Category Archives: Film Listings/Ratings

The Danish Girl (Tom Hooper – 2015) B+

This a film about the first person who underwent gender reassignment surgery. That would be the Danish artist Einar Wegener / Lili Elbe played very effectively by Eddie Redmayne. What is most interesting about Tom Hooper’s film, other than the beautiful photography, is the relationship between Einar and his wife Gerda (also a very good performance by Alicia Vikander). Seeing how that evolves and changes as Einar changes is sad and sweet.

Steve Jobs (Danny Boyle – 2015) A

It’s a play in three acts about 3 periods of time in Jobs’ and Apple’s life. It’s a movie based on dialogue written so well by Aaron Sorkin and delivered pitch perfectly by the talented cast. I really am not a huge fan of biopics. I feel they are limiting and lack finesse and a point of view. I loved this film probably because it is not a really a biopic but a specific take on a very influential public figure. It does not concern itself with Jobs’ upbringing, his beliefs, his early life, education….and it is all the better for it.

Room (Lenny Abrahamson – 2015) A+

It’s a harrowing experience watching Room and it’s one of the best films of 2015. I knew very very little about it beyond a woman and her child living in a room. I knew it got great reviews but I had read none of them and I am so glad I saw this with none of that knowledge. The performance of that 5-year old kid here is so damn good and heart wrenching. He is perfect in the role of Jack. Humans adapt, survive and heal. In Room we get a film with two acts telling us exactly that story. It’s tough to talk about Room without spoiling it so suffice it to say that this perfect movie will be tough to watch but it is a remarkable piece of work with perfect direction, perfect performances and scenes that so wonderfully capture human emotion that it would be tough not to hold your breath and some tears back throughout.

Uncle John (Steven Piet – 2015) B+

I love to slow cook a brisket on my smoker every few weeks or so. I wake at at 3:00 AM, get the meat on the smoker, make some coffee and start a semi-random possibly good possibly crappy movie. I call these brisket movies. Since I’m half awake half asleep I mostly expect these to be mediocre. Well, this brisket movie is pretty damn good. Uncle John is not a serial killer as I expected him to be. The film actually unfolds with very little exposition as we meet John and his nephew who lives in Chicago. We learn about the murder victim from John and his old buddies at the coffee shop. We go along while the nephew is falling for his new cute coworker. The romance might be a bit clunky but it is very sweet and stands in stark contrast to the turmoil of the little Wisconsin town where John is keeping secrets and trying to stay a step ahead of his murder victim’s unstable brother. When the two stories meet up we expect big emotional explosions, expositions but no, the director does a good job maintaining the tension and giving us just enough of a peak into the past and John’s motivation. We manage to stay with the story, care and look forward to what happens next.

Mr. Holmes (Bill Condon – 2015) A-

He’s 93, his brilliant mind is not what it used to be but the character of Holmes played here by Ian McKellen is as interesting to me as ever. In this film, Sherlock is a real person who reads the books Watson wrote (fictionalized) about him and even goes to a showing of one of the movies based on him. What really kept me interested is the wonderful performance by McKellen who plays old Holmes and very old Holmes as two distinct characters. It might not be a tightly wound mystery movie but it is a tender and well made film.

The Overnight (Patrick Brice – 2015) B+

A young couple move to L.A. with their son. They meet a cool hip couple, Kurt and Charlotte, with a kid the same age as theirs. They are invited for dinner and drinks at the L.A. couple’s awesome house. They have dinner, then drinks, then pot, and slowly things get…weird. This is a pretty good drama that keeps pushing the limits of its protagonists. How far would they go? What is plain old weird and uncomfortable as opposed to dangerous or creepy? Maybe Kurt and Charlotte are just lonely and need friends.