Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Review: The Perfect Candidate

Saudi Arabian cinema has a very short history. The first feature shot there was only in 2012! And it was written and directed by a woman, Haifaa Al-Mansour. Since then she’s worked in other countries but for The Perfect Candidate she returned home and shot a film that’s part family drama, part feminist anthem, and all a pleasure to watch. It’s Maryam’s (Mila Al Zahrani) story. An accomplished physician in a small town, she’s still living in the patriarchy and chafing under it’s strict rules for women. Early on, she’s heading to a conference out of town when she’s not allowed to board a plane because her travel permit has expired.  And she can only rectify it if she has her guardian sign. A grown woman and she needs a man to sign! It’s a great way to introduce the audience to the insanity of being a woman in Saudi Arabia and to Maryam who’s fed up with it.

Review: Los Hermanos/The Brothers

At the center of this wonderful musical documentary are Ilmar and Aldo López-Gavilán, musician brothers separated for much of their lives by US-Cuban politics. Ilmar left Cuba at the age of 14 to study in the USSR and never went back. His younger brother Aldo stayed behind, and with just a brief stint in a London conservatory, became a world class musician through the Cuban system. Seeing one another was difficult over the years as Ilmar ended up living in the US, and our government made visiting all but impossible for decades. Los Hermanos/The Brothers chronicles their reunion and their attempts to record together starting in 2016 and follows them as Obama loosens the restrictions so allowing Aldo to come to the States and tour with his brother. It’s a beautifully moving film with fabulous music.

Review: There is No Evil

Shot in secret and smuggled out of Iran, There is No Evil is a four-part film centered on capital punishment and its effect on the men who are forced to be a part of the system. Director Mohammad Rasoulof understands the power and limitations of living in an authoritarian state personally. He’s been imprisoned more than once for taking a political stand. This is his seventh film, and many of them have won prestigious awards, though because of state censorship, none have been screened in Iran.  After winning the main prize at Cannes in 2017, he was accused of ‘endangering national security’ and ‘spreading propaganda against the Islamic government’ and officially barred from leaving the country, a verdict which is still in effect. He was also sentenced to one-year imprisonment. And yet he’s still risking his life to make films and this one is powerful.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

 

Review: My Octopus Teacher

With the Oscars just a few days away, I’m trying to catch up on all the ones that slipped by. I’d heard about My Octopus Teacher  from friends, but thought they must be exaggerating when they said they LOVED IT! I mean a movie about a man’s relationship with an octopus. Really? Well, now I get it. It is amazing filmmaking! And it’s in the running for Best Documentary for good reason. It’s a beautifully shot, touching story that teaches us all a thing or two about a creature we probably haven’t give much credit to for its intelligence and ability to communicate, and also about how we humans miss out by giving short shrift to so many fascinating creatures all around us.

Oscar Nominated Shorts 2021

 

The Academy Awards show will take place this year on Sunday, April 25th, much later in the year than usual after it was pushed back 2 months because of the pandemic. As we get ready to fill out our ballots, the shorts are always the big question. So here’s a quick run-down on all three categories: Animation, Documentary, and Live Action.