And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: Topside

This is a really gritty and entirely engaging little film. It’s about Nikki (co-director Celine Held) and her 5-year-old daughter Little (Zhaila Farmer) who’re living on the edge underground in a homeless camp beneath the city of New York. Their life is not easy by any stretch, but they have a warm bond and community and a place of their own. But when the powers that be decide to clear out the riffraff, Little is forced to accompany her mother into the unknown and noisy and VERY bright city. And the question becomes whether they will be able to survive and stay together up there.

Review: Four Good Days

Four Good Days is a movie about addiction and the toll that the cycle of rehab and relapse can take on relationships and family. We’ve seen it all before — many times in fact. And this one falls somewhere in the middle of the pack, buoyed by solid performances from Mila Kunis and Glenn Close as a mother and daughter navigating issues of trust and love, frustration and disappointment. It’s based on a true story by Pulitzer-Prize winning Washington Post writer Eli Saslow who co-wrote the screenplay with director Rodrigo García (Albert Nobbs, Mother and Child).  For the most part, Four Good Days sticks remarkably close to the narrative featured in the 2016 Post article.

Review: Souvenir

When 20-something Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) meets somewhat older Anthony (Tom Burke) at a film school party early on in Souvenir, you know exactly what their relationship will be all about. He’s pretentious and she’s attracted to that. She’s a young woman from a privileged background and an aspiring director, and he has some sort of important government job that they never really talk about. And their relationship develops with the understanding that he has the power. She’s fine with him telling her who she is and what she should want. She’s young and naive and he’s a user in every sense of the word. It’s the early 80s in London, too early to talk about toxic masculinity and mansplaining, but Anthony is the man for whom both concepts were invented. You find yourself wishing Julie would dump the guy from nearly the first moment they get together. But of course it’s not that simple. It’s a disturbing film, a series of moments in a dysfunctional and obsessive relationship that somehow you can’t look away from.

Shame

Oh my! I’m not really sure who – if anyone- you can actually see this movie with. Suffice it to say, it’s not a date movie. Or a family movie. Or a fun fantasy flick. It’s dark and disturbing – and provocative – in a Black Swan sort of way. I didn’t particularly like Black Swan, despite the Oscar-worthy performance of Natalie Portman. Same goes for Shame. It’s not my cup of tea (at all), but the performances – especially from Michael Fassbender and Carrie Mulligan – are quite superb. So should you see it? Maybe – in the privacy of your own home when it comes out on DVD! But in a theater??? That’s a tough call. Here’s why: