobiographical book of the same name, Neither Wolf Nor Dog isn’t destined to be a blockbuster, but its message from the Native American community is one that should be heard.

Review: Hustlers

Can/will Hustlers appeal to both men and women? I’m not sure. It’s a film about friendship and sisterhood, payback and… pole dancing. A stimulating crime drama served up with a side of T&A. And yes, it’s a perfect vehicle for Jennifer Lopez (Second Act, Maid in Manhattan) to showcase her assets. Does her performance live up to all the hype about a potential Oscar nom? I wouldn’t go that far – at least not yet. It’s way too early in awards season, with many strong movies and performances likely to emerge. Lopez does work the pole – and the drama – with a tremendous amount of flexibility and flair. But Hustlers itself is not an OSCAR movie. It’s like The Wolf of Wall Street meets Striptease (Demi Moore worked the pole in that rather forgettable flick from 1996). Hustlers includes the standard elements of most ‘true crime’ dramas: Money. Greed. Sex. Drugs. Excess. Revenge. Friendship. Betrayal. It also has shades of Magic Mike, i.e. there’s more to the movie than meets the eye(candy). The main characters have some depth.

Review: The Goldfinch

Some movies inspire me to run out and buy (or download) the books upon which they are based. The Goldfinch is not one of them. I’m sure it’s a fine book. It won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and spent more than 30 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. But that doesn’t make it ripe for the big screen. It’s a long book, and a slog of a movie – despite having an interesting premise, an appealing cast, and strong cinematography. When the first trailers hit, I pegged The Goldfinch as early Oscar bait. Now I predict it will vanish from contention almost as quickly as the painting of a tiny bird chained to its perch vanished from a bombed-out museum.

Review: Official Secrets

Remember back in 2003, when US Secretary of State Colin Powell went before the United Nations to make the case for war against Iraq, basing his appeal on what later turned out to be false intelligence linking Saddam Hussein to Al-Qaeda and Weapons of Mass Destruction? Of course you do. Need a refresher, or a reason to get your blood boiling all over again? Official Secrets should do the trick.

Review: Vita & Virginia

Vita Sackville-West was a British socialite and a popular writer in the 1920s. She was also fond of scandalizing the society in which she lived, especially with her female lovers. Virginia Woolf was also a writer at the time, though less popular, but Lady Sackville-West set her sights on her after meeting at a dinner party. What followed was a relationship that lasted a decade and was responsible for one of Woolf’s greatest books, “Orlando.” Vita & Virginia is the story of these two women as they come together passionately for a while and then remain friends for a while. The film feels a lot like the lost lesbian episode of Downton Abbey, and while the performances are quite good, the costumes gorgeous, and the sets to die for, this telling of the famous literary romance does leave you less than satisfied and wishing Julian Fellowes had had a hand in it.