Saturday, April 21, 2018

Talking Tribeca: Smuggling Hendrix

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 18th-29th.


Smuggling Hendrix
Directed by Marios Piperides
International Narrative Competition

A dog is a man’s best friend, or so I’ve been told. As what many might consider the opposite of a dog person, it’s hard for me to understand the affection one can feel for a pet, but it’s certainly something I’ve seen presented in movies and on display in real life with friends who spend more time with their animals than with the people in their lives. The lengths people will go to in order to ensure the well-being of their pets are incredible, though I’d say that someone needing to chase his dog over a border would probably be considered the extreme.

Yiannis (Adam Bousdoukos) is getting ready to leave town, departing Cyprus to pursue his music abroad and run away from the debts that he has incurred and which follow him around as he makes his final preparations. The only thing that’s positive in his present life is his dog, Jimi, who turns his life upside down when he runs across the border separating the Turkish-held North from the Greek-held South. Told that he cannot bring a dog back over to his home, Yiannis must turn to more desperate methods to get Jimi home in time, enlisting the unwilling help of the man (Fatith Al) who lives in the home his family once owned, a questionably-reliable smuggler (Özgür Karadeniz), and the ex-girlfriend (Vicky Papadopoulou) with whom he shares custody of the dog.

This is a decidedly silly story, one that follows the hijinks of this absurd smuggling operation, which of course depend upon Jimi’s ability to keep from barking after it was the dog who caused the problem by running into an occupied territory from which he’s not permitted to reenter unless he does so unseen by the guards. The light plot pales in comparison to the intriguing political commentary presented on the way in which this real-life divided country sets the stage for this film’s tale. Examining the patrolled border and unrecognized status of a nation-state might make for a far better historical drama than this lackluster comedy.

Of the film’s performers, Bousdoukos is the least memorable, making Yiannis an unlikeable slob, hardly worthy of any empathy and not even concerned to dress in something more stable than flip-flops as he steps into another country to find his dog. Al and Karadeniz embrace the absurd situation in which their characters find themselves, and Papadopoulou shines as the most sensible personality in pursuit of this troublesome dog. This film accomplishes what it wants to, which isn’t much, and whether it needed to be made at all isn’t really justified by the end result.

C+

Friday, April 20, 2018

Talking Tribeca: Tully

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 18th-29th.


Tully
Directed by Jason Reitman
Special Screenings

There is no one trajectory to explain how and when major moments will play out in a person’s life. Some people don’t want a family, while others plan meticulously for it, but factors beyond their control may hasten or delay the beginning of a relationship, an engagement, or a birth. There are plenty of comedy and drama films about the miracle of life and the impact welcoming a child into the world can have, and this new film shows that there still is considerable ground to be covered, offering a fresh spin on something that many people are likely to experience or be affected by in some manner.

Marlo (Charlize Theron) is pushing the limits of exhaustion, raising two kids, including one with behavioral issues whose principal suggests that he might be better suited with a one-on-one aide that she’ll need to pay for, and very heavily pregnant with a third. Her husband Drew (Ron Livingston) is nice enough but hardly present, traveling frequently and playing video games in bed rather than helping around the house when he is home. After she gives birth, she opts to take her wealthy brother Craig (Mark Duplass) up on his generous offer to cover the costs of a night nanny. Meeting Tully (Mackenzie Davis), the young, spirited, energetic woman who arrives each night to allow her some sleep, changes everything, helping to turn her back into the person she once was.

Director Jason Reitman considers this the third in a trilogy of films directed by him and written by Diablo Cody. The first, the highly popular “Juno,” deals with an unexpected teenage pregnancy. The second, “Young Adult,” follows a woman who has never really grown up. This third chapter returns to the idea of family years later, long after the excitement of a newborn has worn off and life has become a monotonous burden without any hope of relief, which Tully’s arrival miraculously provides. Like their first two collaborations, this Reitman-Cody effort is a highly enjoyable, clever, and memorable look at a person trying to grapple with the state of her life that has spiraled well out of control.


Theron was so magnificently despicable in “Young Adult,” and it’s great to see her as a kinder but equally impatient mother who feels, rightly so thanks to her aloof husband, that she’s doing this all on her own. A substantial weight gain is the least impressive part of Theron’s layered and entertaining performance, complemented tremendously by Davis, a talented young actress who broke out in “Always Shine” at Tribeca two years ago and has since appeared in “Blade Runner 2049” and other films. Reitman suggests that Marlo’s situation is merely a location for the film, with the plot being more relevantly about a woman who rediscovers herself. Despite a questionable turn towards the end of the film, it recovers strongly and emphatically, certain of what it is and the poignancy of its story.

