Best of 2018

Science Fair

by Alan Rapp on October 29, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Science Fair
  • IMDb: link

Science Fair movie reviewDirectors Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster‘s documentary Science Fair takes a cross-section of students from across the world earning entries into Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Including interviews from past winners to provide context for the prestigious event, the focus on the documentary are the students who competed for the top prize in 2017. Featuring interviews and documentary footage of winning individual science fairs to earn entry into ISEF, Science Fair is a compelling look at the top scientific high school minds taking their first step into a larger world.

While not all the subjects of the documentary will win, Costantini and Foster take care to showcase the intense dedication each has to their project (astounding work with real-world applications to help make the world a better place). The subjects range from teams from the most prestigious magnet school in the United States and the science teacher pushing her students to succeed, to entries from Brazil and Germany, and a shy young woman in South Dakota whose school is more concerned with their losing football team than her qualification for ISEF.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Colette

by Alan Rapp on October 21, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Colette
  • IMDb: link

Colette movie reviewBeginning in the late 19th Century, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) became one of several ghostwriters for her husband Willy (Dominic West) who was notorious for putting out other’s work under his name (which helped secure better publishing rights and a broader audience than any of the writers could achieve on their own). A womanizer and gambler always living beyond his means, Willy was always looking for the next big thing (and wasn’t above bullying those around him to achieve his goals).

By far, Willy’s largest success were a series of novels penned by Colette, but released under his own name, about a French girl named Claudine. Much like Willy’s financial success was built on the hard work of his wife, so too is director Wash Westmoreland‘s new film built on the back of Keira Knightley’s performance. A talented woman born a century too early for her talents to be fully appreciated, Colette focuses on the first-half of the artist’s life including her marriage, the writing of her Claudine novels, her growth as an artist, her romantic relationship with both her husband and female lovers (Denise Gough and Eleanor Tomlinson), and her eventual independence.

[click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

A Star is Born

by Alan Rapp on October 6, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: A Star is Born
  • IMDb: link

A Star is Born movie reviewWhile not the most original of projects, A Star is Born is the fourth movie of that name which older artists help to launch the careers of younger artists, the story is emotionally engaging and expertly told. There is always a challenge with musicals when choosing either actors who can sing or singers who can act. For its two leads, A Star is Born chooses one of each. In the first 10 minutes we learn three things. First, Bradley Cooper can direct. Second, Lady Gaga can act. And finally, Bradly Cooper can sing. All of this results in a compelling film.

Cooper stars as Jackson Maine, a musician who can still sell out arenas but is obviously on the downside of his career. An alcoholic and drug addict, Jackson meets Ally (Lady Gaga) in a drag club one night. Sparks fly nearly immediately as Jackson discovers not only does Ally have a great voice but also a talent for writing personal songs. A friendship and romance blossoms as Jackson pushes Ally into the spotlight launching her career and creating new tensions between the two artists and lovers concerning Ally’s rise to fame and issues and addictions Jackson chooses not to speak openly about.

[click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

Mary and the Witch’s Flower

by Alan Rapp on July 5, 2018

in Anime Reviews 

  • Title: Meari to majo no hana
  • IMDb: link

Mary and the Witch's Flower Blu-ray reviewBased on The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart, the Japanese anime Mary and the Witch’s Flower begins in fire prior to settling down and introducing us to the precocious Mary (Hana Sugisaki/Ruby Barnhill) living in the lonely countryside with her Great-Aunt Charlotte (Shinobu Otake/Lynda Baron). Despite her best efforts and sunny attitude, Mary struggles with the lack of other children to play with and still not quite fitting in with the adults.

Over the course of a handful of days, Mary will make several discoveries which will change her life beginning with meeting a neighbor boy and discovering the rarest of flowers deep in the woods. While not initially connected, both will be part of Mary’s introduction to a larger world of witches and magic which will amaze and frighten her as the flower and a broomstick, both left abandoned in the woods long, long ago, lead her to the gates of Endor College for witches.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

by Alan Rapp on June 21, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  • IMDb: link

Won't You Be My Neighbor? movie reviewFor decades Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood filled the public airwaves with television aimed at young children and a focus on allowing children to be themselves and a core belief that each of us is unique and special. It was created and designed by a seminary student named Fred Rogers who was looking to for a way to use television to teach an audience with a slow-paced show concerned with connecting individually with his core audience in a way which was very much the antithesis of your average children’s program focused on slapstick, action, and (often blatant) consumerism. The documentary from Morgan Neville takes a look at the man’s life and legacy which had a profound impact on generations who grew up in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood.

Other than touching lightly on how Rogers got into television, and some of his own childhood issues which informed his view of the world, the documentary focuses mostly on the man’s life work and the television show without diving too deeply into his personal life. If there’s one lesson the film does impart, it’s that Fred Rogers was the same person in real life as he was in television.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }