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TOLKIEN

Honesty compels me to confess that I never sunk my literary molars into the realm of J.R.R.Tolkien’s (1892-1973) “The Hobbit” (1937) nor “The Lord of the Rings” (1954-55) but wallowed in mesmerizing captivation throughout Peter Jackson’s trilogy of these fantastical characters and places that sprung from the imaginative fecundity of one man; oh, to stroll clandestinely through the closets, corridors ... Read More »

SHADOW (MANDARIN: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Director Zhang Yimou (“House of Flying Daggers”, “The Great Wall”) in his latest film “Shadow”, sheds upon viewers a magnificent epic of vintage Chinese lore: warring factions, recalcitrant, narcissistic leaders, romance, subterfuge, above all pristinely, poetically choreographed; sculpted mobility transcends the graphic violence; there is grandeur and elegance in the pathos; this is filmmaking at its peak; Yimou’s masterful vision ... Read More »

THE WHITE CROW

  Director/actor Ralph Fiennes, with intelligence and empathy, brings to fruition Julie Kavanagh’s biography “Rudolf Nureyev: The Life”; Fiennes studies Russian, adding legitimacy to his role as Pushkin, Nureyev’s ballet instructor, and neophyte Oleg Ivenko is vastly credible as iconic Rudi, a twenty-three-year-old, imbibing in the “garden of earthly delights” in Paris, 1961. The conundrum lies in Rudolf Nureyev’s inimitable, ... Read More »

RED JOAN

Ambition and over simplification stymied what should have been a legitimate political thriller; that being stated director Trevor Nunn and an inimitable cast, lend viability to the true story of a remarkably brilliant woman (Joan Stanley) who helped with the development of the atomic bomb, shared its secrets with the Russians, loved a misguided idealist (Leo), married a professor (Max) ... Read More »

AMAZON PRIME SCORES WITH THESE STUNNERS

When mediocrity stars in theatres, television can satiate the most discriminating, discerning viewer. Recently I watched three shows that resonated profoundly, leaving a luscious residue of memorable performances, extraordinary writing, staggering scenarios:   “The Politician’s Wife”: British miniseries (1995) starring Juliet Stevenson as a loyal but betrayed wife of Conservative Minister “Duncan Matlock” (Ian Bannen) with an “escort” (Minnie Driver). ... Read More »

PETERLOO

British writer/director Mike Leigh’s intelligent, compelling polemic referencing a shameful blot in English antiquity, demands and deserves profound respect from the viewer; 1819, four years after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo; with haunting memories of the French Revolution (1789) and its guillotined aristocrats, the activists, demanding reform, suffrage, tax relief, elicited quaking alarm in the status quo; trussed in their breeches, ... Read More »

ASH IS THE PUREST WHITE (CHINESE: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Director Jia Zhangke  (2015’s bewitching “Mountains May Depart”) in this alluring, ravishing scenario about love, loss and survival in contemporary China; we follow “Qiao” (impeccable, magical performance by Zhao Tao, the director’s wife) commencing in 2001, concluding in 2018; Qiao’s boyfriend “Bin” (extraordinary, Liao Fan) a feckless, minor drug lord sees no reason to visit Qiao, imprisoned, for taking the ... Read More »

SUNSET (HUNGARIAN: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Director Laszlo Nemes’ nascent Academy Award winning “Son of Saul” tipped the scales in mind-crunching innovation, revolutionary emotional upheaval, allowing the viewer to walk in the shoes of a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp, metaphorically choking on Zyklon B gas; existence, a circumstantial whim of fate; a manifestation, incarnation of palpable evil, touched by the refined embodiment of man’s ... Read More »

HOTEL MUMBAI

I do not believe in a God of Carnage; but 10 Pakistani men over November 26-29, 2008, assassinated 164 people in the name of Allah, squelching India’s way of life, as they did in the United States, September 11, 2001; director Anthony Maras, without blinders or sensationalism, reenacts and personalizes the calamitous hours of terror endured by guests and staff ... Read More »

WOMAN AT WAR (ICELANDIC: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Deliciously quirky, fantastically off quilter, writer/director Benedikt Erlingsson teamed with stupefying actor Halldora Geirharosdottir, introduces viewers to a character(s) never to be duplicated or forgotten. Twins “Halla” and “Asa” approaching fifty are spiritual loaners; Halla a “Divine Demolition Diva”, an environmentalist, in Robin Hood style, single handedly slays the instruments threatening the ecological purity of her Icelandic landscape; we cheer ... Read More »

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