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Friday, November 30, 2012


The first part of the movie was hard to take --especially with wonderful Robert De Niro doing a superb job of playing the obnoxious father of Bradley Cooper who has just come home to live after spending court mandated time in a mental institution after he "lost it" when he found his wife in the shower with another man.   Lots of yelling, not one of my favorite things.   However, if you can endure the first half hour or so, it gets better and better, especially when Jennifer Lawrence enters the picture.  She's irresistible,  although she's considered rather nutty.  She's definitely not ordinary. She offers to help  Cooper win his unfaithful  wife  back -- because she is friends with a friend and can get them connected -- in a rather unique way.  You may love this movie, you may hate it.  I'm sort of in-between.  Marvelous Cast Directed by David O. Russell, the acting is flawless.     

Saturday, November 24, 2012


If you've read the rave reviews, you can believe them! This is a magnificent film.  With a huge, superb cast Directed by Steven Spielberg, the acting is so good, it doesn't seem like acting.  Daniel Day-Lewis, as they say,  "inhabits" the role of LINCOLN beyond any wildest expectations!  (Oscar, Oscar, Oscar!) Tony Kushner's screen play provides marvelous, lifelike dialogue.  The movie focuses on the last few years of Lincoln's life, reveals his home life, especially his loving relationship with his youngest son, as well as the impossible achievements he accomplished, getting the 13th Amendment passed (abolition of slavery, and bringing an end to the Civil War . Tommy Lee Jones is wonderful as "Thaddeus Stevens" -staunch supporter of Lincoln.  Sally Field is "Mary Todd Lincoln," his wife, known to have been mentally unbalanced, and Miss Fields is great in the role. I loved seeing Hal Holbrook, just to mention one more of the many gifted players.  This is an epic not to be missed.  (The film lasts about 2 hours and 40 minutes, but you can't be bored!)

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Daniel Craig IS 007!  This latest James Bond thriller is a winner.  With a marvelous cast, including the inimitable Judi Dench as "M" (better than ever , so is Javier Bardem (one of my favorite fine actors) as the bad guy (but with a reason out of his past), and Ralph Fiennes, excellent as always. Directed by Sam Mendes, the Photography is   gorgeous. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Exquisite MUSICsuperb cast ably Directed byYaron Zilberman.   Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, and Mark Ivanir play the members of a marvelous and successful string quartet.  The young (age 23) Imogen Poots plays the daughter of Keener and Hoffman.  This drama, perhaps I should really call it a melodrama, was simply marvelous. It actually brought me in tears in parts. Walken's character discovers he is in the early stages of Parkinson's disease.   The film has drama, some humor (not a lot) and  emphasizes the intensity of the dedication and concentration of true musicians.   Excellent film.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Brilliant depiction of the true story of the rescue of 6 hostages who had taken refuges in Iran in the home of the Canadian Ambassador.  Marvelous cast, including the Director, Ben Affleck, who plays "Tony Mendez,"  the CIA agent who plans their escape using the ploy of pretending the 6 are members of a film crew using Iran as the site of a science fiction movie called "Argo."  In the excellent cast of 15 I  recognized Alan Arkin, John Goodman and Bryan Cranston. To make things look authentic, a script is written and printed up, newspaper coverage is managed to advertise the making of this non-existent film, and each of the hostages is give a false name to match their assumed roles in the making of the movie.  Even knowing that the plan actually was successful, the movie was so well done, it kept me in suspense!  Plus, humor was perfectly and appropriately included in the clever script by Chris Terrias and Joshua Bearman.  (George Clooney is listed among the 6 producers  -- he obviously knew a good thing when he saw it!) Highly recommended! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Delightful look at the interaction among several generations of a family of professional actors.  Fast paced, realistic dialogue (seemed to be), and the film was possibly a documentary: "movie within a movie " (at one point you see cameramen filming the group. There's also a clear distinction made between actors and "civilians" - shown when two of the daughters (one in show business, the other not) come home to visit, and the conflict that occurs.  Sibling rivalry, always dramatic!Oh, the "non-actor" daughter brings her fiance home to meet the family.   I really, really enjoyed this film.  But then, you know I grew up in Hollywood!


If an accurate portrayal of the difficulties of being a teenager appeals to you, then you'll probably appreciate "Perks."  The acting is marvelous.  Especially notable is Logan Lerman as "Charlie."  Equally excellent are Ezra Miller as "Patrick," and Emma Watson (definitely grown-up from and out of her childhood role as "Hermione" in the Harry Potter series). Directed by Stephen Chbosky, whom I applaud for casting Paul Rudd, who is suuperb as the kids' High School Freshman English teacher.  Personally,  I'm just not that interested in stories about "High School Days." Sorry, not the genre for me.    I am told the film follows the book (which I'd never heard of) quite accurately.  And, there's a background of early childhood problems that is revealed near the end.  You may love it; I didn't, as explained above.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


If I were to review this film only on the merits of the performances, I would give it the highest praise.   Unfortunately, as great as the actors were (and they were each and all marvelous) the movie otherwise was a disappointment.  Based on a clever premise (time-travel, assassins, known as "loopers," who are hired to find and kill marks when they travel into the future) the movie failed to fulfill its premise, and instead presented a confusing, dismal mish-mash of ultra violent (almost to the point of absurdity) version of the future.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt (young "looper," contemporary "Joe"; Bruce Willis future, older "Joe"; Jeff Daniels (elderly evil guy in charge of giving out termination assignments), Paul Dano ( a "looper" who has botched an assignment, seeks refuge with young "Joe"); Emily Blunt ("mother" or not?  of little boy, "Cid" played ferociously by 5 year old Pierce Gagnon), comprise the killer cast (most of them literally killers, except the women).  Even Piper Perabo ( star of the excellent TV series, "Covert Affairs") has a brief appearance as a dancing girl (stripper). One of the scenes between Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in which they are  having a conversation (the young and the older version of the same entity!) sitting across from each other in a restaurant is positively sensational! Dialogue in it is a classic.  Written and Directed by Rian Johnson,  I apologize for not giving him credit for the what's good in the movie, but, I guess he also  has to  own what's wrong with it.  I almost forgot, I liked the surprise ending!   Let me know if you like it, too, when you see it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


No, it's not about a bank robbery!   It is an entertaining documentary about an outstanding African American Basketball player, Kevin Sheppard, who took a job playing for a team in Iran, because the money would be excellent, and since he didn't make the NBA, he figured he might as well go and earn a lot.  His visit to Iran took place in early 2009, when a revolution was brewing.  Kevin tried and pretty much succeeded in staying out of politics, and focused on improving the team for which he'd been hired. Apparently Iran allowed their teams to import two foreign nationals to play for them.   Kevin not only was chosen captain of his team, but expertly coached and mentored the very young players on it who benefited from his skill and experience.  Wonderfully Directed by Till Schauder, it cleverly wove the scenes on the basketball court with scenes of three young women Kevin's friendship with them  (against the law to socialize with him, but they did), and scenes of the political turmoil in the country. THE IRAN JOB also provided  a delightful showcase for Kevin's irrepressible sense of humor. Truly a charming young man.  As you may or may not know,  I am not particularly a sports fan, but I really got involved in the games in this film.  It's worthwhile seeing! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012


With about eight bonafide scholars citing facts, dates, and fascinating parallels between  ancient Roman (and some pagan) historical events and the supposed events in the obviously invented life of Jesus, this Documentary is most likely to stir up a lot of controversy if not outrage from devout Christians.  As a film, I found it a challenge  to keep track of the names of  the various Caesar's and their predecessors.  However, the conclusion was quite clear, that the Romans invented the Christian religion as a political tool to control the populace.   Definitely worth seeing for its educational value, but not what I would call "entertaining."   Lots of photos of statues, along with pictures of ancient texts, including the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Question:  Is Richard Gere's character (a wheeling and dealing Hedge Fund magnate, celebrating his 60th birthday) a good guy whose luck has run out, or a bad guy whose misdeeds have caught up with him? Written, as well as  Directed, by Nicolas Jarecki making best use of a marvelous cast including Susan Sarandon as Gere's wife and  beautiful  Brit Marling as his daughter (also his chief accountant), plus Tim Roth as an insistent detective (truly fine performance!) and Nate Parker (great acting) who is drawn into the drama to help our anti-hero by driving him out of a tough spot in the middle of the night.  I am hopelessly fond of Richard Gere (still so handsome!) and certainly enjoyed this film.  It's a drama, a mystery, and a showcase for the excellent  talents of all concerned.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


When I looked up the credits for this film I understood why "Uncle Rafael" sounded as if he were swallowing his words through the back of his teeth:  he was speaking through a prosthetic to make him look like the elderly "Uncle."  So, it wasn't my faulty hearing, nor his Iranian accent that made his dialogue so garbled!   He, Vahik Pirhamzei, also played the role of "Hamo," a younger man.  The plot, if you can call it that, deals with a cultural belief (?) that every family needs an "uncle" -- a person of wisdom who can solve inter-personal relationship problems.   So, with that as the starting point, an eager reality show producer decides to hire a man to act as an uncle in a dysfunctional family, so she can film the result and prove what a great producer she is.   Marc Fusco may not want to admit that he was the Director of this confusing, uneven (there were a few amusing scenes in it) disappointing film.  Even the five critics I read didn't give it very high marks. For a change, I agree with them.  Thumbs down. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Apparently the guidelines for rating a film "R" allow for excessive full frontal nudity, and scenes of sexual intercourse. I guess I'm too old fashioned to appreciate the inclusion of a dozen  naked women dancing and prancing around, etc, etc, so despite the critics overwhelming praise for "The Master" - I can't join their ranks of rave reviews.  Yes, the performance of Juaquin Phoenix as a painfully disturbed (psychotic), violent war vet was Oscar worthy (though he does tend to mumble a bit, when he's not screaming) and Philiip Seymour Hoffman fills his title role expertly. Amy Adams as the pregnant wife of "The Master" was, as always, wonderful. But Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson,  I found this movie just too painful. Certainly not my idea of "entertainment."  Whether or not (most likely) it was an attempt to portray the charismatic and controversial L. Ron Hubbard, creator of Dianetics (and his entourage) is rather beside the point as far as I'm concerned.  Who enjoys spending two hours and 20 minutes with such insane people?  Apparently the critics did.  I did not. ( At least not in this lifetime).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Perhaps if my hearing were better (I missed most of the very soft, almost whispered dialogue), and if there were not so many flashbacks, I might have appreciated this dismal film a bit more.  But, probably not much, because the plot revolves around a wealthy elderly woman (played by Charlotte Rampling) and her son (played by Geoffrey Rush) and daughter (Judy Davis) who reluctantly come to visit when she is literally on her death bed.  She has full time nursing care, though one of the nurses SPOILER ALERT: is throwing out Mama's  medication, one pill per day, instead of giving it to her. Of course all the acting is marvelous.  The criminal nurse is well played by Alexandra Schepisi ( probably the daughter of the director, Fred Schepisi,)   

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Agreed, the acting is flawless, the cinematography excellent, but unlike the Critics who almost without exception fell all over themselves  lavishing praise on this film ,  I hated it!  Yes, the little girl who plays six year old "Hush Puppy" was adorable. She has that certain something that actresses strive for, the magnetic appeal that makes you fascinated with her every action.  But not only did I find it painful watching her father's tough love school of raising her to be independent (and able to survive in the brutal conditions of abject poverty and filth of what they call the "Bathtub" in Louisiana) but the deplorable disgusting things they ate were not my idea of providing enjoyment for the viewer. (Of course the child is motherless, and it's obvious the father adored the beautiful dead wife.)    Overall; UGH !

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


People who love horses will surely love this documentary about the annual contest called the "Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge."  And, even if, like me, you have no relationship with horses, you are certainly going to find it fascinating!  It involves 100 contestants who have 100 days in which to tame and successfully ride 100 wild Mustangs who are selected at random from a government corral (rounded up annually).   What struck me was the genuine affection and emotional bonding these trainers (some professional, some definitely not) develop for their horses. Each trainer uses a slightly different technique to gain the confidence and trust of his/her Mustang.  Once they succeed (some take more days than others) in the taming and riding, the Mustangs are then put up for auction to the public.  It's actually quite heart-rending when some of the trainers cannot afford to bid enough to own the horse they have grown to love.  Directed by Greg Cricias and Alex Dawson, very effectively photographedit's an  excellent film.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


