Film: Defiance in the Old South

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH “Free State of Jones,” directed by Gary Carr. “The Free State of Jones” is based on a true Civil War story, a little known story, because its subject matter is in a controversial gray area. Here we have Newton Knight (a spot-on Matthew McConaughey at his scraggly, unkempt, bearded best), a Confederate…

Eye in the Sky

By JOE AUCIELLO “Eye in the Sky,” (2016), a film directed by Gavin Hood, written by Guy Hibbert, with Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman. The arc of the suspense story is familiar enough. Begin the tale in normal times, introduce a disruptive element whose threat deepens until it is ultimately destroyed, and conclude with a…

Film: The Danish Girl

By JOHN WILSON “The Danish Girl,” 1 hr. 59 min., directed by Tom Hooper. “The Danish Girl” is a mesmerizing, moving account of how transgender pioneer Lili Elbe (originally Einar Wegener) came to be one of the first persons known to have gender reassignment surgery. Adapted from David Ebershoff’s fictionalized novel of 2000, it features Eddie…

Trumbo — The Hollywood witch hunt

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH TRUMBO, written by John McNamara, from the book by Bruce Cook. Directed by Jay Roach. With Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren, and Diane Lane. Hopefully, word of mouth will encourage the general public to see this engaging film, in part because of the contemporary relevance of its focus on the consequences of not…

Film: Battleground of home foreclosures

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH “99 Homes,” a film with Michael Shannon, Andrew Garfield, and Laura Dern. Written and directed by Rahmin Bahrani. “99 Homes,” set in Florida, is an excellent socio-economic film that could have been a documentary. I’m glad it isn’t. It is a well-acted, powerful drama based on the 2007-9 economic collapse, when banks…

Film: A racist killer on trial

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH  British filmmaker Marc Silver’s documentary, “3 ½ Minutes 10 Bullets,” mainly consists of the trial of Michael Dunn, the killer of Jordan Davis, a Black teen. It plays out like television’s “20/20” or “Dateline” production, with no commercials. Despite the current inflamed debate on racial injustice, director Silver offers us a cool-headed…

Film: Mad Max Fury Road

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH I liked “Mad Max Fury Road” much more than I thought I would. Critics seemed to focus on only the action, of which there was scads—relentless, spectacular, and loud. Cirque du Soleil gone gritty: Men clinging to the tops of swaying poles attached to souped-up speeding cars while blasting with automatic weapons.…