with the bold text in the example below:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rachel Getting Married (Dancing with Shiva) by Jonathan Demme, 2008

with Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Debra Winger, Mather Zickel, Bill Irwin, Anna Deavere Smith, Anisa George, Tunde Adebimpe, Dorian Missick, Jerome LePage

Longstanding family conflicts resurface when drama queen Kym (Anne Hathaway, in her first Oscar-nominated role), a former model who's been in and out of rehab for 10 years, returns to her parents' home just before her sister Rachel's (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding.

It is a very simple story, focusing on human relationship, when a tragedy occurs, when everyone has to face the consequence and not in a same way, but still having to cohabit, at least to for the most important events of one's life. It is excellently directed, acted and edited. I can remember sharply the intensity of the "filling the dishwasher" scene, until its breaking point, being out of breast and collapsing at the same time as the characters: an unusual scene, somehow amazing.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Adoration by Atom Egoyan, 2007 (R)

with Devon Bostick, Scott Speedman (The Vow, Barney's Version), Arsinée Khanjian, Rachel Blanchard, Noam Jenkins, Kenneth Welsh, Aaron Poole, Katie Boland, Duane Murray

Assigned to translate a terrorism-related news story for his French class, teen Simon (Devon Bostick) weaves personal details into his tale, which soon leaves the Internet swirling with rumors that Simon's dead father was an actual terrorist.

I have seen this movie a long time ago now, but I am astonished how this movie comes back to me from time to time, always more accurately. Or is it that I started creating a story around the story, like Simon did while translating is assignment. It made me so close to the character, and at the same time, the absurdity of certain scene, the surrealism of others brought me away, in a more personal dream. I had never seen Arsinée Khanjian and I found her - i don't know that astonishing is really the word, so lets find another one - so strange: captivating, unusual, right on and at the same time, so bothering. It was a very good and unique experience.

Watch Trailer:

Chloe by Atom Egoyan, 2009 (R)

with Julianne Moore (The Kids are All Right, Crazy, Stupid, Love., A Single Man, Game Change, The English Teacher), Liam Neeson (The Other Man, The Next Three Days, The Grey, Love Actually), Amanda Seyfried (In Time), Max Thieriot, R.H. Thomson, Nina Dobrev (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Mishu Vellani, Julie Khaner, Meghan Heffern, Laura DeCarteret
From the director of "Adoration"

Suspecting her husband, David (Liam Neeson), of infidelity, doctor Catherine (Julianne Moore) hires sexy escort Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce him and test his faithfulness. But as Catherine checks in on Chloe's encounters with David, Chloe's reports become increasingly lurid. Soon, the relationships between all three intensify in unexpected ways.

I love how the movie tricks you into something that was much sexier and manipulative than what the plot seem to be. Really dangerous! Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried are perfect. I still have a preference for "Adoration" tho.

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Buried by Rodrigo Cortés, 2010 (R)

with Ryan Reynolds (Fireflies in the Garden)

While on a job in Iraq, civilian contractor Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is attacked and kidnapped, then awakens to find himself buried alive in the middle of the desert with nothing but a lighter, a candle, a cell phone and a knife. Does Paul have the instincts he'll need to save himself?

Have you ever seen a movie happening with only one actor, in a box? How long do you think you would watch it? Till the end? Well, this one, you watch it until the end, and get smashed so well you do move during the credits... Impressive. It is built as a suspense/horror movie, but at the end of the day, it is a political satyr, too true to be funny, coming with companies that protect themselves so well it's disgusting, and a political power that cannot control anything.

Watch Trailer:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick, 2011 (PG-13)

with Brad Pitt (Moneyball, Across The Tracks), Sean Penn (The Game, Fair Game, Milk), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Debt, The Help, The Tree of Life, The Hurt Locker, Take Shelter, Lawless), Hunter McCracken, Fiona Shaw (True Blood), Joanna Going, Kari Matchett, Kimberly Whalen, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan (Mud)
Duration: 139 minutes

Brad Pitt and Sean Penn star in Terrence Malick's 1950s adventure about a confused man named Jack, who sets off on a journey to understand the true nature of the world. Growing up in the Midwest with two brothers, Jack has always been torn between his mother's guidance to approach everything he encounters with an open heart and his father's advice to look after his own interests. Now, Jack must find a way to regain purpose and perspective.

