with the bold text in the example below:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Behind the Candelabra by Steven Soderbergh, 2013 (TV-MA)

with Michael Douglas (Solitary Man, Haywire, The Game, Traffic), Matt Damon (Invictus, Margaret, True Grit, We Brought a Zoo, The Informant!, Herafter, Inside Job, The Adjustment Bureau, Promised Land, The Legend of Bagger Vance), Dan Aykroyd, Scott Bakula (The Informant!), Rob Lowe, Debbie Reynolds (One for the Money), Tom Papa, Paul Reiser, Nicky Katt, Cheyenne Jackson, Boyd Holbrook
From the director of from the director of Out of Sight, Traffic, Haywire, Contagion, The Informant!, Erin Brockovich, Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve, Side Effects

Before Elvis, before Elton John, Madonna and Lady Gaga, there was Liberace: virtuoso pianist, outrageous entertainer and flamboyant star of stage and television. A name synonymous with showmanship, extravagance and candelabras, he was a world-renowned performer with a flair that endeared him to his audiences and created a loyal fan base spanning his 40-year career. Liberace lived lavishly and embraced a lifestyle of excess both on and off stage. In summer 1977, handsome young stranger Scott Thorson walked into his dressing room and, despite their age difference and seemingly different worlds, the two embarked on a secretive five-year love affair. BEHIND THE CANDELABRA takes a behind-the-scenes look at their tempestuous relationship – from their first meeting backstage at the Las Vegas Hilton to their bitter and public break-up. - HBO

This is the portrayal of the beginning of Aids, Drugs, Aesthetic Surgery... This is another time, and behind all the sparkling, bling bling and luxury, is an example of the decadence and falseness of Hollywood, sad story indeed. I guess this is why the movie is so impressive, and addictive. It gives an inside look to what an audience has admired, and the twistedness of the imagination of a powerful man, the weaknesses of the others, and perhaps in the end the sad story of ignorance and rejection. Matt Damon is really fascinating, convincing, specially after having seen him recently in so many movies. Michael Douglas is unbelievable in playing shamelessly the contrast between a flamboyant and charming old performer and a ordinary man with absolutely no sex-appeal, in his own home. Great movie, my favorite of Soderberg in a very long time.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

The Legend of Bagger Vance by Robert Redford, 2000 (PG-13)

with Will Smith (Men In Black 1, MIB 2, MIB 3, Enemy of the State), Matt Damon (Invictus, Margaret, True Grit, We Brought a Zoo, The Informant!, Herafter, Inside Job, The Adjustment Bureau, Promised Land), Charlize Theron (The Italian Job, Young Adult, Prometheus), Bruce McGill (Fair Game, Lincoln), Joel Gretsch (4400, V), Jack Lemmon, J. Michael Moncrief, Lane Smith, Peter Gerety, Michael O'Neill (Dallas Buyers Club), Thomas Jay Ryan, Dermot Crowley, Harve Presnell (Face/Off), Danny Nelson
From the director of The Conspirator and The Horse Whisperer

Devastated by his experiences during World War I, once-promising golfer Rannulph Junuh has become a poker-playing alcoholic whose perfect swing is gone — until mysterious caddy Bagger Vance enters the picture to help Junuh make a comeback.

Ok, tearjerker, but still, the pacing of the editing, the contemplation mixed with the suspense of the game, the tranquil voice-over of Will Smith making you feel the elements and the serenity of control, convincing Matt Damon as an eternally surprised golfer, this flows in a pleasant way, sometimes going overboard with sentimental violins, the feel-good spirit of the town, this is a movie about hope and dreams. Convincing portrayal of the passion for golf, makes you want to go out on the green and feel it for yourself.

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To the Wonder by Terrence Malick, 2012 (R)

with Ben Affleck (Argo), Olga Kurylenko (Oblivion), Javier Bardem (Biutiful, Eat Pray Love), Rachel McAdams (The Vow, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Midnight in Paris, Morning Glory), Charles Baker, Romina Mondello

To the Wonder tells the story of Marina (Kurylenko) and Neil (Affleck), who meet in France and move to Oklahoma to start a life together, where problems soon arise. While Marina makes the acquaintance of a priest and fellow exile (Bardem), who is struggling with his vocation, Neil renews a relationship with a childhood sweetheart, Jane (McAdams).

