with the bold text in the example below:

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Wolverine by James Mangold, 2013 (PG-13)

with Hugh Jackman (Scoop), Will Yun Lee (Total Recall), Tao Okamoto, Brian Tee, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rila Fukushima, Hal Yamanouchi, Famke Janssen

Enigmatic superhero Wolverine travels to the Land of the Rising Sun in this kaleidoscopic battle epic based on the Marvel Comics character. There, Wolverine confronts his long-time adversary Logan in a spectacular battle that rattles the universe.

First thing is I am a huge fan of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), so the fact that she was in it was The motive. But, on the other hand, because she is some sort of ghost in it, it kind of lost my interest. Aside from that, the story is a little bit interesting, not really in the style of X-Men, so don't expect to see another X-men. The good news is the ending, I believe also looking into IMDB that we will soon have another X-men (X‑Men: Days of Future Past). Oh, and I think they want to merge both X-men and X-men First Class so it might be a blast... July 8th, 2014!

watch trailer:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pitch Perfect by Jason Moore, 2012 (PG-13)

with Anna Kendrick (The Company You Keep, Up in The Air, 50/50, Twilight), Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games, Man on a Ledge, Our Idiot Brother, The Next Three Days, People Like Us), Kelley Jakle, Wanetah Walmsley, Adam DeVine, John Michael Higgins (We Bought a Zoo, Bad Teacher), John Benjamin Hickey

Beca, a freshman at Barden University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, her school's all-girls singing group. Injecting some much needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition.

You know some movies are simply stupid romantic comedy. And they use loud humor and really bad bad guys. And you wonder why people are still doing that kind of movies. And you know their box office is doing well. And you wonder therefor about your country and the worlds' future, perhaps imagining it like in Wall-E perhaps? Anyway, that's the kind of movie Pitch Perfect is. I wonder why Elizabeth Banks and Anna Kendrick are wasting their time doing them. Perhaps it is fun to make, perhaps paycheck is a good enough motive... Anyway, the point... I watched it... Yes... I love musicals, and I love a Capella singing, and choirs, and harmonics... So I am ashamed to say that I enjoyed some of it. Because the music arrangements are good... And the rest, oh well, I survived... I do recommend tho to watch Florida State University AcaBelles - Royals (opb. Lorde), instead...

Ocean's Thirteen by Steven Soderbergh, 2007 (PG-13)

with George Clooney (The Monuments Men, Gravity, The Descendants, Out of Sight, Up in the Air, Michael Clayton, The Men Who Stare At Goats), Brad Pitt (world War Z, The Tree of Life, Moneyball, Across the Tracks), Matt Damon (The Monuments Men, Behind the Candelabra, Invictus, Margaret, True Grit, We Brought a Zoo, The Informant!, Herafter, Inside Job, The Adjustment Bureau, Promised Land, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Contagion), Michael Mantell, Elliott Gould (Ruby Sparks), Al Pacino (Scarface, Simone, You Don't Know Jack), Eddie Jemison, Don Cheadle (Iron Man 3, Out of Sight, Traffic, Flight), Shaobo Qin, Casey Affleck (Tower Heist), Scott Caan (Enemy of the State), Bernie Mac (The cooler), Carl Reiner, Eddie Izzard, Ellen Barkin, David Paymer (Payback, The Five-Year Engagement), Vincent Cassel (Trance, Adrift - À Deriva, A Dangerous Method, Black Swan), Andy Garcia From the director of Magic Mike, Out of Sight, Traffic, Haywire, Contagion, The Informant!, Erin Brockovich, Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve, Side Effects, Behind the Candelabra

When Reuben Tishkoff is double-crossed in a luxury hotel business with business partner Willie Bank, he has a heart attack. Danny Ocean and Rusty Ryan plot a heist with their friends to avenge Reuben by breaking Bank's casino.

I don't know why the first time I had the chance to watch it, I was completely lost and gave up. It is a pretty straight forward robbery, with that many characters, but that is alright since we know them since 11 and 12. The scenario is fast, witty as usual, perhaps missing some ladies, sad because I really enjoyed Julia Robert's character, but she must be too expensive to afford. And why is Catherine Zeta Jones missing as well?... Anyway, the story is solid, the acting perfect, perhaps I didn't like the fact that it was the third episode and not much had changed, like a perfect formula, therefor quite commercial and a little boring. No?

watch trailer:

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Inch'Allah by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, 2012 (R)

with Evelyne Brochu, Sabrina Ouazani (Of Gods and Men - Des Hommes et des Dieux, Le Passé - The Past), Sivan Levy, Yousef 'Joe' Sweid, Hammoudeh Alkarmi, Zorah Benali, Carlo Brandt (Korkoro - Liberté), Marie-Thérèse Fortin, Ahmad Massad

Chloe is a young Canadian doctor who divides her time between Ramallah, where she works with the Red Crescent, and Jerusalem, where she lives next door to her friend Ava, a young Israeli soldier. Increasingly sensitive to the conflict, Chloe goes daily through the checkpoint between the two cities to get to the refugee camp where she monitors the pregnancies of young women. As she becomes friends with Rand, one of her patients, Chloe learns more about life in the occupied territories and gets to spend some time with Rand's family. Torn between the two sides of the conflict, Chloe tries as best she can to build bridges between her friends but suffers from remaining a perpetual foreigner to both sides.

