Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses) is making his feature directorial debut with Bad Words, a film in which he also stars; but the actor-director has been making calls on the other side of the camera since the early 1990s! Bateman somehow managed to grow-up as a child actor in Hollywood with a "squeaky clean" image that he has been able to capitalize upon and skewer into adulthood with the roles he has chosen to take. None more-so than his role here as Guy Trilby, a very bitter 40-year-old man who still wakes himself up at night terrified of the one word he misspelled at The Golden Quill national spelling bee all those years ago! Trilby's obsession with the bee has led him to discover a loophole he plans to exploit for his very own gain -- and that trophy will soon be his as no parent, bratty tween or Golden Quill administrator will keep him from his destiny! Crass, crude and beyond rude, nothing will long stand in Guy's way ... including the awkwardly cute, nearly friendless and parentally-neglected Chaitanya (Rohan Chand - Lone Survivor). Does Guy remain unfazed, steadfast and true ... or does he melt like the rest of us?
A Hundred and Seventy-Five Million dollars was spent on this film and they apparently forgot to buy something noteworthy -- other than samurai vocab -- to mention in a review! Keanu Reeves (The Matrix 1-3) stars in this 18th Century story that takes place in an ancient and still isolated Japan where every samurai ideally has a daimy and they all speak English(!). Keanu is considered to be a "half-breed" as he was discovered as a young orphan and is not therefore entitled to partake of the way of the samurai although he is a member of the daimyo, Lord Asano's (Min Tanaka) household. Through some sly trickery, the 47 warriors of the title soon find themselves "leaderless" making them the textbook definition of ronin. 48 men -- Keanu finally gets to join them now -- seek vengeance for Asano's death. This film is based on traditional Japanese lore and events much like any culture with strong oral histories and some supernatural liberties have been taken here to make Japan look even more mysterious.
Camille Claudel, 1915 is a French drama that recounts a week of Claudel's life after she has fallen on hard times following her early years of artistic success and creativity and now finding herself hidden away in a reclusive countryside asylum. Years earlier, Camille had been the celebrated protégé and (later) mistress of Auguste Rodin (the sculptor of 'The Thinker') and they also had a productive, artistic relationship. When it ended, it ended badly as Rodin was never going to leave his wife and things did not go well for Camille who took it all rather hard. Years after the partnership had come to an end, she was still not "herself" and her brother had her admitted to an asylum in Avignon where she seems to always believe Rodin's men are plotting to kill her and her "loving" brother is close-by even though she has practically been abandoned by him. Camille learns early in the film that her brother Paul is coming to visit her on the upcoming weekend and the film is ponderous and slow as nearly every scene captures Juliette Binoche (Chocolat) contemplating an optimistic future she cannot obtain in her present situation. Her future life and happiness hinge upon that "loving" brother of hers who is coming to visit. Binoche captures the role well as the audience sees brief bursts of life and/or hope escape from this asylum resident who clearly does NOT belong where she has been put. This is based upon a true story.
This slow and subtitled French film based on actual events won't be one many are going to out-right enjoy although I found it to be rather interesting as I find its subject matter -- 19th century female hysteria -- to be most fascinating. The film is about Augustine, a young French housemaid (French singer/actress Soko), who suffers a debilitating seizure and is thus admitted to a Parisian psychiatric hospital and treated by renown physician Jean-Martin Charcot (Vincent Lindon - Bastards). In a medical field that was dominated by men, it was (frighteningly) common for any woman who experienced something that a man couldn't easily explain/understand to be diagnosed with "hysteria". If a woman acted in any manner that society found confusing or objectionable, she was a "hysteric" who could find herself subjected to some horrifyingly abhorrent and offensive "treatment" at the hands of men who claimed a medical interest in her well-being. The time period and understanding of this predominately female ailment IS fascinating; but I think a better film would have focused more on the doctor and his evolving understanding of hysteria over the years following his time with this one patient; but that is not what we are given with Augustine. Again, this is hard to "enjoy" but it is one that could hopefully shed some more light on this bizarre chapter of modern medicine.
Rarely is shrewd political commentary entertaining but Marvel Entertainment ups the ante by making the second Captain America film just as much social commentary as it is "comic book" film. The movie is stylish, smart and fun ... and it has raised the bar pretty high for the rest of the Avengers-related films that will follow. Captain America (Chris Evans - Sunshine) reprises his role as the costumed hero who is still struggling with the modern world a few years after he awoke from a decades-long slumber. This film focuses on his role/relationship with SHIELD and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson - Pulp Fiction) more than it does with his partnership within the Avengers. When Fury and fellow agents are targeted by a lethal and mysterious human killing machine known as the Winter Soldier, the Captain scrambles to discover peoples' loyalties as it is revealed HYDRA has long held a firm grip upon parts of the SHIELD organization. Avengers-film(s) MVP Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson - Lost in Translation) is again on hand to help the Captain out as is new ally Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie - The Hurt Locker) who suits up and soars as Falcon. Even though the film addresses several timely issues and concerns, it is never feels bogged down nor preachy. It raises valid questions. The film's highly enjoyable opening sequence sets the stage for things to come and it shows the audience just how awesome of a super hero Captain America actually is. I think Captain America is my favorite Avenger and it isn't because of his name -- it is because of this film's first 15 minutes. Fun.