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About the Critics:

Doug Solem has been in love with movies ever since he first snuck into the Anoka Theater to see Steve McQueen in Bullitt. He goes to at least one new movie every Friday.  He has also been a voice talent for TV and Radio commercials for the past 20 years and is currently represented through the Moore Talent Agency. Click Here For Doug's Voice Demo He had his first starring role in the local independently produced movie "SEVER" Click Here for information and pictures for "Sever" - a horror film shot throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.  He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Communications.  His favorite directors include the Cohen Brothers and Steven Spielberg.  Favorite actors include Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Brad Pitt, Daniel Day-Lewis and Christian Bale. 

Zala has always enjoyed going to the movies.  As a kid, the only option in the area was the Anoka Theater.  It was during a time when parents could drop you and your friends off to see a movie and get picked up later.  “My earliest movie experience was when I was 4 and my aunt and her high school friends took me to see 101 Dalmatians.  I was so engaged in the movie that during one of the chase scenes a speeding car nearly hit one of the puppies, and my first movie review was to stand up and yell, "Watch out!". The audience broke out laughing.  I have been lucky to have some friends and colleagues who are into making movies and television shows and I enjoy the discussions we have.  Before my retirement, I was the Dean of the Cinema program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.  It is a great two-year program if you would like to take some courses and develop your own movies!”


Zala's Featured Review
A Wrinkle In Time - Directed by Ava DurVernay

A flight of fantasy. Lessons about growing up to face our fears. This 1963 Newbary Award winner in children’s literature appears on the screen under the direction of Ava DuVernay. Many of you may have read or had A Wrinkle in Time read to you in elementary school which may be one of the only reasons you would want to attend this movie

The Story - The story of a young daughter and son growing up with their scientist mother as their father has disappeared to “shake hands with the universe” demonstrates the struggles of growing up with school challenges and self-esteem issues. From the movie, we don’t know how the younger brother makes contact with three magical beings, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. They did hear a message and travel across the universe to help the siblings and a new-found friend find the scientist father, Alex Murry, who disappeared while investigating the couple calculations to travel (tesser) through time and space. The three Mrs. Ws take the children through the Wrinkle to find their father in a fanciful journey which is about personal growth to develop a positive esteem (the light) and to fight the evil inhabitants of the Camazotz “IT” (the dark).


The Cast - The three Mrs. Ws are well-recognized which may not help the movie much. Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Withersppon), and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) have a difficult time shedding the real actors persona throughout the movie. Their costumes and make up are elaborate, but I still saw each of them as themselves. Father, Chris Pine, does a good job in his acting, but comes across as Captain Kirk as a dad. This is the first starring role for daughter Meg (Storm Reid). At age 14, she does a fine job. She is building a strong repertoire of movie and television roles.

Should You See This Movie?  Grade: C

The film is adequate. The story has possibilities on the screen but it seems like more development is needed. The younger brother, Charles Wallace, could be developed more and the time when the IT turns him evil seems to happen without our knowledge. He is suddenly evil. There are many ideas that aren’t fully developed on the Camazotz as the children are searching for the father. At 109 minutes, I was ready for it to end. It seems like this wasn’t created for adults and yet I didn’t feel like it was for younger kids. Younger teens might get some of the messaging here and could learn from it, but many other movies do a much better job with the same themes. The trailer is much more captivating than the movie itself.


Doug's Featured Review
2018 Academy Awards

Although I was unable to see all of the Oscar contenders, I was able to see the big winner.  The Shape of Water was an odd yet beautiful movie.  The actors all gave first class performances.  Best of all, the movie was visually stunning.  No need for high tech special effects, just a director that knew how to weave a wonderful, romantic fairy tale.  Here's a list of all the winners.

