with the bold text in the example below:

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Vow by Michael Sucsy, 2012 (PG-13)

with Rachel McAdams (To The Wonder, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Midnight in Paris, Morning Glory), Channing Tatum (Side Effects, Haywire), Sam Neill, Scott Speedman (Barney's Version, Adoration), Jessica Lange, Sarah Carter, Dillon Casey, Jeananne Goossen, Rachel Skarsten, Kristina Pesic

Rachel McAdams stars in this romantic drama about a newlywed woman who slips into a coma after a car accident and awakens with amnesia. Her devoted husband (Channing Tatum) must help her recover and also win her back.

If at the end of the movie I wouldn't have read that this was based on a true story (she will never remember), I would have simply trashed the movie. Instead, I might just say that Rachel McAdams  is much more convincing when she isn't doing romantic comedies ("The Lucky Ones", "Midnight in Paris"). Her latest "Morning Glory" or "The Vow" are postcards of cities, with stereotypes of how people with dream-jobs should be... And it gets ridiculous. The feeling are overdeveloped, the characters look dumb and I am not saying this because they are in love, they are just simplified to the cheesy emotional feel good characters you're supposed to fall in love with so you can relate to the story. But they are not attractive being like that, it is sad. Michael Sucsy did a much better job when depicting the downfall of the Onassis family in Grey Gardens.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Somersault by Cate Shortland, 2004 (NR)

with Abbie Cornish, Sam Worthington, Lynette Curran, Nathaniel Dean, Erik Thomson, Leah Purcell, Hollie Andrew, Paul Gleeson, Damian de Montemas, Olivia Pigeot

After trying to seduce her mother's live-in boyfriend, guilt-ridden teen Heidi (Abbie Cornish) runs away from home and heads for a small ski resort, where her sexual awakening and amorphous yearning for love collide. Rudderless and broke, Heidi exchanges her sexual favors for a place to sleep till she lands a job. But just as she starts to settle in, her irresponsible behavior jeopardizes her fragile equilibrium in this absorbing Aussie import.

Interesting, at the edge of video-art at times, a perspective that has the innocence of its main character, while everything surrounding her is not that innocent. The danger that we could experience when she puts herself at risk is almost erased by this same innocent look of the camera, giving a creepy reading to the scenes. She is fascinating in the way she gives us back a little bit of our childhood, sharing with another man the discovery of what is love and dealing with emotions. Her journey didn't feel like the loss of innocence. On the contrary, it felt like the rediscovery of innocence as she changes the vision of the characters around her. In that sense, it is unusual and relieving.

Contraband by Baltasar Kormákur, 2012 (R)

with Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, J.K. Simmons, Lukas Haas, Diego Luna, Caleb Landry Jones, Connor Hill, Bryce McDaniel

When his brother-in-law runs afoul of a drug lord, family man Chris Farraday turns to a skill he abandoned long ago -- smuggling -- to repay the debt. But the job goes wrong, and Farraday finds himself wanted by cops, crooks and killers alike.

Oh my god, most predictable script in a long while. The action is good enough you're still hooked, but the scenario looks like it has been created from a boring departing, and trying to make it exiting by hooking up to it some basic element to twist the story and make it continue, never ending. The cast is irritating, and the characters full of stereotypes of gangstas going from the coward to the good guy, to the irresponsible, to the impatient one, to the rich mafioso... Anyway, nothing original.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I am love (Io Sono L'Amore) by Luca Guadagnino, 2009 (R)

with Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Constantine), Flavio Parenti (To Rome With Love), Edoardo Gabbriellini, Alba Rohrwacher, Pippo Delbono, Diane Fleri, Maria Paiato, Marisa Berenson, Waris Ahluwalia, Gabriele Ferzetti

Oscar winner Tilda Swinton shows off her multilingual skills in director Luca Guadagnino's atmospheric melodrama in which family dissension, unbidden desire and other tensions bubble to the surface during the patriarch's birthday party. When the seemingly picture-perfect Recchi clan gathers at the family villa to celebrate the great old man, the veneer of civility quickly falls away.

This is dark, very theatrical, staged in amazing decors, a cinematography that leaves nothing to chance. It is as impeccable as Tilda Swinton's role of Emma. Until something breaks that has to do with family conflicts, but also about the excessive effort to conform that is not impossible to handle anymore, love has shaken things up. In a beautiful way, colorful, raw, unexpected and mostly unaccepted by everyone else. The term "belonging" is only a contract in which you need to fulfill your part, and if you choose differently, this is what the movie portray, with an amazing sense of nuance.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Michael Clayton by Tony Gilroy, 2007 (R)

with George Clooney (The Descendants, Out of Sight, Up in the Air), Tom Wilkinson (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Debt, Duplicity, The Ghost Writer, The Conspirator), Tilda Swinton (We Need To talk About Kevin, I am Love, Constantine), Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Ehle (The King's Speech), Ken Howard, Michael O'Keefe (Frozen River), Denis O'Hare (Milk, Duplicity), Robert Prescott, Sean Cullen, Merritt Wever, David Lansbury, Bill Raymond, David Zayas

Screenwriter Tony Gilroy delivers a finely tuned directorial debut with this dramatic thriller about burned-out corporate lawyer Michael Clayton (George Clooney), a man who's built his career on cleaning up other people's messes. When a guilt-ridden colleague (Tom Wilkinson) threatens the settlement of a multimillion-dollar case, Clayton faces his biggest challenge yet. Tilda Swinton nabbed an Oscar for her turn as a conflicted general counsel.

