If you want action, complex plot and driving narrative with plenty of twists and turns, then maybe, you have to forget this film.
<br/>Co-written by director Winterbottom, the facts of this story are fairly straightforward. Widower Joe (Firth), an English academic living in America, loses his wife, Marrianne (Davis), in a car accident. After months of bereavement he sees a chance for some renewal in a teaching contract in Genova, Italy, and takes his daughters Kelly (Holland) and Mary (Haney-Jardine) with him. Here he is shown the ropes by Barbara (Keener), an old university friend who is sweet to him, though he only has eyes for Rosa (Romeo), a student.
<br/>In Genova, daughter Kelly rebels and stays out late partying while younger sister Mary deals with her grief wandering the streets, with sadness and constant nightmares about her mother's death. Joe tries to keep what's left of his family together as he rediscovers life and love again in an exotic setting-- Genova, a northern Italian port city that is steeped in history and stunningly beautiful.
<br/>With its architectural splendours, the city is itself a wonderful setting. And the performances are solid and nuanced. Colin Firth is an adept actor, if somewhat understated, and both Haney-Jardine and Holland also give performances as his daughters.
<br/>The film resonates with emotional truth and is compelling despite the apparent lack of action. This may lead some to ask: so what's it all about? Life, I guess, as simple as that.
A Royal Affair follows the 18th century trials and tribulations of Caroline Mathilde (Alice Vikander), the unfortunate English princess chosen to marry her cousin, King Christian VII of Denmark (Mikkel Folsgaard). Yet, the king, bored by royal life, rebels against it by acting out. The result is the same for Caroline, a spirited young woman who, after delivering the requisite two offsprings, refuses to have anything more to do with the King. He is unperturbed by her behaviour and, keen to taste the joys of Europe, he sets off on a grand tour to engage in all the debauchery he can imagine.
While he travels, it becomes clear that he requires a physician to keep some of his more excessive behaviour in check. So while he takes a break in Germany, Dr Johan Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen) is engaged to keep King Christian under his care, to divert the King and to learn the ways in court.
The Queen resents Struensee and his hold over the King, but once she flicks through the doctor's bookcase and finds that he has similar tastes to herself, she is intrigued. As their friendship develops and they swap ideas about the value of Enlightenment, it becomes apparent to others at court, even if not to themselves, that there is a romance developing.
Struensee, albeit not portrayed as a man greedy for power, soon discovers his ability to influence the affairs of states and, given his radical political ideas, he cannot resist using his influence with the unbalanced king to implement them.
Caroline and Struensee persuade the king and in the process create enemies at court. Their affair becomes the talk of the town, and their positions compromised until even the King can't ignore the innuendo. Caroline is protected by the crown, but Struensee has no such protection and as a foreigner he is despised.
It turns out that Dr Struensee and Queen Caroline were ahead of their time, and their ideas were finally implemented during the 55 year reign of Queen Caroline's son, Frederick VI.
The Enchanted April is quirky, full of humour, of misunderstandings, of instances of characters miscommunicating and misjudging one another's intentions. Yet it's also charming and sweet which candidly explores, albeit somewhat lightheartedly, the heartache four women are nursing caused by aging, marital neglect, and the like.
Based on the 1921 novel by Elizabeth von Armin, the film centers on Lottie Wilkins (Josie Lawrence), a shabby middle-class wife, blessed with a self-proclaimed magical ability to see into people. When her eyes catch a newspaper ad for a month in an Italian villa, she immediately thinks of her downtrodden neighbor Rose Arbuthnot (Miranda Richardson). To save money, two other eccentric femmes join this couple: the haughty widow Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright) and the alluring society lady, Caroline Dester (Polly Walker), who is the opposite of all the others.
When they wake up in their villa after a rainy nighttime arrival (Britain still seems to follow them like a cloud), they open their windows to a sunny spring morning on the Italian coast, the hills exploding in flowers and foliage, the Mediterranean waters a captivating azure catching the sun with white accents. It's a fairy tale awakening for them in every way. "It's this place," says Lawrence's newly recharged character.
Then the film slips into internal monologues to tell us about the transformations the characters are going through and they seem so unnecessary so much of the time, mostly because the observations are already so apparent to the eye.
