Category Archives: Female Director

REVIEW: “HAPPENING” (2022) IFC FILMS

The past dictates our future in so many ways. So being somewhat traumatized by a film isn’t always a bad thing when that film is so important to whom you are as a person. And nothing could be more prevalent at this moment than Director Audrey Diwan’s film “HAPPENING” based on the semi-autobiographical novel from French novelist Annie Ernaux (originally entitled “L’Événement“). It’s speaks up from the past, not just telling us – but showing us all as well – the true brutality and horrors of what exists when women across the world lose their freedom of choice over their own body.

HAPPENING

The film takes us back in time to France in 1963, Abortion is illegal. Birth control is illegal. Told from the point of view of the main character Anne Duchesne (Anamaria Vartolomei), in close up and close quarters, we embark on this vivid, often hard to watch, journey with her.

Anne, Hélène (Luàna Bajrami), and Brigitte (Louise Orry-Diquéro), are college dorm-mates studying literature, and they are all getting ready to go to a dance. When they arrive, the room is full with men and women dancing though because of the times they are in, there is an undercurrent of having too much fun means you are loose or easy. In the weeks after the dance, we see Anne continually check if she has gotten her period and write “rien” meaning nothing, repeatedly in her diary. When her pregnancy is confirmed by the local doctor, she asks him to do something, but he declines and urges her not to speak about it. Later, as things are progressing and Anne is clearly slipping, she visits another doctor, who is supposedly sympathetic to her condition and prescribes a drug that will guarantee a miscarriage. She learns, however, much later, that the doctor lied to her and the drug is designed to actually strengthen the not yet formed fetus inside her.

HAPPENING

Anne’s friends through all of this present an array of reactions with Bridgette, the supposed more sexually liberated one, keeping her distance and instead it’s the usually quiet and shy Hélène who seems to be the more accepting and understanding of the two. Most surprisingly is Olivia (Louise Chevillotte), once Anne’s nemesis, steps up to the plate and proves to be vital ally when everything starts to spin out of control. The two become unexpectedly connected during a pivotal – and unforgettable scene that had me gripping my seat and squirming wanting to cover my eyes – but you can’t – because while traumatic, it is all to very real. 

While “Happening” depicts the very real story of a young girl who’s forced to make a very tough decision in a time where you didn’t have the freedom to choose, it’s director Audrey Diwan, whose choices here are so effective in making us live every single moment with Anne. She does a great job of depicting the social stigma and incredible secrecy Anne is forced to suffer through, just because she doesn’t want to let a baby dictate her life. You feel not just sad for her situation, but angry for what she is put through, and most of all, you root for her to find a way out before it’s too late, hopefully without any serious repercussions. The disillusionment she receives from her doctor and friends is upsetting to watch, not to mention she can’t even tell her family for fear of the shame it will bring.

The more weeks that pass by, the more stressed Anne gets and we the audience get as there is a sense of urgency throughout due to the spectacular performance of Anamaria Vartolomei. She conveys every single moment for you in such realism that there is almost a sense of relief when she finally gets to the back-alley abortion clinic after raising the money by selling her personal items – even though you clench your teeth, and squirm every which way in your seat, watching the painful procedure take place.

‘Happening‘ is a wake up call to us all as the film doesn’t lecture it’s non-believers. It simply, and effectively discredits them. What changed is that thousands of desperate women no longer died as the result of botched backstreet abortions and simply put – we can never go back there again.

Grade: B+

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Review Screening Friday, April 22, 2022 ~ Courtesy of Accolade PR

“HAPPENING” IS NOW IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE AND COMING TO VOD JUNE 21, 2022.

REVIEW: “Anaïs in Love” (2022) Magnolia Pictures

From the very moment we first see her on screen, it’s clear that Anaïs (Anaïs Demoustier), doesn’t have her life together. It’s also clear that that is exactly how director Charlene Bourgeois-Tacquet wants her lead character to be. Anaïs is a whirlwind on the screen, as it is the films running joke throughout that Anaïs is a frenetic girl who is habitually late to everything. She is late to appointments, late to school, late to parties, late to family functions, yet she is never out of breath while being late riding her bike to all these events. To continually make it clear, she is late with the rent on her Paris apartment, late with her University dissertation, and yes, late with her period. She is also late in telling her live-in boyfriend Raoul (Christophe Montenez), that because she is late taking her birth control as she ‘just forgot’ that she is pregnant. But somehow everyone from her landlord to her professor, all look past her seemingly carefree approach to real life as she talks her way out of all of it because, you guessed it, she is late and running off to the next thing that she is late for.

