Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Final Cut 2004

The Final Cut

     This film is set in a future world where implanted microchips record all the moments of a person’s life and they are called Zoe implants.  When the person dies, the chip is removed and a cutter edits the images into a highlight reel for loved ones to view at the service.  There are organizations that oppose this development because they believe the memories belong to the person and not for later viewing by others.  Their slogan is to Remember for Yourself.  Alan Hakman is an expert at cutting but he is tormented by his job since he sees everything about the person’s life and his memories of his own past. 
     Alan doesn’t seem to have very much of a life of his own since he is too involved in the lives of other people.  Behind his back, he is called the Sin Eater because he removes unpleasant events from the memories.  I was a little surprised about the ending.  I kept thinking about the sadness within Robin Williams that this role allows him to show on his face and in this fictional life.  It is also sad that he was unable to conquer his own inner problems.   3 ½* (I liked this movie)

95 min, Sci-Fi directed by Omar Naim with Robin Williams, Jim Caviezel, Mira Sorvino, Mimi Kuzyk, Stephanie Romanov, Thom Bishops, Genevieve Buechner, Brendan Fletcher, Vincent Gale, Casey Dubois.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 37% critic 46% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Enemy 2013


     This film is adapted from a novel, The Double written by Portuguese author Jose Saramago and published in 2004. Adam Bell lives in Toronto and he is a college professor teaching History.  He’s quiet, serious, a casual dresser and stuck in his routines.  Mary is his girlfriend and she lives with him.  Adam is watching a rental movie and he spots an actor in a small role that looks just like him.  This isn’t a looks somewhat like Adam discovery but they look exactly alike?  Adam rents more of the movies with this actor to make sure he’s not just seeing things.  He is a double and Adam feels he must find out more about this actor.  He finds out he also lives in Toronto and his movie name is Daniel Satin Claire but his real name is Anthony Claire.  He has a wife named Helen and she is six months pregnant.  Adam and Anthony meet face-to-face and they discover everything about them is the same, their hands, faces and a scar on their chests.
     There are scenes that stretch for a long time with not much happening.  Everything seems to be in brown tones especially with Adam and his life.  These details are supposed to draw you into the mystery of the two identical men.  There isn’t much mystery here and there is not much interesting either.  A film of 60 minutes stretched out to 90 minutes and not a satisfying story or resolution.  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

90 min, Mystery directed by Denis Villeneuve with Jake Gyllenhaal, Melanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini, Joshua Peace, Tim Post, Kedar Brown.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 73% critic 59% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.

Permanent Midnight 1998

Permanent Midnight

     This film is adapted from an autobiography.  Jerry Stahl has just finished 90 days of detox for a $6000 a week heroin habit.  He’s working at a fast food place when Kitty comes through the drive-in to get matches.  They go out for coffee and Jerry tells her all about his life as an addict.  Jerry was making $5000 a week as a TV comedy scriptwriter.  He began to have a difficult time getting jobs and keeping them because of always being high.  His marriage broke up for this same reason.
     At least this film does not glamorize the drug life but shows Jerry in free fall from the good life to a nothing life.  He will do anything to keep from going into withdrawal.  A lot of comedians in this film but there isn’t anything funny.  I would like to see Maria Bello playing some characters where she doesn't have greasy hair??  2 ½* (This movie is so-so) 

88 min, Bio directed by David Veloz with Ben Stiller, Mara Bello, Jay Paulson, Spencer Garrett, Owen Wilson, Elizabeth Hurley, Lourdes Benedicto, Fred Willard, Chauncey Leopardi, Mary Thompson, Connie Nielsen, Charles Fleischer, Liz Torres, Douglas Spain, Janene Garofalo.

Note:  6.3 out of 10, 60% critic 55% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.
Special Note:  The real Jerry Stahl has a role in this film as the methadone clinic doctor.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Shattered Glass 2003

Shattered Glass

     This film is basted on the true story of Washington D.C. journalist Stephen Glass.  He worked as a writer at New Republic Magazine for three years from 1995-1998.  Stephen wanted a swift path to fame and 27 of his 41 published stories were fabrications.  He made up his sources, the quotes and at times the entire story.  Somehow, he thought he would be able to slip these stories by even though the staff at New Republic checked detail and other newspapers checked stories after they were published.
     This is interesting, I remember reading about this in the papers.  He was able to avoid discovery for a while because of his he was unassuming and never bragged about his success.  Stephen never admitted he lied on the stories and his articles were harder to check because there were no pictures.  There was also a hoax perpetrated against the New York Times by journalist Jayson Blair including photos without him at the scenes.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

94 min, Drama directed by Billy Ray with Hayden Christensen, Chloe Sevigny, Steve Zahn, Rosario Dawson, Melanie Lynskey, Hank Azaria.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 91% critic 79% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.