And when the husbands arrive, the old romances are recharged and relationships rekindled with newfound respect and affection, if not for the commitment and compassion and generosity of Mike Newell's direction. It's not about escape or rebirth, it's about renewal and appreciation, with all the restraint we've come to expect in the oh-so-British manner of period movies, but behind that precious romanticism is a genuine commitment to this emotional renewal. This is an earnest movie about personality transformation, self-renewal and life lessons about female camaraderie.
Man on a Ledge is a crime thriller and it has no pretensions to be anything else. Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) is released from prison to attend his father's funeral and at the graveside he escapes. Nick is in prison for the theft of the Monarch Diamond that was owned by David Englander (Ed Harris) and Nick believes Englander framed him for the theft.
Nick's plan to prove his innocence is, like all good movie plans, somewhat convulated and involves "schematics" and plastic explosives and a loyal brother with a feisty girl sidekick. It also involves Nick going out onto the ledge of a hotel in the middle of Manhattan and threatening to jump off. Part of the plan is to make sure there are enough TV cameras on Nick so he can shout his innocence from the rooftops, and point the finger at Englander as the thief.
The NYPD have to try and negotiate Nick off the ledge, because a body splattered on the pavement is not good PR for the city -- What would the tourists think? So Jack Dougherty (Ed Burns) is sent in. However Nick wants Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) and the reason for his choice becomes clearer as the film progresses.
While Nick stands on the ledge, his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) with his girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) are breaking into the building where the vault holding the Monarch Diamond is housed.
Man on the Ledge is a well paced film that sits comfortably in its genre. Each member of the cast knows why they are there and what is expected of them. So even if there are stereotypes galore, which includes everything from Harris' nasty, rich, real estate developer diamond owner, to the pretty matching underwear on display by Angie as she suits up for the daring final swing into the vault, there is a certain good humoured charm of the flick that retains the audience' interest.
Directed by: Alexander Payne
The Descendants is a thoughtful look at family and a look at what is important in life.
Half-Hawaiian, Matt King ( George Clooney) is heir (along with various relatives, including his cousin Hugh, played by Beau Bridges) to a mouthwatering 25,000 acres handed down by his ancestors. Matt must cast the deciding vote on who will buy the property, and what will be developed there.
Matt King's reckless, charismatic wife, Elizabeth, lies in a coma. A few weeks into the crisis, with Elizabeth hanging on by an invisible thread, Matt learns what his older daughter, a recovering addict played with a fierce lack of sentiment by Shailene Woodley, already knows: Elizabeth had taken a lover at the time of her boating accident.
After learning the identity of his comatose wife's lover (a real estate maven played with exquisite discomfort by Matthew Lillard), Matt heads off to confront him in some way or another, accompanied by daughters 17-year-old Alex (Woodley) and 10-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller). They're joined also by Alex's not-quite-a-boyfriend, Sid, played by Nick Krause.
The film's tones are complicated but smoothly mixed. The actors have room to make the people their own. Clooney leads the way with a shrewdly modulated portrayal of a man learning, awkwardly, to no longer settle for being "the backup parent." At the outset. Matt describes himself and his girls as parts of an archipelago, related but "separate and alone," defined by their distance. By the end, the Hawaiian breezes have nudged them all closer together.
Excellent performances by the two Dames and Miriam Margolyes was hilarious as always. Every part she plays she seems to fit into perfectly. Anyone who ever had elderly aunts living together would see them reincarnated as Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. The interplay of the sisters' (Dench and Smith) personalities both within their household and with village characters and with their housekeeper was beautifully portrayed. It's true that some events are never explained fully, but I thought there was considerable psychological depth to the film.
'Ladies in Lavender', stars two stalwarts of British stage and screen, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. They play sisters, Janet and Ursula, who live in a house on the cliffs in Cornwall. One night during a storm they discover a young man washed up on the beach below.
Ensconced in their spare room, speaking no English, with a broken ankle he's the most exciting thing to happen in the women's lives in decades and Ursula develops a crush on him.
Andrea who's played by Daniel Bruehl of Goodbye Lenin fame turns out to be a talented musician, stirring the interest of a German artist Olga (Natasha McElhone) who's staying nearby.
