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Mid90s doesn’t have the coolest title, but gosh, Jonah Hill makes up for that in spades in this coming of age tale. Stevie is rudderless and virtually friendless, with a home life most would find no reason to envy. When he hooks up with a group of skaters, he finally begins to belong, learning about true friendship, love, pain, and loss. Fantastic!

Brigsby Bear – Imagine living the whole of your life solely in the company of your parents, isolated in a post apocalyptic Utah. Your life revolves around your favorite television program, Brigsby Bear. Only it isn’t true. Your parents kidnapped you as an infant. The air isn’t toxic, and your favorite show, the one you’ve memorized backwards and forwards was never even broadcast, but made solely for you by the man who claimed to be your father. This is what happens next. How you move in with your birth parents and sister, awkwardly learn how to be a brother and friend, behave around the opposite sex, and how, more than anything, you need to finish the story of Brigsby Bear. WOW! Touching and ever so funny.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot  is the story of Portland cartoonist John Callahan, following him in the days before his paralysis and through the beginning of his recovery from alcoholism. Earnest, thoughtful, and a bit silly, too.

Three Identical Strangers – Triplets separated at birth find each other as young men and struggle to discover the truth behind their adoptions. Prepare to get very, very angry.

The Rider – Words really fail me here, as this fil-um is ALL THE THINGS. Toxic masculinity, friendship, family, L O V E , loss, desire, horses, cowboys, and the sublime beauty of South Dakota. Blurring the line between fact and fiction, it follows Brady as he recovers from a near fatal head injury.

The Incredible Jessica James is the story of a woke and wise aspiring playwright after a devastating breakup. One of the side splitters!

Manhunt: The Unabomber documents how the FBI finally caught Ted Kaczynski by the pioneering use of forensic linguistics. Fasinating.

Swim Team profiles the members of the New Jersey Hammerheads, a winning team made entirely of young people on the autism spectrum. The film shines a light on the dedication and struggle of the parents and swimmers, in and out of the pool. Truly inspirational.

Peanut Butter Falcon – A young man with Down Syndrome escapes the retirement home charged with his care to search for his wrestling idol. On the way, he meets Tyler, a man running from trouble, and they forge a deep and abiding friendship, Huck Finn style.

Isn’t It Romantic is a lighthearted dig at all the ways romantic comedies fail to portray life as it is. Super cynical Natalie hits her head during a mugging and wakes up in her least favorite film genre, quickly learning the only way to escape is to play along, but with her own rules. Thank you Rebel Wilson for another side splitter!

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To Dust – An orthodox Jew struggles with the death of his wife, and in particular, the state of her decomposing body, practically stalking science teacher Albert until he agrees to help him. A story of grief, love, familial bonds, and unconventional friendship.

Columbus – I only initially cared about this film because of the location. I was, quite thankfully, equally enchanted by the story. An exploration of the importance of spaces (so much stunning architecture on view!!), reconciling our needs and wants with that of family, and the friends, old and new, who help to guide us.

Heartstone – teenage pals discover the painful realities of who they are and the people who matter most. Super bonus – it takes place in gorgeous Iceland!

Sunset – In Budapest on the cusp of World War I, a young woman applies as a milliner at the store her parents once owned, but is turned away. Determined, she stays in the city and is witness to the unfolding of violent and horrible events. Beautifully filmed, it questions the nature of good and evil, and the fraught nature of taking sides.

Terminal – a bathed in neon wonder about assassins, greed, and one big come uppance.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople – A foster child finally finds his forever family. When tragedy strikes, he’s determined not to go back into care and heads for the wilderness. Wacky, sweet, and quirky, set in stunningly beautiful New Zealand. All the Colleen things…

The Death of Stalin – This movie explores the abject terror of life under Stalin and the wildly melodramatic power play following his death. Hilarious and horrifying.

Eighth Grade – A work of fiction, but a painfully real tale of the oftentimes harrowing life of an everyday teen girl. Simply brilliant.

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Oh, and delightfully movie related – do you know about Kanopy? It’s a streaming service that is available for FREE with a library card or university login. The selection is pretty stellar, too, just like the library! I watched about half of today’s movies using it. To see if your library participates, check the link. Fingers crossed….

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Lucky – a man near the end of his days, Lucky follows a rigid and routine existence in a small California town. Yoga, the same seat at the diner, puzzles. With fear of the end, he moves forward, sometimes awkwardly, always with intention.

Paddleton – two loner best friends live a small existence of regularity and routine, watching the same movie over and over, making pizza, playing their favorite game. All is upended when one learns he has a terminal illness and asks the other to help end his life. So touching!

Shirkers – Teens make a movie only to have it disappear along with the strange friend who helped them with its creation. Decades later, they seek to learn what happened.

On Body and Soul – One of the most magical films I’ve seen in a long while. Co-workers discover they share a strange dream time connection which sparks a tenuous romance. A stunning meditation on love and the beauty and sanctity of life. A word to vegans and vegetarians – contains scenes from a slaughterhouse. I should hope to die in such peace.

Dean – A man struggles to find his mojo, creative and otherwise, after losing his mom and breaking with his fiancee in short order.

