THE HOLDOVERS – Review by Susan Granger

Set at Christmastime in 1970 at prestigious Barton Academy, a rural Massachusetts prep school, The Holdovers revolves around Paul ’Walleye’ Hunham (Paul Giamatti), the cynical, curmudgeonly classics instructor forced to supervise the unfortunate boys unable to return home for the two-week holiday break. When a rich kid’s dad arrives in his helicopter, he offers to take them all skiing – if their parents give permission. That leaves only arrogant, angry Angus Tully (newcomer Dominic Sessa) whose honeymooning mother and stepfather have abandoned him and cannot be reached. Screenwriter David Hemingson devises such distinctive, compelling backstories for each of these three lonely, sad souls that their traumatic misadventures turn out to be therapeutic, yet director Alexander Payne never succumbs to sentimentality.

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THE HOLDOVERS – Review by Diane Carson

Director Alexander Payne has demonstrated a rare skill in mining complex personalities, the façade presented to others as well as the hidden depths of that mask. In exploring identities, Payne reveals the agonizing elements, coping strategies, and positive aspects of his characters. Through all this, he maintains an affectionate, incisive approach to the human condition. The Holdovers is as profound as it is enjoyable, a world to embrace.

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THE HOLDOVERS (Middleburg FF 2023) – Review by Leslie Combemale

The Holdovers, aka Grumpy Professor has a Change of Heart (that’s not a spoiler. It’s telegraphed in the trailer) aka Sideways Part Deux is more charming, poignant and sweet than director Alexander Payne and lead Paul Giamatti have any right to be, but that’s no surprise for the duo that brought us Sideways. It may be the holiday movie you never knew you needed. None of the lead characters have family that make them feel safe and loved during the holidays. This is the story of them finding each other, as damaged and full of baggage as they all are.

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THE HOLDOVERS (TIFF 2023) – Review by Emma Badame

Filmmaker Alexander Payne’s latest offering is not particularly original in any of its elements and doesn’t attempt to break any new ground, but as it transpires, that’s not at all a bad thing. Well-acted, lovingly directed, and sharply written by David Hemingson, The Holdovers is a warm, nostalgic hug of a film that harks back to a specific and beloved era of filmmaking. Payne sets the film in the early ‘70s to allow for a showcase of his vintage favorites. From the soundtrack to the color palette, he immerses his film in everything of the era and it truly works in the film’s favor.

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PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH – Review by Martha K Baker

Everyone knows that cats have nine lives. They land on their feet. They flirt with, then skirt, danger. They are charming and flirtatious and ego-centric, furry and purry. And then there’s Puss in Boots — all of the above and more. But, now, he’s down to the last of those nine lives so vaunted in fairy tales.

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ON THE COME UP – Review by Betsy Bozdech

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking about The Hate U Give while watching actor Sanaa Lathan’s feature directorial debut On the Come Up. Both films are based on best-selling YA novels by Angie Thomas, both are set in Thomas’ fictional Garden Heights neighborhood, and both center the stories of Black teen girls who must decide when and how to speak up for what they believe in. But On the Come Up stands on its own merits as a compelling look at what it means to be authentic and true to yourself as an artist.

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THE LOST CITY – Review by Susan Granger

The formulaic script by Oren Uziel, Dana Fox and co-directors Adam and Aaron Nee – from Seth Gordon’s story – is remarkably reminiscent of Romancing the Stone with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, even the first Mummy movie with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz.

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THE LOST CITY – Review by T. J. Callahan

Loretta’s well manicured, but shaky hand slowly inched closer to Alan’s creamy white bare buttocks. Yes, his perfectly shaped derrière was covered in leeches engorged with blood from his muscular body, but she secretly was attracted to him and knew she must overcome her fear and free him from his throbbing pain if their relationship was to survive.” This is The Lost City.

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THE UNITED STATES VS BILLIE HOLIDAY – Review by Liz Braun

There was a lot of pain and conflict in Billie Holiday’s short life, all of it right there in the music. That music is the saving grace of The United States vs. Billie Holiday, a new biopic about the legendary jazz singer that stars Andra Day and is directed by Lee Daniels, with a screenplay by Suzan-Lori Parks. It’s an uneven and often melodramatic undertaking, suffering from what looks like an inability to leave anything out. The United States vs. Billie Holiday won’t tell you anything new about Billie Holiday but it functions as lovely window dressing for Andra Day’s extraordinary singing talent.

It’s an uneven and often melodramatic undertaking, suffering from what looks like an inability to leave anything out

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