QUEEN OF KATWE

“Sometimes the place you are used to is not the place you belong,” the master tells the student, perfectly encapsulating the hero’s journey in one sentence. Sure it’s on the nose, but so are many lines from Queen of Katwe including this gem: “In chess, the small one can become the big one.” Queen of Katwe, the latest live-action movie from Walt Disney Pictures, is an unabashed, unashamed, inspirational underdog story about Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), a poor teenager from Katwe — a slum outside of Uganda’s capital, Kampala — who’s life does not extend beyond her daily job of … Continue reading QUEEN OF KATWE

THE SCAR

Mid-level executive and middle-aged man, Stefan Bednarz (Franciszek Pieczka), is placed in charge of building a new chemical plant in his hometown of Olechów, Poland. The only problem, the people of Olechów don’t want the plant. There is a perfectly suitable wasteland nearby that would accommodate a chemical plant, but since a competing company owns that plot of land, Bednarz’s company will have to level a strip of forestland — the trees have been growing here for over 200 years — to build their plant. Bednarz is an honest man, one who believes in the Party and that this plant … Continue reading THE SCAR

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

The Magnificent Seven doesn’t start with fanfare. No blaring horns to signal the American West, no soaring strings to complement the vast vistas before the camera, no cinematic shots of warring bandits cresting a hill, no legends and no heroes. Instead: ominous tones and close, shaky shots of a wagon delivering gold to a heavily watched bank. Cut to a church where a debate rages between the parishioners. Should they stay or should they go? Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) is coming to pay pennies on the dollar for their land — which he will strip-mine and pull every last ounce … Continue reading THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK – THE TOURING YEARS

There is a story I heard — possibly apocryphal, but too good to dismiss — that when The Beatles played The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, something happened that never happened before or since in the history of New York City: not a single crime was reported. For the 10 minutes that the Fab Four played “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” and “She Loves You,” even the criminals of Manhattan stopped and took notice. Approximately 23 million households, 34% of the American population, tuned into The Ed Sullivan Show that night because something magical was happening, … Continue reading THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK – THE TOURING YEARS

MORRIS FROM AMERICA

Growing-up is hard. Growing-up in a strange land is even harder. That’s what Morris (Markees Christmas) is dealing with. His father, Curtis (Craig Robison), moved the two of them out of the Big Apple and into the 500-year-old city of Heidelberg, Germany. Curtis coaches soccer — he used to play for a German team — and Morris raps, or tries to. That’s how he hopes to get out. Thirteen-year-old Morris doesn’t know much about life outside of gangster rap, which he listens to non-stop. He idolizes Jay-Z and has Biggie memorized. When he comes up with his own rhymes, the … Continue reading MORRIS FROM AMERICA

SULLY

On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 departed LaGuardia airport at 3:24 p.m. There were 155 souls, including captain and crew, on board. Roughly 208 seconds later, flight 1549 was forced to land on the Hudson River no more than seven miles away from takeoff. No one was seriously injured and within 24 minutes, NY Waterway ferries, the New York Fire Department, New York Police Department and the US Coast Guard had all 155 passengers rescued and safely back on dry land. This event would come to be known as “The Miracle on the Hudson” and Captain Chesley “Sully” … Continue reading SULLY

MIA MADRE

Reflecting on his life and work in 1975, critic and filmmaker François Truffaut wrote: “Today, I demand that a film express either the joy of making cinema or the agony of making cinema. I am not at all interested in anything in between; I am not interested in those films that do not pulse.” That joy and that agony form the heart of Nanni Moretti’s latest comic drama, Mia Madre. Margherita Buy plays a filmmaker of the same name currently in production on a movie of social and political relevance — the workers of a Roman factory are striking against … Continue reading MIA MADRE