Los Angeles

Lifting the Iron Curtain

The-white-crow-movie-review-oleg-ivenko-mar-sodupe
Sony Pictures Classics

MOVIE REVIEW
The White Crow (2019)

I blame John C. Reilly. “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” had such fun with the clichéd template of the artistic biopic that the genre still hasn’t recovered. Now biopics have to have an angle. For example, the Alberto Giacometti biopic, “Final Portrait,” focused on one specific sculpture of his. “The White Crow” similarly tries to have its cake and eat it: to focus both on the month Rudolf Nureyev spent in Paris before his famous defection in 1961, but also on the development of his talent as a child and as a young man. It doesn't quite succeed, but it’s such a Murderers’ Row of little known international dancing and acting talent that it's well worth seeing regardless.

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Little Trouble in Big China

The-crossing-movie-review-guo-chun-tian-huang-yao
Berlin International Film Festival

MOVIE REVIEW
The Crossing (2019)

Peipei (Huang Yao) turns 16 the day “The Crossing” starts. She lives in Shenzhen, a port city in southern China, but goes to school in Hong Kong. This means morning and night she must cross – by herself - the international border. Her father (Liu Kai Chi) lives in the shipyard where he works, and her mother (Ni Hongjie) is a party girl who only pays attention to her hangovers and her friends. But, in spite of all that, Peipei is a good kid. Since this is the instant she’s old enough, after school she gets a job as a waitress; but when a customer complains that’s the end of that. She’s desperate for independence, not least because her wealthy best friend Jo (Carmen Soup) has been planning for them to take a trip to some hot springs in Japan for some time.

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Getting His Irish Up

Black-47-movie-review-james-frecheville
IFC Films

MOVIE REVIEW
Black ’47 (2018)

“Revenge is a dish best served cold” should have been the tagline for this movie. Instead, we got “In Ireland’s darkest hour, vengeance shines a light.” That doesn’t make much sense, and is pretentious to boot. But it does rather sum up precisely where “Black ’47” doesn’t quite succeed as much as it wanted to, or should have. Of course, the political moment being what it is, that doesn’t much matter.

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Come and Knock on Our Cabin Door

Anchor-and-hope-movie-review-natalia-tena-oona-chaplin-david-verdaguer
Wolfe Video

MOVIE REVIEW
Anchor and Hope (2018)

Eva (Oona Chaplin, a k a the first to die at the Red Wedding of “Game of Thrones”) is English; Kat (Natalia Tena, aka Tonks from the Harry Potters) is Spanish. They are a happy couple living on Kat’s canal boat in east London. We meet them at the funeral for their beloved cat, which takes place right before Kat’s old friend Roger (David Verdaguer) comes from Barcelona, Spain, for a long visit. And bam! Suddenly a pair of firmly committed lesbians decides to embark upon something as heteronormative as motherhood without having a single sober conversation about it. Before we examine what goes wrong with that choice, let’s discuss what goes right.

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Miss Me Deadly

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Sabrina Lantos/2018 Tribeca Film Festival

MOVIE REVIEW
State Like Sleep (2019)

Writer-director Meredith Danluck attempts to put a feminine spin on the tired noir genre with “State Like Sleep,” with Katherine Waterston’s character, Katherine, obsessing over the mysterious death of her celebrity ex husband (Michael Huisman) and getting tangled in a dangerous web of secrets.

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Moonlite

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Tayarisha Poe/2018 Tribeca Film Festival

MOVIE REVIEW
We the Animals (2018)

Based on Justin Torres’s eponymous novel, “We the Animals” recounts the coming-of-age of a Puerto Rican child amid his parents’ turbulent relationship and his own budding (homo)sexuality.

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Residential Evil

The-night-eats-the-world-movie-review-anders-danielsen-lie
Haut et Court

MOVIE REVIEW
The Night Eats the World (2018)

Based on a novel by Martin Page under the nom de plume Pit Agarmen, “The Night Eats the World” imagines a zombiepocalypse as akin to one hundred days of solitude.

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The Kids Aren't All Right

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Hillary Spera/2018 Tribeca Film Festival

MOVIE REVIEW
Duck Butter (2018)

In some ways, “Duck Butter” feels like the lesbian take on “Chuck & Buck.” The fact that Miguel Arteta directed both notwithstanding, each seems to revolve around the warped sense of love and romance and the arrested emotional development shared by some members of the LGBTQ community – perhaps for being sheltered through puberty.

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Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

Tully-movie-review-charlize-theron
Focus Features

MOVIE REVIEW
Tully (2018)

Screenwriter Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman's third collaboration (and their second with an ostensibly unglamorous Charlize Theron), "Tully" continues charting the messy womanhood for which the duo's heroines are always woefully unprepared. Ms. Theron plays Marlo, who has her hands full tending to the screaming fits of three tykes while her genial husband, Drew (Ron Livingston), occupies himself with work and video games. Marlo's enviably well-to-do brother, Craig (Mark Duplass), offers to hire a night nanny to help lighten her load. Though initially too haughty to accept, Marlo soon surrenders to his goodwill. The eponymous nanny, played by Mackenzie Davis, turns out too good to be true.

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Uneasy Rider

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Lorey Sebastian/Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures

MOVIE REVIEW
Hostiles (2018)

Did the makers of “Hostiles” realize they were creating something that nails the zeitgeist? One hopes so, because as an example of the current reckoning and all the ways in which it is problematic, “Hostiles” is a towering achievement. As a film, it’s fine, but its importance lies in the current moment.

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