The magnificent Cornish scenery should leave no doubt as to why people, artists especially have always been attracted there. The Cornish setting was breathtaking and the music glorious. The acting, the late 30's household setting, the village details, the music make this a superb story. This is not a film for teenagers. The emotional tenor of this film is absolutely haunting and exactly right for anyone of a certain maturity.
It's a movie that explored in a subtle way themes of loss, love, ageing and that portrayed life and community from a bygone era. It's a very poignant and moving film. The flick gives a very lovely and sad insight into one woman's unfullfilled dreams of love and her grief. It was a delicate study about the denial of love which the two dames carried off superbly.
The strength of this film was what was left unsaid -- there was enough given away to make one think about the deep emotions running just below the surface. Albeit the story has some holes in it, and is a bit cheesy at times but what is going on internally for Usrula (Dench) is protrayed subtely yet powerfully enough to carry the film.
Although the title is Julius Caesar, the play and the film are more concerned with Brutus and his interplay with Cassius and Antony. As Brutus, James Mason displays the brooding intelligence of a man clearly swimming in political waters far deeper than he is qualified for, either by training or temperament. Likewise Gielgud, as Cassius, is appropriately manipulative. Cassius has his own agenda and is happy to use Brutus to reach that end.
In a similar manner, Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz has filled the other roles with excellent actors who are uniformly comfortable with Shakespeare's language to the point that they can use it as a means of investing their characters with a reality that is both honest and entertaining.
As Marc Antony, Marlon Brando makes the most of his few but crucial appearances, including a stunningly intense delivery of the "I've come to bury Caesar" sequence at the turning point. Brando was an actor of immense talent and is not only comfortable with the language but more than holds his own with the classically trained actors in the cast who have far more experience with the Bard.
Brando's timing and dramatic sense are impeccable. What's more, Brando infuses Antony with a pugnacious air that seems completely appropriate to Antony both dramatically and historically. Antony's speech alone, as played by Brando, is worth the price of admission.
But most of this play belongs to the tortured, noble figure of Brutus. James Mason's fluid voice and minimalist acting style perfectly convey the humanity-and the tragedy of humanity-represented by this figure. His interplay with Gielgud throughout the play, starting with Cassius's cunning manipulation of Brutus into the conspiracy to kill Caesar and concluding with their reconciliation as Cassius faces death, is an acting school led by veterans of both stage and celluloid.
In the in the end it is Cassius who is most changed by Brutus and that because of this relationship he dies a better man than the schemer we met earlier. Indeed, if you are looking for acting at its finest you need look no further than the Mason - Brando speeches in the Forum.
For three hours, Director Federico Fellini depicted Rome as a modern-day Sodom or Gomorrah, stringing together fictional episodes (some allegedly based on fact) designed to expose sin and corruption among the middle and upper classes.
As a unifying device. Fellini used a newspaper gossip columnist who either observed or participated in the various events, from staging of a "miracle," in which two children fasely claimed they saw a vision of the Madonna, to an orgy in an ancient castle peopled with prostitutes, transvestites, decadent aristocrats and other sordid types.
The gifted Marcello Mastroianni portrayed the columnist -- a man who did not feel deeply, had guilt feelings because he could not, and finally realized he had become immune to emotion.
Whatever one's reservations about the philosophical profundity or lack thereof in the film, there was no denying the technical skill with which it was made. Fellini's images were rich and brilliant and edited so fluidly and diveresely that they fairly swirled across the screen, as well as Nino Rota's score, which has become a classic in its own right.
I quite enjoyed the film. There are lots of hilarious lines in the film, many straight from the books but most just clever new lines the writers came up with.
Andy Serkis' brilliant performance as Captain Haddock is absolutely hilarious. When you're not laughing at what he's doing, you're laughing at his lines, and when you're not laughing at his lines you're probably laughing at his face. He has a Scottish accent in the film. There were times when shots of Haddock and a flashback of Sir Francis alternate with a fluency that could only really be acchieved using motion capture.
Daniel Craig did a splendid job as the villain Sakharine, and it's funny to recognise James Bond playing a villain's part.
Pretty much every frame of the movie is a piece of art. Especially the city of Brussels and the port in Morocco are bright,colorful and incredibly detailed. If you see it in 2D you shouldn't feel like you're missing too much because the 3D is more of a fun added bonus to the movie experience.
This is a movie you can take your kids to, but it's not just a movie for kids. As far as the people go, they look wonderful . They still look like the cartoon characters from the comics, but when you see each individual hair on their heads and the sand and the sweat on their faces as they trod through the desert, you have to remind yourself it isn't real and congratulate Weta for their splendid job.
For Tintin fans, it's just fair to say that the storyline was a familiar one, yet it was good to see some changes to it to make the movie more exciting. Overall, it's the kind of film that reminds us to leave our frankly shallow attempts to appear intellectual at the door and enjoy it for its honest and pure spirit of adventure, the kind of film Spielberg does best.
A three-time world champion, Brazilian Ayrton Senna was many things to many people, but is widely regarded as one of the greatest drivers of Formula One. He is also the last driver to die during the race, with his death during a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994 prompting a review of the sport's safety practices.
This documentary not only focuses on his life on the race track, charting his rise from go kart racer to F1 world champion, it also shows the human side of him and how he became a national icon for the Brazilian people facing difficult times. It also shows he wasn't a saint, with his immense rivalry with Frenchman Alain Prost bringing out the worst in both drivers. Senna comes out looking like the champion, with Prost portrayed as a bitter rival who went far enough as to protest against his own team mate to win the 1989 world title.
Complete with comments from Ayrton's sister, Viviane, and never-before-seen family video, it delves into areas rarely visited with a man worshipped in his Brazilian homeland and treated as a rock star in Japan, where his career took so many twists.
Being onboard for Senna's last lap is a poignant moment, right down to the scream of the V10 and the horrifying crunch when it slams into the wall at the fast Tamburello corner.
There's detailed footage of the fight to save Senna's life - the last lost in F1 - something that brings home the reality of the detailed documentary that was produced with the co-operation of Senna's family.
Earlier this year, the film broke the record for the highest grossing opening weekend for a documentary in British cinema history.
The film describes the harsh life of Taliban-era refugees living in the caves around the destroyed, 1,600-year-old Buddhist shrine of Bamiyan in Afghanistan.
THE BOY WHO PLAYS ON THE BUDDHAS OF BAMIYAN focuses on smiling eight-year-old Mir, camera-cute but pugnacious, and his family who live among the ruins of the 'Buddhas of Bamiyan', one of the tallest stone statues of the world destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Mir's acceptance of life as it is portrayed to him quite humbling. Harsh life or not, he laughs and mocks fate. His parents, tired of their hellish existence -- 20 years of wars and poverty -- are like the other adults, doing their best to survive with a fatalistic resignation. What we glimpse in this film is the equality of human existence.
The film captures the startling contrasts between the beauty of the surroundings and ugliness of these people's poverty, but its decision to present the political and historical context mainly through the family's (sometimes uninformed) words and snippets of World Service news, while leaving footage of visits by ministers and aid agencies without comment, makes for a finally unsatisfying result. It is an incredibly poignant documentary and captivating viewing as you follow the extraordinary story of Mir and his family's struggle.
The landscape is stark, the winter is harsh, the refugees' stories are harrowing, Mir's school is crowded and ill equipped, helicopters move across the sky, and the roads carry mostly military vehicles, there's no question the situation is grim. But the personalities are engaging, while occasional intrusions by the outside world into this remote spot offer both rays of hope and bureaucratic absurdism. Two decades of upheaval may have left them calloused and battle-scarred, but their hope in the feisty, almost blissfully oblivious Mir goes a long way in explaining their unflagging willingness to survive.
Almost no one remembers the film today. Still, it's noteworthy to be reminded that sometimes, yesterday's news is worth looking at again.
Cavalcade tells the "Upstairs/Downstairs"-style story of two British families across the years from December 31, 1899 to December 31, 1932. The "Upstairs" clan members are the Marryots: father Sir Robert (Clive Brook), mother Lady Jane (Diana Wynyard), and sons Edward (John Warburton) and Joe (Frank Lawton). The "Downstairs" family consists of manservant Alfred Bridges (Herbert Mundin), his wife, maid Ellen (Una O'Connor), and their daughter, Fanny (Ursula Jeans). It is a tale of joy and woe, chiefly concerned with the experiences of Robert Marryot and his wife, Jane, and embracing what happens to their children and their servants.
