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DOWNTON ABBEY

Incomprehensible that this was my initiation into the “Downton Abbey” syndrome; fortunately, my last foray into the old British elitist, titled microcosm; servants and their mean-spirited, acerbic, acidic characters dampen any expectations of ingenuity, even the King and Queen’s entourage reek of pompous, pitiful, pettiness; their doomed, dour contribution ruin, what should have been a rambunctious, halcyon romp into a ... Read More »

FAGARA (MANDARIN: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Director/writer Heiward Mak has taken an overwrought, stale scenario and revitalized it with a charming injection of kindness, wit and discovery; three young women from disparate backgrounds bond over the death of their father (poignantly perfect, huggable Kenny Bee), from three different women; Li Xiao, Megan Lai, Sammi Cheng are exquisitely cast as struggling ladies in contemporary China; working together ... Read More »

OFFICIAL SECRETS

The Official Secrets Act: 1989, Act of Parliament, UK, removing the public interest defense, prohibiting disclosure of official documents, considered sensitive by the government; in 2003 Katharine Gun (imposing performance by Keira Knightley) working as a translator for GCHQ (NSA), after huge trepidation leaks a memo implying that the George W. Bush Administration (Tony Blair, complicit) was manufacturing egregious inadequacies; ... Read More »

AQUARELA

Director Viktor Kossakovsky’s bludgeoning, bombastic documentary on man’s insignificance, is eighty-nine minutes of terrifying, unpredicted, uncontrolled, volcanic implosions; massive tons of icebergs, cascading regally into nothingness; from Russia’s Lake Baikal, where vehicles are swallowed greedily by thinly, lethally veiled lakes and rivers, to Venezuela’s Angel Falls and the bewitching hurricane “Irma” redesigning Miami’s thoroughfares; compelling, haunting cacophony of thunderous, belching ... Read More »

THE NIGHTINGALE

Australia’s Jennifer Kent exceeds brutal boundaries in her latest petrifying revenge movie; those of a squeamish nature will be tested in the initial scenes; set in 1825 Tasmania, a British colony off the southeast corner of Australia; Kent owns the film as its writer, director and producer, and is fearless in her representation of genocide, colonial abuse and sexual sadism. ... Read More »

TEL AVIV ON FIRE (ARABIC, HEBREW: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

An incendiary title that is anything but; director/writer Sameh Zoabi (a Palestinian raised in Israel) with fellow writer Dan Kleinman create a silly, “soapish” scenario that deliciously delights with its blend of the pungent political milieu hibernating at the core of Israeli-Palestinian tensions preceding the 1967 war; a flimsy plot focusing on a Palestinian spy “Tala” (quirky, enigmatic Lubna Azabel) ... Read More »

ROJO (SPANISH: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” Argentina. 1975. A home is stripped of its accessories, by disparate individuals; a metaphor for the ultimate disappearance of Argentines with left wing political ideals, leading to the “Dirty War” (1976-1983) a United States-backed military coup d’état, (overthrew Isabel Peron) clandestinely supporting state terrorism; a murky blot ... Read More »

THE FAREWELL (ENGLISH/CHINESE)

Rarely does a film generate benevolent happiness, sweetness, witnessing a family’s love and concern for a precious matriarch; Zaho Shuhzen is dazzling as “Nai Nai” (grandmother), unaware of her fatal stage 4 lung cancer, she devours life and living with staggering, stunning greed; she is an extraordinary tonic, a canyon of care; her granddaughter, “Billi” (Awkwafina, “Crazy Rich Asians”) an ... Read More »

THE SOUVENIR

An enigmatic, voyeuristic, painfully plodding slice of intimacy, addiction in 1980’s London; “Julia”, (Honor Swinton Byrne) twenty-four, an entitled film student, succumbs to the slithering charms of “Anthony” (Tom Burke) whose garbled, pseudo-intellectualism, fed by his cocaine dependency, woos with vapid, arrogant, sickening poppycock;  Julia’s naivety refuses to recognize his villainy, depravity, as he plummets wantonly into moral turpitude; she ... Read More »

ALL IS TRUE

For as long as I can remember William Shakespeare (1564-1616) has monopolized my literary sphere as the foremost “bard” ever birthed; no other writer, poet has come within a breath of his genius, which exponentially blossoms with time’s passage; beyond wisdom, his scope of the human condition, knows no boundaries, parameters; no one, king or peasant, escaped his effulgent, caustic, ... Read More »

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