Category Archives: Drama

Parasite (2019) | Bong Joon-ho



Song Kang-ho plays Kim Ki-taek, the father in the poor family that has no breadwinners due to the lack of good-paying jobs (the latest gig finds them folding pizza boxes). Poverty has become so pervasive that the family works overtime to find ways to not spend money, hijacking wifi from neighbors and resorting to forgery to gain credentials from schools they couldn’t even dream to be able to afford. They even leave the window open as the bug exterminator draws near to get “free fumigation”, inundating their basement apartment (and boxes meant to carry pizzas) with unhealthy chemicals. Things take a turn for the better when Ki-taek’s son, Ki-woo, gets a temporary job replacing a good friend as the tutor for Da-hye, a teenage daughter of a well-to-do family. In their palatial home, Ki-woo woos the young woman who develops a crush on him, just like she did the prior tutor, and convinces the naive mother that he has the skills necessary for the job. When Ki-woo learns that the young son in the rich family, Da-song, needs an art tutor, he brings in his sister for the job, pretending to be Ki-woo’s old college friend, then his dad, then his mother. But their taste of the high life makes it a place they want to stay for good.


Little Women (2019) | Greta Gerwig



As a novel, “Little Women” had been published in two volumes, one in 1868 and the other in 1869, but the volumes are combined in the film, interwoven together in a rearranged timeline that jumps back and forth, spotlighting their hopes and dreams as teenagers, then tempering those ambitions with the grimmer realities of the real world in their adulthood. It spins the yarn of four young sisters with artistic and romantic ambitions – Jo, Amy, Meg, and Beth – living with their mother Marmee while their father is off fighting in the Civil War. Much of this film adaptation by writer-director Greta Gerwig concentrates on Jo’s story regarding her ambition and struggle to become a published writer. Throughout the course of the film, we see her maturation by finding her voice, both as a woman and as a writer. Featuring Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Timothee Chalomet, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep.


Uncut Gems (2019)



Set in 2012, Uncut Gems is a part crime drama and part character study, following the dealings of Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a New York jewelry merchant doing business by appointment in his highly secure private showroom. Not all is peachy-keen in Howard’s life, as his marriage is on the rocks, his mistress has begun to make him feel insecure, his lack of work ethic beginning to sour customers, he just might have colon cancer, and his gambling addiction has gotten him into a lot of debt that he can’t pay back easily. He’s a sucker for get-rich-quick schemes to keep him out of trouble; his latest involved the procuring of a large uncut Ethiopian black opal that may be worth up to a million dollars.

Enter Boston Celtics star, Kevin Garnett, who takes an immediate interest in purchasing the rare jewel upon seeing it, but is denied a sale because Howard already has it set up to auction within a few days. Garnett ends up borrowing the opal in exchange for one of his championship rings and has one of the best games of his career on the basketball court, making it the good-luck charm he has to have at the tail-end of his career. In the meantime, Howard has ended up pawning off Garnett’s ring and used the money to bet big on Garnett’s performance.

Directed by Benny and Joshua Safdie.


Ford v Ferrari (2019) – aka Le Mans ’66 | James Mangold



Most of the film surrounds the events leading up to France’s illustrious 24 Hours of Le Mans auto racing event, mostly glossing over Ford losses in 1964 and 1965 as roads poorly chosen. We start with Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), a former elite racecar driver, the first American driver to win at Le Mans, who retires into designing racecars and coaching the next generation of elite racers after finding out he has heart disease. Considered a maverick by his contemporaries, his services are sought when the Ford Motor Company, who are attempting to brand their vehicles to younger people who want style and sex appeal in the cars they buy, planned to acquire the financially struggling Ferrari in 1963. Those plans fall through spectacularly, leaving both sides feeling insulted. Ford wants to show Ferrari, and the world, that they are more than just a company that can mass produce family vehicles. Shelby sets about building what would come to be known as the Ford GT40 model, trying to maximize power and minimize weight and drag to be the fastest racer on Earth.

Christian Bale plays British racecar driver Ken Miles, sought by Shelby to help his test out his designs to give them a chance to come out on top in the grudge match between Ford and Ferrari. He’s skilled at what he does, but Henry Ford II wants him replaced by someone less of a loose cannon and willing to tow the Ford line to the media. Ken’s wife, Mollie (Caitriona Balfe), and his son, Peter (Noah Jupe), feel ambivalence about his quest to be the best. They want him to bring home the bacon, but they’re also afraid that he’ll be another casualty in the car racing arena who doesn’t get out of his car in time. Shelby must weigh his friendship and knowledge that Miles is the best shot to win with the needs of his funders, who are only in it to promote their brand. James Mangold directs.


The Irishman (2019) | Martin Scorsese



The Irishman is a tale spun from the vantage point of an older man in a nursing home and displayed through a series of extended confessional flashbacks. Robert De Niro takes the lead role of World War II veteran meat-delivery driver Frank Sheeran, who, beginning in the 1950s, gets involved as a hitman for the mob after meeting and providing his services to well-known crime boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci). During his time working with Russell, Frank ends up meeting and becoming a close confidant of the nation’s most influential union boss, Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), known for using strongarm tactics to bring the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union to power. Organized crime had a significant influence in this era, on the unions, in business, and up to the highest levels of government, and Frank finds himself on the rise playing bodyguard and man of trust to Hoffa in his attempts to keep control of the most powerful union in the country. Martin Scorsese directs.