Friday, September 26, 2014

It Happened One Night 1934

It Happened One Night

     Ellie Andrews married society aviator King Westley but her father doesn’t approve of the marriage.  He takes her away on his yacht but she jumps into the water and buys a ticket on a bus headed back to New York.  Right away she meets reporter Peter Warne.  He offers to help her because he sees she doesn’t know a thing about taking care of herself.  He tells her he will tell her father where she is if she doesn’t let him help her.  In reality, he’s trying to get a very good newspaper story, at least that’s what he planned in the beginning.
     This is good, it doesn’t seem dated at all except for the wonderful old Greyhound buses and cars.  All along you think you know where this is going but you’re not sure until the end.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

105 min, Comedy directed by Frank Capra with Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns, Jameson Thomas, Alan Hale, Arthur Hoyt, Blance Frederici, Charles C. Wilson.

Note:  Imdb 8.3 out of 10, 98% critic 94% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, The Guardian 5*.
Special Note:  This film won five major Academy Awards in 1934. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Barcelona 1994


The setting of this film is at the end of the civil war in Spain in the early 1980’s.  Ted Boynton is from Chicago Illinois and he is working in sales for the Barcelona office of a US corporation making electric engines.  Unexpectedly, his cousin Fred comes to visit.  Fred is a lieutenant junior grade in the US Navy and his job is to work damage control on anti-American sentiment. 
This film is listed as a comedy but I didn’t see anything funny?  Ted is very verbose and he can expound at length on any subject.  Fred is completely different and as a result, they are constantly butting heads.  Another aspect of Fred is he invents shocking stories.  Ted and Fred don’t seem to realize they present themselves as targets for factions against Americans. 2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)
101 min, Drama directed by Whit Stillman with Taylor Nichols, Chris Elgeman, Tushka Bergen, Mira Sorvino, Pep Munne, Hellena Taylor, Nuria Badia, Thomas Gibson, Jack Gilpin, Pere Ponce, Laura Lopez.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 81% critic 81% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Around a Small Mountain 2009

Around a Small Mountain

     The French title of this film is 36 vues du Pic Saint Loup.  Kate toured with a small circus run by her father.  They had a parting of ways and she left.  Kate receives the news that her father has died, it’s been fifteen years since she left.  The remaining performers ask Kate to come back to help them run the show.  She keeps track of the box office revenue and the business.  Her car breaks down on the road and she meets Vittorio.  He comes to see the show and follows the company on their tour. 
     There were many times I wanted to turn this off.  There is a lot going on that is not spelled out.  A lot of unanswered whys that are only vaguely answered.  Vittorio is also a mystery, did he always want to run away with the circus and that is why he doesn’t leave?  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

84 min, Drama directed by Jacques Rivette with Jane Birkin, Sergio Castellitto, Andre Marcon, Jacques Bonnaffe, Julie-Marie Parmentier, Helene de Vallombreuse, Tintin Orsoni, Vimala Pons, Mikael Gaspar.

Note:  Imdb 6.1 out of 10, 74% critic 49% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.
Special Note:  The writer and director Jacques Rivette is 86 years old.  The Hermes bag the Birkin was named after Jane Birkin.  She is the mother of actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jimmy P. 2013

Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian

     This film is based on the true story of Jimmy Picard, a Blackfoot Native American and a disabled veteran of WWII.  His sister takes Jimmy to a military hospital because he is suffering from headaches, dizzy spells, sweating, dreams and hearing loss.  The doctors can’t seem to find anything wrong with him except his eyesight and hearing.  Georges Devereux is a French anthropologist and Native American researcher.  The doctors ask him to come and try to help this patient.  Jimmy is Georges only patient and he meets with him once a day.  He’s planning to work with Jimmy until he is well and it doesn’t matter how long it takes.  They delve deeply into both the childhood and adulthood of Jimmy to uncover the reasons for his physical problems.
     If you are looking for action, it is not in this film!!  Most of the movie is about Jimmy and Georges talking and trying to solve Jimmy’s problems with talk therapy.  Once you settle in your mind that it is all talk with a few drunken and diagnostic scenes added, you can just relax and go along with noticing the differences in the two men and the way they unravel Jimmy’s mind.  3* (This movie is OK)

117 min, Drama directed by Arnaud Desplechin with Benicio Del Toro, Mathieu Amalric, Gina McKee, Gary Farmer, Larry Pine, Lise Lacasse, Linda Boston, Joseph Cross, Barton Bund, Loren Bass, Elya Baskin.

Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 52% critic 47% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Woodcarver 2012

WWJD II: The Woodcarver

     Matthew Stevenson is 15 years old and the biggest event in his life right now is that his parents are getting a divorce.  Instead of dealing with this my talking out his feelings, he takes a baseball bat to the church windows and the wooden signs.  He also paints “liar” in red spray paint on one of the walls.  What he doesn’t know is a video camera required by the church insurance is capturing his work on film.  He is brought in to talk with the Pastor with his parents.  He is assigned the job of cleaning up what he has done and to work with Ernest.  He is the original woodcarver of the works Matthew has destroyed.
     Ernest knows Matthew needs someone to guide him and show him a new path.  Matthew’s parents are too close to the situation and too busy fighting with each other.  Ernest offers a safe haven for Matthew to learn new skills working with wood, his parents and life.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

96 min, Drama directed by Terry Ingram with John Ratzenberger, Dakota Kaulby, Woody Jeffreys, Nicle Oliver, Anthony Harrison, Stephen E. Miller. Tom McBeath, Merrily Gann.

Note:  Imdb 6.8/10, 83% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4 ½*.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Blood Ties 2013

Blood Ties

     This film takes place in Queens, New York during 1974 over the course of a year.  Frank is a good cop with things going for him in the department.  His brother Chris is the one complication is, he’s just been released on good behavior after several years in prison.  Chris is 50 years old and he starts off on the right foot working at a job and living with Frank.  He reconnects with his former wife and his two children.  Leon, the father of Frank, Chris and their sister Marie, raised them alone after their mother left.  The boys have always been different but blood ties keeps families together.  Chris gets tired of not having any money and he feels nothing is going right for him.  He begins to blend back into his former criminal life.
     I usually don’t like crime dramas because they seem to always follow the same set patter of intense violence with the same ending.  This film is better due to the storyline and acting of the major characters.  Chris really puts Frank against the wall.  A hardened criminal verses a cop brother.  I liked the cars and the clothing of the period.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

127 min, Crime directed by Guilaume Canet with Clive Owen, Marion Cotillard, Billy Crudup, Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, Matthias Schoenaerts, James Caan, Noah Emmerich, Lili Taylor, Domenick Lombardozzi.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 53% critic 40% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.
Special Note:  This film is an English-language remake of a 2008 French film titled Rivals (Les liens du sang).  The director of this film co-started in the French film.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Honourable Woman 2014

Honourable Woman

     Nessa and Ephra Stein inherited their father’s Israeli munitions business after he was murdered when they were children.  A generation later they have shifted their British-Israeli company from arms to communications with a charitable foundation.  The focus is improvement in the relations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  The Group is bringing fiber-optic cable and the internet to the West Bank.  Originally Ephra headed The Stein Group but Nessa found irregularities in the handling of money.  She does not want The Stein Group to be compromised in any way and she takes the role as head of the company from Ephra.  This change took place eight years earlier after Nessa returned from Gaza.  She had been kidnapped and held for over a year. 
     Truth and what you believe are the center points of this series.  Both the Israelis and Palestinians believe the Steins cannot remain independent and uncompromised despite their ideals and efforts. The British and the United States also are involved.  There is pain, violence, murder, deceit, guile, spying, espionage and not knowing who can be trusted with villains and victims on both sides.  The acting is good and Gyllenhaal does a very good job in her role.  4* (I really liked this series)

60 min each, 8 episodes TV mini-series with directed by Hugo Blick with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stephen Rea, Lubna Azabal, Katherine Parkinson, Andre Buchan, Janet McTeer, Eve Best, Igal Naor, Martin Hutson, Genevieve O’Reilly, Lindsay Duncan.

