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Next Goal Wins (2023)
Be happy.
Filmmaker(s): Taika Waititi

Dutch coach Thomas Rongen attempts the nearly impossible task of turning the American Samoa soccer team from perennial losers into winners.

Faʻafafine Oh gosh, such a tired story. A weak sports team, including troubled youngsters in need of a father figure. A talented but haunted coach, reluctantly assigned, comes around to adopt the team. Success! Personal fulfilment. I cannot say how many times this film has...

Published April 10, 2024
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Dream Scenario (2023)
Meet the man of your dreams.
Filmmaker(s): Kristoffer Borgli

Hapless family man Paul Matthews finds his life turned upside down when millions of strangers suddenly start seeing him in their dreams. But when his nighttime appearances take a nightmarish turn, Paul is forced to navigate his newfound stardom.

Films within The core of film structure these days is elaborating on where the viewer is. The two historical devices are films within, and noir, where an unwitting soul is manipulated for our amusement. So it makes sense that we would from time to time have both...

Published April 6, 2024
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Bottoms (2023)
A movie about empowering women (the hot ones)
Filmmaker(s): Emma Seligman

Unpopular best friends PJ and Josie start a high school self-defense club to meet girls and lose their virginity. They soon find themselves in over their heads when the most popular students start beating each other up in the name of self-defense.

Underpanty underparty I suppose the target demographic are teens and maybe the LGB crowd. But it worked for me, an old guy. I can say that it worked in the ‘female disempowerment space’ which is now a sub-genre, and it worked far better than ‘Barbie’ did. Like...

Published April 2, 2024
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Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)
We all share the same fate.
Filmmaker(s): Christopher McQuarrie

Ethan Hunt and his IMF team embark on their most dangerous mission yet: To track down a terrifying new weapon that threatens all of humanity before it falls into the wrong hands. With control of the future and the world's fate at stake and dark forces from Ethan's past closing in, a deadly race around the globe begins. Confronted by a mysterious, all-powerful enemy, Ethan must consider that nothing can matter more than his mission—not even the lives of those he cares about most.

The Women I’m sensitive to situations where women are the drivers. What we usually have in these kinds of films is a superhuman guy, often going ‘rogue’ (a movie term) dealing with bad guys. There’s a minor shift here where the opponent is not a secretive, well...

Published April 2, 2024
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River (2023)
Filmmaker(s): Junta Yamaguchi

The one-hundred-year-old Fujiya inn stands in the quiet region of Kyoto. Mikoto is standing in front of the Kibune river at the back of the building when she is called back to work. But two minutes later, she finds herself back at the river again. The whole inn seems to be stuck in a time loop!

Gentle flows There are films that use the cinematic vocabulary reluctantly. Most of those have visual exposition, alternated with action sequences as a common model. Or we have ‘character studies’ that use the camera like a novelist would, to penetrate the skin, so we can follow a...

Published April 2, 2024
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Good Chemistry: The Story of Elemental (2023)

Combustable This is a companion film to “Elemental’, being more of less the story of the director/writer’s life and how it influenced that animated project. It is a charming piece, done well; clearly, Pixar talent was behind how it was themed and assembled. I am a sucker...

Published March 2, 2024
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Opposites react.
Filmmaker(s): Peter Sohn

In a city where fire, water, land and air residents live together, a fiery young woman and a go-with-the-flow guy will discover something elemental: how much they have in common.

Spatial Depth I suppose most people will talk about the story. It has the by now standard Father dynamics. The also now standard tension from a systemic (I hesitate to say ‘environmental’) threat rather than a bad guy. And a love story of the typical kind...

Published February 28, 2024
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Wish (2023)
Be careful what you wish for.

Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force – a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe - the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico - to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.

Many in One I won’t lead this with a rebuttal to those that did not enjoy it because they thought it woke, and part of a grand conspiracy against something. I will lead with what I think is a brilliant, effective cinematic decision. Pixar’s world is about...

Published February 18, 2024
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Wonka (2023)
Every good thing in this world started with a dream.
Filmmaker(s): Paul King

Willy Wonka – chock-full of ideas and determined to change the world one delectable bite at a time – is proof that the best things in life begin with a dream, and if you’re lucky enough to meet Willy Wonka, anything is possible.

Paddington’s Twist I never was a particular fan of Dahl’s, but I do have to admire the coherence he brought to his projects. There were bad guys and good guys, children and mothers, yearning and magic. But these all occurred in a world that worked together....

Published February 18, 2024
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Poor Things
She's like nothing you've ever seen.
Filmmaker(s): Yorgos Lanthimos

Brought back to life by an unorthodox scientist, a young woman runs off with a debauched lawyer on a whirlwind adventure across the continents. Free from the prejudices of her times, she grows steadfast in her purpose to stand for equality and liberation.

Things Inside Things This is not a film that grows on you and settles within your soul as cinematic enrichment. First, let me tell you that the period of watching was very pleasant. What this older man saw was a woman navigating within values I hold...

Published January 13, 2024
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