SUMMER OF 85 (2020)

Written & Directed By: Francois Ozon

Based on the book “Dance On My Grave” By Aidan Chambers

Cinematography: Hichame Alouie

Editor: Laurie Gardette

Cast: Felix Lefebvre, Benjamin Voisin, Philippine Velge, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Melvil Poupaud, Isabelle Nanty 

When 16-year-old Alexis is caught up in the deceitful Normandy sea, David heroically saves him from drowning. And, this is how Alexis meets the person of his life. But, how long will this tumultuous, dreamy relationship last? Will the dream last for more than one summer, the summer of 85?


The film doesn’t go where you expect it to go. What keeps you guessing and mystified when it comes to his film is how it plays with time throughout and leaves you expecting the worse when things are mostly innocent 

It feels a bit similar to CALL BE BY YOUR NAME. As it is a coming-of-age love story between two males of intense feelings and obsession, but yet always feels a bit more of a thriller than a true romance. Though then again young love can be innocent and messy.

Even though nonchalant It’s not even truly coming out film. As it is all relatively handled with no big revelations. Though shows itself as a love story and not one of lust or dangerous obsession 

The film runs on expectations. So that as it goes along. You constantly feel a sense of dread. Always looking for clues, hints, or motives. 

All seems to go well until a girl is thrown into the mix. Even when she had the best of interests. Proving to be loyal to all.

The main characters are the rebellious carefree type versus an introverted romantic. At first, he believes it is all in his head and just an innocent friendship. Then he realizes he is being seduced. Even though the more aggressive character might be bisexual or a sensationalist, narcissistic and not prepared for his feelings. Especially being so young, not ready for the intensity.

By the end, you find instead of a thriller you have gone through a dark drama. That also feels like a string after-school special or a coming-of-age film that has thriller elements. 

Grade: B-

JUMBO (2020)

Written & Directed By: Zoe Wittock 
Cinematography: Thomas Buelens
Editor: Thomas Fernandez 

Cast: Noemie Merlant, Emmanuelle Bercot, Bastien Bouillon, Sam Louwyck, Tracy Dossou

Jeanne, a shy young woman, works in an amusement park. Fascinated with carousels, she still lives at home with her mother. That’s when Jeanne meets Jumbo, the park’s new flagship attraction.


This film will remind some audiences in the know of Titane. As they have particular storylines that are similar but are in Totally different ways.

The French film, TITANE is dark and about more than necessarily meets the eye. Where it has things to say about many subjects. This film Is sweeter and has no pregnancies though it is a fairy tale based On reality and tries to keep matters at hand. 

This film has a sweetness but doesn’t ignore its own implausibility. As it even has the character question her sanity. Though her own faith shows through. We in The audience begin to question as we see erratic behavior and every time there is something fantastical involving others we never see it as random there is a logical reason for it all. 

The film doesn’t shy away from sex but it doesn’t make it feel tawdry it feels erotic but more out of innocence. 

Even those close to her who doubt her and her sanity. We are left to wonder if they are doing it for their own self-interest and out of jealousy. 

As the main character feels like a typical one you would find in a quirky romantic French film. She looks and dresses like a shy teenager even though she is a young woman in her 20’s.

The movie starts off innocent and as it goes along it gets more serious and into more issues and questions that are surprisingly asked. That is usually left out in films with scenarios such as these. 

Noemie Merlant really shines in this film. She stays believable and strong even though her character can be weak at times and doesn’t speak up for herself. She seems to run away rather than confront. Though she gains our sympathy and soon finds ourselves rooting for her. As we watch from the beginning her character is a tomboy but wears such shapeless clothes we wonder if she is in arrested development. through it all even in various sex scenes. She still seems like an innocent more than anything.

Emmanuelle Bercot as her mother is also strong. As a hard-driven woman. She has had her heart broken quite a few times and wants to believe in love but finds herself defined by the company she keeps usually male. She wants the best for her daughter but that seems in the daughter more or less getting into a relationship and finding a man. As she tries to act more like her sister than her mother. She is tough to a certain degree but has a soft spot for her daughter that she rarely shows.

