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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
Directed by Christopher Nolan

 “We shall fight on the beaches….” Churchill

British and French soldiers surrounded on three sides by German forces with their backs to the English Channel are a mere 26 miles from England. Dunkirk is the historical portrayal of the WWII battle where German troops are preparing to wipe out 400,000 English troops which would be devastating to the security of England and the outcome of the Second World War.

The Story - Director and Writer, Christopher Nolan tells the story of this epic WWII battle which changed the direction of the war. By interactively weaving the story through the perspectives of soldiers, pilots, sailors and civilians. The overlapping scenes are repeated from the viewpoints of each of the groups affected in a way that puts the movie together like a jigsaw puzzle letting you see the interaction as it unfolded for each of the groups adding a deeper dimension to the film.


The Cast - The story unveils through sets of characters who are bound to destiny by the rescue mission. A set of pilots who need to protect a fleet of naval ships and civilian yachts by air, a group of soldiers who attempt to get off the beach by a variety of means, and civilians who launch yachts when called upon by the British government to save the soldiers. The experience of actor, Kenneth Branagh, as Naval Commander Bolton, solidifies this set of actors lesser known to American audiences. The group of soldiers, (Fionn Whitehead, Harry Styles, and Aneurin Barnard) and pilots (Jack Lowden and Tom Hardy) deliver strong performances as their characters unfold throughout the movie. The interaction between father (Mark Rylance) and son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) is deliverance-of-duty and coming-of-age relationship. Peter’s friend, George hops on the yacht at the last moment to have the adventure of his life to hopefully impress the townsfolk who see him as a teenager who hasn’t accomplished much in school or the community.

Should You See This Movie?  Grade: A-

For those of you who love history won’t see this as the typical history movie. The interweaving of the story between the perspectives in the film and interaction between the characters draws you into the suspense of this rescue. The music pulls you into the drama of human survival. The film focuses less on the battle and destruction and more on the relationships and dilemma taking place to save over 300,000.  Churchill had hoped for 30,000 to continue to the war effort so the rally by the civilian fleet is a feel-good story. The ending is warming versus damning. The story moves fluently through the hour and 46 minutes. The film will appeal to both history lovers and those who like a good story.


Zala's Featured Review
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Directed by Jon Watts

When I heard of yet ANOTHER Spider-Man movie coming out this summer, I was reluctant to see it. This version of Spider-Man, I will have to admit is my favorite. The story goes deeper as it ties into the last Avengers movie and shows the struggle of high school senior Peter Parker balancing school, a Tony Stark “Internship” and his desire to be a member to be a superhero!

The Story - Director, Jon Watts, portrays this Avenger in Training as a high school student who spends more time with his friends, being the typical student growing into his role as a super hero.  He balances friendships and dates with school activities, while trying to keep order in the streets. His frustration is that he waits for a call from Tony Stark for his chance to do something “big” instead of menial tasks. His secret is accidentally revealed as he sneaks back into his room as his best friend is sitting on his bed waiting for him. Throughout the movie, more people exposed to his secret identity. There is a bit of humor carefully woven into this story to make the characters warmer. 


The Cast - If you have seen the Spider-Man movies, you will recognize the usual suspects:  Tony (Robert Downey Jr.), Happy, (Jon Favreaux), Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). Tom Holland (Peter Parker) provides a broader acting ability than previous “Spider Men”. Marisa Tomei does a nice job in portraying Aunt May. Michael Keaton is an excellent villain in the story. We understand why he feels driven to be the anti-hero playing both villain and family man. High school sidekick to Peter Parker, Jacob Balaton (Ned), is a surprise. He learns about Peter’s secret and has a difficult time keeping the news quiet. He dreams of being the “guy in the chair” – the guy who is the tech geek who guides Spider-Man to succeed. This is one of a couple of supporting characters you want to see again in the future. Another is Michelle (Zendaya) who plays a high school loner who quietly observes others and sketch their struggles. The obligatory cameo of Stan Lee takes place early in the movie.

Should You See This Movie?  Grade: B+

This is a superhero movie. The story is what it is, but with some character development it has some warmer hues. The characters are real and except for special abilities, they feel real. The special effects are well done with some cinematography effects that capture your attention throughout the movie. Moments of humor help to engage the audience and the 2 hours and 13 minutes moves well. If you like stories and dislike superhero movies, you may like this one. If you like the Avengers, you can’t miss it. Remember to stay until after the credits to get the full experience! 


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