Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Quickie Review: American Night

This neo-noir crime flick set in the art world has a good cast, looks fabulous, and even has some decent music. But at just over two hours in length, it never really finds its mojo. The story revolves around a stolen Andy Warhol Marilyn print. Michael, a young mafioso with the soul of an artist (Emile Hirsh) wants it back because his dead father promised it to him, but then sold it. And he’ll go to any length to find it. Murder, torture, whatever. 

Review: Lamb

Strange doesn’t even come close to describing this folk horror flick.  Set in a remote valley somewhere in Iceland, Maria (Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Prometheus) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snær Guðnason) go about their lives in relative silence running their sheep farm. But one day as the sheep are lambing, it all changes. Maria brings one super adorable lamb into their house and treats it as you would an infant. Soon Ingvar is moving a crib into their room and they’re both parenting the little one. And lest you think they’re total weirdos, it turns out that little Ada is in fact half-human. And suddenly their sad existence turns sunny.

Nashville Film Festival Rundown

This was my first time (virtually) attending the Nashville Film Festival.  It is close enough for me to drive over, but that was not possible this time around. They had a great slate of films spread over a week. But sadly a lot of the films I’d have loved to see were only available in person, mostly the big prestige flicks. Nevertheless, I did get to see quite a few worthy films from the comfort of my couch. Below is my rundown.

The films are: Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road; Fanny: The Right to Rock; Everybody is Looking for some Light; Poser; Leftover Feelings: A Studio B Revival; 7 Days; Window Boy Would Also Like To Have A Submarine; Potato Dreams; Porcupine; The Good Traitor; Huda’s Salon; Green Sea; Ayar; Luzzu.

Review: The Guilty

This American remake of a Danish thriller of the same name stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a cop who’s been put on desk duty awaiting a trial that could have serious repercussions on his career. He’s answering 911 calls and isn’t happy about it a bit. But when a call comes in from a woman that he quickly realizes is in trouble, everything changes.  Back in 2018 when the original came out, it landed at the top of my and Mainstream Chick’s lists for the best foreign films that year. Sadly, this new iteration doesn’t rise to that level. Sure Jake’s good, but Jakob Cedergren was amazing and a lot of the power of the first film came from his restrained performance. Gyllenhaal and director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Magnificent Seven) chose to go for more bombast. Perhaps if I hadn’t seen the first film, I’d be less critical.

Review: Wife of a Spy

This stylish thriller from director Kiyoshi Kurosawa is set in Japan in 1940 shortly before they entered World War II. It opens with beautiful young couple making an amateur movie about betrayal. The husband Yusaku (Issey Takahashi, Kill Bill) though is in the import-export business and movie-making, just a hobby. He and his wife Satoko (Aoi Yû ) are a thoroughly cosmopolitan couple, but the prevailing winds in the country are turning anti-Western and nationalistic. Then on a business trip to Manchuria, Yusaku witnesses horrifying atrocities being committed by the Imperial Japanese Army and returns with documentary proof that he plans to share with the world. But once Satoko discovers her husband’s plan, the question becomes whether she will be loyal to him or her country.

Review: Azor

This claustrophobic drama is set in Argentina in the late 1970s, just after a military junta has taken over the country and the moneyed elite are trying to pretend that they are not scared to death. Private banker Yvan (Fabrizio Rongione) comes to Buenos Aires from Switzerland with his wife Ines (Stéphanie Cléau) following the disappearance of his partner Keys. He’s there to shore up accounts and find out what happened. What he finds as he visits with his clients in their mansions and on their thoroughbred estates is that Keys was both loved and despised and possibly reckless. And he had a secret client that Yvan was not privvy to.

2fer review: The Salvator Mundi docs

Back in June I saw The Lost Leonardo at AFIDOCS and described it as a great art thriller documentary. I remember when the Salvator Mundi (Savior of the world) painting was front page news and shook up the art world. But the story here begins when an art dealer finds a painting at a small New Orleans auction house and purchases it for $1175. He takes it to a respected art restorer who removes years of over-painting and comes to believe that it is in fact an undiscovered work by the master Leonardo da Vinci.  It goes on to become the most expensive ($450 million) painting ever sold.  And what the twisty documentary does is take the audience behind the scenes as the authenticity of the painting is questioned and then obscured. The cast of characters involved in its journey upward are politicians, art dealers, a Russian oligarch, even Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman. And the question of whether its provenance even matters becomes the big question. It’s a fascinating look inside the hidden art world where owning a piece has nothing to do with its aesthetics and more to do with its perceived worth.

Review: Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali

If you saw the excellent One Night in Miami earlier this year, you’re aware that Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali were close friends. And if you’re like me, you wanted to know more about that friendship. That one night was just a small part of their story. This new documentary airing on Netflix tells what happened before and after. It’s a fascinating and sad story of three years in the lives of two charismatic giants of the 20th century.

Quickie Review: Zone 414

I like a good sci-fi flick. And the blurb for this one sounded intriguing: “Set in the near future, private detective David Carmichael is hired by Marlon Veidt, an eccentric businessman, to track down his missing daughter. David teams up with Jane, a highly advanced A.I. to solve the mystery.”  That it stars Guy Pierce also made me think it might be worth a look. But boy was I wrong! Not that the story is all that bad, but the longer I watched, the more I realized that someone had watched Blade Runner one too many times and was incapable to coming up with their own story. And then, in his feature debut director Andrew Baird chose to go with a ripped off look and feel from the same film. Why, why, why?

Review: Yakuza Princess

Set in São Paulo, Brazil, home to the largest Japanese diaspora in the world, Yakuza Princess is an action packed martial arts thriller and story of self-discovery. A young Japanese woman with a mysterious past, an ancient and powerful Muramasa katana (sword), and an amnesiac stranger come together to right a wrong and find redemption.  Adapted from a graphic novel, the movie begins in Osaka with the massacre of an entire family, except for a little girl. Fast forward 20 years and Akemi (Japanese pop musician MASUMI) is now a grown woman, working on her martial arts skills in Brazil, unaware of her true origins. But when a disfigured stranger (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, “The Tudors”, Match Point) appears in her apartment just in time to save her from would-be assassins, their fates are set. What follows is a couple of hours of violence as they draw closer and closer to their truths.