with the bold text in the example below:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rango by Gore Verbinski, 2011 (PG)

with Johnny Depp (The Rum Diary, Chocolat, Alice in Wonderland), Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy (The Girl In The Cafe, Wild Target, Total Recall, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Stephen Root (Ice Age, J. Edgar), Harry Dean Stanton, Timothy Olyphant, Claudia Black (Farscape, Stargate SG1), Ray Winstone

Rango is an ordinary chameleon who accidentally winds up in the town of Dirt, a lawless outpost in the Wild West in desperate need of a new sheriff.

Hum... I loved it until the two minutes before the end. Great script, great story, environmentally responsible, interesting and original characters referring to great movies, such as "The Sea of Grass". Funny sense of humor, with some sort of idealistic looser, a girl kind of Calamity Jane but with flaws. We know right away who's good and who's bad, but that's ok I guess. My only huge deception, the minimal role of Angelique (Claudia Black, Farscape / Stargate), I was watching it only to hear her voice. Sigh... Anyway, good movie, I am just being peaky about Angelique.

Ok just for fun:
My home-made creation for Rango's
"Angelique" character poster

Watch Trailer:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Thank you for smoking by Jason Reitman, 2005 (R)

with Aaron Eckhart (The Rum Diary, Rabbit Hole), Maria Bello (The Cooler, Beautiful Boy, Payback), Cameron Bright (Prometheus), Adam Brody, Sam Elliott (Did You Hear About The Morgans?), Katie Holmes (Mad Money), David Koechner (Get Smart), William H. Macy (The sessions, The cooler) J.K. Simmons (Contraband, The Words, Up in The Air, Young Adult), Robert Duvall (Argo, Jack Reacher)
From the director of Up in The Air and Young Adult

On a mission to make the country forget the dangers of smoking, Big Tobacco spin doctor Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) promotes his product in the movies and hushes those who bad-mouth cigarettes, all the while trying to remain a role model to his young son. Maria Bello, Katie Holmes, Robert Duvall and William H. Macy co-star in Jason Reitman's razor-sharp satire, which won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay.

By the same director as "Young Adult" and "Up in the air", probably his best work to my opinion. The cast is so good it is almost expected that the movie would be as well. The sense of humor is creepy, it opposites everything American mentality think to have evolved to, with some sort of associated puritanism. To the point where it is hardly possible to make joke about it or allowed to have this vice from time to time, just as one would have a drink and know that drinking is not the best thing for your health. Anyway, it is very funny, intelligent, I just can't get over the scene with Maria Bello and David Koechner, this evil circle making fun of "Weak America".

Watch Trailer:

The Help by Tate Taylor, 2011 (PG-13)

with Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Ahna O'Reilly, Allison Janney, Anna Camp, Cicely Tyson, Mike Vogel, Sissy Spacek

In 1960s Jackson, Miss., aspiring writer Eugenia Phelan crosses taboo racial lines by conversing with Aibileen Clark about her life as a housekeeper, and their ensuing friendship upsets the fragile dynamic between the haves and the have-nots. When other long-silent black servants begin opening up to Eugenia, the disapproving conservative Southern town soon gets swept up in the turbulence of changing times.

Interesting movie. It has definitely an eye on the side we never talked about. For example, Mad Men is barely mentioning the revolution of the country in giving the same rights to white and colored people. Only yesterday, for the premiere of the season 4, they started raising the issue of having a white only advertizing company.
Anyway, the acting is good, the story is powerful, with moments of comedy, a strong representation of the mentalities.
Interesting although perhaps, the roles are a bit caricatures and somehow the point of view is not as accurate. I read that in the book, the description of the behavior of the white husbands towards the maids wasn't as "proper" as it is shown in the movie, that sounds more like it. Anyway, I think my main contradiction is that in the story, the writer acknowledge that her stories are testimonies, but the real writer of the book has probably done research, still, she has written it herself making us believe in a story as if it was seemingly autobiographical. In reality, it is still a book written by a woman who is imagining what was the situation of the maids back in the 60's... So let's not take the story too much for granted.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Titanic by James Cameron, 1997 (PG-13)

with Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton
From the director of "Avatar"