This is all cute and whimsical enough until, suffice to say the one thing she on time for is when she has her abortion. The problem here is how nonchalantly this is all noted as if having the abortion is just another blip in her day. This is supposed to be comedy and there was nothing funny about the way this is handled in the story. Abortion, as we all know, is a serious right, a right for a woman to make a choice. It is not however to be shown so dispassionately and be treated as though it’s just another form of birth control. That something so critical and important of an issue and decision is taken here, by a female director of all people, should’ve been handled with more aplomb instead of being made to look easy to do and be played off as if she is cool as a cucumber doing it. The film lost its comical ‘pretense’ then and there.

So it’s really no surprise then to see as the film goes on that Anaïs takes an older, married man Daniel (Denys Podalydes), whom she met as she was late to a dinner party, as her lover, He then turns it around and ends the affair by stating he doesn’t want his life to change. Anaïs as per usual, just shrugs it off and turns her attention to Daniel’s wife, Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). Emilie is a famous author and Anaïs worms her way into Emilie’s life after reading her book, tracks her to Normandy, where she’s holding a symposium, even though she was hired and supposed to be helping at a completely different symposium in another town. Once again, she just abandons something dependable for something whimsical. In the midst of all this and without warning, the women begin a sexual relationship. It comes as a complete surprise as neither character had up until that point in the film, even the slightest bit any previous indications that this was even something that either of them was interested in. All the while this is going on, Anaïs is coming to terms with the return of her mother’s (Anne Canovas), liver cancer. While this isn’t an excuse for her bad behavior, it seems to be given as some sort of explanation for it all.

There is a lot lacking here in terms of it being a comedy at all and it lacks any sort of dramatic punch even with the side-story of her mothers cancer. Anaïs the character, is never concerned about what the outcome of her actions are, so neither are we. Anaïs Demoustier the actress, is beautiful and does well with what the character is supposed to be, it’s just not enough to make the film any better. This is essentially a movie about an thoughtless young woman, whose mother is dying of cancer, and who makes the lives of those around her unpleasant. And that just isn’t funny no matter which way you twist it.

Grade: D+

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Review Screening: Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“ANAIS IN LOVE” IS NOW IN THEATERS April 29, 2022 and VOD May 6, 2022.

REVIEW: “INBETWEEN GIRL” (2022) Utopia

There are times when watching films that you find a hidden gem amongst all the seemingly endless list of choices to watch. Director Mei Makino’s 2021 SXSW ‘Visions’ Award winner, “INBETWEEN GIRL” is just that gem.

The film is framed in a personal and unflinching manner than what one might expect. It is charming, raw, funny, and truly tackles teen-age romance and sexuality pretty head-on, but in a way that is realistic and mature. It’s all about Angie Chen (Emma Galbraith), a young, pretty Chinese-American girl attending an Episcopalian private school in Galveston, Texas with a flair for drawing. While she is friends with Liam (William Magnuson), the stereotypical school jock who all the girls adore, eyebrows and all, that’s seemingly all there is to it. He gives her rides home each day from soccer practice and they begin to get to know each other, with their friendship beginning to border on something more. Truthfully she could easily fall for him if not for his girlfriend, Sheryl (Emily Garrett), a model/social media influencer who ends up being her partner in a class project, becoming her friend as well, making things all the more complicated. You get a sense of where it’s headed but even still, Makino somehow makes it all feel fresh and full of energy and heart, as well as a learning experience of life.

The dramatic heart and center of the film, also come from her troubles at home as her newly divorced parents make things all the more confusing in Angie’s life. She is living with her mother Veronica (Liz Waters), a lawyer whom is always working, leaving Angie to fend for herself for things like meals, homework, and most notable, her social life. As well, she is feeling distanced from her father Fai (KaiChow Lau), whom she cherishes but seemingly has instantly found a new, better family already with Min (ShanShan Jin), and her daughter Fang (Thanh Phuong Bui). Both of whom speak her father’s native Mandarin dialect and with whom she feels replaced by.