B+

Talking Tribeca: Sunday’s Illness

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 18th-29th.


Sunday’s Illness
Directed by Ramón Salazar
International Narrative Competition

Reuniting with a long-absent parent or long-lost child is always an intense experience, especially if one or both parties didn’t know about the identity or existence of the other until shortly before that time. There are people who spend decades searching for their birth parents even following positive upbringings by adoptive others, and some grow to resent a parent who walked out on their family at an early age. When that fateful meeting does finally happen, it can be a joyous or miserable experience, one that is sure to require a lot of processing and may ultimately do more damage than good, depending on whether both parties are equally happy to meet or see each other.

Anabel (Susi Sánchez) lives a very elite existence in Barcelona with her husband Bernabé (Miguel Ángel Solá) which is horribly disrupted during a fancy dinner party where one waitress reveals herself to be Chiara (Bárbara Lennie), Anabel’s daughter from her first marriage who she hasn’t seen in years. Thrown by her sudden and unexplained appearance, Anabel moves to safeguard all she has amassed from ruin by her potentially vindictive offspring, who in turn makes one simple request: for the two of them to spend ten days together. Initially resistant to the experience but determined to get through it, Anabel gradually opens up to getting to know the daughter she left at a young age as they sit quietly together in and around her childhood home, occasionally venturing to enlightening conversation.

There is a stark contrast between the way that Anabel lives and the amount of space that surrounds her and the simplicity of the small country house where Chiara has her come to get taken back down to reality. One of Chiara’s first acts is to deliberately pour her mother the wrong kind of wine before she knows who has infiltrated her composed life, something Chiara follows up later in the film by having her mother hold a stray dog while she pretends to accidentally turn the hose on her mother rather than the dog. It’s mainly just these two for the duration of the film, Anabel offering a steely resolve to deal with this unexpected reappearance and Chiara determined to make her mother realize the impact her absence has had on her life.

Spanish actresses Sánchez and Lennie both deliver performances that get to the heart of their characters, two women who have some sense of what they want in life and have had to either overcome or change their own circumstances in order to attain it. Watching them reluctantly get to know each other is an enlightening experience, if a painfully slow one. There are multiple moments at which the film seems ready to conclude on an impactful note, and by the time it does end, the journey feels worthwhile if a bit unnecessarily long.

B

Talking Tribeca: Lemonade

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 18th-29th.


Lemonade
Directed by Ioana Uricaru
International Narrative Competition

The immigration debate in contemporary America has gone way beyond the issue of a green card, with prospective arrivals from certain countries barred from entry and racial profiling often in place which doesn’t bother to distinguish based on residency status. The green card system, while relatively simple compared to many other ways of becoming a citizen, is still plagued with many problems, where even a candidate who tries to follow all the rules may be subject to baseless discrimination and feel forced to do things they otherwise wouldn’t out of desperation or fear.

Mara (Mãlina Manovici) is a Romanian woman who has come to the United States and married Daniel (Dylan Smith), who is recovering from a serious construction fall. As her nine-year-old son Dragos (Milan Hurduc) arrives, Mara finds herself losing control of her daily life and her struggle to get a green card. Things get even worse when her immigration officer, Moji (Steve Bacic), takes advantage of the position of power he is in and puts her in an impossible situation where she must compromise everything she believes in to have any hope of attaining the life she so wants.

This is a relatively miserable movie, one that rarely finds moments of true joy for any of its characters. Mara is quiet, not merely because English isn’t her first language, and she doesn’t take much delight in anything in her life aside from being reunited with her son, who is far and away the happiest person in the film. Mara’s marriage to Daniel seems like a positive relationship, but it’s quickly revealed that the two of them don’t know each other nearly as well as they think. Watching these unpleasant people experience unpleasant things is hardly appealing, though its tone is in keeping with other Romanian cinema.

Manovici’s performance stands out as the strongest element of the film, a believable portrayal of a woman just trying to live her life in a fulfilling way with all the right intentions. This depressing film serves as a cinematic representation of a struggle many people go through when they reach a new country and must go through an arduous process to earn the rights native inhabitants automatically have. It’s hardly an inviting or optimistic one, and its unsatisfying ending suggests that a story such as this is difficult to properly and purposefully conclude.

