Warning: The Master has much in common with The Tree of Life, and is just a few degrees better. Both are 'challenging movies for serious audiences' (i.e. art-house films, though big budget), critically acclaimed, self-important, exceptionally shot, with well-respected writer/directors, and star first-rate actors. However, both are far more style over substance. The Master is largely an unsettling & unappealing film. Furthermore, it doesn't possess a plot; instead it's as if PT Anderson has drawn from someone's biography (L. Ron Hubbard's comes to mind). There's a huge gulf between the production values (high) and the story it tells (which is not enlightening, edifying, or even engrossing). The acting is good but too bombastic for my taste (when are we going to see a movie in which Phoenix or Hoffman do not shout or cry? Where's the understatement in their performances?) Finally, while watching The Master, I frequently thought of a PBS film about the Jonestown massacre and the Peoples Temple cult led by Jim Jones. That documentary is far more engrossing than The Master.
A very solid French dramedy a la The Big Chill. The liberal views on drugs and esp. sex will turn off some, and it is a bit soap operaish at times. Yet, the honesty, joie-de-vivre, humor, and humanity are all undeniable. Some outstanding acting. A blockbuster, mainstream French comedy-drama destined to be regarded as a minor cult classic in its homeland. Well worth your time. PS: Is it me, or does that poster remind you of Windows 8's home screen?
A mainstream Hollywood film about rekindling affection in a loveless marriage done right. Hope Springs is not a chic-flick in the traditional sense, except that the focus of all the scenes are about obtaining a fulfilling romantic relationship. Although it's being advertised as a comedy, Hope Springs is in fact equal parts drama, romance, and comedy (and some of the laughs are delectable). Steve Carell is excellent in a supporting role, and plays it completely straight. The leads, Streep and Jones, are outstanding (Streep should even win some more awards for her work here). Special mention for the screenplay and direction: subtle, realistic, contemporary, and understated. A tender, emotional, hilarious, sweet, and important film, one that underlines the importance of having a loving relationship in our lives. Highly recommended, especially for those 35 and up.
I found To Rome With Love to be nearly as strong as Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona (a high point in Allen's recent comedies). It's definitely better than Midnight in Paris, despite what you might read here. Maybe it's the fact that it's half in Italian and those of us who don't know Italian have to read the subtitles... But I'm baffled by all these negative reviews. Roberto Belini's storyline was absolutely hilarious, and a joy to watch unfold. Allen's story with the opera singer was also a riot. And the story with the young Americans is very reminiscent of typical Allen observations about relationships (it recalls the stronger parts of Whatever Works). To Rome With Love is far funnier and satisfying a movie than Moonrise Kingdom, which I thought was a bomb, yet the reviews and stats on RT's say otherwise. It just goes to show that art is highly subjective (and that I shouldn't read reviews until after I see the film).
An absolute bomb. How this movie gets such great reviews, I don't understand... The acting is wooden, as if the actors are trying to call attention to the fact that they're acting. The script is very poor. Way too many really stupid jokes, and none that are truly funny. The cinematography/editing is also really bad with panned shots and zooming. At times I could barely understand the lead actor, the young teen. Boring, boring, boring... Is this a sign of our decadence?