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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Unknown Known

Errol Morris mixes interviews with and archival footage and documents of Donald Rumsfeld to recount his many decades of service under 4 Republican administrations; the focus is on his recollection and interpretation of events happing around the Iraq war. It was interesting to think back to another Morris film – Fog of War – in which he interviewed Robert McNamara about the Vietnam war; McNamara was very thoughtfully reflective about mistakes made during those years.  Rumsfeld is a very different subject who doesn’t seem to have the capacity (or just isn’t interested in) critical reflection.  Rumsfeld spends the majority of …

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The Only Lovers Left Alive

A very different kind of vampire movie. Tom Hiddleston is Adam, a vampire who lives in Detroit in a dilapidated mansion full of classic guitars and classic 78’s. Tilda Swinton plays Eve, his wife, who lives in Tangiers. Eve decides to take a trip to Detroit to visit Adam, who is growing more depressed. I had a lot of fun watching this movie – it works at different levels: (1) it is a very different take on the standard vampire movie; (2) it is pretty funny – the dialog is sharp and loaded with subtle jabs at modern day problems …

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Le Week-end

Le Week-end: Nick (played by Jim Broadbent) and Meg (Lindsey Duncan) travel to Paris to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. We find out early on that the weekend is an attempt to also rekindle their relationship; there is a lot of bickering and alternating periods of distance and closeness. While it lacks the sharp dialog of Before Midnight, it is similar in format; Nick and Meg explore their feelings for each other after marriage, children, and careers. There is not really much of a plot; what is a joy is watching Broadbent and Duncan bring such depth to these two …

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The Lunchbox

Indian film about a woman (Ila) whose husband has grown distant; she follows her aunties advice to use her cooking to try to find a way back to his heart. She makes him lunch, but the lunchbox is delivered to the wrong person (Saajan). Ila and Saajan begin exchanging notes through the lunchbox; through the correspondence they share many confessions about their lives that changes both of them. The actors playing Saajan (who also played the role of the adult Pi in Life of Pi and the father in The Namesake) and Ila are wonderful and are what makes the …

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Joe

David Gordon Green film about an ex-con, Joe (Nicholas Cage) who has a temper that he has difficulty controlling, and Gary (Ty Sheridan, who was teh shining young star in Mud) as the 15-year old boy he takes under his wing. Gary, who has primary responsibility for supporting his sister and mother (his father is a mean alcoholic) seeks out Joe for a job. The movie is about the relationship that develops between Joe and Gary as Joe becomes more emotionally involved with him and his family. I really enjoyed the movie a lot; this is David Gordon Green at …

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Under the Skin

This is a very unusual movie about an alien, played by Scarlett Johansson; we know she is alien from the opening scenes (during which she appears to be practicing English). She finds men that are alone and lures them to a very strange building. What happens to them, and to her over the course of the movie, is the substance of the story; I won’t say more about it, because it will both give it away and further confuse a movie that is at times very perplexing. The movie reminded me of another art-house film, Holy Motors, from a couple …

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Nymphomaniac: Volume 1

In Lars Von Trier’s latest film, Charlotte Gainbourg plays Joe, found lying bleeding in the street by Seligman, played by Stellan Skarsgard. She refuses an ambulance, and Seligman brings her to her apartment. Joe spends the movie describing various chapters in her life that together create the tapestry of her sexual obsession. Von Trier’s films are incredibly inventive and intriguing (and in some ways works of art); here, he continues his experiments with narrative form, camera angles, emotion, mood, and actor choices in ways that make this movie so interesting to watch. Psychologically, the story challenges a variety of stereotypes …

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A Birder’s Guide to Everything

Coming of age movie about a young teenager birder who things he discovers an extinct duck; this leads to an adventure involving him and three of his friend to a lake in Connecticut in search of the bird. While it doesn’t really contribute anything new to the coming-of-age genre, it is still a nice story about coping with loss and the power of friendships. Of particular note is the impressive acting by the 4 young people – they brought depth to a movie that otherwise might have felt too improbable. Thumbs up for a movie that is very sweet and …

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Divergent

based on the first book in the young adult trilogy about a dystopian society in which people are segregated by personality types. While I really enjoyed the trilogy (not as good as Hunger Games, but still a very engaging read), I did not enjoy the movie nearly as much. The film was faithful to the book in most cases; however, the screenplay was rather flat; there should have been a lot more thrilling action and character depth. I found myself filling in the blanks a lot because I read the book; I wondered if people who had not read the …

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