We cannot be indifferent to this movie. I wrote something far more heated when I just saw it and now decided to not look at it, and write with a calmer pace. Evelyne Brochu, which I just discovered in a total different role (Orphan Black) really impressed me here. She was our eyes on a situation that I think is a little too real, and the same way the movie depicts it, a circle. The progression makes us understand the same event with a different perspective. Because of the things Chloe is witnessing, because the movie is set mostly in a refugee camp where Palestinians have been moved with very poor living conditions, the movie takes a turn in which we cannot avoid be partial. At the same time, it keeps us viewers in a position where we are allowed to be smarter, and get angry at the simplistic views Chloe has, no matter how involved she is. It allows to see how tension is now based on the lack of communication. And how dangerous and saddening in both side the conflict has become.

Watch trailer:

Friday, December 27, 2013

Scarface by Brian De Palma, 1993 (R)

with Al Pacino (Simone, You Don't Know Jack), Steven Bauer (Traffic), Michelle Pfeiffer (People Like Us, Dark Shadows), Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham (Homeland), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Richard Belzer (Fame)

Al Pacino chews scenery as lowly Cuban refugee Tony Montana, who becomes a Florida drug kingpin but makes the fatal mistake of "getting high on his own supply." Michelle Pfeiffer has a small role as "the blonde" Tony lusts after. A remake of the 1932 film starring Paul Muni, Scarface gets a face-lift by transferring its venue to Miami, reflecting the drug rackets of the early 1980s.

Ok, that movie was a trip... I get it that at the time, it was a story that had some appeal, and the performance of Al Pacino was something to remember, and unlimited quotes for each appropriate setting, but oh my... This is loud, long, way to violent to be realistic. I mean maybe it was that bad at the time, but surely, there are more subtle ways of showing it... The characters are also caricatures, which really bothered me, the plot is therefor quite predictable. Or is it that it has been followed by so many movies which tried to tell that story, over and over? I don't know, maybe it is that, or maybe it is just not my type of movies... Looking forward for your feedback on it...

watch trailer:

Despicable Me by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, 2010 (PG)

With Steve Carell (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Hope Springs, Crazy Stupid Love, Dan In Real Life, Get Smart), Jason Segel (The Five-Year Engagement, Jeff Who Lives At Home, Bad Teacher), Russell Brand, Julie Andrews (Brave, The English Patient), Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig (All Good Things, Bridesmaids, Date Night, How to train your dragon), Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher, Pierre Coffin

In a happy suburban neighborhood surrounded by white picket fences with flowering rose bushes, sits a black house with a dead lawn. Unbeknownst to the neighbors, hidden beneath this home is a vast secret hideout. Surrounded by a small army of minions, we discover Gru, planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is going to steal the moon. (Yes, the moon!) Gru delights in all things wicked. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays, and battle-ready vehicles for land and air, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad. The world's greatest villain has just met his greatest challenge: three little girls named Margo, Edith and Agnes.

A good friend of mine who is doing amazing animation movies (See Creamen) recommended me this one, saying it was one of the best animation movies ever made (also flattering my ego by saying French people did it, and you know how proud we French can feel about our compatriots :)... Anyway, took me forever to watch it (obviously, since they even already came up with a new one), but now I'm all good. I have seen it. Well... Yes, it's good, cute, got all the perfect tools to create amazing merchandizing, think of all the minions you can collect as teddy-bears... ok, it has all of it, the sentimentalism, cynicism, humor, action. Had a good time watching it. Perhaps, I might say, it had too much of the perfect mix, because therefor it is a little difficult to imagine the final product to actually be French... Anyway, I still love Steve Carell, and was wondering if from the beginning, the directors were not thinking of him, to create Gru, they have some moves and faces that are really similar. :)

Watch trailer:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Juno by Jason Reitman, 2007 (PG-13)

with Ellen Page (Inception, To Rome With Love), Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyers Club, Valentine's Day, Deconstructing Harry), Jason Bateman (Up in The Air), Allison Janney (Masters of Sex, The Help, The Hours, Margaret, Liberal Arts), J.K. Simmons (The words, Contraband, Thank you For Smoking, Up in The Air, Young Adult), Olivia Thirlby (The Darkest Hour, Margaret), Rainn Wilson, Darla Fay
By the director of Thank you For Smoking, Up in The Air, Young Adult

Facing an unplanned pregnancy, teenage Juno (Ellen Page) devises a plan to locate the proverbial perfect parents to adopt her baby. But the seemingly ideal couple Juno chooses still has some growing up to do. Now, everyone in Juno’s world must do a little soul-searching. Michael Cera co-stars while Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner play the pair of affluent yuppies anxious for a child in this offbeat coming-of-age comedy, which won the 2008 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Definitely not at all a conventional story. Took me a while to get to watch it. While I think I saw pretty much all the movies of Jason Reitman (Ah, no, the new one came out yesterday, haven't seen it yet... "Labor Day"). I have loved most of them and really hated Young Adult. So Juno is an interesting journey of a 16 years old girl, smart, witty, secure, which perhaps doesn't define all women of her age, but she is realistic. Her relationship to her surrounding seems of an ordinary girl, and we follow her unusual journey with a sense of ordinary, very casual and taken day by day, which therefor makes it for a unique feeling of belonging, and normality. You come out of the movie refreshed, wiser, and somehow without judgement, where all other movies tend to have a moralistic view of anything pretty much. Thank you Jason Reitman.

