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“I, Daniel Blake” is a moving look at the quagmire that is the welfare system, breaking through the callousness of glib terms like “welfare queen.” There is no crown or glory in battling an amorphic bureaucracy for something as basic as one’s right to exist and live.
After a series of poorly reviewed movies for the DC Extended Universe, largely helmed by director Zach Snyder, actress and soon-to-be mega-star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins pick up the slack with “Wonder Woman.”
Matt Tyrnauer’s new documentary “Citizen Jane: Battle for the City” is a story about Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses. Jacobs's focus on organic growth clashes with Moses's goal of redeveloping New York City from the ground up during the 1950s and 60s. The film delves into these two contrasting visions of the city's future.
“The Dinner” tells the tale of two couples who meet over dinner to discuss what to do about their sons who are cousins and commit a serious crime. The conversation deepens and more information is shown and discussed as each new dinner course arrives. While the plot is an interesting idea, “The Dinner” ultimately loses the viewer and fails to entertain.
“Angkor Awakens: A Portrait of Cambodia,” is a documentary focusing on the Cambodian genocide led by the Khmer Rouge in 1975 and its effect on present day Cambodia. The documentary focuses on the loss of culture and the Cambodian people coming to terms with their own history. Director Robert H. Lieberman portrays how the Khmer Rouge continues to affect everyday life in Cambodia.
Journalism’s worst kept secret is the fact that print newspapers are a dying business. Something that has been somewhat of a secret is the directly-correlated dying obituary section.
Director Ben Wheatley’s attempt at a B-movie shoot ‘em up comedy is almost a complete, for lack of a better phrase, misfire, that is is as unoriginal as it is repetitive. Set in Boston in 1978, “Free Fire” is comprised of essentially one long scene at a warehouse where an illegal gun deal unsurprisingly goes awry. Despite an interesting cast that includes the always excellent Brie Larson and Cillian Murphy and the charming and funny Armie Hammer, occasionally artful cinematography, and a halfway-decent score, the film offers very little in the way of interesting dialogue, engaging characters or even decent action.
Take one of the most up and coming culinary hubs in the world with bright, ethnic flavors and colors and put it in front of the backdrop of a major political hot topic, and you get “In Search of Israeli Cuisine.” This modern food documentary follows James Beard award winning chef Michael Solomonov to answer the one question he has always pondered; what is Israeli cuisine? But what the audience really walks away with is a new perspective on the infamous Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the possibility of peace through cooking.
Cristian Mungiu is the writer and director for “Graduation,” a Romanian language film set in a Transylvanian town and focuses on a doctor and his family. The simple summary is reflective of the incredibly realistic film. The doctor, Romeo Aldea (Adrian Titieni), is incredibly concerned with getting his daughter, Eliza (Maria-Victoria Dragus) to take her final exams and go to university in the United Kingdom, where she has scholarships already set up. Romeo is so concerned with this that he forces his daughter to take the exams even after she was assaulted and nearly raped the day before the exam begins. “Graduation” follows Romeo on a deep rabbit hole as he tries to do what he thinks is best, bribing and doing favors for those higher up in the education sphere.
Louis C.K. has always been a maestro of humor, and Netflix decided to capitalize on this opportunity by enlisting him to perform his seventh hour-long special for them. Seven is a staggering number for the amount of taped stand-up specials a comedian can have. That said, Louis C.K. delivers just as he has throughout his career.
For most film franchises, rarely is the sequel better than the original. But for the “Fast & Furious” franchise, which will release its eighth action-packed, thrilling and well-acted installment on April 14, the latest addition to the action series is by far one of the exceptions.
“Truman” is a film about two old friends who are seeing each other for likely the last time. Julián (Ricardo Darín) is married with kids in Canada, and flies to meet his friend Tomás (Javier Cámara) who lives in Madrid. Tomás lives with his dog, Truman, who he loves like a second son. He recently decided to stop chemotherapy treatment for his lung cancer, and is coming to terms with dying. Julián supports his friend in his decision, and they spend the next few days enjoying each other’s company.
“Gifted” explores the relationship and love between an uncle and niece who live together in Florida. When the niece, Mary Adler (McKenna Grace), begins first grade, she stuns her teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) when she can complete complex math problems. The film follows the relationship between uncle Frank Adler (Chris Evans) and his niece in this non-traditional family during a custody battle to determine the future of the child.
“The Lost City of Z,” director James Gray’s latest film, based on the 2009 non-fiction bestseller of the same name by author David Grann, follows British explorer Percy Fawcett at the dawn of the 20th century as he manages family, duty to country and his wanderlust for a mysterious Amazonian city.
I have never been to a movie where barf bags have been supplied, but that all changed with “Raw.” This French-Belgian horror film is about an innocent girl trying to adjust to the tumultuous life of veterinarian school. Directed by French director Julia Ducournau, it has won many awards in film festivals throughout Europe.
The Japanese film “After the Storm” tackles the popular subject of a dysfunctional family with divorced parents and a struggling father. Director Hirokazu Koreeda follows the life of Ryota (Hiroshi Abe), who has just experienced the death of his father and is struggling with seeing his son, who is in the care of his ex-wife. Ryota wrote a famous, award-winning novel over a decade ago and has fallen on hard times, gambling away what little money he received from his private detective job or borrowing from his sister or mother. “After the Storm” discusses multiple questions that surround Ryota’s life: “How do I want my son to know me?” “Who do I want to be?” “What do I want to be remembered for?”
Set immediately after World War I, French director François Ozon’s film examines fractured relationships between nations through the lens of a young German woman named Anna, her fiancé Frantz who dies in the war and a French man named Adrien who mysteriously shows up in town. The film flips back and forth between present day, memories of Frantz and flashbacks to the war. “Frantz” begins as a story about love lost and betrayal but slowly evolves into a film about new beginnings, forbidden love and moving beyond prejudice.
It seems inevitable for us that we misremember our own histories. We are, after all, selfish and forgetful beings. And, as a character says in director Ritesh Batra’s “The Sense of an Ending,” “history is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.” For Tony, the protagonist of the film, his own recollections - about himself and his past - are challenged when he is unexpectedly inherits money and a diary from his college lover’s mother, Sarah (Emily Mortimer).
The 89th Academy Awards aired on the last Sunday in February and it was a night filled with great speeches, stunning performances and an unforgettable “Steve Harvey-esque” flub. The event has evolved over the last 20 years, keeping pace with natural evolution but also as a result of serious criticism and complaints. While the changes have been welcomed by many of the participants and their fans, inequities seem to persist and the Oscars will likely continue to evolve.
Another princess tale has been adapted from the original Disney cartoon to live action film, and in this case, done excellently. “Beauty and the Beast” was both nostalgic and offered some new context to this beloved story.