What a waste! Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis deserve better material.  Yes, there are laughs, but the dialogue is so consistently vulgar, that the excellent plot premise (money buying votes via publicity) is buried  in the disgusting script. Takes place in North Carolina,  A couple of other fine actors have minor roles, but unless you like frequent crude adolescent references to body parts, don't bother to see this disaster. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Fascinating, "one of a kind" script written by Derek Connolly,  intelligently directed by Colin Trevorrow, and flawlessly acted by a wonderful cast featuring Aubrey Plaza, Jake M. Johnson, Mark Duplass, and Karan Soni.  No high-tech effects messing up the unfolding of the plot which is a charming blend of sci-fi, mystery, and romance.   Three of the main characters (two interns and one Reporter) are on an investigative assignment from a Seattle magazine to find the person who placed an ad a newspaper inviting anyone interested to apply for the opportunity to travel back in time with him in the time machine he has invented (the ad warns, "Safety Not Guaranteed.")   Questions: Has he really invented such a machine? Are there really people following him, or is he just paranoid?  It's worth the time to see this entertaining film!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Takes place in the not too distant future, in which well -meaning son brings his aging father (played by the always excellent Frank Langella) a Robot  (perfectly voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) to serve as his health-care-giver and companion.  This movie gets better and better as it progresses.  The clever dialogue is marvelous, the unexpected plot unfolds with unexpected twists. Directed by Jake Schreier, this splendid film  is not just for senior citizens to appreciate!   Don't miss it!   All in all, what a treat!

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Even the truly excellent cast, headed by Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, and Edward Norton couldn't compensate for the overly confusing plot and the annoying, fast and furious, disruptive, jerky camera work.  I got really, really tired of (bored with) the endless motorcycle chase (though it did offer one pleasing moment supplied by Weisz, who put her helmet to good  use).  Of course the film is noisy and violent, but that's to be expected.  The ending seemed weak, a whimper rather than a bang.   I miss the real "Jason Bourne."  (Renner plays another agent named"Alex Cross." "Bourne" doesn't even figure in the story.) As one critic mentioned, if Matt Damon saw this script, it's no wonder he didn't sign on! (Besides, there was really no role in it for him.)  Furthermore, unless I'm having a senior moment, this film bore no resemblance to the plot in the book of the same title, which I had read, and enjoyed. What a disaster!   Tony Gilroy directed.  (What was he thinking???)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Perhaps because I am not a great scholar of French history, I could simply sit back and enjoy this film which took place in four days in July of 1789, inside the insular walls of Versailles, as seen through the eyes of the Queen's reader,"Sidonie."  The Queen, Marie Antoinette, played by the gorgeous Diane Kruger, is presented as a charming, if somewhat like a temperamental, spoiled child, but she is nevertheless quite appealing and likeable. Wonderfully directed by Benoit Jacquot, the audience is pulled into the very corridors and rooms of the palace, creating the "you are there" feeling" as you follow the absolutely loyal and devoted young "Sidonie" who is happiest when she can serve her Queen. Gossip abounds, some of it accurate, some not, as the days lead up to the actual Revolution. That Marie was enamored of another woman came as a surprise to me, I had never heard that before (remember, I'm not a student of French history). Based on a novel by Chantal Thomas, the beautiful costumes and excellent cinematography deserve appreciation.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


This is a wonderful film for Grown Ups!  i.e. mature people who can appreciate  the real challenges that a 31 year old marriage that has gone stale presents.An Intelligent script with excellent dialogue delivered flawlessly by Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones (the married couple, "Kay" and "Arnold"), and Steve Carell as the "Couples Retreat" therapist, "David Frankel." Surprisingly, Carell plays it straight -- not as the the comedian that we kept expecting.  Everyone else  in the cast was incidental, as these three marvelous actors -- on screen throughout -- were each and all pitch perfect. Funny and true to life, well done!

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Beautifully photographed, the gentle rolling Provence countryside  is the pleasant setting for this charming  story of the Well-Digger, a widower with his six (count-em) daughters, especially the eldest,   Patricia, who has been brought up and educated in Paris. Having come home to help raise her younger sisters, she finds herself in a "condition" that will soon become visible, and thus she confesses her "sin" to her volatile father, who sends her to stay with his sister, in order to avoid local gossip. The handsome (wealthy family, too) young man, a pilot in WW I (played by Nicolas Duvachallel)is abruptly called to the front and his message to Patricia is intercepted by his mother (hiss, boo).  Directed by Daniel Auteuil, and starring Auteuil as the Well-Digger. Excellent dialogue (subtitles, of course), flawless acting, a real winner,  I love French films!  This one could be a classic; it takes its time to unfold, but never seems slow, and is definitely never boring!

Monday, July 30, 2012


Never in a million years would I have expected to enjoy a documentary about the staging of an Opera! You should know that I am definitely not an opera fan. Far from it! GOK what Wagner was thinking when he wrote "The Ring," in 1876, including scenes that were impossible to stage with the technology available in that century.  He wrote of gods and mortals in combat, and performers underwater and flying through the air, with arias that have challenged the greatest of the great singers for over 200 years!  The "Ring" is a  4 part 16 hour tour de force that has stymied some of the most determined directors and stage managers.  I found "Wagner's Dream" to be one of the best, most  fascinating and compelling films I've ever seen.  Directed by Susan Fromke it revealed the envisioning, intricate planning, and creating of what I can only call a monumental  architectural achievement of engineering that manifests (as best we can tell) not only the spirit, but the vision on stage, with real singers ( and some stunt doubles) of Wagner's opera.  Performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York this year, this masterful work was total  fascinating to watch.  The interviews with the principals were wonderful and I was surprised to find myself not only appreciating, but actually enjoying the few selections they sang!   With a computer and human stage-hand controlled "Machine" (as they called it), the moving and movable stage itself was comprised of about a dozen wooden planks that undulated, rose and fell as appropriate to the situation in the music.  This film is fabulous!  (I would think that people who actually like opera would swoon over it!)  

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Too much bloodshed, violence, noise and confusion to be "entertaining."  It certainly showed the  tragedy of revenge, despite the nobility (if you can call it that) of sacrificing one's own baby to save the royal heir.  I do not recommend this Japanese film, despite its subtitles, and credible acting. Fine cinematography.  I was eager for it to end. 

