A beautiful film and a beautiful story about acceptance. The lead actress,
Kalki Koechlin, was brilliant as a girl with cerebral palsy seeking her place in the world. I truly believed she was afflicted with the condition. Her performance was impeccable. And her smile was radiant. I fell in love with her character. Be prepared for an emotional ride.
Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy, and a stellar cast of British character actors shine a light on the movie making process in which fact gives way to truth in order to tell a compelling story. There is humor and pathos, intrigue and great courage, hardships and sacrifices, all set during the siege of London. Directed by Lone Scherfig, based on a novel by Lissa Evans, I can highly recommend it.
Hailee Steinfeld captures the essence of the high school outcast whose fragile psyche is rocked when her best friend starts up a relationship with her BMOC older brother. Her angst is palpable as she rebels against her emotionally needy mother, pines after one of the school bad boys, and with the perceived desertion of her one and only friend, finds the only person she can talk to is her teacher, Mr Bruner, played by Woody Harrelson. A fine cast carried the story and the emotions seemed genuine as the stories played out on the screen. Ms Steinfeld was radiant and commanded the screen whenever she was on camera, The script accurately portrayed teenage angst without getting heavy handed or melodramatic and the denouement felt organically natural.
A brilliant stop-motion animated film, directed by one of my favorite directors, Wes Anderson. A young Japanese boy, Atari Kobyashi, travels to the toxic wasteland where the dogs on Uni province have been banished, to find his beloved guard dog, Spots. The story tugs at your heartstrings, but never becomes maudlin, as there are moments of laugh out loud humor. The scenery and set design are fabulous. Each of the dogs has a distinct personality and the voice actors do a fabulous job of making that happen. The film is in Japanese and English, and some, but not all, of the Japanese is either translated to, or subtitled in, English. Much of what Atari says while on the island is left untranslated, but the emotion comes through anyway. The story is of a boy and his dog with a lot of political intrigue and social commentary cleverly presented.
Over the course of a week we meet Paterson (Adam Driver), a bus driver in Paterson, NJ, who is also a poet, and his live-in girlfriend, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). This beautifully filmed gem celebrates an everyman who quietly observes life and comments on it through his writing. Laura, meanwhile, seems to be a creative soul herself, designing her own clothes, decorating their home, learning to play guitar, baking cupcakes, and all done in a black and white color scheme. Adam Driver seemed perfectly cast as a man who is not aware of his talent, but feels driven to write. Ms Farahani is stunningly beautiful and lit up avery scene she was in. I definitely want to see more of her work. There are some heavy themes (race relations, marital difficulties, and loss) addressed, but delivered with a light, sometimes humorous, touch, a Jarmusch specialty. The pace is slow, almost languid, but if one has the patience, this film touches deeply.
I was surprised how much I liked it! This is not great cinema, and will probably be forgotten long before Citizen Kane, or Casablanca, or Cries and Whispers, but it was fun to watch and we enjoyed it, start to finish. It was somewhat sappy, highly predictable, and entirely without anything that would make you question its PG-13 MPAA rating. But these were people you could see yourself sitting down to have a meal with and know that you would enjoy it. Anne Hathaway was radiantly beautiful as the high-powered entrepreneur of a wildly successful eCommerce fashion house, whose marriage and home life was suffering, while Robert DeNiro came across as a father figure while serving as her intern. It was good to see Rene Russo and Linda Lavin and to hear Mary Kay Place's voice, as each played small, but important roles. I hesitate to call it a romantic comedy, as the two leads were never in danger of becoming lovers (although one would have to say they each came to value the other as more than colleagues) and there wasn't a lot of laugh out loud moments, but the overall tone of the film left one feeling good about the people and their relationships.
I am still trying to wrap my mind around this. I am a fan of Charlie Kaufman and have thoroughly enjoyed the films he has written and or directed that I have seen. (I still need to see Being John Malkovich, believe it or not.) He seems to always take some quirk of human nature and present it on screen in a tangible fashion, but in such a way that the viewer is never sure where he is taking us until we get there, usually in the last reel. Anomalisa is just such a film, portraying human loneliness and the desire to connect to another individual in a beautifully filmed, technological marvel. The courting dance between Michael and the frumpy, insecure Lisa is one of the most touching love stories I have seen, and yet at the end, both characters seem just as lonely as they were at the beginning. I was rooting for them to find a less tenuous connection than I was left with. Watching the Extras (included on the Blu-ray from NF) afterward showed just how much work is sometimes needed to create art. And the result here is most certainly a "work of art". I am currently giving this four and a half stars. I would buy this one.
