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Visit my previous Blog "Movies and More: Positively Personal Reviews" for my earlier (pre-May 2011) reviews and ramblings.

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!