Friday, July 27, 2012


Written by Zoe Kazan, co-starring her with her real life love, Paul Dano, this unique plot falls short  of its potential.  Dano as "Calvin" plays an author suffering from writers' block for the past ten years since his breakout marvelous first novel, at age 19, won him fame and fortune. (Best acting I've ever seen Dano do.) At the suggestion of his therapist, perfectly played by Elliot Gould, the now 29 year old "Calvin" starts to write two pages -- and in doing so creates (literally!) the girl of his dreams, "Ruby Sparks" (Kazan). She manifests in the flesh in his kitchen.  Whatever he writes about her, she does. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris the film under utilizes Annette Bening as his mother, and Antonio Bendaras (whom I usually adore- but this role makes him kind of goofy.) as Mom's live-in companion.  There are some wonderful scenes, as well as some rather bland ones. I hope Kazan continues to write, but gets a harsher editor to oversee her next effort.   It's worth seeing, but don't go with too high expectations based on all the hype there's been about the film.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Unfortunately, I had not read the famous Victorian novel by Thomas Hardy, "Tess of the D'Ubervilles," upon which this disgusting film was patterned.  Taking place in India, with all the authentic noise, color, confusion, and dizzying rickshaw rides through hordes of people, animals and buses that characterize the experience of the big cities, as well as the bleak and dismal small villages accurately portrayed (as I recall), Director Michael Winterbottom has liberally included a plethora (great word!) of  graphic sex scenes throughout, starting with those of mutual passion and desire to those of dissolute exploitation and  cruelty.   SPOILER ALERT:    I was hoping that Trishna would kill "Jay, "her employer and torturer (that's why I didn't walk out of the theater) and was delighted when she finally did.  And then, of course (?) at the end, she commits suicide.   Ghastly film.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Apparently the current movie going generation (read "demographic"), known as the "millennium" generation ( according to an article I read), don't like "old" movies (those released more than five years ago), because they are too slow moving.  Goodby interesting character and plot development, hello 4D.  Good Grief!   Anyway,  FYI, I suffered through the verbal battles between two sisters, played by Mira Sorvino - obviously totally neurotic -- and Tammy Blanchard who screamed (really loud) at each other practically the whole time.  Directed (GOK what she had in mind ) by Nancy Sovaca. Congratulations to the actors, who were splendid at their craft.  There is a kind of a plot, the story of the family that they belong to, that is revealed, but jeeze-louise, it was painful to sit through. Was this supposed to be a comedy?   I did like the nice cute  dog that was in the film. I'm really not always so grouchy, or maybe I am.....


Directed by Sarah Polley and starring Michelle Williams (whose acting is brilliant); Seth Rogan (surprisingly excellent portraying her loving husband!); ;Sarah Silverman and Aaron Abrams (both equally fine performances, I can't fault it for the fact that I'm too old to appreciate full frontal nudity, logical in the shower, though seemingly making the story more "natural,"  as just a part of life, spoiled it for me.  And, also, there's having to figure out which of the scenes really happened, or which represent Williams fantasies about the guy (handsome Abrams) who is not her husband, whom she accidentally meets on a vacation only to discover upon arriving home, that he lives just a couple of doors away from her.   (BTW, this film was rated PG.  No comment.)

Sunday, July 8, 2012


1)  "BRAVE" had pros and cons:  Excellent animation (endowing nonhuman characters with palpable feelings & emotions)  Other than the beautiful Queen (mother) and the courageous if foolhardy daughter, the Brave Princess, all other characters were quite ugly.  I grant you there's a story, but it was way over the top in violence, and the Previews gave no hint or indication of the awful fighting that made up most of the film.  Not recommended.  2) "MAGIC  of BELLE ISLE" is pleasantly predictable, but, so what? I love Morgan Freeman, (doesn't everyone? ) who is always marvelous.  (He plays a wheelchair bound writer, who has become a drunk, and isn't currently writing, and the movie revolves around his influence on people on Belle Island. I enjoyed it.  Virginia Madsen was excellent as the divorcee with three little girls. They live next door to him. Of course, they have an influence on him.  The little girls were perfectly cast.  Dialogue interesting and plausible all around.  Directed by Rob Reiner. Good mild Family Film. (And there's a dog, too.)
3) "NEVER STAND STILL" is a documentary featuring interesting interviews with many well known dance companies and famous teachers, focusing on the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, and what a unique place and training ground that has become.  Dance is a whole world of its own.  Although I'm not part of that world,  I have always loved to watch dance, so this was OK, but  I would have liked longer sequences of dance, instead of so many snippets of performances.  Probably will be a big hit with professional dancers who see it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


"Arik"is the teenage protagonist in this cleverly plotted drama that takes place in Haifa in 1968,  "Arik" reads a lot of detective novels, and because of a prank that he and his friends play on the title character, "The Matchmaker,"  the latter hires him  (appreciating the kid's gift for 'story-telling" i.e. lying!) to be his "spy" to investigate, and authenticate (or not)  potential mates the Matchmaker is planning to recommend to his clients.  He tells the clients he will find, not the one they want, but the one they "need" (should have)!  He mentors "Arik" about life and relationships.  In Hebrew with English sub-titles, and a wonderful cast, directed by Avi Nesher who also wrote the screenplay, this is a heart-centered film that I thoroughly enjoyed. There are many aspects to the story, including dwarves (victims, it is suggested, of the the Holocaust experiments by the infamous Dr. Mendele); unrequited love; betrayal; the value of reading lots of detective novels; and youthful romance. (Oh, and I found it interesting that in Israel in 1968 gambling (playing cards for money) was illegal.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

BERNIE (again!)

Second time around, "Bernie" proved to be just as funny, in fact, I may have appreciated its cleverness -- and Jack Black's fabulous performance (as a dedicated Funeral Director) even more this time I saw it.  I hope he, or the film itself gets some kind of award!  Directed by Robert Linklater co-starring Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey (playing the Assistant DA) with the hilarious Black -- whose very walk seen from the rear is enough to make you giggle, the plot is amazingly based on real people and real events in the  small town of Carthage Texas.    It is quirky, black humor at its best.  My kind of entertainment!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Documentaries keep getting better and better!  This one, about the famous and successful Paul Williams, song writer of such top ten hits as "We've Only Just Begun" (Karen Carpenter), and Barbra Streisand's rendition of his "Evergreen," which won them an Academy Award, not to mention (but I will) "Rainbow Connection" soulfully delivered by Kermit the Frog, this film was wonderfully put together by his lifelong fan, Steven Kessler, who was thrilled to discover that Paul was still alive after seemingly disappearing for a couple of decades.  During the '70's, Williams was so popular (and witty) that he appeared on numerous TV shows, most notably 50 guest spots on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  During the eighties, Paul did the whole drug, booze thing, but  fortunately came out alive, cleaned up, and became a counselor and effective spokesperson for groups promoting being clean and sober. His most recent accomplishment, President of AFTA.  No longer young, but still sharp, and certainly wiser, he's been married a couple of times, and fathered some children.  Because he was given obviously wrong growth hormones as a kid, though his voice deepened, his bones were stopped from growing, and so he remained painfully short as an adult.  Always feeling alienated, "inferior," his music revealed the aching loneliness that reached from his soul to his listeners, and brought his songs so much recognition, including numerous Grammys.  Brash, rude, self-effacing, albeit seemingly narcissistic, Williams is a fascinating subject for a documentary, especially seen through the honest lens of Steven Kessler, whose affection and appreciation for this icon is obvious.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