This is a film that might not always make sense but it does have a charm that is constantly on display and tries to always stay in reality. Even with its more fantastical elements.

Grade: B

UNDINE (2020)

Written & Directed By: Christian Petzold
Cinematography: Hans Fromm 
Editor: Bettina Bohler

Cast: Paula Beer, Franz Rogowski, Maryam Zaree, Jacob Matschenz, Anne Ratte-Polle, Gloria Andres De Oliveira 

Undine works as a historian lecturing on Berlin’s urban development. But when the man she loves leaves her, the ancient myth catches up with her. Undine has to kill the man who betrays her and return to the water.


Writer/Director Christian Pertzold, Always seems to bring nostalgia and powerful epic love stories into the modern age. 

The film feels like a short story compared to his other films that felt like full novels even if the same length. This just doesn’t feel as strong or as Rich. Making it feel somewhat lightweight, not as daring or demanding. Which can be forgiven. As not every movie needs to be a fraught tragedy. 

As this like most of his films is expressive, vivid, and powerful. Usually unforgettable with a romance that you might aspire to have and dream of despite their tragedy. To love is to gamble and lose big at times. Even when getting what you want it hurts to a certain degree and you lose or have to sacrifice a bit to be affected in the end.

Amazed by what you went through and proud of it. As an expression of passion in all ways. Your own epic story that is universal. Only you can truly understand. As you have your own point of view and are telling this particular tale as a memoir. That is what went through my brain while watching this film.

This film feels like a more modern fairy tale, but the emotions are deep. As it is detailed and textured as one without the lore though. The tragedy is that the tale feels like it ends too soon. Never knowing what you have until over and the characters obsessing over it. Raising it to a level of legend.

Think about how you feel when you break up with someone and feel you will never get over them. Then you meet someone new and realize how bad the other relationship really was. As you never reached the same happiness or highs as is the new one

This film Feels too short. Yet it doesn’t disappoint as it has the same strength and emotions affecting two lives immeasurably but seems to have the substance of a shorter story. That here gets by more on emotions. A brief romance that packs a full love story rather than one that takes place over a longer time period. 

That has an intensity where you wonder if given more time together. Would it have flamed out? Had more stories to tell that reinforced and made this love story as rich as Uncle Scrooge’s vault from DUCKTALES or with time made to realize it was a footnote and more a blueprint for future relationships to revolve around and know what you want and how you want to feel.

It Seems after romantic epics such as PHOENIX and COLD WAR. That Writer-Director Christian Petzold has set his sights on a smaller story that while not having as much of an expanse. its depths are just as strong

Grade: B

I CARE A LOT (2020)

Written & Directed By: J. Blakeson 
Cinematography: Doug Emmett 
Editor: Mark Eckersley 

Cast: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza Gonzalez, Dianne Wiest, Alicia Witt, Chris Messina, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Macon Blair, Damian Young, Nicholas Logan 

A crooked legal guardian who drains the savings of her elderly wards meets her match when a woman she tries to swindle turns out to be more than she first appears.


This can easily be a polarizing film. On the one hand you have a savvy businesswoman who makes her career conning people out of their livelihood. So no one was ever going to find her likable or an adequate anti-hero.

Though we have seen films before where we have male protagonists who do the same thing and are more remembered and celebrated by audiences. Even if they are more disposable and waste the money on frivolous luxuries and vices.

What is more upsetting for an audience here is that not only is the protagonist doing this female. Where usually films treat female characters like her as damaged or coming around at the last minute or femme Fatales who get a comeuppance. More or less she keeps striving no matter the challenge or difficulty and ultimately what she traps comes back to her in worse ways. The same is never made of the antiheroes who are male in other films; they get a snack down but never so severe.

Though truth be told those movies are usually more based on specific people and cases. Here this is a made-up story of a very real cool. Games that are happening more and more. Only for intents and purposes here do we get a face with this type of crime. As well as more of a story.

