Friday, October 31, 2014

Finding Vivian Maier 2013

Finding Vivian Maier

      John Maloof is a real estate agent and in 2007 he made a trip to a local auction house to search for old pictures.  He planned to compile a book of the history of his Chicago neighborhood.  He bid and won a box full of old negatives.  He was impressed by the quality of the photography and he began to search for information about Vivian Maier.  He selected 100 images and put them online to get feedback and responses about the photography.  He located people who knew Vivian and they said they were going to clean out a storage unit filled with her belongings.  They invited him to come along and he could take anything he felt he was interested in from the massive quantity of memorabilia.  John is very surprised to learn Vivian was a nanny for several New York families and she always took her camera with her when she took the children on outings.  Many people who knew her are interviewed for this film.
     Vivian Maier was a very closed off person and she took over 150,000 photographs that were never shown to other people.  Supposedly she was French and spoke with a French accent but she was really born in New York.  She had worked other jobs but they were low paying and it was difficult for her to make ends meet.  She decided to be a nanny and that was also a low paying job but she would have a free roof over her head.  This is very interesting and also good.  Vivian has become one of the 20th century’s greatest street photographers because of the work of John Maloof to show the world her work.  3 ½* (I liked this movie) 

83 min, Doc directed by John Maloof, Charlie Siskel with Vivian Maier, John Maloof, Daniel Arnaud, Simon Amede, Maren Baylaender, Eula Biss, Roger Carlson, Phil Donahue, Karen Frank, Dayanara Garcia, Howard Greenberg.

Note:  Imdb 7.7 out of 10, 95% critic 89% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.
Special Note:  There is some controversy over the fact that Vivian Maier was such a private person and should her efforts be displayed now that she has passed away?  It seems so against what she would have wanted but the photography provides wonderful insight into this time period through the photography for the present and for future generations

Thursday, October 30, 2014

2 Autumns, 3 Winters 3013

2 Autumns, 3 Winters

     The title of this film in French is 2 automnes 3 hivers.  Arman is 33 years old, he knows he needs to start a physical exercise program and he starts off running in the park.  He literally bumps into Amelie on the jogging path.  He wants to see her again and he goes to the park every day for the next couple of weeks but she come back to the park.  After he’s decided he will never see her again, he’s out one evening and he hears a woman scream.  He decides he will investigate what is going on and he learns two muggers are holding Amelie.   The men have robbed the man she was walking with and let him go.  They have also robbed her but they have other plans for her.  Arman knows he must do something, one of the men has a knife and Arman receives a stab wound to his stomach.  Amelie visits him in the hospital and they become a couple.
     The director of this film has separated the story by using 40 vignette-like segments.  Each has a title and some are only one or two minutes in length.  There is also some strangeness with a character with apparent telepathic abilities that seems like moments of a very bad television program?  This ended as I expected but it’s so down for the last portion of the movie!!  I can’t imagine how it could be much more of a downer except if the ending was different!  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

91 min, Comedy directed by Sebastien Betbeder with Vincent Macaigne, Maud Wyler, Bastien Bouillon, Thomas Blanchard, Pauline Etienne.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 78% critic 47% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.
Special Note:  I don't know what the alternatives could be but I hate Arman's hair!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Winter's Tale 2014

Winter's Tale

     This film is adapted from a book by Mark Helprin published in 1983.  The setting of this film is a mythic New York City and it spans the 1890’s to 2014.  Peter Lake has been a thief working for Pearly Saomes.  Their relationship takes a dark turn and Pearly is out to kill Peter.  There is a fortress of a mansion on the Upper West Side of New York.  Peter goes there to steal something and instead he meets Beverly Penn.  It is love at first sight but Beverly has an illness and she has lived longer than her expected life span.
     In the beginning, this film is difficult to grasp?  Is it fantasy and what parts are real?  Who is someone’s miracle and who is not?  In order to make any sense of this film, you need to stop asking questions and just watch.  Maybe later, you can read the book and find out the real story?  3* (This movie is OK)  

118 min, Drama directed by Akiva Goldsman with Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, William Hurt, Maurice Jones, Jennifer Connelly, Eva Marie Saint.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 13% critic and 45% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Metascore 31/100 with 35 critics, 5.7 user score with 55 ratings.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Gal Sunday 2014

     A couple celebrating their first wedding anniversary holds a luncheon for their friends and a convicted murder temporarily released from prison.  Their plan is to find out who the real murderer is so they can obtain the release of their client.  There is a scuffle and a gun but they do find out the real killer and the husband suffers a wound on his arm.  Later, they become involved in another crime when her father and his mother are kidnapped from the car they were driving.  They have a limited amount of time to work together and uncover clues to save their parents.
     I could not relate or get into this movie.  Everything is so perfect and sugar coated but what did I expect?  This is a Hallmark Movie!!  It’s supposed to be about crime, how can it look right out of a magazine?  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

90 min, TV movie, Drama directed by Kristoffer Tabori with Rachel Blanchard, Erica Carroll, Elizabeth Higgins, Cameron Mathison, Aaron Pearl, Michael Karl Richards, Jack Wagner.

Note:  Imdb 5.0 out of 10, 2/5 with 5 audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.8* out of 5* with 6 ratings. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Awakenings 1990


     This film is based on a 1972 book by Oliver Sacks.  Sacks is a British-born New York neurologist and the film is based on his practice and his patients.  There is a new doctor in a Bronx hospital with catatonic patients.  Even though he is a doctor, he doesn’t do very well relating to people and he tries very hard with these patients.  He feels a bond with them because they have no relationships with people.  He begins to learn they can catch a ball if it’s thrown at them.  Certain music will reach them but it is different music for each patient.  They can walk if another person walks beside them.  He feels they take their cue from the ball, they feel the music and they take will from the person walking with them.  He begins experiments with L-dopa medication in 1969.  The patients come alive like they were before they were stricken with their illness.
     This is good and interesting, I’ve seen this before but I didn’t remember until I started watching.  It’s nice to see Robin Williams in such a good role for him.  It’s so sad he wasn’t able to overcome his problems too.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

121 min, Bio directed by Penny Marshall with Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Julie Kavner, Ruth Nelson, John Heard, Penelope Ann Miller, Alice Drummond, Judith Malina, Barton Heyman, George Martin.

Note:  Imdb 7.7 of 10, 88% critic 89% critic on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Lunchbox 2013

The Lunchbox

     This film is set in Mumbai, India.  There is a lunchbox delivery service called Dabbawalas.  Ila carefully prepares a traditional lunch of Indian food for her husband.  Usually, he doesn’t finish his meal and he doesn’t have anything to say about the food.  One day, her lunchbox is given to the wrong man by the delivery service.  Typically the delivery service is known for it's accuracy and mistakes are "never" made!  Saajan Fernandes receives the lunchbox and he is so amazed by the flavors of the food that he compliments the food at the delivery service office.  The next day he again receives the wrong lunchbox and he includes a note in the empty box.  Ila is hesitant to write back but she summons her courage and they begin writing to each other each day.  Ila is unsure about her marriage because her husband seems so distant.  Saajan is a lonely widower with 35 years of service to his company and he is retiring at the end of the month.
     This film ends differently than I expected.  This is India and not the United States which makes a big difference.  I thought this was good, interesting and there are many cultural differences.  It would be nice to be able to cook this kind of food but it’s not easy and requires many ingredients plus specialty items.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

104 min, Drama directed by Ritesh Batra with Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Lillete Dubey, Nakul Vaid, Bharati Achrekar.

Note:  Imdb 7.9 out of 10, 96% critic 87% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Metascore 76/100 with 29 critic reviews, user score 7.9/10 with 29 ratings, Tampa Bay Times 100/100, Chicago Sun-Times 88/100, St. Louis Post-Dispatch 75/100, Entertainment Weekly 75/100.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

