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Monthly Archives: September 2016

Paterson [Adam Driver] is a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey – they share the name. Every day, Paterson adheres to a simple routine: he drives his daily route, observing the city as it drifts across his windshield and overhearing fragments of conversation swirling around him; he writes poetry into a notebook; he walks his dog; he stops in a bar and drinks exactly one beer. He goes home to his wife, Laura [Golshifteh Farahani]. By contrast, Laura’s world is ever changing. New dreams come to her almost daily, each a different and inspired project. Paterson loves Laura and she loves him. He supports her newfound ambitions; she champions his secret gift for poetry. The history and energy of the City of Paterson is a felt presence in the film and its simple structure unfolds over the course of a single week. The quiet triumphs and defeats of daily life are observed, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.

Mike Mills’s texturally and behaviorally rich new comedy seems to keep redefining itself as it goes along, creating a moving group portrait of particular people in a particular place [Santa Barbara] at a particular moment in the 20th century [1979], one lovingly attended detail at a time. The great Annette Bening, in one of her very best performances, is Dorothea, a single mother raising her teenage son, Jamie [Lucas Jade Zumann], in a sprawling bohemian house, which is shared by an itinerant carpenter [Billy Crudup] and a punk artist with a Bowie haircut [Greta Gerwig] and frequented by Jamie’s rebellious friend Julie [Elle Fanning]. 20th Century Women is warm, funny, and a work of passionate artistry. An A24 release.

Troy Maxson, is a strong man, a hard man. He has had to be to survive. Troy Maxson has gone through life in an America where to be proud and black is to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the 1950s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960s, a spirit that is changing the world Troy Maxson has learned to deal with the only way he can, a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less.

The title of Ava DuVernay’s extraordinary and galvanizing documentary 13TH refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” The progression from that second qualifying clause to the horrors of mass criminalization and the sprawling American prison industry is laid out by DuVernay with bracing lucidity. With a potent mixture of archival footage and testimony from a dazzling array of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men, DuVernay creates a work of grand historical synthesis.

Based on a stranger-than-fiction true story, King Cobra is a deliciously dark, twisted plunge into the behind-the-scenes world of the pornography industry. It’s 2006, YouTube is in its infancy, and internet porn is still behind a paywall. Taking the stage name Brent Corrigan, a fresh-faced, wannabe adult video performer [Garrett Clayton] is molded into a star by Stephen [Christian Slater], a closeted gay porn mogul who runs the skin flick empire Cobra Video from his seemingly ordinary suburban home. But as Brent’s rise and demands for more money put him at odds with his boss, he also attracts the attention of a rival producer [James Franco] and his unstable lover [Keegan Allen] who will stop at nothing to squash Cobra Video and steal its number one star. Co-starring Alicia Silverstone and Molly Ringwald, King Cobra is part delirious, tabloid-shocker satire, part American tragedy.

Former high school sweethearts Jim [Mark Duplass] and Amanda [Sarah Paulson] have been out of touch for more than 20 years — but by sheer coincidence, they run into each other at a grocery store back in their alpine hometown of Crestline, California. Jim’s mother has died and he’s here to put her house on the market. Amanda is visiting her pregnant sister. They get to talking, first over coffee, then over beer and jellybeans. Before they know it they’re at Jim’s mother’s house, where everything sends them spiraling back into the past. Jim and Amanda’s lives have taken different directions, yet here they are, reconnecting like nothing has changed. Alex Lehmann’s feature debut is a tender, wise chamber drama about finding yourself adrift in mid-life, longing for something essential that you fear has been lost.

One of America’s foremost filmmakers, Kelly Reichardt directs a remarkable ensemble cast led by Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, and Laura Dern in this stirring look at three women striving to forge their own paths amidst the wide-open plains of the American Northwest: a lawyer [Dern] who finds herself contending with both office sexism and a hostage situation; a wife and mother [Williams] whose determination to build her dream home puts her at odds with the men in her life; and a young law student [Stewart] who forms an ambiguous bond with a lonely ranch hand [Lily Gladstone]. As their stories intersect in subtle but powerful ways, a portrait emerges of flawed, but strong-willed individuals in the process of defining themselves.