And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

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.

Review: Bergman Island

You don’t have to be a fan of the legendary director Ingmar Bergman to enjoy this film, but it certainly does help. In it a couple of American filmmakers, Chris (Vicky Krieps, Phantom Thread) and Tony (Tim Roth, Selma, The Hateful Eight), take a summer trip to Fårö island in Sweden where Bergman lived and shot some of his best known movies. Both of them are hoping for some inspiration for the films they’re working on. One of Tony’s films is showing in the annual Bergman Week there, and he and Chris are in residence at the house where Bergman shot his award winning series Scenes from a Marriage, about the disintegration of a marriage. And while theirs doesn’t, it’s clearly seen better days.

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.