watch trailer

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Francis Lawrence, 2013 (PG-13)

with Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games, Winter's Bone, Silver Linings Playbook, X-Men: First Class, The Beaver), Josh Hutcherson (The Kids are All Right), Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson (The Messenger, Now You See Me, Game Change), Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, Man on a Ledge, Our Idiot Brother, The Next Three Days, People Like Us), Lenny Kravitz (Precious), Stanley Tucci (The Company You Keep, Margin Call, Captain America: The First Avenger, Julie and Julia), Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman), Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Moneyball, The Master), Paula Malcomson, Willow Shields
Part 2 of The Hunger Games from the director of Constantine

The film begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a "Victor's Tour" of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.

Exhilarating. Beautiful. And most important, sticking to the book. Which I found really good. I enjoyed reading the trilogy after watching the first of the trilogy Hunger Games. The tone evolves to a lesser entertaining and deeper theme of a society where the rules of totalitarianism are shaking, and the characters become more complex, defined, and therefor more interesting. The first one was a basic survival story. The second one is about breaking the rules, playing the system, thinking a little bit more of a strategy of longer term. The third part is mostly about waiting and thinking. So in this trilogy, the teachings are definitely about establishing a plan, short term, middle term, and finally long term. And you can see through the eyes of Katniss little by little that she is making the journey that already before her, many wiser people have made, definitely not something we tend to teach these days, as it has all become about short term, problem solving society.

watch trailer:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Red 2 by Dean Parisot, 2013 (PG-13)

with Bruce Willis (Looper, Bandits, Surrogates, RED), Helen Mirren (Hitchcock, The Debt, RED), John Malkovich (Disgrace, RED), Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock, Thor, 360), Mary-Louise Parker (Solitary Man, RED), Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones (Playing for keeps, Traffic, Ocean's Twelve, Side Effects, Broken City), Neal McDonough (Philly Kid), David Thewlis (War Horse, Harry Potter)
From the director of Galaxy Quest

Retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device. To succeed, they'll need to survive an army of relentless assassins, ruthless terrorists and power-crazed government officials, all eager to get their hands on the next-generation weapon. The mission takes Frank and his motley crew to Paris, London and Moscow. Outgunned and outmanned, they have only their cunning wits, their old-school skills, and each other to rely on as they try to save the world-and stay alive in the process.

Ok, the first one was funny, and ok the trailer for the second one was funny. The only problem is that the movie itself, I mean RED 2, is not funny long enough and gives too much space to combat, with constant close ups from a very doubful hand camera work, which basically blinds us from any possible choregraphy, movement, or even meaning. The actors would be good, but there is no space for them, and the story is not that great. Catherine Zeta-Jones and David Thewlis allow for some time of humor, but so little it feels a little stingy. From the director of what could be called an actors' movie, Galaxy Quest, it feels like he tried everything possible to do the exact opposite of what he achieved in the past. Sad...

watch trailer:

Galaxy Quest by Dean Parisot, 1999 (PG)

with Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver (Snow Cake, Avatar), Alan Rickman (Love Actually, Alice In Wonderland, Snow Cake, Harry Potter), Tony Shalhoub (Men in Black, MIB 2), Sam Rockwell, Daryl Mitchell, Enrico Colantoni, Justin Long (The Conspirator), Missi Pyle (The Artist), Patrick Breen, Jed Rees
From the director of Red 2

Decades after the success of the sci-fi series "Galaxy Quest," the show's washed-up stars Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver) and Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman) are recruited by actual aliens to pull off an intergalactic rescue mission. At first, the actors assume the so-called Thermians are just another group of die-hard fans. But as the plot thickens, they realize they're working with real-life extraterrestrials.

Yes, by now, it is a cult movie. Actors are brilliant playing actors, bored to death in the reminiscence of their past success and overwhelmed by the craziness they generated, until they really get overwhelmed, and I guess that's my favorite part, the time they adapt to the reality they are so familiar with in a fictional way, such as Gwen repeating the computer's voice, or Tommy (Daryl Mitchell) trying to fly the ship he invented the driving for in a really virtual way, reaching this very long moment of everyone's incredulity when scratching the whole side of the ship exiting in a straight line... And the best being Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub) in a complete euphoria, the whole time. Anyway, lots of fun.

watch trailer:

Sunday, December 22, 2013

True Blood by HBO, 2008-2014 (TVMA)

with Anna Paquin (Margaret, X-men), Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Chris Bauer, Nelsan Ellis, Carrie Preston, Alexander Skarsgård (What Maisie knew, Disconnect, Melancholia), Todd Lowe, Deborah Ann Woll (Ruby Sparks), Kristin Bauer van Straten, Jim Parrack (Annapolis), Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike), Lauren Bowles, William Sanderson (Blade Runner), Michael McMillian, Kevin Alejandro, Janina Gavankar, Marshall Allman, Adina Porter, Dale Raoul, Lucy Griffiths, Jessica Tuck, Denis O'Hare (Milk, Duplicity, Michael Clayton), Tara Buck, Mehcad Brooks, Fiona Shaw (The Tree of Life), Valentina Cervi, Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler, Mildred Pierce, Simone, The Conspirator), Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex, 127 Hours), Michelle Forbes (Battlestar Galactica)

Cast of True Blood

True Blood is an American television drama series created and produced by Alan Ball. It is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, detailing the co-existence of vampires and humans in Bon Temps, a fictional, small town in northwestern Louisiana. The series centers on the adventures of Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), a telepathic waitress with an otherworldly quality, and how her life is turned upside down when the Vampire Bill, walks into her place of employment two years after vampires 'came out of the coffin' on national television.