What also might be upsetting is that in real-life cases there are faces and representatives of the victims. Usually late in the films when they are winding down. For us to realize the destruction and evils of the character even if not planned what the end results of their con games are for some. Here they are picking on the already defenseless the elderly. Which is the equivalent of kicking or torturing an animal on screen these days. Instantly turning the audience against your protagonist. Especially if they were being attacked by them.

So this film already gives you an unlikeable protagonist but also the film is filled with unlikeable characters. Even when you might start to feel for some of them. They show their true colors and you go right back to hating them.

I applaud throwing the audience off but when there is no one to root for. As the characters seem to compete for who is the worst and trying to make excuses for their behavior. It’s not really enjoyable even for a dark comedy.

The film is trying to tackle a subject and knows the best way to inform the audience is from an insider. As the film might be cynical but doesn’t offer false notes. As everyone is flawed and there is no heart of gold that comes through. This film presents a more scrubbed clean dog eat dog world. That is all about survival above all else.

It’s not necessarily an enjoyable film but like the characters it tries to make you as comfortable as you can be while watching these events unfold and tries to add some humor to the proceedings 

Rosamund Pike is excellent in the starring role. Even though it seems every few years she plays this type of role. A character who at first seems like a pushover but then reveals herself to be a shark. So it’s refreshing to see her play such strong female characters every so often. Making you wonder why she isn’t offered more roles. It might be as in these roles she comes off as threatening usually to male protagonists. Some might feel uncomfortable casting her in easier or less challenging roles?

Though at least the film is thought-provoking and wouldn’t expect anything else from writer Director J. Blakeson, Especially after his film THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED 

The film is upsetting for anyone looking for good to conquer evil. It is a dark and cynical comedy with heavy overtones. Though it isn’t bad or disappointing, just unlikeable.

Grade: B-

FATAL AFFAIR (2020)

Directed By: Peter Sullivan 
Written By: Peter Sullivan & Rasheeda Garner
Story By: Peter Sullivan & Jeffrey Schneck
Cinematography: Eitan Almagor
Editor: Randy Carter 

Cast: Nia Long, Omar Epps, Stephen Bishop, Aubrey Cleland, Maya Stojan, KJ Smith, Estelle Swaray 

Ellie tries to mend her marriage with her husband Marcus after a brief encounter with an old friend, David, only to find that David is more dangerous and unstable than she’d realized.


This is supposed to be an erotic thriller Burt here are only glimpses of erotica maybe two scenes that seem to almost go there before cutting away. There is an opening sex scene where you barely see anything and might be the sole reason for this film Getting an R Rating. 

Sir of the film plays like a Lifetime television movie, one of the more sensationalistic and ridiculous ones. Where you can’t believe half of what is going on. Now mix that with usually these types of films that comes out towards the end of the summer African American cinema is a thriller that has an actress front and center with a recognizable supporting cast.

The film stars the beautiful and overly capable actress Nia Long and Omar Epps as the lead. Yet the film Feels 10 – 15 years too late for them or most of the audience to really get excited about their on-screen pairing.

Also, it already seems that he is obviously a psycho that the film barely holds any surprises. Especially when the film doesn’t.

Live up to the title. As there is no actual affair. There is almost one that ends up. It happens and sets this guy off. Not that he wasn’t crazy before that and worse as unhinged as he is. You would expect him to be more obvious to others.

Not to mention that her old college friends tell her how obsessed the guy was with her in college and the fact she never knew or recognized it seems a little hard to believe. Could see if she thought maybe he had changed or maybe if his psychosis was brought on by seeing her again and that was what triggered her would have been a stronger plot device. 

The fact that he is a tech expert just feels convenient to the story of course. Though when they keep saying his ex looks like Nia Long’s character. When we see her she definitely does not, so while it works story-wise when we see it with our own eyes it seems very far-fetched.

Just as the fact that her best friend would believe a guy she just started dating over her best friend of years.

