with the bold text in the example below:

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Blue Jasmine by Woody Allen, 2013 (PG-13)

Nominated for the Oscars 2014 in the following categories: Actress in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Writing Original Screenplay

The high life leads to high anxiety for a fashionable New York City homemaker in crisis who finds herself forced to live a more modest lifestyle in San Francisco. Woody Allen directs an ensemble cast that includes Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin.

Hum... I would have to say that I wasn't a fan. I was impressed by Cate Blanchett's performance, but on the other hand, felt like there was some many things she was obviously doing wrong that she could have done right to save herself, that it irritated me. And perhaps because the context of the extremely rich people going "poor" isn't really something that I feel for, there was an emotional gap, filled thanks to Sally Hawkins as the normal sister. I don't think I would have carried on watching otherwise. Some funny moment, but really, the high anxiety is so much Woody Allen's signature, I really miss him being the central character of the movie...

with Alec Baldwin (To Rome with Love, The Cooler, It's Complicated), Cate Blanchett (Bandits, Robin Hood, Hanna), Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Sally Hawkins (An Education, Never Let Me Go), Peter Sarsgaard (An Education, Knight and Day), Michael Stuhlbarg (Hitchcock, Hugo, Men in Black 3), Tammy Blanchard (Moneyball, Rabbit Hole), Max Casella, Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures)

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Monday, February 24, 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street by Martin Scorsese, 2013 (R)

Nominated for the Oscars 2014 in the following categories: Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Directing, Writing - Adapted Screenplay

Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government. A New York stock broker refuses to cooperate in a large securities fraud case that includes mob infiltration into Wall Street and the corporate banking world.

Irritating... It felt like Scorcese worked a lot in some scenes, wanting us to get the smaller picture, the day to day, the more personal perspective... but the characters don't evolve and you feel you are just stuck with very long repetitive scenes, with huge gaps between them. The performances are so exaggerated that you get confused to the point that you might actually be looking at a film like Bridesmaids or Superbad, except that this time, you are watching a true story.

with Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception, The Great Gatsby, J. Edgar, Hubble, Django Unchained, Marvin's Room, Titanic, Shutter Island), Jonah Hill (Moneyball), Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, Mud, Magic Mike, The Paperboy), Kyle Chandler (Argo, Broken City, Zero Dark Thirty), Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal (The Ghost Writer), Jon Favreau (People like us, Iron Man 3), Jean Dujardin (The Artist, Little White Lies - Les Petits Mouchoirs), Joanna Lumley, Cristin Milioti
From the director of Hugo and Shutter Island

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Dallas Buyers Club by Jean-Marc Vallée, 2013 (R)

Nominated for the Oscars 2014 for the following categories: Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Writing Original Screenplay

Loosely based on true events, this drama follows Ron Woodroof, who refuses to accept he'll die in 30 days when he's diagnosed with AIDS in 1986. He extends his life and eventually helps many other AIDS patients by smuggling medications from abroad.

Yes, McConaughey and Leto's transformations are impressive. And it helps understand the drastic situation the characters are in, so close to death. The time that is portrayed is an important one in the fight against AIDS but also the fight the people with AIDS had to do to confront homophobia, fear of all kinds in the matter of how that illness is transmitted, but most of all, the fight against the thin line between government and pharmaceutical companies, once more (see Puncture).

with Matthew McConaughey (Mud, Magic Mike, The Paperboy), Jared Leto (Mr. Nobody), Jennifer Garner (Juno, Valentine's Day, Deconstructing Harry), Denis O'Hare (True Blood, Milk, Duplicity, Michael Clayton), Steve Zahn (Out of Sight), Griffin Dunne (Broken City), Michael O'Neill (The Legend of Bagger Vance), Dallas Roberts (The Grey), Kevin Rankin

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

12 Years a Slave by Steve McQueen, 2013 (R)

Nominated for the Oscars 2014 for the following categories: Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Costume Design, Directing, Film Editing, Production Design, Writing Adapted Screenplay

The autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was abducted from New York state and sold into slavery in the mid-1800s, serves as the basis for this historical drama. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Northup, and Brad Pitt plays an abolitionist.

