Favorite films

  • King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis
  • Selma
  • Our Friend, Martin
  • Martin Luther King, Jr: I Have a Dream

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  • Awakenings

    ★★★

  • The Ballad of Narayama

    ★★★★

  • The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

    ★★★

  • The House

    ★★½

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  • Don't Look Up

    Don't Look Up

    ★★

    Hey, remember when Chaplin mocked Hitler and it was also totally obvious? Well, at least it worked there because Chaplin knew how to write comedy. I was willing to give a pass to “The Big Short” and “Vice,” and I can see what Adam McKay was trying to do here. But this is an abysmally written satire with some appalling editing and a sense of humor that can only be charitably described as simian in intelligence level.

    All of the…

  • Encanto

    Encanto

    ★★★½

    Hard to talk about without mentioning “Vivo,” the Netflix exclusive with songs also by Lin Manuel Miranda. This was much better in overall quality; the music, the screenplay, the animation, the thematic tissue. It’s a bit obvious that the house is a metaphor for the family, but maybe kids movies need obvious metaphors. It also has predicable elements, like the twist, but this is a solid, pleasant Disney picture. I also really appreciate the casting for its merits. Other than…

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  • Awakenings

    Awakenings

    ★★★

    Eerily similar to the later “Patch Adams,” where Robin Williams plays a lonely doctor who discovers an alternative form of medicine. Here, he tries applying a Parkinson's disease medication to people apparently catatonic, and manages to bring them into a conscious state. But the drug has side effects like Tourette’s style tics, and that forms the drama of the final third. It was an okay film, but a little underwhelming considering the high rating.

    De Niro plays the mental illness…

  • The Ballad of Narayama

    The Ballad of Narayama

    ★★★★

    Quite striking from a visual and audio standpoint. The film is clearly shot on interior sets, but imaginatively expands its geographical reach with big stages and painted backdrops. Colors pop, especially the greens of the surroundings. Occasionally scenes are lit with distinct color coding, reminding one of old silent films that had some scenes tinted.

    The music is totally old fashioned Japanese, with that twangy shamisen and the wailing Japanese singer bringing to mind the traditions of Kabuki theater. Maybe…

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  • Back to the Future

    Back to the Future

    ★★★★★

    The tightest screenplay and the best casting ever.

  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day

    Terminator 2: Judgment Day

    ★★★★★

    The original is a fine, humble science fiction film, made at the beginning of James Cameron’s career. By the time of this one, he had gained a high reputation and therefore high budget to craft a sequel. But in a great reversal of expectations, this improves on everything done in the original, upping the action well, the stakes, the menace and threat of the evil terminator, and adding a great new character in the young John Connor.