• Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

    ★★★★★

    “Swords and knives harbor unknown perils, but so do human relationships.”

    Ang Lee has made a career of always doing something different, so it likely came as no surprise to people after his Jane Austen adaptation, his 70s period family drama, and his western that he then moved straight into a Chinese wuxia film full of magical realism. Despite the wide variance between subjects, his passion for stories full of emotion and repression is reflected in them all in some…

  • I'm Thinking of Ending Things

    I'm Thinking of Ending Things

    ★★★★

    “Wow is an all-purpose exclamation”

    Things are changing in the entertainment industry. COVID 19 has changed the way the world consumes movies. Over the past month, we’ve begun to see some new releases open in limited theater capacities while others continue to be held back because of a world that can’t currently create a literal “blockbuster.” It presents a bit of a challenge for us with The Film Board in trying to select movies that are globally available to both…

  • Life Is Beautiful

    Life Is Beautiful

    ★★★

    “Silence is the most powerful cry.”

    By 1998’s awards season, Miramax’s marketing machine was cranking away at its hardest, and some would argue hit a point that was offensive. In the 1999 Oscar ceremony, not only did their film Shakespeare in Love usurp the odds-on favorite of Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture as well as Gwyneth Paltrow’s Best Actress award over several other arguably stronger performances, but their film Life Is Beautiful won for Best Actor, Best Score, and…

  • The Postman

    The Postman

    ★★★★

    “I felt like a boat tossing around on your words.”

    Massimo Troisi had a driving passion to make The Postman, so much so that he put medical care off to get it made. This lead to his death immediately after principal photography, but his passion project was able to be seen by the world. But would it have the success story it has if it wasn’t for the Miramax marketing machine? Hard to say, but we don’t think so, despite…

  • Cries and Whispers

    Cries and Whispers

    ★★½

    “I can’t take it! Can’t anyone help me? I can’t take it! Help me!”

    Starting with an image dreamed of four women in white in a red room, Ingmar Bergman was able to build the story that became his film Cries and Whispers. The film would go on to become one of his most successful films, certainly the highest-grossing film of his released in the US. But Bergman said it’s very hard to say anything about this film, so clearly…

  • Z

    Z

    ★★★★½

    “Here we go. It’s a murder now. They’ll be calling it a plot if this drags on.”

    Being from Greece but raised in France, director Costa-Gavras still felt very much connected to his home country. When the democratic politician and leftist activist Grigoris Lambrakis was assassinated in 1963 by right-wing zealots, which pushed the country into mass riots and political unrest that led to a dictatorship, Costa-Gavras was inspired to tell the story cinematically. Based on a book that was…

  • Grand Illusion

    Grand Illusion

    ★★★★½

    "To be killed in a war is a tragedy for a commoner. For you and me? It’s a good way out.”

    Seeing a foreign language film get nominated for Best Picture may have seemed strange for those in the Academy back in the late 30s, but after seeing Jean Renoir’s film La Grande Illusion, it may have made more sense. The film was about World War I – the Great War (if there really can be such a thing) –…

  • Project Power

    Project Power

    ★★½

    “The power goes where it always goes, to the people that already have it.”

    2020 has given us a new understanding of what dog days can mean. Historically the label has been reserved for the hottest days of the year because ancient peoples believed it could bring “fever or catastrophe.” Upon consideration, “Fever & Catastrophe” could be an accurate tagline for a film named 2020. Coming out of that traditional period of extreme summer heat, the release of new films to…

  • Friday After Next

    Friday After Next

    ★★½

    "Give me a twister... make it two. Hold the flies.”

    Coming back just a few short years later, Ice Cube sets his third film in the Friday franchise at Christmastime. It’s a fun shift in the franchise, which also shifts locations yet again to a low-end strip mall where Craig and his cousin Day-Day work as security guards. But Cube is yet again tackling the script by himself and bringing on a first-time filmmaker to bring the film to life,…

  • Next Friday

    Next Friday

    ★½

    "I’m about to show you who the real Puff Daddy is!”

    When Ice Cube started up his own production company, CubeVision, it made sense to jump back to the first film that he wrote, Friday, to make a sequel. After all, most sequels are guaranteed to earn back a part of what their predecessors made. But Chris Tucker had become a born-again Christian and didn’t want to be in this type of movie anymore and DJ Pooh, his co-writer, was…

  • Friday

    Friday

    ★★★★½

    "Don’t ever, ever, evereverevereverever come by here!”

    Ice Cube’s rap career was on fire because of the work he was doing with N.W.A., but after playing Doughboy in John Singleton’s 1991 film Boyz n the Hood, he got the acting bug and wanted to do more films. He talked to N.W.A.’s publicist Patricia Charbonnet, and the two of them came up with the idea of telling a story of life in the hood that wasn’t so dark like Singleton’s film…

  • Hamilton

    Hamilton

    ★★★★★

    “America, you great unfinished symphony.”

    COVID–19 has created a unique dearth in the film industry. We’ve all been seeking something to look forward to this summer and Disney+ provided a glimmer last week by releasing a film version of “Hamilton” captured live from Broadway in 2016. In a sea of theater at home releases that leave the world questioning what constitutes the very definition of film, entertainment is on the cusp of revolution and sets a stage for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s…