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WHEN I LAST SAW JESSE (2019) review

April 2, 2020



produced by: Brian Robert Rose
directed by: Brian Robert Rose
rated: not rated
runtime: 88 mins
U.S. release date: September 7, 2019 (Gene Siskel Film Center Chicago) & March 13, 2020 (Amazon Prime) 


“How do you come to a family who has a missing student and say, ‘Oh, here’s his stuff’?”


Narrative resolution is something which audiences members crave, whether or not they’re aware that’s what they want. Ambiguity has always worked better on stage than it has on film, mainly because a film audience has a certain need for closure by the time the film cuts to black. The 2019 documentary “When I Last Saw Jesse” is full of ambiguity, a sort of real world “Rashomon” wherein several different witnesses all have differing versions of events. Unlike Kurosawa’s masterpiece, however, there is no closure offered by this film, leaving audiences in much the same place as the missing boy’s family and friends. Read more…

THE DOG DOC (2019) review

March 29, 2020





produced by: Alice Henty and Cindy Meehl
directed by: Cindy Meehl
rated: not rated
runtime: 101
U.S. release date: April 28, 2019 (Tribeca Film Festival), March 13, 2020 (limited) & March 20, 2020 (Amazon & Apple+ TV) 


If you consider yourself a dog person that means you’ve owned a dog at some point in your life. If you’ve owned a dog, you probably never considered that canine as a pet, or something you owned. Instead, he or she was another family member, a loyal companion that brought love, joy and comfort during the ups and downs of your life journey, and you’d do anything to keep him or her happy and healthy. And, if your dog becomes sick, you would go out of your way to find the best possible medical care for your good boy or girl. Read more…

SWALLOW (2020) review

March 26, 2020



written by: Carlo Mirabella-Davis
produced by: Mollye Asher, Carole Baraton, Frédéric Fiore, Mynette Louie
by: Carlo Mirabella-Davis
rated: R (for language, some sexuality and disturbing behavior)
runtime: 94 min.
U.S. release date: March 6, 2020


“Sorry, this ice is totally awesome.”


If you’ve haunted the darker corners of the internet or perhaps tuned into the television show “My Strange Addiction,” you’re likely no stranger to the phenomenon known as pica, wherein people feel compelled to consume non-food objects. It’s a very real thing with obviously very real consequences for those afflicted with it and it resides at the center of the new film “Swallow,” whose cheeky title is the first indication that the condition will be used mostly for sensationalism. Read more…

BEANPOLE (2019) review

March 5, 2020




written by: Kantemir Balagov and Aleksandr Terekhov
produced by: Natalia Gorina, Sergey Melkumov, Ellen Rodnianski, Alexander Rodnyansky
by: Kantemir Balagov
rated: NR (Content equivalent of R)
runtime: 130 min.
U.S. release date: January 29, 2020


“Other girls chased after generals but not me. Generals can get any girl, so it doesn’t last. l wanted the Head Logistics Officer. Then you’d never go hungry. Or be killed.”


“Beanpole” opens with two minutes where the only sound the audience hears is an uncomfortable, guttural sound being made by a woman. It sounds as though she’s struggling to breathe, which we later discover is exactly what’s happening, as our title character – real name Iya (Viktoria Miroshnichenko) – suffers the first of several catatonic seizures. The next one we see grip her in the film is ten times as agonizing. Read more…


February 21, 2020



written by: Peter Hoare
produced by: Chris Mangano, Matt Ratner, Rick Rosenthal, John Hermann and Gabrielle Nadig
 by: Matt Ratner
rated: NR (Content equivalent of R)
runtime: 91 min.
U.S. release date: February 21, 2020


“Regret is the only thing that’s real.”


The term “dad movie” has become a pejorative for long, boring movies where people sit around and talk. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks have trafficked in the genre for years, but I think its parameters can be expanded to include any movie one could watch with their dad. “Standing Up, Falling Down” is the latest film to tick enough dad movie boxes for me to comfortably call it one, though the mere presence of Billy Crystal alone earned it a place in the genre. Read more…

A Historic Oscar night! “Parasite” wins Best International Feature Film & Best Picture!

February 9, 2020



I had hoped, but I really didn’t think it would happen, yet there I was shocked and overjoyed that it did – Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece, “Parasite”, won both Best Picture AND Best International Feature Film award! History was made twice tonight, since no South Korean film has ever won in the Best International Feature Film category (formally called Best Foreign Language Film) and no winner in that category has ever gone on to win Best Picture in the ninety-two year history of the Oscars! That’s huge! The film also won in two other categories, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director, which was equally great. There were also other surprises and historic wins in a ceremony which once again found viewers weighing the pros and cons of another year without a host. Read more…

WAITING FOR ANYA (2020) review

February 8, 2020



written by: Michael Morpurgo (novel), Toby Torlesse and Ben Cookson (screenplay)
produced by: Phin Glynn and Alan Latham
directed by: Ben Cookson
rated: NR (Content equivalent of PG-13)
runtime: 109 min.
U.S. release date: February 7, 2020


“What did you see in the barn?”


Schmaltz is hardly a novel concept in cinematic attempts to soften the harder edges of World War II, everything from “Life is Beautiful” to Jerry Lewis’ infamously un-released “The Day the Clown Cried” positively trafficked in schmaltz. Even last year’s “Jojo Rabbit,” which was about 2/3 of a great movie, couldn’t escape schmaltz in its final scene. It’s the best way filmmakers have found to deal with such unfathomably inhuman deeds, and it works best when doled out in carefully measured doses. Read more…