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  • In Heaven There Is No Beer?

    In Heaven There Is No Beer?

    ★★★

    Les Blank documents polka culture. While I don't look forward to Les Blank documentaries anymore, they are all passable watches, and this one scores points in showcasing the social aspects of polka culture and the idea of it as counterprogramming to mainstream American pop culture.

  • Streets of Fire

    Streets of Fire

    ★★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Streets of Fire serves up a high-octane stylized fantasy. It's basically the movie versioin of a Jim Steinman song, and it has two of those in it. It's big on emotions, blazing violence, and outsized characters. Singer Ellen Aim (DIane Lane) has been kidnapped by gang leader Raven (Willem Dafoe), and business manager/boyfriend Billy Fish (Rick Moranis) hires Ellen's former flame Tom Cody (Michael Paré) to bring her back. Tom enlists tough and capable McCoy (Amy Madigan) and the three…

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  • The Passion of Anna

    The Passion of Anna

    ★★★★½

    Bergman strikes again with this visually gorgeous movie that explores the capacity in us for caring and for antagonism. Divorced Andreas (Max von Sydow) has his Faro island privacy interrupted by Anna (Liv Ullmann), recovering from an accident which claimed her husband and child. Their meeting brings him into contact with unhappily married couple Elis (Erland Josephson) and Eva (Bibi Andersson). There's a back story about a sicko torturing and killing animals. This set-up allows Begman to explore wide-ranging emotional terrain. The actors are top-notch, none better than Liv Ullman who delivers a show-stopping monologue at the mid-point of the movie.

  • Arrival

    Arrival

    ★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Aliens’ attempt at first contact brings linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) face to face with them. Theoretical Physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) is paired with her and the two chart a path toward an exchange of ideas with their visitors. A framing story has Banks, post-separation/divorce, caring for a sick daughter. So, I love the trend in sci-fi toward a balanced diet offering thinking sci-fi along with the shoot-‘em-ups, and I was with this movie every step through the communication…