Brigid K. Presecky 98 posts

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‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ a buzzy showcase for McCarthy

In a dramatic turn for Melissa McCarthy (not the first, but lauded as so), Can You Ever Forgive Me? tells the story of fledgling author Lee Israel and the illegal lengths she went to for extra cash and a sense of purpose. The Marielle Heller-directed drama based on Israel’s memoir of the same name is a no-makeup-Oscar-buzz-generator showcase for McCarthy, but its anti-hero protagonist isn’t much of a protagonist at all. (BKP: 3.5/5)

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White and Monroe make believable pair in honest love story ‘After Everything’

Co-writers and co-directors Hannah Marks and Joey Power tell an honest, raw love story of two people who prematurely deal with the hardships adulthood. When Elliot is diagnosed with cancer after only one date with Mia, the couple is thrust into the role of patient/caregiver in the midst of a passionate, burgeoning relationship. (BKP: 4.5/5)

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Giamatti and Hahn a sad, perfect duo in Netflix dramedy ‘Private Life’

Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn bring their best to Tamara Jenkins’ Netflix dramedy, Private Life. Telling the story of two 40-something artists struggling with fertility, they enlist the help of their gung-ho step-niece in the hopes that her donation egg will start their family. (BKP: 4.5/5)

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‘Hell Fest’ a fun start to Halloween season

From screenwriter Blair Butler (one of five credited writers) and director Gregory Plotkin, Hell Fest is a typical teen slasher film that’s refreshingly free of demonic possession, but also free of originality. (BKP: 3.5/5) Review by Managing Editor Brigid K. Presecky Childhood friends Brooke (Reign Edwards) and Natalie (Amy Forsyth) reunite for Halloween to attend […]

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Like the film’s heroine, ‘Love, Gilda’ leaves lasting impact

Like a belated memoir-turned-audiobook, Gilda Radner tells her story in her own words – in her own voice. Director Lisa D’Apolito collects and chronologizes the life of the famous funny girl using her own 1989 autobiography, “It’s Always Something,” along with personal belongings, family videotapes and journal entries from the height of her Saturday Night Live fame. Documenting personal struggles with family, friends and her own health, Love, Gilda leaves you wanting more – of the film and her. (4.5/5)

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Blake Lively at her best in twisty, original ‘A Simple Favor’

A Simple Favor is a compelling and strange comedy-thriller hybrid from director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy, Ghostbusters) and screenwriter Jessica Sharzer (Nerve). When Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) meets mysterious fellow mom Emily (Blake Lively) at her son’s elementary school, their fast friendship quickly spirals into a wild ride involving missing persons and mistaken identities. While not necessarily unique in plot, Feig and Sharzer’s adaptation of Darcey Bell’s novel remains consistently unique in tone and entertainment value. (BKP: 4/5)

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‘The Apparition’ a lengthy journey of questioning miracles

Unlike the horror-thriller genre one might expect from a church story titled The Apparition, the drama tells the story of a journalist investigating a young woman who claims to have miraculously been visited by the Virgin Mary. Lengthy in its 144-minute running time, the film is anchored in its compelling performances and test of faith in the Catholic church. (BKP: 4/5)

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Gleeson keeps ‘The Little Stranger’ interesting

From Room director Lenny Abrahamson and The Danish Girl screenwriter Lucinda Coxon, The Little Stranger is a slow-moving, mysterious horror film that spends most of its 101-minute running time building suspense. (BKP: 3.5/5)

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Alison McAlpine’s ‘Cielo’ reminds us to look up

From director Alison McAlpine, Cielo is a breathtaking documentary tribute to a simple beauty we take for granted – the night sky. (BKP: 4/5)

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‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ cleverly mocks human behavior

Director Susanna Fogel’s buddy comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me is made for viewers who are in on the joke, understanding that ordinary human behavior can be funnier than any pratt fall or bodily malfunction. Tom Cruise’s latest Mission Impossible may be a better fit for serious fans of the spy-action genre, but for anyone in desperate search of a laugh, leave it to Kate McKinnon. (4/5)

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‘Far from the Tree’ documents beautiful, moving love of parent and child

Based on Andrew Solomon’s bestselling book of the same name, director Rachel Dretzin documents the personal, heart wrenching stories of parents whose children are drastically different from them. Peeking into the lives of people with disabilities like Down syndrome, Dwarfism and Autism to Solomon, himself, recounting his parents’ acceptance of his sexuality, Far from the Tree is the most life-affirming documentary that will resonate with anyone who has felt or is looking for the magnitude of unconditional love. (4.5/5)

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Political doc ‘Dark Money’ a thrilling, sobering look at corruption

Director Kimberly Reed’s political thriller documentary pulls back the curtain on corrupt American politics, examining the illegal coordination between big-money corporations and elected government officials. By following investigative journalist John Adams through the state of Montana, Dark Money exposes the real-life consequences of political fraud and its threat to democracy. (4.5/5)

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‘Recovery Boys’ documentary captures heartbreak of opioid crisis

Director Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s Netflix original documentary Recovery Boys covers the full spectrum of opioid rehabilitation efforts of four drug-addicted men and their path to sobriety. Easily-accessible on the streaming service – and thankfully so – the heartbreaking documentary will resonate with the mass audience it deserves. (BKP: 4.5/5)

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‘Spiral’ sheds light on European anti-Semitism

