And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: Everything Everywhere All At Once

At the center of this wild ride of an action/sci-fi flick is Chinese immigrant mom Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians, Shang-Chi) whose life definitely took a wrong turn somewhere. Stuck in a boring marriage to Waymond (Ke Huy QuanGoonies), running a coin-op laundry, regularly tangling with her lesbian daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) who disappoints her again and again, and on her way to an audit by an unforgiving IRS agent (Jamie Lee Curtis), she’s woefully unprepared for the role suddenly thrust upon her as the savior of the universe. But she really has no choice in the matter.

Review: Jockey

Jockey is a sports drama that is purposely light on action and heavy on character study. It’s more trot than sprint. More arty than mainstream. Get the picture?

The film follows aging jockey Jackson Silva (Clifton Collins Jr.) as he chases one last hurrah on a potential championship horse acquired by his longtime trainer– and maybe more— Ruth (Molly Parker). Decades of rough riding have taken a toll on Jackson’s body, and it’s probably time to hang up the spurs. But horse racing is in his blood; it’s his entire world. At least, until a young rookie rider named Gabriel (Moises Arias) shows up, claiming to be his son. Jackson takes Gabriel under his wing and teaches him some tricks of the trade. It’s a bittersweet bond, with implications both personal and professional.

Review: Red Rocket

Director Sean Baker (The Florida Project, Tangerine) loves stories and characters that Hollywood regularly ignores. And his newest dark comedy Red Rocket continues to plumb the depths of America’s underclass. It’s the story of Mikey Saber, a once high flying porn star whose life has taken a downward turn and ends up back in Texas City begging his ex-wife to take him in while he figures out his next move. Simon Rex who was once a MTV V.J. and went on to act in a series of forgettable films steals the show as Mikey, a charming and self-centered hustler, proud of his porn awards and planning a return to California and his place in the biz. And that plan includes Strawberry (Suzanna Son in a breakout role), a 17-year-old girl he falls for at the local donut shop. Unfortunately, Mikey is not half as brilliant is he believes himself to be.

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: Materna

The four women in Materna whose stories collide in a New York subway could not be more different. But they are connected by narratives exploring the theme of “mother”, what it means to be one, to have one, to contend with their expectations and our own autonomy. The film is essentially an anthology of four shorts connected by a violent incident on the subway, but each of their stories informs how they will react to their shared experience. It’s a fascinating, tension-filled ride.

Review: Stealing Chaplin

This dark comedy is based on a true incident. In 1978, a couple of thieves dug up Charlie Chaplin’s body in Switzerland and unsuccessfully tried to extort ransom from his family. In this modern version, the story is transported to Las Vegas a distinctly a more gritty milieu.  The grave robbers this time are a couple of British brothers, deeply in debt to the mob who need some quick cash.  Cal (Simon Phillips) and Terry (Doug Phillips, not related) are small time conmen, but when Terry loses big on a stupid bet, they’re given one week to come up with the dough or it’s curtains! Cal is the brains of the outfit, but he’s at a loss, so when Terry tosses out the Chaplin idea, he figures they have nothing to lose.

Review: Lorelei

At the center of this working class drama is Wayland (Pablo Schreiber, First Man, “Orange Is the New Black”), just out of prison after 15 years and looking to go straight. And running into his high school sweetheart Dolores aka Lola (Jena Malone, Hunger Games, Inherent Vice) while still living in the half-way house gives him something to hope for. She’s just barely hanging on though, working part-time and taking care of three kids alone. And it becomes clear that she’s been waiting for him all this time, to start the life they both dreamed of back in their youth. But can love conquer all, including the lure of his old pals and the money they need to live?

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.

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.