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Average User Score: 7.3Jan 11, 2019Start off a movie with a strong love story with two new young stars, KiKi Layne as 19-year-old Tish and Stephan James as 22-year-old AlonzoStart off a movie with a strong love story with two new young stars, KiKi Layne as 19-year-old Tish and Stephan James as 22-year-old Alonzo 'Fonny' Hunt who share strong on-screen chemistry, and you have got me! Add an interesting, oft-told but never a boring story that is as true today as when it was written about in 1974 by the brilliant writer James Baldwin. Top it off with Nina Simone on the soundtrack there is no turning back.
After winning an Oscar for writing, and directing, the award-winning "Moonlight" Barry Jenkins returns with "If Beale Street Could Talk", a story of a Black boy wrongfully accused of rape who, after being jailed, finds out the girl he loves is pregnant. From that point on we are steered into different angles but the love between Tish and Fonny is always strong even, when not thinking, he says something to her that is cruel and wrong. They hadn't married yet not because he didn't want to but her parents and sister, along with his father, strongly support the couple and, without hesitation, offer their help with the new baby. Colman Domingo as her father, Teyonah Parris as her sister and Michael Beach as his father are very strong on screen, especially with the ways the older sister shows Tish her love. Domingo and Beach have a mesmerizing scene in a bar where they discuss what Black fathers have to do to help their children.
On the evening when she tells her family that she is pregnant her father calls Fonny's family to come over and that is when we meet his father, mother and 2 sisters. Aunjanue Ellis, playing the mother, is an overzealous Christian with 2 daughters, Ebony Obsidian and Dominique Thorne, who are not only taking after their mother but get their comeuppance from Tish's sister. There is also a very unexpected moment in the scene that made most of the audience gasp.
Regina King is very strong as the mother who knows the woman, Emily Rios, who pointed the finger, via the racist cop, Ed Skrein, was put up to it and faces up to her. There is a scene just before the two women face each other where King, alone, spends time looking in a mirror putting and taking off a wig that is very intense but runs just a bit too long, not that it isn't interesting just delaying the story.
There is a scene between Fonny and his old buddy Daniel, played by Brian Tyree Henry, where the latter talks about being arrested and having the 'choice' of admitting to stealing a car, though he doesn't know how to drive or carrying marijuana with the latter being a lighter sentence which is the one he chooses. Unfortunately Henry speaks too softly to be completely understood though what he has to say is very important.
Barry Jenkins does an excellent job bringing Baldwin's writing to the screen but makes a few mistakes consisting of running 3-4 scenes too long slowing the film down, not following up on 2 points made earlier in the film and jumping back and forth in time though it can be followed if one watches closely regarding the love between the leads and her figure! He, also, has added an excellent score to the movie.
I don't particularly like sex on screen but leading up to Tish losing her virginity and the actual act is one of the most lyrical love scenes ever seen on film and while the director is responsible for placing the camera it is the faces and the way they hold, use their bodies, of KiKi Layne and Stephan James that raise their love to a higher level.
"If Beale Street Could Talk" is an excellent film just short of being a classic strictly due to the director's missteps but Jenkins takes credit for all that is right about the film. It is the best genre film I have seen since "The Hate U Give" and Kiki Layne's film debut is as impressive as Amandla Stenberg was in that film.… Expand
Average User Score: 4.8Jan 7, 2019On the evening news they announced, that for the first time in her 25 years as a Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg would miss hearingOn the evening news they announced, that for the first time in her 25 years as a Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg would miss hearing oral arguments but would read all the notes taken and vote as was expected of her. After two operations for cancer and bouts of chemo she still shows the fortitude that saw her through a life of having to prove herself.
"On The Basis of Sex" opens with Ginsberg attending a class of Harvard Law School, only one of nine women in a class of more than 500 men. We see the happy and equal, possibly more equal for her, marriage with her loving, smart husband who knows his wife can do anything she wants and he is there to back her up. For the first hour of the film we see had badly women were treated in the work force, along in many other aspects of everyday life, the comfortable marriage of the Ginsbergs, their children of which the oldest is a daughter who seems to motivate her mother to go a step further than she might be ready to go and how it lead to the Supreme Court.
It is in the last 45 minutes that we see Ginsburg in 1975 arguing her first case regarding gender equality but it is for a man, not a woman, who as a caretaker for his mother has been denied $296 as a tax deduction.
"On The Basis of Sex" is written by Ruth Bader Ginsberg's nephew, Daniel Stiepleman, but as much research as I did I wasn't able to find out who his parents were but he obviously admired, if not worshiped, Martin and Ruth Ginsburg so both are presented as perfect people.
Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg really has a one note role but adds what she can to it. Anyone who saw last years documentary "RBG" or has seen her interviewed knows the lady is certainly not a one note person. Armie Hammer, as Martin, is excellent as the man who believes in his wife while Cailee Spaeny does a standout job as their teenage daughter Jane.
Though it is hard, at first, to accept Sam Waterston as the hard, condescending Dean of Harvard Erwin Griswold, he is just one of the men who thought as he did, including the 3 judges who hear Ginsburg's gender discrimination case.
Along with Hammer, Justin Theroux, as a ACLU lawyer, and Christian Mulkey, as the defendant in the case, are effective in playing the 'good guys'.
Kathy Bates in the role of Dorothy Kenyon, an early civil liberties fighter, lawyer and judge, shines in her two scenes.
The director, Mimi Leder, does a by the numbers job and somewhere along the line the production staff saw a 'blue' New York. Clothes, signs, lights, door fronts, let alone Ginsburg's major outfit, is blue!
"On The Basis of Sex" is an enjoyable love story, an interesting gender civil rights lesson, but most of all it shows how a person, a woman, lead a successful life in spite of all that was thrown in her way and gave us a woman who today is admired by many, including her enemies who want to get her off the Court which is a compliment.
I recommend a double bill movie night of "On The Basis of Sex" for a Hollywood version of Ruth Baded Ginsburg and "RBG" to discover who the woman was yesterday and is today.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.8Dec 28, 2018A bad sign watching a movie is thinking mostly negative thoughts and after an hour I was thinking: 1) This really isn't a movie for kids as itA bad sign watching a movie is thinking mostly negative thoughts and after an hour I was thinking: 1) This really isn't a movie for kids as it is too dark and somber 2) This really isn't a movie for adults as it doesn't capture what made the first film memorable 3) Emily Blunt has talent but she isn't a Julie Andrews or a Mary Poppins 4) Emily Mortimer has that certain smile and would make a better Mary Poppins 5) Will this film get any better? and 6) The songs are pretty lame.
There was one positive thought and that was Lin-Manual Miranda was continuing his place on the top of the hill after "In The Heights", "Hamilton", his score for "Moana", being honored on The Kennedy Center Honors this week, plus winning an Emmy Award, A Tony Award, Grammy Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, about to reprise his role as Hamilton opening the show in Puerto Rico and now doing a good job as Jack, the man who lights and shuts off the street lamps in the streets of London during the Great Slump of the 1930s. Up to the hour and a half point--no pun intended--he is the only bright light.
Julie Walker, as the housekeeper, is almost an afterthought while Colin Firth should have been given a mustache to twirl as the villain to do something with the role. As the Banks children Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and Joel Dawson they are given little more than they are expected to while Emily Mortimer, as their aunt, lights up the screen here and there and Ben Whishaw, as their father, really is wooden up to and in the last half hour of the film when he really comes through in a moving scene. Oh, yes, the less said about Meryl Streep, her song and her time on the screen the better.
The last half hour in no way makes up for the first 90-95 minutes but the screen does come alive with a song and dance by 93 year-old Dick Van Dyke up on a desk, with movie magic or not, reprising "Tripping The Light Fantastic" done earlier in the film by Miranda, along with 93 year-old Angela Lansbury as the Balloon Lady singing one of the better songs from the movie, "Nowhere To Go but Up" starting a full cast number.
Lin-Manuel Miranda always talks about watching the old song and dance movies and in "Mary Poppins Returns" he has two numbers, the first being "Tripping The Light Fantastic" and the second, "Race To Big Ben", that fulfill any dreams he might have had and brings back the magic of "Mary Poppins".
"Mary Poppins Returns" offers 30 minutes of entertainment in a film that is 130 minutes long and can probably watch Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury in their show shopping numbers on youtube!… Expand
Average User Score: 5.5Dec 25, 2018In 1933 in a play by Maxwell Anderson called "Mary of Scotland " he was first to imagine a meeting between Queen Elizabeth of England andIn 1933 in a play by Maxwell Anderson called "Mary of Scotland " he was first to imagine a meeting between Queen Elizabeth of England and Queen Mary that never took place. Three years later it was made into a movie starring Katherine Hepburn as Mary and Florence Eldridge as Elizabeth. In 1936 Bette Davis got an Oscar nomination playing Elizabeth in "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" and that is the Elizabeth I remember 82 years later. She would do the role again in "The Virgin Queen" 1955 and Mary is only mentioned in passing. Through the years, on television, theatre and other movies both Mary and Elizabeth have been portrayed by other actresses but these I have mentioned immediately came to mind hearing this movie was opening up this week.
