Thursday, August 17, 2017

Berlin Syndrome 2017

     This film is based on the debut novel of Melanie Joosten.  She won the Kathleen Mitchell Award for Young Writers and she was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelists of 2012.  Australian photojournalist Clare is in Berlin, Germany.  She wants shake herself out of her routine life and she’s put her items back home in storage.  She meets Andi and even though they are instantly attracted to each other, Andi says he has plans for the evening.  Clare looks for Andi the next day even though she told him she was leaving for Dresden.  Clare stays overnight at Andi’s apartment and she finds herself locked in the apartment in the morning.  When he gets home from work, she asks him why and he says he meant to leave the door key but it’s in his pocket.  The next morning, he leaves the key but she immediately finds out it doesn't fit the door?
     This film and the title are a take-off on Stockholm syndrome.  A with this syndrome person begins to side with the person they are with and become psychologically dependent as a survival strategy.  The phrase originated after a six-day bank siege.  Patricia Hearst used this as her trial defense when she robbed a bank in Berkeley California with the Smybionese Liberation Army or SLA.  She was kidnapped on February 4, 1974 and freed on September 18, 1975.  There are some very tense moments in this film!!  I didn't know what was going to happen and how this is was going to end??  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

116 min, Drama directed by Cate Shortland with Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt, Matthias Habich, Emma Bading, Elmira Bahrami, Christoph Franken, Lucie Aron, Nassim Avat, Malin Steffen, Thuso Lekwape.

Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 74% critic 54% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 3.5* out of 5* with 30 reviews, The Guardian 4* out of 5*, Metacritic 70 out of 100 with 17 critics 6.6 out of 10 with 16 reviews.
Special Note:  Kreuzberg and Mitte, Berlin, Germany and Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.  Teresa Palmer was also in Hacksaw Ridge of 2016.  Andi’s apartment was recreated on a Docklands sound stage in Melbourne.  This apartment is based on a real one in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood of Berlin.  It’s a 50 or 60 apartment building with only about 8 units occupied. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Imperium 2016

     This film is inspired by the real story of FBI agent Michael German and he helped co-write the script.  Nate Foster is working for the FBI, he is persuaded to go undercover and infiltrate a radical white supremacy terrorist group.  Nate must watch everything he says and everything he does constantly. The group is nervous out moles.
     The physical appearance and mentality of Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t seem to be one that the supremacists would readily accept as one of their group?  His body build doesn’t look like them?  He doesn't act or talk like them?  The dialog doesn’t say much except F bombs one after another?  There is continual back and forth at the FBI about if they do or don't have a case?  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

109 min, Crime directed by Daniel Ragussis with Daniel Radcliffe, Toni Collette, Tracy Letts, Sam Trammell, Nestor Carbonell, Chris Sullivan, Seth Numrich, Pawel Szajda, Devin Druid, Burn Gorman, Adam Meier. Roger Yawson.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 84% critic 64% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 3.7* out of 5* with 256 reviews, Metacritic 68 out of 100 with 17 critics 6.9 out of 10 with 56 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Chesterfield, Petersburg, Hopewell, Richmond, Prince George, Virginia.  The name Imperium is Latin and commonly used in German to mean empire.  It’s also synonymous with the word Reich but not in the context of the German Empire.  Neonazis frequently refer to a Western Imperium.  The casting of Daniel Radcliffe helped get this film financed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Flirting with Disaster 1996

     Mel Coplin was adopted and he's looking for his birth mother and family.  He has contacted student-psychologist, part-time adoption agent Tina Kalb.  She will go with Mel, his wife Nancy and their young son to meet Mel’s mother Valerie.  Mel’s agency will cover the trip since this is part of her dissertation and research.  They leave New York for San Diego to meet Valerie.  She is a blond Scandinavian woman with roots in the Confederacy.  She has twin daughters that look nothing like Mel.  Tina finds out the computer has made a mistake and this is not Mel’s mother.  Next, they go to Battle Creek, Michigan to meet Mel’s father Fritz Boudreau.  This is another mistake because Fritz handled Mel’s adoption for his biological parents.  Now they are going to rural New Mexico to meet Richard and Mary Schlichting.  The Schlichting also have Mel’s biological brother Lonnie.  He's not taking the sudden arrival of a brother very well and he’s overly rude and very jealous.  With so many mistakes, Mel’s adoptive parents are worried and they travel to New Mexico from New York.
     Mel and Nancy haven’t named their son yet and he’s almost a year old?  They’ve been waiting to learn more about Mel’s biological parents.  Nancy isn’t happy with Tina traveling with them but she’s overruled.  It seems as if the next mother or father gets more weird as they travel.  Most of the time, they don’t look anything like Mel.  There is so much traveling and so much confusion.  It almost seems like you are actually on this trip and there are too many problems?  2 ½* (This movie was just so-so)