As the movie opens, both Robert and Alfred are preparing to fight in the Second Boer war. Both distinguish themselves in combat. Upon their return, Robert is knighted and Alfred is able to leave service and set himself up as the owner and operator of a London pub.
Albeit there are simply too many characters to keep track, yet just give a film a chance by watching it more than once is the way to go. And while there's a certain reactionary quality to some of the film's material, the movie's overriding thrust is very effectively anti-war.
The story is more concerned with the potential of death than it is with actual tragedy - how those left behind live in a constant state of anxiety, never knowing if their loved one is going to appear on a casualty list. (One of the most moving scenes occurs when Jane and Ellen go to a central location to read the names of the latest dead and wounded soldiers.) The movie also touches upon the common theme of how wasteful and irrational war is - it is referred to as a way for men to earn their stripes and for nations to flex their muscles.
Inasmuch as modern audiences have often found the film stilted and overacted, one critic reckons that when seen today, Cavalcade is best viewed from a historical perspective.
Opinions were sharply at odds on this film. This time the subject was the ticklish one of inter-racial marriage ( it was in the 1960's when interracial marriages in a few states in the USA were illegal.)
In 1967's San Francisco, after the Civil Rights Act has been signed but before Martin Luther King has been assassinated, young Joanna Drayton (Katharine Houghton) arrives back at her parents' upscale home after being away for a while. She wanted to marry a black , and albeit the daughter of ultra-liberal parents, their principles put to a severe test. Her parents, the prominent liberal newspaper owner Matt Drayton (Spencer Tracy) and his elegant wife Christina (Katharine Hepburn) are delighted to see her but are suddenly taken aback when she reveals that she's had a new boyfriend for 10 days, he's 14 years older, she's in love, she's going to marry him, and she needs their blessing tonight. Oh, and he's 'colored.' As Joanna blithely explains, 'It never occurred to me that I would fall in love with a Negro, but I have, and nothing's going to change that.'
Of course, Sidney Poitier is an ideal choice: An internationally respected specialist in his field (medicine), impeccably mannered, handsome, well-dressed, and a descendant of a respectable California family. What more could a mother want for her child? Of course, our daughters could marry nice black doctors like Poitier.
Forty four years old now, the issues it dared to raise at a time when they were extremely controversial still echo across the decades. It's dated a bit, but to watch it today is to measure how far we've come.
Subject matter aside, the film surely owed much of its popularity to the appearance in it of Hepburn and Tracy as the mum and dad of the girl. It's the ninth time Tracy had acted in this picture with Hepburn and they both played together as beautifully as always.
"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," probably remembered today as more of a Sidney Poitier film than anyone else's. It was the last time Tracy and Hepburn would appear together in a film, and, indeed, the last film Tracy would make, his passing away shortly after the film wrapped.
Of God's and Men is a film with only the sound of Gregorian chants and the bustle of natural life for a soundtrack. Dialogue is sparse but what is said resonates all the more for the silence and it moves at a meditative pace that only serves to heighten the tension as the film progresses.
Written and directed by Frenchman Xavier Beauvois, the flick is loosely based on the lives of the Cistercian monks of Tibhirine in Algeria and their capture by terrorists in 1996. The Cistercian monastery had been in Algeria since colonial days and, although there were fewer than 10 monks living there in the 1990's, they were still part of village life. They dedicated their lives to study, prayer and manual labour for their survival. Their mission was not to evangelise but to offer witness to their Christian faith in a region where the majority of people were muslim.
In 1996, the conflict between Jama Islamiah and the Algerian government is intense. After a local group of Croatian workers is murdered by terrorists, the government sends the army to protect the monastery. Brother Christian (Lambert Wilson) who appears to be the most scholarly of the brothers (he writes and thinks most profoundly on matters of faith and theology, and has read widely, including the Koran, so his understanding of the 'villagers' faith is well informed) resolutely opposes the protection, which puts him at odds with some of the other brothers, who argue that he has violated the rules of the community by not discussing the decision with them, nor confronting the larger question of whether their life of witness extends to the ultimate sacrifice at the hands of terrorists.
