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 photographed, it'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!