Review: Mudbound
Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Mainstream Chick with Greta Gerwig @Middleburg

Currently browsing the "Foreign" category.

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: The Villainess (AK-NYEO)

If you’re looking for some bloody violence, this is the movie for you! The opening sequence alone has a higher body count than even Tarantino’s most epic movie. A woman (Sook-hee- unseen until the end of the fighting) goes into a building and hall by hall, room by room, kills every single man in the place. They’re shooting and knifing and martial arting at her, too, but she’s just a better bad-ass than any of them. And at the end she walks out covered in blood ready to be arrested by the waiting police. The next thing she knows, she wakes up in some shady off-book South Korean Intelligence agency’s secret facility, and she’s told they’re going to train her, use her for various nefarious undercover ops, and after ten years she’ll have her freedom back. Or they can kill her. She goes for option one.

Quickie Reviews: I Do… Until I Don’t; Crown Heights; Polina

Nothing gets you pumped for the start of the Fall movie blitz quite like the final weeks of summer at the box office. Bring it on! I’m ready for Awards Season! But first… a quick look at the latest releases that are unlikely to gain much traction as families enjoy a final long weekend of togetherness before the days get shorter, kids return to school and commuter garages reach capacity by 8 a.m.

First up on the altar of sacrifice: I Do… Until I Don’t, an ensemble comedy from writer/director/actress Lake Bell (In a World) about marriage and commitment. Here’s the gist: a bitter documentarian from the BBC shows up in divorce-mecca Vero Beach, Florida to test and prove her theory that marriage should be a seven-year contract with the option to renew. She recruits three seemingly diverse couples to appear in her documentary. They include Alice and Noah (Bell and Ed Helms), a boring couple struggling to keep their window-blinds business afloat while also attempting to have a baby; Alice’s kooky sister Fanny (Amber Heard) and her peace-loving soulmate Zander (Wyatt Cenac) who claim to be happy in their forward-thinking ‘open relationship’; and Cybil and Harvey (Mary Steenburgen and Paul Reiser), an older couple going through a bit of a midlife crisis as their anniversary approaches.

Review: Clash

This is an edge of your seat sort of film. It takes place in Egypt after the Arab Spring, after the Muslim Brotherhood has been thrown out of the government and the police under Sisi are nominally in charge of a totally chaotic country, while the people are emboldened to take to the streets to push their side’s agenda. The story begins with a couple of AP journalists out covering a protest getting arrested and thrown into the back of a police truck. One is an American-Egyptian and thinks he can use that privilege to get some help. He can’t. Then another group of people are arrested at another protest. And then another. And another. Some are Muslim Brotherhood. Some were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Some are pro-Police. And all of them are in this nightmare together.

Quickie Reviews: The Glass Castle; Wind River; The Fencer; A Taxi Driver

I’m generally a fan of (or maybe a sucker for) movies based on real people and events, so that could be why I had a pretty good week at the movies with two mainstream dramas and two foreign films. First up: The Glass Castle, based on Jeannette Walls’s best-selling memoir about her unconventional upbringing and coming to terms with the complexities of her relationship with her dysfunctional parents and remarkably normal siblings. The film features a stellar cast that includes Brie Larson (Room), Chandler Head and Ella Anderson as Jeannette (through the years), Woody Harrelson as her fundamentally flawed but occasionally well-meaning father, and Naomi Watts as her eccentric artist mother. The parents are the types to define homelessness and squatting as a ‘lifestyle choice’. I haven’t read the book, but those around me who did seemed satisfied with the way the film played out. Others, however, (while still acknowledging the strong performances) criticized the movie for glamorizing or romanticizing what they saw as dangerous, irresponsible and often cruel parenting. I thought it walked the line fairly well, in much the same way as last year’s well-received indie Captain Fantastic.

Review: Menashe

Most of us will never see the Ultra-orthodox Hassidic Jewish culture from the inside. Menashe is one such opportunity. Shot in Brooklyn and almost entirely in Yiddish, it’s the story of a widower named Menashe (Menashe Lustig) who seems destined to fail in the eyes of his community, leaving him all alone while his young son Rieven (Ruben Niborski) is forced to live with his brother-in-law. It’s really a simple story of a father struggling to get his child back while living within the strictures of his faith, which is not easy for him to do.

Review: The Midwife

France’s two greatest female stars unite in this bittersweet drama about unfinished relationships. Catherine Deneuve is hard-living Béatrice, who’s been living out of a suitcase for decades making a living as a gambler. She reenters Claire’s (Catherine Frot, Marguerite) life just as both their lives are about to change drastically. Claire is a midwife who’s clinic is about to shut down and it’s the one place she’s really alive. Béatrice disappeared from her life without explanation many years early, but suddenly wants to be a part of it again? Claire isn’t so sure. Though there are other storylines in the movie, the center is these two starkly different women growing to rely upon one another.

Review: Okja

In his audacious new film, Bong Joon Ho (Mother, Snowpiercer) pits a little Korean girl and her beloved super-pig against a corporate food mogul (Tilda Swinton). Okja is the name of a giant pig hybrid that little Mija (Seo-hyeon Ahn) has brought up for ten years high in the mountains of South Korea. That Okja is a GMO experiment makes no difference to her. He’s just her enormously fun pet. And in the opening scenes of the film, they do have big fun. But when the owner of the pig sends an envoy to give Mija’s grandpa a prize for best pig and decides to take Okja back to the US, Mija isn’t having it. She’s out to save her best friend. It’s wacky and the second half doesn’t entirely work, but at its heart it’s a sweet story of a girl and her super-pig.

AFIDOCS Reviews Part Two

Saturday was a full day, and I had not thought I was choosing films with a theme, but at the end of the day I realized it was a day about strong women. And it was a day of mostly strong filmmaking. Sunday, the final day of the festival turned out to be a day of films about the importance of community. And when it was all over, I was exhausted, but as usual my head is now full of ideas and new heroes, and I’m very thankful for the Girl Power on the screen.