"Minding the Gap"

This documentary is understanding the lives of boys from Rockford, IL who skateboard. I have watched three films about skateboarders over the past few months. I’m left with the same question. Are skateboarders sad and misunderstood or are they be happy and free? This documentary is raw and unapologetic. Domestic violence, financial restraints and race are focuses of the documentary.

Zack is older than much of his crew. He’s a father to Elliot, a cute and sweet boy, with Nina, a twenty-one year old woman. At first Nina seemed selfish and immature. Then you recognize she has many responsibilities and heartache. Her wisdom is remarkable. In regards to Zack, he knows who he is particularly why he drinks a lot. Yet it is cringeworthy to watch his often lack of action towards responsibility. Kiere is a young black man, marred by the death of his father and fear of being stuck in his hometown. He has a huge smile and incredible grasp of his emotions. He mostly hangs out with white kids. In the documentary, judging their lives is easy. Kiere remembers his father telling him, “prove them wrong” in regards to how black men can thrive against what black men are perceived to be. I took this to heart broadly as I watched.

I appreciate the documentary for not featuring a lot of subjects. Additional people are featured for perspective. Bing Liu, who wears many hats for the film, is a subject. He interviews his mother, Mengyue in a heartbreaking revelation.

You can stream this documentary on Hulu.

"Captain Marvel"

I went into this film with low expectations. (I took a mini break to watch the “Avengers: Endgame” trailer. OH MY GOODNESS!). As I left the theater, of course having watched the credits scene, I was pleasantly empowered. The evolution of Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) to Captain Marvel occurs as she fights the Skrulls, known as shapeshifters.

Brie Larson is marvelous in every fiber of her being. Lashana Lynch is incredible as Maria, who knew Carol from her previous life. I loved their sistership. Samuel L. Jackson is his smooth cool self as Nicholas Fury with a hilarious moment. Akira Akbar is delightful as Monica, Maria’s wildly curious daughter. Annette Bening is fierce and alluring as Dr. Wendy Lawson. Gemma Chan is commanding as Minn-Erva. Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou and Clark Gregg form a strong supporting cast.

Writers & Directors Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck deliver a world audiences have waited to witness. It is electric and fast paced by an extensive Visual Effects crew. SPOILER ALERT: Earth does not get destroyed. A miracle in this universe. Writer Geneva Robertson-Dworet with story by Nicole Perlman & Meg LeFauve developed a compelling message of humanity with women in the center. Carol as Vers is constantly told to keep her emotions in check. This is an all too real experience for women. There were some confusing parts in the development of Carol remembering who she is. Then, the story clicked. There was plenty of dry humor. The nostalgia and fun is ripe, playing into the day & age technology of today.

Costume Designer Sanja Milkovic Hays delivers in the t-shirts and looks. Cinematographer Ben Davis displayed breathtaking scenes shot in the massive open sky and trees of Louisiana. Music by Pinar Toprak hypes the nostalgia through the music with a captivating score. I thought my theater would go into a sing along when “Just A Girl” by No Doubt played. I also will only be a cat mother if it is to one like Goose.

I will see this film again.

Thank you, Stan Lee.

"The Land"

This film is “ATL” meets “Chronicle” in the way Cleveland is put on the map onscreen. One summer changes the lives of four teenage boys who dream of stardom as skateboarders with the dire circumstances of their upbringing. I’m left asking this question: what is life like when you don’t have to care?

Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Moises Arias, Rafi Gavron and Ezri Walker breathe distinct and daring performances. The actors push youth, rebellion, consequences and exploration to the edge. Cleveland native Machine Gun Kelly gives a solid and brief performance as a store clerk. Erykah Badu is wonderful and bare as Turquoise. Natalie Martinez is powerful as Evelyn. Michael K. Williams has one of the most recognizable voices with smooth swagger as Pops. Linda Emond, Laura Allen, Robert Hunter, Melvin Gregg and Kim Coates form a remarkable supporting cast. Casting Director JC Cantu & Liilian Pyles created wonders with the talent.

