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.