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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 »

WONDER WOMAN 1984 (HBO MAX) VS. THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN (NETFLIX)

Traditionally, Christmas Day is movie mania, in my household; redundancy accomplished, at home, in pajamas with leftovers and my adult pacifier, the remote. “Wonder Woman 1984” was a wonderous flop, “unsalvageable” by Gal Gadot, Chris Pine; Kristin Wiig as the scatterbrained sycophant, “Barbara/Cheetah” phenomenally miscast (perpetually locked in “Bridesmaids” mode) served as comic relief,  guffawing, fawning until her “wish” is ... Read More »

THE MIDNIGHT SKY (NETFLIX)

I have an innate prejudice when it comes to dystopian, apocalyptic films; acknowledging their technological wizardry, the aftermath leaves me in a queasy, dissatisfied, jetlagged fug: “The Road”, “Total Recall”, “Mad Max”, “Oblivion”, “Children of Men” and in particular “The Lobster”, were so systemically oppressive, depressive; no matter the ills of the twenty-first century, it is a “far better world” than these futurist prognoses; ... Read More »

AMERICAN UTOPIA (AMAZON PRIME)

A Covid Cure for 2020 and beyond; joy unexperienced since the world closed it doors, windows; shrinkage of entertainment venues and the intimacy of darkened halls, resurrected by  “American Utopia” a visionary reminder of what once was and will rise again; palpable hope oozes from its prognostic pores; visionary David Byrne, a stylistic revivalist, an Elmer Gantry, preaching his code ... Read More »

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM (NETFLIX)

Chadwick Boseman’s (1976-2020) electrifying, meteoric, candescent depiction of “Levee”, a high strung, volatile trumpet player in August Wilson’s (1945-2005) award winning “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”, is pragmatically the “Virtuoso” of male performances this year; his physical diminishment, resulting in the magnification of a role, regardless of his health, written in the stars; crushingly grand is his every sentence, lithesome movements; ... Read More »

AMMONITE (AMAZON PRIME)

Profoundly poetic. Director Francis Lee’s achingly pure love tale, starring Kate Winslet as paleontologist Mary Anning (1799-1847) and Saoirse Ronan as her lover, Charlotte Murchison is beautifully unsettling; the rawness of a landscape, accommodating to ancient fossils, unsympathetic to earthlings, intensifies the relationship between two outliers; misfits that bond over weeks spent probing for artifacts long dead, tainted only by ... Read More »

THE PROM (NETFLIX)

Universally panned, especially James Corden for his stereotypical portrayal of a gay Broadway performer, which I did not find offensive; the major criticism heralded from the LBGT community on his interpretation (Director Ryan Murphy applauded) of “Barry”, Corden is straight. Desperately seeking positivity in this pejorative, superfluous imitation of a Broadway musical, focusing on four (including the aforementioned “Barry”) “over- ... Read More »

Citizen Kane

My nascent exposure, in the mid 1980’s, to Orson Welles’ Homeric epic, “Citizen Kane” did not resonate as an iconic, monumental film destined, for archival prominence; almost forty years hence, with a matured aptitude, my sensitivities now grant it the lionization it has always deserved and for the most part received. Viewing “Mank” (previously reviewed) and knowing the war of ... Read More »

MANK (Netflix)

Herman J. Mankiewicz (1897-1953) won an Academy Award (along with Orson Welles) in 1942 for Best Original Screenplay, “Citizen Kane” (loosely based on iconic businessman, Howard Hughes); controversy has shadowed their victory for decades and director David Fincher with punctilious attention addresses the conundrum of authorship in “Mank”; a project fathered by his dad, Jack Fincher (1930-2003), is brought to ... Read More »

THE UNDOING (HBO) & HILLBILLY ELEGY (NETFLIX)

With skepticism, I ventured viewing “The Undoing”, thinking it was a glorified “soap” for the Covidly bored spectator; gleefully, my cynicism was vanquished at the conclusion of the first episode and kept me on tenterhooks for its entirety; primarily, because of the unprecedented performance by Hugh Grant as “Dr. Jonathan Sachs”, wallowing in the role of an accused murderer, he ... Read More »

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