Between the difficulties with her love life and her home life, Angie struggles to come of age as simply as one would expect. While there is a good deal of levity to break up the dramatic plots, there is a natural charm and heartfelt good nature about the film that overcomes any small shortcomings it might have. It’s a winning little film that is beautifully told and acted as Emma Galbraith is a breath of fresh air to this role, that is rarely ever played by someone of mixed race, but she proves there should be more. Even our manipulating cad of a male lead – William Magnuson, puts a star next to his performance here.

This film so deserves to find an audience that will fall in love with this tale we’ve heard before, but truly told in it’s own angsty manner of everything facing a teenage girl. The mistakes, family, drama, happiness, and friendships that shape us into who we are. The film as well, explores the relationships between having a Chinese father/American mother – and how difficult your heritage can be to navigate when that family unit splits. This is one film that no one should miss!

Grade: B+

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Review screener: Courtesy of Caitlyn Hughes PR

You can stream Mei Makino’s Inbetween Girl” on major VOD services beginning on May 3.

SXSW REVIEW: “SERIOUSLY RED” (2022) Roadshow Films

“It’s Hard to Be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World” – Dolly Parton

Director Gracie Otto makes a bold choice and opens her film “SERIOUSLY RED”, with a terrific and unorthodox lead into to her main character, Raylene or “Red” (Krew Boylan), as we come to know her. She captures her sitting in the bathtub while on a real estate client call, drinking a glass of wine with ice in it. The call reflects this perfectly, and it is as well, the perfect introduction to a character and story that will take us down so many different roads of life as we watch, often predicting what will happen before we see it.

The aptly named Red – due to the gorgeous red hair she was born with, has been fixated on one celebrity in particular her whole life – Dolly Parton. The obsession rolls to the point of going to her company awards banquet dressed as Dolly, which in turn leads to a karaoke performance one will not soon forget. But deep down, Red is a woman with low self-esteem, thanks in part sadly due to her mother Viv (Jean Kittson), with whom she can’t seem to please. Red has pursued this, that and the other, her whole life, with nothing being truly successful in any of them, and can now add Real Estate to that list of things, as she gets fired. But within this crazy evening Red has discovered the world of impersonators, in no thanks to a fantastic Elvis (Rose Byrne), and set’s off to pursue her dream of becoming a Dolly Parton impersonator.

After meeting a talent scout Teeth (Celeste Barber), who has a story about her own name that needs to be heard to be believed, the rest of story follows Red as she first discovers this whole new world of messy artist impersonators. She goes full tilt when meeting Wilson (Bobby Cannavale), who himself was once a Neil Diamond impersonator, and still looks it. Red hits it hard going from a fair, homemade karaoke singer to actually fully immersing herself into Dolly, and not just the big wig, heavy make-up, and frilly costumes, but to some darned fine singing as well. She takes it one step further and falls in love with a Kenny Rogers impersonator named, if you want to believe him, Kenny (Daniel Webber). Losing herself completely though is costly and not just for the implants she gets as well, but for the loss of one of her truest childhood friends, Francis (Thomas Campbell), as he begins to question her losing any identity of her actual self.

But oh this journey is fun at moments, it’s exciting, it’s hard, it’s sad and it’s so heartfelt as you really get a good look inside this entire world of impersonators. With it always being said celebrities have influence, you see just how it can be fun, but also how it can go completely overboard and overblown in someone’s life. The acting here is sublime by Boylan who hasn’t been seen much out of her home country of Australia and note is given here to the native lands and those whom live on them by her as well. As well as acting, Boylan wrote the screenplay, got Rose Byrne to do an amazing Elvis, and Bobby Cannavale, while being the only American in the film, belts out an “I Am.. I Said” as Neil Diamond that will have you up and singing along.