True Blood Season 2 featuring Michelle Forbes
My first impression about this series is there was no way to take it too seriously. They always turn out doing something so off the ridicule hits and gives us a reminder this is all for fun, and there is some serious drama going on. Still, it is good that this didn't turn out as a Twilight, and instead, its very own taste of what vampire-fairy-werewolf cohabitation may look like in a human world. I grew fascinated by the strangely aging Barbie-like SM Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) and the war vet gentle-crazy Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe). Tara (Rutina Wesley) has perhaps the most interesting turn, stealing somehow the light from Anna Paquin. The supporting roles - the enormous cast is great, holding it together into a little village feeling of belonging, over the six seasons. Of course, as a good fan of Battlestar Galactica, it was good to see Michelle Forbes again, and since I learned to really like Alexander Skarsgård (Disconnect, What Maisie knew) and have fallen in love with the amazing Lizzy Caplan, whose performance in Masters of Sex is impeccable.
Update Sept 21, 2014: the final season tries to settle some history, and transition to a future where things are settled, and besides the radical losses (what the f*** happened to Tara?!?), people find finally each other, vampires and humans, and life goes back to ordinary, of course with Pam and Eric on top of the world. Ok, everything has to have an end... But I guess HBO could still develop on further adventures, since the writer of the original book keeps on going...

Watch trailer:

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous by John Pasquin, 2005 (PG-13)

with Sandra Bullock (Two Weeks Notice, The Blind Side, The Heat, Miss Congeniality, Gravity), Regina King (Enemy of the State), Sam Fuller, Enrique Murciano Jr., William Shatner (Miss Congeniality), Ernie Hudson (Miss Congeniality), Heather Burns (Two Weeks Notice, Miss Congeniality), Diedrich Bader (Ice Age), Treat Williams (127 Hours, Hollywood Ending, Hair, Deadfall, Reaching for the Moon - Flores Raras), Abraham Benrubi, Nick Offerman (All Good Things, The Men Who Stare At Goats), Eileen Brennan, Elisabeth Röhm, Leslie Grossman, Molly Gottlieb, Regis Philbin, Lusia Strus

After her triumph at the Miss United States pageant, FBI agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) becomes an overnight sensation — and the new “face of the FBI.” But when the pageant’s winner, Cheryl (Heather Burns), and emcee Stan (William Shatner) are abducted, Gracie springs into action with the help of skeptical, businesslike agent Sam Fuller (Regina King).

Definitely not as interesting as Miss Congeniality, and sort of a premise to what would be The Heat missing somehow the connection between the two partners. Sandra Bullock as the transformed to be elegant PR for the FBI is probably the only interesting part of this movie. The story is not the main focus, and we tend to forget what it is we are exactly watching. At least on the original side, there is no love story, and that's refreshing... A little bit like in The Heat...

Watch trailer:

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World by Lorene Scafaria, 2012 (R)

with Steve Carell (Hope Springs, Crazy Stupid Love, Dan In Real Life, Get Smart), Keira Knightley (Anna Karenina, A Dangerous Method, Never Let Me Go, Love Actually), Connie Britton, Adam Brody (Thank you for Smoking), Rob Corddry, Gillian Jacobs, Derek Luke, Melanie Lynskey (The Informant!, Up in the Air, The Perks of Being a Wallflower), T.J. Miller (Our Idiot Brother, How To Train A Dragon, Unstoppable), Mark Moses, Patton Oswalt (Young Adult), William L. Petersen

Set in a too-near future, the movie explores what people will do when humanity's last days are at hand. As the respective journeys of Dodge (Mr. Carell) and Penny (Ms. Knightley) converge, the two spark to each other and their outlooks - if not the world's - brighten.

A very cute romantic comedy that reconciled me with Keira Knightley after a long time disapproving her overacting drama choices. She can actually be funny, and fast and witty. Therefor charming. I think Steve Carell always lost in translation kind of guy suits him well, although I don't believe he will ever be better than in "Dan In Real Life". The story is set with a timer and flows in a natural way till its end, which sorts of differs from "Melancholia" or "4:44 Last Day on Earth" and the feeling of precipitation to the end. It feels like the way movies end with happy ending and exiting the theater thinking this is their ending, never thinking how the next years of their lives might be altered by family drama, economy, weather and else. This is an actual ending. Blackout.

watch trailer:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blue Is the Warmest Color (La Vie d'Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2) by Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013 (NC-17)

with Adèle Exarchopoulos, Léa Seydoux, Jérémie Laheurte, Catherine Salée, Aurélien Recoing, Sandor Funtek, Salim Kechiouche

15-year-old Adèle aspires to become a teacher, but her life is turned upside down when she meets Emma, a blue-haired art student at a nearby college, who instigates a romance.
The film is based on the 2010 French graphic novel Blue Angel ("Le Bleu est une couleur chaude") by Julie Maroh.