If I were an artist, or a painter, I would probably be more enthused about this film, whose title tells it all.   It is a documentary showing Gerhard Richter  painting. He is now using a very unique technique. (He experimented with other techniques in his long career.) He admits to being uncomfortable being "on camera," explaining that painting is a very personal, subjective process, and being filmed makes him feel self conscious and ill at ease, and somewhat inhibits his process.  Nevertheless, he has allowed Corinna Belz, the writer, director of this exceptionally well done (it was not like watching paint dry for 97 minutes), and actually fascinating documentary to photograph him creating (and then sometimes seemingly destroying) the paintings that have earned him great renown (and huge prices!).   I, not being one of the knowledgeable art crowd,  had never heard of him, but apparently among the cognoscenti, he is considered one of the most important and best. He slathers paint from buckets on to to large boards, which he then uses (with both hands - and a lot of strength)  to smear on huge canvasses.  Then he repeats, using a new color. This happens several times.  Then he may leave the canvas alone for a day or two.  And then do some more slathering. (He has a couple of assistants who mix the paint for him ahead of time.)  He may finally use a normal brush, but not often, for some finishing touches. What you see is mostly subtle layers upon layers of muted (usually) colors, without discernible patterns. Richter seems very likable, and obviously deeply in love with his creative process.  Born in Germany, 1932, he studied there.  Left East Germany (never saw his parents again because of the war) and now lives in Cologne.  Not much in this documentary about his personal life, though I did some research and found he's been married a couple of times and has some children.  This was like "Art Education 101" for me, and as such, quite successful.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Apparently it took three Directors and two Writers to "create" this disappointing third episode of the Madagascar series.  I seem to recall enjoying the first two, but this one was 99 percent painful to watch.  The one percent that was almost fun came about half way through the noise and stupidity when the animals (trying to get back home to New York) pretend to be an American Circus troupe in order to get a ride on a circus train headed there (via Rome and London). Stupid dialogue, but delivered well by the good cast (same as usual), Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, etc. etc.  The children in the audience seemed to like it, but though I claim to be a child at heart, this was just a boring, noisy, failure of an animated film.  What a waste!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


True to the Critics comments, this was not a great film. It could have been worse, but it should have been better.  Anyway, it was worth seeing just to watch the inimitable, excellent, Jane Fonda as the still "hippie" Grandmother whose daughter, played by Catherine Keener (also very good) and her teen age children  (Elizabeth Olson and Nat Wolff - perfectly cast) come to visit for the first time in 20 years.  It seemed,  unfortunately more of a cliche of the Woodstock era, played "over the top," than it needed to be.  The plot included several romances (various age levels), and interactions among generations which seemed pretty accurate. (The actors all seemed very good.)   Shall we blame Bruce Beresford the Director, that the film still  just didn't make it?    Sigh.  


Ordinarily I don't enjoy singers who "wail." But the sound coming from Rita Chiarelli, known as "Canada's Queen of the Blues," is fantastic!!! It's as if it comes from the very depths of her powerful, sweet, loving soul!  Genuine love pours forth. In this documentary (Directed by Bruce McDonald) it shows Rita with inmates of Angola Prison (Louisiana State Maximum Security Prison) not just giving a concert, but singing with the men, hugging them, talking to them.  They obviously accept her reality and share her love for Blues, Jazz, Rock, and Country. The history of the transformation of the  prisoners from violent, unruly behavior to the calm, you might even say repentant (with some religious commitment involved, too) is explained and described as the result of the music she brought to them.  What a remarkable woman, with a remarkable God-given gift for communication, soul to soul, heart to heart. 


What is it about French leading men that makes them so lovable? I refer, of course, to the amazing Francois Cluzet who plays "Philippe," the  wealthy (really rich!),  paraplegic ( caused by a hang-gliding accident), who hires "Dris" (marvelously played by  Omar Sey), a black Muslim ex-con - surely the most unlikely candidate,  as his care-giver. "Philippe" chooses him primarily because he sees the guy has no pity or even compassion. He definitely doesn't want to be pitied.  "Dris" didn't really want the job, or expect to get it, he only applied so that he could show the folks that dole out the "unemployment" $$$ that he had made an effort to get a job.  It sounds trite to say that the two men, (from diametrically opposed backgrounds) "bond," and become really excellent pals, who have fun together.  But the way the friendship unfolds makes for a delightful,  fascinating, entertaining story.  Oh, and it's based on a true story. -- At the very end, you see photos of the real people on whose adventures the film was based.   I loved this film, flawlessly Directed by Eric Toledana.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Charlize Theron is gorgeous, (at least to start with) doing excellent justice to her role as the evil (truly, nasty, awful!) queen who has married (and killed) Snow White's widowed father so she can rule the kingdom. How Kristen Stewart ever got the part of "Snow White" is beyond me!   She's definitely no match for Charlize in the looks department, though the story requires that she be "fairest of all." Sorry to say, in my humble opinion, she doesn't have the acting skill that might have compensated.  Chris Hemsworth (fresh out of "The Avengers") was great as the "Huntsman," who becomes the friend/protector of Snow W, saving her from all the dangers of the Dark Forest.  At over 2 hours and seven minutes,  I was gettingt tired of the whole thing before it was over, but felt obligated to see it through.  The special effects were to die for, and from!  I'm not usually a fan of s.e. but these were marvelous.  I loved the Mirror apparition, and of course all the nasty, lethal stuff that the Evil Queen generated.  Rupert Sanders was the Director.  The Cinematograpy was superb.  The dwarfs (dwarves?) were not very cute or enjoyable. And there was way too much violence throughout. Battles scenes went on, and on, and on.  Noisy and exhausting. Movie was a big  disappointment overall  -- except for  Charlize performance, which was notably fine. (Costumes looked pretty good.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012


