Brooklyn – Understated Yet Sweeping

Brooklyn is truly an excellent film. It is quiet, beautiful and one could almost say serene. The pace is deliberately languid, like walking along a garden labyrinth, slowly being led to the denouement. It never crosses into too slow, however, as the characters shine. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), the focus of the film, and this connection to her character kept me riveted. It was a sweeping film, too. It  successfully covers two continents and the costume and set design lushly capture a time capsule of the 1950’s. Even more remarkable is that the film doesn’t rely on gratuity in the least – it simply doesn’t need to. The focus is on the excellent writing: the storytelling, depth of the characters and the time and place in history. This is a great movie to enjoy with family, and one that I think will become a classic to repeat viewing in the future. I heartily recommend.

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Deadpool – Funny, If You Get the Jokes

There are two warring camps in the comic universe: Marvel Vs. DC. I tend to prefer the darker, grittier worlds of DC, as opposed to the shiny, colorful superhero worlds of Marvel, but I have been a fan of the X-Men Universe since I was a wee one (Ok Daredevil is pretty cool too, Marvel). So I went into Deadpool expecting a lot of cheeky humor. I was not disappointed. However, my partner who accompanied me knows very little about comic books in general and isn’t too excited by superhero flicks. I often let out a gufaw, belly laugh, even a little chortle here and there. (Did I mention the movie is funny? Because it’s hilarious). My partner would look at me confused. After the showing, he admitted to me he didn’t get most of the jokes. “Even the wolverine ones?!” Nope. He also said it was too violent. It was extremely violent, but in a self aware, Kill Bill over the top kind of way. One of the few ways I like my violence in films. Anyways, if you are knowledgeable about Xaviers School of Gifted Youngsters, and the inhabits of it, and are also familiar with superhero movies in general, than this is the movie for you! If not, I would suggest skipping it. The dirty, off color, disgusting and fabulous jokes just keep coming throughout he movie, which is layered with biting satire and colorful cartoonish violence. It has great action scenes, and somehow Deadpool comes across as…. charming?…. by the end.  Deadpool truly is the type of movie you eat popcorn with and just… enjoy. I heartily recommend – for comic book fans. Oh and if you want to avoid a very awkward time, don’t watch this with your parents or grandparents… please! 

10 Cloverfield Lane: A Clever Ride

I admittedly avoid movie previews as much as possible. I often feel that I have seen the entire movie after a standard preview, and I much prefer to be surprised or at least see scenes for the first time when I view a film. I happened to see the trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane before another film at the theater. I turned to my partner and said, we definitely need to see that. It looked great. And better yet, it gave very little away. Going into the film today I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to see a horror, thriller, mystery or sci – fi flick. I won’t reveal what it is, to avoid giving too much away. This is definitely a film that benefits from knowing as little possible. The writing, characters, direction were all on point, building suspense and keeping the viewer guessing at just about every scene. I found myself constantly guessing what the genre was as I was viewing the film. John Goodman is excellent, as well as the supporting actors. For a great psychological, suspenseful treat, I heartily recommend.

Mistress America – Sibling Rivalry at its Most Unusual

Intellect, wit, dark humor and character growth through dialogue: these are the qualities I expect when I view a Noah Baumbach film. Delightfully,  Mistress America  delivers on all fronts. The pacing and filming of the film reminded me of a play – leaving the viewer to feel like they are viewing intimate moments between the characters. The story is truly about the characters and the dialogue exchanged between them. The New York setting is the same as any films that highlight the city, and the familiar background truly lets the characters shine. The premise is based on two adult women who are soon to be sisters: Tracy, a college student (played by Lola Kirke from Mozart in the Jungle) who is trying to fit in at her Ivy League University  and Brooke (played by Greta Gerwig) –  a spirited and flighty woman a decade older. The chemistry between them works well- Tracy’s wide eyed admiration of Brooke, and Brooke’s excitement of being an leading older sister are palpable. The comic timing is also sublime, elevating  potentially heavy moments. Better yet, this film passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. It is a film about relationships between women – most importantly – ones that do not involve a love interest. I heartily recommend this refreshing tale of soon to be siblings.

The Frenetic Life Of An Addict – Heaven Knows What

Truly modern cinema is not lacking in films about addicts. This is why, any new addition to the genre is rarely new or unique. It is difficult for stories of those living on the edge to avoid being exploitative, or gratuitous. Heaven Knows What avoids these traps quite nicely. From the first opening, chaotic scene throbbing with Hardstyle EDM the viewer knows they are in for a realistic, gritty look at what life is like living on the streets, pining for the next fix. Without giving too much away, there really isn’t much of a plot.In fact, we end up in pretty much the same place in the end as in the beginning. Yet it doesn’t meander. This is a brilliant way of truly showing how a heroin addicts life works: going in circles. Every day starting fresh. Just quell the hunger inside, find some food, hopefully a safe place to stay the night. It is heartbreaking and so very real. Yet try to look away. The most amazing part of this film is that it is played by real addicts. The only professional actor is Caleb Landry Jones (yes, the excellent actor from Antiviral) and he was brought in merely because the previous actor was not able to do the job due to his own struggle with heroin. Harley (played by Ariel Jones) penned the story – which is loosely based on her own experiences living in the streets of New York as a heroin addict. Part documentary, part fiction, but completely riveting and sobering.  This is an important film that exposes viewers to the realities of drug addiction; I heartily recommend.