This is a powerful movie, and it portrays the endurance of someone who knew freedom and got back to slavery. It is interesting that this story is not about good and bad, but how you slowly can loose your humanity surrounded by horror, and do things you'd never knew you were capable of. There is a wide range of white people from the South and the North portrayed, to make you rethink the different mentalities, and how bad can be worse, in perspective. The acting is so impeccable that there is nothing you can do not to hate Michael Fassbender, be as lost as Chitewel Ejiofor... No matter if you last saw Ejiofor in Kinky Boots or Fassbender in Prometheus... The only weak character that was a little moralistic was played by Brad Pitt, who guest stared as the Southerner with ideas of the North. He is so handsome and feels so much like the producer who wanted to have the good role, that it breaks the flow, although thanks to his character, Fassbender makes an important point: it wasn't that easy thinking differently in the South.

with Chiwetel Ejiofor (Kinky Boots, Dirty Pretty Things, American Gangster), Michael Fassbender (Trance, Prometheus, Haywire, A Dangerous Method, Shame, X-Men: First Class, Fish Tank), Benedict Cumberbatch (August: Osage County, Star Trek Into Darkness, War Horse, Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy, The Whistleblower), Paul Dano (Ruby Sparks, Looper, Knight and Day), Paul Giamatti (Saving Mr. Banks, Cosmopolis, Duplicity, Barney's Version, Deconstructing Harry), Lupita Nyong'o, Sarah Paulson (Mud, Game Change), Brad Pitt (Ocean's Thirteen, World War Z, The Tree of Life, Moneyball, Across the Tracks), Alfre Woodard, Garret Dillahunt (Looper, Winter's Bone), Scoot McNairy (Promised Land, Argo), Adepero Oduye, Michael Kenneth Williams, Chris Chalk, Taran Killam (The Heat), Bill Camp
From the director of Shame

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks by John Lee Hancock, 2013 (PG-13)

Nominated for the Oscars 2014 for the following category: Music Original Score

When Walt Disney sets his sights on obtaining the rights to the children's classic "Mary Poppins," he reaches out to the book's author, P.L. Travers, only to find that she proves a tough nut to crack.

As a Disney's production, this fits perfectly, with caricature characters and a happy ending story. The movie abuses of violins and clichés to make you cry... The story although is an interesting one, since it is part of the history of the making of "Mary Poppins", and definitely was well documented since its author, Travers, required that every meeting would be recorded. It shows the fascinating behind the scene, how the songs and the movie evolved from an initial draft, who and how the character were to become... Definitely a story that had to be told.

with Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Cloud Atlas, Larry Crowne, Captain Phillips), Emma Thompson (Beautiful Creatures, Brave, Men in Black 3, An Education, Love Actually), Colin Farrell (Dead Man Down, In Bruges, Total Recall), Paul Giamatti (Cosmopolis, Duplicity, Barney's Version, Deconstructing Harry), Jason Schwartzman (Simone), B.J. Novak, Bradley Whitford, Ruth Wilson (Anna Karenina), Annie Buckley, Melanie Paxson, Rachel Griffiths, Kathy Baker (Take Shelter)
From the director of The Blind Side

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Monday, February 3, 2014

We're the Millers by Rawson Marshall Thurber, 2013 (R)

by Jennifer Aniston (Friends), Jason Sudeikis, Will Poulter, Emma Roberts, Ed Helms (Jeff, Who Lives at Home), Nick Offerman (All Good Things, The Men Who Stare At Goats, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous), Kathryn Hahn (Our Idiot Brother), Molly C. Quinn, Tomer Sisley, Matthew Willig

When a small-time pot dealer gets mugged, he needs to find a way to pay back his supplier. Agreeing to smuggle in a major stash from Mexico, he rounds up a fake family to act as his cover, and they head for the border in an RV.

That movie is stupid. Typical American blockbuster, with loud sense of humor, girls teasing the adolescent guy, guys teasing women because they don't know how to say they are pretty, or the right one. A little puerile after all. But... I gotta say the road-trip format, Jennifer Aniston, and that kid Will Poulter altogether actually make it work. Not a brainy movie, just a loud comedy, but it does the job.

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Her by Spike Jonze, 2013 (R)

with Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), Scarlett Johansson (Hitchcock, We Brought a Zoo, The Avengers, Scoop, The Horse Whisperer), Amy Adams (On the Road, Julie and Julia, The Master, Trouble with the Curve, The Fighter, Man of Steel), Rooney Mara (Side Effects, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network), Olivia Wilde (In Time, The Words, The Next Three Days, Tron: Legacy, Deadfall, People Like Us), Chris Pratt (Moneyball, Zero Dark Thirty, The Five-Year Engagement), Matt Letscher, Portia Doubleday

Nominated for the Oscars 2014 for the following categories: Best Picture, Music Original Score, Music Original Song, Production Design, Writing Original Screenplay

In this sci-fi romantic comedy starring Joaquin Phoenix, love comes to a lonely young writer in the sleekest of packages when he finds himself falling for the advanced operating system he purchased to run his life.

I am trying to think of how I felt about this movie. I am running out of ideas... It is a peculiar movie, funny, refreshing, and at the same time a little depressing, with a visual identity that cannot really be described, odd, somehow off enough you cannot really tell why this feels so unusual. He is an ordinary good guy, perhaps a little shy but with a lot of potential. We get why he falls for an operating system, you feel how lonely it must feel when he feels it, most of the time, you read the critic of our current society in how disconnected people are from one another. Overall, this movie feels contemporary but this close to our future it is quite unsettling. My only criticism would be to have chosen the voice of Scarlett Johansson, because it is so recognizable we can't get out of our mind her face when she is talking.

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The Family (Malavita) by Luc Besson, 2013 (R)

with Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook, Killer Elite, Limitless, Jackie Brown, Marvin's Room), Tommy Lee Jones (The Company Men, Lincoln, Hope Springs, MIB 1, MIB 2, MIB 3, Captain America: First Avenger), Michelle Pfeiffer (Scarface, People Like Us, Dark Shadows), Dianna Agron, Ricardo Cordero, John D'Leo, Dominic Chianese, Vincent Pastore

The Manzonis, an infamous mob family, are relocated to Normandy, France, by the witness protection program, where they have some difficulty fitting in. When local problems arise, they respond the only way they know how: mafia style.

This movie is nuts. It has the absurdity of humanity in killers, just like in Leon, and the caustic of a good Tarantino, makes sense coming from Besson... and in a way, I am glad he is back at it, after a long while of not doing much of anything interesting (maybe all this time, he was just becoming a dad or something... just checked, I was right!) Anyway, he is back with of course a perfect cast, Robert de Niro and Michele Pfeiffer are simply delightful. The movie doesn't have much meaning, I guess you are just expected to have a good time.

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Yves Saint Laurent by Jalil Lespert, 2014 (NR)

with Pierre Niney de la Comédie-Française, Guillaume Gallienne de la Comédie Française (Les garçons et Guillaume, à table), Charlotte Le Bon, Laura Smet, Marie de Villepin, Nikolai Kinski, Ruben Alves, Astrid Whettnall, Marianne Basler, Adeline D'Hermy de la Comédie-Française, Xavier Lafitte

A look at the life of French designer Yves Saint Laurent from the beginning of his career in 1958 when he met his lover and business partner, Pierre Bergé.

On the last days of my trip to Paris, I decided to come back to the theater to see this one. Just came out, everyone was really positive about it, even Pierre Bergé himself, and Guillaume Gallienne was in it. The movie is a little long, with shortcuts on YSL's career (which is sad, because they went to the obvious, what everybody knows about YSL designs), and developing more on the psychological imbalance, the tumultuous relationship with Pierre Bergé and the drug problems. Which is great I guess if you wanna know more about all the drama of his life... but if you are interested in what he did to move fashion forward, this is not the right movie for you.

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