It is a very long movie. Long and slow. Having said that, it is a peculiar movie, peculiarly constructed. In its structure, it reminded me of "The fountain". But the story is sequenced in a way that it is uneasy to connect each part. To me, it has amazing moments, amazing dialogues, amazing acting, amazing cinematography to it, integrating video-art and amazing soundtrack... but it lacked of continuity, which makes the length a little bit challenging. Instead of immersing us, it emerges us, and makes us conscious of the tricks and structure. So beautiful, but a bit artificial.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Of Gods and Men (Des Hommes et des Dieux) by Xavier Beauvois, 2010 (PG-13)

with Lambert Wilson (On connaît la chanson - Same Old Song, The Matrix Revolutions), Michael Lonsdale (Agora), Olivier Rabourdin (Ma Mere), Philippe Laudenbach, Jacques Herlin, Loïc Pichon, Xavier Maly, Jean-Marie Frin, Abdelhafid Metalsi, Sabrina Ouazani (Inch'Allah, Le Passé - The Past)

Awarded Grand Prix honors at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, this compelling historical drama relates the ordeal of seven French Trappist monks in the mountains of Algeria who are taken captive by Islamic fundamentalists. Before the monks' abduction, they have ample reason to believe they may be in danger, but their assumption that there can and must be common ground between Islam and Christianity leads them to remain at the monastery.

It is unusual to see Lambert Wilson as a priest, to be honest. But the movie goes beyond the faces of actors we've seen so many times to explore a faith beyond religion, a faith in humanity. And the love and trust that one can share with one another, so different he can be. We all know the end of the story, before it even start, but you are led to believe this didn't happen, this couldn't happen, because of the trust that these men put in life and in love. Very powerful.

watch Des Hommes et Des Dieux trailer:

Farewell (L'affaire Farewell) by Christian Carion, 2009

with Emir Kusturica, Guillaume Canet, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Aleksey Gorbunov, Dina Korzun, Philippe Magnan, Niels Arestrup (Elle S'appelait Sarah, Un Prophete, War Horse), Fred Ward, David Soul, Willem Dafoe

In this thinking man's spy thriller, KGB agent Sergei Grigoriev (Emir Kusturica) plans to hand over hard evidence that proves the depth of his agency's penetration of U.S. intelligence, in a one-man crusade to bring down the Soviet empire. French engineer Pierre Froment (Guillaume Canet) is drawn into this web of espionage against his will, but proves a surprisingly resourceful operative in the process.

Very very interesting, and true. And challengingly intelligent. They say about this movie that it could only be great, since it is made by three talented filmmakers, two in front and one behind the camera. It put the spectator in two positions, one in a nutshell, and later on in the bigger picture. In reality, both make sense, but when they have to be confronted, so much wrong comes out of it. So much that it makes you question a system that was already undoubtedly questionable.

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Disgrace by Steve Jacobs, 2008 (R)

with John Malkovich, Natalie Becker, Antoinette Engel, Antonio Fisher, Isabella De Villiers, Cindy Mkaza, Liezel De Kock, Charles Tertiens, Jessica Haines, Eriq Ebouaney, Fiona Press, Paula Arundell, Scott Cooper, Monroe Reimers

After an imprudent affair with a student, Cape Town professor David Lurie (John Malkovich) flees to his daughter's remote farm to escape the scandal, only to find tragedy when a trio of black youths brutally assaults them. But Lurie is forced to face apartheid's lasting repercussions when he discovers that one of the attackers is related to a trusted employee (Eriq Ebouaney) in this pensive drama based on J.M. Coetzee's novel.

It is a very difficult to understand and not judge what we see in the movie too fast. It is painful to watch considering how far we've gone away from it, and yet still not. And especially for a woman. But considering the history, it is also challenging not to experience guilt. And sadness, and hopelessness, and in that, the movie reaches another level.

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You Don't Know Jack by Barry Levinson, 2009 (NR)

with Al Pacino (Scarface, Ocean's Thirteen, Simone), Susan Sarandon (Solitary Man, Jeff Who Lives At Home, The Company You Keep, Cloud Atlas), John Goodman (The Monuments Men, The Artist, Flight, The Princess and the Frog, Trouble with the Curve), Danny Huston ( X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hitchcock, Robin Hood, The Conspirator), Brenda Vaccaro, Delaney Williams, Eric Lange, Allen Lewis Rickman, Adam Mucci, Peter Conboy, James Urbaniak

Al Pacino stars in this Emmy-winning biopic that focuses on the life of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the controversial physician who boldly advocated the legalization of euthanasia and personally helped more than 100 terminally ill patients commit suicide. Directed by Hollywood veteran Barry Levinson, the made-for-cable drama also stars Susan Sarandon as vocal activist Janet Good and John Goodman as Kevorkian's trusted friend and supporter Neal Nicol.