The Other Son – A Jewish and Palestinian family learn their sons were mistakenly switched at birth, the anguish and reconciliation.

Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back) – A man inept at suicide outsources the job only to discover he might have something to live for.

The Breaker Upperers – best friends help cowards end their relationships for a living, via cowboy songs and elaborate schemes, depending upon how much the client wishes to pay. All is rolling along nicely until they meet a former victim in need of a friend.

p.s. The woman on the right looks like Bethie, one of my best childhood pals. Love….

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If you, like me, happen to be suffering from the throbbing pain of a bunionectomy or just need some quality toes-up time to binge watch, have I got some recommendations for you! Let’s begin…

Seymour: An Introduction – Seymour Bernstein was a revered concert pianist who left the stage without telling a soul. He found his joy in teaching and immersing himself in the solitude of his craft. How wonderful that he and Ethan Hawke were brought together so his touching story, marvelous philosophy of life, and most especially, his music, could be shared with a broader audience.

Tim’s Vermeer – With enough money, time, and patience, even the non-artist among us can create a pretty fine imitation of a masterpiece. Follow Tim as he conceives of and executes, down to the last detail, Vermeer’s Music Lesson. Fascinating!

Thunder Soul – With the right teacher, just about anything is possible. This is the inspiring story of the class-act Kashmere Stage Band – Houston high schoolers that sound like the tightest, most bad ass funk band of the 70s – and their inspiring teacher as they reunite some 35 years later to pay tribute to the man who led the way. Oh, and DO buy the music, if you can. We absolutely love it!

Godless – This cliche-filled Western is worth the hype. A bad, bad man searches for the gunfighter who left his gang. Mayhem ensues. I love how it explores the strength and independence of women and the notion of family. Blood or not, the one we create is most important.

Under an Arctic Sky – a small band of surfers go after epic waves in w i n t e r in I c e l a n d. Crazy insane blizzards and the coldest of water under the aurora borealis. Eeek!

Jouney to Greenland – More cold. More snow. A pair of friends named Thomas take a trip to Kullorsuaq, Greenland to visit one of their fathers. They live among the inuit, hunting, eating as the locals do, experiencing the perils of middle of nowhere internet, and facing the truths of life.

My Happy Family – Manana leaves the apartment shared by her husband, children, and parents to live on her own. Though it is a great shame in her community, she does not waiver, her motivations revealed incrementally, as the film progresses. Also, the first Georgian (the country not the state) film I think I’ve ever seen – a fine window into a community I do not know, yet so much like home.

Tangerine – A transgender sex worker learns from her best friend that her boyfriend/pimp cheated on her while she was in jail. A taxi driver who leads a double life goes home for Christmas Eve dinner. An unvarnished glimpse into the sex trade and the cruelties and complications of being transgender, all while tackling the everyday complexities of relationships – the tenderness, the betrayals.

 

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Movie Time…

Captain Fantastic follows the unusually rigorous life of a family living on the outskirts of society. They are survivalists, skilled at killing and growing their own food, living thoughtfully and intellectually, all while keeping at the peak of fitness. They know so much, yet so little. All is upended when their mother dies and they must face the actual world and determine their awkward place in it.

Following – Bored and in need of inspiration, an aspiring writer follows people on the streets of London, involving himself in a twisted game. A gem from Christopher Nolan, who, it seems, is perpetually obsessed with time. Love the Batman sticker on the door – aspirational or, even better, he saw into his own future.

The Lunchbox – A woman hoping to reignite her marriage sends delicately crafted meals to her husband, only to have them delivered to the wrong man. She begins a relationship with the recipient via tiffin tin notes, each revealing their lonely and sad worlds. A great story of love, loss, and aging and the families we make when our own fail.

Before I Go to Sleep – A once in a long while fil-um to keep me guessing. A woman without a memory begins to question her existence. Her husband. Her friends. The son she swears she once had. Thriller!

Enemy – A colleague recommends a film to a man recovering from a difficult divorce, only to discover a man identical to him in looks is a bit player. Obsessed, he finds the man and begins to follow him, and a host of bizarre events unfolds.

Demolition – Two with Jake Gyllenhaal – he’s got our number! A man finds odd ways of coping with his wife’s sudden death – corresponding with vending machine companies and tearing his house apart are chief among them. An honest look at the way we grieve.

Found Memories – A woman wanders into a small town of ordinary folk, doing as they always have. She begins to question and photograph them and becomes part of the fabric herself. Simple, meditative, beautiful.

Calvary – An unknnown parishioner tells a priest in a small town that he is going to murder him in a week’s time. The intervening week is a soulful one, with the priest carefully tending his deeply flawed flock, including himself. A skillful and very human tale.

Talk to Me weaves the fact and fiction of the always interesting and often controversial Petey Green – an ex-convict turned D.J. in Washington D.C. He tells it like it is, inspiring and engaging his listeners and the ire of his employers, but never once flinching.

The Guard – In writing about the previous two, I was reminded of one of our favorite fil-ums of all time. A highly irreverent and hilarious fish out of water tale. A black F.B.I. agent comes to Ireland in hopes of busting a multi-billion dollar drug ring. Great one liners and quick wit get the job done in a highly entertaining fashion. Movie time, indeed!

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