I guess it would take me more time to really be objective about this movie. But lets talk about it. It is a three-hour long movie, that feels like it is incomplete, we could have spent an hour or two more watching it. The pain that portrays Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is so universal, and she is so stuck in it, deep... you cannot avoid relating. It is beautifully real, time in high school in the 90s, teaching elementary school and preschool, demonstrations on the street to protect the public school system, all this France I grew up in, the lifestyle, the conversations, the lack of them. It felt like home. I guess the perspective must be different if you are not born in the 80s in suburb France and growing up there... Still, from what I heard, everyone is pretty much addicted to the story.
The sex scene, ok, lets comment on it, just for the sake of putting an end to the debate which sadly takes too much space. It is long, a bit uncomfortable, perhaps shorter would have been better, the message is definitely the need they both had to share each others' intensity. It is shot in an objective way, which makes it a bit emotionless, and the actresses are not so much about their mutual love but about an appetite. The scene that told me more about their desire is the one in the cafe, when they meet again, far more complex, a masterpiece.

watch trailer:

Augustine by Alice Winocour, 2012 (NR)

with Soko, Vincent Lindon (Bastards), Chiara Mastroianni (Bastards), Olivier Rabourdin, Roxane Duran, Lise Lamétrie, Sophie Cattani, Grégoire Colin (Bastards), Ange Ruze, Stéphan Wojtowicz

When beautiful kitchen maid Augustine (French recording artist Soko) suffers an inexplicable, violent seizure, she is sent to a psychiatric hospital specializing in the treatment of feminine "hysteria" and presided over by Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot (a founding father of modern neurology and a mentor to Sigmund Freud). Fascinated by his new patient, Charcot (Vincent Lindon) quickly makes Augustine the star attraction in a series of hysteria presentations, hypnotizing her to induce spectacular fits for crowded lecture halls. As the full nature of Augustine's affliction begins to emerge, the relationship between doctor and patient becomes more complicated and personal power dynamics start to shift. Based on a true story from late 19th century Paris, Augustine is a lush, darkly sensuous tale of romance, psychology, and sexual politics.

Another movie with Vincent Lindon and Chiara Mastroianni. A strange one. I was told to pay attention, since it was so much connected to the play "Some Historic Some Hysteric" and a demonstration of how ignorant people were, comparing to the time of Masters of Sex, who still had so much to discover. The movie has a strange curve, with no real climax, no real contradiction, no real drama, it feels like documented from a blind point of view, which missed half of the story. Wouldn't it have been fascinating to know more about Augustine's emotional journey, or Dr. Charcot's struggle to get his discoveries to another level, or the political game of the people of research and science... Everything is there, and still nothing gets deep, so, when the movie ends, it feels incomplete, in suspense.

Watch Trailer:

Bastards (Les Salauds) by Claire Denis, 2013 (NR)

with Vincent Lindon, Chiara Mastroianni, Julie Bataille, Michel Subor, Lola Créton, Alex Descas, Grégoire Colin, Florence Loiret Caille, Christophe Miossec, Hélène Fillières, Eric Dupond-Moretti
From the director of White Material and Trouble Every Day

Marco returns to Paris after his brother-in-law's suicide, where he targets the man his sister believes caused the tragedy - though he is ill-prepared for her secrets as they quickly muddy the waters.

It took me three times watching it again by pieces, to actually understand some of the nuances. The movie is the portrayal of a dramatic event and its consequences, in the lives of many people, drastic consequences. Of course, Claire Denis doesn't avoid us the pain and violence the characters go through, with the growing awareness of how horrendous the event was, and how irreversible. The cast is pretty amazing. Very dark, but in a way, fascinating.

Watch trailer:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

On the Road by Walter Salles, 2012 (R)

Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart (Tron: Legacy), Amy Adams (Julie and Julia, The Master, Trouble with the Curve, The Fighter, Man of Steel), Tom Sturridge, Alice Braga, Elisabeth Moss (Did You Hear About The Morgans?, Mad Men), Danny Morgan, Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things, The Virgin Suicides, Melancholia, Upside Down), Viggo Mortensen (A Dangerous Method), Marie-Ginette Guay, Steve Buscemi (Paris Je T'aime, Love in the Time of Money, The Messenger)

At the height of the Beat era, New York writer Sal Paradise, his freewheeling buddy Dean, and Dean's wife set out on a journey of self-discovery. Their cross-country quest for answers reflects the American character, attitudes and values of the time.
On the Road is based on a novel by American writer Jack Kerouac about the travels of Kerouac and his friends Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg across America. It is considered a defining work of the postwar Beat and Counterculture generations, with its protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry and drug use.

Ehhh.... I cannot say this movie is good. Sorry. The story of Dean (Garrett Hedlund) is pretty unusual, full of life and contradictions, and the actor gives everything he has. The character of Kerouac on the other hand doesn't hold the story together, if feels like his lack of determination is leading the movie to its perdition, with a first half of the movie where nothing flows and the silent landscapes are not beautiful enough to make you travel... nor do the intense discussions that intercalate with the landscapes, perhaps because they lack of silence, which would allow to understand the characters. The second half of the movie gives more time to Dean and perhaps then, the movie starts taking off. Not enough tho, and too late.

Watch trailer:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Forrest Gump by Robert Zemeckis, 1994 (PG-13)

Tom Hanks (Cloud Atlas, Larry Crowne, Captain Phillips), Robin Wright (House of Cards, Breaking and Entering, The Conspirator, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Moneyball, Adore), Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field (Lincoln), Rebecca Williams, Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense, Pay It Forward, A.I.), Sam Anderson, Geoffrey Blake, Michael Conner Humphreys
From the director of Flight

Forrest Gump, a simpleminded man, finds himself in the middle of nearly every major event of the 1960s and '70s. Along the way, he makes friends, changes lives and yearns for his childhood sweetheart, Jenny. Based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom.

Here's an old one, a classic of course. Funnily, because it relates to so many historical moments of the 60s and 70s, I also feel like an even older classic. It is definitely all-American patriotic, but because the character is so genuine, it makes us forgive it. It is a fairy tale that makes us all wish it were true. Tom Hanks is mesmerizing, impossible to look at him and think of the actor.
Side-story: the reason why I came to watch it again, after more than ten years, was the visit of friends from France who specifically wanted to eat at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co (which surprised me about how marketing pushed to even create a restaurant as part as the merchandizing...), and then this article "The 50 Most Heart-Wrenching Movies of All Time"which made me wonder about how much I cried the first time around... and realize Robin Wright was The Girl.

Watch trailer:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Reaching for the Moon (Flores Raras) by Bruno Barreto, 2013 (NR)

with Miranda Otto, Glória Pires, Tracy Middendorf, Marcello Airoldi, Lola Kirke, Tânia Costa, Marianna Mac Niven, Marcio Ehrlich, Treat Williams (127 Hours, Hollywood Ending, Hair), Anna Bella

When American poet Elizabeth Bishop makes an inspiring visit to Rio, she catches the eye of an old friend's lover, Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares, and begins to blossom under her attention, changing in ways she never imagined.

Word to mouth... The trailer sold me completely, the story is amazing, and tragic, and unusual. Two brilliant women. And unfortunately it was playing for only two more days. But coming out of the movies, I knew why. The story is amazing, the acting of almost everyone is great, the chemistry almost there, but unfortunately, pushing too much the character of Lota into a stereotype, Glória Pires lost us on the way. So that makes it for an incomplete movie, where the next thing you want to do is to read Bishop's poetry, read the women's bio, dig deeper in this story that wasn't an easy one and still, a beautiful one. The other weakness is perhaps the ellipses that build the story, they make it look like there was nothing wrong with Bishop, and that Lora was just neglecting her. Which I am not sure is quite true.

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Les Visiteurs (The Visitors) by Jean-Marie Poiré, 1993 (R)

with Christian Clavier (Asterix and Obelix Meet Cleopatra), Jean Reno (Alex Cross, Margaret, Leon), Valérie Lemercier (Granny's Funeral - Adieu Berthe), Marie-Anne Chazel, Christian Bujeau, Isabelle Nanty (Asterix and Obelix Meet Cleopatra), Gérard Séty, Didier Pain, Jean-Paul Muel, Arielle Sémenoff

A senile sorcerer accidentally transports a medieval nobleman (Jean Reno) and his squire (Christian Clavier) to contemporary times. Afraid of getting stuck in the future for good, the nobleman enlists the aid of his descendant to find a way to send him back to the 12th century. Meanwhile, he tries to cope with the technological and cultural changes of the 20th century. An all-out assault on his former castle -- now a luxury hotel -- follows.

This movie is a classic, in France. It represents very much the classicism of some part of France, and the 90s. Watching it nowadays is like watching two periods of France, while back in the days it came out, it was the present, and in a way, it gets even funnier to remember the 90s. So, of course the cast is impeccably ridiculous, sometimes loud, but I think they managed to keep the flow of humor pretty constant over the film. Valérie Lemercier is excellent, her snob and politically correct attitude is hilarious. She is definitely the best part of the movie.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Gravity by Alfonso Cuarón, 2013 (PG-13)

with Sandra Bullock (Two Weeks Notice, The Blind Side, The Heat, Miss Congeniality), George Clooney (The Descendants, Out of Sight, Up in the Air, Michael Clayton), Ed Harris (Man on a Ledge, Game Change), Orto Ignatiussen, Phaldut Sharma, Amy Warren
From the director of  Paris Je T'aime, Y Tu Mamá También, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Nominated for the Oscars 2014 for the following categories: Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role, Cinematography, Directing, Music Original Score, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects

GRAVITY, directed by Oscar nominee Alfonso Cuaron, stars Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in a heart-pounding thriller that pulls you into the infinite and unforgiving realm of deep space. Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney). But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone...