At the end, Red will also reflect on her own life choices, learn to trust herself, and find her way through her crazy journey of life. ‘Seriously Red’ is a story with heart and soul threading throughout it’s journey – it’s fun along with being an oh-so-charming of a watch. And remember to always ALWAYS: “Be Yourself Because Everyone is taken.” – Dolly Parton

Grade: B+

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REVIEW: “LUCY AND DESI” (2022) Amazon Studios

Who knew that it would be director/actress/comedian extraordinaire Amy Poehler that would bring us the “LUCY AND DESI” movie we all needed this year. While 2021 was us an Aaron Sorkin version, that was truly based on only just a moment in time in the life of this most beloved of all TV histories famous comedic couple, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

(Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

This documentary is not only a love story to Lucy and Desi, it is about THEIR love story as well. One that with all it’s publicized up’s and down’s, was one for the history books in more way than just one. Here we not only learn about a long-forgotten box of discovered audio tapes from Lucy herself, but these tapes allows us to hear much of their history directly from horses mouth so to speak, Lucy and Desi themselves on home video and recordings. And boy are they a joy to watch. Here you get the true story of how Lucy started her career, as a model no less because she was stunningly beautiful, leading her to Hollywood where she was dubbed “Queen of the B’s” aka B-movies at the time, as those were the days of Hollywood starlets being signed to a singular studio and their films picked for them.

And we see Desi’s life as well, coming from a prominent Cuban family affiliated with the Bacardi rum empire at the time, and whom lost everything when the 1933 Cuban revolution took place at the age of 14, he was one of the few of his family who was sent and made it to the shores of the USA. Starting off young in Xavier Cugat’s band, Desi branched out on his own and is the man we can thank today for the infamous ‘Conga line’, something that you will most probably be participating in at most weddings, and most definitely on a cruise ship at some point or another. As well, it shows some classic Desi performances of his still-famous-around-the-world signature song, “Babaloo”.

But the two were destined to meet and that moment happened on the set of and RKO movie entitled “Too Many Girls”, sending them into a whirlwind romance, and into marriage just a short time later. That whirlwind romance never truly ended for either of them, though both moved on eventually, it’s one of those true stories in life of a love that never really dies. Amy Poehler delivers a masterful review of the rich, varied, fascinating history and this famous duo, by giving us peeks into not the just good, but the hardships as well. From Desi time in the Army and their long separations, to the Communist scandal, to Desi’s unfaithfulness stories being plastered on the front page of every gossip rag in town. But through it all, the fact that it was Lucy who demanded that Desi be her not just her real husband, but her TV husband as well – something America had never before witnessed, an Anglo-white woman, with a Cuban-born immigrant as a real life couple. And not just that, but the many firsts the couple did such a showing a pregnancy and having a child on TV, sleeping together in a double bed, buying out RKO and making it their own Desilu Studios with multiple hit sitcoms coming out of it, besides their own. And two of the biggest deals in the entertainment world at the time, making re-runs of shows possible, and having a woman run a studio. These accomplishments might not seem like much today, but they paved the road for making it as such.

Some of the best parts though come from their daughter, Lucie Arnaz-Luckinbill, as she speaks so lovingly about her parents true love story with clips from notables such as Carol Burnett, Norman Lear, Bette Midler, and Charo, sharing their admiration and love for Lucy, not just as a friend, but honouring all of her achievements and the giving moments that she shared with each of them. And sadly, it also shows the hardships of the end of their lives with Desi succumbing to lung cancer, with his daughter taking care of him till the end, yet Lucille herself coming to spend a last day with him watching re-runs of their show, laughing and reminiscing the good times. Lucy herself would pass three years later from heart issues.

Photo by Leonard Mccombe/The LIFE Picture Collection/ Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on the launch of Desilu Studios

In the end, they said their “I Love You’s” to each other, and probably just like the rest of us, realized that even sometimes just love isn’t enough to hold you together, but it also never leaves you. And even today, we can watch those ‘I Love Lucy‘ re-runs and laugh, smile and realize, yes everyone still loves Lucy.

Grade: A

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Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

LUCY AND DESI will premiere March 4, 2022 exclusively on Prime Video

REVIEW: “FRESH” (2022) Searchlight Pictures

One thing not to be expected upon watching the opening scene of “FRESH”, director Mimi Cave‘s new horror comedy thriller, is laughing your head off at said opening scene with Chad (Brett Dier) and Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), while watching them on a date. Chad is the guy you never want to find yourself on a date with, but it’s hilarity like this that makes you think this is just going to be a harmless little rom-com. Well you will have sorely mis-judged your expectations because you are about to be taken on a fantastic wild little ride that you will not soon forget.

As we’ve now met Noa on the date from hell, we soon find out she is just one of the many young, single women who has been looking for love in all the wrong places, like dating apps, hence the terrible date with Chad. So when she randomly meets the charming and very good looking Steve (Sebastian Stan), in the produce section at the local grocers, she falls for his charming ‘cotton candy grapes’ line and ends up exchanging numbers. From there, things move fast, a little too fast if you were to ask her best friend Molly (Jojo T. Gibbs), as Noa ends up throwing caution to the wind and goes on a weekend getaway with Steve. But I mean who wouldn’t – honestly, they have great chemistry and he is fun, different and yes, re-‘Fresh’ing.

Honestly, not knowing much about this film is how you should go into watching this one, as it made me feel glad to not have anything revealed to me beforehand. Watching everything unfold as it does and finding out who Steve really is, is just something that needs to be as savoured as the meals Steve prepares for Noa. But be prepared as this skillfully directed film has a plot that is as diabolical as they come and those meals Steve cooks, can be profoundly disturbing. But perhaps the best part is as psychologically terrifying as this one is, it barely touches on any in your face violence or gore, but instead its the sheer psychological terror of each minute, that keeps you entirely focused on what’s happening in front of you. And mind you, some of the things happening will chill you to your core as the subject matter is grisly, but in mostly in the thought of it all because it is so realistically handled by Cave’s direction here as it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

Fresh can be genuinely disturbing and unsettling, at times even nauseating, but you will also find that you can’t look away for a second and this is mostly because of two factors, those being Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones. They are insanely good here as Stan is so charming, yet so dark and mysterious, turning into almost repellant, and yet feels like he is what you would get if swiped right on a hot Tinder version of Hannibal Lecter, because yes, we would swipe right on him. Edgar-Jones, plays her persona more than just convincing as she uses reverse psychology on Steve and does it so competently and never gives into the victim cliché. And there is a dance scene that should just not be missed by anyone and this whole film should truly fall into cult classic heaven. Even the supporting cast comes through here adding belief into each scene. While I admit it’s one fault is the ending felt a bit rushed and cheesy, but with the first 30 mins getting you in the mood before revealing the big “surprise” twist, it really doesn’t matter.

Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones in the film FRESH. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

But again, I can’t stress enough to go into this as blind as possible but also be prepared for what’s to come as It can get quite unnerving and rather intense at times, but in oddly all the right ways. Here is what I know and what will stick with me for some time – Mama Rosa’s meatballs will never look the same for me for some time to come, and after watching this and The Tinder Swindler, I am never dating again – well that is until ‘Steve’ pops up on my phone.

Grade: B

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Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“FRESH” premieres exclusively Hulu Friday, March 4, 2022

REVIEW: “MARRY ME” (2022) Universal Pictures

“MARRY ME” is the new rom com directed by Kat Coiro rolling itself out just perfectly for Valentines Day weekend release. All I can say is something has happened to me where I think someone has cast a spell on me as this is the second rom com that I will scream at the top of my lungs “YES! YES! YES!” to in one week. Who am I right now? Someone who loves this movie apparently even though you think it might be cheesy and full of fluff, and it is, but it all works so well.

(from left, center Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson) and Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) in Marry Me, directed by Kat Coiro.

The film is about pop singer Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez), who together with her singing and real life partner Bastian (Maluma), are about to release their new album called, you guessed it “Marry Me”. With the simultaneous release they will then get married themselves onstage while filming live to an audience of over 20 million people. When Kat learns that Bastian has cheated on her with her own assistant no less, she cancels the wedding plans on the spot and while on film getting ready to married LIVE. While looking out into the audience in pain, she then randomly sees Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson), who was bribed into coming by his co-worker Parker (Sarah Silverman), and with his daughter Lou (Chloe Coleman), in tow ends up in the with a sign that says ‘Marry Me and next thing you know, Kat spontaneously asks to marry him instead. With this one singular act, the lives of both Kat and Charlie both change completely, well at least Charlie’s does. With the assumption that Kat now seems a bit desperate by marrying a total stranger, and Charlie finding himself in the world he does not know with publicity he is not used to at all, the two just put on a show of trying to make the best of it together.