Best Picture:

“The Shape of Water” (WINNER)
“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”


“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro (WINNER)
“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson


Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (WINNER)
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”


Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour” (WINNER)
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”

Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Supporting Actress:

Allison Janney, “I, Tonya” (WINNER)
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

Supporting Actor:

Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (WINNER)
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”

Original Screenplay:

“Get Out,” Jordan Peele (WINNER)
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin McDonagh
“The Big Sick,” Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor

Animated Feature:

“Coco,” Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson (WINNER)
“The Boss Baby,” Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
“The Breadwinner,” Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
“Ferdinand,” Carlos Saldanha
“Loving Vincent,” Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman

Original Song:

“Remember Me” from “Coco,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez (WINNER)
“Mighty River” from “Mudbound,” Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” from “Call Me by Your Name,” Sufjan Stevens
“Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall,” Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Original Score:

“The Shape of Water,” Alexandre Desplat (WINNER)
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” John Williams
“Dunkirk,” Hans Zimmer
“Phantom Thread,” Jonny Greenwood
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Carter Burwell


“Blade Runner 2049,” Roger Deakins (WINNER)
“Darkest Hour,” Bruno Delbonnel
“Dunkirk,” Hoyte van Hoytema
“Mudbound,” Rachel Morrison
“The Shape of Water,” Dan Laustsen

Adapted Screenplay:

“Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory (WINNER)
“The Disaster Artist,” Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
“Logan,” Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
“Molly’s Game,” Aaron Sorkin
“Mudbound,” Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Live Action Short Film:

“The Silent Child,” Chris Overton, Rachel Shenton (WINNER)
“DeKalb Elementary,” Reed Van Dyk
“The Eleven O’Clock,” Derin Seale, Josh Lawson
“My Nephew Emmett,” Kevin Wilson, Jr.
“Watu Wote/All of Us,” Katja Benrath, Tobias Rosen

Documentary Short Subject:

“Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405,” Frank Stiefel (WINNER)
“Heroin(e),” Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Kerrin Sheldon
“Edith+Eddie,” Laura Checkoway, Thomas Lee Wright
“Knife Skills,” Thomas Lennon
“Traffic Stop,” Kate Davis, David Heilbroner

Film Editing:

“Dunkirk,” Lee Smith (WINNER)
“Baby Driver,” Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
“I, Tonya,” Tatiana S. Riegel
“The Shape of Water,” Sidney Wolinsky
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Jon Gregory

Visual Effects:

“Blade Runner 2049,” John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer (WINNER)
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
“Kong: Skull Island,” Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlan
“War for the Planet of the Apes,” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist

Animated Short:

“Dear Basketball,” Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant (WINNER)
“Garden Party,” Victor Caire, Gabriel Grapperon
“Lou,” Dave Mullins, Dana Murray
“Negative Space,” Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata
“Revolting Rhymes,” Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer

Foreign Language Film:

“A Fantastic Woman” (Chile) (WINNER)
“The Insult” (Lebanon)
“Loveless” (Russia)
“On Body and Soul (Hungary)
“The Square” (Sweden)

Production Design:

“The Shape of Water,” Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau (WINNER)
“Beauty and the Beast,” Sarah Greenwood; Katie Spencer
“Blade Runner 2049,” Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
“Darkest Hour,” Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
“Dunkirk,” Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis

Sound Mixing:

“Dunkirk,” Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo (WINNER)
“Baby Driver,” Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
“Blade Runner 2049,” Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill
“The Shape of Water,” Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick

Sound Editing:

“Dunkirk,” Alex Gibson, Richard King (WINNER)
“Baby Driver,” Julian Slater
“Blade Runner 2049,” Mark Mangini, Theo Green
“The Shape of Water,” Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood

Documentary Feature:

“Icarus,” Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan (WINNER)
“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” Steve James, Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
“Faces Places,” JR, Agnès Varda, Rosalie Varda
“Last Men in Aleppo,” Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Soren Steen Jepersen
“Strong Island,” Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes

Costume Design:

“Phantom Thread,” Mark Bridges (WINNER)
“Beauty and the Beast,” Jacqueline Durran
“Darkest Hour,” Jacqueline Durran
“The Shape of Water,” Luis Sequeira
“Victoria and Abdul,” Consolata Boyle

Makeup and Hairstyling:

“Darkest Hour,” Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick (WINNER)
“Victoria and Abdul,” Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
“Wonder,” Arjen Tuiten



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