As fine a job as Saoirse Ronan does playing the lead in this 2018 movie, which probably will get her a fourth nomination, she is sabatoged by the dark, slow pace getting to the major scene. Her acting partner, Margot Robbie as Elizabeth, is not written as powerful a woman as Mary which unbalences the whole movie.
Beau Willimon wrote the screenplay, basing it on the book "Queen of Scots: The True LIfe of Mary Stuart" by John Guy and one doesn't know which is fact or fiction or 'Hollywood's based on a true story' or who invented the sex lives of some of the characters.
The movie is the screen debut of London's Donmar Warehouse theatre companies artistic director Josie Rourke which may or may not explain the darkness and drab setting of most of the movie. Also, whether it is me or the accents or the soundtrack I had a hard time understanding at least half of the spoken language.
There are many actors as supporting players in roles supporting both queens in both good and evil ways. A standout is James McArdle as Mary's brother, Simael Cruz Cordova as a gay man who whose a close confident of Mary, Jack Lowden as her gay husband, Joe Alwyn as Elizabeth's lover and David Tennent as John Knox, a Scottish minister.
The only reason to see "Mary Queen of Scots" is for the performance of Saoirse Ronan but if you ever want to see the definite performance of Elizabeth look up that 1936 Bette Davis movie!… Expand
Average User Score: 8.2Dec 21, 2018Inline image
“Ben Is Back” hands down is the most emotional movie of the year. It opens with Holly (Julia Roberts) coming home from churchInline image
“Ben Is Back” hands down is the most emotional movie of the year. It opens with Holly (Julia Roberts) coming home from church with three of her four children who have been practicing for the Christmas pageant. Upon the arrival she is first shocked and then overjoyed to see her son Ben (Lucas Hedges) standing in the driveway. He had been staying in rehab, not allowed to leave, recovering from his drug habit once again but tells her that his sponsor and the head of the sober-living facility had Okayed the trip.
Ben’s younger half-sister, Lacey (Mia Fowler) and half-brother Liam (Jakari Fraser), adore him as does the family dog. Ben’s sister Ivy (Kathryn Newton) is angry with him from previous experiences while his stepfather Neal (Courtney B. Vance) wonders aloud, “How many chances are we, the family, suppose to give Ben?” He also questions what Ben’s fate would have been if he was a black boy.
Without giving any spoilers the gist of the movie is that Ben must spend every minute of the 24 hours he will be home under the eye of his mother, including when he has to take a urinating drug test which brings some humor into a dark film concentrating on a mother’s love for a child that is the strongest love of all.
Aside from strong performances of Fowler, Fraser, Newton and Vance, there is a cameo by Rachel Bay Jones as a mother who lost her daughter to drugs and David Zaldivar and Michael Esper as part of Ben’s past.
Peter Hedges wrote and directed this film and does a fine job in both departments not overdoing either the family, rehab or drug scenes. The musical soundtrack is unobtrusive which is quite rare in films these days.
What makes this film special are the two commanding performances of the leads.
In 2016 Lucas Hedges, yes he is the son of Peter Hedges, was nominated for a best-supporting actor in his role in “Manchester by the Sea” and last month he played the gay son in “Boy Erased” who was sent to a conversion camp. In this film he lets you see what and how drugs affect a boy’s life mentally and physically and the pain he has caused his family is there on his face.
In 2000 when Julia Roberts was accepting her Oscar for Best Actress in “Erin Brockovich” the orchestra started to play her off but she stopped them saying that this may be her only chance and I hope this film proves her wrong. Roberts has a lot of stiff competition in the Best Actress category this year---sorry Glenn Close, I was rooting for you up to this point—but she gives a performance of a woman who did/does the best by her children and will fight for them no matter the cost if she feels they are right, that will touch you and move you to tears.
“Ben Is Back” is not really a “Christmas movie” but it is a heartfelt movie that will affect the parent in you whether you have children or not.
The movie and the performances by Roberts and Hedges make it a definite ‘Must See’.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.5Dec 14, 2018In the past week or two "The Favourite" has been mentioned for many awards. It has been called 'wickedly entertaining', 'hilarious', 'blackIn the past week or two "The Favourite" has been mentioned for many awards. It has been called 'wickedly entertaining', 'hilarious', 'black comedy at its best', 'delectable wit', 'a riff on "All About Eve" and a metacritic.com 91% rating of critics and a 8.5 out of 10 rating while the critic's rating on Rotten Tomatoes is 94% and 66% audience rating.