The film tries to be a thriller but it just comes across as silly and fun and unintentionally funny. Worst of all it’s not even that sexy.

The characters who end up being killed are minor, not even really secondary. It seems like anyone who has less than 10 lines in this movie is fair game to end up murdered. 

Grade: F

EDUCATION (2020)

Story By & Directed by: Steve McQueen 
Written by: Alastair Siddons 
Cinematography: Shabier Kirschner
Editor: Chris Dickens & Steve McQueen 

Cast: Naomi Ackie, Kenyah Sandy, Jade Anouka, Nigel Boyle, Daniel Francis, Sharlene Wyte 

Education is the coming of age story of 12-year-old Kingsley, who has a fascination for astronauts and rockets. When Kingsley is pulled to the headmaster’s office for being disruptive in class, he discovers he’s being sent to a school for those with “special needs.” Distracted by working two jobs, his parents are unaware of the unofficial segregation policy at play, preventing many Black children from receiving the education they deserve, until a group of West Indian women takes matters into their own hands.


This is part of Director Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series of films. A kind of miniseries of five films that showcase stories of the struggles of the Caribbean and black citizens in the United Kingdom. Shining a light on them and usually who they have been abused and mistreated by the system 

This film seems to be more about a subject than a character. Though it is played out through characters, a central family mainly and the women activists. Who strive to help them and other families left in the same predicament.

The film focuses on a young boy in a working-class family. Who is disruptive and has a hard time reading. In his school his acting out is met harshly where he is routinely insulted and more put out by teachers who have no time for him and find him more of a distraction for other students. He is quickly removed from the school and sent to a new school for special children 

Throughout we find out that this new school is barely a school that offers an education. As the kids are left to their own devices most of the time and when there are teachers around they seem more like they don’t want to be bothered or do whatever they want to do like play songs and consider that teaching.

These schools are obviously more like holding dens for children the proper schools want to deal with and don’t want to help or give proper attention to.

The crux of the film is educating the parents of children sent to Jesse schools as to what is happening and Kingsley’s mother really paying attention to it all and doing something about it as she searches for answers and resolutions to the growing problem. Which seems to target minority children and immigrant children.

As the teachers seem to not want to nurture these kids and are setting them up for no future. These ladies eventually set up Saturday schools meant to teach the lessons these children are missing and nurture them to want to learn and believe in themselves and most of all encourage them.

It shows you the caste and class system that still exists and the roots of education where it can take you and lead you and most of all how important it is to a child that you show attention and faith in them as much as a study has faith in you.

It ends open-ended but it is one that definitely ends with hope and an all-around happiness even if abrupt. It offers an answer and hopefully a promise.

Grade: B

BLACK BEAR (2020)

Written & Directed By: Laurence Michael Levine

Cinematography: Robert Leitzell

Editor: Matthew L. Weiss

Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Gadon, Paola Lozaro, Grantham Coleman, Jennifer Kim, Lindsay Burge, Lou Gonzalez, Shannon O’Neill, Alexander Koch

At a remote lake house in the Adirondack Mountains, a couple entertains an out-of-town guest looking for inspiration in her filmmaking. The group quickly falls into a calculated game of desire, manipulation, and jealousy, unaware of how dangerously convoluted their lives will soon become in the filmmaker’s pursuit of a work of art, which blurs the boundaries between autobiography and invention.


This film is experimental in the best kind of way. A fractured meta-narrative that makes us examine the relationships between the characters and what we have seen or have been told.

The first half is more of a slow burn of hidden emotions, ambitions, and attractions. Where Aubrey plaza is more of a seductress and coveted by the male half of the couple. While the female is more jealous of her and her accomplishments.

Where in the second half the flip is switched and we realize the first half was the film the second half characters were making. So while the first half might seem UNFINISHED as they are in the middle of filming the second half gives it an ending while continuing the drama. Even now all the actors are in different roles. Aubrey plaza goes from being the director in the first half to be the star of the film who is having a breakdown as her partner is directing the film but seems to be oblivious to her feelings and needs. While trying to nurture the ingenue in the film. Whereas in the first half the ingenue played by Sarah Gadon was the put upon the pregnant wife of the male. Who was neglected once plaza’s character comes into the picture literally. 

