Grace is Gone (2007)

When military personnel are assigned to a far-away tour, the loved ones left behind know there’s a chance they might not return. But awareness of the hypothetical doesn’t prepare anyone for reality. How do you tell your daughters their beloved mother is never coming home? How do you accept it yourself?

Nostalgia (2018)

There’s a good chance you’ll be anxious to get to a clearly salient point or bothered by jumps between story lines. Waxing poetic about life and death, love and loss may seem embarrassingly awkward or achingly tedious, at best. But that’s exactly where the tension lies in every conversation following tragedy: you’re either fumbling for […]

Return to Me (2000)

It’s unfair to judge a movie strictly by its genre; if you’re that highbrow, why bother to watch it? I’m not normally a fan of romantic comedies but I liked that this one wasn’t based on stalking or manipulation, neither of which are cute or funny. I also appreciated that it wasn’t about strangers believing their […]

Strictly Ballroom (1992)

Writer/ director, Baz Luhrmann, best known for his pinache, made his moviemaking debut with this one. And what a first impression! Let’s face it: regardless of medium, most first attempts are sincere but earnest and eschew anything flashy, which is understandable. Yet this gutsy storyteller somehow manages to fully develop his characters in a short amount of time. Though the movie is fast-paced it doesn’t feel the least bit rushed; Luhrmann knows exactly when and where to move the camera around his stylized set.

Though he gradually drifted into the realm of cinematic adaptations, this story is truly unique as a perfect synergy of any element you can name. I initially remembered it being a creative little daydream (i.e. a much classier version of Dirty Dancing) that someone more sentimental than I made me watch. Over the years it periodically surfaced in various conversations, referenced by everyone but cinephiles. I finally decided to rewatch it, assuming it would be a subtle precursor to Luhrmann’s hyper-stylized version of “Romeo and Juliet,” which I loved but hadn’t connected as being from the same visionary. Though many movies with vaguely similar elements came to mind, I couldn’t think of a single one to which this compares. In my humble opinion, it remains his finest work.

Winchester (2018)

I know, I know but just hear me out: inspired by real-life Sarah Winchester, superstitious widowed heiress to the fortune amassed by the founders of the famous rifle company, what this suppositional story lacks in historical accuracy (minor liberties were taken for the sake of capturing it on film) it more than makes up for with pain-staking attention to detail; besides the obvious (a cast of award-winners), remarkable forethought went into every aspect from the titular character’s handcrafted custom wardrobe to the replica of her infamous eccentric mansion. The world created for the movie was so well planned in advance it leaves no room for the plot to stray from the devices (i.e. “rules”) set forth by its premise. Though no awards were be offered, its quality is impeccable. It will be thoroughly entertaining if you can restrain yourself from forcing upon it any aspirations of informative historicity or Slasher genre features.