Totally worth in 3D... This is where to start. First because just like Hubble, the infinite and the very close work perfect for 3D. This is a technicality that needs to be mentioned first. Second, the beauty of the universe, and the violence of its silent nature, for a human being, with the mere fact that we are not supposed to survive in space. And the amazing performance of George Clooney but more even of Sandra Bullock. The movie is breathtaking (literally), doesn't go for our easy tears and easy scare, we all know how time and oxygen are running out, asteroids on schedule, humans disconnected, and in a way, this is why you are holding on as the characters are to the little chance they have to extend their life. For two hours, you are in Space, and this is pretty unbelievable but you believe it.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Hitchcock by Sacha Gervasi, 2012 (PG-13)

with Anthony Hopkins (Thor, 360), Helen Mirren (The Debt, RED), Scarlett Johansson (We Brought a Zoo, The Avengers, Scoop, The Horse Whisperer), Danny Huston (You Don't Know Jack, Robin Hood, The Conspirator), Toni Collette (The Hours, Little Miss Sunshine), Michael Stuhlbarg (Hugo), Michael Wincott, Jessica Biel (Total Recall, Playing for keeps), James D'Arcy (Cloud Atlas), Ralph Macchio (My Cousin Vinny), Kurtwood Smith (RoboCop), Richard Portnow

Iconic filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock struggles with his marriage, the censors and the financiers of his 1960 film Psycho in this biopic. Driven to prove he still has an edge, Hitchcock crafts what would become one of the greatest thrillers of all time.

"The Girl" was to The Birds what "Hitchcock" is to Psycho, two different moments of Hitchcock life, and somehow a continuity. The interpretation of Helen Mirren is quite close to the interpretation of Imelda Staunton as Alma Reville, Both versions of Alfred Hitchcock are creepy. The only thing that changes is the perceptions of the actresses towards him, which in both movie are tough undeniably, but sort of forgiving in Hitchcock, while you pretty much think of Hitchcock as a serial killer in The Girl. Fascinating anyhow, because of the complexity of Hitchcock himself, but also as it describes the creation of a new genre, as well as the 1960s industry insider's look...

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Company Men by John Wells, 2010 (R)

with Ben Affleck (Argo, To the Wonder), Kevin Costner (Man of Steel), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln, Hope Springs, MIB 1, MIB 2, MIB 3), Chris Cooper (The Horse Whisperer, The Company You Keep, American Beauty), Craig T. Nelson, Maria Bello (Payback, Thank You For Smoking, The Cooler, Beautiful Boy), Rosemarie DeWitt (Promised Land, Margaret, Rachel Getting Married, Your Sister's Sister), John Doman (Blue Valentine), Tonye Patano, Cady Huffman

Written, directed and produced by John Wells, this indie drama stars Ben Affleck as a successful businessman who comes face-to-face with America's downsizing epidemic when he loses his job and is forced to take a construction gig.

This movie has come in the context of 2009 crash. A year later, Margin Call was showing the other side of the coin. This one is more of a human picture of the consequences, with some smarter than others, some more optimistic, and of course, the ones that left aside crumble and fall. It is sad, it confront the idea of being rich and being valuable. Of course, it has a little fairy-talish, with a wishful ending, but the story is solid, and the acting is all natural and believable.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Concussion by Stacie Passon, 2013 (R)

with Robin Weigert (The sessions), Maggie Siff (Michael Clayton), Johnathan Tchaikovsky, Ben Shenkman, Julie Fain Lawrence, Janel Moloney, Emily Kinney, Laila Robins

After a blow to the head, Abby decides she can't do it anymore. Her life just can't be only about the house, the kids and the wife. She needs more: she needs to be Eleanor.

This movie gave me mixed feeling. Abby's behavior change is somehow some much of a stretch, and her continuous face of sadness borderline tearful is confusing. The movie opens up to a theme that honestly I had never heard of, in a New York context which is so familiar to me that it created some sort of distance, and curiosity. Since it is more about showing the other women's journey than her own, you get to understand everyone else but her, which is definitely unusual, and not particularly positive. Quite unsettling...

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Captain Phillips by Paul Greengrass, 2013 (PG-13)

Nominated for the Oscars 2014 for the following categories: Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Writing Adapted Screenplay

with Tom Hanks (Cloud Atlas, Larry Crowne), Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali, Catherine Keener (Out of Sight, Please Give, Peace Love and Misunderstanding, Simone), John Magaro (Liberal Arts), Max Martini, Michael Chernus (Orange is the New Black, Jack & Diane), Christopher Stadulis, Chris Mulkey, David Warshofsky (Now You See Me), Omar Berdouni

The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. Based on the book "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea" by Richard Phillips.

