The Film Gang

Pride

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Listen to a review of this film by Dennis Morton above, or read or below.

 

Any movie that opens with Pete Seeger’s version of Solidarity Forever would have my immediate attention, and I’m very happy to say that throughout the new British release, Pride, my attention never flagged. In fact, I grew ever more rapt as the movie rolled on.

The film opens in the summer of 1984, in London. A gay pride parade is about to commence. One of the leaders of the march, Mark, a young fellow in his twenties, has just coldly flipped off an importunate lover. Mark’s attention is focused, instead, on a news show on the telly. He, and we, learn that a national coal miners’ strike is now in its fourth month, and that 20,000 jobs are in limbo for the interim. Margaret Thatcher defends her government’s reactionary stance to the strike and tells the country the following: I can’t change my style. I’m here to be a good firm leader.

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The Skeleton Twins

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Listen to the review by Dennis Morton, above.

Land Ho!

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Listen to the review above, by Dennis Morton.

Boyhood

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Listen to the review by Dennis Morton above, and watch the trailer below.

Richard Linklater’s latest film, Boyhood, was a very risky venture. You’ve likely heard that it took over twelve years to make, and that he used the same cast throughout. That, in itself, was daring  – taking the chance that each of the cast members would be available for a twelve year shoot.

But, I think there was an even greater risk. Generally, movies succeed on the basis of disguising themselves as reality. We don’t want to enter the theatre and be reminded, over and over, that what we are watching is an assemblage of hundreds of hours of preparation and execution designed to fool us into believing that we’re witnessing a few seamless hours in the lives of the characters.

Linklater must have known that if he succeeded in getting to the finish line, the reality that he’d have created something never attempted in the annals of film history would likely ensure that most folks would be very aware that they were watching a movie. Which is to say – the desired outcome of ‘getting lost’ in the film might well be diminished.

Fortunately, sometimes great risks produce great outcomes, and I am happy to report that Boyhood is among them.

So, what is Boyhood about? Ostensibly, it’s about the childhood, pubescence,  adolescence, and early adulthood of a bright guy named Mason, and about the lives of his closest family members. But I think it’s also a film about time – about how humans negotiate it, use it, abuse it, and, especially, about its velocity.

That Boyhood is about time and its manifestations is no surprise. Prior to Boyhood, my favorite Linklater films were the ‘Before’ trio: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight. Obviously, Linklater is artfully obsessed with time.

The film opens with six year old Mason lying on his back on a schoolyard lawn,

gazing pensively into the sky. His mom, Olivia, arrives to take him home. In the car, she asks him several questions generated by his teacher’s concerns. Mason’s simple answers establish immediately that he is a bright and unpretentious kid – a magnet for our attention and affections.

Next we are introduced to Mason’s precocious sister, Samantha. Samantha is played beautifully by Linklater’s daughter, Lorelei. And we fall in love with her, too.

We now are beginning to know three of the four major characters – sister, brother, and mom. And soon we will meet the estranged father of the family, Mason Sr., played with characteristic excellence by Ethan Hawke.

We discover that mother Olivia, played by Patricia Arquette, has a penchant for choosing partners with unhealthy habits. Mason Sr. is an inveterate smoker. He is followed in Olivia’s chain of love interests by an abusive alcoholic, who, in turn, is followed by a guy with an incipient drinking problem.

Boyhood is a powerful portrait of the all too familiar problems faced by many single parent families – divorces, frequent moves, financial difficulties, a disarming rootlessness. Linklater, the endearing Ellar Coltrane, who plays Mason Jr., and the entire cast have made a memorable, perhaps even, a great film. Don’t miss it.

 

Ida

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Listen to the review by Dennis Morton above, or read it below.

 

Ida, as we say in English, (the name is pronounced eeda in Polish) is a film that could as well be called Ida & Wanda, or so it seems to me.

I’ve watched Ida four times and each time I’ve been more touched, more moved. But I’m also convinced that it’s as much a portrait of Ida’s aunt, Wanda, as it is of Ida.

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Belle

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Listen to the review by Dennis Morton above, or read it below.

Race, bigotry, class, slavery, miscegenation, women as property …. these are a handful of the issues that the film Belle grapples with while disguised as what some are calling ‘a costume drama’.

The film opens in 1769 as John Lindsay, an officer in the British Royal Navy, arrives at an unnamed site to claim his daughter. Her mother, a former West Indian slave, and Lindsay’s lover, has recently died.

Lindsay’s intention is to convince his uncle, Lord Mansfield, who also happens to be the Chief Justice of Britain’s highest court, to care for his daughter while he, Lindsay, is away at sea.

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13 Sins

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Listen to the review by Dennis Morton above, and read transcript below.


In a recent conversation with a friend, I mentioned that I’d just watched 13 Sins. I gave him a rundown of the movie, and he said – sounds a lot like The Magic Christian.
So, I looked up a précis of The Magic Christian, which was released in 1969, and sure enough, the over arching theme seems to be similar.

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See 10 Oscar Nominated Films in About 3 1/2 Hours

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KUSP Film Reviewers David Anthony and Dennis Morton

The short films up for Oscars show all the artistry and craft of the feature films  and you can view them in 30 minutes or less usually. KUSP’s film reviewers gave a couple looks at the animated and live action short film categories. Above, hear David Anthony’s review of Oscar nominated short animation films. And here is Dennis Morton’s review of the live action shorts.

Or read on:

Oscar Nominated Short Animation – Review by David Anthony
In the run-up to the 86th 2014 Academy Awards, the category of short film subjects includes two subdivisions, live action and animation. Last week my colleague Dennis Morton discussed the live action nominees. Today I will focus on animated offerings.

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Her

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Listen to the Dennis Morton’s review, above.

Inside Llewyn Davis

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Listen to the review by Dennis Morton, above.
 
Inside Llewyn Davis is the Coen Brothers latest film. Because it’s more or less plotless, and primarily a long character study, it’s been a challenge to write about. As the title suggests, the character under scrutiny is Llewyn Davis.

Llewyn is a folk singer, in his early thirties. Like his father, he’s a veteran of the merchant marines, but his dream is to make it in the burgeoning folk music scene of the early 60s. Much of the film is set in Greenwich Village, and in particular, the Gaslight Café, a coffee house that was located in the basement of an address on MacDougall Street.

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