Finally, Brother Christian asks each monk what he would like to do. The group is divided but the oldest monk, Brother Amadee (Jacques Herlin), believes "it is too soon" to reach a conclusion. At this point, when the villagers, some of the monks, the local politician and the army believe it is time for the monks to leave, it seems impossible that by the end of the film the audience is so convinced of the rightness of their decision to stay.
The pace of the film reinforces the complexity of a life of faith and deep spirituality. The slow unveiling of a change of heart and mind, the slow realisation and acceptance of the purpose in a spiritual life of work and meditation is, at times, overwhelming. The story itself is compelling, but the way in which it is told by Beauvois and performed by the cast is inspired.
There are zombies, mermaids, pirates, the Spanish navy, the English navy, Bluebeard, his daughter Angelica and the search for the Fountain of Eternal Youth all clamouring for your attention.
While not perhaps original, and not among the best, On Stranger Tides is once again a reflection of the thrill you get from the ride of its namesake. Albeit it lacks the complete cast that made it a hit, still, the cinematography is skillful, the costumes, sets and period recreation is authentic and the effects are superb. The opening twenty minutes is an example of the writing being at its funniest and wittiest, and the scenes with the mermaids are beautifully shot and intriguing.
Johnny Depp remains the face of the film. But a majority of his thunder is co-opted by an on-point Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa, who not only gets the funniest lines and reaction shots, but also starts to siphon away much of the roguish charm that used to be Depp's stock and trade. His relationship with Angelica (Penelope Cruz) really adds that extra bit of spice to the film. It also helps that Cruz and Depp have outstanding chemistry together. While the character of Angelica can be a bit complicated at times, her motives are vague at best, this can be overshadowed by the fact Cruz plays her with some real gusto.
Geoffrey Rush really stole the show, and it seems the writers gave him quite a bit more storyline this time as well. The idea of moving him to the kings navy really played off, and his scenes for were definitely a highlight of the film. Ian McShane is a great villain, while not as good as Davey Jones or Barbossa for that matter, he still has a great storyline and some really menacing moments to make him a worthy adversary.The script is still funny for the most part and features some clssic and witty lines. Keith Richards, in another cameo as Captain Teague, asks: "Does this face look like it's found the Fountain of Youth?" Nope, it does not. "Just close your eyes and pretend it's all a bad dream, that's how I get by." Aye, "You may kill me, but you may never insult me."
Although the film has a lot of its action sequences occurring in darker scenes and hues the one sequence involving mermaids is intense and notable, as is some impressively choreographed sword fights.
Two silver chalices, a mermaid's tear and then onward to the Fountain of Youth. Oh, and what is the storyline between the missionary and the mermaid?
Est-il juste parce qu'il est Francais?
Based on a true story, Un Secret sees post-war France through the eyes of pre-teen Francois, an only child of two ridiculously good-looking parents.
When he becomes curious about the inner workings of his parents' relationship, a close friend reveals secrets about the multi-layered and convulated love affair that began 15 or so years earlier, and the consequences (some fatal) that occurred because of it. The film captures the complexities of being a Jew in France from the 1930's to the present, where layers of a family's history are revealed by jumping back and forth in time. It's about a gripping mystery and an ever-timely reminder of the terrible power of repression and silence.
Beautifully acted and exquisitely photographed, director Claude Miller's superb drama is awash with the ripples created by unlived lives. He brings together beautiful actors, great sceneries and thought-provoking stories but misses the mark in the alignment of all the elements. Still, the performances of all the cast are compassionate and compelling.
The cinematography for the most is absolutely gorgeous. But it seems that Miller has cheapened the audience's experience, for rather than exploring the entire body of one or two stories, he merely nibbles at the ear of many. And again, what is with the bizarre epilogue?
The Company Men, written by sometime West Wing writer and director John Wells, focuses on three men's experience of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and the ways in which they and their families cope.
Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is a fast talking salesman for a large congolomerate. He has a lovely wife, a big house, a Porsche and at 37 seems set for life. Then he walks in one day and his job is gone. He is just one of the "cost saving measures" that the company is implementing. He is not a person but an expense and he has to go. He is given six months Outplacement training and severance pay.
He is convinced he will find work shortly, so the measures that his wife Maggie (Rosemarie de Witt) suggests, like selling the Porsche and downsizing, are met with disbelief and anger. He will have a job any minute.
