Friday, December 30, 2022

Worthwhile English speaking films seen in 2022

 If you disagree with any of my views on any film please feel free to share your opinion.  Any suggestions?


      "CODA" (2021) excellent film, winner of Oscar for 2022.   An interesting dilemma for us outsiders, of a deaf family dependent on only hearing daughter who develops her singing talent.  Originated in French cinema, "La famille Belier" (2018).  Recognized some of the crew with French.  The use of subtitles might be good for English Speakers who generally avoid such movies. 







  " King Richard" (2021)  offers a racial message, but it is fairly subtle.  Richard, the father of Serena and Venus Williams said he looked at opportunities and thought his girls winning at tennis would have more impact on white consciousness.  Heavy emphasis on education and family being together.



  "Don't Look Up" (2021) stirred up a lot of controversy with its all star cast, but I think it accomplished the goal of satirizing the media and politician ignoring the advice of scientists for their own greedy reasons.  I am cheating a little bit as I actually watched this movie New Years Eve--after I had already posted my top movies of 2021.  After watching I had mixed actions having heard criticisms and some explanations.

   "Land" (2021)  Robin Wright directed and starred as a bereaved remaking her life in th ewilds of Wyoming.

 "Profile" (2021) was an online presentation that one reviewer labeled an "online seduction"  Illustrates that naive women could be seduced online--how ISIS recruited women--frightening.

 "Road to the Lemon Grove" (2021) Charlie Chiarelli, a fellow north ender.   His family had migrated from Racamulto to Hamilton.   As a young immigrant he mostly translated for his parents.   English speakers were called  mangia cake (caker eaters).  The story is toldmostly in English, but with heavy stereotypical Italian and Sicilian imprint.  A hokey story, but illustrating Italian love of families

"Harriet" (2019) about the historical figure Harriet Tubman.  Not sure how much dramatized, but feel captured the battle between slave owners and slaves wanting to be free.

The Tender Bar" (2022)  Uncle Ben Afleck owns a bar and givesd guidance to his nephew.

"Papa Hemingway in Cuba" (2016)   Journalist visits Hemingway as Cuban Revolution develops around them.

"The Courier" (2021) A business man (Benedict Cumberbatch) gets involved with the Cuban Missile Crisis.

"Fruitvale Station" (2013) was revisited.  A black man is killed unnecessarily.

 "The Salisbury Poisoning" (2020) A British mini series about the poisoning of a former Russian spy.  Didn't realize there was much more to the story.  Salisbury was very concerned about the poison spreading around town.  Policeman was on the verge of death and eventually another woman died.  Another English couple made friends with the Russian father and daughter.  Well done.

"Dune" (2021) epic science fiction and winner of 6 Oscars

"Against the Ice" (2022) is really a Danish movie, about a Danish subject with mostly Danish cast and crew.  Set in Greenland where Danish explorers were out to prove that Greenland was an island that was whole and thus no part could be claimed by the U.S.  Nicolaj Coster-Waldau wrote, produced and was the lead actor.  This was all in English, not dubbed.

"The Adam Project" (2022) science fiction with Ryan Reynolds.  Time travel puts astronaut encounters his own 12 year old self. 

"Respect" (2021) Aretha Franklin's. biography

"Being the Ricardos" (2021) brought back a lot of memories as my family used to watch "I Love Lucy" every week.  Didn't know the background or appreciate how unique it was.  A show filmed in front of an audience.  Lucille Ball is shown as an expert in adjusting scripts.  Javier Bardem has further enforced himself as one of my favorite actors. Lucy found that after marriage she didn't see her husband very often as he was usually touring.  She made a few career decisions to at least cut down her time away from home.  A critical one was to do a radio program and when some tv. executives noticed that she used a lot of body movement while speaking her role realized she was a visual.  They made a pitch to her for a tv program and she turned it into I Love Lucy with Desi as her acting husband.  When she got pregnant they both wanted to make it a television event, but studio executives tried to nix it, but they were so popular they won.  The code was used as an excuse as sex was not to be acknowledged. 

"The Little Things" (2021) was a Denzel Washington vehicle.  He seems to gravitate to anti authoritarian roles and is very good in them.  A suspense with twists.

