Movie Review: The Farewell

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The Farewell * 2019 * Rated PG * 1 Hour 39 Minutes

😸😸😸😸½  4 1/2 out of 5 Happy Lap Cats

In The Farewell, writer-director Lulu Wang tells the true story of a giant fiction her family created together as a kindness toward her dying grandmother. It’s a complicated story, full of truths and lies and messy family relationships that aren’t easily pinned down into simple words, beyond the word “real”. Despite the fact that this is a story about lies, Wang’s film is painfully honest, showing the love that went into the decisions her family made when her grandmother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

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Movie Review: One Child Nation

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😸😸😸😸½  Rated 4 1/2 out of 5 Happy Lap Cats

One Child Nation is a very personal documentary, made by director Nanfu Wang when she had her own first child and began to seriously consider, for the first time, the implications of China’s one child policy, which she had been born and raised under. Wang had relocated to the US years before her son was born, so her pregnancy was unaffected by the harsh government program, which was in force from 1979 to 2015. But the internalized trauma from growing up in that environment, from events she didn’t even realize she’d absorbed, began to affect her attitude toward her own pregnancy, so she set out to examine the wide-ranging effects of China’s long-term push to gain control of its population size.

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Movie Review: The History of Time Travel

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The History of Time Travel * 2014 * Ages 13+ * 1 Hour 11 Minutes

😸😸😸😸🌑 4 Happy Lap Cats

“One small step for Russia, one giant leap for Communism.”

The History of Time Travel is a quiet, low budget fictional documentary that asks the question, “What would happen if time travel were developed secretly, for personal reasons, by a single family of scientists? Would anyone notice the changes?” It answers the question as the documentary is being made, in small increments, that require the viewer to keep up with the details of the storyline. Easter eggs abound, as the story plays out on both the intimate scale of a family drama and the large scale of 20th century history.

The story is told through fake interviews, staged photographs and stock footage. The science of time and time travel are explained early on. We’re introduced to physicist Dr Edward Page (Daniel W May), who’s assigned to work on the secret Indiana Project during World War 2 after President Roosevelt is informed that the Germans are disturbingly close to developing time travel. Dr Page works diligently on the project throughout the war, becoming obsessed with his subject and ignoring his family.

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Movie Review: The Breaker Upperers

The Breaker Upperers Poster

The Breaker Upperers * 2018 * Not Rated- Probably PG-13 for Language, Nudity and Adult Situations * 82 Minutes 

😸😸😸😸🌑  Rated 4/5 Happy Lap Cats

Spoiler-Free Review:

As the poster above says, 6 different times, The Breaker Upperers is hilarious. It is, first and foremost, a wacky comedy that’s not afraid to go for the laugh in whatever situation it finds itself in, whether that’s with a newly pregnant woman becoming nauseated while sharing the news with a friend, or engaging in drunken karaoke on a party bus.

Actually, those situations are likely to end the same way, so maybe that wasn’t the example of opposites I was looking for.

The great thing about this film is that, while it’s a wacky, screwball, sort of romantic, sort of musical, sort of dark, comedy, it’s also real. It’s the kind of female-oriented film I’ve been looking for on Netflix, as I’ve watched their romantic comedies pile up over the last year, almost all so laden with stereotypes and misogyny that I can barely manage to finish one viewing. The two female characters at the center of this film are just people, living their lives, not heroes, not villains, not stereotypes, and not trying to be any of those things. So are the rest of the characters.

The Breaker Upperers was written, directed by and stars Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek, two multi-talented women from New Zealand, who have been friends for many years in real life. In the film, they play Mel and Jen, who have also been friends for many years. Mel and Jen own and operate their own business, the titular Breaker Upperers, who clients hire to do the dirty work of ending a relationship when they can’t or don’t want to do it themselves.

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Movie Review: Bohemian Rhapsody

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Bohemian Rhapsody * 2018 * Rated PG-13 * 2 Hours 14 Minutes

😸😸😸😸🌑 Happy Lap Cats

Freddie Mercury and Queen are musical legends. As with Elvis Presley and the Beatles, whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying Queen’s talent, uniqueness and cultural impact. Bohemian Rhapsody, the film, chronicles their history, and especially Freddie Mercury’s history, with that legendary status in mind. Though he only lived to be 45, Mercury was such a larger than life, complex figure that no single film could do justice to his life and work.

This film, made under the guidance of the surviving members of the band, who still tour using the name Queen (as is their right), was created with the goal of preserving the public history and legacy of Queen and Freddie Mercury, and introducing them to new generations. In short, this film is meant to continue the legend. With that goal in mind, it succeeds.

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Movie Review: Roma

Roma Film Poster

Roma * 2018 * Rated R * 2 Hours 15 Minutes

😸😸😸😸🌑 Happy lap cats

Roma, written, directed and filmed by Alfonso Cuarón, is a project that is clearly close to the filmmaker’s heart. The film is a barely fictionalized version of a year in the life of Cuarón’s childhood, a tumultuous year which changed the family’s dynamics and drew them closer together. The ostensible focus of the film is Cleo Gutiérrez, an indigenous Mixtec woman who serves as the family’s maid and nanny, with a secondary focus on Sofia, the lady of the house and a stand-in for Cuarón’s mother. Cleo is based on Cuarón’s beloved real life nanny, Libo Rodriguez, now 74, to whom the film is dedicated.