Look, we all know where this goes from here as let’s face it, it’s not rocket science. But it all comes down to how the story is told – even if we think we know the ending. And this is one story that is just all goodness, from how Charlie is the awkward math teacher who does Mathalons with his students, or as we watch as Kat basically continues with her life as well with what I’m sure might just be a bit of a glimpse into what Jennifer Lopez’s actual life is like. But it works, it just all works. Whether is be a moment where JLo pops in another amazing outfit, or sings and dances with the mathletes to teach them a whole new way to lose their nervousness in competition, or even when comedic Silverman’s character Parker tries to capitalize on Charlie’s new found fame – which ever it is, it all works.

(from left) Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) and Bastian (Maluma) in Marry Me, directed by Kat Coiro.

Best of all here is the acting in the film is well done whether it be the supporting roles of Kat’s manager Collin (John Bradley), or her social media maven/assistant Melissa (Michelle Buteau). For Maluma, this is his first acting job in a movie, and as he’s really just playing a famous singer, much like his own career, he doesn’t really get the chance to come forward as an actor. But that’s okay, because that voice is heavenly and so is he. (sorry guys-a quick girl thing there). Owen Wilson is well, Owen Wilson. The same character he has played so many times with the exact same facial expressions, tonal quality to his voice and all – which is probably the best thing to say about his performance, other than again, it works as they do have chemistry. But guess who does all the heavy lifting here – Yep, it’s none other than our newly crowned Queen of Rom Coms, Jennifer Lopez! She sings, she dances, she blows your mind with how amazing she looks, she’s funny, and probably the biggest point of all – she gives it her all here by giving us hand down, her best Rom Com performance to date.

All I can do is leave you with these parting words. Say “YES! YES! YES!” to “Marry Me” this weekend as Jennifer Lopez sings and dances herself right into our hearts with this one.

Grade: B-

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Review Screening: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“MARRY ME” IS NOW IN THEATERS AND STREAMING ONLY ON PEACOCK

REVIEW: “CODA” (2021) Netflix

Catching up on some quick reviews from 2021 that I didn’t get to and starting off with the wonderful “CODA”.

I feel that at this point what can be said about “CODA” that hasn’t already been said by a gazillion critics since the movie’s debut on Apple TV+ earlier this year? Sadly, I don’t have the Apple so I only got the chance to see it while kitty sitting! But this story of a teenager, Ruby (Emilia Jones), who is the lone hearing person in her deaf family just struck such a cord with me that I would be remiss to not at least say how much it really just hit home with so many. It also continued to further the conversation on why Deaf and disabled stories need to be told and what writer/director Sian Heder did was open that door if even just a little, it’s finally deservedly been done in a most wonderful and effective way.

The Rossis family are, in many ways, just like the average American family. They also happen to be predominately Deaf and by telling this story, which is filled with so compassion and humour (spoiler alert- people with disabilities can be funny as well), it did a lot to further the sadly, under-discussed topic of disability representation in films with people with actual disabilities. There are so many elements of this movie to love. Every thing from Troy Kotsur’s portrayal of Frank Rossi, the embarrassing father, who talks about sex with a boy Ruby likes, but yet is also her biggest supporter in learning what her true passion is and why she feels obligated to help her family, and finally sees what her true passion is and why she loves music. Marlee Matlin, whose portrayal of her mother Jackie, widely opens up the door so far closed until now, onto the unspoken of discussion on how disabled/Deaf parents relate to their children. The aforementioned Jones and Daniel Durant as her brother Leo Rossi, who is as well deaf, as two siblings whose desire for responsibility and independence are brought to the forefront, but the story in how they are perceived in totally different ways, is what makes it all the more special.

And the acting is just truly one of the best things that just makes the film all the more special. Every single person from Kotsur, Matlin as the openly in love deaf couple showing they not only have to deal with the same hardships hearing people deal with, but add into that, their being deaf to the outside world, to the wonderful Emilia Jones, who characterizes flawlessly the hardships, the happiness and finally comes into her own in spectacular fashion. I hope we see many awards nominations and wins come there way this season as it’s all much deserved.

This movie captured the little things that I think we all didn’t know we truly wanted to see and learn about in the ‘disability narrative’, one that I know I want to see more of.

Hopefully we all will.