"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" (2021) Impressive special effects.  First Asian super hero.

"Four Good Days" (2020) refers to a critical time as mother tries to ease her daughter though recovery from addiction.

"Belfast" (2021) At the same tme Iwas at university and had friends who either had Irish connections or pretended they did.

"Defending Jacob" (2020) a mini series.  First time impressed with Michelle Dockery.  A good court battle.

"The Eyes of Tammy Faye" (2021) Evangelical corruption.  Stirring performance by Jessica Chastain.

"Hustle" (2022) Adam Sandler paired with Queen Latifah. is surprisingly appropriate.  Basketball scout uncovers a talented player and supports him despite a criminal past--trains him.  Actual NBA players in background.    





"Shepherds and Butchers" (2017) A gut wrenching story.  Steve Coogan who is mostly associated with comic roles proves he is an actor to be taken seriously.  Set in South Africa, a lawyer defends a man who killed seven people in cold blood.  We soon learn that to avoid military service he had been forced into prison duty which involved hands on involvement with executions.  The viewer needs to be able to stomach brutal hangings, some of which are especially brutal.   Beyond being against executions it points out that inhumane social (and legal) practices can do great harm that affects us all.   Check 


"Eyimofe  This is my Desire" (2021) is from Nigeria.  One of the more serious movies from Nigeria. More gritty about what it is like to live in Lagos.

 "Nightmare Alley" (2021) is a remake (see below under older films) with Bradley Cooper, Toni Collette, Cate Blanchard and Mara Rooney.  Some scenes shot in Hamilton, Ontario, my adopted home.

"House of Gucci" (2021) Lady Gaga marries into rich Italian family and gets into crime, including murder.

"Father Stu" (2022) Based on true story about a one time boxer who  became a priest.  Mark Wahlberg was not able to get financing and so put his own money into it.  Mel Gibson

"Tokyo Trial" (2016) the Nuremberg Trials set a standard for the Asian war crimes, but there were arguments.  Over what is a crime, should the death penalty be an option. Semi documentary including actual news reel.    Trial last 2 1.2 years compared to 11 months for the Nuremberg Trials.

"Licorice Pizza" (2021) Young lovers with their trials.

"Worth" (2021)What is a life worth.  This became an issue for the relatives of the dead from 9/11.







"The Outfit" (2022) seemed like a quiet movie (didn't see the trailer), but very hard to beat for twists with unexpected violence.  Mark Rylance is very good.

"Downton Abbey:  A New Era" (2022) Artistocratic life style.  The same characters you might be familiar with in a different luxurious location.

"The Good Nurse" (2022) Two Oscar winners in a crime drams directed by Danish director who wrote the script for best foreign film (Another Round)

"The Wonder" (2022) A young Irish girl is on a fast.  A nurse is brought in from England, but it turns out only as an observer.  Religious belief is set against the survival of the girl. 

"The Swimmers" (2022) Athletic refugees from Syria.  Based on a true story.  

"Phantom of the Open" (2022) was about a loser.  Maurice Flitcroft got into his head he wanted to golf in the British Open, although he had no experience with golfing.  He had commendable family values  and a dogged persistence.  Mark Rylance played Maurice and as usual was excellent this time in a comic role.

 "Where the Crawdads Sing" (2022) Read the book and would say the script followed the text pretty well.  The casting of the lead was right on.






Older Films (before 2011)

"The Joy Luck Club" (1993) is the interactions of a Chinese mother in America with her four adult daughters.

"The Incredible Shrinking Man" (1957)  The special features brought out that directors had to be prepared to deal with different situations.  Science fiction that blended with film technology to make the point that everything exists and can be understood with a different perspective.

"The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" (1974) based on a Canadian novel and featuring an early movie of Richard Dreyfuss.  so used to seeing in his later movies, forgot what he was like in his youth.

"The Watermelon Man" (1970) A good satire of race relations.  A bigoted man is transposed to be being black and endures many indignities.  Surprised to see director, Melvin Van Peebles speaking French in special features.

"Bamboozled" (2000) a Spike Lee satire on black stereotypes spanning early films, television, entertainers like Al Jolson.

"The Great Escape(1963)  starring Steve McQueen and James Garner.   The two stars did not get along in private life, but get together for a spectacular escape from German prison camp.

"Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead" (1990)

"The Parallax View" (1974) An interesting film about a conspiracy assassination with very interesting special features.  Directed and produced by Alan J. Pakula:

"The Matrix" (1999) is an impressive technical film and has layers of meaning.  What is reality? 

"The Love Parade" (1930) This was the first musical film and although dated was charming.  Especially enjoyed a young Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald's first film.  Directed and produced by Ernst Lubitsch.  




 "The Usual Suspects" (1995) classic twist

"The Bridges at Toko-ri" (1954) read the book--covers activities of aircraft carrier with helicopter support and bombing missions.  William Holden, Grace Kelly, Fredric March and Mickey Rooney.

"Buck and the Preacher" (1972) a different Western.  Black, former slaves leaving their home to try luck in the west.  Sidney Poitier is very good, but Harry Belafonte is surprisingly good.

"The Santa Fe Trail" (1940) contains a lot of historical inaccuracies which inspired me to seek the true facts.  In 19540 Hollywood the role of blacks was ambiguous at best, however there is some of the evils of slavery despite the hero played by Errol Flynn going to be a prominent Confederate General.  No movie with Olivia de Havvilland should be missed.   Events and atmosphere leading to Civil War.

"Geronimo:  An American Legend" (1993) One line stood out for me when one character said that it was the settlerd and land speculators who saw the army as their tool to rid the Apache, but in fact it was the army that allowed them to survive."  Some truth to that.

"Father of the Bride" (1950) with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor was both funny and a little deeper than anticipated.

"Nightmare Alley" (1947) Tyrone Power is dynamic in this bleak film noir.   Con jobs

"When Harry Met Sally" (1989) an all time favorite romance.

"A Cry in the Dark" (1988) an early Meryl Streep (actually her 8th Oscar nomination) film, this one set in Australia.  She is accused on murder of her baby and actually goes to prison before finally proven innocent.

"The Great Dictator" (1941) Charlie Chaplin's first speaking role in a movie and it was a blockbuster.  Released in the early part of WWII before America had entered.  He plays the dictator and a poor Jewish barber.  At the end of the film he makes one of the most stirring speeches ever on film.   By coincidence on the day I randomly picked up the DVD at the library a senior phone in group I belong to had two members claim it was their favorite speech.  One of the year's best for me.  Chaplin announced in 1938 that he would do a satirical film of Hitler and the British Government announced they would ban it.  Franklin Roosevelt was a fan and encouraged him.

"The Gold Rush" (1925) the first Chaplin starring feature under United Artists--one of the top grossing silent films.  By 1940 Chaplin decided to revise--added narration, music and edited it down.  Chaplin tried to destroy all copies of original, but eventually even supported efforts to revive but a lot of effort required to find good . copies.  Ironically the original ended with a kiss, but was cut for a later version.

"Limelight" (1952) Chaplin's last film done in America.  With Claire Bloom, Buster Keaton and Sydney Chaplin,  A star in decline.  The American Legion wanted to boycott Chaplin, claiming he was a Communist.

"Call Northside 777" (1948) was based on a true story of wrongful conviction uncovered by a news reporter.  This also represented a change in roles for James Stewart who had had two preceding box office flops,including "It's a Wonderful Life." (1946).  Slow methodical search for the truth.

"The Kite Runner" (2007) based on the novel set in Afghanistan which I had read prior to the movie.  Very brutal in parts.  

"The Bridges of Madison County" (1995)  One of the best tear jerkers of all time.  Believable with great acting from Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood who directed and produced. 

"Lilies of the Field" (1963) won an Oscar for Sidney Poitier in more of a comic role than his usual dramatic roles.

"The Barefoot Contessa" (1954) with Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner with Edmond O'Brien winning an Oscar.  

"The Body Snatcher" (1945). A black and white film with horror greats, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.    From a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson with a creepiness that has credence.  There were people who dug bodies out of graves.

 "Gorillas in the Mist"(1988) Dian Fossey went to Africa to study the gorilla and became an activist..

"Legends of the Fall" (1995) a masterpiece starring Brad Pitt and an all star cast including Canadian Tantoo Cardinal and Gordon Tootoosis, Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn and Julia Ormond.