This movie is about euthanasia and for those who never really got into the dept of the subject, Jack Kevorkian was one of the character of our history the really insisted that you should not skip the question. Putting at risk his liberty. So it is interesting to see the journey, the opposition, and eventually build your own opinion on the character.

Le grand voyage by Ismaël Ferroukhi, 2004

Nicolas Cazalé, Mohamed Majd and Jacky Nercessian

Reda, a young French-Moroccan guy and his old father drive from the south of France to Mecca in order for the father to do his pilgrimage. At first distant, they gradually learn to know each other.

This great journey is an amazing movie about father-son relationship in a time where generations have created a gap and there is no more time for catching up. This journey is tough, physically, spiritually but humanly, in a learning experience about trust, truth and belief. Nicolas Cazalé is amazing of youth and assurance, while still fragile and ignorant. And his father's contrast of wisdom and weakness that his age is bringing is an amazing homage to the elder. Whatever your faith is made of, because at the end of the day, it is not a religious film as much as it is a film about human-hood.

The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste) by Michael Haneke, 2002 (R)

with Isabelle Huppert (White Material, Amour, Ma Mere), Annie Girardot, Benoît Magimel (Little White Lies), Susanne Lothar, Udo Samel, Anna Sigalevitch, Cornelia Kondgen
From the director of Amour and The White Ribbon (Das weiße Band)

Isabelle Huppert stars as Erika, an emotionally repressed piano teacher still tied to her obsessive mother (Annie Girardot) and fast approaching spinsterhood, who sees an attractive student (Benoît Magimel) as a potential player in her dark sexual fantasies. Huppert is fascinating to watch in writer-director Michael Haneke's disturbing character study based on the novel by Nobel Literature Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek.

Isabelle Huppert is always very convincing, in any role, but mostly on a certain madness, and this time, she is right on. And Benoit Magimel is the perfect mirror to her madness, and shows her ridicule, along the way. It's a very complex movie about relationship, making you feel so uncomfortable to an ending that almost makes you laugh. I don't think I would watch it again, but it was truly well done.

Watch trailer:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Virgin Suicides by Sofia Coppola, 1999 (R)

with James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, Michael Paré, Scott Glenn, Danny DeVito, A.J. Cook, Hanna R. Hall, Chelse Swain, Leslie Hayman, Dawn Greenhalgh, Sherry Miller, Giovanni Ribisi
From the Director of "Somewhere"

In sharp response to the lax moral milieu of the mid-1970s, Ronald and Sara Lisbon (James Woods and Kathleen Turner) keep their five alluring, adolescent daughters on a short leash by embracing religion and pushing away the opposite sex. But when the youngest (Hanna Hall) unaccountably commits hara-kiri and a wayward elder sister (Kirsten Dunst) violates curfew, Sara puts all the girls under a virtual house arrest.

I don't know that the movie was of any attaching element. I didn't get attached to any character, I felt cold the whole time. But it was a more like a tragic succession of event that made complete sense overall. A sociologically disturbing truth that was made with an aesthetic look of the 70's, and it worked. And even reflected the truth of later generations...

Watch Trailer:

Between two women by Steven Woodcock, 2004 (NR)

with Barbara Marten, Andrina Carroll, Andrew Dunn, Bruce Alexander, Tony Barton, Duggie Brown, Ben Campbell, Julia Deakin

Barbara Marten gives a bravura performance as Ellen, a working-class mother in the 1950's Northern England who struggles mightily with her feelings for another woman (Andrina Carroll) -- who happens to be her 10-year-old son's (Andrew Dunn) exuberant teacher. This drama that tugs at the heartsrings is a smoldering portrait of repressed sexuality, illustrating the true courage it takes to "come out of the closet". Because of the stifling social attitudes of the 1950s she and Hardy seem like they’ll pretend to still be together.

I loved that movie. So pretty, so simple, so well acted. I didn't engage right away, but Barbara Marten is so lovely and delicate you would want to continue to watch the movie not to break her. It is not about lesbian sexuality, just to put that subject aside, but it has a lot of love, emotion and even sensuality to it. And the reconstitution of the 50's environment and mentality is perfect. Truly believable.Ho by the way, the director meant to have the teacher as a male, but could get a whole of his story, just didn't make sense, until he made him a woman and from then on, the story started flowing. Maybe some stories are just more natural if they involve two women...

Watch Trailer:

Eyes Wide Shut by Stanley Kubrick, 1999 (R)

with Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Knight and Day), Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy, Margot At The Wedding, Rabbit Hole), Sydney Pollack (Michael Clayton), Madison Eginton, Jackie Sawris, Leslie Lowe, Peter Benson, Todd Field, Michael Doven, Sky Dumont, Louise J. Taylor, Stewart Thorndike, Randall Paul, Julienne Davis, Lisa Leone, Kevin Connealy, Marie Richardson, Thomas Gibson, Mariana Hewett, Leelee Sobieski, Rade Serbedzija, Alan Cumming

Director Stanley Kubrick's final film dishes up a chillingly distant examination of carnal desire and obsession ignited by an argument over fidelity between Dr. Bill Hartford (Tom Cruise) and his wife (Nicole Kidman), which sends the physician reeling into the Manhattan night. He soon finds himself in a surreal succession of sexually charged encounters, capped off by a clandestine visit to an upper-crust orgy.

I was told I would never understand that movie watching it when it came out, by both my art and philosophy teachers. Well, I waited, with a bit of apprehension. I was told you would need to have a long relationship with someone to be able to comprehend the twist and experience of the couple portrayed in this movie. So when I watched it finally last month, I felt I finally had some requirements supplied: the maturity of a long enough relationship. And I watched. It is interesting how things communicates, and my first impression is that I had to have been a new yorker, which i am now for 5 years. And at the same time understand how few I knew about my city and its mystery of social circles, and other kind of circles. And then I entered another understanding of the movie. It is all about trust, and curiosity sometimes... It was intriguing, appealing, shocking, incomprehensible, and finally after all this journey, so ordinary and true. In a very comfortable way. So I learned my lesson and acted accordingly.

Watch Trailer:

Leaving (Partir) by Catherine Corsini, 2009

with Kristin Scott Thomas, Sergi López, Yvan Attal, Bernard Blancan, Aladin Reibel, Alexandre Vidal, Daisy Broom, Berta Esquirol, Gérard Lartigau

Bored with her life of leisure, Suzanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) decides to reestablish her career as a physiotherapist. But first, she'll need an office ... and that's where her troubles begin in this drama from Catherine Corsini. As soon as Suzanne meets the man her husband hired to construct her backyard office, she falls hard -- and the attraction is mutual ... and dangerous.

How many movies about married woman having a crush on another man, after many years in the boredom of their marriage. How many are portraying the weakness of the woman, creating a drama that makes the woman guilty, the other man someone horrible, and the husband a victim. Well, here is the other way around, and the strength Kristin Scott Thomas is able to perform makes the movie a total different one: the husband as well as the wife have a responsibility for this to happen but in reality, it happens like love happens sometimes, in a very instinctive circumstance, and with another man that is as taken by the events as the wife, responsible but in love. And that makes the movie surprising, violent, sensual, angry, and instead of a soft weeping romantic drama, you have an energizing movie about love.

The Whistleblower by Larysa Kondracki, 2010 (R)

With Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea, The Bourne Legacy, 360, Dream House, Constantine, Agora), Vanessa Redgrave (Lee Daniels's The Butler), Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Revolutions, Remember Me, My Love - Ricordati di me, Asterix and Obelix Meet Cleopatra), David Strathairn (The Bourne Legacy, Lincoln), Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Roxana Condurache, Paula Schramm, Alexandru Potocean, Benedict Cumberbatch (12 Years a Slave, Star Trek Into Darkness, August: Osage County, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, War Horse), Liam Cunningham, David Hewlett (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Luke Treadaway, William Hope

A drama based on the experiences of Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and outed the U.N. for covering up a sex scandal.

This movie made me sick. As a woman and a human being. All the references to good, powerful, rights, references are smashed. Everything. The United Nations as a powerful source of (in)justice, the police in Bosnia taking advantage of the lack of system, the women who do not believe anymore in any salvation, and this woman trying to attack a system that protect itself. Rachel Weisz is amazing of truth, in a world of corruption, her righteousness is almost suicidal, and somehow makes her a hero. Even tho nothing after all changed. Sick...