Writer and Director Steven Caple Jr. delivered a film from his heart. While Cleveland does not seem much different than any other city, this is the crux of the film. There are slow points in the film but jaws will be dropped when it picks up. While the premise is something the screen has experienced before, there are extraordinary parts weaved into the film. There is a contradiction of sorts with the story. Charles King, Nas and Erykah Badu produced the film. Jongnic Bontemps crafted a stellar score with a lot of music by Pusha T.

You can stream this film on Netflix.

"Boy Erased"

This film is vital in the shame and expression of sexual identity. Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges) is sent to a gay conversion program after a phone call from a life-altering experience occurs.

Lucas Hedges gives an astounding performance. Troye Sivan, who identifies as a gay man in real life, delivers a stirring performance as Gary, one of the attendees of the program. Joe Alwyn is strong as Henry, the first person Jared discovers his sexuality with. There is a dominance in the performance Joe delivers as well. Joel Edgerton is wickedly creepy and commanding as Victor Sykes, the leader of the program. Nicole Kidman, big hair and Southern accent in all, brings the gravity and sincerity of Nancy Eamons, Jared’s mother. Russell Crowe is a great opposite in demeanor to Nancy as Marshall Eamons, Jared’s father. Emily Hinkler is wonderful as Lee. Xavier Dolan, David Joseph Craig and Flea lead a strong supporting cast. The ensemble is also attributed to Casting Director Carmen Cuba.

Writer & Director Joel Edgerton adapts the memoir by Garrard Conley. The astonishing part of the film is the pure hypocrisy and lies spewed throughout, at least to audiences who have empathy for understanding the plight these young men and women who are coming into their identity endure. The close-ups and sweeping pace of the camera add an element to the film. Embodying Southern life, whether through the trees and wide open spaces, further details the environment these characters inhabit and shape their views. Music by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans created a score heightening scenes against many that are quiet.

"High Flying Bird"

This film hits in the crux of sports, media and power. In the height of a NBA lockout, Ray (André Holland) works to keep his star client, Erick Scott, a cocky basketball player.

André Holland is suave and carries the balance of loyalty and eager for influence. Erick Scott plays into the ego of his role. Zazie Beetz is cool as Sam, Ray’s former assistant yet right hand person. Her natural style is beautiful to witness onscreen. Justin Hurtt-Dunkley plays Jamero Umber. He has one scene yet commands the space against his foil, Erick. Sonya Sohn is a spotlight of the film as Myra, who works at the talent agency. Another spotlight of the film is Jeryl Prescott, who plays Emera Umber, Jamero’s mother, manager, and agent, with no sweat on the edge of her lip and full control. Bill Duke, Zachary Quinto, Kyle MacLachlan, Caleb McLaughlin (who has a deep voice now!) and Bobbi A. Bordley are a part of a mighty ensemble.

iPhones were the cameras used for filming. Director Steven Soderbergh maintains his signature style where he only invites so much into the room for the audience. Writer Tarell Alvin McCraney sprinkles in influences of Spike Lee, as black culture is prevalent. It is an interesting filmmaking collaboration between Soderbergh and McCraney. There are interviews spliced with Donovan Mitchell, Karl Anthony Towns and Reggie Jackson, who are NBA Players. Myra wears a chic feather cuffed coat attributed in the character fabric by Costume Designer Marci Rogers. Composer David Wilder Savage created a mix of songs and sound for a smooth score, as noted during a meeting when “I Wish” by Skee-Lo played. The ending is forgettable, ends abruptly.

This film is streaming on Netflix.

"Support the Girls"

This film was funny and light-hearted. Not an outright message piece. It was a strange sense of empowerment against the backdrop of sexism. The opening of the film reminds me of the stillness of “The Florida Project.” It is cars passing on the highway and the structures that hold the highway together, an allusion to the story.

