Hyde Park on the Hudson (2012)
Starring: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Colman, Samuel West, Elizabeth Marvel, Elizabeth Wilson, Eleanor Bron, Olivia Williams
Director: Roger Michell
Synopsis: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, when not in the White House, is at his mother’s country home on the Hudson River. This movie is two-pronged. One focuses on the King and Queen of England visiting with intent to ask the US to help them in the imminent World War that’s knocking at their door. The other focuses on FDR’s flirtation with a distant cousin, a pleasant though naive woman when he’s at mom’s. It’s a light-hearted film for the most part but there is a sharp edge underneath the surface. Excellent casting and professional performances.
Men in Black International (2019)
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, Kayvan Novak, Spencer Wilding, Inny Clemons
Director: F. Gary Gray
Synopsis: Why oh why did they choose a director with no great movies? The MIB series is one that could go on forever if handled appropriately. This director, even with his big budget, manages to botch it. There are 2 very capable stars at the helm with Hemsworth (THOR!) and relative newbie Tessa Thompson, but there is no heart beating in this movie. It’s going through the motions. MIB will fade away to nothing unless they choose someone with a proven track record for excellence to direct it.
Starring: Benjamin Dickey, Alia Shawkat, Josh Hamilton, Charlie Sexton, Sam Rockwell, Wyatt Russell, Steve Zahn, Kris Kristofferson, Richard Linklater, David Kallaway, Ritchie Montgomery
Director: Ethan Hawke
Synopsis: From what I’ve gathered this is an artistic rendering of the life of country music renegade, Blaze Foley. There are several location changes as Blaze and his girlfriend?/wife? travel around looking for the big break for him. The love story between these two is precious to observe as it is sensitive and beautiful. Real life musician Benjamin Dickey plays Blaze, and real life musician Charlie Sexton plays Townes VanZandt. Although I like the idea of this movie to get word out about Blaze, the movie loses its steam about 1/3 of the way through. And the way it jumps around between times and fantasy and reality makes it confusing and disconnecting for me. The big names (Sam Rockwell, Kris Kristofferson) are underutilized.
Starring: Emelie Jonsson, Arvin Kananian, Bianca Cruzeiro, Anneli Martini, Jennie Silfverhjelm, Peter Carlberg, Emma Broomé
Director: Pella Kagerman, Hugo Lilja
Synopsis: Set in the future, a giant spaceship/floating cities is taking a trip to Mars with hundreds of passengers, almost like an ocean liner, with all of the amenities, entertainment, etc. The ship isn’t too far gone from earth on its journey when an at-first insignificant occurrence leaves a big ripple. The movie is what I would call minimalist, more psychological stress and tests the limits of human’s psychological endurance. It left me feeling a little anxious so beware.
Etc. Swedish film with subtitles
DON’T WATCH MORE THAN 1 MINUTE OF THE TRAILER OR YOU’LL SEE SPOILERS
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (2017)
Starring: Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Hank Azaria, Steve Buscemi, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Michael Sheen, Dan Stevens, Josh Charles
Director: Joseph Cedar
Synopsis: Richard Gere owns this role. It’s a movie by Jewish people, for Jewish people, but non-Jewish people can enjoy it as well. The plot is inventive and intricate so you had better pay attention or you’ll get lost. The acting is top-rate by all.
Starring: Sasha Luss, Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, Helen Mirren, Eric Godon, Alexander Petrov, Ivan Franek, Jean-Baptiste Puech, Adrian Can, Andrew Howard, Jan Oliver Schroeder, Francois Girard
Director: Luc Besson
Synopsis: Anna is a gorgeous young nobody in Russia going nowhere fast when she fills out an online form to join the military. The next thing you know she is being recruited by the KGB. She’s trained to be a first class assassin. What Anna wants is freedom, and if that means killing to get it, she will. Lots of killing in the movie. Anna wears lots of different and sexy outfits in it. Her KGB partner is hot as hell (Luke Evans.) Cillian Murphy and Helen Mirren both have substantial roles. The plot is intelligent. For this kind of movie (action, thriller, espionage) it is very good.
Everybody Knows (2019)
Starring: Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Ricardo Darín, Eduard Fernández, Bárbara Lennie, Inma Cuesta, Elvira Mínguez, Ramón Barea, Carla Campra, Sara Sálamo, Roger Casamajor, Jose Angel Egido, Jordi Bosch
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Synopsis: Family drama, where Penelope and her two kids visit home from Argentina for her sister’s wedding. Something big happens that threatens to tear the family apart, where things “everybody knows” from the past make it that much more complicated. It’s a tense movie that is carried by the two main stars, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. Usually both of these actors are tough/charming, but in this movie they show a more sensitive, vulnerable side. There is not a lot of smiling in this movie! Great scenery and small village settings.
Etc. Made in Spain, Spanish subtitles
Brigsby Bear (2017)
Starring: Kyle Mooney, Claire Danes, Mark Hamill, Greg Kinnear, Matt Walsh, Michaela Watkins, Jane Adams, Beck Bennett, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Kate Lyn Sheil, Ryan Simpkins
Director: Dave McCary
Synopsis: Quirky is the thing to keep in your mind. The main character is in his 30’s when he is “rescued” from the couple who stole him as an infant. He’s been raised in an “off the grid” manner by his parents who have created a for-the-most-part wholesome, yet isolated world for him. His main pacifier/entertainment is a TV show, “Brigsby Bear”. The movie revolves around how the main character reconditions himself to mainstream reality. The movie is entertaining and has a heart, but there is something about the main character that feels menacing to me, like he might go psychotic and violent at any moment. Mark Hamill and Greg Kinnear are standouts.
Etc. Indy film, director’s first movie (from what I saw); seems to be geared towards a younger age group (Millenials), the main character looks an awful lot like Napolean Dynamite.