The family Cleo works for, headed by Dr Antonio, lives in the comfortable Mexico City neighborhood of Colonia Roma, with their four young children (Pepe, Sofi, Paco and Toño), Sofia’s mother, Teresa, another maid, named Adela, a man who acts as their driver and their enthusiastic dog, Borras. In the beginning of the film, the children and the maids are laughing and happy. Cleo’s biggest problem in life appears to be keeping up with the messes Borras makes in the alley where he runs free and Antonio parks his massive Ford Galaxy, which barely fits into the space allotted.

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Movie Review: Netflix’s IO

Netflix's IO- Poster with Margaret Qualley & Anthony Mackie

IO * 2019 * Unrated/~PGish * 1 Hour 36 Minutes

😸😸😸😸½  Rated 4.5 Happy Lap Cats

IO, which is the name of one of the moons of Jupiter, is also a new apocalypse/slow dystopia film from Netflix. The film takes place in a time when a rapid rise in man-made levels of pollution reached a tipping point, which caused a snowball effect, wiping out almost all life on earth and making the air and water even more toxic. Most of the human race has escaped the planet to live in a space colony orbiting IO. Now, years later, the colonists are ready to move on to a new planet, outside of the solar system, so the last stragglers on earth must catch the final shuttle to IO or be left in isolation on the dying planet forever.

Sam Walden, a young scientist, lives on a small farm at high altitude in one of the last few places on earth with breathable air. Her father, who was a famous scientist named Dr Henry Walden, believed that the earth, its species, and humans could evolve quickly enough to survive this crisis, because the earth would also be repairing itself while life was evolving. He was against the migration to the IO colony.

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Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman Poster

BlacKkKlansman * 2018 * Rated R * 2 hours 15 minutes

😸😸😸😸½  Rated 4.5 Happy lap cats

BlacKkKlanman is a comedy-drama film that is a semi-fictionalized version of the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first black cop in Colorado Springs, CO. It follows his rise from a desk job to becoming an undercover detective, working on a case based on a classified ad he saw in the newspaper, recruiting new members of the white supremacist organization the Ku Klux Klan.

The film was directed by Spike Lee (She’s Gotta Have It) and produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out). It was written by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee. It stars John David Washington as Detective Ron Stallworth, Adam Driver as Detective Philip “Flip” Zimmerman, Laura Harrier as Patrice Dumas, Topher Grace as David Duke, Jasper Pääkkönen as Felix Kendrickson, Ryan Eggold as Walter Breachway, Paul Walter Hauser as Ivanhoe, and Ashlie Atkinson as Connie Kendrickson.

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Metawitches 2018 Oscar Picks [Updated with Winners and Commentary]

 

And Maybe a Few Predictions…

Okay, after watching as many movies as I can cram into my brain in a relatively short period of time (actually, The Florida Project is still playing), I’m ready to make some choices here. I don’t want to name any names, but I was slowed down in my viewing by a certain usual movie-going companion who informed me at the last minute that he was abandoning me for the Winter Olympics, and would not only be watching every Men’s Hockey game this year, but the Women’s Hockey as well. How could I, as a feminist, complain about that? Yay, for women’s sports equality! Boo for it interfering with Oscar movie viewing season, and viewing partners who don’t schedule their time wisely!

Anyway, I eventually gave up on waiting for him and mostly went on alone, while the US Women took Gold in Hockey. 🎉 They were able to do so because people have made equality in  girl’s and women’s sports a big deal and fought hard for decades, plus the federal government has required public schools to provide girls with equal opportunities in sports since the seventies. Sports are viewed as important to male development in many ways, so it’s obvious to argue that access is an important aspect of female equality.

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Movie Review: I, Tonya

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I, Tonya * 2017 * Rated R * 2 hours

😸😸😸😸½ Rated 4.5 Happy lap cats

I, Tonya is the tragicomic, mostly, sorta true story of the rise and fall of an American woman and Olympic figure skater who has it all, then loses it, due to circumstances both within and beyond her control. It tells a timeless story of love, loss, ambition, rivalry, greed, classism, misogyny and sheer stupidity. Though the stupidity is mostly on the part of the skater’s male associates, most of the negative consequences for that stupidity fall onto her. That’s the timeless part of the story, as blaming the woman for everyone else’s mistakes is a cultural tradition that goes all the way back to the bible.

Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) was four years old when her mother, LaVona (Alison Janney) hired her first skating coach, Diane Rawlinson (Julianne Nicholson), and began pressuring her to excel at the sport. Her mother verbally and physically abused her throughout her childhood and forced her to focus on figure skating as the most important aspect of her life, more important, even, than her education. Tonya spent most of her time training, despite how difficult the family’s poverty made it for them to continue to afford her skating career.

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