Baumbach’s ‘Marriage Story’ vows to leave a mark

“Marriage Story” – “We were perfectly happy until we decided to live happily ever after.” – Carrie Bradshaw, “Sex in the City” “Marriage is compromise and hard work, and then more hard work and communication and compromise.  And then work.  Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” – Gillian Flynn If the weather doesn’t comply with your family’s proposed weekend plans, a most-reliable backup is always at your disposal:  start a pot of coffee, make some sandwiches, open a box of cookies, and reach into the hallway closet and pull…

‘Rojo’ is an unconventional, smoldering slow burn

“Rojo” – It’s 1975 in Argentina.  Looking back at history, but looking forward within writer/director Benjamin Naishtat’s film, a right-wing coup will overthrow Argentina’s President Isabel Peron in a move called the “National Reorganization Process” in March 1976. So, in 1975, the country’s politics are uncertain, but life still goes on.  Adults work.  Kids learn in school.  Families enjoy harmony and also fall into disagreements.  Households pay their mortgages. Couples go out to dinner. It’s a lovely early evening, and Claudio (Dario Grandinetti) – a prominent lawyer who everyone in…

‘Jojo Rabbit’ successfully walks a comedic and emotional tightrope

“Jojo Rabbit” –  Taika Waititi is an immensely talented and creative actor, writer and director, but he needs to add tightrope walker to his resume, because he pulls off an impossible balancing act with his new film “Jojo Rabbit”. Set in Germany during the last throes of WWII, Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis), 10, is a devoted member of the Hitler Youth, but he discovers that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in their home, which throws his little fanatical mind for a loop. On the surface,…

‘The Lighthouse’ is a mesmerizing visual feast…and a rudderless waste of time

“The Lighthouse” – Robert Eggers’ follow-up to his eerie, creepy horror film “The Witch” (2015) (4/4 stars) is an equally eerie, creepy drama about two weathered men watching over a lonely lighthouse. There’s little doubt that this visual feast sets a disturbing tone, as “The Lighthouse” has an Ingmar Bergman-“Hour of the Wolf”-thing working greatly in its favor.  Filmed entirely in black and white and almost exclusively with a 1:1 aspect ratio (or very close to it), Eggers delivers a horrible sense of doom on a teeny, tiny island near…

‘Judy’: Zellweger takes a big step towards Oscar gold in a small, incomplete biopic

“Judy” – It’s the late 1960’s, and a star is fading.  Judy Garland’s (Renee Zellweger) star, because the bright, beautiful shine on her career – which includes “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) and Oscar nominations for “A Star is Born” (1954) and “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961) – seems like a lifetime ago. She feels like a terrible mother to her two preadolescent children Lorna and Joey. She’s also broke and homeless. Judy needs to jumpstart her career and earn a living, and through some very helpful advice, she earns a…