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Showing posts from May, 2020

Vivarium

If ever there was a metaphor for the hopeless, isolated and trapped experience of pandemic confinement,  Vivarium  might be custom made. A vivarium is an enclosure prepared for keeping animals under semi-natural conditions for observation or as pets. But there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye. In brief,  Vivarium  is the story of Gemma and Tom, played by Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg, who are exploring options for the purchase of a home. The showroom of a planned development called "Yonder" is their first and only stop. Following a brief and bizarre description of this “perfect” community, a robot-like salesman drives along with them to the model home at number nine. The neighborhood is comprised of row upon row of identical homes, not unlike some gated communities here in Florida, or other more upscale versions we saw on the North Shore near Chicago. But these homes are utterly identical, all the same sickly shade of green inside and out, situated bene

The Lovebirds

  Meet Jibran and Lailani, smitten with each other and flashing that “I want to kiss you” face at every turn. Now fast-forward five years. The magic is gone, they are at each others’ throats, and just moments after they realize they have inadvertently broken up, the movie begins in earnest. A random event embroils them in a one-night attempt to clear their names of a crime they did not commit. This brief synopsis serves as a metaphor for my experience viewing this film, having so looked forward to it based on a very funny trailer. And then the movie let me down somewhat. The best laugh lines and sight gags were compiled in the preview. A couple of our favorites were dropped from the final cut and were not replaced by other lines. We found ourselves saying, “What about when he says…?” So, that’s disappointing, but the movie is still a fun ride mostly because of the onscreen chemistry between Kumail Nanjiani as Jibran and Issa Rae as Lailani. They are a comic odd couple, a wond

The Half of It

We have a winner! Now if people would just start watching and recommending this Netflix gem we found hidden in a grid of choices clearly being influenced by factors beyond viewer control. It falls within the RomCom genre, a coming of age film with a rating of PG-13 that is watchable for families locked in with young teens. Ellie Chu is a brilliant high school senior who rides her bike, seemingly always uphill and taunted by bullies, through fictional Squahamish, Washington, the kind of town that either traps you for life or provides the catalyst for escape. Actually filmed in upstate New York, Ellie is played by Leah Lewis, a multi-talented, adopted Chinese-American from Orlando, who has appeared in Disney films, on  The Voice  and even sang a solo at her own high school graduation. Her singing is put to use in a  Napoleon Dynamite  moment that serves as a bridge to her eventual acceptance at school.  She is almost boyish, plain and hiding behind glasses and pulled back hair in 

High Life

I also like good Science Fiction, but this strange 2018 Amazon Prime offering just gave me an excuse to make multiple trips to the kitchen for snacks. Somewhere in the not too distant future, criminals are being sent on voyages of rehabilitation from a ravaged planet to a black hole approximately eight light years from Earth. Well, surprise, it’s a one-way ticket to the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Everyone knows you can’t fly into a black hole and hope to come out intact. The premise for recruiting crews is the concept of circling the black hole to investigate the possibility of harnessing its energy to augment Earth’s own diminished resources. This French produced film stars Robert Pattinson as the father of an infant daughter, apparently alone on a large vessel that recycles waste, grows plants and can approach light speed. But what happened to the crew? Hold on, you’ll find out. It feels at first very much like 1972’s  Silent Running  with Bruce Dern. But here we don’t

Bone Tomahawk

I love a good Western. This 2015 film popped up in our Netflix assortment recently and we gave it a chance. We’re now in treatment for PTSD. The movie starts strong. Great sets and acting, some brutality early on, but nothing we couldn’t handle. The dialogue was punchy and had that formal-English dialect that wouldn’t be entirely out of the realm of possibility given the recent emigration during this period of most pioneers from the East Coast and beyond. Dark humor permeated early scenes, and then it just got deeply dark. Kurt Russell plays a no nonsense sheriff in ironically named Bright Hope near the border of Texas and New Mexico. He is known for his trademark shot-to-the-leg when confronting bad guys, resulting once again in the summoning of cattle rancher Arthur’s wife Samantha, who seems to have some medical expertise, or at least a bag of tools. Samantha and two others are kidnapped by a rogue group of Native American cannibal Troglodytes early in the film. The subsequen

Waves

If you liked 1979’s  The Great Santini  this film might be one you enjoy. It seems that Sterling K. Brown is in danger of being typecast as intense father figures, and for this role he is perfect. But unlike his character in  This Is Us , the loving father of the second generation Pearson clan whose type A angst turns mostly inward, the  Waves  character Ronald (no last name) is laser-focused on improving teen son Tyler. His pep talks are abusive, manipulative guilt trips steeped in racial insecurity and the need to “do ten times more” to gain equal footing with privileged whites. Set somewhere in southeast Florida, near the mega-wealthy South Beach excesses of glitz, drugs and Art Deco Hip Hop, colors and music form an immersive backdrop for what is essentially a teen coming of age movie. Once again, Smartphones are a key plot device, if not a character, that are an end-run around the need to convey much information that would traditionally need to be spoken or acted out. As writ