‘Maudie’ follows impulses, pushes limitations

‘Maudie’ follows impulses, pushes limitations

“Maudie” (2016 production, 2017 release). Cast: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke, Gabrielle Rose, Zachary Bennett, Kari Matchett, Billy MacLellan. Director: Aisling Walsh. Screenplay: Sherry White. Web site. Trailer.

When life seemingly sidelines us due to various limitations – be they personal, physical, economic or otherwise – we may easily become discouraged, reconciling ourselves to our circumstances. But need we be saddled with such hindering conditions? Can we lead a meaningful existence in spite of those obstacles? Might we be able to successfully draw upon impulses that lead us to believe to the contrary? Such is the experience of a challenged young woman who manages to build a creative and fulfilling life for herself in the thoughtful new biopic, “Maudie.” (more…)

‘Beatriz at Dinner’ explores how to make ourselves whole

‘Beatriz at Dinner’ explores how to make ourselves whole

“Beatriz at Dinner” (2017). Cast: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, David Warshofsky, Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass, Chloë Sevigny, John Early, Enrique Castillo. Director: Miguel Arteta. Screenplay: Mike White. Web site. Trailer.

Some say that, fundamentally, we’re all connected, even if we don’t realize it. In an age and in a society in which seemingly inherent division and separation are taken for the norm, we may not be aware of our interrelatedness, perhaps even denying it when others attempt to point it out to us. But, if we’re ever to resolve this misguided sense of disconnectedness, we need to be reminded – perhaps even cajoled – about our innate linkage. Examples of such reminders surface in highly pointed ways in the new, dark, sociopolitical satire, “Beatriz at Dinner.” (more…)

‘Tanna’ meditates on the power of love

‘Tanna’ meditates on the power of love

“Tanna” (2015 production, 2016 release). Cast: Mungau Dain, Marie Wawa, Marceline Rofit, Charlie Kahla, Albi Nagia, Lingai Kowia, Dadwa Mungau, Linette Yowayin, Kapan Cook, Mungau Yokay, Mikum Tainakou. Directors: Martin Butler and Bentley Dean. Screenplay: Martin Butler, John Collee and Bentley Dean. Web site. Trailer. 

Who we love is something we should be able to decide for ourselves, but it hasn’t always been that way, especially in many of the world’s traditions-based cultures. With arranged marriages the norm – relationships frequently driven by considerations having nothing to do with love – those who choose to step outside that custom engage in what’s looked upon as radical or even taboo. But, given the power of love, sometimes even tradition can’t withstand such pressure. What it means to take such a drastic step – and the consequences that come from it – provide the focus of the fact-based, Oscar-nominated romance, “Tanna,” now available on DVD, Blu-ray disk and video on demand. (more…)

‘I, Daniel Blake’ issues a call for compassion

‘I, Daniel Blake’ issues a call for compassion

“I, Daniel Blake” (2016 production, 2017 release). Cast: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Brianna Shann, Dylan McKiernan, Kate Rutter, Sharon Percy, Stephen Clegg, Kema Sikazwe, Steven Richens, Micky McGregor. Director: Ken Loach. Screenplay: Paul Laverty. Web site. Trailer.

When the chips are down, it’s comforting to know that there are those who have your back. That’s especially true for the residents of countries that have social services systems in place to provide needed support in times of crisis, like unemployment and health emergencies. It’s truly reassuring that those structures will be there when they’re needed. But will they? Do the agencies responsible for administering these services live up to their obligations? And what happens if someone in need fails to properly comply with bureaucratic dictates by not dotting an “i” or crossing a “t”? Those are the maddening frustrations explored in the moving new British drama, “I, Daniel Blake.” (more…)

‘Wonder Woman’ successfully charts the process of self-discovery

‘Wonder Woman’ successfully charts the process of self-discovery

“Wonder Woman” (2017). Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Danny Houston, David Thewlis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Heart, Lucy Davis, Elena Anaya, Lilly Aspell, Emily Carey. Director: Patty Jenkins. Screenplay: Allan Heinberg. Story: Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs. Source Material: William Moulton Marston. Web site. Trailer.

The process of self-discovery can be challenging enough in and of itself. But imagine what it might be like to go through that in the midst of trying circumstances in a world you barely understand. If you can picture that, you have an idea of what life is like for a superhero coming into her own, the story that provides the backdrop for the new summer blockbuster, “Wonder Woman.” (more…)

‘Miss Sloane’ seeks to balance power and intent

‘Miss Sloane’ seeks to balance power and intent

“Miss Sloane” (2016). Cast: Jessica Chastain, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, John Lithgow, Sam Waterston, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alison Pill, Christine Baranski, Mark Strong, Jake Lacy, Chuck Shamata. Director: John  Madden. Screenplay: Jonathan Perera. Web site. Trailer.

What does it take to push for a just cause? As much as we might like to think to the contrary, it often takes more than just good intentions; it frequently requires a concerted effort, one that may even include measures some of us would see as questionable, troubling or manipulative. Indeed, when it comes to achieving hoped-for outcomes in certain high-stakes issues, sometimes we may have to send a bulldog into the fight on our behalf. But where do we draw the line? How far are we willing to go when it comes to employing our personal power? Those are some of the issues raised and addressed in the gripping political drama, “Miss Sloane,” available on DVD, Blu-ray disk and video on demand. (more…)

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