Winner of 11 Oscars, James Cameron's effects-driven blockbuster puts a human face on a tragedy of epic proportions by wedding the historical tale of the doomed ocean liner with a fictional romance between two of the ship's ill-fated passengers. Society girl Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and penniless artist Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) struggle to survive both the sinking ship -- and the wrath of Rose's wealthy fiancé (Billy Zane)

Titanic is back, after what? Fifteen years? My goodness. I remember when it came out how I was so against it, but went to see it with almost all my classmates. And how long it was. And how I disliked at the time Kate Winslet. And how sad the ending was, and how in this moment of sadness, you see the boat sinking slowly, and all of a sudden, a guy falls and bumps on the propeller and starts spinning in a ridiculous way, my only chance to laugh of the whole movie. Creepy. Anyway, beautiful drama, impact-full, and at that time the most expensive movie ever made therefor visually unique. Anyway, it is back, now in 3D, will I go again?

Watch trailer:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Young Adult by Jason Reitman, 2011 (R)

with Charlize Theron (The Italian Job, Prometheus), Patrick Wilson (Morning Glory), Patton Oswalt, Elizabeth Reaser (Twilight), J.K. Simmons (Contraband, Thank you For Smoking, Up in The Air), Emily Meade, Collette Wolfe, Brady Smith, Louisa Krause, Jenny Dare Paulin

Taken aback when she receives a letter from an old boyfriend announcing that he's just had a baby with his wife, divorced fiction writer Mavis Gary decides to return to her small hometown and reconnect with her former lover.

Humm... Don't know if I would have watched it spontaneously. It is really dark, and crazy. Therefor, I guess we can say the performance of Charlize Theron is perfect. The director is the one that did "Thank you for smoking" and "Up in the air", so he has some credentials. Maybe there is something about america that when people go crazy, they really go crazy, to the extreme, and at that point I usually disconnect. It is too much, and not enough dramatic, just crazy. Anyway, it is not a bad movie, it's just not my taste. Lately, between "Rachel Getting Married" and "Bridesmaids", I believe I had enough. You have these women putting themselves on the edge, but almost to the point where there are no longer emotions involved. Crazy!

Bridesmaids by Paul Feig, 2011 (R)

with Kristen Wiig (All Good Things, Date Night, How to train your dragon), Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne (X-Men: First Class), Chris O'Dowd, Melissa McCarthy (The Heat), Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Jon Hamm, Jill Clayburgh (Love and Other Drugs), Kali Hawk
From the director of The Heat

Named her best friend's maid of honor, down-on-her-luck Annie's competition with a fellow bridesmaid, the wealthy and beautiful Helen, threatens to destroy the wedding. Meanwhile, a local cop takes a liking to Annie.

This movie is wild. I do not know if this is a good thing or a bad one. I still think I am getting over it. There is a side of the movie that I really like, this sort of politically incorrect sense of humor, for example the fitting after the Mexican food was hilarious, as well as the scene of the plane. I believe there is also something special about Melissa McCarthy in the many scenes she has. But, on the other hand, there is something about American humor that sometimes, they don't know how to stop because it is not funny anymore, it is just too long. And embarrassing. Maybe that is funny for some people, but the speeches of the two bridesmaids competing for who's the best friend to the Bridal Shower where Annie makes a fool of herself definitely made me stop laughing. Pity.

Watch Trailer:

A Dangerous Method by David Cronenberg, 2011 (R)

with Keira Knightley (Anna Karenina, Love Actually, Never Let Me Go), Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, Haywire, Trance, Shame, X-Men: First Class), Sarah Gadon (Cosmopolis), Vincent Cassel (Adrift (À Deriva), Trance)
From the director of Cosmopolis

Viggo Mortensen stars as Sigmund Freud, whose relationship with fellow psychology luminary Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) is tested when Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), one of the first female psychoanalysts, enters their lives. This World War I-set drama also stars Vincent Cassel as Otto Gross, a disciple of Freud, and Sarah Gadon, who plays Jung's psychoanalyst wife.

Hum, the first scenes are painfully long. It is probably well performed, although I have no idea how the illness of Sabina is realistic, but really far too long. Then the movie moves on to relate the relationship between Carl Jung, Freud and Spielrein. It is interesting, apparently specially because history has erased a lot of Spielrein's role in participating actively to what has become the research of Jung. Aside from that, the conversations are interesting, the movie slightly slow, but ok to watch. The acting is good. I don't know why but the movie left me a bit detached. The history is underlined and shows already a society that is split in many ways, perhaps that is the most interesting aspect of the movie.

Watch Trailer:

Hugo by Martin Scorsese, 2011 (PG)

with Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Jude Law, Christopher Lee, Helen McCrory, Michael Stuhlbarg

When his father dies, 12-year-old orphan Hugo takes up residence behind the walls of a Parisian train station. There, he meets Isabelle, the daughter of filmmaker Georges Méliès, who holds the key to Hugo's destiny.

It is funny how things come together at the same time. Only a few months after discovering Georges Méliès, through "Le Voyage Dans La Lune" and the documentary "Le Voyage Extraordinaire", I am watching a movie/tale on the same director. It is pretty accurate although if you already know about him, it is a bit simplifying and too didactic. It looks like a movie made by a grandfather to his grandchildren. Anyway, the film is cute, the visuals a beautiful and at last, the mainstream get to discover Méliès, this french magician who created the art form of cinema.

Watch Trailer:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) by Georges Méliès, 1902

with Georges Méliès, Victor André and Bleuette Bernon

A group of men travel to the moon by being shot in a capsule from a giant cannon. They are captured by moon-men, escape, and return to the earth. Soundtrack by Air.

I watched a documentary on Georges Méliès and the creation of the movie, the reconstitution of the shooting and restauration of the film (Le Voyage extraordinaire by Serge Bromberg, Eric Lange, 2011). Very interesting, talking about cinema and technology, a true lesson. The documentary was followed by Le Voyage dans la Lune, in its fullest version, with original soundtrack by Air. I was expecting better, for some reason. Because of the extract I had already seen in the documentary, but mostly because I really like Air and felt they had done the job half way. Anyway, still a masterpiece.
Ok, coming back to it, the story is a little bit surreal, naive in a way, but it was made 110 years ago, so our vision of the trip to space has definitely changed. It is fascinating how the special effect were ingenious. I saw it colorized from the original version, it is another trip to take. How meticulous this was. And the final effect is quite convincing!
By the way, for those who wonder, yes, it is about the Georges Méliès of "Hugo"!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Immortals by Tarsem Singh, 2011

with Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans, John Hurt, Joseph Morgan, Anne Day-Jones, Isabel Lucas, Kellan Lutz, Robert Maillet, Stephen McHattie

In Ancient Greece, King Hyperion searches for a powerful weapon that will free the bloodthirsty Titans and enable them to overpower the gods and enslave mankind. Unable to interfere directly, the gods choose a champion to defend them: Theseus.

Hey, do you know the myth of Theseus? Well, doesn't matter, because we just reinvented it. And it just looks like "300", remember that movie that came out around 2007, with special effects that were inspired by another movie that came out in 2004, "Sin City", that was inspired by Marvel comic books... Well, I believed I said it all. It is an action movie, with special effects and filters to look cool, no relevant dialogues and a superhero that has nothing really relevant about him. Things are over-explained, scenes are expected, legendary combats are put in a sandwich between a ridiculous romantic scene and a big bad guy wanting revenge with a "grump" that says it all. I believe the next chapter just came out, in Imax 3D. I am guessing that is the only way to watch it and actually enjoy something, technology.