The film lightens up a little in tone in the second half with more humor centered around the crew making the film. As it shows the little problems and culture that goes on such an independent project. 

Which actually perfectly offsets and magnifies Aubrey Plaza in these scenes. As she goes from easy going to emotionally tortured and while they seem more in a comedy. Her raw performance is so dramatic it offsets them and makes their dilemmas all the more shallow. 

The film lets it’s casa averted fixations be known in the second half. Plaza’s performance does remind the audience of Gena Rowlands in A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE the raw emotions as she continuously drinks and becomes more emotionally open but also has more despair.

The second half of the film also allows for more side stories and ongoing jokes with the characters. Whereas the first half is more solitary and focused on the core three actors. The second half while focused allows for more of an ensemble m. 

This film is quite the experience that you might need to watch a few times to get your head around and fully understand the film.

GRADE: B

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 (2020)

Written & Directed By: Aaron Sorkin 
Cinematography: Phedon Papamichael 
Editor: Alan Baumgarten

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Alex Sharp, John Carroll Lynch, Yahya Abdul-Manteen II, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ben Shenkman, Frank Langella, Michael Keaton, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Caitlin Fitzgerald 

What was intended to be a peaceful protest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention turned into a violent clash with police and the National Guard. The organizers of the protest–including Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, and Bobby Seale–were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot. The trial that followed was one of the most notorious in history.


This is a film that comes with a certain pedigree so that no matter what happens it constantly comes off with a certain pedigree.
It’s Certainly an eye-opening history lesson and recreation. That does feel like it was a film always planned as a live-action version of an animated documentary that tells the same tale. Only here the film filled with recognizable actors came in a vital time of the United States being in a personal political uproar. That not exactly was a repeat of the times that the film depicts but in a similar situation. Proving that history has a way of repeating itself. 

This film seemed to want to send a message of hope, faith, and belief or democracy and the power of individuals United in belief to hope to change the system and stand up for their rights and everyone’s.

The actors are all good. Even if some come off more like they are playing virtues and beliefs (Eddie Redmayne) rather Than characters. While others seem to be going more for impersonations. Then again some characters are written more vividly than others. As like the characters’ personalities some Are more dramatic some are more comedic.

Mark Rylance, certainly stands out amongst the cast. Even if his role isn’t as showy. Even as everybody here wants and deserves a Pat on the back for what they bring to the film and their roles. Ultimately at times like the film, it feels a bit self-serving. 

The script is good, it feels like it is more meant to say something about the then-current political times while going over historical events. 

The direction by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is fine. No big flourishes, only wish that it might have been a bit stronger visually and made more of an impression in scenes. Especially those where there are action or powerful moments. 

For a film that seems to reach for so much and paint a bigger picture, it feels restricted or smaller than expected. Which works somewhat as reminding us that this was a microcosm of the country where so much was being decided. It also achieved letting it feel more personal and intimate. Though it feels different than what we are used to with historical films feeling epic and as big as the decisions and landmark history they bring forth. 

This is a crowd-pleasing tale of constant injustices that unfortunately seem to keep happening and have to be seen to be believed. 

Even if some might say that it Is mostly liberal infighting against injustices and a corrupt system that has sought fit to target them. As political leaders. 

Even as Bobby Seale’s story is so strong and fascinating than seems cut off at a certain point and out of the rest of the film. As in love he seemed lumped in with the rest randomly. 

The film stays entertaining. A s a smooth feel-good movie. It just never feels close to blowing you away. Though it is a story that needs to be told and shared. 

Grade: B-

LET HIM GO (2020)

Written & Directed By: Thomas Bezucha
Based On The Novel By: Larry Watson
Cinematography: Guy Godfree
Editor: Jeffrey Ford & Meg Reticker

Cast: Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Lesley Manville, Jeffrey Donovan, Kayli Carter, Booboo Stewart, Will Brittain, Greg Lawson, Ryan Bruce, Adam Stafford, Connor Mackay 

A retired sheriff and his wife, grieving over the death of their son, set out to find their only grandson.


