Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Review: Broken Diamonds

They don’t make a lot of films that deal with mental illness for good reason. It’s a tough subject to portray realistically. Sure there are plenty that have that one crazy aunt or a sweet homeless guy that just needs to be loved. But actual problems like the ones in Broken Diamonds require a director and a script not to fall into the trap of treating mental illness as a plot point to be exploited for a dramatic beat. Sadly, that’s exactly what this film does with the main character’s schizophrenia.

2fer review: Settlers and Cousins

I watched these two indie films back to back. Both of them deal with a girl growing up with just about every kind of obstacle thrown in her way. One takes place on a planet far away in a not so distant future. The other takes place within the Māori community of New Zealand in the mid-20th century.  Young Remmy in Settlers is played by Brooklynn Prince who made her splashy debut in The Florida Project four years ago as a kid running around looking for adventure and getting into trouble. She’s more serious this time around, but still pretty much doing the same thing, only on a desolate planet instead of backwater Orlando. Young Mata (Te Raukura Gray) in Cousins is not so lucky. She’s been ripped from her Māori family (including two female cousins) and adopted by a loveless white woman. Both girls weather adversity as they grow to adulthood, but both come out of it all battered but still standing.

Review: Pig

Pig is a quest film and a really good one at that. Nicolas Cage plays Rob a self-exiled hermit in the Oregon wilderness whose beloved truffle-hunting pig is violently abducted, forcing him to leave his isolated cabin to track her down in the city and return to a world he turned his back on years before. He’s aided by young Amir (Alex Wolff, Hereditary), his truffle buyer who knows the lay of the land once they’re back in town. Their search takes them deep into the belly of the Portland culinary world where Rob was once a star, and he’s able to trade on that reputation. Cage turns in one of his best performances in years as the weary and wounded chef in this surprisingly touching drama from first time director Michael Sarnoski, who’s someone I’ll be following.

AFIDOCS 2021: Arty Chick’s Download

This year was a distance festival. There were opportunities to be in the theaters in DC, but I chose to watch everything online from afar, on my couch. That’s a mixed blessing. No running from theater to theater. No missing something because it overlapped with another film. No frozen feet from arctic-cooled theaters. Lots of good snuggles with my dog. But also no standing in line with other festival-goers and talking about what we’ve seen and loved. No Q&A’s after the films. (There were some that were available, but it just didn’t seem the same taped from a distance.) And no watching films in some of DC’s beautiful landmarks like the National Archives. A slew of distractions that made it very different from sitting in a dark room with an audience. And for me the worst part was that I don’t have a big screen television, so some of the films were definitely shortchanged.

Nevertheless, it was a good festival and there were several films I will be thinking of for a while. The Audience Award for Best Feature went to one of my faves for sure, Storm Lake. It is a smaller film and I hope that the award will mean it gets seen by a lot more people.

The films I saw were: The First Step – Radiograph of a Family – Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer – LFG – Storm Lake –  The Neutral Ground – The One and Only Dick Gregory – Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union –  Roadrunner: A Film about Anthony Bourdain – The Story Won’t Die –  Daughter of a Lost Bird –  and The Lost Leonardo.

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 15

What a group of films I have for you this week! There’s an end of the world love story set in Los Angeles and a twisted sister rivalry in old Hollywood. I’ve included the quintessential DC political drama and an Italian Fascist-era classic. And there are 3 musicals: one set in Nazi-era Berlin, another about a doomed love in France, and the last, a Chinese love triangle on a film set.

 

The films are: Miracle Mile ,What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, All the President’s Men, Cabaret, The Conformist, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and Perhaps Love.

Review: Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation

Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote were two of mid-20th century America’s greatest writers. They were also close friends, though at times not so close. This new documentary examines that friendship, their celebrity, and their works. And it is told entirely in their own words, cutting between TV talk show appearances and clips from their famous movie adaptations, alongside a well-curated selection of their writings being read by actors Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”) as Capote and Zachary Quinto (Star Trek) as Williams. It’s a clever and engaging way to get to know these two geniuses.

Mini-review: Siberia

The bromance between director Abel Ferrara and Willem Dafoe has reached its zenith with their latest collaboration. Each year for the last three in June I’ve watched Dafoe play a man adrift. In Pasolini he was the noted director wandering through Rome right up to his death. In Tommaso he was Ferrara’s stand-in, rambling around Rome again as his marriage crumbles and he struggles with his latest film. This time he’s a man hiding out in Siberia roaming through his own mental landscape to try and find himself. As with the previous films, there’s not much of a clear story line, just a series of scenes that you can arrange into a story of your choosing. I wish I’d chosen to turn it off sooner.

Review: Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It

EGOT*. If you know what that is, you may also be aware of Rita Moreno’s body of work. This film about her is a fairly straightforward tribute documentary, with talking heads and film clips, but the woman who emerges is so impressive. At the ripe old age of 89 (87 in the film), she’s still going strong, still fighting for representation, still acting and being her feisty self. But what Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It does beyond going over her extraordinary career in film, and stage, and television, is shine a bright light on the obstacles put in her way at every single step and her indomitable passion to be seen. I knew her name and have seen some of her work, but listening to her talk candidly about her life gave me a whole other level of appreciation for her.

Review: Les Nôtres

In the small town of Sainte-Adeline, Quebec, 13-year-old Magalie (Émilie Bierre) seems like the quintessential teenager – sullen, social media addicted, smitten with a secret boyfriend she won’t even tell her closest friends much about. But her life changes dramatically when it is discovered that she’s pregnant, and pretty far along at that. Suddenly she’s slut shamed by everyone at school, and her single mother is at wit’s end, especially because Magalie refuses to reveal the father’s name. And soon everyone is pretty certain that it’s her friend Manu (Léon Diconca Pelletier) who lives across the street with his parents,  Jean-Marc (Paul Doucet) the popular mayor of the town and his wife Chantal (Judith Baribeau). But it isn’t what it appears to be at all.

Review: Take Me Somewhere Nice

First time writer/director Ena Sendijarević is a Bosnian refugee raised in Holland and her coming-of-age road trip movie is informed by that detached perspective. It’s the story of Alma (Sara Luna Zoric), still a teen, but already grappling with womanhood. She’s a Dutch Bosnian who heads back to her homeland to see the father she never knew who’s in the hospital dying. She’s counting on her cousin Emir (Ernad Prnjavorac) to help her out, but he’s got other things to do, sort of. However, his friend Denis (Lazar Dragojevic) takes an immediate interest in her, up to a point. But when neither of them will take her to see her father she hops a bus, but gets left at a rest stop, losing her suitcase and her money. And she suddenly becomes dependent on the kindness of Bosnian strangers. And as she faces one debacle after another she moves closer and closer to finding herself.