Year: 2019

‘Mary Poppins’ affirms the power of magic

‘Mary Poppins’ affirms the power of magic

“Mary Poppins Returns” (2018). Cast: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Colin Firth, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, David Warner, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson, Jeremy Swift, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Jim Norton, Noma Dumezweni, Tarik Frimpong, Suda Bhuchar, Steve Nicolson, Christian Dixon, Chris O’Dowd (voice), Edward Hibbert (voice). Director: Rob Marshall. Screenplay: David Magee. Story: David Magee, Rob Marshall and John DeLuca. Source Material: P.L. Travers. Web site. Trailer. Children frequently delight in the power of magic. They appreciate the wonder it engenders, and they often look on in wide-eyed awe at what it can produce. But, somewhere along the line, many of us lose that sense of amazement as we age, believing that such notions are little more than foolish, childish fantasies. What’s worse, due to the difficulties of prevailing circumstances in many of our lives, some of us may never discover the joys of this endearing aspect of life to begin with, denying us one of the tremendous pleasures of childhood. And, unfortunately, in either case, we often end up divorced from the skills and mindset that a genuine belief in magic affords us, separated from valuable tools that can help us ...
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‘Beale Street’ celebrates the power of love, community

‘Beale Street’ celebrates the power of love, community

“If Beale Street Could Talkˮ (2018). Cast: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Colman Domingo, Diego Luna, Dave Franco, Finn Wittrock, Emily Rios, Brian Tyree Henry, Michael Beach, Aunjanue Ellis, Teyonah Parris, Ebony Obsidian, Dominique Thorne, Ed Skrein, Ethan Barrett, Milanni Mines, Pedro Pascal, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Kaden Byrd. Director: Barry Jenkins. Screenplay: Barry Jenkins. Book: James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk. Web site. Trailer. Much goes on in a neighborhood that comes to define its character. It’s as if the community takes on a life and personality of its own, one that frequently persists and comes to distinguish the area in question, including its residents, often for generation after generation. It’s a phenomenon that essentially becomes a way of life for all concerned, a circumstance examined in the moving new screen drama, “If Beale Street Could Talk.” As the film opens, a cinematic epigraph references Beale Street in New Orleans, a place where writer James Baldwin, author of the book on which this picture is based, contends that every Black person born in America comes from, even those who don’t call the Big Easy home. Baldwin says there’s a version of Beale Street, the birthplace of Louis Armstrong ...
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This Week in Movies with Meaning

This Week in Movies with Meaning

Reviews of “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Vice,” along with 2018’s 10 best and worst, are all in the latest Movies with Meaning post on the web site of The Good Media Network, available by clicking here ...
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The Best and Worst of 2018

The Best and Worst of 2018

Another year in filmdom has come and gone, and countless movie reviewers have issued their best and worst lists for 2018. And so, with that said, it’s time to add my voice to the chorus, with my choices for the cream of the crop and the curdled cream best discarded. In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I did not screen every film that was released in 2018, most notably those that were distributed through limited or select channels or have yet to go into wide release, such as a number of foreign films and a few lesser-known independent productions, like “Stan & Ollie.” However, I did spend considerable time staring at those flickering lights on the big screen during 2018, enough to make me feel comfortable in offering up my selections for the pictures that I believe represented the best and worst of past 12 months. Documentaries are treated separately from fictional releases, and links to complete reviews of some of these films are included where applicable. As always, I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section (be civil, please). And with that, here goes: THE TOP 10 10. “If Beale Street Could Talk” ...
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‘Vice’ dissects the unbridled pursuit of power

‘Vice’ dissects the unbridled pursuit of power

“Vice” (2018). Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Tyler Perry, Alison Pill, Jesse Plemons, Bill Camp, Eddie Marsan, Justin Kirk, LisaGay Hamilton, Don McManus, Lily Rabe, Matthew Jacobs, Kyle S. More, Kirk Bovill, Sam Massaro, John Hillner, William Goldman, Paul Yoo, Joseph Beck, Tony Graham, Alex Kingi, Terri Cavanaugh. Archive Footage: Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Barbara Walters, Tom Brokaw, Mike Pence, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Jeff Sessions, Bill O’Reilly. Director: Adam McKay. Screenplay: Adam McKay. Web site. Trailer. Power makes much possible. It can be wielded to achieve tremendous, beneficial outcomes. It can also be mangled in contorted ways to fulfill self-serving ends. But, no matter how it’s employed, power comes with consequences of either a positive or negative nature, both individually and collectively. Learning how to manage it to attain desired outcomes while avoiding unintended harm is thus crucial to make the best use of it, a challenge frequently put to the test as seen in the life of an ambitious politician, a story depicted in the new comedy-drama biopic, “Vice.” In 1963, almost no one would have predicted that slacker Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) would ever amount to anything. The hard-drinking party boy from Wyoming was ...
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