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Showing posts from June, 2016

Movie Review: The Beginning of Life (2016)

The Beginning of Life is a Brazilian documentary that explores child development and argues for stronger community, for systems and institutions that support not just the child but the parents as well. Through brilliant cinematography, interviews with parents, educators and scientists who feel passionately about giving children the best possible world, and of course, close ups of babies and toddlers being adorable, The Beginning of Life emphasizes just how important it is to reflect on our children, our shared future.

It was difficult to hear anything over the sound of my ovaries exploding, but luckily a lot of the film was subtitled. Director and writer Estela Renner presents two acts. The first act coud be called “This is How They Grow.” Here, parents, teachers, and neuroscientists discuss how our young ‘uns absorb everything they encounter, and how critical play is during those earliest years. There is a strong focus on the environment, on how parents and teachers can nurture child…

Movie Review: X-Men Apocalypse (2016)

X-Men Apocalypse is hollow and disappointing. Its pace, editing, and dialogue sacrifice character development and emotional connection for bombast and CGI. In the battle for humanity against an ancient adversary, beloved characters are stripped of personality. As a devoted fan of the comics during the 90’s – I also consumed the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s classics – I will be shouting a lot in this review.

Plot summary: The X-Men face the first mutant, En Sabah Nur, whose philosophy is “Let the strong survive and the weak perish” – and he considers all humans (and most mutants) weak. Destruction ensues.

First, I AM SO SORRY, OSCAR ISAAC. The man is a treasure who deserves better than playing Apocalypse. You can see him straining against the awful makeup and prosthetics, and bellowing the mutant supervillain’s laughably grandiose lines with conviction. Unfortunately, Apocalypse is a barely-sketched antagonist in the movie. In the comics, he’s defined by his survival-of-the-fittest action plan…

Movie Review: The Conjuring 2 (2016)

The Conjuring 2 is an excellent film that grounds its horror in human bonds. Like its predecessor, its emotional weight is carried by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga's portrayal of Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators. Strong supporting actors, stunning cinematography, and judicious use of CGI are also outstanding features.

The movie is based on the Enfield Poltergeist, where a family experiences frightening events: moving furniture, sinister voices, etc. As with the original Conjuring, the buildup to the actual haunting is well-paced; viewers have time to get to know single mum Peggy Hodgson (Frances O'Connor) and 11-year-old Janet (Madison Wolfe), who is the channel for the disturbances. There are three other kids in the house, which is dilapidated and badly in need of care and attention--much like its residents. The dark presence is initially felt in small doses: a sleepwalking Janet, a fire truck pushed back at youngest son Billy.

When the ghost finally makes …