It is a very complex movie, essentially because of its script. Perhaps I should watch it again. I was impressed (again) by Tilda Swinton, in which she won an Oscar for best support actress, she was fascinatingly struggling to fix things and convince others of what she was even fearing for herself. The casting is impressive, heavy weight actors acting heavy weight businessmen, which is a match. It is impeccable, troubling, human and still, very much an inside look at business in a very cold way. Implacable.

The Saint by Phillip Noyce, 1997 (PG-13)

with Val Kilmer, Elisabeth Shue, Rade Serbedzija, Alun Armstrong, Valeri Nikolayev, Henry Goodman

Master thief Simon Templar (Val Kilmer) eludes his pursuers by assuming the names of obscure saints. When a Russian politician (Rade Serbedzija) hires Templar to steal the formula for cold fusion, he falls in love with Emma Russell (Elisabeth Shue), the frail Oxford scientist who has unlocked the process' secret. Back in Moscow, Templar must decide whether to betray his new love or the madman who's paying him millions.

It's funny, when it came out, it really got bad reviews. I only watched it because it was with Elisabeth Shue, and I found it amazing, because of her. The story was more interesting than Mission Impossible for example that came out a year before with Tom Cruise, less special effect, more funny disguise, and also closer to the characters. In a way, you could see it at a lesser good action movie, because of the poverty of its special effects, but what is a good action movie? James Bond movies are still good despite the fact that some of them look really simple nowadays. So, I liked it, and watched it again after watching "Leaving Las Vegas", and still I think it is not that bad, I like it.

Sleeping Beauty by Julia Leigh, 2011 (NR)

with Emily Browning, Rachael Blake, Ewen Leslie, Peter Carroll, Chris Haywood, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Eden Falk, Mirrah Foulkes

In this dark tale, a young college student takes a decidedly offbeat job: As a "sleeping beauty," she's paid to be fondled or otherwise handled by strangers while in a sedated slumber. Soon, however, she begins to wonder what she's submitting to.

Interesting, reminded me somehow of "Eyes Wide Shut" by Kubrick.Very soft and delicate, even during the most intense scenes. Very French in a way, or I might say European. I guess there is a focus to make on Australian cinema. But at the same time, there was something about the rhythm of the movie that can sometimes detach you too much from the story. Interesting esthetic, contradiction between the image of purity and the real girl that is inside that body. Emotional and at the same time distant, controlled. Emily Browning is highly convincing. I recommend, adults only :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rise of the Planet of the Apes by Rupert Wyatt, 2011 (PG-13)

with James Franco (127 Hours, Milk, Eat Pray Love), Tom Felton, Brian Cox, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), John Lithgow, Tyler Labine, David Hewlett, David Oyelowo (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Lincoln)

This reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise is a prequel set in modern-day San Francisco, where scientists are conducting genetic research on apes. The evolved primates develop advanced intelligence and revolt against being used as lab rats.

Better than what I expected after having see the Tim Burton version of the "Planet of The Apes". It was interesting to see that they actually remained close to reality, with analyzed behaviors of Apes among humans experiments, only inserting a little bit of surrealism in the idea that a medication could alter their behaviors, in that case making them closer to human intelligence. The special effects are really convincing, you actually relates to the apes, orangutan and gorillas in a way you would with humans. The relationships are well built and despite of course the limited vocabulary of the animals, you get their dialogues and mimics in a natural way. Not bad after all.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Other Man by Richard Eyre, 2008 (R)

with Liam Neeson (The Next Three Days, Chloe, The Grey, Love Actually), Antonio Banderas (Ruby Sparks, La Piel Que Habito, Haywire), Laura Linney (Love Actually), Romola Garai (One Day), Laurence Richardson, Amanda Drew, Abigail Canton

Over dinner, Peter's (Liam Neeson) wife, Lisa (Laura Linney), essentially reveals that she's been cheating on him -- and then disappears the following day. Obsessed with learning the details, Peter tracks down Ralph (Antonio Banderas), Lisa's lover. Believing Ralph doesn't know who he is, Peter plays little games with him in an effort to quell his own despair.

By the same director as "Note on a Scandal". A much softer story tho. Still, it has this darkness surrounding each scene, as if there was something we were missing all this time. And the obsession of Liam Neeson becomes more and more complicated, as you see the other characters taking a different journey, the only one following his obsession being Ralf, which we do not really understand. The end has a great twist to it and the storyline is well built. But please, I found Antonio Banderas so bad, it was traumatic.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Surrogates by Jonathan Mostow, 2009 (PG-13)

with Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames, Michael Cudlitz, Anya Monzikova, Jack Noseworthy, Devin Ratray, Helena Mattsson

Based on Robert Venditti's graphic novel of the same name, director Jonathan Mostow's sci-fi thriller is set in a futuristic world in which humans hibernate at home while living their lives vicariously through robot surrogates. When a series of mysterious surrogate murders occurs, FBI agent Greer (Bruce Willis) ventures out into the world for the first time in years to investigate.

The concept in interesting, if you didn't have to be yourself to interact with the others, how would you choose to be. And would you accept this surrogate to be able to mimetize as much as your life and death? Beyond this point, the movie explore, a little bit, the idea of projection, and the lack of humanity that sometimes remains between a husband and a wife living life through their surrogates. The main purpose of the movie is to be an action thriller, so the intellectual questioning stops there. Nevertheless, it is an interesting vision of the future that I enjoyed exploring.

