Review: This is Not Berlin

In this coming-of-age film set in Mexico City in the 80s, 17-year-olds Carlos and Gera are on the cusp of adulthood. And when they’re invited to the coolest club in town, they’re suddenly thrust into the dizzying world of punk rock and drugs and unbridled sexuality, and everything changes, especially their friendship. This is Not Berlin is a paean to rebellious youth and the urge to find your tribe, seen through the eyes of an inquisitive young man. It’s an emotionally absorbing ride.

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.

Review: IT Chapter Two

And so – barring any future studio or literary shenanigans – IT ends.

IT Chapter Two is the creepy, edge-of-your-seat follow-up to the creepy, edge-of-your-seat horror film that hit the big screen in 2017. If you’ve read the book it’s based on (Stephen King’s second-longest, at 1138 pages), then you’re not only a glutton for punishment, you have a pretty good idea how it all plays out. I went in without a clue. I emerged a tad worse for wear psychologically, but generally satisfied with the film – and its ending.

Review: Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché

She was there at the very beginning of the film industry. She directed hundreds of popular films and built her own studio that rivaled all the others of the day. She wrote and produced her films in Europe and the US. And yet, few filmmakers today know about her. Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché aims to correct that oversight. Guy wasn’t just the first female filmmaker, she was the first person to make a narrative film. When the moving picture was invented, it was used to shoot daily life or documentary, but she was the first to see the potential for stories to entertain. And because she was a woman, despite her groundbreaking work, she was lost to history. But no longer!

Brittany Runs a Marathon

Brittany Runs a Marathon starts off strong and finishes with a flourish of feels. But the “inspirational comedy” – inspired by true events – veers off course a few times as the film struggles with the same sort of identity crisis that plagues its lead character, Brittany Forgler (Jillian Bell). She’s funny. She’s misunderstood. She’s everyone’s best friend. She’s her own worst enemy. She’s motivational. She’s mean. She’s broken. She’s fixed.

Review: Ready or Not

I wasn’t exactly ready for Ready or Not. Horror movies are not my thing. But with IT Chapter Two waiting in the wings, I thought it best to ease into the horror with a bit of camp. And that’s what Ready or Not is: a quirky, campy horror flick that is bloody entertaining, in an off-the-chain Grimm Fairytales sort of way. It’s about a new bride who gets roped into playing a deadly game of Hide and Seek with her rich and eccentric new in-laws immediately following her wedding on the grounds of the family’s creepy mansion. Aint love grand?

Quickie Review: Angel Has Fallen

This one’s easy: If you saw and liked Olympus Has Fallen and/or London Has Fallen, then there’s absolutely no harm in catching Angel Has Fallen. For the trifecta! The characters, tempo, plot, action, and carnage are predictable and familiar, except this time you get the added bonus of Nick Nolte coming out of the woodwork – or the woods- as the absentee dad of Secret Service Agent extraordinaire Mike Banning (Gerard Butler).

Review: The Peanut Butter Falcon

Most movies with Down syndrome characters treat them with kid gloves, painting them as lovable but limited people. But in The Peanut Butter Falcon Zak (Zack Gottsagen) is anything but a sweet sidekick. He’s a young man with a dream of becoming a pro wrestler, and to that end he escapes from the residential home where he’s being housed, and teams up with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) a man on the run from some pretty angry people he’s wronged. What follows is a funny odd couple/road flick with lots of heart as Zak and Tyler elude their chasers and share an adventure in the wetlands of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.