Breaking down a grand scale of European anti-Semitism into personal anecdotes of people who have fled their communities, director Laura Fairrie uses Spiral to document intolerant and fearful attitudes towards Jews. Although the film could be difficult to fully comprehend for some viewers, this timely look at the Israel/Palestine conflict is expertly constructed. (BKP: 4.5/5)

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All-star cast can’t save underwhelming heist in ‘Ocean’s 8’

Ocean’s 8 boasts a powerhouse cast of award-winning actresses as a ragtag group that attempts to rob the annual Met Gala, led by con artist Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock). Written by director Gary Ross and Olivia Milch, this excellent cast saves the story from just going through the typical heist-movie motions. (BKP: 3.5/5)  Review by […]

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McCarthy brings humor, depth to ‘Life of the Party’

Melissa McCarthy co-writes and stars in Life of the Party as a recent divorcee who goes back to school to finish her degree at the same college her daughter attends. McCarthy’s third creative collaboration with her husband, director Ben Falcone, is funnier and fresher than their previous work together (Tammy, The Boss) thanks to its supporting cast and surprising depth. (BKP: 4/5)

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THE DESERT BRIDE (2017): Review by Brigid K. Presecky

Cecilia Atan and Valeria Pivato’s The Desert Bride (aka La Novia del Desierto) stars Paulina Garcia as an aging woman who journeys through Argentina and, through happenstance, finds meaning along the way. Although the film is only 78 minutes in length, the storytelling, cinematography and performances make a striking impact. (BKP: 4.5/5)

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KINGS (2017): Review by Brigid Presecky

Writer/director Deniz Gamze Erguven’s second feature film (and first in English) stars Halle Berry as Millie Dunbar, a frazzled single foster mother searching for her children during the 1992 South Central LA riots following the verdict of the Rodney King trial. A timely look at race relations in America dating back almost three decades, Kings is a cinematically impressive film with a messy, stunted script. (BKP: 3/5)

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TRUTH OR DARE (2018): Review by Brigid Presecky

From director Jeff Wadlow and three co-writers including Jillian Jacobs, Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare is a basic teen horror movie without many thrills. Despite its occasional scares and attempted commentary on the danger of both secrecy and blatant honesty, there’s nothing truthful or daring about this cringe-worthy film. (BKP: 2.5/5) Review by Managing Editor Brigid […]

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THE MIRACLE SEASON (2018): Review by Brigid Presecky

The Miracle Season is an emotional journey through a high school volleyball team’s unlikely victories following the death of their captain. Though it doesn’t win every set, The Miracle Season is an inspirational sports film with enough heart to win the game. (BKP: 4/5)

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KEEP THE CHANGE (2017): Review by Brigid Presecky

Writer/director Rachel Israel captures the sweet, unique love of support group members David (Brandon Polansky) and Sarah (Samantha Elisofon) who bond over their shared struggle with autism. Set in New York City in company with romantic comedy classics, Keep the Change is a heartwarming, compassionate story with compelling performances elevating the already-fresh and funny material. (4.5/5)

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THE LEISURE SEEKER (2017): Review by Brigid K. Presecky

The Leisure Seeker is anything but leisurely in this sad road trip dramedy following an aging wife Ella (Helen Mirren) and her dementia-ridden, former English professor husband John (Donald Sutherland). Although the well-intentioned premise of aging with dignity is painfully realistic at times, other times not, the love story of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer is […]

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OH LUCY! (2017): Review by Brigid K. Presecky

Written and directed by Atsuko Hirayanagi, Oh Lucy! follows Setsuko Kawashima (Shinobu Terajima) a Japanese office worker who finds a new lease on life through her American alter ego. Based on Hirayanagi’s 2014 short film of the same name, the writer-director uses one woman’s life as a bizarre-but-funny vessel for humans’ capacity for change. (BKP: […]

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THE 15:17 TO PARIS (2018): Review by Brigid K. Presecky

Although no actors could recreate the climactic take-down precisely like the men who lived through it, their (expected?) lack of acting ability does a disservice to their true, inspirational story worth telling. (BKP: 3.5/5)

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THE POST (2017): Review by Brigid K. Presecky

With a top director and seasoned cast to flesh out a solid script, there was little to no way The Post could fail – and it doesn’t. (BKP: 4.5/5)

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PERMANENT (2017): Review by Brigid K. Presecky

Both bizarre and charming, the sincerity of Permanent is refreshingly sweet and a timeless take on coming-of-age. (BKP: 4.5/5)

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THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017): Review by Brigid Presecky

Vanessa Taylor and Guillermo del Toro tell a science fiction romance in Cold War America, with mute Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) working as a night janitor in a high-security government laboratory, when she discovers one of their hidden projects – an amphibious, fish-like creature. (BKP: 3/5)

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THE DANCER (2016): Review by Brigid Presecky

Stéphanie Di Giust’s The Dancer tells the story of real-life ‘Serpentine Dance’ inventor Loïe Fuller. Artistically executed in its cinematography, Dancer is a poetic biopic of a young woman at the turn of the 20th Century. (BKP: 3/5)

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SONG OF GRANITE (2017): Review by Brigid K. Presecky

The Irish biographical drama written and directed by Pat Collins (and co-written by Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhride and Sharon Whooley) tells the story of legendary “old-style” singer Joe Heaney. (BKP: 3.5/5)

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BATTLE OF THE SEXES (2017): Review by Brigid Presecky

Emma Stone and Steve Carell “battle” it out as co-directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton recreate the epic 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. With an impressive, extensive cast list, Battle of the Sexes is a timely story of the fight for gender equality. (BKP: 4/5)

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