The first half of the movie is more slow-burning, moving family drama built around a tragedy. That is better than one expects.

The film works as a new western. As it is a period tale with plenty of scenery of undisturbed landscapes. That slowly develops into a thriller of morals and honor. It even includes a Native American character. Who becomes a surrogate son for the main characters far away from home. 

Kevin Costner, we are used to this type of fun and role. As he more or less recently takes to roles that are more western influenced. So much so you wonder if he Is the new John Wayne or is he trying to be. Only less racist and a little more sensitive. Not to mention modern. Here he takes more of a back seat to Diane lane. Who is the true powerhouse throughout. Taking over scenes with a quiet dignity but ferocious spirit and manner. Costner ends up becoming her backup.

What Is interesting is that this is the type of film that Kevin Costner would usually Star in and direct back in the day. So while his appearance here isn’t surprising, which is how much he stays in the backseat rather than commanding scenes. Even if he becomes more active in the third act. 

They both display a fair amount of quiet acting that says so much and comes out of body language, facial gestures, and manners. 

Part of the interest In the first half is once they hit the road the people they meet along the way. Showing a kind of Americana. When it was changing and going dark. Hardening to a time of classical American values and idealism and their perversion of it. 

It’s also a nice reunion of sorts for Kevin Costner and Diane Lane last seen together in MAN OF STEEL. As the parents of Clark Kent/Superman making them the all-American mid-west couple. Here they are the same only as grandparents and their son went this time around.

Lesley Manville is deep in character and over the top memorable as the mama hen and main villain of the dangerous Weboy clan in this film and amongst the leads, she makes her mark and her presence felt. 

In fact, it might have been a little more interesting to see if the lebouf clan and how they operate. Their day-to-day operations and influence, but as they are talked about and built up as some kind of phantoms. They maintain an air of mystery and live up to their reputation and it makes the slow journey to them worth it. Even if they have mroe the unlikeable elements of the crime family in the film ANIMAL KINGDOM only less suggested incest. 

We barely get to know them personality-wise other than the matriarch and the family uncle, her consigliere of sorts. Who stands out. The uncle played by Jeffrey Donovan Whose character always offers a smile and a threatening manner. 

The film has many memorable scenes. Like the dinner scene at the weboy compound and we meet the family and it seems more a battle for power and strength over one another. Not necessarily physically but by implication. 

The Hotel room ambush is another striking scene that has shocking violence. That shows that this film is traditional but also kind of dark.

The film offers an ending that isn’t the massacre you might be expecting and still plays off not as satisfying as you might have hoped.  

GRADE: B

SCARE ME (2020)

Written & Directed By: Josh Ruben 
Cinematography: Brendan H. Banks
Editor: Patrick Lawrence 

Cast: Aya Cash, Josh Ruben, Chris Redd, Rebecca Drysdale 

During a power outage, two strangers tell scary stories. The more Fred and Fanny commit to their tales, the more the stories come to life in their Catskills cabin. The horrors of reality manifest when Fred confronts his ultimate fear.


This is a film that depends on a certain quirky factor to keep it going. Where your interest in the characters will determine how much you end up enjoying this film. 

The cast works so well together. Even though for most of the film it is only two characters. It almost feels like an improv show focused on horror and some defining personalities. 

Aya cash is hilarious in particular. She catches the eye especially when her characters are being critical, that is when she seems to be more in top form.

Though the film is mostly dialogue. You get into the stores they tell you the way they tell them. and caught up in them can almost visualize them yourself. The fact that they feel spontaneous only adds to the fun.

As the film also constantly feels like it is leading to a secret. So that for all the fun there is some kind of dread heading your way.

The film still has room For plenty of jokes with it’s more character based comedy.  The less the way to a mildly surprising ending. 

GRADE: B-