An Education by Lone Scherfig, 2008 (PG-13)

with Carey Mulligan (Drive, Shame, Never Let Me Go), Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer, Anna Karenina) Alfred Molina (Chocolat), Cara Seymour, Matthew Beard, Peter Sarsgaard, Amanda Fairbank-Hynes, Ellie Kendrick, Dominic Cooper (Captain America), Rosamund Pike (Pride and Prejudice, Surrogates, Barney's Version), Emma Thompson (Brave, Men in Black 3, Love Actually), Sally Hawkins (Never Let Me Go)
From the director of "One Day"

Jenny's (Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan) Oxford-bound teen life is a bore in 1961 London until she's given a different kind of education after being immersed in the beguiling but hazardous world of much-older David (Peter Sarsgaard). Even Jenny's parents, Jack (Alfred Molina) and Marjorie (Cara Seymour), are intrigued by him, but her unimpressed teacher (Olivia Williams) works to keep Jenny's entire future from crumbling under David's influence.

Olivia Williams stole the movie, didn't she? The movie is really good, the game everyone plays is very well held until the end, where everyone learns its lesson, the movie is an education for far many more characters than just Jenny. Great cinematography, great dialogues refreshingly free of harsh judgements, a journey that everyone would wish to have, despite the downside of it, and I believe that is why it is so good. It makes you question what in the end is the right thing to do.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Never Let Me Go by Mark Romanek, 2010 (R)

with Carey Mulligan (An Education, Shame), Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Keira Knightley (Anna Karenina, A Dangerous Method), Isobel Meikle-Small, Ella Purnell, Charlie Rowe, Charlotte Rampling (Melancholia), Sally Hawkins (An Education), Kate Bowes Renna

Based on Kazuo Ishiguro's acclaimed novel, this sci-fi drama from director Mark Romanek is centered on thirtysomething Kathy (Carey Mulligan), who reflects on her time spent at Hailsham, an English boarding school, alongside classmates Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield). Born for an unusual reason, the three struggle with their destiny and their love triangle. Charlotte Rampling plays headmistress Miss Emily.

Carey Mulligan... I discovered her in "An Education", followed her in "Drive", finally in a different genre in "Shame". She's really good. I have more conflicts with Keira Knightley which I discovered and liked in "Pride and Prejudice" but then was deceived by her choices and last interpretation in "A Dangerous Method". Finally, the surprise came from Andrew Garfield that was in "The Social Network" and was metamorphosed in this movie into an amazingly sensitive character. The cast is really good, the story intriguing, to the point where you would like to know so much more about those boarding school which seems so realistic. I reminded me, not to spoil the surprise - oops -, to "The Island". Fascinating.

Trouble Every Day by Claire Denis, 2001 (UR)

with Vincent Gallo, Tricia Vessey, Béatrice Dalle, Alex Descas, Florence Loiret Caille, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Raphael Neal, José Garcia, Helene Lapiower, Marilu Marini, Aurore Clément, Bakary Sangare

Modern-day cannibalism is more like a disease du jour in this tale of Parisian seductress Coré, a woman with a cerebral malady that forces her to combine libido and appetite. A chance encounter with a honeymooning American husband who suffers the same affliction leads to a gory rampage. Vincent Gallo and Beatrice Dalle star in this gruesome yet stylish thriller that explores the link between unchecked sexual urges and society's moral decay.

My first movie of Claire Denis. I didn't know I was in for a ride! I don't think I have ever seen a movie that was graphically stronger. It is supposed to be a movie about desire, illness, sexual repression, but what remains are the missing pieces on bodies and the red, this red that is growing, everywhere you look. It feels like the two characters could almost be human at some point, and then they become primitive, monsters. I know you are supposed to read the movie as a parabola for mental illnesses, and quite oppositely, how sex comes back to the primitive instincts, but this movie was too sick for me. I saw "White Material" from the same director with a great apprehension, which was sad in a way, because the gory aspect of "Trouble Every Day" is not representative of Claire Denis' work.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

On strong (and fascinating) female characters

To be completed, suggestions welcome, in the comment box!

Jackie Brown (Pam Grier, Jackie Brown, 1997)
A woman in a man's world, having done some prison, ready to get her things together with one last trick. Goal oriented despite the pressure and perhaps some emotions towards the good guy of the story. And let's face it, Pam Grier couldn't be more charming, in an edgy sort of way.
Jackie Brown (Pam Grier, Jackie Brown by Quentin Tarantino, 1997)

Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss, The Matrix, 1999)
She is the mysterious woman. Androgynous, emotionless, efficient, survivor with ethics. Her costumes makes her almost dominatrix, but she is not, it's the esthetic of the movie and it suits her well. She handles big guns, she is nearly unbeatable, and still, once you see the her weakness, you cannot help falling in love with her.
Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss, The Matrix by the brother Wachowski, 1999)

Radia (Souad Amidou, Le Plus Beau Métier du Monde, 1995)
Teacher in a school that looks more like a gang headquarters, holding her head up, beautiful of course that way, trying to change the mind of the little few that may get out of the ghetto and have a better future. But she doesn't do it with authority, on the contrary, she does it with her generosity and loving heart. Still, she's got the respect, even of the toughest ones.
Radia (Souad Amidou, Le Plus Beau Métier du Monde by Gérard Lauzier, 1995)

Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black, Farscape, 1999-2003)
The conditioned woman, trained to be a pilot, observe order, teamwork, discipline, looking forward to her next assignment as a pilot as a main goal in her life. And then everything collapses. It takes a very long time for her to change her behavior while all her life has already shifted. And little by little, her good values takes another dimension such as teamwork, as she feels she need to takes decisions for herself, other features of her personality are to be rethought as the order she used to feel she was belonging to is now making her an outlaw. And finally, relationships that were forbidden to her becomes allowed, which gives her an internal struggle on what are the priorities of life. I forgot to mention her deep voice and amazing nose, that both belong to the amazing Claudia Black.
Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black, Farscape by Rockne S. O'Bannon, 1999-2003)

Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ocean's twelve, 2004)
She's a cop, surrounded by outlaws loves of her life, too close to be ignored, to reachable not to arrest them, so they flee. She is smart and never gives up her prey, ready to distort the system to her own advantage so she can prove she is right. Stubborn and cute. She ends up outlaw and surrounded by her loves, for good. That's a happy ending.
Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ocean's twelve by Steven Soderbergh, 2004)

Sera (Elizabeth Shue, Leaving Las Vegas, 1995)
A prostitute. You would start by thinking no way this is a strong woman, not something you want to promote feminism with. Nevertheless, she is one of the most complex role I have seen, with a powerful story that is all about humanity. It is about helping the other, not judging, be there no matter what the other think of you, be ready to embrace their choices, and leading your life into another direction, changing. She is beautifully sad, devoted, a unique soul that touched a very large audience, I believe.
Sera (Elizabeth Shue, Leaving Las Vegas by Mike Figgis, 1995)

Sylvia Weld (Lena Headey, The man with rain in his shoes, 1998)
If you were given a second chance, would you reconsider your choices. Would you let your life be embraced the way the other want. It was an interesting charming role of a woman that lives through the second chance of her boyfriend having cheated on him, this time not knowing and letting him go anyway, because it is life, and sometimes you have another journey to make.
Sylvia Weld (Lena Headey, The man with rain in his shoes by María Ripoll, 1998)

Number Six (Tricia Helfer, Battlestar Galactica, 2004-2009)
The sexiest robot ever invented. So far. And even with that, she managed to become a strong symbol of femininity and humanity. I think it is hard to fall for this one as long as she is considered the sexiest robot ever. Her character evolves into a complex role, actually complex roles, showing different facets of the same character, becoming more and more human, sensitive, able to change humanity and create an internal conflict in the mind of the other robots. That's relevant!
Number Six (Tricia Helfer, Battlestar Galactica by Glen A. Larson, 2004-2009)

Jenny Lerner (Téa Leoni, Deep Impact, 1998)
I don't know why I chose her, I believe she marked me when I was 16, watching Deep Impact. She was the perfect successful journalist with a father issue, ready to be saved as part of the most relevant human beings on Earth, going on a journey to emotions while the rest of the world is trying to survive. She chooses to make peace with herself instead of making sure she'll live longer, and join her father on the sea side where the impact will be destructive. Not suicidal, just prioritizing the rightest journey she chooses for herself.
Jenny Lerner (Téa Leoni, Deep Impact by Mimi Leder, 1998)

Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals, The L Word, 2004-2009)
Perfect successful lesbian with a wife, a family, friends, director of an art center with an amazing taste, beautiful and most of all, do not look like the stereotype of a lesbian. That is relevant, and I believe besides the fact that she is a strong and fascinating female character, it actually changed the views of our society on what to expect a lesbian should be, how she should behave, how she would look like.
Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals, The L Word by Ilene Chaiken, 2004-2009)

Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe, Twelve Monkeys, 1995)
Totally subjective, I believe I fell in love with Madeleine Stowe in that movie. I found her beautiful, perhaps in a movie where everything is ugly, depressing, unending, cold. She was the light.
Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe, Twelve Monkeys by Terry Gilliam, 1995)

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 2009)
Not the American version, I insist. In this version, she gives a new look to the hero, and to the woman not entering any gender. She is someone who makes her own choices, creates her own relationships regardless of what the other believe in, think. She looks terrible, in a way, a sensual in another, intriguing. She chooses to like the man of the story, but this is not a traditional relationship she is looking for, more like a partnership that doesn't have beginning or end, it is not a commitment. Besides, she is a genius, a geek, something that still in our culture is not appealing, there she changes the rules of the game. Trinity tried it, Lisbeth Salander did it.
Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Niels Arden Oplev, 2009)

Léa (Catherine Deneuve, Belle Maman, 1999)
Ok, departing point, Catherine Deneuve is a strong and fascinating woman. I picked that movie, I could have chose many others. But Lea is the divorced independent beautiful and intensively charming middle age woman. She couldn't be more beautiful than at that point of her life. And the projection that all the other characters have of her, the way they behave around her make her even more so. She is a woman who is not afraid of aging (well maybe a little, that only makes her even more cute), that reshape all the conceptions of beauty associated to youth, a great lesson.
Léa (Catherine Deneuve, Belle Maman by Gabriel Aghion, 1999)

Pierrette (Fanny Ardant, 8 Women, 2002)
Ok, second departing point, Fanny Ardant is a strong and fascinating woman. Mysterious too, dramatic. I picked that movie, I could have chose many others. I also could have chosen to have listed Catherine Deneuve in this movie, specially since they both fight at some point, breaking all the conceptions you could have of both. Pierrette is not playing by the rules, making her an outsider, but at the same time, she is more aware of what is indeed politically incorrect and make a lot of the character loose the face. Entertaining!
Pierrette (Fanny Ardant, 8 Women by François Ozon, 2002)

Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher, Star Wars Trilogy, 1977-1983)
She is a princess, but not the kind who watch their lives passing in front of their eyes. She is a strong woman, stubborn, alter ego of Aeryn Sun in a way, a warrior. She gives a hard time to men in general, which is very satisfying as a woman to watch. She is cute at times and a real pain in the neck too, a feminist after all.
Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher, Star Wars Trilogy, 1977-1983)

Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000)
Michelle Yeoh manages to be the righteous, the devoted, the strong, all that without allowing herself to love, when you can see it is showing from every pores of her skin. I found it so beautiful and tragic, intense, everything that happens revolves around the undone. She is the key character of the film. She reminds me so much of Mrs Dashwood, very respectful of the rules of her time, very talented and generous, and ready to give up a lot for honor. Of course, she distinguishes herself from Mrs Dashwood in that she is from Ancient China, a master warrior which is unusual for a woman of her time, and an extraordinary athlete (you gotta see how in shape she is!). I guess I fell for the devotion she has for her partner, the love he gives her back, and how awkward they are together trying to talk about their love.
Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Ang Lee, 2000)

Dr. Elizabeth 'Beth' Halperin (Sharon Stone, Sphere, 1998)
I think Sharon Stone around that time changed the range of her roles for a more mature kind of women, with wiser characters. She in this movie cut her hair "Jean Seberg" style, boyish, she is a doctor surrounded by men in a confined environment (all amazing actors by the way), and she is not loosing the face. She is a strong serious scientific that manage to hide the fact that she is a beautiful woman, and still be the center of the attention.
Dr. Elizabeth 'Beth' Halperin (Sharon Stone, Sphere by Barry Levinson, 1998)

Jordan O'Neill (Demi Moore, G.I. Jane, 1997)
That is for the statement. Demi Moore is a soldier in a man's world, the army. And she is not going to let her femininity be on the way. No special treatment, proving one more time that a woman can be equal to a man (or better, but I am not a feminist), having one goal and pursuing it. And it is tough.
Jordan O'Neill (Demi Moore, G.I. Jane by Ridley Scott, 1997)

Betty Rizzo (Stockard Channing, Grease, 1978)
Funny how everyone fell for the little cute blond Sandy. I found Betty much more interesting, deep. First she is a woman of style, with a great sense of fashion (even till today) and a sense of leadership. Second, she is probably more aware and mature than any other characters, letting her girls be the entertainment. The themes that we observe through her character's journey are themes that are still in question today, while it should long be a women right, abortion. That was a statement at the time.

Betty Rizzo (Stockard Channing, Grease by Randal Kleiser, 1978)

All Good Things by Andrew Jarecki, 2010 (R)

with Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine, Drive, Crazy, Stupid, Love.), Kirsten Dunst (Upside Down, Melancholia, The Virgin Suicides), Frank Langella (Superman Returns), Lily Rabe, Philip Baker Hall (People Like Us, 50/50), Michael Esper, Diane Venora, Nick Offerman (The Men Who Stare At Goats), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Date Night, How to train your dragon), Stephen Kunken

After restless real-estate scion David Marks (Ryan Gosling) weds middle-class beauty Katie McCarthy (Kirsten Dunst) against the wishes of his disapproving father (Frank Langella), suspicions of murder fall on the unmoored heir when his wife mysteriously vanishes. Though he's not indicted in her disappearance, people with ties to the case begin turning up dead when it's reopened two decades later -- and the unhinged David is the prime suspect.

This is a horrible story. It develops nicely from a romantic comedy to the darkest of manipulative thriller. The acting is impeccable, everything leads you to the confinement that power can take you to, madness, brilliant. Then you read about it and discover it is a true story, and no one knows what happened to Katie McCarthy, and no one managed to prove the husband David Marks guilty, while all things seems to converge to him. But of course, he is well protected, he is rich and powerful. So, what is the truth?

Watch Trailer:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Shame by Steve McQueen, 2011 (NC-17)

with Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, Haywire, A Dangerous Method, Fish Tank, X-Men: First Class), Carey Mulligan (Drive, An Education, Never Let Me Go), James Badge Dale (The Grey), Nicole Beharie, Hannah Ware, Amy Hargreaves, Alex Manette (We Need To Talk About Kevin)

Thirtysomething New Yorker Brandon is outwardly reserved, but inside is seething with an overwhelming sexual addiction. When his tempestuous and much-loved younger sister invades his life, Brandon struggles to escape his self-destructive behavior.

Interesting. Non-judmental. An extraordinary performance from Michael Fassbender. A standing still singing of "New York, New York" from Carey Mulligan. Pictures of New York from Downtown to midtown, day and night, real. The already existing reputation of the Standard Hotel, officialized in the movie. The blame, the unfit, the unveil, the journey to the extreme, from a brother and a sister we know barely nothing about but somehow by the end of the movie, understand, nevertheless. It is powerful. At the same time, the movie raised high expectation, so perhaps, I was expecting something even more arty. But it stands its reputation. Definitely a movie to watch.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wild Target by Jonathan Lynn, 2010 (PG-13)

with Bill Nighy (Total Recall, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Rango, The Girl In The Cafe), Emily Blunt (The Five-Year Engagement, My Summer of Love, The Adjustment Bureau, The Five-Year Engagement, Your Sister's Sister, Looper), Rupert Grint (Harry Potter), Rupert Everett, Dame Eileen Atkins (Robin Hood, Beautiful Creatures), Martin Freeman (Breaking and Entering), Gregor Fisher, Geoff Bell, Rory Kinnear, Graham Seed

When veteran hit man Victor Maynard (Bill Nighy) finds himself unable to kill his latest target, Rose (Emily Blunt), he winds up with an unexpected sidekick, Tony (Rupert Grint), who thinks Victor is a detective in this action-packed comedy from Britain. Now, with Rose and Tony tagging along, Victor tries to deal with the dual forces of his overbearing mother (Eileen Atkins) and a very angry client (Rupert Everett) who wants Rose dead.

