Monday, June 26, 2017

Franz 2016


     This film is based on the American anti-war drama Broken Lullaby of 1932 directed by Ernst Lubitsch.  Ernst based his film on a play by Maurice Rostand.  Ernst was a German filmmaker born in January 1892 and he died November 1947.  The setting is Quedlinburg, Germany of 1919.  Anna was engaged to Frantz Hoffmeister but he was killed in the Great War.  She is living with Frantz’s parents and they are all devastated by this loss.  A mysterious Frenchman is noticed paying his respects at the grave of Frantz.  Anna does some checking and she learns the man is Adrien Rivoire.  He begins a friendship with Anna and Frantz’s parents Magda and Doktor Hans.  Their hearts begin to heal by listening to the stories of the friendship in Paris between Adrien and Frantz. 
     There is tremendous animosity between the French and German people during this time because of the great losses of life on both sides in the war.  The wounds of the people are so deep that they want to lash out because of their intense pain.  Anna had hoped to visit Paris with Frantz for their honeymoon and she speaks both French and German.  Adrien speaks French but some German.  This film is in black and white except for some scenes in color.  There is a LOT of drama, emotion and melancholy in this film.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

113 min, Drama directed by Francoiz Ozon with Pierre Niney, Paula Beer, Ernst Stotzner, Marie Bruber, Johann von Bulow, Anton von Lucke, Cyrielle Clair, Alice de Lencquesaing, Axel Wandtke, Rainer Egger, Merlin Rose.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 90% critic 85% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 8 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony, Germany; Essonne, Paris, Haute-Vienne and Oise, France.  Other films by Francois Ozon are See the Sea, Under the Sand, 8 Women, Swimming Pool, Young and Beautiful, The New Girlfriend, Angel, Ricky.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Passengers 2016


     Aurora Lane and Jim Preston are among the sleeping crew of the spaceship Starship Avalon.  The ship is sponsored by a huge corporation and is on a 120-year voyage to a distant colony planet called the Homestead II.  Earth has become very crowded and this is a profitable way to move a lot of people elsewhere.  There are 5,258 people in hibernation, 5,000 passengers and 258 crew members.  There is a malfunction in one of the hibernation pods and Jim Preston is awakened 90 years from their destination.  There is Arthur the bartender but he is an android and he is the only company Jim has for a year.  He decides he must awaken someone else from their hibernation.  He feels he can't possibly spend 89 years alone!!
     There is a lot of CGI in this film and the only characters are Jim, Aurora, Arthur and Gus Mancuso, a Chief Deck Officer awakened because his pod also malfunctioned.  The pods are supposed to be 100% foolproof so how did Jim and Gus awaken?  What is wrong with the ship that caused this malfunction?  I thought it was interesting that many options on the ship for food, clothing and quality of the room are based on the class of the guest!!  Like airline seating based on how much you are willing to pay??  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

116 min, Adventure directed by Morten Tyldum with Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia, Vince Foster, Kara Flowers, Conor Brophy, Julee Cerda, Aurora Perrineau, Lauren Farmer, Emerald Mayne, Kristin Brock, Tom Ferrari, Quansae Rutledge.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 31% critic 63% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 1800 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Fayetteville and Atlanta, Georgia.  Some scenes were filmed at Pinewood Atlanta Studios, Fayetteville, Georgia.  The scenes at the ship’s bar have similarities to The Shining directed by Stanley Krubrick, 1980.  There is a poster with symbols under the title and they represent Morse code for S.O.S.  Jennifer Lawrence’s character is named after Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Aurora of 1959.  Chris Pratt was paid $12 million and Jennifer Lawrence was paid $20 million plus 30% of the profits.  Starship Avalon shares this name with the mythical location where King Arthur recovers from his wounds.  There is another film with the title Passengers from 2008 with Anne Hathaway and Patrick Wilson.  Hathaway is a therapist assigned to counsel surviving passengers after a plane crash

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Theeb 2014


     The setting of this film is 1916 during WWI and the Great Arab Revolt against the ruling Ottoman Empire in the province of Hijaz.  Recently orphaned, Hussein and his brother Theeb go with Edward and Marji into the desert.  Edward is a British Officer and Marji is an Arab.  Hussein and Theeb are the second and third sons of a Bedouin sheik of the Howeitat tribe.  The family has worked as pilgrim guides for many years.  The brothers originally intended to let the other two men go alone but Hussein believes he should go with them because knows where the wells are located.  Theeb gets into trouble several times concerning a wooden box rumored to contain gold.  Edward warns him to leave the box alone but Theeb is very curious.  The first well they reach has been contaminated and the men notice a group in the distance watching them.
     Theeb means wolf but also manhood in the Bedouin language.  The scenery of this area is very beautiful and also very desolate.  It’s not easy to stay alive in such a hostile environment.  I thought the behavior of the camels was unusual and amazing!  They have adapted fully to their location and are the fittest to survive.  I wondered what was in the wooden box and I was wrong about it’s contents?  I was surprised about the ending as well.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

100 min, Adventure directed by Naji Abu Nowar with Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat, Hussein Salameh Al-Sweilhiyeen, Hassan Mutlag Al-Maraiyeh, Jack Fox, Marji Audeh, Hmood Ali, Abdul Aziz Mousa, Baha Othman, Ali Omayan.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 97% critic 76% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 86 reviews, Metacritic 80 out of 100 with 18 critics 7.1 out of 10 with 17 reviews, The Guardian 3* out of 5*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Wadi Rum, Wadi Araba, Daba’a, Jordan.  This film is a Jordanian Arabic-language production and all the actors are non-professionals except for Jack Fox in the role of Edward, the British soldier.  The actors are from the Bedouin community in Southern Jordan.  The filming took place in the same area where Lawrence of Arabia was shot in the early 1960’s.  Scenes of The Martian were also filmed in this area.  There is heavy tourist activity in this location and that needed to be avoided.  It took five weeks to film and there were other difficulties.  The sand, heat, flash floods, storms, rain and the desert well sequence with Theeb needed to be filmed again at a later date.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Alias Betty 2001


     The title in French is Betty Fisher et autres histoires.  Betty Fisher’s mother Margot comes to stay with Betty in Paris.  Margot is having some medical tests that she can’t receive where she lives.  Betty is an author, she is divorced and she has a young son Joseph.  Betty puts Joseph in his room to take a nap and she talks to her mother.  Margot isn’t feeling well and she goes outside into the backyard for some fresh air.  She sees that Joseph has fallen out of his bedroom window.  He was interested in a bird he saw outside and he opened the window.  They immediately go to the hospital but Joseph dies from a brain hemorrhage.  Betty goes into a dark depression but her mother has a solution.  She kidnaps Jose, another child about the same age as Joseph.  Margot tells Betty that the child belongs to her friends and they have gone on vacation but their sitter fell through.
     I didn’t know how this movie was going to turn out??  Betty seems like she doesn’t want to accept Jose.  If she tries to take him back to his mother, Betty will probably be accused of the kidnapping?  Since she is ill, it will also be difficult for Margot if she is arrested for the kidnapping?  There is a lot of information in the newspapers and on the news about the kidnapping.  Jose’s mother seems more interested in being on television than in the loss of her son?  Realistically, how did Margot even come up this solution?  3 ½* (I liked this movie) 

103 min, Drama directed by Claude Miller with Sandrine Kiberlain, Nicole Garcia, Mathilde Seigner, Luck Mervil, Edouard Baer, Stephane Freiss, Yves Jacques, Roschdy Zem, Consuelo De Haviland, Yves Verhoeven.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 92% critic 62% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 8 reviews, Metacritic 73 out of 100 with 20 critics.
Special Note:  There is a scene with books on a shelf, Ruth Rendell is the author of all the books.  She wrote the book that contains money on the shelf, the title is Jeux des Mains and this translates to Games of the Hands. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Manchester by the Sea 2016


     Lee Chandler is forced to return home when his brother Joe dies.  His nephew Patrick needs Lee to step in and be his guardian.  Lee didn’t know that he would be named as guardian and he struggles with the decision.  Lee has a lot of bad memories of the past that caused him to leave Manchester.  He felt he needed to distance himself from his history.  Lee lives in a basement apartment in Quincy away from his family and he works as a janitor.  This area of Massachusetts depends primarily on the fishing industry. 
     Flashbacks are used to tell Lee's history in Manchester.  He can barely carry on a civil conversation with another person?  If someone is looking at him too long, he’ll go over and give them a punch in the face.  He drinks too much and he doesn't want to move back to Manchester.  Patrick doesn't want to move to Quincy, leave his friends, school, sport programs and band.  I question the purpose of this film?  It's not entertaining, Lee is one of the sourest people to be in a film?  He doesn't learn from his mistakes, he doesn't ever let go of the past and he doesn't even learn from the past?  Is being sour enough to win an Academy Award?  3* (This movie is OK)

137 min, Drama directed by Kenneth Lonergan with Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Richard Donelly, Virginia Loring Cooke, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Missy Yager, Stephen Henderson.

Note:  Imdb 7.9 out of 10, 96% critic 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 2.8* out of 5* with 2907 reviews, ReelViews 3 1/2** out of 4*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Beverly, Lynn, Essex, Gloucester, Rockport, Salem Quincy, Cape Ann, Massachusetts.  This is the first movie co-distributed by a streaming service, Amazon Video, to win an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.  Matt Damon was initially set to direct and star.  Kevin Grondin plays a funeral director and this is his job in real life.  Manchester-by-the-Sea is portrayed as working class and blue collar but it’s actually very upscale and affluent.  Michelle Williams is in this film for less than 12 minutes.  Filming was completed in 32 days.  In some cases, the deceased are not buried until spring and it depends on the cemetery.  A steam shovel can be used because of the frozen ground but some cemeteries won't permit the use of this equipment.  The real Manchester Fire Department and EMS personnel are used in the film. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Secrets of War 2004


     The setting of this film is the summer of 1943 and the title in Dutch is Oorlogsgeheimen.  The war is closing in on the people of a small town and the Mayor is siding with the German’s.  Turr and Lambert are best friends but their families are on opposite sides.  Turr isn’t certain but he thinks his parents are working for the resistance.  They tell Turr he needs to separate from Lambert but Turr refuses.  A new girl comes to town and she is living with relatives.  Tuur and Lambert both like her but Tuur learns she is using an assumed name and she is really Jewish. 
     This town is dangerous for everyone except those helping the Germans.  Jewish people can easily be sent without a second thought to concentration camps when they are discovered.  Other people can be sent to labor camps that are spoken of as not being so bad?  Anyone in the resistance will be immediately rounded up and shot.  The young actors are very good and natural in their roles.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
 
95 min, Drama directed by Dennis Bots with Maas Bronkhuyzen, Joes Brauers, Michael Nierse, Tonko Bossen, Luck Feit, Juul Vrijdag, Ad van Kempen, Loek Peters, Nils Verkooijen, Pien Westendorp, Eva Duijvestein.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 92% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 38 reviews, Letterboxd 3.4* out of 5* with 119 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands; Melin, Coolen-Riemst, Belgium; Mertert and Petange, Luxembourg.  The title song Onze Vriendschap at the end credits means Our Friendship and it signifies that the friendship between Turr and Lambert will continue.   

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Moonlight 2016


     This film is based on the unproduced play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by MacArthur Fellow Tarell Alvin McCraney.  The film is divided into three time periods in the life of Chiron, young adolescence, mid-teen and young adult.  As a child Chiron’s dad is gone, he lives with his single and crack addicted mother Paula.  They live in a crime-ridden neighborhood in Miami.  Chiron is small, shy and withdrawn.  Paula neglects him because she is busy getting her fixes.  He’s usually bullied, criticized and he doesn’t understand why this happens.  His only friend is Kevin who is the same age.  Chiron hangs out with drug dealer Juan and his girlfriend Teresa.  Their home is a sanctuary for him to escape his problems.
     During the mix-up with the Academy Awards of 2017, La La Land was announced as the winner for Best Picture but it was actually Moonlight.  The team for La La Land was on the stage but they had to walk off and let the Moonlight team take the stage.  This film is about characters and their identities.  Juan wants to help Chiron because he sees something in him but he’s also keeping his mother from him by selling her the drugs.  You see the growth and changes in Chiron as he ages but there is not as much focus on his friend Kevin.  3* (This movie was OK)

111 min, Drama directed by Barry Jenkins, Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan Sanderson, Alex R. Hibbert, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris, Jaden Piner.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 98% critic 80% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 1028 reviews,
Special Note:  Filmed in Miramar, Miami, Liberty City and Virginia Key, Florida.  The three different actors who play Chiron and Kevin never met because the director wanted them to build their own characters.  Director Barry Jenkins and writer Tarell Alvin McCraney both grew up in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami.  Brad Pitt helped the director get funds and the distribution deal he needed.  Filming was completed in 25 days between October and November 2015.  Naomie Harris spent a month researching the lives of drug addicts by watching videos of crack addicts on YouTube.