Play Trailer:

The Conspirator by Robert Redford, 2010 (PG-13)

with James McAvoy (Trance, X-Men: First Class), Robin Wright (Adore - Perfect Mothers, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Breaking and Entering, House of Cards, Moneyball), Evan Rachel Wood (Mildred Pierce, The Wrestler, Simone), Alexis Bledel, Justin Long, Danny Huston (You Don't Know Jack, Robin Hood, Hitchcock), Norman Reedus (American Gangster), Kevin Kline, Tom Wilkinson (Duplicity, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Michael Clayton, The Ghost Writer)

Mary Surratt is the lone female charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination trial of Abraham Lincoln. As the whole nation turns against her, she is forced to rely on her reluctant lawyer to uncover the truth and save her life.

At the very beginning of the United State, from a justice system that doesn't envy much to the present one for being much more sophisticated. And the movie doesn't try to avoid or forgive it. It is straight forward, and supported by major actors, and makes you question our foundations and the world still today.

The Man From NoWhere (Ajeossi) by Jeong-beom Lee, 2010

with Bin Won, Sae-Ron Kim, Hyo-seo Kim

This hard-hitting tale of revenge stars Bin Won as Tae-Sik, a former special agent living a bitter and lonely life following his wife's tragic death. When a young girl (Sae-Ron Kim) he befriends is kidnapped by a vicious drug gang, Tae-Sik rushes to her aid. Bloodthirsty and hell-bent on justice -- particularly after being framed by the gang -- he takes the law into his own hands, infiltrating the ring and systematically wiping out its members.

I would never have watched it, ever. A Korean film, what looks like a violent action movie, over stylized matrix type... Well, I actually like Korean culture, but I don't know how I came across it, except that it was in the recommendations of Netflix. So thank you Netflix. Beautiful, unusual editing, very rhythmic, and the cinematography has something very stylized, but in the good sense of it, the choreography is perfect, from close ups to wide shots, and the emotion is there. The main actor is really good, and quite fascinating. It is strikingly realistic, even after having watched several movies on the theme, from Dirty Pretty Things about London's trafficking, Tell Tale in the US and Inhale in Mexico. And terribly depressing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Marine Story by Ned Farr, 2010 (NR)

with Dreya Weber, Paris P. Pickard, Christine Mourad, Rob Beddall, Anthony Michael Jones, Jason Williams, Deacon Conroy, John Lee Ames, Brad Light, Ned Mochel ...

A decorated officer from a military family, Alex (Dreya Weber) is unexpectedly discharged from duty. When she returns to her conservative hometown, the Marine struggles to readjust to civilian life, but agrees to mentor Saffron (Paris P. Pickard), a troubled teen who's enlisting. Alex is the no-nonsense role model and authority figure Saffron needs, but as Saffron finally hits her stride, Alex must find the courage to face her own demons.

Ok, another one, and yet, not. This movie, again a true story, is the story of many men and particularly woman in the US army, who had to face the "Don't ask don't tell" policy prohibiting military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted or bisexual service members or applicants, while barring openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service. The first change occured on september 9, 2010, and while the DADT has been restored, the new order continues to explicitly prohibit the government from discharging or investigating openly gay personnel... until September 20, 2011, which should sign the end of the DADT policy. Although the storytelling is a bit TV style, the movie is not bad, it has its point, and well played, thanks to its lead actresses.

Watch Trailer:

Elena Undone by Nicole Conn, 2010 (NR)

With Necar Zadegan, Traci Dinwiddie, Gary Weeks, Sam Harris, Connor Kramme, Sabrina Fuster, Mary Wells, Erin Carufel, Heather Howe, Jane Clark

When openly gay writer Peyton (Traci Dinwiddie) and love-starved pastor's wife Elena (Necar Zadegan) meet, they immediately form a strong bond. But the warmth of friendship soon erupts into a sizzling affair, forcing both women to confront their unexpected yet intense feelings. By turns sensual, smart and funny, writer-director Nicole Conn's semi-autobiographical tale explores the contemporary landscape of connection and commitment.

You might instinctively classify this movie as lesbian movie. You will not be wrong. But I would rather define it as a romantic drama, an universal movie about love. It is emotionally strong, attaching through the two main characters as well as the supporting actors, bringing also some lightness and wider look to a reality that beyond love, can stop so many people from finding happiness.
It also has a great sensuality to it, that makes you believe in the truth of their emotion, desire and therefore the major decisions they are taking, to be able to handle the consequences.
The acting was good, and I honestly fell in love with Traci Dinwiddie. I heard she just played in a short about a woman with breast cancer, Open Your Eyes, wanna see it. Hoping she makes it to the role of Wonder Woman! Yes, I love Wonder Woman.

Watch Trailer: