And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: French Exit

If this film does one good thing, it’s that it reminds us what a wonderful screen presence Michelle Pfeiffer is. She stars as Frances, a New York socialite who, following her husband’s death, somehow spends all the money left to her and in her social embarrassment, runs away to Paris where a friend has offered her an apartment she isn’t using. (Why don’t I have a friend like that?) She takes along her son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges), snatching him out of school and away from his girlfriend and they board an ocean liner where he meets and beds Madeleine (Danielle Macdonald, Dumplin’), a fortune teller. Frances also takes her cat Little Frank (perhaps a reincarnation of the dead husband Frank) along, sneaking him aboard. Once they get to Paris and the small apartment (small by a rich New Yorker’s standards, that is) they meet a series of quirky people and have a series of peculiar encounters. The movie has a Woody Allen meets Wes Anderson vibe, though it doesn’t rise to either of their levels. It’s one of those flicks without much of a plot that depends on you wanting to spend some time with its characters. I’m not sure I did.

Arty Chick’s Middleburg Film Festival Download 2019

Another super tiring weekend in the bucolic Virginia hamlet of Middleburg watching more films than I should! I predicted early on that this festival would outgrow itself and I think it has come to that point. Too many people know about it and the growing pains have become chronic overcrowding at venues without room for expansion. I’m already searching for another festival for next year. (All suggestions are appreciated.) I saw fewer films this year, too, just nine — Marriage Story, The Capote Tapes, The Aeronauts, Frankie, Waves, The Report, The Two Popes, Atlantics, and Knives Out. I only gave one of them four stars and several were surprising disappointments. For too many it was great cast and great performances in an otherwise just okay movie. Here’s my list with trailers and my preliminary impressions. Full reviews of select films will come later, so check back.

Quickie Reviews: Ben Is Back; Bumblebee; Vice

I know – these are three very different films. But I’m playing catch-up with my reviews! So I’ll start with my favorite of the three (though Bumblebee comes in a surprisingly close second!).

Mainstream Chick’s Middleburg Film Festival Download (2018)

Despite a few (hotel reservation and RSVP) potholes on the road to this year’s Middleburg Film Festival, all’s well that ends well! And what an ending it was. The closing film was my favorite film – by far – securing my only four-star ballot after four days of movie madness in the Virginia countryside.

So, without further ado, here’s what I saw, and how I ranked ‘em:

Manchester by the Sea

Thanksgiving may not seem like the best time to see a movie about grief, but Manchester by the Sea is so much more. It’s a family drama that tackles issues of loss, healing, and hurt in a smart, poignant, and often humorous way. And it puts Casey Affleck firmly in the running for a best actor nomination, and possibly even the win. Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a man haunted by his past, who returns to his hometown of Manchester, Massachusetts to take care of family business after his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies somewhat suddenly of a heart ailment. Lee never expected that the ‘family business’ would include guardianship of his teenage nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges). But it does.