92 min, Comedy directed by David O. Russell with Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, Mary Tyler Moore, George Segal, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin, Richard Jenkins, Josh Brolin, Celia Weston, Glenn Fitzgerald.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 87% critic 69% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 3.3* out of 5* with 206 reviews, Metacritic 81 out of 100 with 16 critics.
Special Note:  Filmed in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Michigan; Tucson, Cave Creek, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Marana, Arizona.  Ben Stiller and the director David O. Russell didn’t get along during filming and they had many arguments.  Time Magazine chose this film as one of the Best of Film 1996 as #7 in their year- end issue of December 23, 1996. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

The American Friend 1977

     This film is based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith.  Tom Ripley makes a living selling forged art works.  He has a painter recreate and frame the paintings.  He sells them at auction for a very good price.  Tom has another criminal business associate who wants him to become involved in an even riskier enterprise, murder.  There is a local picture framer, Jonathan Zimmermann and he has a blood disease that is fatal.  Since Jonathan has a wife and a son, he could want extra money for his family before he dies?  Tom believes the crimes can’t be traced back to him or his forger.
     This DVD is newly released with widescreen enhancement.  The films Purple Noon and The Talented Mr. Ripley are adaptations of the same novel used for this film.  There are also four other Tom Ripley novels.  I thought it was interesting to see a younger Dennis Hopper at the age of 41.  I also could not picture Bruno Ganz as any other character than Adolph Hitler!!  He is younger but still has the same facial structure at 36 years old.  3* (This movie is OK)

125 min, Crime directed by Wim Wenders with Dennis Hopper Bruno Ganz, Lisa Kreuzer, Gerard Blain, Nicholas Ray, Samuel Fuller, Peter Lilienthal, Daniel Schmid, Sandy Whitelaw, Jean Eustache, Lou Castel, David Blue.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 90% critic 81% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 49 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Hamburg, Bavaria and Schleswig-Holstein, Germany; Hauts-de-Seine and Paris, France; New York City.  Bruno Ganz carried a real gun in the first murder because the filmmakers couldn’t afford a fake gun?  Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz got into a fistfight on the set.  They went out together for a night of drinking that settled their differences?  There are seven movie directors in the cast of this film and they all play criminals.  Wim Wenders and cinematographer Robby Muller fought with the film-developing laboratory because they wanted to color correct the lighting?  Director Wim Wenders picked Dennis Hopper up at the airport, he had long hair, unshaven, dressed in military fatigues and he had jungle sores.  He had flown directly from the Philippine locations for Apocalypse Now of 1979.  John Cassavetes was originally considered for the role of Tom Ripley.  Bruno Ganz played the role of Adolf Hitler in the 2004 film Downfall.  There are many comical videos online of him in a scene from Downfall but with different dialog.  There is another film with the same title from 1991.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hidden Figures 2016

     Russia has launched a man into space and the US space program is behind in the 1960’s.  NASA segregates the colored women working in the organization.  They have their own work area and bathroom.  Three special women begin to change this practice.  Katherine Johnson starts to do very complicated mathematical calculations for the US launch of a man in space.  Dorothy Vaughn begins working with the new IBM digital electronic computers in their own separate room.  The machines can do the calculations much more rapidly than any human.  Mary Jackson wants to be an engineer and she goes before a Virginia judge for permission to take night classes at the local all white high school.
     There is a lot of information published about the space program at NASA but nothing is ever said about segregation or brilliant women treated like second-class citizens.  They have a double barrier, they are colored and they are women.  Katherine Johnson has to leave the office and run a half-mile in any kind of weather to use the colored restroom.  Al Harrison wonders where she goes a couple of times a day?  He has no idea what she is doing until he asks her.  The men in the calculations area believe Katherine Johnson doesn’t know what she’s doing until she starts writing her work on the blackboard.  Dorothy Vaughn is performing the duties of a manager but she doesn’t have the title or the pay?  I thought this was very good!!  4 ½* (I really liked this movie)

127 min, Bio directed by Theordore Melfi with Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Gen Powell, Kimberly Quinn, Olek Krupa.

Note:  Imdb 7.8 out of 10, 92% critic 93% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4 ½*, Amazon Video 4.9* out of 5* with 2288 reviews, Metacritic 74 out of 100 with 47 critics.
Special Note:  Filmed in East Point, Morehouse College, Canton, Atlanta and Monroe, Georgia.  The real life Katherine Johnson is now 99 years old.  She calculated trajectories, launch windows and emergency back-up return paths.  Dorothy Vaughn was born September 20, 1910 and she died November 10, 2008 at the age of almost 98 years old.  She worked at NASA for 28 years and supervised the programming section of the Analysis and Computation Division.  Mary Jackson was born April 9, 1921 and she died February 11, 2005 at almost 84 years old.  After she became an aerospace engineer in 1942, she worked at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

High Heels 1991

     In the opening of this film, Rebeca is with her mother Becky and her stepfather on vacation.  Soon after, her stepfather dies in a car accident and Rebeca leaves for jobs as a singer.  She doesn’t return for 15 years.  Becky returns to reunite with Rebeca and they have a difficult relationship.  Rebeca loves her mother but she is also hurt she has been gone so long.  Becky lets Rebeca know she is disapproving of Rebeca’s marriage to Manuel because previously Becky was with Manuel.  A month later, Manuel is murdered in his villa.
     The investigating magistrate focuses on Rebeca, Becky and a woman working with Rebeca.  This film is like a telemundo in style because there is a LOT of drama.  Why did Becky stay away so long, why did Rebeca marry someone who had been involved with her mother?  Why did Manuel marry Rebeca?  Don’t worry!!  Everything will be answered in 112 minutes!!  3* (This movie is OK)

112 min, Comedy directed by Pedro Almodovar with Victoria Abril, Marisa Paredes, Miguel Bose, Anna Lizaran, Mayrata O’Wisiedo, Cristina Marcos, Fedor Atkine, Pedro Diez del Corral, Bibiana Fernandez, Nacho Martinez.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 50% critic 84% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 46 reviews, Metascore 51 out of 100 with 12 critics
Special Note:  Filmed in Comunidad Valenciana, Madrid, Spain.  Originally Antonio Banderas was selected to play the role of Juez Dominguez.  Cristina Marcos was nominated as Best Supporting Actress for a Goya award but she has less than 5 minutes of screen time.  The literal translation of the Spanish title Tacones Lejanos is Distant Heels.  Rebeca and Becky have a talk about their conflicts and they reference situations is Autumn Sonata of 1978 by Ingmar Bergman. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

An Uncertain Feeling 1941

     This film is based on the play Divorcons that opened in Paris in December 1880.  The setting is New York in 1940, Jill Baker has a problem and she is persuaded to see a popular psychoanalyst because she has psychosomatic hiccups.  After seeing the doctor, she becomes disillusioned about her husband Larry Baker.  She meets pianist Alexander Sebastian in the doctor’s waiting room and he’s more confused than Jill?  She invites Alexander to come to a dinner party she is hosting that evening.  This is a dinner to help Larry win over an important business client.
      Larry has become boring and he doesn’t pay attention to his wife.  This leads to her being swept off her feet by Alexander.  Larry doesn’t know it but his attorney’s secretary is in love with him?  Larry, Jill and Alexander are very selfish and they are interested in their own needs.  They play also tricks on each other to further their own causes.  The theme is men are the superior beings?  I thought Merle Oberon was a beautiful woman and she has lovely clothing.  

84 min, Comedy directed by Ernst Lubitsch with Merle Oberon, Melvyn Douglas, Burgess Meredith, Alan Mowbray, Olive Blakeney, Harry Davenport, Sig Ruman, Eve Arden, Richard Carle.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 60% critic 56% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.7* out of 5* with 71 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 3* out of 4*, Letterboxd 3.2* out of 5* with 424 reviews.
Special Note:  Merle Oberon doesn’t have very many close-ups in this film.  She was recovering from her second session of cosmetic poisoning.  She had pits and sores on her face that could not be covered with makeup.  (I didn’t notice any of this?)  This film had an indifferent reception but the cast treasured the experience of working with director Lubitsch because of the atmosphere he created.  This is a loose remake of Kiss Me Again by Lubitsch of 1925.  Sol Lesser had formed a partnership with Lubitsch but it was dissolved when this film did poorly at the box office.  The original copyright holder did not renew the copyright and the film became under public domain.  Many versions on the market are poor quality.