C+

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Talking Tribeca: Nico, 1988

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 18th-29th.


Nico, 1988
Directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli
Spotlight Narrative

More than any celebrity, musicians have the potential to become legendary. Many only experience their music by listening to it without seeing it sung live, while others have the unique opportunity to attend a show and see what the performance adds to the songs. When a musician dies either far too young or in a mysterious manner, their legacies are amplified exponentially for the untapped potential and the additional music they might have created had they been granted the time to do so.

Beginning in 1986, Nico (Trine Dyrholm), also known as Christa Päffgen, is hardly at the height of her career. Having attained fame for her work with The Velvet Undergound and as a favorite of Andy Warhol’s, the German singer, nearly fifty years old, finds her life crumbling as she spirals into drug addiction and struggles to keep custody of her troubled son. Her manager’s suggestion of a tour across Europe gives her some sense of purpose but also sets the stage for a tumultuous journey, one that enables select audiences to see just who Nico is and how intensely she gets into her particular brand of music and also hurtles her towards a premature end to her career.

Nico’s music can hardly be called melodic, a specifically stylized type of rock that demonstrates great passion and a certain kind of energy but isn’t always easy on the ears. This film strives for an accurate representation of how Nico interacted with the world, rarely interested in what others thought of her, particularly during performances when her behavior was less than ideal for public relations purposes or the reaction of an eager audience who didn’t want Nico to interrupt a set by storming off the stage. Though it’s hardly a flattering portrait, this film does give the sense that Nico was a layered and complicated personality, one who was difficult to understand, even with the context of her life experiences.

Dyrholm is a Danish actress and singer known for her work in films such as “In a Better World” and “Love Is All You Need.” Usually, she plays a friendlier, warmer kind of character, but here she is buried under considerable stress and dissatisfaction with her world experience, an effective if purposely uninviting turn. Her story is an intriguing but also dark one which, like Nico, has its mesmerizing moments but as a whole fails to truly spark. It’s a fine film, but not a well-rounded or deeply engaging portrait of this singer.

B-

Movie with Abe: Little Pink House

Little Pink House
Directed by Courtney Balaker
Released April 20, 2018

Everyone deserves to be able to live in their home, and no one should be forcefully removed. There are circumstances which dictate that land should be reappropriated for a public good, and usually efforts are made to ensure that those who are told to relocate are offered fair compensation in exchange for the loss of the place they call home. When a private corporation is the one making the request, however, those impacted may not be willing to go quietly, as was the case with the residents of New London, Connecticut who, nearly twenty years ago, protested being forced to move to make way for a new Pfizer plant.


Catherine Keener stars in the film

Susette Kelo (Catherine Keener) is a paramedic nurse in New London who owns a little pink house with a gorgeous view. When she is approached by representatives of the New London Development Corporation with a generous offer to buy the house that she has renovated from a small cottage into a warm setting for her life, she rejects it outright. When they repeatedly return and ultimately decide to use eminent domain to evict holdouts, Susette reluctantly becomes the face of the movement against the intrusion of a private company pretending to be a public interest into her personal life, taking the battle all the way to the Supreme Court as the NLDC’s chosen spokesperson, Dr. Charlotte Wells (Jeanne Tripplehorn), works to spin the story in favor of bettering the town and boosting the economy.


Producer Ted Balaker, subject Susette Kelo, and director Courtney Balaker

In this case, revealing the end of the movie is necessary since it speaks to the main reason that it came to be made. When the Supreme Court decision came out against the tenants and on the side of the city of New London, producer Ted Balaker cites it as one of the few moments in his life that he can remember where he was, shocked to learn that the court ruled against them. When the film and television rights for the book of the same name by Jack Benedict became available, Ted and his wife, Courtney, the film’s director, who wasn’t familiar with the case, realized that writing the screenplay felt like the next step. The real Susette Kelo claims that, over a few beers, she knew that “they were going to do the right thing, not just make a movie but make a point and try to continue to correct what happened so that it doesn’t happen to other people.” Ted describes the desire to “use the film to shine a light on other abuses since there’s a little pink house in every town.” The film’s website and Facebook page highlight eminent domain cases going on today targeting poor, elderly, minority communities, and Ted recommends the Institute of Justice, the organization that took Kelo’s case on, as another resource for those spurred to involvement.


Catherine Keener stars in the film

Discussing the ambitious nature of Courtney’s feature directorial debut, Ted jokes that it should have been a drama with two people rather than a “sprawling, decade-long ordeal with seventy-plus actors, a demolition scene, and the Supreme Court.” The married duo commends Kelo on being an empowering subject, and note her presence at past film festival screenings as a factor in the overwhelmingly positive response to the film, adding that at least one person has gone up to hug Kelo and thank her for what she did every time she was present. Kelo responds simply that “there’s not too many people that are against having their home taken away from them.”


Jeanne Tripplehorn stars in the film

This film strikes a particular chord because, over ten years after the ruling came down from the Supreme Court, nothing has been built on the land. Acting as a springboard for important conversations and hoping to inspire political action from affected viewers, this film also serves as an affirming drama with an authentic performance from Keener and a crucially funny turn from Tripplehorn, who Courtney attributes as charming and playful, not just a black-and-white villain. More than anything, however, this film is about “harnessing the excitement from viewers about learning more and suggesting five things that people can do if they want to do more,” according to Ted. As a call to action, this deeply sentimental film should do very well.

B+

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Jewcy Interviews: Most Likely to Murder


I had the pleasure of speaking with Dan Gregor (who also directs) and Doug Mand, co-screenwriters of "Most Likely to Murder," which I saw at South by Southwest last month, for Jewcy. Check out this great conversation with two very funny people over at Jewcy, and watch for the film on digital and on demand on May 1st!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Movie with Abe: The Rider


The Rider
Directed by Chloe Zhao
Released April 13, 2018

Where someone grows up can have an enormous impact on who that person becomes. Countries and areas of the world instill different values in their societies, which their residents may either embrace or rebel against, contributing to the development of who they are. Even within a country like the United States, the way people live and what they do can vary greatly by the influences of politics, climate, and general interests of a state or region. For those swept up by a phenomenon of their area, it can be difficult if not impossible to separate from that which ends up being in a person’s blood.

Brady Blackburn (Brady Jandreau) is a rodeo star who has recently suffered a serious head injury. Despite doctor’s orders to stay off horses, Brady finds himself immersed in that world, unable to escape it in his daily life and not content to sit on the sidelines. Visits with a friend who suffered an accident that left him unable to speak or move freely show him what his future could be, but the knowledge of what fate could befall him almost propels him more towards making the most of what he loves to do while he still can.

This is a film that feels extraordinarily genuine. Its South Dakota setting provides plenty of scenery and a fitting backdrop for its horses and their rodeo shows. All the actors portray characters either with the same names as them or with slight variations, capturing the feel of what it’s like to live this life. This story could take place at any moment in history, and the fact that Brady has a video of his accident on his smartphone is one of the only modern identifiers that places it in the present. The timeless tenderness of the experience shines through more than any current elements possibly could.

This film earned multiple Independent Spirit Awards this past year, competing with a number of the top Oscar movies, and it has enjoyed successful runs at the Sundance Film Festival and South by Southwest before finally making it to American theaters. The authenticity of this film, with naturalistic performances and a true heart, make it well worth seeing. It may not be a fast-paced or overly energizing watch, but it accomplishes exactly what it wants to in a formidable and extremely compelling way.

B+

Friday, April 6, 2018

Movie with Abe: Shelter

Shelter
Directed by Eran Riklis
Released April 6, 2018

It’s a difficult thing for people from cultures that have irreconcilable historical differences to see eye-to-eye. Previous experiences and prejudices are substantial hurdles, and only in extreme circumstances are those who haven’t had contact before given the opportunity to spend time together. Watching those who wouldn’t normally be seen together but are forced to consider each other’s circumstances begin to trust one another is usually a rewarding journey, one that provides insight into how they approach each other and break down barriers that, at the moment of their first meeting, seemed completely insurmountable.

Naomi (Neta Riskin), a Mossad agent on leave trying to have a baby, is approached by her old handler Gad (Lior Ashkenazi) with a seemingly low-key assignment: to protect a Lebanese woman named Mona (Golshifteh Farahani) who has served as an informant for the Israelis and is recovering from surgery to change her face. Naomi travels to Germany, where she must work to keep Mona from trying to leave the apartment as her bandages slowly come off. While Mona initially treats Naomi like a servant, the two begin to realize that they have much more in common than they thought.