I love Billy Nighty, his posture, his dry humor, his sort of British hesitation or higher concern. I didn't particularly think anything about Emily Blunt, and besides in his role as Ron, not much either of Rupert Grint. It changed when I saw Wild Target. It is hilariously British, all in contained attitudes and therefor absurd situations. I believe the mother was the winner, but the other roles are really strangely funny. A great movie for a simple story.

Charlie St. Cloud by Burr Steers, 2010 (PG-13)

with Zac Efron, Charlie Tahan, Amanda Crew, Augustus Prew, Donal Logue, Kim Basinger, Ray Liotta, Dave Franco, Matt Ward, Miles Chalmers

Ben Sherwood's intriguing novel is the basis of this ghost story about Charlie (Zac Efron), who is devoted to his brother, Sam, even after Sam's death. As the caretaker of the cemetery where Sam is buried, Charlie has lots of time to commune with the dead. Sam visits frequently to hang out with Charlie, but when Charlie meets a mysterious young woman (Amanda Crew), he must decide whether to move forward or remain trapped in the past.

It is a teen movie, but a sweet one, with some gentleness to it that make an adult like myself melt. It is a sad story of loss, and the idea that this loss may not be that painful as long as the memory remains. The love story that he enters in cute, a little bit too hero making, but that is alright, knowing the target audience of the movie. It has good values, the acting is impeccable, and Zac Efron is really adorable.

Two Weeks Notice by Marc Lawrence, 2002 (PG-13)

with Sandra Bullock (The Heat, The Blind Side), Hugh Grant (Did You Hear About The Morgans?, Love Actually, Cloud Atlas), Alicia Witt, Robert Klein, Dana Ivey, David Haig, Heather Burns, Dorian Missick (Rachel Getting Married)

Millionaire real estate developer George Wade (Hugh Grant) doesn't make a move without Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock), his multitasking chief counsel and virtual right arm. But after a year of calling the shots, Lucy is giving her two weeks' notice. It seems Lucy's finally free of George and his 24-hour requests, which included everything from taking care of George's clothing to handling his divorce settlements. But George has other ideas.

One of my favorite comedy, by the same director as "Did you hear about the Morgans?" and "Music and Lyrics". It made we want to order Chinese before I landed in the US, the way Sandra Bullock does it. Since then, I never managed to order like her: "number 12, and then two number 4, one number 7, oh and also a number 20." "For two?" "No, it's for one..." Her interaction with Hugh Grant is irresistible, specially because he is, and she doesn't like him. Well I guess until a certain point. It made me laugh a lot. The dialogues between the environmentalist and the real estate owner (mostly clueless) are punchy, right on with the concerns of our time, which ads up to the positive feeling I have about this movie. Watch it!

Did You Hear About The Morgans? by Marc Lawrence, 2009 (PG-13)

with Hugh Grant (Love Actually, Two Weeks Notice, Cloud Atlas), Sarah Jessica Parker, Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen, Elisabeth Moss, Michael Kelly (Now You See Me), Wilford Brimley, David Call, Kim Shaw, Natalia Klimas

After witnessing a murder, high-powered -- and estranged -- wife Meryl (Sarah Jessica Parker) and husband Paul (Hugh Grant) Morgan must say good-bye to sophisticated Manhattan when they enter the witness protection program together and land in Wyoming. At odds, they attempt to adjust to small-town life.

Funny, this director only worked on feature films with Hugh Grant. "Music and Lyrics" with Drew Barrymore, "Two Weeks Notice" with Sandra Bullock, kind of always playing the same guy. I was afraid that this movie would be a failure, because of Sarah Jessica Parker, I always think she doesn't have the sense of rhythm. For this one, I was wrong. I do not know who is the funniest of both. The situations are really hilarious, without pushing to the ridiculous. It also has great secondary characters, the contrast between New York City mentality and the small town wise spirit. I recommend.

Côte d'Azur (Crustacés et coquillages) by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, 2005 (NR)

with Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Gilbert Melki, Jean-Marc Barr, Jacques Bonnaffé, Edouard Collin, Romain Torres, Sabrina Seyvecou, Yannick Baudin

A seaside vacation home serves as an aphrodisiac, tempting the unsuspecting family staying there into a variety of amorous entanglements. First, 19-year-old Laura takes a boyfriend who rides a motorcycle; then, her 17-year-old brother stokes the affections of his best friend, Martin. But things only get more complicated when the old flames of parents Marc (Gilbert Melki) and Béatrix (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) show up.

It was a surprise. I find Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (and not her sister) absolutely charming. I felt it would be something very french, typical family going on holidays in the Côte d'Azur, entering a family secret. It was that, except that it also explored sexuality, and homosexuality on a way, in a very beautiful way. The actors are excellent, the dialogues and situations funny, the final is a bit ridiculous, in a "Why not me" style. Anyway, cute refreshing comedy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The King's Speech by Tom Hooper, 2010 (R)

with Colin Firth (The English Patient, Tinker Tailor Solder Spy, A Single Man), Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter (Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows), Guy Pearce (Mildred Pierce, The Hurt Locker), Michael Gambon (Assassin in Love), Timothy Spall, Jennifer Ehle (Michael Clayton), Derek Jacobi, Anthony Andrews, Eve Best

Britain's King George VI (Colin Firth) struggles with an embarrassing stutter for years until he seeks help from unorthodox Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) in this biographical drama that chalked up multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Logue's pioneering treatment and unlikely friendship give the royal leader a sense of confidence that serves him and his country well during the dark days of World War II.