From a story by Henning Mankell, known as the "godfather of Swedish crime fiction," featuring the Chief Inspector we've met in previous Swedish detective thrillers (such as "Girl With the Dragon Tatoo"), flawlessly Directed by Charlotte Brondstrom,  "Wallander: The Revenge" lives up to its heritage.  There's something indefinable  - but excellent -  about the feel of this film that is different from the way it would have been if it were an American production.  Krister Henriksson plays the lead role of the 62 year old Chief inspector "Kurt Wallander" who has to solve several very bloody murders at the same time investigating a huge explosion at the power plant, that cripples several towns, plus a few car bombings.  All actors perfectly cast.  ( I couldn't locate this film on  -- maybe they've never heard of it!  Anyway, for me, it rates 100% on the Shakti meter!)    Highly recommended if you like this genre.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


"Les Enfants du Paradis" has been magnificently restored so that a new generation can see one of the most remarkable films ever produced!  Directed by Marcel Carne and crediting Jacques Prevert as Screenwriter, this classic was created under  severely challenging conditions while World War II was still in progress.  (Read the wonderful review by Rene Rodriguez on to get the full back story as well as more of the plot.)  Suffice to say, it hit the big screen in 1945. Set in 19th Century Paris, it has just about everything in it. At 3 hours and 10 minutes it is a tour de force of melodrama, unrequited love,  back stage romance, beautiful women, and my favorite, a mesmerizing performance by a superb mime ("Batiste") white face makeup and all.   There are acrobats and dozens of tumblers shown performing in one theater, plus a scene from Shakespeare's Othello and the murder scene  where Desdamona gets it in the neck taking place across the road in another theater shown in this film all about show biz, and the folks who are in it, and the folks (as well as nobility) who watch it.  Thousands of extras were used in filming the street scenes of Paris. Those were the days (1800's) when affronts were matters requiring "satisfaction"  at dawn. (I'm happy to say the actual duels were never shown, only the results. )
Of course it's in French, with excellent sub-titles (clever dialogue, by the way.)
Because of the length of the movie, there was a welcome ten minute intermission after about two hours.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


When will I learn to ignore the critics? Sigh.... "Elena" got raves from the professionals. OK, granted the acting is flawless, and I appreciated the sub-titles for the Russian (there's very little dialogue in the film), but I am not a fan of dreary, noir, "atmosphere"  pictures, for which genre this  certainly qualifies.  Slow moving (plodding might be a more accurate term); the "action" that takes place goes at a tedious snails pace showing the lead, middle aged (55/60ish?) "Elena" waking up in the morning, going through a detailed consistent, boring  routine day after day after day, after -- (well , you get the idea), waking her affluent husband  "Vladmir" (a bit older), who sleeps in a different bed, and then goes off to the gym, or maybe to his office (though sometimes he grabs her hand and leads her back to bed).  They met ten years ago when he was in the hospital with Peritonitis, and she was his nurse. He has a daughter from a previous marriage, and she has a son from a previous marriage. Their only fights are about the money that she wants to get from her husband for her grown son, whereas he feels the boy (age 30) should be taking care of his own son and not expecting anything from him.  meanwhile, she does bring cash to her son.   Oh, the music, Philip Glass' beautiful Symphony #3 was  perfectly chosen to suit the one hour and 49 minutes of torture I endured.  I can't fault the Director Andrei Zvyagintsev, he knew it was about Russia, and captured it successfully.  No comedy for sure.   (Did I already say the critics liked it?)  But for me,  though I can appreciate a serious drama, I prefer a few laughs. I'd even settle for a romance, but this was a big disappointment.  (In all fairness, I have to report it shows scenes from the poorest sections of Moscow, contrasted with (?) the wealthy areas where Elena and her husband live.  SPOILER ALERT AHEAD:   Did I mention that he has a heart attack, and then, when he plans to write a will (giving his daughter the lion's share of his Estate), Elena gives him an overdose of Viagra which, of course, kills him?  Then his daughter and Elena (and her sons and grandson) all live "happily" ever after in his splendid apartment that she and the daughter jointly inherit.  The  abrupt "ending" simply shows them all gathered around watching television. Well, at least the theater was air-conditioned,  my seat was comfortable, and the popcorn was fresh.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


If you're young in heart, this one's definitely for you!  (Besides, it's rated PG 14)   I smiled from the very beginning scene, loving the way the houses and the landscape looked as if they were illustrations in a children's picture book. Written and Directed by Wes Anderson it's a fantasy tale of very young love, which makes you care about what happens to these two kids who run away together.  (Though I wasn't crazy about their performances. Perhaps they were told to be "deadpan" in their delivery of lines, though maybe  that was supposed to be true to their characters, especially she (played by Kara Hayward), who has been labeled a "troubled child," and he (played by Jared Gilmane), escaping from a dull foster home (who don't want him back!), he's very savvy with survival skills, but has run away from scout camp.  The adult cast was OUTSTANDING:   Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman all of whom are absolutely marvelous in this film!  And there's a narrator, whose name I don't recall, but I loved him!  What a treat!

Monday, May 28, 2012


Ballet is so beautiful to watch, it is sad to know how painful and destructive it is physically to the performers! Their injuries are just as severe as any athletes. Three young aspiring dancers are featured in this fascinating (to me) documentary directed  by Bess Kargman. You get to see how these kids (ages range from 11 to 14) feel about dancing (obsessed with/in love with), and what it means to prepare for and take part in those stresssful competitions held to showcase their ability and potential.  The rewards for those who do well can be contracts and/or elite scholarships to prestigious ballet schools.   I also learned how expensive it can be for a family to support a child who wants to be a dancer.  Huge amounts of $$$$ for teachers, costumes, travel.   If you follow ballet, be on the lookout for Aran Bell, Gaya B. Yenni and Michaela Deprince.  (Hope I got all the names spelled correctly.)  "No guts, no glory," with courage and determination, they battle with amazing stamina ignoring pain and sometimes even serious injury to dance on cue.   Bravo!   (Brava?)

Saturday, May 26, 2012


In 1937, when this magnificent film debuted, I was eight years old. As someone who love movies, I am deeply grateful to the wizards who used their combined technical skills and present day advanced scientific achievements in order to preserve (in excellent condition) and present this masterpiece for the enjoyment -- and I might even say, "enlightenment" of new generations (including mine). Directed by Jean Renoir, starring Jean Gabin, Erich von Stroheim, and Pierre Fresnay, the action takes place during WWI at several P.O.W. camps in Germany.  Focusing on the relationships between the prisoners and their captors (mostly officers), as well as among each other, and the class distinctions between those of "noble" birth (on both sides), it is simply brilliant!  Is it an indictment of war in general?  Yes, I think so.  Does it glorify war? It certainly honors the righteousness of soldiers doing their duty, on both sides.  It includes a re-enactment of a camp show put on by the prisoners in drag, that is truly hilarious. (They even invited the German officers to attend.)    Try to see this if you  can.  It is one of the greatest films of all time!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


With Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, and Dev Patel (from "Slum Dog Millionaire") fame, this Film is worth all the accolades it has received! Directed by John Madden, Written by Deborah Moggach, it tells the story of a group of unrelated (though it includes one married couple) British elders (or I should  say, "senior citizens"), who meet en route to India, going  to take advantage of the favorable monetary exchange rate and spend their remaining years in the "Best Exotic....etc, etc." Hotel whose  glossy brochure describes it as the ideal retirement locale for discerning guests.  Run by the unflappable young Patel, who insists that though the Hotel is not yet in the sterling condition as seen in the brochure (actually, it's pretty much falling apart!), it is "getting there."  Anyway, the acting is flawless, the dialogue is perfect; it's a marvelous movie!  (I was reluctant to see it, because I do not have positive memories of my visit to India.  However, my friend, Satsimran encouraged me to see it, and I'm glad I did!  Highly recommended! 


Neither can I speak or read Yiddish, nor can I understand (nor speak) Shakesperian English, however, in my usual disregard for common sense I went to see this movie (mainly because the time it went on suited my schedule that day).  It was on Mothers' Day, and the theater was nearly filled.   The story was of a nurse, who had to get the famous "Romeo and Juliet" translated into Yiddish for some term paper, or Thesis, or Dissertation (already an absurd premise) so she hires three or four young men who ( if they had been of a different religion, would be called "lapsed Catholics") were formerly Orthodox Jews to help her.  Apparently there are two different styles or types of Yiddish, one more voluminous than the other.  Anyway, our story takes place in Brooklyn, present day, and veers dizzyingly back and forth from the original in Italy to the current scene.  The photography (Really, do I HAVE to say "Cinematography"?-- when the credits roll, it only shows "Photography by....."). was marvelous.  Artistically it was worth watching.  But it was so confusing that neither I, nor my movie companion were sure what was happening when or where.  The rest of the audience seemed to be very appreciative. There were subtitles for the Yiddish, but I could barely hear the English when it was spoken.  The Director was a woman: Eve Annenberg who also played a dual role as Ava and the Nurse, and was one of the 6 or 8 Producers.  It was an adventure I do not regret, but cannot say that I would recommend to anyone who is not either familiar with Yiddish or is a Shakespeare scholar.  (I did recognize a few famous catch phrases.)

Friday, May 4, 2012


This is a really clever, funny, quirky comedy! I imagine if you're from Texas, it would be even funnier.  Jack Black (always good) is at his very best as the small town's beloved Funeral Director.  Not only is he expert at the embalming, but his open-hearted caring and offering condolences to the bereaved has endeared him to everyone. Shirley MacClaine, recently widowed, plays the town's richest, meanest, most disliked person, yet Jack Black attempts to befriend her, and persists, even though his first condolence call (with flowers) is rebuffed, he persists, and soon he becomes her friend (the only one) and escort - including trips around the world. She hires him full time, and he answers to her beck and call.  I don't want to tell you the end.  Just go see "Bernie" if you want to enjoy a perfectly made film.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


It's probably me.  I lack the sophistication, or appreciation for such "artsy, " slowmoving, meandering, (really, really slow moving), getting nowhere kind of film. I found "Here"  boring, and almost wanted to escape from the theater!   Lots of landscape for openers, then a "romance" (Lots of sreamy kissing) between  American "Will Shepard" (a satellite mapping engineer) played by Ben Foster and the expatriate Armenian photographer, "Gadarine Nazarian" played by Lubna Azabal. There are a few other characters thrown into the mix. (Her family, friends.)I can't fault the acting (though I had trouble hearing Lubna when she spoke English - thank God for subtitles when Armenian was being spoken - there is not a lot of dialogue in the film.) the emphasis is primarily on the shots of the land. Oh, and the voice over, that opens this loser (done by Peter Coyote ) made no sense to me whatsoever.)  I did care about Ben Foster a lot, his character was very likable.  Directed ("mis-directed?) by Braden King who  bravely admits to  sharing writing credits. Well the seats were comfortable in the theater, which held me, and about 5 other people for this matinee today.  I wonder how Armenians will feel about this film?  It didn't present a positive incentive for travel (though the scenery is often beautiful) to Armenia. (Including militia at checkpoints.)  Perhaps someone can explain to me what the movie was supposed to be about. Oh, and before I forget, there is a lot of heavy drinking throughout. Wine and vodka to excess.--

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Rivalry between father and son, both Talmudic scholars ("Teachers") for a coveted Prize, is the essence of the plot, where admiration and jealousy are interwoven as in a detective story with unerring skill by Writer/Director Joseph Cedar. This brilliant film is not for everyone, but for those who can appreciate the subtle and sometimes explosive confrontations in the hallowed halls of Hebrew Acadamia, I can definitely recommend it.  The Father, "Eliezer" is flawlessly played by Shlomo Bar-Aba, and his Son, "Uriel" (the one with the beard!) by the equally superb actor,  Lior Ashkenazi. There's a mix-up as to which of them has actually won the prize, since they both bear the title "Professor" (the audience knows), but the moral, ethical decision to let the "truth" be revealed is not an easy call.  Photography is marvelous to behold. Also, keep in mind that scholars of the sacred Talmud are highly revered.  As you know, I love subtitles, so I really enjoyed this unusual, cleverly paced, human interest-ing, intricate movie. (It's even got some "you are there" action scenes on  a hand-ball court.) 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Based on a play (so I have read in the credits), this French film was expertly written and directed by Philippe Falardeau. It stars Mohammed Fallag as "Bachir Lazhar" an Algerian who takes over as substitute teacher of a middle school class in Montreal. The previous teacher has hanged herself. (How this could be classified a "comedy" is beyond me! ) But, that being said, the drama, the brilliance of the acting by every single character is above reproach. The child actors are amazing, and as tragic as the circumstances that open the story, and are pivotal to the plot, there is a dramatic back story in the history of Monsieur Lazhar. Everything is gradually revealed at just the right time and in such a way as to keep you (at least it kept me!) fascinated throughout. And despite the topic of suicide, I did not find the film depressing.  I wonder where they found such wonderful child actors? they were each and all totally real and believable, and certainly mostly wiser than most of their parents. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012