Even though I had not liked director Yorgos Lanthimos's "The Lobster" between word of mouth regarding the performances of the 3 lead actresses and the talk of awards I was looking forward to 2 hours of fun, laughter and sarcastic wit. After an hour I was ready to walk out but I stayed and kept hoping something would happen for me to change my mind about this film.
Neither a duck race, a naked, fat man being pelted with pomegranates by other men in long curly wigs or a wife thinking/planning a way of getting rid of a rival's power over the queen while she masturbates her husband changed my mind.
Yes the acting by Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz is first rate, especially by Coleman, and the power struggles between Lady Sarah (Weisz) and her cousin Abigail (Stone) including seducing the Queen (Coleman), mentally and physically, plus playing the men, in many ways, is typical of the genre while the war games between the heads of State of the French and English is really ho-hum.
"The Favorurite" took 2 hours of my life and didn't give me 1 laugh but it did give long, dark walks along castle hallways and backways with panoramic scenes of ballrooms, bedrooms and meeting rooms. It also gave me a very annoying soundtrack of what seemed, in 50% of the film, was a beat and what sounded like a bell.
In no way can I recommend this film!… Expand
Average User Score: 5.9Dec 7, 2018After the first 10 minutes I was ready to walk out of “At Eternity’s Gate” and I was waiting for Allen to say that we should leave but heAfter the first 10 minutes I was ready to walk out of “At Eternity’s Gate” and I was waiting for Allen to say that we should leave but he didn’t. Talk about walking—if they cut all the scenes showing van Gogh walking, especially those of just from lower shins down, in silence, well except for excruciating music on the soundtrack, this would have been considered a short. Sixty-two years ago (1956) there was a ‘Hollywood’ version called “Lust For Life” starring Kirk Douglas as Vincent van Gogh for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor and Anthony Quinn as Paul Gauguin who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The movie was based on a story by Irving Stone and written by Norman Corwin and this movie is written by Jean Claude Carrierre, Louise Kugelberg and Julian Schnabel, the latter also directing with it being his version, based on fact, letters, speculation and fiction.
The major plus of both films is showing the authentic paintings of Vincent van Gogh and, to a certain degree, his road to insanity. Did van Gogh kill himself by shooting himself in the stomach as Stone says or did 2 kids shoot and kill him?
The scenes between Douglas and Quinn are electric while the scenes in “At Eternity’s Gate” between Rupert Friend, as Theo, Vincent’s brother, especially one in a hospital, are moving and those between Oscar Isaac, as Gauguin, showing the respect he had for van Gogh, enlightening. Vladimir Consigny as a young doctor shows compassion for the man who sits before him after cutting his ear off while Mads Mikkelsen as a priest who is no match for van Gogh’s interpretation of the bible. The women’s roles are secondary and neither add or take away from the film.
William Dafoe, as van Gogh, in his 60s, playing the latter in his 30s, shows more in his face of the pain of life that the artist probably did.
Sadly the performances of Dafoe and Friend, with the paintings of van Gogh, are not enough to make the picture worthwhile while the offbeat piano tinkering of music by Tatiana Lisovskaya, the endless walking scenes, the handheld camera shots and the lack of drama make this more of a ‘skip it’ than a ‘must see’.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.4Dec 4, 2018As a kid the only thing I knew about opera was what I learned in music appreciation in high school and that was "Carmen" and "MadameAs a kid the only thing I knew about opera was what I learned in music appreciation in high school and that was "Carmen" and "Madame Butterfly". I, also, went on a school trip to the 'Old Met' plus let's not forget Mario Lanza as Caruso or Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy.
In the 1950s I was very much into theatre, both musicals and plays, plus concerts, pop and Bernstein, movies, television was becoming very popular and the name Maria Callas started to appear in papers, magazines, interview shows on television but mainly became known as a prima donna first in a good way than as a sneer. She was a married woman having an affair with a Greek millionaire who would eventually leave her for Jackie Kennedy after the United States President died.
In "Maria by Callas" Maria Callas tells her story in her words, pictures, events and we hear her voice at its best, though recordings 50-60 years ago weren't as clear as they are today. We see her being mobbed by fans, the press, notable people like Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother, Elizabeth Taylor, Bridgette Bardot, interviewed by Edward R. Murrow, David Frost and Barbara Walters. She talks about how and why performances were missed and how, as a woman, she had to choose between her career and having a family, her feuds with her mother and the Met Opera director Rudolph Bing.
Whether playing the Diva or the rejected lover the main things that stand out about Maria Callas are her wide, open black eyes, thin body and, yes, that glorious voice. I won't pretend I know bel canto technique from a soaring soprano or other voices but I can be moved and I was by many of the arias she sings in this documentary.
