‘Hearts Beat Loud’ joyfully celebrates creativity, choice

“Hearts Beat Loud” (2018). Cast: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Ted Danson, Blythe Danner, Toni Collette, Sasha Lane, Quincy Dunn-Baker. Director: Brett Haley. Screenplay: Brett Haley and Marc Basch. Web site. Trailer. Following our passion is something most of us dream about. But how many of us are able to see it through? Unfortunately, life often seems to get in the way. And sometimes we get in our own way, too. Clearing away the clutter, making a plan and working up the gumption to move forward all factor into the process, but how adept are we at these tasks? These are some of the challenges that a pair of would-be professional musicians face in the heartfelt new comedy-drama, “Hearts Beat Loud.” [...]

‘First Reformed’ assesses our choices and their results

“First Reformed” (2018). Cast: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric Kyles, Victoria Hill, Philip Ettinger, Michael Gaston, Bill Hoag, Frank Rodriguez. Director: Paul Schrader. Screenplay: Paul Schrader. Web site. Trailer. The weight of the world is quite a load for anyone to carry, even those who believe they’re best equipped to do so. Holding up under such circumstances can easily be more than one can bear, but some take up the challenge anyway. Why? That’s a key question for a beleaguered protagonist in the gripping new drama, “First Reformed.” Pastor Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is, somewhat ironically, a troubled soul. As a former military academy chaplain who has suffered a number of personal tragedies and a crisis of conscience, he’s been [...]

2018-06-21T19:23:52+00:00 June 7th, 2018|Conscious Creation, Drama, Movie Reviews|

‘Disobedience’ dares to challenge taboos

“Disobedience” (2018). Cast: Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, Alessandro Nivola, Anton Lesser, Bernice Stegers, Allan Corduner, Nicholas Woodeson, Liza Sadovy. Director: Sebastián Lelio. Screenplay: Sebastián Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz. Book: Naomi Alderman, Disobedience. Web site. Trailer. Getting what we want from life, especially in an area as critical as romance, may push us to our limits. We may find ourselves saddled with constraints that push back against us, thwarting our efforts and keeping us from fulfilling our objectives. But these conditions are often wholly arbitrary, capable of being overcome with the right degrees of determination and self-reliance, themes explored in the new romantic drama, “Disobedience.” When a much-beloved but aging and frail rav (Anton Lesser) passes on, the faithful of his [...]

2018-06-14T10:20:25+00:00 May 27th, 2018|Conscious Creation, Drama, Movie Reviews, Romance|

‘God’s Own Country’ encourages us to find ourselves

“God’s Own Country” (2017). Cast: Josh O’ Connor, Alec Secareanu, Ian Hart, Gemma Jones, Melanie Kilburn, Harry Lister Smith, John McCrea. Director: Francis Lee. Screenplay: Francis Lee. Web site. Trailer. Finding the courage to assert ourselves and lead the life we want can be challenging, especially under unrelenting and oppressive circumstances. We can retreat from the world, drowning ourselves in various diversions, but, while that might take away the momentary discomfort, it doesn’t really solve the issue at hand. And the longer we put it off to the side, the longer the pain lingers and the more likely we’re to grow jaded and embittered. In the end, confronting the matter will provide the only real chance at a solution, but [...]

2018-06-10T22:07:59+00:00 May 23rd, 2018|Conscious Creation, Drama, Movie Reviews|

‘Tully’ nudges us to look at life’s choices

“Tully” (2018). Cast: Charlize Theron, Ron Livingston, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Elaine Tan, Asher Miles Fallica, Lia Frankland, Gameela Wright, Joshua Pak. Director: Jason Reitman. Screenplay: Diablo Cody. Web site. Trailer. Have you ever felt so overburdened by your circumstances that you didn’t know which way to turn first? The workload is so great that you can barely keep up, yet everything has to get done, even when you don’t feel like doing it. Such conditions can be demoralizing, so much so that you stop taking proper care of yourself and even come to resent your own life. If you can appreciate that, you’ll be able to relate to the everyday routine of an overwhelmed mother of three watching her [...]

