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Monthly Archives: July 2014


a movie about the life of Mason, his sister Samantha, and his parents (played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, who in the film are divorced from the beginning). What is so unique about the movie is that the same cast plays the family, filmed over 12 years (Mason must have been about 6 or 7 when the film starts). The concept is really innovative, but the result is stunning and emotionally powerful. We get to see this family, and the political and social culture in which it is embedded, change as Mason grows up; the music choices as well …

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Lego Movie

The LEGO Movie – What I think must be the first movie about LEGOS! Emmett is a guy who goes through his days in the same way, doing the same routine over and over again (kind of living in la-la land), when he falls down a deep hole and enters a different world in which he is mistaken for being a special person who has been pre-ordained to save the world. I laughed so much; the sight gags and the plays on other movies were very, very funny, and I found myself constantly reminded of the old Monty Python style …

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The story picks up from the last (Rise of the Planet of the Apes; the evolved apes have been living in the forests outside of San Francisco for 10 years, during which time they have seen no humans and believe that they may be gone. However, humans show up one day seeking a power source to restore electricity to San Francisco and the humans living there. I found the movie very satisfying as a science fiction picture with really great special effects. The story moves back and forth seamlessly between overarching themes of war, collaboration, and survival and very individual …

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Begin Again

zThe new movie by the director of Once. Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is a down-and-out producer who gets canned by the partner with whom he originally built the company; Gretta (Kiera Knightly) has just been dumped by her boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) and is reluctantly singing in a bar when Dan hears her. The movie is the story of Dan and Gretta creating the demo tracks that will give her the break she needs into the music business. The movie was a mixed bag for me. The aspects that worked for me were (a) it was an interesting commentary on the …

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The Case Against 8

Documentary about the court cases that led to the overturn of Proposition 8 in California (the voter initiative defining marriage to be between one man and one woman). I really enjoyed the movie because (a) I learned a lot – I did not, for example, realize that the two attorneys who handled the case were the same two who were on opposite sides of the Gore versus Bush case that went to the Supreme Court; b) it spent a lot of time in interviews with the two couples who were plaintiffs in the case; c) it was fun to see …

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A Coffee in Berlin

Film of the day in the life of Niko, a 20-something college dropout and his various adventures. The film is in black and white, and the jazzy soundtrack gives the film and light and spirited feel (similar to some of Woody Allen’s movies). I really enjoyed the scenes of Berlin – the director clearly loves the city and captures it well in pictures, and I really liked watching Niko discovering his own meaning of life through the experiences that define his transition into adulthood. Thumbs up for a moving that really doesn’t have much of a plot but was for …

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Willow Creek

this was actually a pretty clever movie that is a cross between a mockumentary and Blair Witch Project. A guy and his girlfriend set off to make a documentary about the legend of Bigfoot. The first part of the movie is actually quite funny – they interview a string of odd characters having had some connection to Bigfoot. The two then go off into the woods to the site where Sasquatch was supposedly caught on camera. The rest of the movie is about their foray into the woods. I really enjoyed the movie for its humor, its creepiness in the …

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Snowpiercer – In this wonderful and well-crafted futuristic sci-fi film, an attempt by the world powers to lace the atmosphere with a substance to reverse global warming goes wrong; the planet becomes frozen and humanity becomes extinct except for a few thousand who live on a train that circles the planet. The people are divided into social classes by car; the film begins with those in the tail cars of the train who live in squalor and are subjugated and controlled by those who inhabit the engine. Curtis, played by Chris Evans (Captain America, and almost unrecognizable to me), is …

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