My Four-Sentence Reviews began and ended in 2012. Now up with 2017 posts. Subscribe by clicking to receive film reviews as they are written.


Screening at Berkeley Art Museum/ Pacific Film Archives December 3.

Filmmaker Peter Bratt once again creates art that inspires and changes us.

See this film about social justice leader Dolores Huerta.  I might see you there.



No spoiler alert in this because advertisements reveal the requisite plane crash, cougar attack, injury, and canine companion that accompany handsome physician and beautiful photojournalist protagonists.  Conveniently, there are more than enough matches to light fires, there is snow but no blizzard, and an abandoned house appears at the precise moment required in the cinematic romantic algorithm.  The craft and charisma of Idris Elba and Kate Winslet save weak writing and direction.


This meditation on mortality with 90-year-old atheist, Lucky, is the perfect last picture of Harry Dean Stanton. Bizarre and beautiful turns by character actors of several generations shine.  But it is the still honesty, song, and smile of Stanton that brings this film to depths.  Director Johnathon Carroll Lynch wisely gives the space and time to rituals of Arizona desert life forms.


HUMAN FLOW Ai Wei Wei’s documentary is an immersion in awareness and attention to the vast earth-wide scale of suffering and humanity of immigrants and refugees.  With simplicity and excruciating detail, the camera and Ai Wei Wei himself journey slowly to each sea, road, camp, encampment, face, body, child, interaction.  Images weave networks of narrative.  The cost of waging “distant” wars, human choices and climate change, globalization’s intensification of economic disparity are seen in plain relief without relief.


VICTORIA AND ABDUL This film evokes questions by what it does not ask or address regarding empire, power, race, class, gender, and right relationship.  Performances and production value surpass the venture itself.


Revo Reviews That-Which-She-Has-Not-Seen:  Anna Karenina

After seeing the film trailer for Anna Karenina I said to my partner, “I think I’ll root for the train.” Mick LaSalle’s review in the San Francisco Chronicle confirmed this, although I suspect that Keira Knightley’s performance should get more credit for train-rooting than Lasalle gives it. Tolstoy is not well served by high concept direction (read: gimmick) or by the lead performances.

Read the book instead.


Revo Reviews:  Lincoln

Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrait is a profoundly political, sad and wry Lincoln, showing what it takes and what it costs to lead. Best actor. Bright character performances show humanity and social change in all its beauty and messiness.  Spielberg’s direction stays close to the historicity Goodwin’s text’s with two notable glossy and indulgent speechifying scenes as exceptions.

See it and read the book.



Revo Reviews:         The Impossible

Screenwriter Sergio G. Sanchez and Director Juan Antonio Bayona did the impossible: they made the audience experience unbearable overwhelming devastation and the intimate intensity of human suffering at the same time without losing complex connections to socio-politico-spiritual realities. This Spanish family caught in the 2004 tsunami morphed into a British family no doubt to get the film produced and distributed. Performances by Naomi Watts, Ewan Macgregor, and Tom Holland are as riveting as sound and visual effects.  The final scene is strained emotional framing, but the rest of the film is revelation.

Help the ongoing recovery.

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