2018-06-07T22:54:37+00:00 May 21st, 2018|Comedy, Conscious Creation, Drama, Movie Reviews|

‘Crown Heights’ seeks justice in its absence

“Crown Heights” (2017). Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Nnamdi Asomugha, Natalie Paul, Bill Camp, Luke Forbes, Adriane Lenox, Zach Grenier, Josh Pais, Skylan Brooks, Nestor Carbonell, Armand Schultz. Director: Matt Ruskin. Screenplay: Matt Ruskin. Web site. Trailer. Seeking justice is sometimes an unbelievably slow and difficult process. Bureaucratic procedures, sloppy investigative work and officials unwilling to admit making mistakes all contribute to needlessly complicating matters. The frustration can be exasperating for everyone involved, especially those who have been wrongfully convicted. Such is the case in the fact-based biographical drama “Crown Heights,” now available on DVD and video on demand. In 1980, 18-year-old Colin Warner (Lakeith Stanfield) was arrested, convicted and incarcerated for a murder he did not commit in the Crown Heights [...]

2018-05-27T18:51:55+00:00 May 8th, 2018|Conscious Creation, Drama, Movie Reviews|

‘Lady Macbeth’ cautions us to control our powers of creation

“Lady Macbeth” (2017). Cast: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis. Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank, Golda Rosheuvel, Anton Palmer, Cliff Burnett, Bill Fellows. Director: William Oldroyd. Screenplay: Alice Birch. Novella: Nikolai Leskov, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District. Web site. Trailer.  How far are you willing to be pushed before you reach your limits? Some of us might cave in quickly, while others will endure much. A lot ultimately depends on the nature of the circumstances and how willing we are to tolerate them. For one independently minded woman, those limits get reached rather fast, and her recourse is something to which most of us would probably never resort, consequences explored in the chilling gothic tale, “Lady Macbeth,” available on DVD, Blu-ray [...]

2018-05-23T08:40:55+00:00 May 2nd, 2018|Conscious Creation, Drama, Movie Reviews|

‘A Quiet Passion’ surveys the evolution of an artist’s worldview

“A Quiet Passion” (2017). Cast: Cynthia Nixon, Keith Carradine, Jennifer Ehle, Catherine Bailey, Duncan Duff, Emma Bell, Rose Williams, Benjamin Wainwright, Joanna Bacon, Annette Badland, Jodhi May, Eric Loren, Simone Milsdochter, Trevor Cooper, Stefan Menaul, Sara Louise Vertongen, Noémie Schellens. Director: Terence Davies. Screenplay: Terence Davies. Web site. Trailer. Geniuses are often misunderstood during their lifetimes. Their eccentricities and alternative viewpoints frequently draw criticisms – sometimes even ostracism – from contemporaries who fail (or refuse) to understand and appreciate them for what they are. In later times, their contributions to humanity often seem patently (and obviously) brilliant. But, in getting to that point, we must first examine how they arrived at their insights, assessing the influences that helped to make [...]

2018-05-02T08:59:58+00:00 March 12th, 2018|Conscious Creation, Drama, Movie Reviews|

‘Loveless’ exposes the perils of self-absorption

“Loveless” (“Nelyubov”) (2017). Cast: Maryana Spivak, Aleksey Rozin, Matvey Novikov, Marina Vasileva, Andris Keyshs, Aleksey Fateev, Nataliya Potapova, Artyom Zhigulin, Aleksandr Sergeev. Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev. Screenplay: Oleg Negin and Andrey Zvyagintsev. Web site. Trailer. How we treat those close to us often speaks volumes about how we care about others in the wider world, even if the parallels aren’t patently obvious. The compassion, caring and courtesy – or lack thereof – that we show them is quite telling, even if we can’t or don’t want to see it for ourselves. Whether such concerted attentiveness or deliberate slights occur on an individual or collective scale, their presence and expression are nevertheless undeniable, as seen in the troubling new Russian drama, “Loveless” [...]

2018-04-20T07:30:59+00:00 March 12th, 2018|Conscious Creation, Drama, Movie Reviews|