 "Milk" (2009) about gay politician who was assassinated.  A good insight into politics for minorities (when they came out more people aware of knowing gays).  Sean Penn seems out of character, but he did win an Oscar deservedly.   

 Mini Series

"Only Murders in the Building" (2021)

"Your Honor" (2020) Bryan Cranston benefiting from Breaking Bad takes on a starring role.  Secrets and conflicting motivations drive this. 

"Vienna Blood" (2019) Set in Vienna in the time of Freud whose ideas pervade the series.

"For All Mankind" (2019) History is composed a series of interlocking events--change a few of the events and you would get different results.  This series pictured the Russians reaching the moon and a more envigorated  space program.  Ted Kennedy is waylaid from Chap----       There are parallels


 "Into the West" (2005)  A view of American conquest of the west.

"Mo" (2022) Paralleling a bit of Mohammed.  Born in Kuwait of Palestinian parents.  Married a Mexican and divorced--in series Mexican girl friend, Nigerian friend--Stand up comic

"The Crown" (2022 Fifth Season)  Getting closer to home.  The royal Family is famous for being famous and we can all remember some of their high lights (or low lights)


"The Mitchells vs. the Machines" (2021) 

"Ron's Gone Wrong" (2021) Reminded me of "Inside Out"(2015) dealing with emotions.  The key theme was friendship.  Also big corporations that create artifical friendships to make money  It was interesting to see another side of Olivia Colman in one of the special features.

"Encanto" (2021) 

"Vivo" (2021)     Lin Manuel          Gloria Estefan 

"How to Train Your Dragon" (2010)


"Forgive us Our Trespasses" (2022), Netflix offering some shorts.  This one of 14 minutes is based on Nazi targeting disabled as early as 1939.  Over 300,000 were killed with an additional 400,000 being sterilized.  A quote from Dieter Bonhoeffer, "The tet of the morality of a society is what it does for its children."


"The Social Dilemma" (2020) was one of the most frightening of documentaries.  It boils down that social media that are a big part of most our lives is manipulative.







"Knock Down the House" (2019)  It takes a lot of money to get elected and too much of them get from corporate donors who expect something in reurn.  Some progressive groups were looking to challenge established Democrat congressman.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

""How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy it)" (2005)

Three series produced by Ken Burns.

"Muhammad Ali" (2021) hero for much of the globe, but standing up for his rights gave him legal problems.     Check: 

"Hemingway" (2021)) Ken Burns and Lynn Novick A very good study

"Mysteries of Mental Illness" (2021) An historical perspective including asylums, 


 "The Rape of Recy Taylor" (2017) Covers investigation and court procedures surrounding rape in Alabama.  Reference to Rosa Parks who at one time worked on black women rapes.  

"The Elephant and the Termite: (2021) might seem incongruous, but it proves we are all connected.  Nature is balanced.  Water is the key to life.  Lung fish is like our ancestors leaving water with primitive limbs.  Beautiful cinematography.    photo

"What Lies Inside" (2020) is a personal story with Luke Renner telling his story about trauma that he was late in llife uncovering.  He talks of other traumas many well known.  His trauma was "forgotten" and had occurred early in life and in fact traced traumas back through generations.  One point was that early life and parenting were critical and that previous parenting history was important.  Various experts in mental health as well as survivors we are left with the thought that we are part of nature and that can help heal us.

"Icarus" (2017) about Russian cheating on drug tests.  Seen as Putin invades Ukraine and of course he denies it.

"Navalny" (2022) another film that indicates Putin is evil. 

"MLK/FBI" (2020) increased my admiration about Martin Luther King Jr and reinforced doubts about the FBI.  He was a threat in the eyes of J. Edgar Hoover who first justified an investigation on a connection to a white man who once had Communist ties.  Then it shifted to a fear of blacks and an opportunity to use sexual activity as a lever.

"Roger & Me" (1989) looks dated, but revolutionary in some ways.  Michael Moore has gone on to do slicker documentaries, but this was about his home town, Flint, Michigan where thousands of General Motors had been laid off and devastated the town.  As it happens both my children participated in th CANUSA games that were athletic contests between Hamilton, Ontario and Flint, Michigan.  My daughter especially made friends over there that we hosted at our home. 

