FLY ME TO THE MOON – Review by Susan Kamyab

1969 is greatly remembered as the day when man first walked on the moon. Well, the new romantic comedy, Fly Me to the Moon, starring Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum, twists the true story of how that mission came to be. Director Greg Berlanti captures our attention with his focus on an engaging story, a humorous cast, and some exciting shots — making Fly Me to the Moon a light-hearted, blast everyone can enjoy.

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NORTH STAR (TIFF 2023) – Review by Liz Braun

Dame Kristin Scott Thomas makes her feature directorial debut with North Star, a family tale about love and loss with a great cast. A lesser cast and better writing would have improved matters, but never mind. The plot revolves around the reunion of three sisters who are gathering at the family home for their mother’s third marriage. Mom (Scott Thomas) has been twice married and twice widowed, a detail from Scott Thomas’ own life. As a child, the filmmaker lost her father and her stepfather — both armed forces pilots — within six years.

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ASTEROID CITY – Review by Sarah Vincent

Shot in black and white on a black box theater set in a 1957 television studio, Wes Anderson regular Jason Schwartzman plays actor Jones Hall, who seduces playwright Conrad Earp (Edward Norton) after landing the role of Augie Steenbeck in Earp’s latest play, the titular Asteroid City. This intimate backstory is one of several behind-the-scenes vignettes about the production of Earp’s final work, which is shot in color – a dreamy, Southwest-evoking palette of teal, orange and tan. A recent widower, single dad and former war photographer, Augie is one of many offbeat parents taking their gifted children to the 1955 Junior Stargazer convention. A brief extraterrestrial visit interrupts the proceedings, triggering a government-imposed quarantine with no travel and no communication with the outside world and sparking a widespread crisis about the meaning of life.

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MARRIAGE STORY – Review by Brandy McDonnell

It’s also one of those films that never lets you forget you’re watching a film, with a stagy quality that feels like you’ve been invited to see Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta and Alan Alda one-up each other in an exclusive acting workshop with Baumbach providing slightly outlandish material liberally sourced from his own life.

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MARRIAGE STORY – Review by Susan Granger

You know the feeling when you have a very painful scab on your knee and you keep picking at it? That’s what writer/director Noah Baumbach has created in this bitter, corrosive tale about the dissolution of a marriage. Beginning as ‘cinema verite,’ recalling the 1960s French film movement which featured natural actions and authentic dialogue, it inexplicably then morphs into near-farce and melodic metaphors.

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MARRIAGE STORY – Review by Diane Carson

Writer/director Noah Baumbach tackles one of everyone’s most difficult experiences in Marriage Story, that is, the dissolution of an intimate relationship that also includes a cherished, young son. Adam Driver as husband Charlie and Scarlett Johansson as wife Nicole delve deep into painful emotional territory in a narrative alternately sweet, even amusing, tender, and, ultimately, agonizing.

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Noah Baumbach on MARRIAGE STORY, Perspectives and Writing Women – Jennifer Merin interviews

Noah Baumbach’s films are all about the tangles and untangling of relationships and, while they aren’t written entirely from a female perspective, they always present complex and compelling female characters with strong and well-defined objectives. From his own male perspective, Baumbach writes female characters with convincing authenticity.

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JO JO RABBIT – Review by Susan Granger

Director Taika Waititi’s approach to ridiculing Hitler is unique. Set in the fictional town of Falkenheim in Germany during the closing months of W.W.II, he focuses on plucky 10 year-old Johannes Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis), who is “massively into swastikas” and besotted with his imaginary friend, buffoonish Adolf Hitler (Waititi).

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JOJO RABBIT – Review by Brandy McDonnell

Set in Germany during the waning days of WWII, the New Zealand filmmaker’s adaptation of Christine Leunen’s novel “Caging Skies” follows 10-year-old Jojo (wonderful newcomer Roman Griffin Davis), a new Hitler Youth recruit who so fancies himself a Nazi zealot that his imaginary friend is a clownish version of Adolf Hitler (Waititi, brilliantly eccentric).

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JOJO RABBIT – Review by Diane Carson

Some people consider satirizing the bigoted high and mighty unproductive. Others feel satire offers an effective way to bare and undermine evil, knowing laughter may be both therapeutic and effective, even politically empowering. Based on director Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, I’m in the latter camp, and all for more ridicule of depraved individuals.

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