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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.) 

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Expecting a whimsical comedy, harboring vague recollections of the subtle humor of  "Mid August Lunch," I was surprised to find  "The Salt of Life," by actor/writer, director Gianni Di Gregorio a sadly melancholy - (albeit- lifelike, no doubt) portrait of a polite, kind, aging man who unsuccessfully yearns for a romantic relationship. There is what some might consider a plethora  (one of my favorite words!) of buxom females, in the shops, on the streets, upon whom Gianni looks, not so much with lust, as with true Italian male appreciation and longing. Everyone in the cast is perfectly suited to his or her role. Gianni spends time with his daughter's on again-off-again boyfriend (currently living in the house with them, an arrangement which Dad accepts as natural. He spends time discussing life with him, and also with his lawyer friend, smoothly, easily played by Alfonso Santagata. Once again, the wealthy, aged (over 90) mother of Gianni is  a scene stealer. She phones him incessently, claiming to be ill, and of course, he comes running.  Gianni walks his young neighbor's dog along with his own. He's just too nice and people take advantage of him.  The film showcases Di Gregorio's mesmerizing presence, puffy bags under hiseyes and all, and paints an all too realistic picture of his lonliness and fear of growing old. There is kind of a "happy ending" -- sort of.   Anyway, as a drama, it's excellent, as a comedy-- no, not really.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Oscar Commentary

Someone asked that I comment on the outstanding 2011 Films.  Here goes: First of all, I loved "The Artist." Totally delighted that it won so many well deserved awards. The charming, handsome French lead actor has my vote any day! I  Actually saw "Midnight in Paris" three times! And loved it each time. (Best Original Screenplay)  Cotilliard is one of my favorite actresses, and although I'm not a fan of Owen Wilson, the hero in this one, he did well, and I thought it was great fun and enjoyable.  I appreciate Woody Allen's refusal to attend the Oscars.  I wish they'd figure out a way to honor excellent films, without making just one of them the "best."   I did not, and will not see "Iron Lady."  If I want to watch an aging woman losing her mind, I can stay home and look in the mirror. Sorry, Merryl.  As for foreign language, once again, I must remind myself to ignore the professional critics, who raved about "A Separation." I hated it.  Yes, it was flawless acting, marvelous photography, but I don't enjoy spending about two hours watching/listening to people screaming/yelling at each other. What a pity if this is a valid portrayal of the life of women in Iran.  Miserable experience.  As for the Animated films, I like "Puss In Boots" better than anything else.  I did not like "Tin-Tin."   So, I think that's about it, in case you're interested.   Thank you for reading!


"Chronicle," referring to the "on camera" documenting of the adventures of three boys who develop "super powers" after falling into a strange hole in the ground. Proceeds from levitating fun to horrible, violent -- excessively violent egotistical mahem. Ugh.
Au contraire, "The Turin Horse" -- an art house favorite (raved about by the professional critics), moves at a pace slower than watching paint dry.  It proports to be the story of what happened to the horse that Friederich Niezsche threw his arms around sobbing (not the horse, Neiezsche) when he saw it being beaten by its owner. According to the voice-over narrative, the great philosopher then went up to bed, said his final words to his mother, and never spoke again, having lost his mind, until he died a few years later. Meanwhile, this film, Directed by the renowned Hungarian Director, Bela Tarr and photgraphed by Fred Keleman depicts the life of the horse.  With mournful music incessantly playing in the background (except when drowned out by the violent windstorm raging outside, blowing dried leaves kicking up so much dust I could barely breathe), I kept waiting for something to happen.  Well, starting with "Day One" - a young woman gets out of bed, puts on several layers of clothing, throws some wood into the stove, and then dresses an older man in several (lots of ) layers of clothing. He may have had a stroke, because his right arm hangs lifeless and useless at his side throughout. Not until "Day Two," which is pretty much a repeat of "Day One" does she call him "Papa," and you learn that she's the daughter.  Every day she goes out to the well, carrying two buckets and fills them (struggling with the weight) with water, brings them in.  Then comes the going into the barn, opening the doors, putting on the horse's harness, etc. All of this in such slow motion with virtually expressionless faces that when it got to "Day Three" the audience, including me, moaned, thinking, "Oh, no, not again!"  Every day the routine is pretty much the same.  Breakfast was a shot or two of home made vodka (I figured this out after seeing them finish the one daily meal of one boiled potato each -- that they used their fingers to remove the peel, and then seemed to throw away whatever was left, but were obviously saving to make the brew.)  Oh, maybe it was Day Four when  visitor came, asking for some of the liquor - they give him a bottle. He speaks some absolutely nonsensical philosophical/political  twaddle and leaves,  throwing some coins down on the table.   And then there was the cartload of Gypsies who came to get water out of the well, but were driven off.   Meanwhile, watching each scene was like being in an art gallery and examining a painting for 20 or 30 seconds before any action took place. Yes, the composition of each frame is artistically excellent, but so what?  BORING!  Known as a master "Minimalist," Bela Tarr has said this would be his last film.  I say, "Thank God."
Oh,  soon the horse stops eating, then won't even drink water.  Then the well runs dry.  I kept waiting for the father and daughter, sitting at the table, to wither and die, wanting them to die, that's how painful this film was.