As the months drag on and his anger dissipates to quiet desperation, Magiie quietly implements the cost saving measures and life changes slowly to incorporate these.
Further up the company chain is Phil (Chris Cooper) who has worked his way up from the factory floor. He doesn't have any formal education and although he survives the first round of redundancies, he's gone in the second round as the company begins to consolidate its position to meet "market expectations." He recognises his disadvantages and struggles without family support.
Finally, there is the Gene (Tommy Lee Jones) who is one of the men who started the company. He watches as his partner makes decisions to get rid of good people and moves the company away from its roots in shipbuilding and into health and other 'growth sectors." He feels increasingly alienated from the company he assisted to build and finally he, too, is out the door. Obviously, his options are more extensive than his two employees, but the loss of purpose and endeavour, even for him, is obvious.
Directed by Majid Majidi, this award-winning and wonderfully moving film follows Karim, a simple man who leaves his pastoral life and travels to Tehran. Entangled in a fast-paced world of materialism and greed, he looks to his family to restore his values. The film is a combination of quiet contemplation, whimsy, yet, t's a leisurely and lovely picture, often sentimental, sometimes humorous, hence, it's well worth seeing.
Reza Najie plays Karim, a grizzled ostrich handler in late middle age who is fired from his ranch for losing one of his enormous charges. The escaped bird, lost in the high-desert hills outside Tehran, haunts the borders of the movie from then on. Desperate for money to replace his deaf daughter's broken hearing aid, Karim takes on odd jobs, works as a motorcycle-cab driver, and deals in used objects obtained both ethically and otherwise. Karim moves slowly toward a moral, spiritual and physical crisis, apparently mirrored in his young son's belief that he can become a millionaire by raising fish in an abandoned water cistern.
One day, Karim's son is playing near the wall of objects and Karim, seeing the objects disturbed, yells at his son, which sparks an argument with his wife. Later, Karim insists that a blue door, which he found and his wife had given away to a friend, be returned to the wall of objects. In a wonderful aerial shot, we see Karim trudging across the open fields with the blue door upon his back. Blue is a significant color, the shade of the heavens and therefore of sacred things. In the incongruent image of a door absent its mooring, Majidi creates a sublime metaphor for Karim's spiritual disharmony. Soon afterward, the wall of objects collapses and Karim, seriously injured by its fall, lies in his sick bed, forced to become an observer in the lives of his family and friends.
Wonderful touches of humour punctuate Karim's spiritual crisis, although Majidi's comedy is never accomplished at the expense of his character: Karim maintains his dignity, and because he does, there is a nobility to all of the choices he makes, even the ones that put him on the wrong path. People of faith will see divinity in The Song of Sparrows, and the rest of us the presence of something greater than ourselves, a perfection that can only be understood in observation of another person's life. In the same way that the incapacitated Karim gains back his strength in observation of the quotidian, so, too, are we reconnected to an unchanging force of nature, to the composition of the human soul, as we witness this simple man's profound recognition of all that is good about his life.
I thoroughly enjoyed The King's Speech, which is based on the true and fascinating story of King George V and which includes a stellar cast including Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, Guy Pearce and Helena Bonham Carter (to name just a few).
Granted, for some, this is a slightly unusual film as there's no special effects, it's not in 3D, there's no violence, sex or anything that would really be considered exciting or controversial. Yet it's gripping and funny and entertaining and beautifully acted. It is, in short, a compelling story that's superbly told.
This film portrays a man who in his own way brilliantly illustrates the successful use of strengths (especially as a way to overcome adversity)...it is about King George's attempts to overcome a disabling and distressing stammer (quite an occupational hazard if your "job" requires frequent public speaking!), which he ultimately triumphs by using his admirable courage and perseverance (two signature strengths).
Colin Firth's performance is exquisite; his ability to show the uncertainty and fear yet underlying resolve of the King is masterful. It is heartbreakingly good. Helena Bonham Carter is also adept as Elizabeth. She nails each of her scenes with tender facial expressions capturing the love and support she has for her husband. The film also highlights the touching social intelligence and the hope instilled by his teacher and the use of humour by many. The flick is an intelligent drama that puts flesh on the bones of historical figures.