Regina Hall is heartwarming as Lisa, the general manager of Double Whammies (an excellent bar name choice). “A” for effort with her Southern accent. Shayna McHayle has wonderful comedic timing as Danyelle, who is a wealth of wisdom yet is understanding her power. Lea DeLaria has a strong presence as Bobo, one of the regular customers. Haley Lu Richardson is the spotlight of the film as Maci, a young woman with optimism and cheer. Brooklyn Decker, Dylan Gelula and Elizabeth Treiu are a part of a strong supporting cast. Casting by Sally Allen and Toni Cobb Brock attribute this ensemble.

Writer and Director Andrew Bujalski wrote a film that understands women in their flaws and will to thrive, even if their circumstances don’t always let them. There were a couple of scenes that did not work well featuring the bar owner. The film would have worked more with just focusing on the girls, who were a bright spot of the film. The ending left me eager for more yet satisfied. Costume Designer Colin Wilkes embraced the charm and signature Texas heat with denim shorts, boots and uniforms the girls wear at the bar.

You can watch this film on Hulu.

"The Favourite"

This film was a treat. It is a focus on power, greed, ridicule and aristocracy with assumptions of affection. The sex scenes were not pleasurable, adding a rich layer to how everyone used one another.

Olivia Colman is wonderful. She pours into the neediness of Queen Anne while gaining sympathy for the personal strife she endures. Rachel Weisz is a peak performer as Sarah. She wears the hell out of a suit. There is a lot of showing in the curl of her lip and blink of her eyes. Emma Stone is sultry as Abigail, rising the ranks with the bit of sophistication she once held. Rachel and Emma meet each other perfectly in their scenes. Joe Alwyn is striking as Masham, one of the aristocrats. Nicholas Hoult is the standout of the film as Harley, eager for prominence. Wilson Radjou-Pujalte, Denise Mack and James Smith are a part of a strong ensemble.

Director Yorgos Lanthimos gives detailed direction. Some of the scenes look like surveillance footage. There is more focus than when I saw “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”, which was an absolute trip to watch. Writers Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara crafted a wonderful screenplay, delving into the time period. The humor is rich. It is campy fun as well. Each of the women have individual stories. No matter the characters progressed in the story, they were indebted to the queen. I’m over watching people be sick in a movie. There was also bits of violence but stayed on point with the character development.

Key hair & make-up artist Beverley Binda created fantastic and timely looks. The wigs on the men were beautiful and voluminous. Production Designer Fiona Crombie established the wealth with gorgeous, sprawling grounds. While the gowns and garb are not new to cinema, Costume Designer Sandy Powell adds specificity sharply into the wears, distinguishing between the classes of people. Set Decorator Alice Felton illuminated each room with gilded walls and trinkets. The bunnies were precious and a marker for Queen Anne’s life. Sound Designer Johnnie Burn created a score that drowns into the psyche.

"The Wife"

This film relates to “A Quiet Place”. There are quiet moments that commands the audience to focus on what is happening internally. Then there are scenes that boom against the walls, the arguments, the limousine rides, captivating in a whole other realm. Joan Castleman (Glenn Close) is the wife of the masterful and lauded novelist Joseph Castleman (Jonathan Pryce). A secret unravels over the course of events as Joseph receives his Nobel Peace Prize in Literature.

Glenn Close gives a performance. She is extraordinary while playing a character who is strong willed and loving. Christian Slater plays an unnerving character Nathanial Bone with the most determination and charm. Max Irons is profound as David, Joan and Joseph’s son, who battles his professional demons with close understanding to his mother’s strife. Jonathan Pryce is powerful. Glenn and Jonathan, as their characters, meet each other in the most thunderous of passion and time. Annie Starke glows confidently as Young Joan. Harry Lloyd, Karin Franz Körlof and Elizabeth McGovern lead the supporting cast. Each performance compliments the strength of the story.

