Quickie Review: Queen Marie

Queen Marie tell the story of Queen Marie of Romania and her work as a diplomat at a crucial time in the country’s history. Born in England, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, she married King Ferdinand I and was a very popular queen. But following World War One, the country was devastated and their Ambassador to the Paris Peace Talks of 1919 could not get the major powers to hear his plea for help in reunifying the country and sending aid. And so Marie headed to Paris and as the media followed her everywhere, she was able to bring her country’s concerns to the powers that be. It’s a great story, but sadly the film doesn’t really do it justice.

Review: Wrath of Man

I’m sort of hit and miss when it comes to Guy Ritchie flicks. Wrath of Man falls somewhere in the middle of the road for me. The film is a hallmark Ritchie dark and stylish revenge thriller that follows a mysterious character nicknamed “H” (Jason Statham) who takes a job at a cash trucking company that moves hundreds of millions of dollars around Los Angeles every week. It’s an English-language remake of a 2004 French thriller Le Convoyeur aka Cash Truck starring Jean Dujardin (The Artist). Wrath of Man is director Ritchie’s third remake, and his fourth collaboration with Statham. So if you’re a fan of Ritchie and/or Statham, you can’t go too wrong watching Wrath of Man, though brace yourself for a high degree of carnage.

Quickie Review: About Endlessness

This Swedish film is less a single narrative than a walk through an absurdist museum, stopping to view a series of living tableaux, and then wandering on to the next. Some have a profound effect on you and some have you thinking, as a friend quipped as we strolled through an actual museum last week, “Life’s too short.” The film is from Roy Andersson, a famous art house director, and screams THIS IS ARTY!  It’s definitely not a movie for the mainstream crowd.

Quickie Review: The Boy From Medellin

The Boy From Medellin is a documentary about a Colombian reggaeton superstar who I must confess I’d never heard of. Not really my jam (I had to look up ‘reggaeton’). So I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that this documentary is most likely to appeal to the fan base of its Latin Grammy-winning star, Jose Alvaro Osorio Balvin, aka J Balvin. The film was shot over one week leading up to a highly-anticipated sold-out stadium show in Balvin’s hometown of Medellin. It turned out to be a pivotal week for Balvin — and his country — as the “Latin Spring” spread into Colombia, bringing a wave of anti-government protests into the streets.

Review: Four Good Days

Four Good Days is a movie about addiction and the toll that the cycle of rehab and relapse can take on relationships and family. We’ve seen it all before — many times in fact. And this one falls somewhere in the middle of the pack, buoyed by solid performances from Mila Kunis and Glenn Close as a mother and daughter navigating issues of trust and love, frustration and disappointment. It’s based on a true story by Pulitzer-Prize winning Washington Post writer Eli Saslow who co-wrote the screenplay with director Rodrigo García (Albert Nobbs, Mother and Child).  For the most part, Four Good Days sticks remarkably close to the narrative featured in the 2016 Post article.

Review: The County

At the center of this Icelandic drama is Inga (Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir), a widow who’s been left to run an isolated dairy farm mired in debt. It’s not impossible to run it on her own since the whole place has been roboticized. But she is alone and surprised to find how badly she and the other farmers are being treated by the co-op they’re all members of.  And as she finds out more and more about the heavy handed way the head of the co-op has been running things, she gets more and more outraged.  She takes to the Internet and calls out the corruption and the leader himself. And at first it creates a rift between the farmers, but Inga’s got nothing to lose and slowly she wakes the rest of the farmers. The County is a #girlpower drama and Inga is an Icelandic Frances McDormand take-no-sh*t heroine.

Quickie Review: Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street

“Sesame Street” is a timeless classic and this documentary helps explain why. Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street takes a deep dive into the heart and soul of the long-running children’s show, with a focus on its creators, including socially conscious television executive Joan Ganz Cooney, Sesame Workshop co-founder Lloyd Morrisett, writer/director Jon Stone and the name most people are familiar with, Muppets creator Jim Henson. Just as I learned a lot as a kid watching “Sesame Street,” I learned a lot watching this documentary, including how it got the name Sesame Street; the vital integration of music into the program; the very deliberate and trailblazing efforts to show diversity and reach inner-city kids; the crafting of the show’s curriculum, carefully cultivated by a team of professional educators and television writers; and the cast of characters on-camera and behind the scenes who became a family themselves. And who knew that Holly Robinson Peete’s father played the original “Gordon” on the show?!

Arty Chick’s Oscar Ballot

Update: I began my Oscar viewing thinking the show was fun and creative, but it went totally off the rails about half way through and ended in the most abrupt and confusing way possible, mostly because I think they assumed that Chadwick Boseman was going to win and they’d go out on an emotional note, and then he didn’t. Please, please next year, make it a show worth watching.  As for my ballot, I knew going in that I wasn’t going to get a lot of them right, and I was entirely correct! But I did get those surprises I asked for.  I only got 10/23, and I stand by my choices. I’ve annotate my original with the winners *bolded*.  😊. 

Between the two of us , we saw most of the films that are nominated this year and reviewed most of them here at Chickflix, so if you’re filling out a ballot (here’s one you can download), you can use this to read up on all the ones you might have missed, though we did miss a few. But it’s also my ballot, with my picks *bolded*. I’ll say right up front, I know a lot of my choices are non-mainstream and I won’t win any pools with this ballot, but I’m okay with that!

So happy Oscars! Here’s hoping the producers pull off a creative and entertaining pandemic-limited show. And I am hoping for a few surprises in the voting, too.

 

Tune in Sunday April 25, 2021 at 8pmET/5pPT on ABC.

Mainstream Chick’s Oscar Picks for 2021

UPDATE: In what I found to be a rather boring presentation of the awards, I ended up with a score of 16/23. Not too bad all things considered. It was a weird year in film – and life. I look forward to next year and hope it is filled with more joy – and music! -hb

Let’s just go ahead and make it official – my picks for the 93rd annual Academy Awards being handed out Sunday, April 25, 2021 after a long COVI-Delay. I discussed them all with my cinematic nemesis Charlie Juhl on a recent episode of “The Cinema Clash.” But just in case you missed it (wine wager and all) and/or haven’t filled out your own ballot yet… this may or may not help your chances of winning the remote office pool! I don’t know the order in which the awards will be announced, so I’m following the Oscars 2021 Play Along Ballot, except for Best Picture, which I’m saving for last. So, without further ado…

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 13

This week’s picks are heavy on big name directors: Louis Malle, Akira Kurasawa, Volker Schlöndorff, Ingmar Bergman, Billie August, Hal Ashby, and John Huston. Many of these are their first films and one is the director’s final film. And only one is a comedy. They hail from France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Hollywood. Most of them were Oscar nominees, and many of them winners.

Except for one they’re from the 70s and 80s.

The films are: Lacombe Lucien, Dersu Uzala, The Tin Drum, Fanny and Alexander, Pelle the Conqueror, Harold and Maude, and The Maltese Falcon.