I tried with this one, I tried to watch it till the end, and like it. In vain. There were two enlightening moments held by the woman voice over, about being weak and therefor letting the other take the decision for oneself, and the priest voice over awakening to the love of god while the images documentary-style shows us the poorest, weakest, in a beautiful mystical experience. The Mont St Michel of the beginning is evocative, the symbolism is beautiful. Except for these moments, everything is cold, beautifully stock video style, telling a story of an unsatisfied couple stuck in their misery, boredom, and unfortunately, you cannot connect to the character, making the relationship truly annoying. It is as if you are contemplating from very far everything, and no emotion can come accross. Also, beside the two moments I was describing, the rest of the dialogue is small talks that are insignificant or a french woman voice-over who tries to be poetic but clearly is way too cliché and plain.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The great Gatsby by Jack Clayton, 1974 (PG)

with Robert Redford (Out of Africa), Mia Farrow, Bruce Dern, Karen Black, Scott Wilson, Sam Waterston, Lois Chiles, Howard Da Silva, Roberts Blossom, Edward Herrmann

Mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby is obsessed with Daisy Buchanan in this 1974 film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel. Beyond Gatsby's grasp, Daisy is married to unfaithful Tom, making for a love triangle that ends with broken hearts.

The 1974 version is a much milder one, compared to the 2013 Baz Luhrmann crazy Great Gatsby, with an extravagance of the lifestyle not that unusual nowadays, the characters are not as intense, less of a caricature in some ways. The story doesn't explain the past of Gatsby, doesn't give as many explanation, it has perhaps more symbolism. I have to say tho that I found DiCaprio a much more convincing Gatsby than Redford in the sense that somehow, Redford always look indifferent to emotions, whether it is in Out of Africa or The Horse Whisperer. It feels likes in his eyes, wanting Daisy is the right thing to do, this is not attractive. Mia Farrow's voice is absolutely irritating, shrilling, and her fake facial expressions make her difficult to grasp, and therefor to like. Deceived overall...

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Monday, May 20, 2013

The Great Gatsby by Baz Luhrmann, 2013 (PG-13)

Nominated for the Oscars 2014 for the following categories: Costume Design, Production Design

with Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception, J. Edgar, Hubble, Django Unchained, Marvin's Room, Titanic, Shutter Island), Tobey Maguire (Deconstructing Harry), Carey Mulligan (Shame, Drive, An Education, Never Let Me Go), Joel Edgerton (Zero Dark Thirty, Warrior), Isla Fisher (Rango), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty), Adelaide Clemens, Callan McAuliffe, Amitabh Bachchan, Elizabeth Debicki
from the director of Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, Australia...

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as literary icon Jay Gatsby in this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel. Fascinated by the mysterious, affluent Gatsby, his neighbor Nick Carraway bears witness to the man's obsessive love and spiral into tragedy.

First, I haven't yet seen the original "Great Gatsby", coming soon. Second I haven't read Fitzgerald's novel. Third, no, I am not illiterate, I plan on catching up with all I missed of literature and cinema over the next decades. I therefor watched the movie with the reference of Australia, Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet. I wouldn't say I was deceived, I guess in this one like in Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet, I felt a bit harsh the anachronism of music and style. At the same time, it was for moment exhilarating to have the feeling of modernity. I am not a big fan of Tobey Maguire, but I liked him being almost standing constantly in the way, and somehow at the same time making all this possible. Leonardo DiCaprio was the real surprise. After seeing him in J. Edgar, Shutter Island and Inception as an older man, I was convinced he simply got old (38 years old). But in this movie, at time, you see him as the kid of Romeo + Juliet and Titanic, rejuvenated, all transformed by his acting, beautiful, fascinating. It reminded me how brilliant he is. Overall, because of Luhrmann's caricaturist style, I felt the movie was a succession of sketches, a little disconnected from each other, the aesthetic of Gatsby's house taken from a Walt Disney animation movie, while the portrayal of New York in the 20s was actually quite interesting. Oh and about the story, not quite subdle but a unique view of New York social classes.