This film just did not connect for this viewer. Maybe it was the translation. Maybe it was the cultural differences. Maybe it was the choppy editing that left few transitional scenes, but seemed to jump from one crisis to the next without context. Maybe it was the lack of clear motivation for the actions of the various characters. Somehow the ingredients were there for a much better film than this turned out to be, but it just never jelled. Two young women, Emma (Johanna ter Steege) and BÃ¶be (EnikÃ¶ BÃ¶rcsÃ¶k), childhood friends, leave their country village and attempt to make a life for themselves in Budapest. They are poor and struggling, but determined to make a success of their lives. The basic story kernel was solid, the two girls are lovely, but the way the story unfolded left a lot to be desired.
We watched this last week, and I was blown away by it. I feel that I am somewhat savvy about the market crash precipitated by the housing bubble collapse, but found the inside information here explained a lot of what led to this modern day Depression that I was previously unaware of. I think the thing that saddened/angered me the most is that so little has changed since then. What was depicted here could happen all over again.
I liked the intimacy of the fourth wall asides. I thought it increased the intimacy of the film and made the viewer feel like one of those insiders that figured out what was about to happen long before the banks had any idea of the monsters they had created.
I was astounded to find that was Christian Bales as Dr Mark Burry, the man who first saw the coming debacle, when the credits rolled! I thought his portrayal of someone who might have been located on the autism spectrum to be spot on. I also thought the rest of the cast was terrific. Steve Carrell was magnificent as the righteous crusader that tried his best to warn the bankers of their folly and still felt remorse when that warning was ignored and he made a bundle from it. I was enthralled, even as I realized that these guys made hundreds of millions off my 401k (and that of countless others) losing half its value in the blink of an eye. Several A-list celebrities made apearances, some playing themselves, lending authenticity to the production. I fully endorse the film's Oscar nominations. I think they were well-deserved.
What a beautiful movie, and what a performance by Reese Witherspoon! I was captivated by the story of a young woman whose life had gone off the rails after her mother died. I would have liked a bit more on what prompted her to set off on the amazing journey along the Pacific COast Trail, but her quest to find herself was a moving experience. From the opening scene I was emotionally invested in this young woman who bravely tested her physical and emotional limits and found reserves she had previously left untapped. Even now, nearly twenty-four hours later, the emotions are welling up. The story does show us what sent her life into a tailspin, in tiny little snatches of flashback which one can assume is how her psyche began to process what she had allowed to become of the young girl who idolized her mother. The scenery was breathtaking and the portrayal of Cheryl Strayed's odyssey was in my mind flawless. Now that I finally got to see this, I am doubly disappointed that Reese was passed over for an Oscar. She definitely stretched the mold with this meaty role.
A terrific cast, headlined by Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alan Rickman (who also co-wrote and directed), and Stanley Tucci brings the court of King Louis XIV to life in this tale of one of the people who designed and helped to build the magnificent gardens of the Palace Versailles. A landscape designer out of necessity, Madame Sabine de Barra disdains order in her designs and therefore catches the interest of the man charged with the overall plan of the garden and is hired to create the outdoor ballroom in a natural amphitheater setting in the midst of the garden. She struggles with the protocols and intrigues of the palace and yet, through her grace and natural charms comes to the attention of the KIng. There are deep emotions pulling at Madame de Barre brought about by a family tragedy that she blames herself for. And it is this trauma that provides the underpinning tension of the film. Kate is as lovely as ever, and it is a joy to watch her ply her craft. Alan Rickman is quietly subdued as the monarch whose every whim is ready to be indulged by the sycophants around him, especially when personal tragedy visits the royal house. The scene between the king and Madame de Barra, when she mistakes him for the royal gardener, is the pivot point on which the film turns and it was beautifully done. Stanley Tucci was marvelous in a smaller, but no less important role. The photography was sumptuous. So many beautiful scenes, and the judicious use of close focus was extraordinarily well done.
A delightful tale of the ugly duckling who dreams of one day becoming the lovely, graceful swan, only to have one's dreams crushed by reality. Audrey Brodsky follows her dreams to LA where she winds up a cog in the corporate machine until she throws caution to the wind and sets out to make her dream of becoming an actress a reality. One feels a certain sympathy for her character, a pitifully no-talent actress with big dreams who refuses to let that stand in her way. This was fun to watch and left one with the feeling that it is never too late to pursue one's dreams. Written and directed by Cindy Baer, who also plays the part of Audrey's friend and mentor, there is a certain autobiographical feel to the film. Ms Baer shows us through the film how tough it is to make one's dreams come true in a town like LA. But she also shows us that there is more than one way to achieve the elusive success one craves. This film showed heart, with a healthy dose of humor, and an insider's look at the dream making machine that is Hollywood.