There have been a number of movies made about Israeli agents operating undercover missions with Arab informants turning against their people. This one stands out because of the intimate way in which it portrays the bond the Naomi and Mona form, one that begins with neither of them knowing their real names and truly understanding the places that each of them comes from both geographically and emotionally. This tale of two women contains plenty of layers, not simply a surface story with a predictable ending. It’s also a compelling thriller, one that builds suspense just as it builds a relationship between its two protagonists.

Both Riskin and Farahani deliver performances that capture the sentiments of their characters, making them feel three-dimensional and real. The two operate on a level playing field, being vulnerable with each other as they have conversations which make them understand the similarities of their backgrounds and the place in which they find themselves. The script is strong, wisely spending little time on the preconceived notions that its characters might have and instead skipping to the very worthwhile meat of its great story, one that fittingly memorable to help create a solid film.

B+

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Movie with Abe: 6 Balloons

6 Balloons
Directed by Marja-Lewis Ryan
Released April 6, 2018

The passage of time is an influential device in film that can be used to show the way in which characters are transformed by their experiences. Sprawling biopics and other epics might choose to spotlight their protagonists over the course of their entire lives, beginning at childhood and finishing at the end of a long and eventful career. Meeting a character over a short period of time provides the opportunity for a different kind of interaction, one that doesn’t have the advantage of years for a person to grow but can prove just as dynamic a journey.

Katie (Abbi Jacobson) is planning a surprise party for her boyfriend Jack (Dawan Owens). She starts her day by picking up her overbearing mother (Jane Kaczmarek), who gets a little too into their shopping trip, and then goes to get her brother Seth (Dave Franco). At home with his young daughter, Ella (Charlotte and Madeline Carel), it becomes immediately clear to Katie that Seth has relapsed. While she struggles to get to the party on time, Katie finds herself preoccupied with getting Seth the heroin fix he needs so that he won’t be forced to go to rehab and potentially lose custody of the daughter he so loves, driving all across Los Angeles in search of some solution to her predicament.

In this case, meeting Katie just a short time before Seth stumbles onto the scene and forces her to divert her attention exclusively to cleaning up the mess he has made doesn’t enable her to be established as a character in her own right. Instead, Katie is developed in relation to the people she spends time with, protesting her mother’s irritating habits but still allowing them to be on full display and then scolding her brother for his latest lapse but helpless not to do everything in her power to cover up the way Seth has screwed up and get him back to a good place.

Jacobson does a spectacular job of displaying immense personality from the start, taking what Katie gets and reacting without much of a filter, frequently swearing in front of her young niece, seemingly unaware that she is present in those moments since she is in such a frustrated state. The film doesn’t demand much of Franco other than to seem out of it most of the time and occasionally charm when he shows Seth’s love for his daughter, and as a result Jacobson gets an appropriate spotlight in a film that wanders without much of an endpoint in sight, showcasing a journey without a demonstrated purpose.

B-

Friday, March 30, 2018

Best Films of 2017: #5-1

The list of my 25 favorite films of 2017 marks the culmination of the 11th Annual AFT Film Awards, my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. Click on film titles below to read reviews and click here to see all categories of the awards.


#5: Thoroughbreds



#4: Lady Bird



#3: The Shape of Water



#2: The Big Sick



#1: The Florida Project

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Best Films of 2017: #10-6

The list of my 25 favorite films of 2017 marks the culmination of the 11th Annual AFT Film Awards, my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. Click on film titles below to read reviews and click here to see all categories of the awards.


#10: Faces Places



#9: Coco



#8: Land of Mine



#7: Battle of the Sexes



#6: Sweet Virginia

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Best Films of 2017: #15-11

The list of my 25 favorite films of 2017 marks the culmination of the 11th Annual AFT Film Awards, my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. Click on film titles below to read reviews and click here to see all categories of the awards.


#15: Star Wars: The Last Jedi



#14: My Life as a Zucchini



#13: In Between



#12: The Women’s Balcony



#11: The Wedding Plan

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Best Films of 2017: #20-16

The list of my 25 favorite films of 2017 marks the culmination of the 11th Annual AFT Film Awards, my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. Click on film titles below to read reviews and click here to see all categories of the awards.