Watch Trailer:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mildred Pierce by Todd Haynes (mini-series, 2011)

with Kate Winslet (Contagion, The Reader, Titanic), Guy Pearce (The King's Speech, The Hurt Locker, Iron Man 3, Prometheus), Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler, The Conspirator), Brian F. O'Byrne, Melissa Leo (Flight, Frozen River, The Fighter), Murphy Guyer, James LeGros (Enemy of the State), Marin Ireland, Mare Winningham (Mirror Mirror), Diane Kagan, Miriam Shor, Morgan Turner, Halley Feiffer (Margot At the Wedding), Hope Davis

Based on the 1941 novel by James M. Cain, this HBO miniseries follows the turbulent life of Mildred Pierce, a fiercely independent single mom who works hard to win her daughter's love while struggling to make ends meet in Depression-era Los Angeles.

I thought it was a social movie about American history and how a woman made it. Not really. It is more of a dark story, in the context of the depression, of manipulation, drama, human disgrace. Little by little, you come to understand it and wonder how far this will go. It could have been darker I guess. And the character played by Kate Winslet not convincing enough. Either the game of the daughter should have been less obvious, or the mother less naive. It felt like Winslet was stuck in a role that was too limiting, not enough imaginative, constrained. So the variations of her character were repetitive and in a way uninteresting, irritating "Oh, Veda!".

Watch Trailer:

Warrior by Gavin O'Connor, 2011 (PG-13)

with Joel Edgerton (Zero Dark Thirty, The Great Gatsby, Kinky Boots), Tom Hardy (This Means War, Warrior, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Larry Crowne, The Dark Knight Rises), Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo (Zero Dark Thirty, The Grey, Warrior), Kevin Dunn (Unstoppable), Maximiliano Hernández, Bryan Callen, Sam Sheridan, Noah Emmerich, Kurt Angle, Erik Apple

Set in the violent world of mixed martial arts combat, this gritty drama follows two brothers at war with each other, who have pursued separate lives. But preparation for a championship bout soon leads the siblings back into each other's paths.

A bitter look at life, trying to get back the small pieces together, while many of them has been lost on the way. And it is painful, because on purpose, from the beginning, you are asked to choose, find in one of the characters a hero. But it is complex, and through a different way, both brothers and the father manage to gain a place in our heart making the ending painful. Beautifully painful. I don't remember last time the tears were jumping out of my eyes out of control. The acting is so contained, real, amazing. The story is playing very well with our expectations, till the last second. Perfect. Oh and I forgot to mention the fight. I thought I was actually watching a real combat, incredible.

Play Trailer:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner by Stanley Kramer, 1967 (NR)

with Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Houghton, Cecil Kellaway, Beah Richards, Isabel Sanford, Roy Glenn, Virginia Christine

Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn star as wealthy Californians who consider themselves progressive until their only daughter (Katharine Houghton) brings home her African American fiancé (Sidney Poitier) in this snapshot of race relations in the late 1960s. The film earned two Academy Awards (for Hepburn's performance and William Rose's screenplay) and eight other nominations. Stanley Kramer directs.

After a series of classics I felt not much for, I was surprised by this one. It is funny, right on, well acted, ironic, an amazing portrayal of mirrors, from an evolving society that through two generations, shows a drastic change of mentality, questions that are raised on being open minded and respectful of ones decision. Also, honestly, how not to fall in love with Sidney Poitier? He is the ideal man. The rest of the cast is just so good, everything is put into an orderly chaos, with amazing dialogues, essential logic and finally a change. Intelligent, so intelligent.

Watch trailer:

Our Idiot Brother by Jesse Peretz, 2011 (R)

with Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Coogan, Hugh Dancy, Rashida Jones, Shirley Knight, T.J. Miller, Adam Scott, Janet Montgomery

Ned (Paul Rudd) is a seemingly clueless idealist who must rely upon his three exasperated sisters (Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks and Zooey Deschanel) for shelter and support after he's dumped by his fed-up girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn) and loses custody of his beloved dog, Willie Nelson. As he wreaks havoc on his sisters' lives, Ned's earnestness shines through until his siblings realize that family ties take priority over wealth and position.

Funny, a movie that you do not expect anything from, not really indie, but not commercial either, family portrait that seems a little too stereotyped but came out quite good. In the end. Anyway, it is funny, and underlying is a scar that is well acted, till it breaks and wraps up in an intelligent way. I don't think I would have watched it if it weren't one of the three movies available during a long plane trip from New York to Paris, and no regret. Recommending. Shyly.

Watch Trailer:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Gone with the Wind by Victor Fleming, 1939 (G)

with Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Thomas Mitchell, Olivia de Havilland, Hattie McDaniel, George Reeves, Victor Jory, Harry Davenport, Jane Darwell, Ona Munson, Ward Bond, Jackie Moran, Cliff Edwards, Yakima Canutt, Olin Howlin, Irving Bacon, William Bakewell

Director Victor Fleming's 1939 epic adaption of Margaret Mitchell's novel of the same name stars Vivien Leigh as self-absorbed, headstrong Scarlett O'Hara, a Southern Belle who meets her match in Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) just as the Civil War breaks out. Living on a large cotton plantation called Tara in rural Georgia in 1861, Scarlett sees her beloved home and life as she knows it go up in flames -- but will her true love be lost too?

Another past of America, unusual story because of the rules: winners write history. The other side is hard to get. The format of the movie is of course nowadays horrible. Intermission? Hysterical Scarlett? Over-dramatic relationships? The story tho is amazing. Long fight of a woman in a time where women are not to be listened to, the definition of abolition of slavery, view from the North and the South, wartime and capitalism. Fascinating. Perhaps it would be more interesting to read the book.

Watch Trailer:

Giant by George Stevens, 1956

with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Chill Wills, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Rod Taylor, Judith Evelyn, Earl Holliman, Robert Nichols, Paul Fix, Alexander Scourby, Charles Watts

In Oscar-winning director George Stevens's sprawling epic, Texas cattleman Bick Benedict (Rock Hudson) journeys to Virginia in the early 1920s, falls in love with aristocratic, independent-minded Leslie Lynnton (Elizabeth Taylor) and takes her back to his ranch -- setting the stage for an intergenerational saga that spans decades. James Dean (in his last film appearance) co-stars as sulking, nouveau riche Jett Rink -- the root of Bick's worries.

It is different. The way they were making movies. The way the story was told. The codes of society. It is almost like watching a societal analysis of America and honestly feels like there is a lot of it that came to a certain truth about Americans mentality nowadays. The acting is a bit bizarre, overacted is not the word, it just feels like when reading a book from the beginning of the century, and not understanding too much the way the characters expresses themselves. I watched it with some distance, and sometimes lack of interested. The worst is that I watched it for the only reason that it is listed as one of a hundred best movie of all time. Maybe. Must be. I will document myself more.
PS: the movie was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". It makes sense.

The Princess and the Frog by Ron Clements and John Musker, 2009

with Anika Noni Rose, Terrence Howard, John Goodman, Bruno Campos, Keith David, Michael-Leon Wooley, Jim Cummings, Jenifer Lewis, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Cody

Down in New Orleans during the fabulous Jazz Age, young Princess Tiana (voice of Anika Noni Rose) searches for true love and comes face-to-face with snooty debutante Charlotte (Jennifer Cody), ancient voodoo priestess Mama Odie (Jennifer Lewis) and the evil Dr. Facilier (Keith David). But with the help of her mother (Oprah Winfrey), a crooning alligator and other friends, Tiana's fairy-tale dreams may come true after all.

Funny, what I wrote about Tangled could be written for the Princess and the Frog. It was a funny reconversion of the tale, with a nice Louisiana feeling to it, and "a girl can make it on her own" spirit, although when a guy come to the story, it helps... in the end. Well, it always reminds of childhood to watch a traditional Walt Disney, it is simple, funny, likable, no surprise. No further expectation. Although it would be nice to change the message sometimes... no?

Tangled by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, 2010

with Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Ron Perlman, M.C. Gainey, Jeffrey Tambor, Brad Garrett, Paul F. Tompkins, Richard Kiel

Disney animators take on the classic Grimm Brothers story of Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), a long-locked beauty imprisoned in a secluded tower by evil hag Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy), who needs the rejuvenating powers of Rapunzel's tresses to remain young. When a bandit on the lam (Zachary Levi) helps Rapunzel escape, the old crone plots to recapture her and end her budding romance with the thief.

Funny, a little bit, specially the horse I guess. A traditional Walt Disney, with a happy ending, prince and princess, a witch, a hero, and some side jokes and tears to make the people feel some emotions. Well designed, it is very simple, very adequate to our time, except perhaps that a woman will always need a guy to solve her problems. Damned it. Anyway, not the best one, just a traditional Walt Disney.

Intouchable by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, 2011 (R)

with François Cluzet (Little White Lies (Les Petits Mouchoirs, Paris, Tell No One), Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny, Audrey Fleurot

A true story of two men who should never have met - a quadriplegic aristocrat who was injured in a paragliding accident and a young man from the projects.

Ah ah, one of the biggest success of French cinema, everybody saw that movie, and to the least once, but many more times for a large majority. Interesting tho, why would this movie become so popular. The cast, perhaps, merging big people from the TV world with a very mainstream audience with highly respected actors from the cinema world. Therefor attracting two different kind of audiences. Smart. Then, a real story, with insights from the life of aristocracy, the life of a paraplegic, and a strange combination of two persons from different background, meaning interesting from both perspectives, the rich, the poor. Also, to make it even better, the sense of humor is just enough to make you survive the tragedy, and the drama is just enough so you do not get disconnected from the situation of these two people, and some cynicism, to please the irony of the story. Anyway, a feel good movie, after all, a good one, and I guess smart one. So people liked it. And stopping by France last December, my first cinema time was going to see it, had to, even if I didn't mean it. And I liked it. A lot.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol by Brad Bird, 2011

with Tom Cruise (Eyes Wide Shut, Knight and Day), Jeremy Renner (The Avengers, The Bourne Legacy, The Hurt Locker), Simon Pegg, Paula Patton (Deja Vu, Precious), Ving Rhames (Out Of Sight, Surrogates), Léa Seydoux (Midnight in Paris), Josh Holloway, Tom Wilkinson (The Conspirator, The Ghost Writer, Duplicity, Michael Clayton, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Michael Nyqvist, Anil Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire)

Super-agent Ethan Hunt dangles from skyscrapers and otherwise takes daring to new heights on another operation from the Impossible Missions Force. Helping Hunt get the job done is droll fellow IMF agent Luther Stickel.

Funny how sometimes you do not have to understand the bigger goal to enjoy the journey. For example, this movie is pretty kryptiq on the topic of this Russian collaboration with Sweden, and its goal when I believe cold war is history. The story is more interesting if you let yourself be pushed into situations, and follow the flow of action, sometimes almost impossible, at the edge, funny. The rhythm flows, slows down, speed up in a very organic way, the dialogues are much better than in any other M.I., the sense of humor is good, not loud, more cynical, in other words, it is good entertainment. And as the story develops, it doesn't really matter what the bigger political aim is, only to know that the bomb is going to explode if they do not act on it, just like a good old mission impossible!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Albert Nobbs by Rodrigo García, 2011 (R)

with Glenn Close, Mia Wasikowska (Alice In Wonderland, The Kids Are All Right), Aaron Johnson (Nowhere Boy), Janet McTeer, Pauline Collins, Brenda Fricker, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges), Maria Doyle Kennedy, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Mark Williams, Bronagh Gallagher, John Light

Having for decades disguised herself as a man while working as a butler in a posh 19th-century Dublin hotel, a woman calling herself Albert Nobbs reconsiders her charade when a handsome painter arrives on the scene.

I didn't really want to watch this movie, it seemed to have a traditional look into the 19th century, giving some sort of reason for things to be that way. But anyway... So about the movie, I have a little crush on Janet McTeer, I think she gives life to the movie just by her presence. Glen Close is Death becomes her, more depressing, you can't. It has its good points and helps understanding the contrast, but it is almost too much, too explicit, therefor she looses in nuances. She has some good scenes tho, which happen to be whenever she is facing Janet McTeer, and breaks a little bit of her facade. Mia Wasikowska and Aaron Johnson are predictably what they embody, young fools ready to ignore their own sense of dignity for the sake of their dreams. Him being self-interested, her following him until she learns her own lesson. The other characters are caricatures, from the rich to the poor, everyone has a role to play. Perhaps because the character played by McTeer is looking into the future the way it has become, we feel more connected. Finally, the movie reaches one objective, make us hate how the women's situation was back in time.

Watch trailer:

Take Shelter by by Jeff Nichols, 2011 (R)

with Michael Shannon, Katy Mixon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Kathy Baker, Ray McKinnon, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Robert Longstreet, Guy Van Swearingen, Tova Stewart, Natasha Randall, Scott Knisley, Ron Kennard

Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) stars in this Sundance-selected thriller as Curtis LaForche, a small-town family man who's determined to protect his wife (Jessica Chastain) and deaf daughter (Tova Stewart) from impending disaster. Fueled by disturbing visions of a terrible storm, Curtis sets out to prepare for the future by building an impenetrable storm shelter in the safety of his own backyard.

Ok suspense, good acting, although Michael Shannon can be sometimes too much of the same character (Revolutionary Road ?), and the rhythm of the movie too slow. In other word, once we understand the complexity of him thinking, pretty simple in a way, I guess there is no need for the laborious non-evolution of his fear. It has either to grow or to evolve, but instead, it goes all the way to the top, and then stays there, leaving the audience uninterested by his torture. Sad. Good twist in the end that saves it a little.

Watch Trailer:

The Iron Lady by Phyllida Lloyd, 2011 (PG-13)

with Meryl Streep (Marvin's Room, Julie and Julia, It's Complicated, Kramer Vs. Kramer, Out of Africa), Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas, Another Year), Alexandra Roach, Harry Lloyd, Olivia Colman, Iain Glen, Victoria Bewick, Nicholas Farrell, John Sessions, Anthony Head (Scoop), David Westhead, Julian Wadham, Richard E. Grant, Angus Wright, Roger Allam, Michael Pennington, Susan Brown, Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Meryl Streep provides a subtle and nuanced portrait of Margaret Thatcher, the first female prime minister of Britain, whose political career and determination changed the rules that had limited women's opportunities for leadership.

It is funny how one actress can get so much publicity for her movie. You almost forget that this is not the only thing that make the movie good. Well, it definitely helps. Specially when it is Meryl Streep, and when portraying one of the most fascinating women of the last century. But that's it. She is amazing, the old husband can be of some interest, but the younger version of Margaret Thatcher is just not right, nor her husband. It looks like a fairy tale kind of story. But she is amazing, her transformation is really good, to the point you forget that she is Meryl Streep, to the point that when growing old, you believe her difficulty to connect to reality, to move around, to loose herself. Very good performance.

Watch Trailer:

A Separation (Jodaeiye Nader az Simin) by Asghar Farhadi, 2011 (PG-13)

with Leila Hatami, Peyman Moadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Babak Karimi (Le Passé - The Past), Ali-Asghar Shahbaz, Shirin Yazdanbakhsh, Kimia Hosseini, Merila Zarei
From the director of Le Passé - The Past

An Iranian husband and wife split up over his decision to stay and care for his aging father instead of leaving the country with his family. But his fateful choice to hire a stranger to do most of the caretaking breeds unexpected consequences.

A separation is a very interesting movie. It is Iranian, when lately, when coming out in the US, Iranian themed movie are usually giving an openly negative vision of Iran. A separation is not only about a divorce, it is about a split of mentality, a split in generation, a split is society. While using the conventions of Iran, without trying to shock or criticize, the movie in an innocent way shows a fracture in the system. In the system that in a way can be similar in the US, or Europe. It doesn't matter that much. The characters are very human, trying to deal with the present situation with as much dignity as it is possible, lying to protect themselves, pushing away when being pushed, and trying to live as happy as one can be with an imperfect life.

Puncture by Adam Kassen and Mark Kassen, 2011 (R)

with Chris Evans (Captain America: First Avenger, Marvel's Avengers), Mark Kassen, Vinessa Shaw (Side Effects), Michael Biehn, Brett Cullen, Marshall Bell (Total Recall), Jesse L. Martin, Roxanna Hope, Tess Parker, Kate Burton (127 Hours)

Drug-addicted attorney Mike and his business partner Paul take on a case involving an emergency room nurse who has been pricked by an infected needle. Uncovering a web of corporate conspiracies, Mike and Paul quickly find themselves outmatched.

A very smart movie on how politics are influenced by multinationals, somehow to the benefit of themselves, without counting good sense. In other word, it shows how frustrating the system is, how difficult it is to tackle it, and almost impossible to change as an individual. The movie is perfectly acted, shows the insights of the hospital system, the lobbying. This is a feel good movie, but from it, you can deduce easily that there are so many cases that are much darker. And even in that case, till today, plastic needles are reused in third world countries and in the US, a large amount of hospital haven't changed their needles for the retractable safety needle, there are still a lot of work to be done.

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On Fascape by Rockne S. O'Bannon (TV Series 1999–2003) (TV-PG)

with Ben Browder (Stargate), Claudia Black (Rango, Stargate), Anthony Simcoe, Lani Tupu, Jonathan Hardy, Gigi Edgley, Wayne Pygram, Virginia Hey, Paul Goddard (The Matrix), David Franklin...

This Australian science fiction series follows the crew of Moya, a living spacecraft that houses a group of various beings united in their desire to escape from a corrupt military force known as Peacekeepers. American astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder) joins them when he accidentally flies through a wormhole. As the series progresses, John makes enemies with brutal Peacekeeper Scorpius, while developing a relationship with crewmate Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black).

I was told that if I liked "Battlestar Galactica", I would also enjoy "Farscape". I didn't know that it was one of the Sci-Fi Channel's most popular shows almost immediately upon airing. What I knew instead is that the characters were really good, but not to expect an amazing special effect kind of show. So I started watching it as a home made show, to be surprised, more and more by the impact it would have in my own life.
First of all, watching a few episodes made me realize that the sense of humor was pretty unique, since the main character is an ordinary American guy — I mean an astronaut — and was born and raised with the references we all have of TV shows, movies, history, and can make these kind of jokes that of course only the audience can get, since the other members of this universe have no idea what he is talking about.

(from left to right) Pilot, Dominar Rygel XVI, Chiana, John Crichton, Aeryn Sun,
Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan, Ka D'Argo and Moya

I also believe that beyond the exceptional adventures that happen to them, they are all a little bit clueless and thinking in a matter of survival with an ideology based on peace, various ways of reaching it, and it always comes to having an understanding. In other words, it is not about one guy leading other guys, it is about adapting to each situation, screwing up, fixing it, screwing up again, changing strategy, getting to an equilibrium.
Another thing is the inventive way to generate new stories, curiosity, something that does not fade along the seasons. The beginning, while we are still discovering the main characters and how they evolve, we have more of short adventures with great inventivity. Little by little, we are reaching to bigger goals, stories that extend to a few episodes, and finally, getting to know better what is happening on a global level in the galaxy, who is in charge, and what are the biggest challenges.
Also, the main characters can build on their relationships, create a complicity with the audience on what has already happen that we will try to avoid in the future. The going back to earth is done in two ways, which also build an unusual way to put together Crichton family and his partners from the rest of the universe.

Officer Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black)

Finally, they built a story where relationships are not drama, they are just building themselves with time, some glitches, and finally realism and coherency, making the sentimentalist like me even more hooked.
The series has a beginning, a middle and an end that feels like a complete story, sometimes as opposed to never ending commercial series. This is another real value.

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