A beautiful film that deals with a difficult subject and one that terrifies me as I get older. My own mother exhibits signs of the disease and her mother became afflicted in her final years. The acting was superb, and justified the Oscar for Julianne Moore for me. Kristen Stewart demonstrated once again what a fine young actress she is, in spite of her bad reputation because of the Twilight franchise. One scene that really brought home for me what beginning to lose one's memory must feel like. Alice is out for a run through the streets of New York, in the vicinity of Columbia, where she taught Linguistics for many years. She suddenly stops running and the camera pans around her, showing the confusion on her face while the background remains out of focus for what seems an eternity. The image finally resolves on the facade of the building in front of her and one realizes she is on the campus of Columbia. A powerful image that struck home with me. This one had me on the emotional edge for it's entirety. The only thing to keep it from perfection, for me, was Alec Baldwin's portrayal as Alice's husband. I would have liked to have seen a more sympathetic character (or maybe a more sympathetic actor) in the role. But otherwise a pitch perfect portrayal of a woman who winds up losing herself to this horrible disease.
I completely understand why Jennifer Anniston was nominated for the Oscar. All I can say is Julianne's performance must have been one for the ages to beat out Jennifer. The scars go a lot deeper than those on Claire's face, and we got to see the raw emotional pain of a woman just barely hanging on to life by the thinnest of threads. Yet, even in her darkest moments, the spark of life still burned. What a courageous performance, as there was nothing of cute, effervescent Rachel about this woman. This was agony, honestly and vividly portrayed. I am not a fan of Ms Anniston. Or. more accurately, I haven't been, up to now. But my opinion has been forever altered here. This was a tour de force. In spite of her pain, her anger, her seeming intention to push anyone and everyone away, there was something about her that made me just want to wrap my arms around her and say, "Things will never be the same again, but they can get better." Sam Worthington, as a man trying to come to terms with the suicide of his wife, a woman who was in Claire's support group and whose death put a burr in Claire's saddle, took a different route with his grief and in so doing may have been the one that blew the embers in Claire to give her the strength to go on. His performance was noteworthy as well. And the third standout has to be Adriana Barraza, as Claire's caretaker, Silvana. Silvana's daughter at one point asked her mother why she continues to work for "that bitch". And Claire is over-the-top in her attempts to get Silvana to give up on her. We don't fully understand the devotion, but it is tangible. The picture I have of their relationship is that Claire is like a wildcat that has caught its leg in a trap. Silvana is determined to see that wildcat go free, even though she knows she is going to sustain deep wounds. Yet she is compelled. Yes, the tale is dark, but this eternal optimist saw reason to hope for all concerned. This gets five stars from me on the strength of the performances of the three main characters.
Watched The Rewrite tonight and I loved it! But then, I am a sucker for well-done romantic comedies and this qualifies. I am also quite familiar with the Binghamton area as I grew up an hour and a half north of there and have passed through it numerous times. I am unashamedly a fan of Hugh Grant and thought he was excellent as the cynical, burned out Hollywood screenwriter still basking in the adulation for his one and only successful screen play who takes a teaching job as a last ditch means of earning a living. The supporting cast was excellent, the screenplay was brilliant, and the story of second chances and finding a purpose was actually inspiring. I am sore tempted to go the full Monty on this and give it five stars.
My initial reaction when it ended was, "Holy shit!" Then, "Oh. My God!" This is my review, written while basking in the afterimages:
I was prepared not to buy into the basic premise. I thought, garbage, going in. That fell by the wayside almost from the get-go. What a ride! All I could do was hang on for dear life. I feel much like I did after watching The Tree of Life. My senses have taken a pummeling, my intellect is reeling, but something has fundamentally changed. That was definitely more than the sum of its parts.
Elizabeth Moss and Mark Duplass star in dual roles in this mind-bending film about a couple sent to a luxurious mountain retreat to try to rekindle the spark that has gone out of their marriage. They quickly find themselves drawn into a mystery where they each encounter the marriage partner of their dreams, but what is really going on? One of them wants to believe, while the other suspects something sinister. This requires a high level of suspension of disbelief, but if you can manage it, there are enough, not exactly twists, but missing guideposts that will keep the viewer curious to know what is really going on. Is it an illusion? Some sort of alien psychological test? Or is it something far more devious. The "tells" are there, if you know what to look for, but they are subtle, very subtle, and only made sense to this viewer after it was over. But then, I never was much of a poker player.