Bombshell (2019)



Bombshell is a somewhat loose recounting of the toxic, cultish, and highly sexist atmosphere that permeated Fox News under the tenure of their CEO, Roger Ailes (John Lithgow). Most of the events that take place in the film occur in 2016, during the middle of the presidential race that would culminate in Donald Trump’s election. It’s in this period that fading Fox star Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) would find herself on the outs. She would file an explosive sexual harassment charge against Ailes, who was considered the most influential man in news, a moniker that only fed into his narcissistic notions of being special and above standard rules. Fox News gave many women breaks, but many of them were objectified, wanting them to show off a certain sex appeal to deliver the news to their viewers. Margot Robbie co-stars as a composite character based on several of Ailes’ two dozen other accusers, Kayla, who is young, ambitious, Christian, and a firm believer in the Fox News mission. Also, she is beautiful enough to catch Ailes’ eye, offering her a fast-pass to success if he can get something from the relationship in return in terms of sex, power exchange, the gratification of his ego, and unquestioning loyalty. Charlize Theron Plays Megyn Kelly, who has a checkered history with Ailes that she has kept secret in exchange for her career, but now she must come to grips with whether to come out with her story or risk finding herself on the outs in the news business. Jay Roach directs.


Dark Waters (2019) | Todd Haynes



Dark Waters is a film based on the true story of a corporate lawyer who ends up taking on DuPont Chemical. The origin of the screenplay originated from a Nathaniel Rich expose on attorney Rob Billott in The New York Times Magazine published in January of 2016 entitled, “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare.” The story detailed a crusading corporate attorney who went back to his hometown to take on the polluters who were destroying it. Actor and environmental activist Mark Ruffalo read the article and thought it would make for a compelling movie, optioning the rights and serving as a producer for the project.

Ruffalo gives a deliberately dry and restrained performance as Rob Bilott, an attorney working for a successful and conservative-minded Cincinnati-based firm of corporate lawyers. Every step of the way smacks of reluctance that holds him back, but a stronger conscience that drives him forward. His skills for protecting corporations are put to the test after a cattle farmer from his small home town in West Virginia approaches him, imploring him to look into why his livestock is diseased and their offspring born with severe congenital disabilities. He and his family might be getting cancer due to their exposure as well.

Anne Hathaway and Tim Robbins co-star. Todd Haynes directs.


Joker (2019)



Set in a crime-ridden Gotham City sometime in the early 1980s, Joaquin Phoenix stars as Arthur Fleck, a man who has been dealing with mental challenges his entire life, with little to show for all of his efforts to keep on the sane path. One of his afflictions is his uncontrollable laughter when faced with things that make him anxious, which often gets him into further trouble on its own. He’s living in a Gotham City apartment with his ailing mother, Penny (Frances Conroy), trying to make it on his own either as a clown or as a stand-up comedian, on the hope of getting on the number-one late-night talk show starring Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). Even with the several medications that he is on, his afflictions often get the better of him, but now he’s lost his job, his therapist, his meds, and his sanity, but finds there may be a new path to an audience when he gains notoriety as a Bernard Goetz-style subway shooter. Directed and co-written by Todd Phillips.


Hustlers (2019) | Lorene Scafaria



Starting off in 2007, Constance Wu stars as Destiny, a newbie stripper trying to make it in the clubs of New York’s competitive environment in order to earn enough money to support her and her ailing grandmother. Backstage she meets and ends up being mentored by a legendary veteran stripper named Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), who completely cleans up in terms of money whenever she appears on the stage or off. However, the great recession of 2008 soon hits, with opportunities completely drying up to earn cash in the strip clubs, with both ladies struggling to make ends meet. That is until Ramona decides to put her skills at working the crowds of men to the test, gathering up Destiny and several other stripper friends to lure in the Wall Street types with corporate accounts to swindle them out of thousands of dollars at a time.


Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019) | Paul Downs Colaizzo



Jillian Bell stars as Brittany Forgler, a broke and down-on-her-luck woman in her late 20s who moved from Philadelphia to New York to pursue a career that didn’t quite pan out. Her quest for success doesn’t motivate her so much as dropping out for fear of failure. She has a job she is ill-suited for and is overweight, spending much of her time living in the shadow of her perky and pretty roommate Gretchen, going to clubs where she buries her feelings into a toxic combination of drinking, drugs, casual sex, and less-than-healthy food. A doctor’s visit to try to score some Adderall leads her to discover that her weight has gotten quite far away from her, to the point where it is affecting her health, both physically and mentally. She needs to lose about 50 lbs. to get to avoid further health issues of a BMI in the obese range. Due to the high cost of joining a gym without much income, Brittany begins jogging for exercise, starting with a trip around the block, but discipline is a challenge, as is putting herself out there for the world to see. She soon joins a club for runners in the city along with her soon-to-be-divorced neighbor Catherine (Michaela Watkins) and her newfound and newfound running friend, Seth (Micah Stock). She even gets a new job dog-sitting for some well-to-do types who are away for long periods, where she meets the ultimate slacker co-worker in Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar), who convinces her to squat in their employers’ abode. To keep her motivated, she and her friends set out to compete in the next New York City Marathon, but to do that requires the kind of discipline she’s never known up to that point in her life. Paul Downs Colaizzo writes and directs this comedy-drama.