Molly’s Game (Aaron Sorkin – 2017) B

She was an Olympic hopeful skier, had a freak accident and ended up running very high stakes poker games and eventually the target of the FBI. It is very good and solidly written and performed. There is one specific scene where Kevin Costner delivers a touching and and perfect monologue while sitting on a bench with Jessica Chastain who plays his daughter that I absolutely loved.

The Spirit of The Beehive (Victor Erice – 1973) A

This is a classic that I expected to be bigger and sprawling I think. I expected a rough and tough story about the war and the impact it has on rural Spain with Franco coming to power. What this turned out to be is a much more focused and delightful film told almost entirely from the perspective of a 10 year old girl, Ana, and her sister Isabel (I think she is maybe 13). It’s about war too, certainly, but war as in a far away concept from this remote village. One day the black and white classic film “Frankenstein” comes to their town and seeing that has a huge impact on them, especially Ana. That’s what this movie is about, the impact of movies. Ana sees the monster and it is real to her. She might even have one living in the old farmhouse that she passes on the way to school. We meet her parents but they barely speak much. Are the parents really that distant and silent? or is this the perspective of a 10 year old and how she sees adult? I am not sure. Movies like this rise and fall based on how believable a child’s performance can be. The two young actresses are very good and Erice uses them so well framing Ana’s face in shots that focus on her big eyes. They seem to see way more than the Castillian town where she lives, and instead the fantastical and surreal.

Blue Jay (Alex Lehmann – 2016 ) A-

Sometimes I see a movie and totally forget about it a day later. Other times, as it should with the good ones, it sticks. I saw this little black and white gem a while back and thought I already posted about it. I think about it off and on but somehow never did post here. It’s almost a play. 90 percent of it is us hanging out with the two leading characters played by Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson. They were lovers when they were younger and they meet again in the small town where they both used to live when she is visiting. They hang out, talk, and of course the past with its good and bad comes back as if it was just yesterday. Duplass and Paulson are delightful and have excellent chemistry. One can rarely undo past decisions but for a day or so one can pretend.

 

Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley – 2018) A

Damn! This is out there. It’s not for everyone and that is totally fine. It’s a funny, tragic, horrific film set in the near-ish future. What happens when you take greed, desperation, race struggles and mix them all up with no real guardrails beyond money? A really terrible society it seems. This is like a bookend to the excellent Get Out and it goes places that I will not spoil.

The Daytrippers (Greg Mottola – 1996) A-

A simple handwritten letter from “Sandy” starts it all. Eliza (Hope Davis) is very happily married to Louis (Stanley Tucci) but on this morning after Thanksgiving she finds that latter on the floor. It could be nothing, it could mean a lot. Of course her mom (The late great Anne Meara) is immediately on the “he’s cheating” bandwagon. Eliza, her mom, dad, sister (Parker Posey) and her sister’s pretentious intellectual boyfriend (Liev Schreiber) pack into her dad’s station wagon and they are off to the city to clear the matter up with Louis. The film unfolds over that day trip in a series of conversations and confrontations and characters. It’s a favorite style of mine, this type of movie about very little and so much. It’s a classic.

Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick – 1964) A

Another classic from Criterion Channel that I finally got to seeing. This 1964 classic feels so relevant still and so funny! The awesome black and white makes it really timeless. Peter Sellers in various roles is so great here and when I figured out why his Dr. Strangelove keeps fighting his arm it just cracked me up. It’s a satire about what could happen if the those wise nuclear powers go a bit wacky. Do they have control? Really? How many fail safes do we have?