Note:  Imdb 8.3 out of 10, 100% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 141 reviews.
Special Note:  Episode titles, The Empty Chair, The Unfaithful Husband, The Killing Call, The Ribbon Cutter, Two Hearts, The Mother Line, The Hollow Wall, The Paring Knife.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Alan Partridge 2013

Alan Partridge

    Alan Partridge is a fictional character created by Steve Coogan and in this film his line of work is National television broadcaster.  Alan finds himself in the middle of a siege of the studio.  Irishman Pat Farrell is a fellow disc jockey, he has been fired from his job and he takes over the studio.  He has hostages and he doesn’t want to communicate with the police by radio.  He also has a shotgun and he’s very threatening.
     I think this is overlong and would be better if there was progression to another theme instead of the same situation for 90 minutes.  There are funny moments but I question the fact that a hostage siege is grim and to take it lightly seems ill advised? 2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)

90 min, Comedy directed by Declan Lowney with Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Tim Key, Karl Theobald, Nigel Lindsay, Felicity Montagu, Dustin Demri-Burns, Molly Seymour, Adam Langstaff, Aaron Heffernan.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 88% critic 74% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4* out of 5* with 53 reviews.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Wind Will Carry Us 1999

The Wind Will Carry Us

      A Jeep is making its way through the hills of Kurdistan and the countryside is very beautiful.  The three men in the Jeep are not sure if they are going the right way but they have directions they are following.  One of the men is an engineer and the other two men are his assistants.  They have come to the area to film the mourning rituals in this area.  They ask a woman beside the road to make sure they are going the right way and she explains to go a little further.  They encounter a young boy sent by his uncle to guide them to the village and show them where to stay.  He also directs them to the home of an old woman and she seems to be dying.  The villagers are very curious about the reason the men have come to their area.
     I could not seem to connect with this film because nothing is really going on?  The two assistants are never shown and some of the other people they meet are not shown?  Many questions but few answers?  Despite the good reviews, this seemed boring, very slow paced and I could not enjoy this except for the scenery.  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

118 min, Drama directed by Abbas Kiarostami with Behzad Dorani, Noghre Asadi, Roushan Karam Elmi.

Note:  Imdb 7.6 out of 10, 96% critic 85% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4* out of 5* with 38 reviews.
Special Note:  This film is an Iranian film and it won the Grand Special Jury Prize (Silver Lion), the FIRPRESCI Prize and the CinemAvvenire Award at the Venice Film Festival.  The title is a reference to a poem written by Iranian female poet Forough Farrokhzad.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Non-Stop 2014


     Bill Marks is a US federal air marshal but he is also a former policeman and he’s an alcoholic.  His eight-year-old daughter died of leukemia and drinking is how he deals with her death.  He is on a flight from New York to London and he receives a text on his secure phone.  Unless wire transfer is made to an offshore account paying 150 million dollars, a passenger will die every 20 minutes. Bill contacts his supervisor but he doesn’t believe the story and he tells Bill that the account to receive the money is in Bill’s name?  The supervisor believes that Bill is the terrorist and he advises him to stand down.  A news program feed into the plane gives Bill’s background and names him as the terrorist.  The passengers want to contain Bill to save their lives and the plane.
     This is non-stop and it’s the action.  One problem, a lot of the information is contained in the phone texts shown on the screen and they are difficult to read unless you are right in front of the screen.  This may have been OK in the theater but I watched the DVD.  I wonder if sealing the smoke detector in the lavatory with duct tape will allow you to smoke?  There is a warning on every plane at the beginning of the flight about a federal offence to disable the smoke alarm.  I assume you will be in the clear if you are a federal air marshal?  It’s difficult to figure out who you can trust in this film and could Bill really be going off the deep end?  Many of the actors are very underused in their roles.  3* (This movie is OK)

106 min, Action directed by Jaume Collet-Serra with Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Michelle Dockery, Nate Parker, Corey Stoll, Lupita Nyong’o, Omar Metwally, Jason Butler Harner.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 60% critic 65% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Endless Love 2014

Endless Love

     Jade Butterfield is graduating from high school but she hardly knows any of her classmates.  She has spent her four years mourning the loss of her brother to cancer and making sure she can get into pre-med for college.  She realizes on her graduation day that she doesn’t have any friends.  Her parents ask her what she wants for graduation and she asks for a party.  She meets David Elliot after the ceremony and she asks him to sign her yearbook.  Later she meets him again when she goes out to eat with her parents.  David and his friend Mace are valets at the restaurant.  On the evening of her party, only friends of her parents arrive.  David knows there is another party and he arranges for everyone to come to Jade’s party instead.  This is the start of their relationship.
     The is a girl meets boy, they fall in love, they have problems film but there are different twists.  Hugh Butterfield is not going to let anything stand in the way of his daughter’s future as a doctor.  He’s never gotten over the loss of his son and the fact that he couldn’t save him even though he is a doctor.  Everything and everyone is beautiful in this film except for the problems.  Isn’t beauty an absolute guarantee that all will end happily every after?  3* (This movie is OK)

104 min, Drama directed by Shana Feste with Gabriella Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richarson, Robert Patrick, Rhys Wakefield, Dayo Okeniyi, Emma Rigby, Anna Enger, Fabianne Therese.

Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 15% critic 60% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*.
Special Note:  This film is a remake of the 1981 Franco Zeffirelli film with Brooke Shields, Martin Hewitt, Shirley Knight and Don Murry.

Bethlehem 2013


     This film is about Israeli officers and Palestinian informants.  A group of Israeli Secret Service officers maintain contact with their informants on a very regular basis.  Whenever there is an incident in Israel such as a suicide bombing, they immediately contact their informants to try to get leads on who the bomber was and his connections.  Everyone on both sides is not sure of the other side, their loyalties, their truthfulness and the accuracy of their information.
     There is a lot going on in this film but the primary focus is on the relationship between Razi and Sanfur.  Razi considers Sanfur to be an asset but he spends more time with him than his own family.  Sanfur is in a difficult position, he’s a teenager but his brother is a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and he may also be working with Hamas.  I see that Sanfur is risking his life every day that he is involved with Razi but I could not get involved with this film.  There is too much going on at every minute and with the complicated languages and subtitles, I felt lost instead of drawn in.  I felt I was working too hard for little payback?  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

99 min, Drama directed by Yuval Adler with Tshai Halevi, Shadi Mar’I, Hitham Omari, Michal Shtamler, Tarik Kopty, George Iskandar.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 79% critic 74% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.
Special Note:  This is the first film from Israeli director Yuval Adler.  He was a member of the Israeli army intelligence services and he co-wrote the film with Muslim journalist Ali Waked.  Ali Waked specializes in reporting on Palestinians.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A French Gigolo 2008


     The French title for this film is Cliente and it is adapted from a novel written by the director Josiane Balasko with screenwriter Franck Lee Joseph.  Marco is in his 30’s, married to Fanny and they live with her mother and sister.  Marco works with Toutoune on painting and construction inside homes and apartments.  He doesn’t make enough money doing this job and they are having a period with less jobs.  Fanny has her own hair salon in partnership with her friend Rosalie but her business can’t pay the bills for the salon.  Marco uses the name Patrick and he sets up a website as a male escort.  He meets Judith, she is the host of a televised home shopping network and she is 51.  She partners in the business with her sister and they live together.  Fanny finds out what is going on with Marco and Judith but she turns her anger around when she sees they can’t pay the bills without Patrick’s money.
      There are a lot of complications in this film.  Judith doesn’t want a relationship and she doesn’t want to fall in love.  She makes good money from her job and she doesn’t mind spending it for a few hours of companionship.  Everything changes when Fanny becomes involved in Patrick’s business and she wants to set up rules for the relationship.  Another big change is Judith’s sister, Irene has fallen in love, she is leaving the business and moving to Arizona.  3* (This movie is OK)

104 min, Drama directed by Josiane Balasko with Nathalie Baye, Eric Caravaca, Isabelle Carre, Josiane Balasko Catherine Hiegel, Marilou Berry.

Note:  Imdb 5.9 out of 10, 41% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.3* out of 5* with 6 reviews.
Special Note:  Marilou Berry plays Fanny’s sister and she is the daughter of the director Josiane Balasko.