Sunday, June 24, 2012

Life as a House (Grade C+)

Director: Irwin Winkler
Starring:  Kevin KlineKristin Scott ThomasHayden Christensen,Jena MaloneMary SteenburgenMike WeinbergScotty LeavenworthIan SomerhalderJamey SheridanScott BakulaSandra NelsonSam RobardsJohn PankowKim DelgadoBarry Primus

Relatively well done. Divorced man (Kline) has cancer and not much time to live.  His son is a punk who is hunting and alienated and presents a challenge to his family. Kline takes him for the summer to tear down an old house (that his much hated father built had left for him) and to build a new house together (heavy handed metaphor here).   Story is entirely predicable. But for what it is it is tolerable.  .

Monday, November 7, 2011

Code Unknown (2000) Grade B

German director Michael Haneke's  drama carefully interweaves the stories of a promising actress, her photojournalist boyfriend, a young teacher of African descent and a Romanian illegal immigrant.

  • Starring:  Juliette Binoche, Thierry Neuvic
  • Director: Michael Haneke 

  • sez says -- interesting structure for story telling-- small snip-its of action --maybe 2 to 3 minutes each-- some scenes seem entirely inconsequential, until they are added up. They eventually are tied together -- but often you watch them wondering what is this?  but then the appearance of a character previously seen makes the connection.  This has the effect of feeling more like life than a traditional liner storyline--where everything is connected, and all the pieces must be resolved by the end.  Rather there are tings that are floating in and out of our lives--and around us, that may never get resolved, and that can be in or out of our consciousness without our bidding. In the midst we make decisions that alter our lives and have no idea how they will boomerang..or how they will touch and effect a multitude of others.  Fascinating well done.. that you can forgive the fact that the story (what story?) is a bit obtuse   

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    After the Wedding, 2006 (Grade B)

    Director Susanne Bier
    Cast Mads Mikkelsen, Rolf Lassgard, Sidse Babett, Knudsen Stein, Fischer Christensen, Mona Malm, Christian Tafdrup, Niels Anders-Thorn, Rita Angela, Erni Arneson

    Plot: to save an orphanage in India, Jacob Petersen (Mads Mikkelsen) reluctantly returns to his homeland (Denmark) to meet a self indulgent businessman / philanthropist --who wants Jacob in Denmark for his own, personal reasons.   What those reasons are is the power behind this very unlikly plot--but it works anyway as an entertainment

    sez says: great acting, hard to believe story, but diverting.
    mjc says: good movie, good acting, interesting story about What Is A Family.

    Saturday, April 30, 2011

    Goodbye Solo, 2008 (Grade A-)

    Director: Ramin Bahrani
    Awards? Independent Spirit Best Make Lead nominee -- well deserved
    Starring: Souleymane Sy Sayane; Red West; Diana Franco Galindo; Lane Williams; Mamadou Lam; Carmen Leyfa; Viktor Hernandez; Nayanj Reyes; Virgilio Tix

    plot outline: cab driver Solo (Souleman Sy Sayane) lives with his Mexican girlfriend and her bright young daughter and they are about to have a child together.  She wants him to be steady in his work to support his family and he dreams of being an airline attendant and is studying hard to fulfill his dream. One night he picks up Walter who offers Solo $1000 to drive him to a famous mountain overlook in a date in the near future.  Solo is an accommodating and caring man--he knows there is something fishy about the request and tries to befriend Walter and to dissuade him from moving forward in what appears to be a plan for suicide.

    sez says: Solo is one of the most appealing characters I've meet in the movies for a long while.  I recommend him to you. This is not a fast paced Hollywood mainstream movie-- rather it is a nicely paced mystery of sorts, populated with people who do not tell all. It is about real people--not superheros--and the world as it is lived--and not just the presentation of a fantasy

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    Red Road, 2006 (Grade B)

    Director: Andrea Arnold
    any awards? recognized at  Toronto Film Festival; Sundance and won 2006 Cannes Jury Prize

    Cast: Kate Dickie; Tony Curran; Martin Compston; Natalie Press; Paul Higgins; Andrew Armour

    sez says:  In this slow moving thriller Jackie (Kate Dickie) uses her job as a security surveillance monitor to zoom in on her little corner of Glasgow, Scotland, via cameras placed throughout the city. Her narrow and depressed life is swamped by obsession when one evening she sees a familiar face: Clyde (Tony Curran), a man who figures prominently in a dark episode of Jackie's past. We watch as she circles round him and the pain he is associated with, until in the end she faces a decision: will she remain captive to the desire for revenge or find release in some kind of forgiveness...all of which is done while her libido simmers.

    I like this movie and I liked its ending but be warned:  It doesn't have any 'fast action' and could be hard on folks who want to see a story unfold a fast pace.--and I do have one complaint: the ascents are too hard to understand by us American-English speaking folks-- it needs subtitles.

    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    Starting Out In the Evening, 2007 (Grade D)

    Director: Andrew Wagner
    Any Awards -- none I know of and would not think it is a candidate for any
    Cast: Frank Langella; Lauren Ambrose; Lili Taylor; Joel West; Jessica Hecht; Adrian Lester; Sean T Krishnan

    plot:   Leonard Schiller (Frank Langella) is an aging writer, with all his books out of print, he continues to write; he knows no other way to live.   An enterprising graduate student Heather Wolfe (Lauren Ambrose) wants to makes his novels the topic of her master's thesis and raises his hopes for a literary comeback...and revives his libido.  Meanwhile, Leonard's middle-aged daughter (Lili Taylor) faces challenges regarding her own prospects for long-term happiness.  Will she have a child on her own--or stay with the man she loves who is determined to not have children.

    sez says: with the exception of Langella this was pretty poorly acted. The story might have been able to make it if there was a different cast.

    mjc says: good story, Langella did a fine job, the women didn't seem up to the task especially Lili Taylor

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    LES SAIGNANTES / THE BLOODETTES, 2005 Cameroon Film, (Grade C-)

    Directed by Jean-Pierre Békolo 
    Cameroon, 2005 , 97 min.
    Shown at the 21st Annual African Film Festival, 2011 in Portland Oregon

    Per the Film Festival Notes:  Jean-Pierre Békolo is unique in African filmmaking. Like his previous films, Quartier Mozart and Aristotle’s Plot (CFAF 1999), Les Saignantes is a post-modern, non-realistic, genre-bending film that blends social satire with a longing for change. It is set in 2025, and today’s corruption, cronyism, and sexual exploitation have only gotten worse. Two young women decide to seize the power of their own sexuality to combat those in power. The film won the second-place Silver Stallion award at FESPACO in 2007.

    In French with English subtitles.

    sez says: some wonderful images -- surreal, smokey, using lots of contrasting colors, blue light with bright yellow clothing etc.  and creative sets..this is a weird story of two young women who try and dispose of a body of a government official (who died in the bed of one of the young women) --they have his body chopped up to dispose of it, then decide to get a new body attached to the remaining head, so they can throw a wake and get access to the rich and powerful who will show up at the W.I.P. (ie Wake of Important Person).  They are very sexy and they know their sexual attractiveness is power.   It is a little choppy --and certainly off-beat--but it is creative and weirdly compelling.

    mjc says: this film has style and verve but not as much of a glimpse into he culture and society of Cameroon as other film have given us of their countries of origin.