"Maria by Callas" presents a woman, a singer, many of us may have only known by the headlines or a gay icon but who deservedly was called 'the' female opera singer of the twentieth century. It also makes me realize what I missed not seeing her perform on stage.
Movie trailer… Expand
Average User Score: 7.1Nov 27, 2018I became a fan of Viola Davis's in 2008 when she stole her scenes from Meryl Streep in "Doubt" and I am fascinated by what she can do with herI became a fan of Viola Davis's in 2008 when she stole her scenes from Meryl Streep in "Doubt" and I am fascinated by what she can do with her face in the "How To Get Away With Murder" television series and I never miss an episode. Though I haven't seen any of the "Fast and Furious" films in which she has starred I have always felt some empathy for Michelle Rodriguez and her many run-ins with the law. I have heard a lot, both pro and con, about Cynthia Erivo regarding her star-making role on stage in the musicalized version "The Color Purple" but this is the first time I have seen her. Talking about the first time, I don't ever recall seeing Elizabeth Debick before but once you do you won't forget her and it would be a spoiler if I said anything more about that introduction!
The "Widows" is about women taking charge in basically what would be a men's genre, a heist film. Director Steve McQueen, mainly known for "12 Years A Slave", directs, and co-wrote the script with Gillian Flynn, author of "Gone Girl", keeping the pace quick with some outstanding camera work. There are many twists and turns and at points, just a bit too much regarding sex, race, politics and social issues along with too much unnecessary violence but the film is easy to follow except near the end, which I'll get back to in a minute. No matter where the film goes the women always hold your interest which makes this a better than average heist film.
I do have a couple of questions about the ending but discussing them here would give away some major points and give away some of the surprises so after you have seen the film let's talk!
The film could have been tightened up a bit regarding its over 2 hour playing time just by cutting out Robert Duvall's storyline, not that he isn't good but it really doesn't add anything to the film, the storyline or the heist but does add to the Chicago politics of the time.
Be prepared for some laughs, certainly a jump out of your seat once or twice and definitely a jolt at some of the violence but "Widows" entertains plus allows the audience to watch some fine acting by the actresses. I am not ignoring the men but it is hard talking about their roles without giving spoilers except to say, maybe, that Liam Neeson is Davis's husband or that Colin Farrell is Duvall's son, etc.
Just watching Viola Davis's face is worth the admission alone!… Expand
Average User Score: 7.6Nov 23, 2018A treat!
I was very hesitant about going to see "Green Book" starting with it being directed by Peter Farrelly who was known for such 'low'A treat!
I was very hesitant about going to see "Green Book" starting with it being directed by Peter Farrelly who was known for such 'low' films as "Dumb and Dumber" and "There's Something About Mary" which dealt with obscene language and scenes though big hits. It also sounded to me like a takeoff of "Driving Miss Daisy" only with a white driver and a black passenger which would probably be 'Hollywoodized" and "the Odd Couple" thrown in as the arc of the movie and it is..
I went only because I am a long time fan of Viggo Mortensen and was impressed with Mahershala Ali in "Moonlight". I expected to see a so-so film with good performances and we certainly saw the latter but it won me over showing the Carnegie Hall apartments, though I never did see one like Ali had. Also the scenes supposedly filmed in the Bronx was not a Bronx I was raised in but all of a sudden I was laughing and then being touched and going through layers of emotions.
Yes Viggo Mortensen as Tony Vallelonga and Mahershala Ali as Dr. Don Shirley are cliches in many scenes but they are both such good actors you believe what they are saying and doing not to forget the touch of family that Linda Cardellini as Tony's wife brings to an Italian Bronx thug who does love his wife and 2 sons, along with other family members.
Based on a true story I must admit I had never heard of Dr. Don Shirley but his story of being a black entertainer who is going to travel through the south in 1962 it is reasonable that he would hire a Tony 'type' to be his chauffer and, in a sense, protector. A lot of cliches are nothing more than stereotypes and much what we see and hear of Shirley and Vallelonga sound and seem familiar which is sad because we aren't surprised.
"Green Book" is being sold as 'a true story of a friendship' and it is just that with many laughs and tears supplied by two brilliant actors who bring more to the script than the script brings to them. There are a couple of scenes that took me by surprise which if talked about would mean spoilers and should be discovered on their own but one question I would love if anyone knows if Mahershala does his own piano playing or is it Hollywood magic?
Both "Green Book" and "The Hate U Give" are two of the best films I have seen this autumn and though both deal with race they are completely different and also have leading performances that should get nominations , if not actual wins, for their performances.… Expand