Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Review: Don’t Look Up

In this apocalyptic satire from Oscar-winning writer/director Adam McCay (Vice, The Big Short) astronomy PhD student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers a comet hurtling straight towards the earth. She and her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) try to alert the powers that be of the impending danger, but of course it’s not that easy to get people to listen. After all, it’s just too much of a downer and all that sciency stuff isn’t sexy. And the President of the US (Meryl Streep) can’t see how panicking the public can help in her train wreck of a reelection bid. Meanwhile there’s a tech billionaire (Mark Rylance) in the wings trying to see how it can make him even richer. Can anyone save the earth from the earthlings?

Review: Belfast

This Oscar-bait memoir movie comes from writer/actor/director Kenneth Branagh who takes a look back at a defining year of his childhood. Branagh was just a 9-year-old boy in 1969, living in Belfast, Northern Ireland at the beginning of what became known as The Troubles, a period when there was violent street fighting between the Protestants and the Catholics.  His story is seen through the eyes of his adorable little stand-in Buddy (Jude Hill) whose life is changed forever during that turbulent time.

Review: The Lost Daughter

In her directorial debut Maggie Gyllenhaal demonstrates that she’s as talented behind the camera as in front. Oscar winner Olivia Coleman (The Favourite) stars in this psychological drama adapted from a novel by Elena Ferrante (“My Brilliant Friend”) as Leda, a college professor on a working holiday in Greece who encounters a young mother named Nina (Dakota Johnson, Fifty Shades,The Peanut Butter Falcon) and her unsettling family on the beach and becomes fascinated by her and  lost in the memories of her own fraught relationship with marriage and childrearing. It’s a strangely suspenseful film blessed with fabulous performances.

Review: The Hand of God

This coming of age drama from Academy Award-winning writer/director Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty) tells the story of Fabietto (Filippo Scotti). Set in Naples in the 1980s, it’s clearly a nostalgic look back for the director to a time that was filled with adolescent awakening, family joys and tragedies, and the beginnings of his love affair with cinema. It’s bursting with big characters seen through a many-years-removed lens. Told in a series of vignettes,  it’s by turns hilarious and warm and sad and violent, and serves as a love letter to the Naples of a certain time.

Review: King Richard

If you’re at all into tennis, this is a must see. Even if you’re not, you can’t help but be aware of the amazing Williams sisters, Venus and Serena. King Richard is their origin story, and at the center is their father Richard played by Will Smith in what is sure to be an awards contender performance. I remember when they exploded onto the scene in the 90s. The media made a lot of their dad and his presence and his style. A lot of it was not positive. This film serves as a corrective to that depiction, showing a devoted and driven father with an audacious plan, a family who bought into his dream for them, and two extremely talented young Black girls who broke the mold when it came to the polite white tennis world. It’s a totally uplifting flick!

Quickie review: The Harder They Fall

The Western has always been a pretty white genre. The Harder They Fall turns that on its head. With a superb cast (Idris Elba, Regina King, Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Edi Gathgi, Delroy Lindo, Jeymes Samuel, and many others) and the best soundtrack out there, it’s an uber-stylish revenge story pitting two men and their gun-toting crews against one another in a to the death battle. And it’s a ton o’ fun!

Review: The Power of the Dog

Set in the gorgeous wide open expanses of 1925 Wyoming, The Power of the Dog from Oscar-winning director Jane Campion (The Piano, Angel at My Table) is downright suffocating a lot of the time. This sure to be in the Oscar pool psychological thriller/western tells the story of a pair of rich ranching brothers, Phil and George Burbank, who are as different as night and day. Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch, TV’s “Sherlock”, The Courier) is the walking embodiment of toxic masculinity, violent and mean to everyone in his path. George (Jesse Plemons) is more gentle and less rugged. But when he marries the local widow Rose (Kirsten Dunst, Spiderman, Melancholia) and brings her and her teenage son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road, X-Men franchise) home, Phil is anything but the welcoming brother-in-law, leaving no opportunity behind to ridicule them all.

Review: Speer Goes to Hollywood

This documentary which won the Israeli equivalent of the Oscar is one of those unknown but true stories that was begging to be told.  Following the publication of his bestselling memoir “Inside the Third Reich” in 1969, Nazi architect Albert Speer was courted by Hollywood who wanted to make his book into a feature. Paramount won the bidding war and Speer sat down with writer Andrew Birkin (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer) for a month in Los Angeles to come up with a screenplay. It never made it to the screen, but the process of its writing is a window into the mindset that allowed the Nazis to rise and flourish for a time, and a maddening portrait of a seductive sociopath.

Review: Holler

Set in the grim milieu of America’s Rust Belt, Holler is Ruth’s story.  Wicked smart and strangled by her impoverished circumstances, she and her older brother Blaze (Gus Halper) are just keeping their heads above water and her future is not looking up. Drug addicted Mom (Pamela Adlon) is in prison, waiting for a place in rehab, and Ruth and her brother are in serious danger of eviction. They spend all their free time searching for cans to sell to the local scrap yard. But Ruth is about to graduate and unbeknownst to her Blaze mailed in the college application she’d fill out, and she was accepted. She just needs to find the funds to get there. And there’s the rub.

Quickie Review: Werewolves Within

Searching for the right flick to give you those Halloween chills? This horror/comedy based on a video game is your ticket! In it Forest Ranger Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson, “Veep”, “Ted Lasso”) arrives in the remote town of Beaverfield in the middle of winter just in time for a series of gruesome attacks. It begins with a dog but escalates quickly and, as the title gives away, it turns out there’s a werewolf among the dwindling population of quirky townsfolk, and soon everyone is trying to figure out who it is before they’re all supper. Then the power is cut off, and there’s a blizzard.