"When the Drum is Beating" (2011) while focusing on a band that represents a positive part of Haitian culture surrounded by history.  Haiti at one time was a very rich island due to sugar, but the first successful slave revolution set in motion colonial powers retailiation. 

"The Need to Grow" (2019) deals with the importance of soil to our eating.  Corporate interests are fighting against efforts to improve sustainable soil development.

"The Great Postal Heist" (2022) points out how for profit motives threaten a public service.  It is true technology can offer a more efficient service, but at a cost.  Part of the cost might be lower wages and employment, loss of service to unprofitable areas,   In a Question and Answer section mention was made of a Trump appointment as Post master General  Joly who in effect is sabotaging the post office while Trump rants about voting by mail (although that is how he voted).

"The Great Hack" (2019) depicts the role of Cambridge Analytica in Brexit and Trump's  2016 campaign.  IMDB has given a fairly high rating 7.0, but deserves higher.  Reading the reviewer it seems there was a campaign to discredit the film     "data rights are human rights"

"Saving Capitalism" (2017) Robert Reich explains how money flows upward and it is all related to politics.  The rich make the laws, people's wishes are too often ignored or even blocked.

"My Garden of a Thousand Bees" (2021).  A wildlife photographer is stopped by the Covid 19 pandemic and turns to his backyard garden in Bristol, England and decides to focus on bees.  Needs different lens and equipment and learns as he goes.  Beautiful and educational. 

"The U.S. and the Holocaust" (2022) where to a big degree demonstrates America's racism and hypocrisy. Check:






"Built Beautiful" (2020) Explores relationship between neuroscience and architecture.   One quote,  Architecture "is building a piece of art that needs to be used by humans."  It can enhance our lives. 

"A Trip to Infinity" (2022).  The most profound point of existence along with eternity.  Frightening, after we are nothing more than specs.   I concede that like all lilving beings die, all energy sources dry up, but I believe mass/energy can only transform to something else.  Life and energy regenerate.

"Searching for Sugar Man" (2012) Praised by Aamir Khan as film he most would have liked to have done.

"Plague at the Golden Gate" (2022) about a bubonic plague in San Francisco.  It is here that the transmission came from rats or more exactly fleas on the rats.  There was also prejudice against the Chinese community.  

"The Great Muslim American Road Trip" (2022), hokey, but interesting information. 

"Hiding in Plain Sight" (2022) another production with guidance from Ken Burns.  There seem to be many external forces pushing mental illness.  Society, technology    Complicating coping efforts with it is the associated stigma.    Failing to cope is another drag on society, but there are alternatives to solve the problem.   "Defund the police" is distorted in that the problem is more than containing violence and involves mental illness.

"All These Flowers" (2017) deals with bi-polar disorder.  Bi-polar is more complicated with one expert saying it is on a spectrum and another expert pointing out that there is now Bi-Polar 1 and Bi-Polar 2 that need different approaches.  Mis diagnoses are too common.  Police are being advised (and in Kansas legislated) that a person committing a crime with something designating them suffering from mental illness to next be taken to mental hospital for further evaluation.  

"Phosfate" (2021) unrated by IMDB was aimed as phosphate mining in Florida and pointing out its connection to cancer.   




"Ancient Apocalypse" (2022)   Speculation about history around the Ice Age.

"The True Story of Alexander the Great" (2002) One man who could truly be called "Great" 

"Harry & Meghan" (2022).  A highly promoted series and hated by some.  Checking IMDB it had a very low rating with many hateful comments.  Some may have been anti-monarchists, but most seemed personal and ignorant.  Don't know what the underlying motives were, but the facts indicate Meghan suffered a great deal of racism and jealousy and Harry was insulted.  Meghan because of her personality and experience  she overshadowed that rest of the Royal Family similar to her mother in law Diana.  She resented restrictions which did become onerous. 

"The Green Planet" (2022) A four hour documentary, unbelievable cinematography highlighting our critical symbiotic relationship with plants.  We visualize them as stationary, but there is a lot of movement.  Also points out the dangers of a monocultures. 

A lot of good movies listed, but six (the ones listed in the tag lines) that really moved me are on the subtitled list

Another sterling crop of English speaking movies seen the previous year:

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