Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Review: La Dosis (The Dose)

Back in 2012, there was a big news story about a couple of Uruguayan nurses who euthanized a lot of hospital patients. Inspired by that story Argentinian director Martin Kraut in his feature debut has fashioned an entertaining psychological thriller that centers on the rivalry between a senior and a junior nurse in a small hospital’s ICU, both playing God with the people they’re supposed to be taking care of. They couldn’t be more different in their personalities and motives though. And once they’ve each discovered the other’s proclivity, their game of wits threatens to kill one of them.

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 14

This week I chose films from the 40s, 50s, 60s, 90s, and 00s. Two are from the same director. They take place in Rome and Paris and Berlin and Tokyo and Washington. Several of them are considered to be the greatest films of their genres. There’s comedy, political satire, civil unrest, a hitman double-cross, and what we do for those we love is a recurring theme.

This week’s films are:

 Bicycle Thieves,  Dr. Strangelove,  Lost in Translation,  Run Lola Run,  La Haine,  Le Samourai, and  Umberto D.

Review: Undine

This romantic drama from director Christian Petzold reunties actors Paula Beer (Franz) and Franz Rogowski who starred together in his film Transit a couple of years ago. She plays Undine, a historian in a Berlin museum who lectures select audiences about the city’s urban design. He’s Christoph, a commercial diver who meets her just after she’s been dumped by her current boyfriend (Jacob Matschenz, “Charité”) who she’s told, “If you leave me, I’ll have to kill you.” In a well-known European folk tale, Undine is a water nymph who who becomes human when she falls in love with a man but has to kill him and return to the deep if he is unfaithful to her. In the film, Undine slowly reveals her true self through a beautiful and bittersweet fantasy-tinged love story.

Review: Two Lottery Tickets

This little comedy is one of the biggest box office hits of all time in its native Romania. And it’s easy to see why. It’s the story of three friends who buy a couple of lottery tickets and hit it big. Six million euros big! Only wrinkle in their millionaire dream is that the one keeping the tickets is robbed. And that kicks the trio into gear to track down the thieves before they cash in. What follows is a humorous buddy odyssey that revels in the absurdity of modern Romanian society.

Review: Drunk Bus

Slacker comedies aren’t usually my thing. So I approached this little indie with a dose of skepticism about being its target audience. But it’s not at all what I feared. It’s a heartwarming flick about an odd couple comprised of a recently graduated artist who’s pining for his lost girlfriend while driving a campus bus at night, and a heavily tattooed Samoan bodyguard who is hired to ride along with him after the kids on the bus get too rowdy, while offering him advice on how to move on with his life. Fortunately the script doesn’t go exactly where you’d expect from that setup.

Quickie Review: Emily @ the Edge of Chaos

Looking for something funny and quirky and thought provoking? This live performance documentary by the late stand-up performer Emily Levine will keep you laughing and scratching your head for all its 61 minutes.  It’s a hard one to describe. She’s telling jokes and stories, but relating everything in the world to the physics that controls the entire cosmos. Animated scientist characters voiced by John Lithgow, Lily Tomlin, Leonard Nimoy and others add to the fun. Her stories about her life and an illness that robbed her for a time of the wit and intelligence plainly on display here are an entré into her view that we are in the midst of a huge paradigm shift. It’s a lot to take in, but entirely fascinating!

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.