Perhaps the most interesting and unique thing about this movie, apart from the impeccable performance of Tom Hanks, is the balanced view point, achieving to make us like pretty much everyone in the movie. Everybody got their reasons, and everyone is heard. Also, the movie is not about fanciness, people are people, the boat is not personified, you feel that it is functional and modest, not trying to impress by any mean. The only perhaps fanciness you had to expect was from the SEALS, but aside from their skills and body, no one is trying to make them heroes, they are agents of change, precise, following orders. The commandant of the operation is a guy that eventually looks at himself in the mirror, human. The emotional tension throughout the movie is carried very well by the impeccable cast and editing, never forgetting how the human factor make the situations evolve, it is beautifully realistic, and the same way Phillips' emotions explode, in an irrational and universal way in the end, we get confused as well regarding how the outcome is somewhat positive. And that is the magic of this film.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

World War Z by Marc Forster, 2013 (PG13)

with Brad Pitt (The Tree of Life, Moneyball), Mireille Enos (The Killing), Daniella Kertesz, Eric Weston, David Morse (The Hurt Locker), James Badge Dale (The Grey, Shame, Flight, Iron Man 3), Elyes Gabel, David Andrews (Fair Game), Michiel Huisman, Julian Seager, Fana Mokoena, Pierfrancesco Favino, Peter Capaldi

A U.N. employee races against time and fate as he travels the world trying to stop the spread of a deadly zombie pandemic. As the undead hordes gain strength across the globe, governments topple and Earth stands on the brink of total social collapse.

From the director of Quantum of Solace, the Kite Runner...

I don't know how this guy, Swiss German director, did the stretch between finding Neverland, the Kite Runner and World War Z.
I haven't read the book, although all my dear gueeky friends loved it, and thought the movie was an awesome adaptation. All I could think about was Contagion, 28 days and The Happening. = Three quotes make the movie, the first is from a young doctor of MIT theory about nature, the doc from the lab, and some Brad Pitt line about ABM, always be moving... The overflow of human body is mesmerizing, with almost a soul of its own, the opening where you figure out at the same time as Brad Pitt what is going on... The rest has weakness, the perception of the UN, the countries, the politics, the humanitarian, it is all stereotypical and deranging...

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Mientras duermes (Sleep Tight) by Jaume Balagueró, 2011 (NR)

with Luis Tosar (Even the rain - También la lluvia, Celda 211, Te doy mis ojos), Marta Etura, Alberto San Juan, Petra Martinez, Iris Almeida, Carlos Lasarte, Margarita Roset
From the director of [Rec].

Toiling silently amongst the residents of an everyday Barcelona apartment building, doorman Cesar (Luis Tosar) harbors a dark secret: his sole desire in life is to make others unhappy. When he sets his sights on Clara (Marta Etura), one of his building's cheeriest residents, his sick need blossoms into a full-fledged obsession.

This movie reminded me of With a Friend Like Harry... (Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien), the main character has a similar obsession, and the way he involves himself is also insidious, damaging... The movie evolves in the same direction, making you more and more uncomfortable, claustrophobic... In this sense, Luis Tosar is amazing. He can literally play anything, and convince us. Celda 211 (Cell 211) and Even the rain - También la lluvia were radically different and you believed him anyhow. I hate suspense movies, but this one got me hooked.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Scarlet Letter by Roland Joffé, 1995 (R)

with Demi Moore (G.I. Jane), Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Dark Knight Rises, Lawless), Robert Duvall (Thank you for smoking, Jack Reacher), Lisa Joliffe-Andoh, Edward Hardwicke, Robert Prosky, Roy Dotrice, Joan Plowright, Malcolm Storry, James Bearden

In this adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, Puritan settler Hester Prynne (Demi Moore) is accused of adultery in a Massachusetts settlement in the 1660s. Although she's attracted to the town's pastor (Gary Oldman), the two resist temptation. But only a whiff of scandal is enough for the town's morality police to sentence Prynne to live as an outcast and wear a shameful scarlet A for adultery.

That was a flashback. I stumbled upon the movie changing randomly the channels. As very few French people but many Americans, I read that book when I was young. It was one of the first that ended well, since French literature is not about happy ending. I remember a decade later watching the movie for the first time, and hum, not finding Gary Oldman sufficiently handsome to be convincing, and remembering how cheesy sounded the end. Not much has changed, it is overacted, over dramatic, and the narration that over-explain the story is breaking the little charm the movie has, the ending is quite unsettling, the only good point of the movie is basically to highlight how miserable the condition of the women was.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Los años desnudos (Clasificada S) by Dunia Ayaso, Félix Sabroso, 2008 (NR)

with Candela Peña, Goya Toledo, Mar Flores, Luis Zahera, Antonio de la Torre, Tomás Álvarez, Jose Luis Ayuso, Jorge Calvo, Julio Velez, Ana Wagener, Susana Estrada

The new liberalism of the post-Franco years provides the backdrop for this dark comedy centered on the experiences of three actresses (Candela Peña, Goya Toledo and Mar Flores) working in Spain's soft-core porn industry as the country emerges from years of repressive rule. Although each of the women comes from a different background, they all share the common experience of exploitation at the hands of an opportunist hiding behind the veil of art.

This is a strange movie, based on the stories of actresses of the post-Franquism. It gets to be funny, sexy, really light and shallow, and at the same time, heavy and sad. Because the movie starts with a point and finishes with the opposite, you get to feel uncomfortable from letting yourself be bluffed by the appearances. It has an unusual format, the three women are not particularly making you love them, but somehow, because they are a representation of an era, "cine del destape", their symbol is stronger than themselves and the movie remains in your mind. As a woman, I guess it traumatized me quite a bit, not so much because of the women, but because of what it tells about men... Fortunately, the "cine del destape" only lasted as long as the Spanish transition, from 1975 to 1982.

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