In Turkish, with English subtitles, it was nevertheless almost impossible to figure out what had happened, or was happening. Slowly a kind of plot unfolds -- very, very slowly. I must applaud the photography; it was outstanding. The acting absolutely superb. Each actor so excellent that his personality/attitude/ and thoughts at the moment clearly visible on his face. But the film is frustratingly boring at the same time that it is fascinating. A group of men (including a police inspector and a doctor) bring the prisoner accused of murder -obviously - to point out where the body is buried. Will they find it?  That's the suspense.  Meanwhile, the mundane conversations among the seekers are shared in their absurdity. Bleak landscapes are exquisitely filmed;  prisoner remains almost entirely silent.  This is definitely a movie for those who can appreciate "art" films. I didn't fall asleep during the movie, though I'm told other people have done so!   The Director is Nuri Bilge Ceylan, whose name means nothing to me, but may ring a bell with those who are more sophisticated in their tastes for avant garde movie making.  I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it, either. I just wish someone could explain to me why the guy was murdered (I think the clue was given somewhere in the film, but I couldn't catch it.)  There's also a sub-plot about a little boy that also left me bewildered. There's an autopsy scene that wasn't as gruesome as it might have been. 

Monday, April 9, 2012


Usually if I go to a movie with high expectations, I am disappointed; NOT SO with this one!  It was absolutely marvelous! A "spectacle" of C.B. DeMille proportions (without marching armies or battle scenes) honoring and showing the pomp and pageantry that goes on inside the Vatican when a Pope is put to rest (it shows the plain wooden casket being carried ) and how the Cardinals are sequestered in Conclave to vote for his successor.  As the faithful gather by the thousands to watch for the sign: (White smoke= Hooray.  Black smoke= No decision.)  Most of the Cardinals are seen praying, "Please God, not me!" as Votes are taken and recorded. After many stalemates (Black smoke); at last, White smoke appears, bells ring, people are overjoyed. But not "Cardinal Melville" played brilliantly by Michel Piccoli, who is horrified to have been selected.  He has what seems to be a complete nervous breakdown, and after a medical doctor pronounces him fit, they bring in a psychiatrist, played by Nanni Moretti (who is also the Director, and shares credits with two other excellent writers). Piccoli is simply superb. Dialogue (subtitles) is splendid. The Cardinals play volley ball, cheered on by Moretti who is trying to keep up morale, while the new Pope has escaped the Vatican, trying to come to terms with the role that has been thrust upon him. Every one of the actors is a pleasure to watch. Perfect casting all around.  I loved this film. (I'm not Catholic, in case you were wondering.) I was  touched by the devotion, and the human-ness of each of the Cardinals. WE HAVE A POPE is a drama, but there are plenty of places where you will smile, and even have to laugh.  All in all, very enjoyable. Highly recommended.       

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Sorry, I fogot to mention it was Directed by Tarsem Singh.  I think he deserves a lot of credit. As do the screenwriters, whose names of course I forgot to look up.   What I can't figure out is why on the Credits listed in MDB (you know what I mean, that site that gives a complete list of cast members, it has Saoirse Ronan down as Snow White (in addition to Lily Collins.)  Did I miss something?  Anyway,  let me know what you think of this film.   Thank you.


Evidently I'm in my second childhood (I'm old enough to be in my third at least), because I loved this film!   Critics slammed it, those cynical professional old meanies! they claim that it mainly  appealed to young girls! (though they had to admit that Julia Roberts was excellent.)  I found it delightful, fun, interesting, and marveled at how perfectly all the players fit their roles. Yes, Julia "inhabited" the part of the beautiful, but evil, wicked stepmother you loved to hate.  She really nailed it.  (Her "beauty" treatments were a bit much to watch, eeeeew!)  Nathan Lane, that wonderful, more wonderful than ever, actor was terriffic as the Queen's reluctant major domo. Lily Collins, the beautiful (Snow White)  more than did justice to her part, in every way. Armie Hammer was/is perfect as the Prince!   He was great! (Plus, he can act.  He played "silly" as required, for  when he was under the spell of the wicked Queen.) The seven dwarfs were given a showcase for their special talents and individual personalities that was so much fun!  There was magic, of course. Dialogue first rate!    I'll say it again,  I loved this film!   

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Thomas Doret perfectly plays the Kid, "Cyril" who sets out to find his father who has disappeared from his life. A lot of the screen time is devoted to "Cyril" riding his bike, yet it was never boring. I sat fascinated, waiting to see what would happen next. I cared so much about the boy, that I was totally absorbed in watching him "keep up," undaunted, no matter what trials and tribulations were thrown at him.  And there were plenty.   I can't say I "enjoyed" the movie --- because it was painful (HERE COMES THE SPOILER) to see the rejection by his father when he finds him, the cruelty of the gang of boys who steal his bike and beat him up, and the betrayal of a man who pretends to be  his friend.  One redeeming feature - when you're about to give up on "man's inhumanity to man," is the role of a hairdresser, so beautifully played by Cecile De France, who protects the boy. She exemplifies the finest feminine instinct of "mother love" in action. Masterfully Directed (of course!) by the Dardenne brothers, this is an excellent film, perhaps one of their best (according to the Critics). It's not your typical Hollywood blockbuster.  It's sensitive, and insightful -- definitely aware of the flaws in humanity.  I was grateful for the English subtitles.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Finally, a movie I could really enjoy! Characters I cared about; a unique story; marvelous acting from a great cast.    Beautiful Emily Blunt (delightful and charming of course, and a marvelous actress); Ewan McGregor (one of my favorites, though maybe his accent was a bit, just a bit, over the top, but I won't fault him for it,  it was probably authentic.); Kristin Scott Thomas (always turns in a first-rate performance; this is one of her best); and Amr Waked (as the visionary, idealistic Sheikh --  sooooo handsome!) and he is marvelous actor.  Skillfully Directed by Lasse HallstromPhotography was splendid, taking advantage of Yemen's outdoors, as well as the memorable faces. Adding to the enjoyment factor, I giggled and laughed frequently as situations and dialogue were irresistably humorous. Of course,  I know nothing about fishing.  Nevertheless, the movie was a real treat.  For the millions of people who seem to find fishing appealing, I  imagine this film would be even more enjoyable.  The plot is truly unusual not as predictable as you might expect.  It keeps you in suspense!  (As usual, the "Critics"  didn't praise it as I have,  but then, nobody pays me to be cynical.)