Writer Jane Anderson adapts the novel of the same name by Meg Wolitzer. The screenplay is sharp and brilliantly written. A flashback nicely weaves in the relationship between Joan and Joseph, providing more context to the present. Joseph was wildly needy and manipulative. Director Björn Runge brings in the intimacy of each scene, making everything feel alive. Seeing the snippets of Sweden was lovely along with Connecticut. Production Designer Mark Leese with flare recreated 1950s Smith College among other time periods in the film.

I did not like the ending. I loved that Joan maintained her voice. Towards the ends, there was a sacrifice she endures in order to rediscover herself, which I think deterred from her prowess.

"Lionheart"

This film is powerful, spiritual and fueled with determination. Adaeze (Genevieve Nnaji) takes over responsibilities of her father’s company, Lionheart, after he falls ill. When a loan is needed to not lose the company, she utilizes her skills and voice to excel, all in the symbolism of family.

Genevieve Nnaji is wonderfully captivating in every scene, moving Adaeze as a character through the course of the film. Peter Edochie plays Chief Ernest Obiagu, who is Adaeze’s father, with power and calm. Onyeka Onwenu gives patience and wisdom as Abigail Obiagu, Adaeze’s mother. Nkem Owoh is Chief Godswill Obiagu, Adaeze’s uncle, with understanding and a sharp tongue. Chibuzo Azubuike is Obiora, Adaeze’s brother and rising hip-hop artist, with the pangs of stardom and to prove his worth. Jemima Osunde is Onyinye, Adaeze’s assistant, with motivation and vigor. The supporting cast carries the wonder and importance of the story, balancing humor, drama and discovery.

Director Genevieve Nnaji delivers the sprawling beauty of Nigeria with the intimate moments and closeups of the characters. Lighting, and lack there of, in scenes played a pivotal role in evoking the emotion. Writers Genevieve Nnaji, Chinny Onwugbenu, Ishaya Bako, Emil Garuba and C.J. Obasi wrote unique characters who are given a story. I love how Adaeze affirms her strength, consciousness, loyalty along with the eagerness to keep her family’s legacy. The costumes are stunning. Ernest carries a huge fan, adding a regal look. The make-up and hair highlights the natural beauty of the characters. The music is a pulse of the film, driving the story as well.

You can watch this film on Netflix.

"On The Basis of Sex"

This film is a testament to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her extraordinary work and determination ushered in a new era of fighting for equal justice. The work on one of her cases is the crux of the film, becoming more than a biopic.

Felicity Jones is captivating as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She delivers the gravitas of Ruth’s spirit as well as the motherly and caring breaths. Armie Hammer is strong as Marty Ginsburg. I believed he was a lawyer. He met the strength of Felicity’s performance without putting the spotlight on him. Cailee Spaeny is powerful as Jane Ginsburg, challenging her mother. Justin Theroux is wonderful as Mel Wulf, who is a childhood friend of Ruth’s and runs the ACLU. Sam Waterston plays a complicated character Erwin Griswold, who believes he is progressive but is just another powerful white man keeping the status of his kind. Kathy Bates, Jack Reynor, Sharon Washington, Holly Gauthier-Frankel, Gabrielle Graham and Stephanie Costa are a part of the fascinating ensemble.

Director Mimi Leder gives wonderful guidance for the audience to experience the surroundings of the scene. The sets are stunning, from the busy ACLU office to the Ginsburg residence. Writer Daniel Stiepleman weaves in the blood boiling sexism, the next generation and importance of the ACLU. There is humor peppered in. The groundbreaking change parallels to today, how much has yet to change even in progressive efforts. Mychael Danna created a stunning score from the decades spanning the film. Costume Designer Isis Mussenden embodied the era in the costumes. Jane, as a teenager, wears a mini-skirt next to her mother who is still wearing skirts to her ankles. Ruth endures agony to look feminine but taken seriously as a man. The scarf is her ponytail was a lovely detail.

I was brought to tears by the ending of the film. Thank you, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.