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Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 9

Week Nine of films that I remember fondly. It’s amazing how many great films come to mind when I go down my cinematic memory lane. A lot of this week’s picks are from the 80s. The oldest is from 1979. And the newest from 2003. So it’s a fairly modern bunch. No black and white. No foreign films this time. We’ve got comedy, war, feminism, even a Western in the mix. Big films and indies. But all of them are highly recommended.

 

The films are: Crimes and Misdemeanors, The Thin Red Line, Silverado, Broadcast News, Ordinary People, The Station Agent, My Brilliant Career

 

Quickie Reviews: Annihilation; Game Night; The Party

Annihilation is interesting and weird, slow and methodical, and dare I say, bordering on boring. Hyper-sensitive fans of the film may ream me for not fully grasping or appreciating the deeper meaning, the metaphors, the beauty in the bizarre, yadda yadda yadda. But that’s okay. I didn’t love Arrival either. Annihilation is a cerebral sci-fi horror flick from Alex Garland (Ex Machina) based on the “Southern Reach Trilogy” by Jeff VanderMeer. If you’ve read the books, you’re probably ahead of the game and more likely than most to love this movie. Here’s the gist: Natalie Portman plays Lena, an Army veteran and cellular biologist whose husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) was believed killed in action during a secret military mission. He reappears a year later, extremely ill, with no memory of what happened. Government agents nab the newly-reunited couple and take them to “Area X”, an unspecified locale that borders a mysterious “Shimmer” that’s been expanding along the U.S. coastline.

Grandma

Grandma is a bare-bones indie that will likely appeal to those in the artier crowd who like a simple, dialogue-driven movie and the acerbic wit of Lily Tomlin. The veteran actress and comedian plays a lesbian Grandma named Elle Reid whose granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) shows up on her doorstep requesting about $600 to have an abortion that is scheduled for later that day. Elle doesn’t have the cash — but she’s willing to help Sage get it. The two spend the next few hours cruising around town in Grandma’s vintage automobile in search of friends, and others, who may be willing to float them a loan or give them the money outright. Their unannounced visits rattle a few cages and stir up old memories, especially when they drop in on one of Grandma’s old male flames (Sam Elliott). Needless to say, there’s an interesting dynamic at play here – and it results in one of the more surprising moments the film has to offer.

Friends with Benefits

Friends with Benefits is basically a beach-read romance novel come to life on the big screen. Not that there’s anything wrong with a little summer heat. If the premise sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it is. Just seven months ago, Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher brought us No Strings Attached– a movie about a couple of old friends who agree to engage in a purely physical relationship. Friends with Benefits stars Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake as two new friends who try to convince each other that their physical relationship is merely a fleeting bonus to their comfortable, otherwise platonic friendship. See the difference?