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28 September 2018 @ 03:54 pm
Third Quarter 2018 Movies  
I am pretty sure I won't see any movies this weekend, so I am getting a head start on quarterly things.

  1. Three Identical Strangers: I saw this as part of the year-round component of the Washington Jewish Film Festival. This is a documentary about triplets who meet accidentally at the age of 19, after having been separated at birth and placed with three very different families. There’s a fascinating – and disturbing – story about the circumstances behind that separation. There are lots of interesting issues that get raised, as well as unsolved questions at the end. Recommended.

  2. The Catcher Was a Spy: As many of you know, I am obsessed with the subject of Jewish baseball players. That explains why I went to see this in an actual movie theatre. Moe Berg was one of the most interesting of those players – not a great ball player, but a Princeton alumnus, with a wide knowledge of foreign languages. This film (based on the book of the same name) is focused on his having been sent on a mission to find out how close Heisenberg was to creating an atomic bomb. There’s plenty of action – which detracts from what Berg’s strengths as a spy were. The story is interesting, but the execution in this movie was disappointing. I also had some issues with the way Berg’s relationships (and possible homosexuality) were addressed. Aviva Kempner is working on a documentary about Berg and I expect that to be better.

  3. The Leisure Seeker: I saw this on an airplane. It’s the story of an elderly couple who go off for one final adventure in their RV. Ella has cancer and has chosen to stop treatment. John has Alzheimer’s. Their adult children are concerned, but unable to stop them from making the drive to Florida. Various things go wrong along the way, but lots of things go right. I particularly loved a scene when a group of younger people at a campsite choose to spend the evening with them watching old home movies. There’s excellent acting from Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland as the leads. I thought this was a warm and touching movie, with plenty of humor. I highly recommend it for people who are over 50 and/or those dealing with aging parents.

  4. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?: This was the first of two movies I saw on my flight home from vacation. I have a confession to make. I have never seen an entire episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. I do, however, appreciate how influential he was. After watching this documentary, I came away with an added appreciation of what a fundamentally good person he was and what he was trying to do. I do wish, however, that the documentary had more to say about his personal life. For example, there are hints about childhood trauma, but they were rather too vague for me. I did appreciate that the filmmakers stopped short of hagiography, e.g. by addressing how slow Mr. Rogers was to come to terms with homosexuality. I still have no particular desire to watch (old episodes of) the show, but this was a good documentary.

  5. Lady Bird: This was the other movie I watched on my way home. Being a teenager is rough enough without having a father who is out of work, a mother who works too hard to support the family, and living in Sacramento. I thought the conflicts (choosing friends, exploring sexuality, hating one’s home town, deciding where to go to college) were realistic, although the anger in the mother-daughter relationship felt more prolonged than I expected. (I spent much of my teen years in screaming matches with my parents, but they tended not to last for weeks. Or maybe I’ve just forgotten?) The acting was excellent, with Saoirse Ronan convincingly sincere in the title role. Overall, worth watching.

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Julie: TFP ★ DIYragnarok_08 on September 29th, 2018 05:46 am (UTC)
I've heard a lot about Ladybird and it sounds good :)

Edited at 2018-09-29 05:48 am (UTC)