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Timer by Jac Schaeffer, 2009 (R)

with Emma Caulfield, John Patrick Amedori, Michelle Borth, Desmond Harrington, JoBeth Williams, Kali Rocha, Muse Watson, Mark Harelik, Eric Jungmann, Tom Irwin

In this comedic fantasy, science has facilitated the search for a soul mate via biotechnological implants that count down to the moment one is supposed to meet his or her match. But Oona (Emma Caulfield) is worried: She's nearly 30, and her TiMER isn't ticking yet. Will her dream guy get snatched up by someone else? John Patrick Amedori co-stars in this film from first-time writer and director Jac Schaeffer.

This was a total discovery, random choice. The first minutes of the film, I almost stopped, and then let it flowed a little longer, finally I watched it till the end. What is great about the movie is that it is a science fiction movie with a completely normalized context, on a earth as we know it, with its daily routine. Nothing much as changed except for the incorporation of one tool that helps you find love. Brilliant. The plot is almost solid (almost because something in the end doesn't make much sense), the acting is fine, sometimes a little hysterical, the dialogues witty, overall, a strange romantic comedy with a unique tone.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

The Darkest Hour by Chris Gorak, 2011 (PG-13)

with Emile Hirsch (Milk), Olivia Thirlby (Margaret), Max Minghella (The Social Network, Agora), Rachael Taylor, Joel Kinnaman, Veronika Ozerova, Dato Bakhtadze, Yuriy Kutsenko, Artur Smolyaninov, Pyotr Fyodorov

This sci-fi action thriller tracks the adventures of a group of young Americans touring Moscow who get caught up in an alien invasion. Despite the unfamiliarity of their surroundings, the Yanks quickly team up with the Russians to fight back.

This is perhaps the lousiest movie I have seen in a very long time. All American made, full of stereotypes about Russians, not funny, not really scary, some interesting special effects, but somehow, it feels already outdated, and basically made of a countdown of the people surviving the threat of aliens with the most illogical pattern of survival... I wouldn't recommend.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Broken City by Allen Hughes, 2013 (R)

with Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, Contraband, The Italian Job), Russell Crowe (Robin Hood, American Gangster, The Next Three Days), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Traffic, Ocean's Twelve, Side Effects), Barry Pepper (Enemy of the State, True Grit), Jeffrey Wright (Source Code), Kyle Chandler (Argo, Zero Dark Thirty), Justin Chambers, Alona Tal, Ambyr Childers (The Master), Griffin Dunne (Dallas Buyers Club), Michael Beach, William Ragsdale, James Ransone, Natalie Martinez

In a city rife with injustice, ex-cop Billy Taggart seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure: Mayor Nicholas Hostetler.

This movie got me thinking. First because I work in New York, second because we are electing now our new mayor, and perhaps because this movie is intelligent. I was afraid of the reviews, not very positive, but the twists and turns of the story are actually interesting. Billy Taggart is a simple man, with a sense of revenge and justice, a little stubborn and not definitely subtle. In some ways, quite ordinary. But because of his stubbornness, he gets to understand things. It is interesting to see the portrayal of our two-level society, with a combination of manipulating powerful people and the rest of us, never really interacting with each other, living in parallel words. And sometimes, something happens that helps change the course of things. Interesting...

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Jack & Diane by Bradley Rust Gray, 2012 (R)

with Juno Temple (The Dark Knight Rises, Kaboom), Riley Keough (Magic Mike), Cara Seymour (An Education), Kylie Minogue, Dane DeHaan (Lawless), Michael Chernus (Orange is the New Black), Haviland Morris, Leo Fitzpatrick

Diane's feelings for Jack -- the girl she met over the summer -- begin to manifest themselves in terrifying ways when she learns that her friend will soon be moving away.

This was a bizarre movie, with no real identity, it could have been about two coming of age girls, with great issues to solve, and a journey together growing and saving one another, or a more vampire style movie, sensual and dark, or a new york kind of love story. It is not of it, a very strange rhythm, unequal, intriguing and at the same time annoying because the story is build up upon suspense when there is not much of it. It is an alien kind...

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Iron Man 3 by Shane Black, 2013 (PG-13)

Nominated for the Oscars 2014 for the following category: Visual Effects

with Robert Downey Jr. (Avengers, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Gwyneth Paltrow (Avengers), Don Cheadle (Out of Sight, Traffic, Flight), Ben Kingsley (Hugo, Shutter Island), Guy Pearce (Mildred Pierce, The King's Speech, The Hurt Locker, Prometheus), Rebecca Hall (Please Give), James Badge Dale (The Grey, Shame, Flight), Jon Favreau

Robert Downey Jr. dons his powerful armor suit again, portraying popular Marvel comic book character industrialist Tony Stark -- aka Iron Man -- who takes on power-mad villains intent on destroying the world. When Tony Stark's world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

The idea of going to see Iron Man 3 yesterday was perhaps not the best, since we had at first no idea it was the premiere, and then the obsession led us to drive all over Manhattan trying at the same time to find out who had it within the next hour, in vain. We ended up in the upper west side waiting an hour and a half standing to be able to see it. And I am not a fan. Anyway, it was an interesting journey, first entering a theater that was filled with kids definitely under the age of 13, watching trailers where people kill and destroy cars at the speed of hell, perhaps a taste of what the movie would be. Oh well, Iron Man doesn't drive, he flies, but for the rest, I was pretty right. (under 13, uh oh...) So the movie started, efficient, funny, sometimes trying to be, taking the time to set a good story. It felt like the point was that Iron Man could be an ordinary man without an armor. I really enjoyed the twist of the story of the bad guy, the interesting topic of what the mind can offer and how we can improve it. The second half of the movie is more of a display of special effect, technology and mass destruction. It gives an overall frustration, increased by the fact that the situations is constantly saved at the last second throughout the movie. In some ways, because of its cynicism, the mvoie saves itself, but it is not as good as Avengers or the firsts Iron Man.
By the way, did you notice how many superhero movies are produced lately? It is like being back to the 80's. Perhaps the best movies to launch in time of crisis?
Another comment, I just saw The Hunger Games Part 2: Catching Fire. This is going to be good, very close to the book actually, looking forward!

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Deadfall by Stefan Ruzowitzky, 2012 (R)

with Eric Bana (Hanna), Olivia Wilde (The Words, The Next Three Days, Tron: Legacy), Charlie Hunnam, Sissy Spacek (The Help), Kris Kristofferson, Jason Cavalier, Alain Goulem, Allison Graham, Kate Mara (127 hours, House of Cards), Treat Williams (127 Hours, Hollywood Ending, Hair)

On the run after a casino heist, siblings Addison and Liza split up. When Liza gets a ride from a prison parolee heading to his parents' home for Thanksgiving, unexpected events lead the two families toward a collision in this suspenseful thriller.

There are movies you don't really feel like watching, perhaps because they give you the impression that you already saw it, or that it doesn't look too good. This was the case of Deadfall, with an Eric Bana that reminded me of his performance Hanna, and the rest of it feeling too unreal. There is a lot of stereotypes and madness in this movie, the characters are rough and cold, the climax is at the same time predictable and not interesting, the drama rises and falls flat. The perhaps only interesting point of the movie is the lack of justice and the randomness of death that makes it completely anti-commercial.

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Oblivion by Joseph Kosinski, 2013 (PG-13)

with Tom Cruise (Eyes Wide Shut, Knight and Day, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol), Morgan Freeman (Invictus, The Dark Knight Rises, RED), Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough (Never Let me Go), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (The Baker, Game of Thrones)
From the director of Tron: Legacy

Jack Harper is one of the last few drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs, Jack's mission is nearly complete. Living in and patrolling the breathtaking skies from thousands of feet above, his soaring existence is brought crashing down when he rescues a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows and puts the fate of humanity in his hands.

There is interesting concepts in this movie, in what we believe to be truth, and how ready we are to question it. The transformation of Earth, the moon, the future in a devastated New York, the new ways of living, everything is aesthetically beautiful. The action is great, Tom Cruise is still in shape, the editing flows and follows the action in a very smooth way. The relationship between characters in interesting, formalized, but definitely when it comes to feelings, the movie lacks of creativity. The enhancement of your emotion with music is terrible, you feel you are listening to a terrible action movie soundtrack, with bass and drum to the max. The other thing that fails is to be unpredictable, the beginning is interesting and slow, puts you in situation, but unfortunately, gives the audience too many clues and time to figure out what is really happening before you get to live it through the main character. Mitigated result...

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