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17th September
written by Adam

Born in Korea but adopted and raised by an American family in Louisiana, Antonio LeBlanc (Justin Chon), is a husband to Kathy (Alicia Vikander) and hard working father of Jessie (Sydney Kowalske), just trying to make ends meet. With another baby on the way, Antonio is under more pressure than ever to provide for his family; now, with the discovery that his adoptive parents never finalized his paperwork as a child, he faces deportation back to Korea. Maintaining residency in the U.S. will require soul searching of monumental proportions, but what if it’s already too late?Written and Directed by the film’s lead, Justin Chon, this story explores the complexities of giving love, being loved, hope, and learning how and when to let go; all the while, excruciating in its descent and raising awareness to a problem within the system here in the U.S.. Strong points to the ensemble overall, and, particular positive notes to new comer Kowalske, no doubt a rising star. Narratively strong, the only false tones go to the blockish and heavily stereotyped writing that surrounds law enforcement, past that, Chon is clearly coming into his own as a filmmaker and one to watch come awards season. Checking the checkbox of tragedy and worth your time this weekend, Blue Bayou is rated R.

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10th September
written by Adam

While interned in the United States Disciplinary Barracks for war crimes at Abu Ghraib, Private First Class Tillich, now self titled Willam Tell (Oscar Isaac) developed the unique ability to count and track cards in casino games. Now a professional gambler, Tell finds himself wanting to assist Cirk (Tye Sheridan), the son of a fellow soldier, attempting to set him on a more promising path. Meanwhile, former Commanding Officer Gordo (Willem Dafoe) seems to be taking up more and more real-estate in the minds of both William and Cirk, absolution will only come from dramatic action, but, that might also come in the form of a force tilt.Written and Directed by cinematic heavyweight Paul Schrader (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, First Reformed), this study of a tortured soul, while familiar territory, is a masterpiece of composition and execution for both Schrader and Isaac. And, artistic direction and scoring brilliantly work to create a memorable aesthetic, churning and roiling as action unfolds at its metered pace, much the way a card shark rolls out one devastating hand at a time. Oddly discordant and perhaps mis-directed though, Tiffany Haddish’s performance as La Linda, the gambler’s broker, appears to be the roughest page to tame in this tale needing more polish to reach perfection. Regardless, this thinking piece begs for a second watch to catch the intricacies and full subtext. Worthy of your time this weekend, running one hour and forty nine minutes, The Card Counter is rated R.

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3rd September
written by Adam

The Big Scary “S” Word hits theatres and on demand platforms this weekend chronicling the history of Socialism in America. Insightful and articulate in its construction Director Yael Bridge illustrates how the concepts of Socialism have consistently risen to the surface as U.S. culture has faced dramatic hardship or change; and, simultaneously makes the case for socialism’s influence on the underpinnings of Democracy as we know it. Digging deeper, Bridge explores where the nation’s fear of Socialism actually stems from and highlights the current challenges facing its resurgence in America today. Democrat or Republican, this Labor Day weekend, it’s high time the nation learn and remember why this three day holiday exists. Worthy of your time and attention at one hour and twenty two minutes, The Big Scary “S” Word is un-rated.

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