Geoffrey Rush is an amazing actor. So is Colin Firth. The other actors are great as well, but you mostly remember the dialogues, actions, reactions from these two. They are a perfect mismatch. One all in contained attitude, proper code, and dissatisfied choices of life. The other breaking all these one step at the time, no more etiquette involved, until his goal is achieved. Which leads, in this drama, to a very comical set of situations. Absolutely delightful. But the story is a drama, we're talking here about the context, World War II, the situation, death of the old king, facing your greatest weakness by showing it to your entire country. It is a really well balanced movie, beautifully human, a fascinating inside look at one of the most unreachable family in the world.

The Wrestler by Darren Aronofsky, 2008 (R)


Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Mark Margolis, Todd Barry, Wass Stevens, Judah Friedlander, Ernest Miller, Ashley Springer, Ajay Naidu, Giovanni Roselli, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Anna-Karin Eskilsson, Angelina Aucello

Mickey Rourke (in a Golden Globe-winning, Oscar-nominated role) stars as retired professional wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson, who returns to the ring to work his way up the circuit for a final shot at defeating his longtime rival. Along the way, he tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) while exploring a relationship with an aging stripper named Cassidy (Marisa Tomei, who also earned Golden Globe and Oscar nods).

Another movie about fight that have little to do with fighting. Mickey Rourke is outstanding, he is a beast, broken, damaged, at the edge of collapse. He is fascinating. The secondary roles of Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood are good, to create a connection between him and the world, but honestly, after a while, you only remember him, his recklessness to die in battle like there is nothing more that matters, his life as a regular human being completely estranged to him. And you look at him, his body, his scars, his features, everything is sculpted perfectly to make you look at him as a very strange thing, very delicate after all, almost feminine at time.

Watch Trailer:

The Fighter by David O. Russell, 2010 (R)

with Mark Wahlberg (Contraband, The Italian Job, Broken City), Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises), Amy Adams (Julie and Julia, The Master, Trouble with the Curve, Man of Steel), Melissa Leo (Mildred Pierce, Flight, Frozen River), Jack McGee, Melissa McMeekin, Bianca Hunter, Erica McDermott, Dendrie Taylor

After a string of defeats, Mickey Ward rediscovers his fighting will with help from trainer and half-brother Dicky (Oscar winner Christian Bale) -- a once-talented pugilist and small-town hero now battling drug addiction.

I liked it, it was raw, human, characters are struggling, the pain is well portrayed, external and internal. The family portrait is unique, dysfunctional. The actors are transformed, Christian Bale is crazy, I am always impressed about his chameleon appearance. It is a great movie. Now that I have seen "Warrior" tho, I would not know which one to recommend best.

Watch Trailer:

Margot at the wedding by Noah Baumbach, 2007 (R)

with Nicole Kidman (Eyes Wide Shut, The Paperboy, Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Warrior), Jack Black (Ice Age), John Turturro, Ciarán Hinds (Tinker Tailor Solder Spy, The Debt, In Bruges), Zane Pais, Flora Cross, Halley Feiffer (Mildred Pierce), Barbara Turner, Michael Medeiros

After arriving to attend the wedding of her semi-estranged sister, a judgmental writer quickly takes a dislike to her sibling's unemployed fiancé and proceeds to radiate turmoil with her sniping -- which threatens to put an end to the nuptials.

One of these strange cute indie movies that you come across to. Interesting, very French style kind of family drama with existential characters. The only thing is in this case, they are with major actors. Interesting. Not memorable, good. Ok, maybe Nicole Kidman is slightly over doing it. But for once, Jack Black is not, so it compensates and prove how good an actor he can be.

Rabbit Hole by John Cameron Mitchell, 2010 (PG-13)

with Nicole Kidman (Eyes Wide Shut, Margot At The Wedding, The Paperboy), Aaron Eckhart (Thank You For Smoking, The Rum Diary), Dianne Wiest (Dan In Real Life), Miles Teller, Tammy Blanchard, Sandra Oh, Giancarlo Esposito, Jon Tenney, Stephen Mailer, Mike Doyle
Duration: 92 minutes

In this raw drama based on David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) grapple with the realities of life eight months after the death of their 4-year-old son, Danny. Even with Becca's well-meaning mother (Dianne Wiest) offering comfort and weekly group therapy always available, the couple go about their own secret ways of coping. John Cameron Mitchell directs.

I was surprised to see that two movies about the loss of a child were coming out around the same time, Antichrist and Rabbit Hole. I still have to see the first one, perhaps when I am stronger, since it appears to be really damaging. Rabbit Hole is, in another way. It is also about accepting, healing the anger, the guilt, rebuilding, with the ones that have nothing to do with them, and with the guilty ones as well. It has very strong actors, a great tension, the story gets very close to its characters, at an intimate level, with all the troubling that it may produce. Interesting perspective.

Tron: Legacy by Joseph Kosinski, 2010 (PG)

with Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde (The Words, The Next Three Days), Bruce Boxleitner, James Frain, Beau Garrett, Michael Sheen (Beautiful Boy, Tron: Legacy, Alice in Wonderland, Frost/Nixon, Twilight, Midnight in Paris, Music Within), Anis Cheurfa, Conrad Coates

While investigating the mysterious disappearance of his father, Kevin (Jeff Bridges), techie Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) lands in a beguiling computerized world of enslaved gladiators, where his dad has been living for more than 20 years. Joined by Kevin's trusted friend (Olivia Wilde), the father and son must journey across a breathtaking -- and perilous -- cyberscape in this 21st-century update to the beloved 1982 sci-fi classic.

I saw it in 3D. That was probably the most worthy part of the movie. Its neon races on this dimensional field were truly effective. Aside from that, nothing can save the movie from its lack of scenario. It is poor, simplistic, uses well the ideas of the vintage video game but without the soul of it. It has its vintage moment but nothing to evoke. It is a bit sad that Jeff Bridges appears in it with a perfect interpretation for a character that is so uninteresting. A waste of an actor...

Watch Trailer:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Little White Lies (Les Petits Mouchoirs) by Guillaume Canet, 2010

with François Cluzet (Paris, Tell No One, Intouchable), Marion Cotillard (Contagion, Midnight in Paris, Inception), Benoît Magimel (La Pianiste), Gilles Lellouche (Tell No One), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Valerie Bonneton, Pascale Arbillot, Joël Dupuch, Anne Marivin, Louise Monot, Hocine Mérabet

When Max and Vero's friend is seriously injured in an accident, they choose to go ahead with a planned birthday celebration at their beach house -- an event that usually draws a convivial and happy crowd of friends.

From the same director as "Tell No One / Ne Le Dis A Personne", which was an amazing movie. I believe this one has a weaker story but it is more "French" in a way, friends reunion that is based on dialogues, acting and emotions. It is a simple story, reminds you of something familiar, just like you and your friends, could be anyone. The magic is that everyone can identify. And the casting is simply perfect, probably the best actors there are right now.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by David Fincher, 2011 (R)

with Daniel Craig (Dream House), Rooney Mara (The Social Network, Side Effects), Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård (Melancholia, Thor, Avengers), Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright (House of Cards, Breaking and Entering, The Conspirator), Yorick van Wageningen (Winter In Wartime), Joely Richardson, Geraldine James (Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows), Goran Visnjic (Ice Age), Donald Sumpter, Ulf Friberg

When a young computer hacker is tasked with investigating a prying journalist, their separate missions become entangled amid a decades-old conspiracy. David Fincher directs this English adaptation of Stieg Larsson's novel.

The movie could have been good. It really could. But even a TV version, made in Sweden, is better. Much better. I understand that the cast was tricky, because having chosen Noomi Rapace for Lisbeth Salander in its original version was making it difficult to replace or imitate. The story is very close, from the Swedish version to the American one, but the few twists have made it look like a poor understanding of emotion and in general, women. The rape scene is so explicit in this version that it is spectacular, while in the Swedish version, it was more induced and traumatic. The relationship between Salander and Mikael Blomkvist has been simplified to an affair in which Salander doesn't find her place, while in the Swedish version, it is more instinctive, without intention of a traditional relationship, when she should comply to the rules of society, as a woman. To say something positive, the choice for the secondary roles was impeccable in this version, giving back the dept to the story

The Social Network by David Fincher, 2010 (PG-13)

with Jesse Eisenberg (To Rome With Love, Solitary Man), Andrew Garfield (Never Let me Go), Justin Timberlake (Trouble With the Curve, Bad Teacher), Armie Hammer (J. Edgar, Mirror Mirror), Max Minghella, Brenda Song, Patrick Mapel, Rashida Jones (Our Idiot Brother), Rooney Mara (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), Barry Livingston, Joseph Mazzello, Marybeth Massett

Director David Fincher's biographical drama chronicles the meteoric rise of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) from Harvard sophomore to Internet superstar, examining his relationships with co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) and Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).

This movie won everything the year it came out. The story is well built, the acting, I guess, wasn't so bad, although you have to like Jesse Eisenberg style, since he always play the same smart ass guy in all the movie I saw. The movie make Facebook look nice, and his owner even nicer, which gives me issues, despite the fact that I actually use Facebook on a daily base. It is a movie of the moment, I would like to see the reaction of people ten years from now. It will belong to history, as a document to our past, perhaps like msn, icq... Now, what happened to David Fincher? He is the guy that made one my favorite movies of all time, "The Game", he did Fight Club, Seven. And now he does children tale "The Curious Case of Benjamen Button", followed by the adolescent movie "The Social Network", the weak "The girl with the Dragon Tattoo" American version. Well, what happened to David Fincher?

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Black Swan by Darren Aronofsky, 2010 (R)

with Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, Benjamin Millepied, Ksenia Solo, Kristina Anapau, Janet Montgomery, Sebastian Stan

In director Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller, ambitious New York City ballet dancer Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) lands the lead in "Swan Lake" but soon thinks her dreams of stardom are threatened by a rival ballerina (Mila Kunis). As opening night nears and the pressure to be perfect builds, Nina's obsession descends into paranoia and delusion.

I believe I liked it. Darren Aronofsky is the one that did Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler, Pi, in other word, he didn't make any mistake. The tension is amazing, the esthetic and cinematography are beautiful. The acting, Ok, I mean Natalie Portman is impeccable (I don't like real in real life, but she is a good actress). It is creepy, it is dark, even sensual. Troubling, to summarize.

Watch Trailer: