‘Hudson’ offers simple pleasures, warm smiles and a couple gentle tears

“Hudson” – Talk to any random group of New York City residents – especially those born and raised in The Big Apple – about Upstate New York, and four out of five will say, “Upstate isn’t really New York.” Technically, they are wrong, but culturally, those blokes and blokettes have a point.  The City sports over 8 million residents in just 300 square miles.  It has Broadway, Chinatown, Greenwich Village, Wall Street, Yankees baseball (and 27 World Series championships), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and great pizza. Meanwhile, in between…

‘The Fall of the American Empire’ does not have highs and lows

“The Fall of the American Empire” – Three numbers:  .1, 188 and 90. The richest .1 percent of Americans earn 188 times as much as the bottom 90 percent, according to a 2017 study featured on inequality.org.  The 2019 numbers surely have grown more disproportionate, but if one thinks that the U.S. is the only country with such frightening statistics, the answer is no.  Include Canada too. Set in Montreal, writer/director Denys Arcand (“The Barbarian Invasions” (2003)) disburses “The Fall of the American Empire”, an economic inequality commentary delivered by…

Hospital Ward ‘5B’ is a heartbreaking and inspirational destination

“5B” – “I was ready, but I was scared.” – Alison Moed Paolercio, Ward 5B nurse manager In 1981, the AIDS crisis frightened the nation.  San Francisco and other U.S. metropolitan centers became ground zero, and this mysterious disease – born from unknown causes – was horribly labeled Gay Cancer. Out of nowhere, young gay men developed ghastly skin lesions, as the disease pulverized their immune system into dust.  Soon after – sometimes within a month – their bodies followed suit. How is AIDS contracted?  How is it spread?  Soon,…

‘Ma’: Spencer is a terrific villain, but she’s stuck in a clunky story

“Ma” – “Get home safe.  That’s all I care about.” – Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer) “Don’t make me drink alone.” – Sue Ann Erica (Juliette Lewis) and her high school-aged daughter Maggie (Diana Silvers) drive towards a small-town destination, and a single-stack nuclear power plant looms over the endless acres of leafless, dormant trees.  Little did they know that their lives would soon blow up, after Erica decided to move back to her hometown and into a modest three-bedroom ranch that sits on a dead end street. They should have…

‘The Sun is Also a Star’ barely flickers

“The Sun Is Also a Star” – “It’s fate.” – Daniel Bae (Charles Melton) Natasha Kingsley (Yara Shahidi) stands in the middle of Grand Central Station and looks up at its celestial ceiling.  Daniel (Melton) notices Natasha and sees stars too.  For Daniel, it’s love at first sight or at least serious interest at first sight.  Natasha is wearing a blue polyester jacket, one that sports the phrase “Deus Ex Machina”, and divine intervention strikes him.  He decides to follow her to say, “Hello,” in person.  For the sake of…