1 2013


     This film chronicles the history of Formula 1 Gran Prix Racing.   In the late 1960’s, the sport became terrifyingly dangerous.  The engine size doubled, the fragile car bodies sprouted wings and they became extremely quick and hazardous.  The cars had surpassed the point for the drivers and the tracks to handle them safely.   A generation of young and talented drivers risked their lives during the deadliest period of the sport and many died.  Safety regulations were needed to save the drivers but it took time for that to be realized.  Television broadcasting and sponsorship made the big difference.  Viewers did not want to see drivers dying in their living rooms and the money influx gave a foundation for improvements.  Since 2012, there have not been any driver deaths because technical studies were conducted to provide safety.
     This is good but there is a lot of information in 112 minutes.  It may be better to see this in parts in order to absorb the most from the film.  I kept remembering the movie Rush with Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt and Daniel Bruhl as Niki Lauda.  James Hunt admitted after the tremendous rivalry between them in Formula One that he had taken mores risks than ever to win the championships.  Niki Lauda did not finish a very risky race because of the weather conditions and Hunt was able to win by one point.  Lauda had been badly injured in a previous race and he didn’t want to take this kind of chance again.  The driver’s were under tremendous pressure to race no matter the risks.  There were other driver’s waiting in the wings to take their place.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

112 min, Doc directed by Paul Crowder with Michael Fassbender as narrator, Niki Lauda, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Mario Andretti, Jackie Stewar, Jenson Button, Ernie Ecclestone, Sebastain Vettel.

Note:  Imdb 8.0 out of 10, 84% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 252 reviews.
Special Note:  I had a difficult time finding the information about this film because of the title 1.  I used the name of the director, Paul Crowder, to do my searches.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Out of the Clear Blue Sky 2012

Out of the Clear Blue Sky

     Cantor Fitzgerald was a company with offices on the top 5 floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  There was a breathtaking view of New York City from this height.  The weather happened below the top floors because they were above the clouds.  They could see storms forming and let their families know it would be raining in about 5 minutes.  This company lost more people than any other business and more than the loss of firefighters.  There were 960 employees and 658 did not survive the attacks by the planes.  The CEO survived because he was taking his son for his first day of school and was late going to work.  It was unbelievable to everyone working in the company that so many friends and coworkers would die in one day.  There were lists of survivors and reports of those hospitalized but they were not accurate.  The CEO Howard Lutnick promised to provide for the families but the paychecks were stopped within a week.  There was a fund set up for donations and the company contributed 25% of the earnings.  
     I thought the beginning scenes were interesting descriptions of working at the top of these towers.  I have not watched very many of the films about 9/11 because of the tremendous loss of that day.  It just seemed too sad of a subject but this film is slightly different since it has a focus on one business.  It is still sad but time has taken some of the harsh edge off the facts.  Later, when I was thinking about the information from this film, it seemed like I had read a newspaper article that day.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
107 min, Doc directed by Danielle Gardner with Michael Santosusso, Sandra Palmeri, Howard and Edie Lutnik, Jean Colaio, Carolee Grazioso, Dave Kravette, Joe Asher. 

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 90% critic 86% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Metascore 92/100 with 4 reviews, The New York Times 100, Variety 90/100, Slant Magazine 88/100, The Hollywood Reporter 70/100.
Special Note:  The director is a September 11 family member.  There were over 6000 family members and friends left to mourn those lost.  The CEO took a lot of public criticism when the paychecks were stopped.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 2013

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - Extended Preview

     Walter Mitty has been working for 16 years at Life Magazine.  He is the manager of negative assets, this means he handles the negatives of photos.  He sees pictures of others having adventures but he’s never really done anything in his own life.  He has a crush on a newly hired woman, Cheryl Melhoff but he’s too shy to ask her for a date.  Instead of having adventures, he daydreams about adventures while he’s going about his daily dull life.  Unfortunately for everyone working at Life, the magazine is going to publish its last issue.  Walter receives a set of pictures from an independent photographer and the one negative meant to be the last cover picture is missing.
     The mind adventures of Walter are funny but when he starts having a real adventure, you aren’t sure if he’s still daydreaming or everything has changed for him?  Everything he does on his adventures is very much out of character considering the past 16 years of his life.  For once, Ben Stiller has made a movie that is better than his usual efforts.  This is interesting and enjoyable.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

114 min, Adventure directed by Ben Stiller with Kristen Wiig, Jon Daly, Ben Stiller, Kathryn Hahn, Terence Bernie Hines, Adam Scott, Paul Fitzgerald, Grace Rex, Alex Anfanger, Amanda Naughton, Adrian Martinez.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 50% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*.
Special Note:  Life magazine stopped publication as a separate magazine in 2000 but was recreated as a newspaper supplement.  The reviewer on Roger Ebert’s web site hated, hated, hated this movie.  This film and also the 1947 film with the same title are based on a 1939 short story by James Thurber even though they are completely different.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Citizen 2012

The Citizen

     This film is inspired by true events.  Ibrahim Jarrah is from the Middle East and he won a Green Card Lottery that enabled him to come to America.  There was one problem, he arrived in New York one day before the events of 9/11.  He struggles to get on his feet in his new country and he faces a lot of persecution because of his nationality.  He was held for six months in detainment because of allegations against his cousin.  His cousin is his only relative in the United States.  Unfortunately, his cousin let a man he didn't know stay in his apartment on the eve of 9/11.  The stranger  was involved with one of the flights into the World Trade Center.
This film is interesting and inspiring but it seems like a shove-down-your throat process which seems long and drawn out.  In a film with this type of background, the director can let the events play out as they happened without making the process so tedious to the viewer.  You want to root for Ibrahim and his desire to be an American.  3* (This movie is OK)    
99 min, Drama directed by Sam Kadi with Khaled Nabawy, Agnes Bruckner, Rizwan Manji, William Atherton, Cary Elwes.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 60% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic 38/100, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 17 reviews.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Women in Love 2011

Women in Love

      This film is an adaptation of two novels written by D.H. Lawrence, The Rainbow and Women in Love.  In the first half, Ursula Brangwen is a schoolteacher and she lives with her parents in Nottingham.  She was engaged to be married and expecting a baby but she lost the child.  She was out in a field and horses stampeded which caused her to fall.  She’s sad that she won’t be having the baby but she doesn’t want to marry her fiancĂ©.  Gudrun Brangwen is an artist and she lives in London.  She takes a trip to the coast with a married teacher.  The second half is after World War I.  Rupert pines for Ursula but Hermione keeps getting in the way.  Industrialist Gerald Crich sets his sights on Gudrun.
     Sometimes when people want to live by their own rules, the other person has "different" rules!!  The name Gudrun is taken from a heroine in Norse mythology.  Another film was made based on the book Women in Love by Ken Russell in 1969.  I thought this was interesting and good.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

181 min, BBC TV Drama directed by Miranda Bowen with Rory Kinnear, Rachael Stirling, Joseph Mawie, Olivia Grant, Rosamund Pike, Patrick Lyster, James Alexander, Grant Swanby.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, Amazon 3* out of 5* with 27 reviews.

Monday, October 20, 2014

McCanick 2013


     When narcotics detective Eugene “Mack” McCanick finds out Simon Weeks has been released from prison, he goes on a manhunt in Philadelphia.  His boss, the Chief of Police, has told McCanick to let this go and leave Simon Weeks alone.  McCanick goes throughout the city looking for answers about how to find Weeks.  He has a new partner and they get into a situation in a stairwell that causes McCanick to accidently shoot his partner.  Instead of stopping, he continues to hunt for Weeks
      This film takes place over a single day even though it seems like a week?  Before watching this film, I wish I had looked at the reviews.  It’s cop gone mad on a violent and vengeful spree.  Some of it is not even understandable and it’s a complete waste of time with no reward.  Unfortunately it’s the last film for Cory Monteith.  1 ½* (I really didn’t like this movie and very close to hated it)

96 min, Crime directed by Josh C. Waller with David Morse, Mike Vogel, Cory Monteith, Rachel Nichols, Ciaran Hinds, Tracie Thoms, Trevor Morgan.

Note:  Imdb 4.9 out of 10, 13% critic 15% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1*.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Railway Man 2013

The Railway Man

      This film is based on a bestselling autobiography recounting the epic true story of a British Army Officer.  During WW2, many Allied prisoners of war worked on the construction of the Burma-Siam “Death Railway.”  The Japanese soldiers at the camp treated the prisoners horribly.  They felt the Allied soldiers were cowards because they had surrendered instead of dying.  The work itself was very difficult and the constant heat didn’t help.  Eric Lomax was subjected to extreme harshness after he put together a radio and the prisoners were able to hear how the war was going.  The Japanese also could not understand why he had drawn a map.  His answer that he had always been interested in trains did not seem to be the true answer to their questions.  Years later in 1980, Eric is older now and living in Northern England but he has not recovered from or forgotten what happened in the war.  On a train, he meets Patti, she is a former nurse, they fall in love and they marry.  Eric doesn’t want to talk about anything that happened to him during the war and she see how much pain is still in his life.  Patti wants to help him come to terms with his past in order to for them move forward in their marriage.
     I didn’t know what this film was about and I didn’t see a trailer before viewing.  I also didn’t know until later that this is a true story.  Many of the war scenes are difficult to see and also the suffering of Eric and Patti.  It seems incomprehensible that everything is true?  You want to say, “How can this be!”  You want to say that over and over!  Firth and Kidman do a good job in their roles too.  4* (I really liked this movie)

116 min, Bio directed by Johathan Teplitzky with Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgard, Jeremy Irvine, Michael MacKenzie, Jeffrey Dauton, Tanroh Ishida, Tom Stokes, Bryan Probets, Tom Hobbs, Sam Reid, Akos Armont.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 66% critic 70% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.

The Railway Man

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lovely, Still 2008

Lovely, Still

     Robert is an elderly grocery store bagger who lives alone in a big house.  Mary and her daughter Alex move into a house across the street.  Robert and Mary meet and they start to see each other.   It’s the Christmas season, the lights and festivities help their romance along.  Robert doesn’t know how he ever lived without Mary.  Mike, Robert’s boss goes with Robert to find the perfect Christmas gift for Mary.
     I didn’t see this ending coming because of certain items in the plot that don’t add up to this ending?  Their romance is lovely and you hope they can continue with Robert proposing marriage and Mary accepting.  The dream scenes are unnecessary and confusing?   3* (This movie is OK)

92 min, Drama directed by Nicholas Fackler with Martin Landau, Ellen Burstyn, Elizabeth Banks, Adam Scott.

Note:  I was able to find a multitude of reviews on Fandango.  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 71% critic 75% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, New York Observer 75/100, Arizona Republic 70/100, New York Magazine 70/100, Village Voice 70/100, Los Angeles Times 70/100, New York Times 70/100, New York Post 63/100, Boxoffice Magazine 60/100, The Hollywood Reporter 30/100, New York Daily News 20/100.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mildred Pierce 1945

     Bert and Mildred Pierce separate after an argument over Bert’s friend Maggie Binderhof.  Their daughters Veda and Kay are upset when they see their father drive away with his suitcase.  Mildred has a lot of bills to pay and no money.  She has not choice but to get a job as a waitress.  She knows her spoiled older daughter Veda will be upset over this but they need income.  Mildred works with Bert’s former real estate partner Wally Fay to purchase a property for her first restaurant.  Mildred becomes successful but her younger daughter Kay dies of pneumonia and there is ill will between Veda and Mildred.  The only way to win Veda back is to provide the luxurious life Veda craves. 
Mildred Pierce     I wanted to see this older version to compare this film with the later TV mini-series version I recently watched filmed in 2011.  There are many similarities between the two films.  This version is in black and white with the ending shown in the beginning.  The ending is different from the recent film and Mrs. Binderhof is shown as a real person but is just a name and voice in the new film.  Kay dies from a different illness because pneumonia is more treatable with modern medications.  Veda is just a MEAN in both films.  She needs several good spankings and a lot less luxury than she receives.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

111 min, Crime directed by Michael Curtiz with Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden, Ann Blyth, Bruce Bennett, Lee Patrick, Moroni Olsen.

Note:  Imdb 8.0 out of 10, 82% critic 90% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, 4.8* out of 5* on Amazon with 257 reviews.
Special Note:  The reviews for the 2011 version were Imdb 7.7 out of 10, 50% critic 78% audience, Amazon 4* out of 5* with 936 reviews.