‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ argues that 1968 and 2020 aren’t so different

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” – The Left Coast hosted The Summer of Love in 1967, a time when 100,000 young people converged on San Francisco for music, art, and a sense of community. In August 1969, the East Coast hosted Woodstock, the famous conglomeration of all-star musical acts and 400,000 human beings touching down on an Upstate NY farm for three days of peace, love, and rock ‘n’ roll/folk melodies. In between these iconic events, the American Midwest held an altogether different affair, the 1968 Democratic Convention.  Hosted…

‘2 Hearts’ has good intentions, but it flutters with clichés

“2 Hearts” – “As the world becomes a more digital place, we cannot forget about the human connection.” – Adam Neumann “Two of hearts.  Two hearts that beat as one.  Two of hearts. I need you. I need you.” – Stacey Q, “Two of Hearts” Director Lance Hool’s romantic drama “2 Hearts” does not feature a smartphone, an incoming email, or a Yelp review.   His characters seem to live in the pre-Internet past, but deciphering the exact on-screen year is like attempting to decode David Lynch’s “Mulholland Dr.” (2001) or…

‘Nocturne’ looks great but it’s a little off-key

“Nocturne” – “From their struggles to establish dominance over each other, siblings become tougher and more resilient.” – Adele Faber “Siblings that say they never fight are most definitely hiding something.” – Lemony Snicket Vivian (Madison Iseman) and Juliet (Sydney Sweeney) have played the piano for practically their entire lives.  Writer/director Zu Quirke establishes this absolute fact during the first few minutes of “Nocturne”, as we see the girls striking 88 keys as toddlers through high school in a dreamy montage. Practicing for three hours a day for 15 years…

Maybe ‘The War with Grandpa’ should give peace a chance

“The War with Grandpa” – Since I’m a child of the 70s and 80s, sometimes 2020 feels like an alien world, not necessarily due to miracles of modern technology, but socially. Back in the day, parents left their Gen X children to their own devices (not cell phones but ideas and related tomfoolery) for hours and hours.  My mom would shoo my brothers and me out of the house on Saturday or Sunday mornings, and say, “Have a great day.  Dinner is at six.” My father’s word was law, including…

‘Time’ is sometimes off, but the punctual, personal messages resonate

“Time” – “If you fall, I will catch you.  I will be waiting, time after time.” – Cyndi Lauper, “Time After Time” Sibil Fox Richardson (a.k.a. Fox Rich) has been waiting for her husband’s return for just over 20 years.  Fox and her high school sweetheart Rob are not legally separated but remain physically apart. The couple is legally separated but in an altogether different way.  You see, in 1999, a Louisiana court sentenced Rob to 60 years in prison for armed robbery, and Fox was not an unknowing party. …

‘On the Rocks’ is a smooth, breezy indulgence

“On the Rocks” – I got your nose.  I got your nose. How many fathers have played that free-and-easy, five-second game with their kids?  My dad certainly did, but as I grew older, his teasing evolved into more functional spaces.  For instance, he would insist on possessing the television’s remote control when he entered the family room. “Jeff.  Controller.  Hand it over, Son, because you don’t know how to use it,” he would often say.  This exchange occurred daily for years, and sometimes I would hand over the remote with…

Ironically, ‘The Glorias’ works too hard

“The Glorias” –  “The path up is always a jagged line, not a straight one.” – Gloria Steinem “Roam if you want to.  Roam around the world.  Roam if you want to, without wings, without wheels.” – The B-52s, “Roam” Most folks probably know feminist icon Gloria Steinem from “Ms.” (magazine) and her trademark glasses, but this influential trailblazer is a whole lot more than her 49-year-old publication and fancy spectacles. There’s only one Gloria Steinem.  That’s true, except in writer/director Julie Taymor’s “The Glorias”, a Steinem biopic with four…

July’s ‘Kajillionaire’ pays out some eccentric riches

“Kajillionaire” – Old Dolio Dyne (Evan Rachel Wood), 26, frequently sports a clashing green and blue tracksuit – a polyester fashion nightmare that was probably last seen in 1982 – and lives a happy life with her two loving, supportive parents. Well, scratch that last part. Theresa (Debra Winger) and Robert (Richard Jenkins) don’t exactly hold Old Dolio’s best interests in mind, either for the long term or in the immediate present.  First of all, they named their only child after a homeless man, which would probably trigger any capable…

‘The Dark Divide’ is a soulful, pleasant journey

“The Dark Divide” – “I’m actually searching for new species of (butterflies)…and moths.  In fact, three years ago, I discovered six new species, and that is a Xerces Society record.  I’ve authored several books on the subject.  It’s kind of a big deal, just so you know.” – Robert M. Pyle, Ph.D. (David Cross) Dr. Robert M. Pyle – a lepidopterist and college professor – is a big deal.  It’s the summertime in 1995, and he’s about to embark on a new assignment.  You see, the Guggenheim offered him an…

‘The Devil All the Time’ is a well-crafted, exceedingly grim slow burn

“The Devil All the Time” – At the 46-minute mark of director Antonio Campos’ film adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock’s debut 2011 novel, Arvin Russell (Tom Holland) sheepishly smiles when his aunt brings out a cake with a lit candle on his birthday.  As an audience, let’s also celebrate the occasion, because this moment is one of the very few on-screen smiles offered in “The Devil All the Time”, a rough-and-tumble, exceedingly grim step into noir.  It’s a picture that might leave you depressed and reduced to near-zero hope for…