Grade: A

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“CODA” is now showing on Apple TV+

REVIEW: “THE POWER OF THE DOG” (2021) Netflix

Set on a Montana cattle ranch in 1925, Jane Campion’s psychological Western is a slow burn. Her adaptation from the novel by Thomas Savage, depicts somewhat of a four-sided death waltz between two brothers. One is a tortured cowboy Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch), the other, his softhearted brother George Burbank (Jesse Plemons), who have drifted apart in their manner and outlook on the constant life on the range and running of the family ranch. When George marries a restaurant owner named Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst), a single mother with a delicate-seeming teenage son Peter (Kodi-Smit McPhee), the stress on their relationship deepens – especially since all four will now have to live on the family ranch together. The movie is divided into five chapters – none which are given a name, but simply an on screen number and these numbers are a clue as to how the story is going to unfold in progressive steps, with each act building into the next. The story that unfolds from this whole scenario is so many things, but mostly can almost be looked at as a cautionary tale, with it being told in a way that feels almost like a study of it’s characters. As the chapters ensue, the focus subtly changes as does the focus on what characters come to the forefront of issues in each of their lives. It’s a movie that demands your complete attention as the individual incidents often matter less than what isn’t shown, the underlying means of it all. Blink and you just might miss it all.

As well the acting is for the most part, on par with Cumberbatch not being anyone’s first idea of a cowboy. While he does well with the body of work, he is just not good with accents and this one as well, is all over the place. Plemons subtle turn as George is just divine and Dunst is fine as well, but heads above the rest is Smit-McPhee, who has the toughest task as the smart, somewhat devious, shy young man who consistently surprises the viewer – pay attention to this character as he is the underlying thread throughout as little pieces of him are given to you at times, that if you miss them, you won’t understand the absolute brilliance of his character. Thomasin McKenzie, Adam Beach and Keith Carradine fill out some of the fairly large supporting cast as well.

Grade: B-

“THE POWER OF THE DOG” is streaming on Netflix

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REVIEW: “I’M YOUR MAN” (2021) Bleeker Street

Not knowing much going into this film, little did I know what a lovely surprise I would be in for in director Maria Schrader’s quirky fun rom-com “I’M YOUR MAN”. Not usually being someone who is fond of the A.I. genre of films and having once been known to say “If I ever find that an A.I. is my my relationship – please slap me”, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this one even though I wasn’t ready for it to be almost entirely in German as well.

Thankfully though – this isn’t my story though as this one is not only better but it centers on esteemed archaeologist/researcher Alma (Maren Eggert), who accepts an offer to participate in an usual experiment in exchange for research funds. She agrees to “beta test’ on a three-week trial run, living with a humanoid named Tom (Dan Stevens), who has been programmed to be her exact ideal life partner. From there, she has to evaluate on the successes and/or failures of the AI prototype to help decide whether they should be introduced into society as potential life partners for well, everyone. During this three week time period, we find ourselves watching things that are essentially very human. Alma is anti-relationship as the film starts to reveal more about her we find she grieves over a miscarriage she suffered during a past relationship and her former partner Julian (Hans Low) is very much around. While Alma is single, she’s not alone – she has a younger sister, Cora (Annika Meier) and an elderly, deteriorating father (Wolfgang Hübsch), who require a lot of her attention in life as well.

Not to be overlooked is the fun CGI of a bar scene of playing itself well on the ‘who is/who isn’t’ a AI or hologram and of course the acting. Eggert is wonderful at playing off the strong, defensive woman she is supposed to be and slowly letting her wall down to open up to the idea of this AI actually being ‘the one’. While Stevens is quite good here as he absolutely crushes it by speaking surprisingly fluent German, that is when he’s not speaking Spanish, French, or Korean and most notably, not a single word of English. He also manages to somehow be a robot, yet convey small emotions such as being flirty, funny, sad and dare I say it – humanistic.

With some funny, snappy, smart dialogue and a well structured storyline “I’m Your Man” moves it all along in a realistic looking manner, while being hugely entertaining as well. There can be huge risk involved with films that tackle themes such as this one, and then be successful at it to boot, but this one was all handled so well and came across as down to earth while also making itself fun and thought-provoking.  

Grade: B+

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“I’M YOUR MAN” from Bleeker Street Films – is in limited theaters on Friday, September 24, 2021

Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR