Sunday, May 31, 2015

Life Itself 2014

Life Itself

     This film was inspired by Roger Ebert’s memoir with the same title.  When Roger Ebert started his career as a film reviewer, he was the youngest critic in the United States.  He had a knack for typing out a review in 30 minutes.  He spent a lot of time at a neighborhood bar until he realized if he kept drinking like this, he was going to die.  He poured a glass of whiskey, sat the glass on the table, went to bed and pulled the covers over his head.  He started going to AA Meetings and turned himself around.  He met his wife Chaz at a meeting and they married in 1992.  He won a Pulitzer Prize for his film criticism and he had a nearly quarter-century television show with his partner Gene Siskel.  When he was a child, he received radiation treatments and later he battled cancer in his jawbone.  He had a lot of will power, positive thinking and he tried to turn physical misfortune around.
     There is a lot of information here about the life and career of Roger.  He had a real struggle after his surgery to remove his lower jaw.  You could tell some of the procedures were very painful.  He couldn’t talk anymore but he communicated with his computer.  Some of the scenes are repetitive and tighter editing is needed.  3* (This movie is OK)

120 min, Doc directed by Steve James with Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog Ava DuVernay, Roger Ebert, Errol Morris, Ramin Bahrani, Chaz Ebert, Steve James, Stephen Stanton, Gene Siskel, Gregory Nava.

Note:  Imdb 7.9 out of 10, 97% critic 89% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert (Matt Zoller Seitz) 3 ½*.
Special Note:  Steve James directed Hoop Dreams and he partnered with Martin Scorsese and Steven Zaillian as executive producers on this film.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior 1981

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

     The Earth has gone to war and created a post-apocalyptic universe of dust.  The remaining humans are left to fight for scraps to maintain their existence.  A group of survivors live in a gasoline refinery in the Australian outback.  They fight for their lives and protect their gasoline supplies from barbarian warriors.  Oil has become a commodity more precious than gold.  The leftover vehicles of the previous Earth are used for transportation.  Motorcycles, trucks, tankers and customized racing cars from 1982.  Max is now a nomad wandering the outback after the death of this wife and child.  When he meets the refinery group, his original plan is to take their oil but he decides to join them in their fight with the marauders.  He volunteers to drive an oil tanker-truck in a drive to the coast even though he knows he will be followed and  attacked by many men. 
     I wanted to see the other films that came before the recent new release Mad Max: Fury Road.  Mad Max was released in 1979, Mad Max 2 in 1981, Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome in 1985, Mad Max: Renegade in 2011.  One thing all the films have in common is action with limited character development, dialogue and plot.  Special effects and stunts are the backbone.  There is a high body count and many of the vehicles are demolished during the chases.  There are a lot of plot similarities between this film and the new release.  3* (This movie is OK)

94 min Action directed by George Miller with Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston, Max Phipps, Vernon Wells, Kjell Nilsson, Emil Minty, Virginia Hey, William Zappa, Arkie Whiteley, Steve J. Spears, Syd Heylen.

Note:  Imdb 7.6 out of 10, 98% critic 85% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.
Special Note:  Since the first release proved to be a hit with audiences, there had to be sequels.  I did not pay close attention to the beginning scenes in this film, there is a lot of violence and brutality that does ease up to more tolerable levels.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Holy Rollers 2010

Holy Rollers

     This film was inspired by true events that happened in the late 1990’s.  A group of Hasidic Jews from an Orthodox Brooklyn community was recruited as mules to smuggle in ecstasy from Europe into the United States.  If you were good in this career, you went up in levels and then recruited others as mules.  The mules were told they were transporting medicine for an Israeli dealer and his girlfriend.  Sam Gold is in his 20’s, he rose up in the ranks of this group to become a bookkeeper and recruiter of other mules.  He found the different worlds of Manhattan and Amsterdam exciting and he liked the money.  His father is not happy with his life choices and Sam begins to struggle with his double life. 
     The Hasidic Jews set themselves apart by their traditional religious costume of dressing in black, wearing distinctive hats and they have the side curls or ringlets called peyot.  Usually these mules were not stopped for custom searches because they seemed ‘outside’ of this kind of behavior.  Things started to change when dogs were brought in to check suitcases.  Sam tries to maintain his real self by watching, keeping on his toes, using his skills and converse but keep separate.  I thought this film was interesting with the insights both in Jewish culture and the ecstasy world.  3 ½* (I liked this movie) 

89 min, Bio directed by Kevin Asch with Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha, Ari Graynor, Danny A. Abeckaser, Mark Ivanir, Elizabeth Marvel, Jason Fuchs, Q-Tip, Hallie Kate Eisenberg, Bern Cohen, Stella Keitel, David Vadim.

Note:  Imdb 5.9 out of 10, 51% critic 33% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 4* out of 5* with 28 reviews.
Special Note:  Piper Kerman, the author of Orange is the New Black was sent to fifteen months in federal prison for delivering a suitcase of drug money ten years prior to her conviction.  Piper also thought she could remain separate and escape penalty?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

I Origins 2014

I, Origins

     Ian Gray is a graduate student in molecular biology and he’s interested in human eyes.  He is working with a research assistant Karen Kenny.  They are trying to disprove creationists claiming eyes have evolved.  They are trying to change the genes in study animals without eyes to give them eyes.  Ian meets Sofi at a party and he feels an intense connection to her.  He takes a picture of her eyes and this is something he does with a lot of people.  We all have eye biometrics specific to each individual.  Karen calls Ian to tell him she has had a major breakthrough at the lab.  Ian and Sofi go immediately to see what has happened but Sofi doesn’t understand what they are doing with the animals.
     The beginning seems a bit boring and I thought I might not be able to get through this but it picks up later.  The scenes using the computer databank of registered eye biometrics is interesting and also the conclusion of the film.  3* (This movie is OK)

106 min, Drama directed by Mike Cahill with Michael Pitt, Steven Yeun, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Brit Marling, Cara Seymour.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 52% critic 67% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.
Special Note:  Mike Cahill also directed Another Earth also staring Brit Marling.  A retinal scan uses the unique patterns on retina blood vessels for security recognition.  There is also ocular-based technology that uses iris recognition in an iris scanner.  

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Judge 2014

The Judge

     Hank Palmer is a defense attorney in Chicago, he has a wife and young daughter but he’s getting a divorce.  He’s in the middle of a court defense when he receives a call with the news his mother has passed away.  Hank meets up with his father, older and younger brothers at the family home in rural Indiana.  Glen is the older brother and he had a chance as a baseball prodigy but that was derailed by a car accident with Hank driving.  The younger brother is Dale and he is mentally challenged.  Joseph is the father of this clan and he has been a Judge for a long time.  He’s having health problems, suffering the loss of is wife and he is involved in an accident with his car and a man on a bicycle.  Hank is forced to remain with the family to defend Joseph.
     I think this is too long and the editing needed to be sharper.  The beginning sections seem to be boring and need to be shortened to lead up to the real part of the story.  Also, how many times do we need to see the surveillance camera video to ‘get’ it and how many times does the local attorney need to heave on the courthouse lawn?  Does Downey always need to portray hyper-verbal glibness, he sounds like Iron Man or Sherlock Holmes in a courtroom?  3* (This movie is OK)

141 min, Drama directed by David Dobkin with Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard, Leighton Meester, Ken Howard, Emma Tremblay, Balthazar Getty, David Krumholtz, Grace Zabriskie, Denis O’Hare.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 47% critic 73% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Harvey Girls 1946

     Susan Bradley is traveling west from Ohio to Sandrock, Arizona by train to become a mail order bride.  She has exchanged letters with her future husband but they’ve never met.  She meets a group of other young women traveling to the same town and they are opening a Harvey House.  This is a restaurant at a remote whistle stop for the train.  They feature good cooking and pleasant company for railway travelers.  What they don’t know is they will have competition from a saloon right across the street.  Susan meets her husband-to-be Chris Maule and he’s nothing like she pictured or expected.  It turns out he's the town drunk and he didn’t right the letters either.  He had his friend Ned Trent write the letters for him and he also runs the saloon.  Susan decides she will join the Harvey Girls at their restaurant as a waitress instead of getting married.
     I liked the story featured in this film but I’m not much of a fan of musicals.  I also liked the clothing and the manners of the period.  This is not a group of shy retiring women either.  The Harvey Girls get in a hitting fight with the women from the saloon.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

102 min, Musical directed by George Sidney with Judy Garland, John Hodiak, Ray Bolger, Angela Lansbury, Preston Foster, Virginia O’Brien, Kenny Baker, Marjorie Main, Chill Wills, Selena Royle, Cyd Charisse.
Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 100% critic 83% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 135 reviews.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed at Iverson Ranch, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California.  The women traveled on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.  The song about the railway won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, it was written by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Cake 2014


     Claire Simmons lives alone in a very nice home in Los Angeles and she has daily help from her housekeeper Silvana.  She attends pool therapy and a chronic pain support group.  Nina, one of the women in the group commits suicide and Claire is fascinated by every detail of the event.  She also starts up a friendship with Nina’s husband and son.  Claire takes a lot of painkillers with alcohol and she is constantly seeing visions of Nina.  She is also cranky, rude, demanding, hard to get along with, bitter, lying and stealing. 
     This film features one of the best performances by Jennifer Aniston of her career.  She sets aside the perfect hair and completion for plain brown, limp, greasy and scars on her face and legs.  The one thing I don’t like about this film but it’s common to a lot of movies is the way details of what happened to Claire are very gradually revealed and not completely.  How are we supposed to have sympathy for Claire when we don’t know anything about what is causing all her problems?  3* (This movie is OK)

102 min, Drama directed by Daniel Barnz with Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Mamie Gummer, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Chris Messina, Lucy Punch, Britt Robertson.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 49% critic 49% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.
Special Note:  I wonder why Felicity Huffman has taken two roles recently which make her look more frumpy than almost could be possible?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Taken 3 2014

Taken 3

     Bryan Mills was formerly a covert operative with special skills.  His ex-wife has remarried and he offers her the key to his apartment in case she needs a place to get away.  He plans on being gone for about a month.  He goes back to his apartment and finds Lenore has been killed.  Immediately the police arrive and they believe Bryan is responsible for the murder.  He goes on the run and is relentlessly pursued by the CIA, FBI and the police.  He has two missions, find the killer and keep his daughter safe.
     This film is non-stop action.  Plenty of car chases, escapes, fighting and shooting.  The reviews are low but you can’t expect action to have a plot or slower scenes so you can take in and analyze what is going on?  I wondered what the beating and body counts were at the end of this movie?  What is the number of wrecked cars?  Some scenes seem impossible and they probably are but this is action, it doesn’t have to make sense?!  3* (This movie is OK)

109 min, Action directed by Olivier Megaton with Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Dougray Scott, Sam Spruell, Don Harvey, Dylan Bruno, Leland Orser, David Warshofsky, Jon Gries.

Note:  Imdb 6.1 out of 10, 9% critic 47% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 1470 reviews.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Tiger's Tail 2006

The Tiger's Tail

     Liam O’Leary receives an award for his work as an Irish property developer. He came from humble beginnings but he has become successful.  Right after the ceremony, Liam believes he sees a man who looks just like him.  He tries to follow the man but ends up getting hit in the back of the head with a bottle by this man.  Liam is trying to build a national stadium to bring soccer to Ireland but this deal may fall apart and cost him a lot of money instead.  He is stressed, over-extended and his wife thinks this look-alike man is a hallucination since others have not seen him.
     There are some tense moments where you don’t know what is going to happen.  There are also some moments that stretch credibility?  If you think you are having a bad day, Liam is having a double bad day!!  3* (This movie is OK)

107 min, Crime directed by John Boorman with Brendan Gleeson, Kim Cattrall, Ciaran Hinds, Sinead Cusack, Sean McGinley, Cathy Belton, Brian Gleeson, Angeline Ball.

Note:  Imdb 5.9 out of 10, 14% critic 30% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 7 reviews.
Special Note:  This film is listed as a comedy but I didn’t se anything funny?  Also, the movie seems to set aside the fact that DNA testing, handwriting analysis and fingerprints ‘should’ be able to identify one person from another no matter what their claims?  Also, there is a 2014 movie with the same title about a young boy who finds a tiger cub in his backpack?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Gaslight 1944

Gaslight (1944)

     Alice Alquist was a famous opera singer and she was strangled in her home because she had hidden away valuable jewels.  Paula Alquist, her orphaned niece was living in the flat at the time but she was sent away to school.  After this experience, she has always been afraid because of what happened and the case was never solved.  It’s been ten years and Paula has met and married Gregory Anton.  He would like for them to reside at the London flat.  Paula feels safe and not afraid with Gregory so she thinks she can go back to this place.  Many things begin to change after they begin their residence in London.
     This is interesting and intriguing.  There is some information we don’t know in the beginning.  Features very good acting by Boyer and Bergman in their lead roles. Cotten has a smaller but important role as a Scotland Yard inspector and former fan of Alice Alquist.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

114 min, Crime directed by George Cukor with Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, Dame May Whitty, Angela Lansbury, Barbara Everest, Emil Rameau, Edmund Breon, Halliwell Hobbes, Tom Stevenson.

Note:  Imdb 7.9 out of 10, 83% critic 91% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 312 reviews.
Special Note:  Gaslight was nominated for seven Academy Awards with two wins.  Best Actress for Ingrid Bergman and Best Black and White Art Direction for the recreated Victorian style town house.  There was a British release prior to this film in 1940.  Both films were adapted from a long-running 1938 London stage play melodrama by Patrick Hamilton.  The 1940 version was suppressed by MGM for DVD release to create the legend that the 1944 version was superior.  Angela Lansbury is 18 years old, this is her film debut and she was nominated for best supporting actress.

Jimi: All is by my Side 2013

Jimi: All Is By My Side

     This film covers a year in the life of Jimi Hendrix from 1966-67.  He was an unknown backup guitarist playing in New York’s Cheetah Club.  Linda Keith discovers him, she is the girlfriend of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.  She invites anyone she can to come to see Jimi perform.  She bought him a Stratocaster guitar since he didn’t have a guitar of his own.  She links him up with former bassist Chas Chandler, a manager who brings him to London.  Jimi begins playing with Eric Clapton and they open a show at the London Saville Theater by starting with the just-released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Paul and George of the Beatles are sitting in the audience.
     I’m not sure if the events in London are accurately portrayed in this film?  Kathy Etchingham, Jimi’s girlfriend in London during this period, has a posted review on Amazon for this film.  She denies that Jimi beat her with a telephone because of enraged jealousy?  She provides further information on scenes that she claims are also not accurate.  In light of this information, it seems this film should be considered a fictionalized portrayal?  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

118 min, Bio directed by John Ridley with Hayley Atwell, Imogen Poots, Ruth Negga, Burn Gorman, Robbie Jarvis, Andre Benjamin, Ashley Charles, Amy De Bhrun, Claire-Hope Ashitey, Andrew Buckley, Laurence Kinlan.

Note:  Imdb 5.5 out of 10, 66% critic 43% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Rolling Stone Magazine 3* out of 4*, Amazon 2.7* out of 5* with 88 reviews.
Special Note:  In order to keep this project going as director John Ridley wanted, he had to forgo rights to many of the classic songs performed by Jimi.  If you accept the terms of the James Brown estate in order to get the rights, you make their and not your movie.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Men, Women & Children 2014

Men, Women & Children

     This film is based on a novel by Chad Kulgen.  It is the story of a group of high school teenagers and their parents in a small Texas town.  The internet has changed schoolwork, relationships, communication and the involvement of parents.  Some parents are strict about internet rules and others don’t think about it.  There are many issues featured such as gaming, dieting, cheating, fame seeking and the dark side of the net.  Parents and teens still have choices, black, and white plus gray.
     There are too many instances of the internet shown on the screen with the character.  The lettering is small and not easy to read.  Is this a movie or an internet session?  I was more than slightly leery of this film as soon as I saw Adam Sandler as one of the characters.  Is there any movie that he can’t pull down to the bottom numbers in ratings?  I just did not find this interesting or enjoyable plus I felt a cringe every time I saw Adam Sandler!!  2* (I didn’t like this movie)
119 min, Comedy directed by Jason Reitman with Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Rosemarie DeWitt, Judy Greer, Dean Norris, Emma Thompson, Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Crocicchia, Kaitlyn Dever, Ansel Elgort, Katherine C. Hughes, Elena Kampouris, Will Peltz, Travis Tope.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 31% critic 46% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1*.
Special Note:  One of the mothers runs a web site with pictures of her daughter.  She is hoping to live vicariously and snag a Hollywood career for her daughter.  Jason Reitman also directed Juno and Up in the Air, I thought those movies were good.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cafe de Flore 2011

Cafe de flore

     This Canadian film is about two love stories, they are separated by time and city both of women love too deeply.  One story is about a mother and son and the other a divorced wife, her former husband, their two daughters and his new love.  Jacqueline is a young mother with a son who has Down syndrome in 1960’s Paris.  Antoine is a divorced DJ in present day Montreal.  Right after Laurent is born, his father leaves the family.  Jacqueline is determined to raise Laurent as normally as she can.  At the age of seven, Laurent meets a girl in his classroom also with Down syndrome.  The two don’t want to be separated, they want to be together all the time.  Carole has loved only Antoine and she thought they were soul mates that would always be together.  Antoine fell in love at first sight with Rose.  How could Carole’s forever soul mate find another soul mate and so quickly too? 
     I struggled with this movie, there were several times when I wanted to stop watching.  I think this would be a better movie if the two stores were told separately instead of a back and forth style?  There also seems to be too many people involved and the stories can get mixed up?  It took me a while to realize the conclusion Jacqueline and Antoine are revealing.   2 ½* (This movie is so-so) 

120 min, Drama directed by Jean-Marc Vallee with Vanessa Paradis, Kevin Parent, Helene Florent, Evelyne Brochu, Marin Gaerrier, Alice Dubois, Evelyne de la Cheneliere, Michel Dumont, Linda Sminth, Joanny Corbeil-Picher.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 63% critic 75% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.7* out of 5* with 9 reviews.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road 2015

     This film is set in a stark desert area and is a post-apocalyptic story.  For humanity, living is a constant struggle for basic necessities.  Max has lost his wife and child and he is tormented by not being able to save them.  Imperator Furiosa believes she will have a better life if she returns across the desert to her childhood homeland. 
     There is a lot of constant action, strange characters and a more strange landscape.  Power, oil and water are the valuable currency for this age.  There isn’t much dialogue but most of the film is speeding, chasing, crashing, exploding, fighting and flying bodies.  Some of the fighters believe they will journey to an immortal life in Valhalla after dying here.  Over 80% of the visual effects are real effects, stunts, make-up and sets.  Computer images were used mainly to enhance the landscape, remove rigging and to change Furiosa’s arm.  I was really GLAD to get back to a regular Earth after viewing this film!!  4* (I really liked this movie)

120 Min, Action directed by George Miller with Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Josh Helman, Nathan Jones, Zoe Kravitz, Rose Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, John Howard, Richard Carter, Iota, Angus Sampson.

Note:  Imdb 8.8 out of 10, 98% critic 92% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*.
Special Note:  This is the fourth film in the Mad Max series and it has been three decades since the last film was released.  The villain Toecutter in the original Mad Max is also the villain Immortan Joe in this film.  

The Good Lie 2014

The Good Lie

     During the Second Sudanese Civil War, four Sudanese children are orphaned after soldiers kill people and their family members in their village.  Their only choice to reach safety is to make a long, dangerous and difficult trip through the plains.  They set out alone but meet up with a column of other refugees.  They believe there will be safety being with a larger group but the soldiers begin attacking again.  The children manage to make a rope link-up across a river and use it to reach safety on the other side.  They spend fifteen years in a refugee camp in Ethiopia.  A program comes to the camp and they are part of 3600 selected for new homes in America.  Unfortunately, the one girl is sent to Boston and the three boys are sent to Kansas City.  They had hoped to all be sent to the same community.
     Even though they are now young adults and they speak English, the assimilation into an entirely new culture and environment is difficult.  They find jobs but they don’t understand about American workplaces and the rules they need to follow to succeed.  They need to earn money for their living expenses and also to pay back the money for their trip to America.  I thought this was good and interesting plus it shows the extreme cost of civil war.  These wars seem to continue on and on with great loss to the population and the economy of each country.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

110 min, Drama directed by Philippe Falardeau with Reese Witherspoon, Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal, Corey Stoll, Kuoth Wiel, Femi Oguns, Sarah Baker, Lindsey Garrett, Perdeng Mongok, Okwar Jale, Thon Kueth, Deng Ajuet, Keji Jale, David Madingi, Nyakuoth Weil.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 88% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.
Special Note:  The Civil War began in 1983, lasted two decades and the children were called “The Lost Boys.”  The film, Lost Boys of Sudan was released in 2003.  Actors in this film, Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jai and Nyakuoth Weil, are Sudanese actors.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Lilting 2014


     Junn is a Cambodian Chinese mother living in a retirement home in London.  She was moved here because she was becoming more and more forgetful.  The home has period pieces to encourage the elderly people to feel younger.  Junn immigrated to Britain decades ago but she didn't assimilate into the town and was dependant on her son for many of her needs.  Her only visitor was her son Kai but he died.  Alan is her friend at the home but they don’t speak each other’s language and there is no verbal communication.  Kai’s friend Richard comes to visit Junn. He arranges for a translator to come to the home to help Junn and Alan talk to each other.  Richard has been thinking about asking Junn to live with him in the apartment he shared with Kai.  He doesn’t know if this would work out?  All he knows is that they are both suffering the death of Kai.
     The home seems like a nice place but Junn seems unwilling to give it a chance.  It is difficult for an aging society to leave their own homes for another home.  There are opportunities but she would rather not become involved.  Richard has only honorable and caring intentions but Junn is not sure about him and his reasons for seeing her?  I thought this was very interesting, enjoyable but with an undercurrent of sadness.  There are still some funny moments.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)
91 min, Drama directed by Hong Khaou with Ben Whishaw, Pei-pei Cheng, Andrew Leung, Morven Christie, Naomi Christie, Peter Bowles.
Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 81% critic 80% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Before I Go to Sleep 2014

Before I Go to Sleep

     This film is based on a novel by S. J. Watson published in 2012.  Every morning Christine Lucas wakes up beside a man she doesn’t know.  Every night when she goes to bed, the memories she makes that day will be gone when she wakes up in the morning.  She believes she is still twenty-five but she is now forty-years-old.  She suffered brain damage ten years ago and she is an amnesiac (psychogenic amnesia).  She doesn't remember anything from the day before but occasionally remembers an event from the past 14 years.  Dr. Nasch, a new doctor and a neuropsycologist at a local hospital, has started treating her.  He gives her a camera with the largest memory card he could find.  He asks her to talk into the camera and film herself.  In the morning, he will call her and remind her about the camera so she can start her day with her own memories.  Before the camera, her husband supplied her memories every day.  The doctor is hoping she may be able to retain more memories if they are her own.
     There are surprises and twists in this film.  Usually Mark Strong is the bad guy and I didn't know if he could be trusted?  Then I didn't know if Colin Firth could be trusted but he is usually the good guy?  There was another film prior to this about a woman who started her memories fresh every day.  The 2004 film Fifty First Dates with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler.  This character has short-term memory loss.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

92 min, Mystery directed by Rowan Joffe with Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Ben Crompton, Anne-Marie Duff, Adam Levy, Gabriel Strong, Flynn MacArthur, Dean-Charles Chapman.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 36% critic 41% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 1/2*.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

This is Where I Leave You 2014

This Is Where I Leave You

     This film is based on a novel by Jonathan Tropper.  Four brothers and sisters are brought under one roof after the death of their father.  It’s their childhood home and their mother says she is in charge even though these are adult siblings.  The home is also being shared at this time with spouses, ex-spouses and could have been spouses. 
     There is a lot of talent in this film but it’s wasted on every coarse and crude joke in the book.  Nothing new here and nothing to see but old material.  Also, an overload of unpleasant bickering and a nothing script.  How many times can it be funny to watch a little boy carry around his potty training toilet?  How can any of this be elevated to or even be considered entertainment?  2* (I didn’t like this movie)
103 min, Comedy directed by Shawn Levy with Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, Debra Monk, Abigail Spencer.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 41% critic 60% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*.
Special Note: the author, Jonathan Tropper, did the adaptation of the novel for the screenplay.