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A TRIO OF FRENCH SERIES AND AN ACTOR TO VENERATE: THIERRY GODARD (Amazon Prime & Netflix)

“SPIRAL” (2005-2021) (Amazon Prime) Thumping at the pinnacle of my “Must Watch” list is this gritty, compulsively addictive, detective series; a Paris, rarely seen by tourists: dirty dens of iniquity, gory, egregiously stunning scenarios, no topic is sacrosanct, unbiased demographically, whether victim or perpetrator your proclivities are splayed, vivisected, informed by reality; justice meted in tandem with the crime. Brilliantly ... Read More »

HERSELF (AMAZON PRIME) & PIECES OF A WOMAN (NETFLIX)

Two ambitious films excavating the lives of women, justifiably, “on the verge of a nervous breakdown”. “HERSELF” directed by Phyllida Lloyd, starring writer and actor Clare Dunn, focuses on abused wife/mother “Sandra”; she is destitute, living on state benefits, residing in a hotel with her two young daughters (enchanting depictions by Molly McCann and Ruby Rose O’Hara), eking out a ... Read More »

13 COMMANDMENTS (DUTCH: ENGLISH SUBTITLES) (AMAZON PRIME); VS “DES” (AMAZON PRIME)

Two fascinating series based on serial killers; “13 COMMANDMENTS” focuses on a fictional avenger, vigilante “Moses” who justifies his acts by eliminating the Sodom Gomorrah milieu where the commandments are egregiously ignored, violated by those who transgress at the mortal sin measure. The avenger “Moses” tries the patience of police detectives “Peter Devriendt” (Dirk Van Dijic) and “Vicky Degraeve” (Marie ... Read More »

MINI MUSINGS TO BID SO LONG, FAREWELL, AUF WIEDERSEHEN, ADIEU TO 2020

“THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7”  (NETFLIX) Director Aaron Sorkin once again uses his magical might in creating a pristine reminiscence of a bleak period in American history; 1968, Democratic National Convention disrupted by factions against the Vietnam War: Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen, physical facsimile); Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne); Mark Rylance and Frank Langella are expert renditions of William Kunstler and ... Read More »

YEAR END MUSINGS: WORTHY WATCHING

“MANGROVE”            AMAZON PRIMEDirector/writer/ artist Steve McQueen perpetually stuns with his historical films, based on egregious tales of injustice; Mangrove, a restaurant in west London and the trial of nine black activists in 1971 is blatantly honest, radiantly performed with a prescient message more vibrant today than yesteryear. FOUR & ½ STARS!!!! “NOCTURNAL ANIMALS” (2016)  NETFLIX Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance is enormous; paired with Amy Adams and stunning contemporary art, acutely satisfying. ... Read More »

COLLECTIVE (On Demand)

If you watch one documentary in the 2020 field of reality, where truth is key and despite the license of the filmmakers, stuns to the core, “Collective” dominates the genre. On October 30th, 2015 a catastrophic fire in the nightclub “Collectiv” in Bucharest, Romania claims the lives of twenty-seven and alters forever the one hundred and eighty who escaped; the ... Read More »

ETHOS (TURKISH: ENGLISH SUBTITLES) NETFLIX

A stellar, refreshing, compelling series made for contemporary Turkish television; commanding performances in tandem with a notable, intelligent script and scenario; Western viewers are challenged to grasp the dichotomies between the secular and ever encroaching religious conservatism in a Muslim world; hijabs versus free flowing manes; women therapists justifying their scholarship in a closeted milieu, where naked honesty, self-doubt, insecurities ... Read More »

FINAL FILMS & 56TH CIFF WRAP-UP

Because of the advantage of screening from home I was able to pass the 40 plus mark; the last two days were a blitzkrieg : SHORTS: STEP INTO THE RIVER (CHINA/FRANCE). An animated film beautifully conveying acceptance, bullying, sending a strong message to children and adults.  FOUR STARS!!!! COMRADS (CHINA). Hong Kong uprising of 2019 is an intimate portrayal of ... Read More »

56TH CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL MARCHES TO ITS CONCLUSION; SWEAT (POLAND, SWEDEN) (GOLD HUGO, BEST FILM)

This film would not have been my choice, “New Order” or “Tomorrow, the World!” were far superior; but “Sweat”, which also took the award for Best Art Direction, spoke to the pervasive narcissism saturating social media in today’s milieu: ubiquitous sharing, from morning through evening, following gorgeous exercise guru “Sylvia Zajac” (Magdalena Kolesnik) motivating her fitness fans, walking her dog, visiting family, shaming her stalker, culminating in her ... Read More »

56TH CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL UPDATE

MEMORY HOUSE (BRAZIL). Haunting in its meanness, baseness, ugliness, the purist depiction of “man’s inhumanity to man” splayed upon the screen, in recent “memory”. There is not one redeeming characterization in its entirety; evil blooms exponentially with each generation. TWO STARS!! KUBRICK BY KUBRICK (FRANCE, POLAND) ( ENGLISH, FRENCH, ITALIAN). By watching this insightful documentary, director Gregory Monro’s unveiling of ... Read More »

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