#20: The Fate of the Furious



#19: Wonder



#18: Stronger



#17: Princess Cyd



#16: Dunkirk



Monday, March 26, 2018

Best Films of 2017: #25-21

The list of my 25 favorite films of 2017 marks the culmination of the 11th Annual AFT Film Awards, my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. Click on film titles below to read reviews and click here to see all categories of the awards.


#25: Voyeur



#24: The Disaster Artist



#23: Downsizing



#22: Blade Runner 2049



#21: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


Sunday, March 25, 2018

AFT Awards: Top 15 Scenes of the Year

This is a special category of the 11th Annual AFT Film Awards, my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. These are my fifteen favorite scenes of the year, listed in alphabetical order by film title. Click here to see previous years of this category. Beware spoilers for these films.


Joi (Ana de Armas) is first introduced, seen in his apartment constantly changing what she is wearing in the middle of a normal conversation with K (Ryan Gosling), a masterful display of the visual creativity at work in an imagined future where desire is one commodity that is quite well-serviced.


Joi takes it one step further, bringing home a human prostitute that K can actually have sex with, positioning her projected image over the prostitute’s body and creating the illusion of melding with her, yearning for a humanity that she can’t possibly achieve.


For all of its action scenes and spectacular intensity, it’s one of the quieter moments that stands out most in this film: when all hope seems lost and those little boats finally arrive to save the day, a joyous and miraculous sight after such devastation has been felt with no seeming salvation to come.


This odd film – one that taught me that maybe I should read plot descriptions rather than just relying on seeing the names of stars – took its most hilarious turn when, in trying to intimidate the thieves who stole Ruth’s laptop, Tony (Elijah Wood) throws his weapon of choice into the wall, confusing and startling all.


This somber, lonely film was at its most effective when those prisoners of wars sentenced to clean up the bombs planted by their army first encountered an explosion, one that showed just how careful their work has to be and how easily and unassumingly a deadly consequence can occur and end a life.


After Anna (Rebecca Hall) and Will (Dan Stevens) decide to sleep with other people just to see what it’s like before spending their lives together, the funniest and most utterly shocking moment comes when Lydia (Gina Gershon) pushes Will to do whatever he’s always wanted him to do, prompting him to spit in her mouth, eliciting a shocked reaction followed by a shrug of acceptance.


The extended opening scene of this chilling thriller sets a perfect tone for the entirety of its content, introducing Christopher Abbott’s Elwood as he comes into a diner to do a job that turns violent very quickly and ends up with more than one mourning widow left to pick up the pieces.


In a film filled with sweet, great moments, the one that sticks out is very early in their courtship, when Emily (Zoe Kazan) decides to call an Uber and Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) readily accepts the trip, forcing them to spend more time together in a fitting modern-day romantic development.


This film series always has spectacular stunts and logic-defying sequences, and this film’s signature scene comes early on when Dom (Vin Diesel) drives a car backwards while it’s on a fire for more than a short time, staying calm and proving that he can handle anything behind the wheel.


The most memorable and impactful moment in this transformative film finds Halley (Bria Vinaite) treating Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) to a blowout meal at Waffle House just to get back at Ashley (Mela Murder) for daring to judge her parenting, taking every opportunity to make her friend miserable.


This underappreciated comedy from Sundance had a lot of laughs, and the scene that garnered the most was one of the quick snippets in which Anne (Amanda Seyfried) interviews people to find out about Harriet (Shirley MacLaine), where a man describes her as a horrible woman before his collar is unveiled to give some extra weight to that statement.


This scene is highly controversial since it’s the one that made people hate this movie that some boiled down to one in which a woman has sex with a fish, but it’s also one of the most beautiful examples of how this film portrays its characters and gives them humanity, demonstrated by the smile on Elisa’s face and the glow on her new partner’s skin as water leaked down onto the theatregoers below.


Though this film took some lamentable turns later on, the beginning of its main character’s woes was still immensely intriguing, as Christian (Claes Bang) steps in to help a woman being chased by a man on his way to work only to find that his phone, watch, and cufflinks have been stolen when he checks his pockets.


Early on in this great thriller, Amanda (Olivia Cooke) trains Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) on “the technique,” tearing up while watching a movie only to reveal that anything is possible with a little acting and giving plenty of insight into her psyche.


Things turn bad very quickly for David (Josh Wiggins) and Cal (Matt Bomer) at the top of a mountain with snow falling fast when David’s hand is bitten by a bear and the gun goes off, setting in motion the intense journey home.